Remarks of Stephen Bannon at a Conference at the Vatican

 

Buzzfeed has the remarks of Stephen Bannon, former CEO of Breitbart News, and currently appointed by President Elect Trump to be his chief advisor, at a conference at the Vatican in the summer of 2014:

 

Steve Bannon: Thank you very much Benjamin, and I appreciate you guys including us in this. We’re speaking from Los Angeles today, right across the street from our headquarters in Los Angeles. Um. I want to talk about wealth creation and what wealth creation really can achieve and maybe take it in a slightly different direction, because I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian west, is in a crisis. And it’s really the organizing principle of how we built Breitbart News to really be a platform to bring news and information to people throughout the world. Principally in the west, but we’re expanding internationally to let people understand the depths of this crisis, and it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian west in our beliefs.

It’s ironic, I think, that we’re talking today at exactly, tomorrow, 100 years ago, at the exact moment we’re talking, the assassination took place in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the bloodiest century in mankind’s history. Just to put it in perspective, with the assassination that took place 100 years ago tomorrow in Sarajevo, the world was at total peace. There was trade, there was globalization, there was technological transfer, the High Church of England and the Catholic Church and the Christian faith was predominant throughout Europe of practicing Christians. Seven weeks later, I think there were 5 million men in uniform and within 30 days there were over a million casualties.

That war triggered a century of barbaric — unparalleled in mankind’s history — virtually 180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people — whether it was French resistance fighters, whether it was the Polish resistance fighters, or it’s the young men from Kansas City or the Midwest who stormed the beaches of Normandy, commandos in England that fought with the Royal Air Force, that fought this great war, really the Judeo-Christian West versus atheists, right? The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal. It kind of organized and built the materials needed to support, whether it’s the Soviet Union, England, the United States, and eventually to take back continental Europe and to beat back a barbaric empire in the Far East.

That capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.

And we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

Now, what I mean by that specifically: I think that you’re seeing three kinds of converging tendencies: One is a form of capitalism that is taken away from the underlying spiritual and moral foundations of Christianity and, really, Judeo-Christian belief.

I see that every day. I’m a very practical, pragmatic capitalist. I was trained at Goldman Sachs, I went to Harvard Business School, I was as hard-nosed a capitalist as you get. I specialized in media, in investing in media companies, and it’s a very, very tough environment. And you’ve had a fairly good track record. So I don’t want this to kinda sound namby-pamby, “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ around capitalism.”

But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.

One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Francis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the conservative movement — whether it’s the UKIP movement in England, it’s many of the underpinnings of the populist movement in Europe, and particularly in the United States.

However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost — as many of the precepts of Marx — and that is a form of capitalism, particularly to a younger generation [that] they’re really finding quite attractive. And if they don’t see another alternative, it’s going to be an alternative that they gravitate to under this kind of rubric of “personal freedom.”

The other tendency is an immense secularization of the West. And I know we’ve talked about secularization for a long time, but if you look at younger people, especially millennials under 30, the overwhelming drive of popular culture is to absolutely secularize this rising iteration.

Now that call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.

If you look at what’s happening in ISIS, which is the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, that is now currently forming the caliphate that is having a military drive on Baghdad, if you look at the sophistication of which they’ve taken the tools of capitalism. If you look at what they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook and modern ways to fundraise, and to use crowdsourcing to fund, besides all the access to weapons, over the last couple days they have had a radical program of taking kids and trying to turn them into bombers. They have driven 50,000 Christians out of a town near the Kurdish border. We have video that we’re putting up later today on Breitbart where they’ve took 50 hostages and thrown them off a cliff in Iraq.

That war is expanding and it’s metastasizing to sub-Saharan Africa. We have Boko Haram and other groups that will eventually partner with ISIS in this global war, and it is, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.

 

So I think the discussion of, should we put a cap on wealth creation and distribution? It’s something that should be at the heart of every Christian that is a capitalist — “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?”

I think it really behooves all of us to really take a hard look and make sure that we are reinvesting that back into positive things. But also to make sure that we understand that we’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasize.

They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Dare I say that I find this to be a very Catholic view of this world?  Rather than the ogre portrayed in the media, Bannon from these remarks strikes me as a thoughtful man who has pondered long and hard about what has gone wrong in the West.  You do not usually find such men among the ranks of chief presidential advisors.  We could do worse.

  1. The Daily Wire article is a hit piece by a guy who has his own ax to grind against Stephen Bannon and Breitbart. Ben Shapiro is a Never Trumper who had a falling out with Breitbart. His charge of Breitbart being a white supremicist site is particularly slanderous and, up to now, something embraced by only the lunatic left.

  2. I read that transcript yesterday and I was put at ease. Bannon’s thoughts on the different strains of capitalism were particularly interesting.

    Today the media is freaking out over Flynn so I guess the heat might be off Bannon for a while. Trump doesn’t seem to care one wit about what anyone thinks of his appointees.

    Like Trump or not, that is refreshing.

  3. “Dare I say that I find this to be a very Catholic view of this world?”
    Indeed and that is why Bannon is being viciously attacked.

    Excellent post, thank you.

  4. Somehow I don’t think Hildebeast would have had advisors with similar views. I have some concern about advisors Trump has been . . . well . . . Trumpeting, but Bannon isn’t one of them.

  5. It’s a very interesting piece. It makes me wonder if Bannon simply decided to tolerate the fringe that gathered on Breitbart because he expected them to get drowned out.

  6. Stephen Bannon is onto something about the digital media. He’s not the monster the mainstream media says he is.

    I think I’ve had just about enough of the mainstream media. Not that I view or read any of them, it’s time to take the hammer to them and put them out of everyone’s misery.

  7. Steve Bannon is a most impressive man. Interesting that he was invited to speak at a Vatican event, a place of close-mindedness and profound economic ignorance. I can’t imagine he made a hit. Anyway, Steve’s thinking is what we need to hear more of in this country and around the world. What I like about Steve is that he seems to know what he is doing and has the means to make it happen. I am very happy Trump selected him as an advisor.

  8. Flynn and Bannon are both very anti Jihadist. That’s excellent and the liberal media is unconsciously making Trump look moderate by their demonizing Flynn and Bannon …as noted by Jake Novak at cnbc. Lol….Trump was just centrist of the week thanks to the Liberal media.

  9. This really puts everyone at ease?

    “And we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.”

  10. @ rr.

    We are not supposed to be at ease. These are not easy times for orthodox Catholics. We can count Pope Francis as one of our enemies along with Hillary Clinton and her followers.

  11. The Vatican is no where near as close minded as Pence. The church teaches evolution in its school’s for instance, and favors science generally speaking. Pope Francis has tried to focus followers on what really matters for people of any religion, particularly people of the book (Christian/Jewish/Muslim) and that is tolerance, how we treat our neighbors, how we treat the poor. WWI and WWII both rose of extremely inequitable circumstances with demagogues like Trump blaming all their woes on whomever was the other: Jews, Catholics, Chinese, Italians, Irish, Muslims, and then Communists/Godless/Nation State as God. Just because a person recognizes a pattern that will ignite people does not mean that person will use the information kindly or in a form which is of service to God. This speech shows just how aware Bannon is of the harm he is doing and Pope Francis has tried time and again to argue against his racist fascism. Let’s remember, the church supported Hitler at first, until it was clear he wanted a secular state with himself as God. We shouldn’t make the same mistake again. “Judeo-Christian” values are completely ignorant of history. Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet while Judaism does not. The three religions share so much at the foundation. But evangelicals going back to Asquith have argued for Zionism because they want Israel to belong to Jewish people at the end of days – to fit with the literal interpretation of the Bible. This is using people as a means to an end – unlikely to be in the spirit of the Catholic church’s teachings.

  12. On March 23, 1933, the Nazi government put forward the Enabling act, giving Hitler the authority to create new laws without parliamentary approval, thus making him the dictator of Germany. This was after the Nazi-staged Reichstag fire; after the banning of the huge Communist party and subsequent arrest and murder of thousands of communists and other anti-Nazis; and amidst a campaign of violent antisemitism. To become law, the Enabling act needed a 2/3 parliamentary vote. Before the vote, Hitler addressed the Reichstag (parliament) saying the Nazis were fighting for Christianity:
    “While the Government is determined to carry through the political and moral purging of our public life, it is creating and insuring prerequisites for a truly religious life. The Government sees in both [Catholic and Protestant] Christian confessions the most important factors for the maintenance of our folkdom. It will respect agreements concluded between them and the States. However, it expects that its work will meet with a similar appreciation. The Government will treat all other denominations with equal objective justice. It can never condone, though, that belonging to a certain denomination or to a certain race might be regarded as a license to commit or tolerate crimes. The Government will devote its care to the sincere living together of Church and State.”
    To their credit, the Social Democrats took a strong stand, opposing the Enabling act. Hitler needed a 2/3 majority, so the balance lay with Zentrum, the Catholic Centre party. If Zentrum voted no or even abstained, Hitler would have been defeated.
    Zentrum leader Monsignor Ludwig Kaas, a close friend and advisor to Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, addressed the Reichstag. Far from attacking the Enabling act and disputing Hitler’s claim that Nazi measures were “prerequisites for a truly religious life,” Kaas endorsed the Enabling act. Zentrum and smaller allied parties voted ‘yes,’ and the act became law. On March 28, 1933, four days after Zentrum voted to make Hitler the dictator of Germany, German bishops rescinded their ban on Nazi party membership. On April 1, Cardinal Adolf Bertram of Breslau addressed German Catholics in a letter, warning them ”to reject as a matter of principle all illegal or subversive activities“. To most Catholics, it looked as if the church wanted a modus vivendi with Hitler. The same impression was created a few weeks later when Hitler held a plebiscite to endorse his decision to pull Germany out of the League of Nations, which received the endorsement of the Catholic press and of several Catholic bishops.
    Three and a half months later, on July 6, 1933, the Catholic church’s Centre party, Zentrum, dissolved itself.
    Two weeks after that, the Vatican and the Nazi government signed their Concordat, putting the official Vatican stamp on the alliance of the German church and the Nazi state. Article 16, required that Catholic bishops swear to honor the Nazi government, to make their subordinates honor it, and to hunt for and prevent action that might endanger it.
    Obviously – Hitler had no plans to leave Catholics alone and eventually led several purgings of Catholic priests. He used the Church, but ultimately just wanted a secular state with himself as the leader.
    My point is we should be careful of working with people that use others – because they will use you. Some form of this golden rule appears in most religions.

  13. And by the way – I’m not mentioning this to make the Church look bad – once it was obvious what Hitler’s intentions were, churches all over Europe hid Jews and others – some committing incredible acts of bravery. But Brannon’s remarks about a judeo-Christian culture and this concept of a superior western identity are just another way to exclude people. We are Catholics first and that can include anyone from any country that chooses to believe. We also have the duty (especially in any position of power) to be tolerant and kind to the less fortunate.

  14. So many words and so much error. The Enabling Act was going to pass no matter what. The Reichstag chamber swarmed with stormtroopers and SS Men intimidating those brave enough to vote against it. The Communist Party had already been banned and any other party that opposed the Enabling Act would simply have been banned, until the Nazis had two-thirds of the remaining votes in the Reichstag. The Centre Party was the last non-Nazi party to either dissolve itself or have been banned by the Nazis.

    Cardinal Pacelli was well aware of the peril that the Nazi regime posed to the Church and the Concordat was an attempt to protect German Catholics as much as possible. The Nazis of course violated the terms from the outset as Pius XI blisteringly pointed out in Mit brennender Sorge. None of this constitutes the Church supporting the Nazis.

  15. Wow, this sounds like ‘The Protestant Ethic’ and the belief that wealth is a sign of God’s grace. There is a lot of fear and anxiety in the world now, and it would be comforting to percieve rich Americans becoming richer as a sign of God’s salvation and love. We live in a world of Lehman Brothers and subprime mortgages, and we confuse moral institutions with financial institutions.

  16. I think it’s important to observe his rhetorical tactics and his audience. One, he knows he is speaking at the Vatican where Pope Francis is reaching out to leaders of other faiths to be more inclusive, so Bannon may not use blanket bigoted statements about people of other faiths. Two, he uses a lot of fear inducing prophesies to agitate his listeners into a paranoid state. Three, he says we need to reinvest the generated wealth into the things that matter and are important. However, he does not say what those important things are and leaves that open to interpretation, and destracts from that vagueness by returning to the fear and paranoia he has instilled through out his speech.