Muse to Steve Bannon . . .

Wherein I return from a relaxing vacation to learn I am a muse to POTUS advisor Steve Bannon: Normally, coming back from vacation, it takes a few days to settle back into the groove. But today, the phone started to light up around 9am, thanks to this NYT article, “What Does Steve Bannon Want?”

“His documentary about the 2008 financial collapse, “Generation Zero,” released in 2010, uses the Strauss-Howe model to explain what happened, and concludes with Mr. Howe himself saying, “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”

Mr. Bannon’s views reflect a transformation of conservatism over the past decade or so. You can trace this transformation in the films he has made. His 2004 documentary, “In the Face of Evil,” is an orthodox tribute to the Republican Party hero Ronald Reagan. But “Generation Zero,” half a decade later, is a strange hybrid. The financial crash has intervened. Mr. Bannon’s film features predictable interviews with think-tank supply siders and free marketers fretting about big government. But new, less orthodox voices creep in, too, from the protectionist newscaster Lou Dobbs to the investment manager Barry Ritholtz. They question whether the free market is altogether free. Mr. Ritholtz says that the outcome of the financial crisis has been “socialism for the wealthy but capitalism for everybody else.” (emphasis added).


Whenever we write, the words we put to page in service of an idea are no longer captive. They are set free, to go off on whatever path they take, to inform, elucidate or stimulate whoever receives them. As we write, we cannot possibly know what if any impact they may have or who they may influence or when or where they may resonate. When they do, as the words above apparently did, it serves as a great reminder of the power of ideas, and why we have a First Amendment, and free marketplace of ideas. It is part of an open and free press that is rudimentary to the operations of any Democracy.

If I helped to inform Steve Bannon as to what we as a Nation did wrong to cause the financial crisis, and what mistakes we did afterwards as we tried to repair the damage, then those words have served their purposes well. I hope these words do so as well.


What Does Steve Bannon Want?
Christopher Caldwell
NYT, February 25, 2017


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