Meet Steve Bannon, the Molotov mixologist who wants to light the world on fire. Please share this episode with your friends and start a conversation.
Warning: This podcast occasionally uses spicy language.
For an entertaining deep dive into the theme of season five (Phalse Prophets), read the definitive peer-reviewed taxonomic analysis from our very own Jason Bradford, PhD.
- Video: Mutual Aid in the Great Unraveling, Part 1 with Daniel P Aldrich, Amira Odeh, and Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute, November 2022.
- Video: Mutual Aid in the Great Unraveling, Part 2 with Dean Spade, Joanna Swan, and Aliza Tuttle, Post Carbon Institute, November 2022.
- Dean Spade, “Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next),” Verso Books, October 2020.
- “Democracy Rising” essay series on deliberative democracy
- Global Tapestry of Alternatives
- Eliana Johnson and Eli Stokols, “What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read,” Politico, February 7, 2017.
- Lisa Marshall, “Inside Steve Bannon’s ‘War for Eternity’,” CU Boulder Today, April 22, 2020.
- Joshua Green, “Inside the Secret, Strange Origins of Steve Bannon’s Nationalist Fantasia,” Vanity Fair, July 17, 2017.
- David Breitenbeck, “A Brief Summary of Traditionalism,” The Imaginative Conservative, March 21, 2019.
- Generation Zero, Bannon’s poorly reviewed documentary
- Guo Wengui’s video for his song, “Take Down the CCP,” — the third best comedy yacht video of all time.
- Douglas Rushkoff, “How to Avoid Becoming a Fascist: Why I turned down an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast,” Medium, October 21, 2021.
- Olivia Goldhill, “The neo-fascist philosophy that underpins both the alt-right and Silicon Valley technophiles,” Quartz, June 18, 2017.
- Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Bannon vows a daily fight for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state’,” The Washington Post, February 23, 2017.
How would you rate this episode’s Phalse Prophet on the Insufferability Index? Tell us in the comments below!
Jason Bradford Hi, I'm Jason Bradford. Asher Miller I'm Asher Miller. Rob Dietz And I'm Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town, where the video for our theme song was filmed on the deck of our mega yacht. Melody Allison Hi, this is Crazy Town producer Melody Allison. Thanks for listening. Here in Season 5, we're exploring Phalse Prophets and the dangerous messages they're so intent on spreading. If you like what you're hearing, please let some friends know about this episode or the podcast in general. Quick warning: Sometimes this podcast uses swear words. Now onto the show. Rob Dietz Hey, Jason. Hey, Asher. I gotta tell you about a dude. Jason Bradford Nice story. Here we go. I love it. Rob Dietz Okay, so there's this guy right in your same circles. He goes to Georgetown University to get a grad degree in - Asher Miller Our circles? Rob Dietz Yeah, your circles. The kind of guys you love. He's getting a government degree in national security. But then he goes to Harvard, or Har-vard as we like to call it, to get a degree in business, right? Jason Bradford MBA? Rob Dietz Yeah, of course. Most valuable degree on the planet. They earn the bucks. So then he goes to work at Goldman Sachs. Okay? Just like - Asher Miller The American dream. Rob Dietz Just like you two were trying to do, right, in your early careers. So a few years down the road, our investment banker guy uses his connections at Goldman Sachs to get $60 million in funding for this outfit called IGE. Which, of course, is the Internet Gaming Entertainment company. Okay, so they're based in Hong Kong. And they employed - This is what they did - They employed a whole bunch of low wage Chinese workers to play the World of Warcraft. Jason Bradford Their job is to play a video game? Asher Miller They paid them to do that? What a nice guy. He's giving them jobs, and just go play video games. Rob Dietz It's kind of the dream job, right? Here's some money, play a video game. We'll give you pixie sticks and the occasional- Jason Bradford This is one of those massive multiplayer online games if you don't know. Rob Dietz Yeah, yeah. Asher Miller Where you kill people. Rob Dietz Yeah, it's a role-playing game. You go around, sword and sorcery stuff. And you can earn treasures in the game, you can earn gold and special weapons and all that. And you know, you have to buy things virtually in the game. But it turned into a marketplace. Like you could actually sell this stuff in the real world. Asher Miller Oh really? Rob Dietz So, maybe you're semi-wealthy dude sitting in your mom's basement in America . . . Asher Miller Like, I'm too lazy or I suck at the game too much to actually earn all this myself. Rob Dietz Yeah. You just go buy from one of these expert players who has gotten so much equipment they can just sell it to you. Asher Miller Okay, so wait. This is like globalization in a video game basically. Right? Rob Dietz That's exactly what it is. Yeah, you got the low-wage earners, but then - Asher Miller The low-wage workers who are? Jason Bradford They're professional video game players. Asher Miller Yeah, who can, you know, create products, worthless products for high-end consumers in the west who have, you know, extra money that - I don't know what. Jason Bradford That's fantastic. Asher Miller What a beautiful thing. Jason Bradford They can strut around in the virtual world with all their gear. Rob Dietz And don't forget This $60 million that basically funded this company. Jason Bradford This is Goldman Sachs that's behind this? This is like a series of investment banks behind this. Asher Miller So they saw that there was that much profit in this. The difference between what they were paying these poor guys who are playing this game, and what they were selling the stupid shit on the game for was enough that it felt like it was worth a $60 million investment. Rob Dietz Of course. Asher Miller Wow, amazing. Rob Dietz Well, so the mastermind behind all this happens to be our false prophet of the day. Little guy that you you may know called Steve Bannon. Asher Miller Little guy. Jason Bradford Genius. This is freaking genius. Wow, well- Rob Dietz We can all hope to emulate some sort of- Asher Miller It's like an evil origin story. Actually, I've learned a lot about Steven Bannon and never knew this about him. Jason Bradford That was - It's pretty amazing. I mean, he's had quite a life thus far. And we're gonna go over- Asher Miller It ain't over yet. Jason Bradford It ain't over yet. So why are we talking about Bannon? Well, basically because he's got these pretty outlandish tactics that are designed to destroy contemporary society. And then he has really an odd vision of the world post-collapse. So it's those two things in combination that make him a false prophet. He basically wants to push society over the edge, and then he wants this other thing to emerge that I think is little a bit sketchy. Asher Miller Right. He's not happy to just watch it all burn on its own. He's not busy trying to like, prep for it. He's like, let's hasten this thing. Rob Dietz And I think Steve Bannon would, on one level seem like obvious for our false prophets in our list. Just because of his crazy right-wing political views. But that's not really what we're focusing on. It's this idea that he's trying to blow things up. Jason Bradford I also think there's a lot to how deep his philosophy goes. And it's fascinating where that comes from, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's back up a bit. And, you know, there's so much crazy stuff about Bannon that we could go over. Let's do a quick rundown of kind of the stuff that's happening now. He may go to jail for contempt of Congress any day now. And/or for scheme to defraud donors over the building of a border wall. It was just a gift. Asher Miller I gave them so much money for that. Nothing? Rob Dietz And that would be fitting because he really does have a lot of contempt for Congress. Jason Bradford He's interacting with a litany of sort of shady characters in dealings, run ins with Jeffrey Epstein. One of his buddies is this Chinese billionaire, Guo Wengui, who was raising money to establish an alternative Chinese government. And this guy might go to jail very soon, too. He was with the infamous Cambridge Analytica, which was involved in the 2016 election and submitted interaction with Facebook there. Weaponizing social media for Donald Trump and Brexit. He's been funding right wing political candidates and sort of movements both in the U.S. and overseas. Because of sort of the outlandish nature of the misinformation he's putting out, he's been banned on a lot of social media apps. He's been spreading disinformation like a norovirus running through a cruise ship. Asher Miller Wait. He was spreading disinformation about a norovirus? Jason Bradford No. He's like a norovirus. Rob Dietz I appreciate your poetic license. That was well done. Asher Miller I just never know these days. It could have been something he was actually. . . Jason Bradford He seems to have had a succession of pretty quick marriages and divorces three times now. And there's a lot of reports from people that have worked with him that he's really a Class A jerk in many ways. Nowadays, you can find him on a podcast that runs twice a day live for an hour. It's called "Bannon War Room" Asher Miller Twice a day? Jason Bradford He a morning and an evening edition. Asher Miller Oh that's lovely. You wake up with Steve. You go to bed with Steve. What a dream. Jason Bradford Yeah, we'll get into a little bit more into the details of that show and what its style is like. Rob Dietz Okay, so thank you for that run through. Let's talk about where he came from. He's born in 1953 in Virginia to a middle-class, blue-collar set of parents. They were pro union. They were Kennedy Democrats. Asher Miller So this is like a whole, what was that guy on the TV show? Michael J. Fox's character? Rob Dietz Alex P. Keaton. Asher Miller Alex P. Keaton. Rob Dietz It's also like you. It's a rebellion against views held by your parents. Asher Miller Sorry dad. Rob Dietz Okay, so he goes to a Catholic military prep school. Gets an urban planning degree from Virginia Tech. Mother --so how come all these phalse prophets go to the same schools as I go to? Jason Bradford What other ones go to the same school? Asher Miller Well, Penn. Rob Dietz I don't know. We've talked about like Donald Trump in the past. We've talked - Anyway. Jason Bradford Not too many. Asher Miller That's why I almost didn't go to college because I didn't want to be associated. Jason Bradford You didn't go to Harvard or Stanford, luckily, because there's tons from those places. Or Yale. Oh my god. Those are the worst. Rob Dietz They wouldn't have taken me anyway. Yeah. Then he goes into the Navy where he gets stationed in the Persian Gulf during the Iran hostage crisis, and the failed rescue attempt that happened there right around the beginning of 1980, I guess. Jason Bradford Yeah. 79 or 80. Rob Dietz You know, and he said that was a big impact on his politics. He worked at the Pentagon, and then as I said before, in the beginning, he goes to Georgetown and Harvard. So kind of an elite person himself. Asher Miller Yeah. It's funny to think that, to recognize that, because so much of what his rhetoric is sort of anti-elitist. Jason Bradford Populist. Asher Miller So you know, after those stints, he actually turned towards entertainment. He did that because when he got hired by Goldman Sachs, which we talked about earlier, as an investment banker in the mergers and acquisitions division, he went from New York to LA to work in the entertainment industry. I guess that they were buying and selling companies and they were investing in that stuff. He ended up setting up his own company, Bannon and Co. in 1990. It was like a boutique investment bank for the entertainment industry. That got him a role as sort of an executive producer in a lot of stuff. Rob Dietz Yeah, let me cut in here for a sec. Because as the resident pop culture specialist here in Crazy Town, I went over to IMDb to check out his list of movies. Jason Bradford Yeah, what's the Rotten Tomatoes score on these things? Rob Dietz I don't know. Not real impressive. Let's just say that. Not a lot of big hits that you've heard of. Jason Bradford Yeah, he's no James Cameron. Rob Dietz No, no. He's not working with Steven Spielberg. Jason Bradford But yeah, there's something like 19 films or something he's produced. I mean, that's quite a bit. Rob Dietz Most of them are like bizarre right-wing documentaries, but you know. . . Pretty rough. Asher Miller Everyone's got to do their thing. Jason Bradford He's got his niche. But anyhow, in about this time, while he's got this Bannon and Co. thing going on and funding kind of crazy movies a little bit, he actually helped save Biosphere 2. You remember Biosphere 2? Rob Dietz That was the project to like close an ecosystem? Put some scientist inhabitants in there. Jason Bradford It's just outside of Tucson, Arizona actually. North of Tucson. Rob Dietz There was a documentary with Pauly Shore about that, right? Jason Bradford What was that called again? Rob Dietz Biodome? I don't know. Asher Miller Yeah, documentary. Jason Bradford I actually tried to visit it. So you know, I got a picture of me outside the front of it. But they charge so much money, there was a line. I just gave up. Asher Miller It's actually a pretty fascinating story how that whole thing failed. Jason Bradford Oh yeah. So it failed completely. Asher Miller Really interesting. Jason Bradford And there was this billionaire who wanted us to figure out how we were going to live on another planet and stuff like that. Creating an ecosystem under a dome. It didn't work. The thing was a mess. And I think Bannon was brought in as this sort of like hatchet man. And he basically - Asher Miller Yeah, like the Mitt Romney of the Biosphere 2. Clean this thing up. He basically fired all these people. Rob Dietz I thought it was like the Mr. Wolf of pulp fiction. Becoming a cleaner, or whatever. Jason Bradford But anyway, you can see videos of Bannon talking about this with the press And it essentially got bought out by I think, Columbia University, and now University of Arizona. And they run it as like a research facility. Rob Dietz But you seriously couldn't get in? Jason Bradford Well, I could have paid a bunch of money and stood in line, but I didn't have much time. I wanted to kind of go look at it real quick. But no, no. They charge. Rob Dietz So it's a tourist attraction now? Jason Bradford It's a big tourist attraction. Rob Dietz Huh. Jason Bradford Yeah. But then in 2005, he becomes a founding board member of the right-wing news outlet, Breitbart News. And that's kind of what people know him for now, right? And it was it was started by this guy named Breitbart. And the aim was to be a kind of Huffington Post, but on the right, okay? Mostly reposting other content. However, the founder Breitbart dies, and in 2012 Bannon took over as executive chairman. And he takes a more aggressive approach. He really expands it. There's a lot more of their own staff. They have offices actually over many parts of the world. And they become aligned with the alt right national movements which were openly racist. They basically you know, Bannon has this quote so you can see Bannon saying, "We are the news outlet for the alt right." Asher Miller Fun stuff. Good times. Before we move on to talking about Bannon's worldview, right? The world that he wants to bring to life. I find it fascinating, I've gotta say, just running through that little bio, dude spend some time in these single industry towns that are kind of interesting, right? So he spent time in New York, sort of Wall Street, right? D.C. and LA. So no fucking wonder why he hates elites. Or says he hates elites. Rob Dietz Don't forget also the desert in Arizona, where they only do Biodomes. Asher Miller That's right. What an industry town. I find that kind of interesting. The other thing that is really interesting, and this came out in a really interesting piece in Politico from 2017 by Eliana Johnson. It's about the fact that he's apparently - I mean, obviously, he went to these elite schools. But he's also like a voracious reader. And in fact, she quotes someone in the piece she wrote. She wrote, quote, "He's a voracious reader who devours works of history and political theory in 'like an hour' said a former associate who Bannon urged to read Sun Tzu's, "The Art of War." Quote, 'he's like the Rain Man of nationalism with a great vision."' Jason Bradford Yeah, and we'll kind of outline What that really means - Nationalism - a bit. I think a lot of people understand it, but I think we should shift to his worldview then and how that leads to sort of nationalism. This was a rabbit hole I did not understand I was putting my head into. Asher Miller Yeah, we lost you for a little while. Rob Dietz Jason, we've talked about how our lead researcher Alana Zuber has been put through the wringer having to delve into the biographies and the works of all these frickin' phalse prophets. And I think when we take a lead on outlining these episodes, like we get into that space, too. And yeah, Elana and Jason are now talking about viewing videos of husky and golden retriever puppies to kind of get their equilibrium back. Asher Miller Is it working? Rob Dietz We have to give them a few days. Jason Bradford I have to get through this episode first. I'm a little reactive right now, okay? It's a triggering episode? Okay, so Bannon follows the philosophy of what's known as traditionalism and that basically says that truth including morality are knowable and unchanging. Alright? Cut in if you need me to restate something, but I'm going to try to lay this out. They believe that there are these essential truths can be found through what is called divine revelation. And so many traditionalists read all kinds of ancient mystic religions and medieval philosophers. This could include Catholic scholars. You know, Bannon was raised Catholic. Rob Dietz So divine revelations, does that mean there's some deity who was handing the truth to some medieval scholar? Jason Bradford Well, they could be of any age. In other words, they're not prejudiced against the time period in which something happens because they believe that these revelations could have happened to any person in the past and they may have been written down. And that if they read all these ancient texts that have survived the ages because they were useful, they're considered important, that they might be able to glean some of these revealed truths. Rob Dietz And what about like a Dan Brown novel? Can they get something out of that? Asher Miller The bottom line is that they believe there are fixed truths. Jason Bradford Fixed truths. That there is perfect truth. There's perfect morality out there. But that it comes from these sort of divine revelations, okay? Asher Miller Not from Oprah? Jason Bradford No, not from Oprah. So the juxtaposition, sort of the opposite of traditionalism, is what we know of today as liberalism. Not neoliberalism. Not neoliberalism. So, the incarnation we have today is sort of modernism as well, I would say. And this is sort of the glorification of the Enlightenment and science. That the true traditionalist say have sort of tossed out these wiser ways of the past. So traditionalists want to go back to social structures from these pre-enlightenment eras, which ends up of course, leading to rigid social roles for men and women. This tends to be very patriarchal. And the analogy they often use is that the leader of a nation is like the father of a family. Rob Dietz I think Margaret Atwood described this pretty well in "Handmaid's Tale," right? Jason Bradford Right. That's what I'm telling you. This is deep philosophical differences between these traditionalists and liberals. Rob Dietz And do you see the traditionalists as throwing out the science? Or at least subjugating it to this social structure of the past? Jason Bradford Yeah, I think they would be very skeptical of science and technology if it is going to undermine these other truths, in a sense. Asher Miller The idea of the Enlightenment and science and study, or whatever is just that you're able to discover the world and to know things for yourself, right? And that's dangerous. Jason Bradford Yeah. Okay. So this is an interesting distinction about the role of sort of individuals versus the collective. And so, the contrast between traditionalism and liberalism, maybe it can be understood as a distinction between - The Enlightenment makes claims about the inherent human rights that are there, right? That we can - Of the individual. The rights of the individual. The individual. Individual human rights. The philosophers can talk about why there are human rights and what they are. And it's a lot of focus on the individual. Traditionalists emphasize that individuals actually have a duty and it's virtuous for them to fulfill their role in society. And so- Asher Miller In traditional roles Rob Dietz Quick idea. Could we take Steven Pinker - Remember his book, "Enlightenment Now?" And we could have him duke it out with Steve Bannon. Asher Miller Traditionalism Now. Jason Bradford Oh my god. That'd be awesome. Rob Dietz You might get a decent philosophy out of that boxing match. Asher Miller Or just a great MMA fight. Jason Bradford Yes. So you can see how vastly different a worldview this is between what most people that live in modern society, Enlightenment era. I mean, hundreds of years back we have sort of swept aside these traditionalist views. They often agree that, Oh yeah, a monarchy is a good thing. These inherited roles are actually a good thing to have. Asher Miller Yeah, it's a father of the family. Rob Dietz I watched a lot of Schoolhouse Rock episodes, and it's pretty clear that the king is no good. Right? Pretty clear. Jason Bradford So they would say that the king, like a father, has a duty to perform well in their role. If they don't, maybe they should be kicked out as king. So it's not like they say that there can't be bad kings. It's just that there are right and proper roles that you have to follow. Now, traditionalism does not itself espouse fascism. However, it quickly veers towards it. If you follow those who have taken up traditionalism as a philosophy and moved into the political realm, you can imagine that since they have these idealized truths, they also end up having you know, there are best races or best ideas. And these forms are in contrast to others who end up being these demonized minority. So it can get ugly very quickly. Rob Dietz It's a recipe for scapegoating, it sounds like. Jason Bradford Yep. Rob Dietz So I mean, obviously, you can see some danger in that kind of philosophy. But I think that pivots us to the danger that you see in the tactics that Bannon actually employs to get this philosophy out and about as far and wide as he can. And you mentioned earlier, Asher, when you were talking about Rain Man of nationalism that that Bannon was pitching the "Art of War" by Sun Tzu on his friends. You guys ever read that book? Jason Bradford I have not. Asher Miller No. Rob Dietz I've read it. Jason Bradford Yeah. In the original? Rob Dietz Yeah, of course. You don't want a translation. Come on. Well, I mean, there's a lot of stuff in there about how to defeat your enemy, right? Jason Bradford You take their feet off? Rob Dietz I don't remember that. Jason Bradford Okay. Rob Dietz You know, I could have been misreading. Asher Miller He was trying to literally defeet. Jason Bradford That was very good. Asher Miller Good one. Rob Dietz I thought I was supposed to be the traditionalist king of bad puns. Jason Bradford Dad jokes. Asher Miller That was so good. The collective groan right now. Rob Dietz Yeah, thanks for that Bannonesque disruption to my train of thought. The whole thing in "The Art of War" is you want to disrupt what your enemy is doing. You want to sow confusion, you know, hit them where they're weakest, turn your weaknesses into strengths, all that kind of stuff. Jason Bradford It's funny, you know, that the British did not read this before they showed up in red coats. And just stood in lines with guns. It was the stupidest thing. Like, what were they doing? Asher Miller That was the right and sporting way. The honorable way, you know, to kill each other together. Stand in a line together. Rob Dietz But then again, after reading the book, I never went out and secured $60 million for a sham gaming operation. So yeah. Asher Miller And that's why you're no Bannon. Well, so we should talk about probably the most famous, or the most well known area that Bannon has engaged in in terms of trying to bring forward this vision of the future, right? And I think we should be clear here. He's wanting to collapse the existing system. Right? Like, it's not just having a vision that someday this will revert back to a form of traditionalism, Jason Bradford Yeah, using normal political arguments and ballot boxes. No. Asher Miller No. He's like, No, we have to make this happen. So, he's engaged directly in national politics. And he's done that primarily through the auspices of one Donald J. Trump. And there are a couple of ways I think that he's done that. The big one is becoming the right-hand man. He ran his campaign when he ran the first time for president, And saw him, I think it's fair to say, as a truly disruptive force. And interestingly, the approach was not one that he sort of invented. There's kind of a model based upon this man Evola. Jason Bradford Julius Evola the Italian. Asher Miller Italian guy who had become sort of the right-hand man to Mussolini, Benito Mussolini. Rob Dietz Anytime you can follow the tactics of someone in the Mussolini government- Say no more! Jason Bradford You know, Bannon really likes Evola. And he's a pretty outlandish, scary traditionalist, right? Yeah. Asher Miller But Evola, I don't know if anyone's coined this as the Evola model, but there are others in the world who have attempted to do similar things. You look at Alexander Dugan in Russia, some folks might know that name because I think his daughter was just assassinated or murdered in Russia. I think they were actually going after Dugan himself. This was pro Ukrainian forces, supposedly, who had done this. And Dugan has been this very outspoken traditionalist. Highly, sort of, uber nationalistic Russian voice pushing for much more aggression on the part of Russia. Jason Bradford So you kind of wonder, you know, you've noticed how Trump kind of was praising Putin, all this sort of stuff. You see a lot of this now, and this wing of the Republicans has a lot of sympathy for Putin. And it's because they share these traditionalists' outlook. Bannon was sort of the Alexander Dugan. Asher Miller And there are other strong men. You know, there's Bolsonaro in Brazil, And there's a man named Olavo de Carvalho, who was also kind of a really close confidant or right hand person to him in Brazil. Jason Bradford Bannon has met with him, I believe. Asher Miller Yeah, these guys have talked to each other. So the playbook here is get close to these guys and use them to advance your goals. Rob Dietz I don't know about Evola, but I know about his right-hand man technique. I mean, I'm using it here at PCI. I'm in here trying to push my agenda - Asher Miller On me? Rob Dietz - And manipulate you. Asher Miller Wait, I've been trying to do that with Jason. Jason's the board president. Wait. Who are you trying to manipulate, Jason? Jason Bradford I just want to go walk my dog and watch the birds. Rob Dietz Oh, manipulating a dog. Asher Miller No wonder we're not getting anywhere. Jesus. Okay. Well, and then through Trump, obviously he was working within the administration. He wound up being kicked out of the Trump administration. But was about trying to advance some regressive policies and stoke a lot of division. I mean, he really did see Trump as like this perfect, not even a foil, but a shit stirrer, basically. And it wasn't just as a public figure who was like offending people and, you know, creating all kinds of division within society. It was also about enacting policies like the border wall and other things that may have allowed - Like Muslim bans - Yeah. It may have aligned with the traditionalist worldview, but it also was stoking a lot of division, right. And then, even when Trump lost, he could use him to sort of destroy the political system. You look at all the stop the steal rhetoric. Bannon was really pushing January 6, you know, getting people to come together on that day. Jason Bradford That's why he's got a contempt for Congress. They want him to talk about it, and he won't show up Rob Dietz That is really amazing from a tactical sense, and employing these "Art of War" philosophies. Like it doesn't matter if he's the right-hand man anymore, right? He got kicked out from being the right-hand man, and he's still effective and polarizing. Jason Bradford Well, I can tell you, he and Trump are buddies again, and I've been listening to his podcasts, and oh my god. He is really pushing the MAGA movement and Trump and stuff. So they're buds again. I'll just let you know that. Rob Dietz Oh, such great news. Well, okay, so another dangerous tactic that comes out of this "Art of War" philosophy is his mastery at manipulating the masses. We can go back to that story of the IGE. The gaming thing with Warcraft. And their business model ended up failing in the end, but he became really interested in the whole online gaming community, and figured out that he could be getting his political viewpoints and his messaging into that community. So really innovative way to recruit an army of, you know, potential January 6thers. Jason Bradford A lot of the internet trolling, they call this Gamergate, you know, was one of the things. Where it's like, somehow there's a spillover between these gaming communities and these aggressive men. Asher Miller You know, being basically an army of online trolls. And they actually were a force in the 2016 election for sure. Jason Bradford Yep. Rob Dietz Yeah. And then he also had the Breitbart News Editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, that Bannon had recruited, And they were activating an army through Breitbart as well. So he's really good at looking at these kind of niche messaging methods and manipulating a whole slew of people to his cause. Jason Bradford Yeah, so there's a lot of use of media. Of course, Breitbart, and now his War Room, the podcast. Rob Dietz Which you've been listening to regularly. Jason Bradford Yes. Asher Miller That's why you're wearing that shirt, right? The War Room shirt that you're wearing. Jason Bradford Yeah. Full of disinformation, misinformation. It's fascinating. There's kind of this unrelenting hitting of the same notes and themes. Imagine there's two of these a day. So there's a lot to draw from. I can't - I listened to a small proportion of what's out there. Asher Miller Our listeners should thank you for doing this for them so that they don't have to do it themselves. I thank you. Rob Dietz We will not include the War Room in the show notes. No need to link to that. Jason Bradford But what's fascinating is that almost every other episode is kind of hitting the same themes. And they're bringing on a lot of the same hosts on and they're taking a lot of current events and interpreting them to hammer the same themes. And so you always hear that the election of 2020 was stolen. So there's a whole stop the steal stuff. They're really protective of January 6, you know. It's not within an insurrection. These are patriots. They were just protesting. They talk a lot about the financial system. How corrupt it is. That it is on the verge of collapse. They talk about you know, how money is made and stuff like that. And Ponzi scheme type stuff. A lot of distrust in the major media. They despise what we would call the transhumanists. The AI, you know, developers. They are really scared of these people. They believe this is gonna cause existential risk. Asher Miller As we've discussed, we might agree with some of that. Jason Bradford Well, that's the thing, you know. And then they'll switch back to distrust of vaccines, fomenting about border security. And then they cut to the ads with a great theme song of the rapper, Chinese billionaire guy. Unbelievable. So the style - They have better ads than we do, I gotta say. Rob Dietz Well, the guy that writes the copy for our ads is horrendous. Jason Bradford He probably gets paid a lot for those ads. Buy gold. A lot of stuff like that. Rob Dietz This hammering home of one message is pretty deep contrast to what we do on Crazy Town. And more broadly at PCI, I feel like we live in the gray space. We're kind of looking for nuance, new angles on what's going on. I mean, not to say that we never discussed the same theme from one episode to another. Jason Bradford The do the opposites overlap a lot probably. Rob Dietz Probably, but I feel like we're - Asher Miller And our jokes. Rob Dietz I mean, I feel like we're actually searching for different angles, you know. We don't want to bore the audience, right? Maybe we should switch though. We should just have two things we say over and over and over and over again. Asher Miller Yeah. Well, here he is using media in different forms to sort of manipulate people. What is he trying to instill? I would say it's fueling this vitriol, this hatred, this division in the distrust of elites. Which is kind of ironic considering the guy comes from a pretty elite background himself. Rob Dietz Wait. So one of these phalse prophets is actually a hypocrite? You're telling me? Asher Miller I know. It's amazing. And unfortunately, there's a lot of truth in the distrust. Jason Bradford I tell you. I'm like nodding along with the guy sometimes going, "Wow. Okay." Rob Dietz So he's almost got you to make the turn. You're almost a traditionalist. Jason Bradford And then it just goes off on something insane. Asher Miller Just keep listening. You'll get there. Jason Bradford Yeah. Well, something that's also interesting that he keeps pushing is that this is the time. Like, this is the actual natural time for a crisis to unfold that will crash the system and bring forth a new age that is going to be better. And actually, it comes from one of his favorite books. There was a book in 1997 by these academics, Strauss and Howe. And it's called, "The Fourth Turning." And they argue that there's like these generational cycles. Like four generations. 80 to 90 years per cycle, about, throughout history. And that right now we're in one of these crisis/collapse phases. And Bannon identified the 2008-2009 financial crisis as sort of the beginning of this new era, this fourth turning. And he basically looked at Trump as the political figure who can just keep pushing us through this crisis. Break it down. Because in the crisis, the old has to fall for the new to rise. Asher Miller It's really astonishing, really disquieting, to me, parallels. Because, you know, we also saw what happened in 2008-2009. Not just with what happened in the financial markets and the housing market, but also what was happening with the energy system. Oil prices going up to $147 a barrel in 2008 and then crashing. And before shale came online, seeing that we were hitting the wall with conventional oil. And like, we saw that as a turning point too. I mean, our colleague, Richard Heinberg wrote a book called "The End of Growth" in that period there. Jason Bradford Right. It's gonna be it. And he actually, one of his movies is called "Generation Zero." That's Bannon's movie in 2010. And it basically follows the Strauss and Howe argument in saying, "This is the time. This is the time." Rob Dietz You're not giving him enough credit here too. He's the writer and director of "Generation Zero." Jason Bradford Nice. Rob Dietz And over there on IMDb, the user approval rating has got a 3.3, which is probably the worst I've ever seen. Asher Miller Out of what? Rob Dietz Out of a 10. Like, really good movies get up into the eights, right? And like, a crummy action movie, run of the mill, gets a six, or something. Asher Miller Yeah, but his is a conspiracy of elites who just go on to IMDb or whatever, and down rate his stuff. Rob Dietz Yeah, that is true. Asher Miller The real people love it, you know. Rob Dietz Imagine watching a movie that's just filled with Newt Gingrich and John Bolton, and you know, other fun chaps like that. Asher Miller I will say, So Jason, your point about the "Fourth Turning" - I mean, I think there's probably two things there. One is, it could be a great communication sort of tool to sort of say to people, this is the time. Now you get to do this. Put it into context of people feeling this sense - Jason Bradford It's a normal historical event we're part of. Asher Miller Yeah, you should be doing this. I also think he has been a student of history and is really fascinated by it and probably does believe in these cycles as well. Jason Bradford Sure. Right. Yeah, that's something - I kind of think in cycles, too. So I'm kind of with him there maybe. Asher Miller I guess the last thing I just want to point just as we're talking about sort of different tactics and ways that the guy has been trying to engender this sort of collapse of the social order political system, whatever you want to call it now. He's also been supporting geopolitical discord, you could say, right? So, funding nationalist movements around the world. Literally with a group that's based in Brussels called The Movement, which Rob, I'm just waiting for the joke here. Maybe I'll just move on. Rob Dietz Just keep it going. Can I also just say, this is a weird tactic to go, I'm gonna go global to go nationalist. Asher Miller Well, no. It makes it actually a lot of sense. You want to - So I actually wonder you know, we talked about that Chinese billionaire dude, right? Rob Dietz Yeah. I hope we're pronouncing his name right, Guo Wengui. Something like that, Milo Guo. Asher Miller Which he, I think, has a really fascinating story himself. But like, somehow Bannon is in bed with the dude and maybe that relationship is also about again, trying to create this discord. If you want to recreate a national identity, if you want to create a more traditional society here in the United States, break down the geopolitical order. Breakdown globalization. Jason Bradford Tear up the tarp and you know, the Trans Pacific trade agreement. Rob Dietz And this guy Guo, I mean, you shared with me Jason, one of the ways he's related to Bannon, and that's that Bannon uses his song in the podcast. Jason Bradford Yeah. It's wonderful. Every transition in the podcast is this rap song by this guy. Asher Miller It's so fucking weird. Rob Dietz So Jason sent me the video to this thing, and you see Guo on a yacht shouting, "Take down the CCP." Asher Miller Right. The Chinese Communist Party. Rob Dietz Yeah. And you know, he wants to make it safe for him to I guess, get more billions. Because he's on the deck of his yacht smoking a 12-inch cigar. And doing some weird kung fu shadow boxing stuff. Jason Bradford He switches between great outfits. An all-white suit, a sort of traditional Chinese kind of gown. Asher Miller Can we at least put this in the show notes? Rob Dietz Maybe. Asher Miller Send people the video, come on. Rob Dietz I'm a huge kung fu fan, and he's terrible at it. But I have to say of comedy yacht videos, this one ranks #3. Jason Bradford He's not good at it. It's the worst shadow boxing I've ever seen. I don't think it's supposed to be a comedy. Rob Dietz Well, regardless of the intention, it's clearly a comedy. Jason Bradford It's hysterical. I actually think that tune is kind of catchy. Asher Miller See, we're losing Jason. Rob Dietz Yeah, no, he's often in War Room land. Asher Miller In Bannon land. Rob Dietz Strip that shirt off. So #1 goes to Worldwide Prestige, "Boats and Hoes" from the movie stepbrothers. With Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. #2 is the Lonely Islands, "I'm on a Boat" from Saturday Night Live. Jason Bradford Those are better. They're better. I agree. Rob Dietz Yeah, they're funnier. But Guo's is pretty funny too. Jason Bradford It's hysterical. Especially since it's not supposed to be. Alright, so we've got another species here that we haven't had yet. This is very exciting. This one is Homo vandali, or what I call, the name familiar is Molotov Mixologist. So these guys are basically willing to throw the Molotov cocktail and burn down the house. And essentially, they look at these existing power structures as locked in, irredeemable, likely to fall from their own defects. And so, they then justify blowing things up sooner to get it over with. Or, you know, more modestly stoking the political chaos like Bannon does. And this somehow, they believe they will come out on top of the rubble. And I would say that, you know, there's a lot of discussion in the taxonomic treatment that this may be a species that has multiple species within it. It is currently circumscribed. I'm not sure. Because there's some very different philosophies out there that believe in this. That believe in this strategy. Asher Miller Yeah, I mean, what you just described could easily be, we're talking about Bannon, but it could easily be somebody that's sort of on the far-left spectrum. Jason Bradford Right. So I have the type specimen which is Ted Kaczynski. Asher Miller Oh, right. Jason Bradford He's the darling of some of the anarcho primitivists. Rob Dietz Right. The unabomber with his manifesto. Jason Bradford Yes. So anyhow, I think this is an important point, because Bannon tries to keep himself clean a bit. He tries to say that he is not, you know, into the violent stuff. He tries to back out from some of these things. But he's stoking the hatred and the division, and funding a lot of stuff that ends up getting into these fascist type of movements. So here's a quote from somebody who carried out a terrible, horrific attack: "Why did you carry out the attack? To add momentum to the pendulum swings of history. Further destabilizing and polarizing Western society in order to eventually destroy the current nihilistic, hedonistic, individualistic insanity that has taken control of Western thought." So that is part of the description - That's somebody explaining why they basically shot up a church. Rob Dietz Molotov Mixologist. So, what have we learned by looking at Bannon's sordid history and this whole traditionalist, and let's blow it up Molotov Mixologist way that he's promoting? Asher Miller One thing for me is it's important to differentiate him, I think, from the ecosystem of other people you could look at and sort of say are of a similar vein. So like an Alex Jones, for example, right? You can look at them at the surface and say, these guys are kind of the same, right? They're over the top rhetoric. They're promulgating conspiracy theories, whatever. They're scaring the pants off of people. But you know, Alex Jones is like, fucking grifter. I mean, the guy is out there espousing shit that is some of the most heinous disgusting, disturbing things you could imagine. Just sort of doing it to upsell his vitamins or whatever the fuck it is. Like I think Bannon really believes. He has a mission here. Jason Bradford He is more a political animal. Asher Miller He is doing things with intentionality that is not just about trying to, you know, run ads and make money. I'm sure he's running ads and making money too. But he's got a purpose and mission, which makes him in some ways, a lot more dangerous than the Alex Jones's of the world. Rob Dietz Yeah, one of the aha's for me is something you referenced a little earlier about how disturbing it is that we can agree with Bannon on a lot of points. Like it's disturbing that our close allies, Douglas Rushkoff, for example, would probably also agree with him on some of these points. Jason Bradford Yeah, he wrote an essay on being invited to Bannon's show, the War Room. It was called like, "How to avoid becoming a Fascist." And he explained why he didn't go on the show. Rob Dietz Well, you know, and Bannon, you mentioned how he's looking at an 80-year cycle. We've talked about that with Peter Turchin, these cycles in history. And sort of looking at how do societies adapt to changing conditions. And the adaptive cycle we refer to quite a bit. And there's the idea that infinite progress is not something that we're going to see. Asher Miller A real distrusting critique of technology and runaway technology. Rob Dietz Yeah, and maybe even some of this, we need more local self-reliance type stuff. You know, we would try to look at that in a pro-social way, as opposed to the kind of scapegoating and build a wall sort of way that Bannon does. But there's some piece of that that you could say is in common. So I think, you know, this happens a lot with false prophets. There's some nugget of truth in there, right? And they can kind of hook intelligent people with the truths. And then they go off in some set of conclusions that's just taking us the wrong direction. Jason Bradford Yeah. I mean, and this is what, when I get in discussions with people about our way of thinking, they often get nervous because they think if you scare people, if people think there's going to be limits or scarcity, then they're going to go down this tack of shaming and out grouping. And they worry about this. Asher Miller Well, they'll do that. Or they'll do the prepping thing. Or they'll do the fatalism thing. Jason Bradford Yes. Rob Dietz And it's a real danger. Jason Bradford It is a danger. But what upsets me is that if we leave - So many people resonate, you know. Like, we're nodding along with some of Bannon's stuff. So many people resonate with his critique, and this dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the distrust of the system. Which he's actively undermining, of course. But there is definitely truth in there. And on the far left, you've got these, you know, Ted Kaczynski type followers, the anarcho primitivists, who wanted to collapse the industrial system so it doesn't end up killing all life on Earth. And Bannon doesn't seem to have much of an ecological mindset. But you can see how the right and the left come together, wanting to burn it down at these extremes. And so, what's frustrating then to me, and what I often argue with people - And we've gotten into this before when I talked to Bob Jensen. And we had this episode that dealt with eco-fascism. If we don't have any progressive or visions that are on the populace side, right, that acknowledge people's pain and upset and the corruption, then the voices of the Bannon's are going to own this narrative of this broken system that can't be fixed. It needs to be replaced. And so that's an aha I'd like to bring here. Like, no, we really need voices that are more at the centrist progressive end of things. Rob Dietz Yeah, I see that. And that's obviously dangerous if there's no one to fill the void. I think there's another huge danger in the whole collapse-the-system thinking. Whether it's an abandoned style, or Kaczynski style, or whoever's aiming for that. I've got to think the assumption is that something better emerges out of the rubble, you know. The Phoenix rises from the ashes, and we've got suddenly a better nation, or a better government, or a better ecosystem, or whatever. But that's a really screwy thought because usually when you wipe something clean it's not like the utopia just emerges, right? I mean, I went to a doctor and I was having gut problems. And I said, "Well, what if you just give me a bunch of antibiotics and we just nuke my gut and start over?" And she was like, "Nah, that's a terrible idea. Because you're just going to have the most virulent bacteria colonizing your gut first. The most aggressive stuff is going to take over." And I kind of see that as a way more likely outcome. The sort of Walking Dead, meanest, baddest people will kind of have the power if we just wipe out the system. Jason Bradford No, we go down that path and it's just horrific. It's hard to turn it off once it starts unraveling like that. Asher Miller Well, and let's just say the Bannon path is horrific either way, right? Because if they are successful, what's the end result? The traditionalist world where women are subjugated? Jason Bradford I think there was a Hulu series about that. Asher Miller Exactly. Great. This is great. Jason Bradford Okay, insufferability index. I'm thinking we make - Asher Miller God, this is going to be so hard. Jason Bradford We may get a record here. But look, like I'm saying . . . It's a 0 to 10 criteria, blah, blah, blah. What do I do with the fact that a couple of ideas, I'm aligned with him? It's hard to get a full high score from those. Do I take off a point? I want to start at 10 because he's just awful. But maybe I gotta back up. Rob Dietz 10, 10, 10. Jason Bradford That's the first time you've ever started with a 10 and then deducted points. It's easier that way. Asher Miller So start at a 10, and maybe take one off. That's what I was gonna do. Jason Bradford Alright. I'll just take one off. I'm gonna do a 9. Asher Miller Me too. Rob Dietz I'm giving him a 10. You guys suck. Melody Allison Other podcasts ask for a lot of stuff. Buy their merch, join their Patreon, donate your left kidney. No, we're just asking you to share the show. If you're like me, and you find it funny and thought provoking, then please tell three friends, hit that share button, and get some other people joining us in Crazy Town. George Costanza Every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right. Rob Dietz Okay, we just heard from George Costanza. He always introduces our do the opposite segment. Think we might need to rethink this guys. Jason Bradford What are you talking about? Rob Dietz There's a little known fact about Steve Bannon, as if we didn't have enough stinking little known facts about him. But every time a Seinfeld episode gets aired, Steve Bannon makes some money. Asher Miller So we're helping this dude. Jason Bradford I dont know. I think you have play a whole frickin' episode. What do you mean, though? Rob Dietz So he was a producer, right? Jason Bradford He was an investment banker/merger-acquisitions kind of guy. Rob Dietz He's got some kind of tie to the whole Seinfeld deal where he gets royalties off of it. Jason Bradford Oh my God. Rob Dietz I know. I want royalties off of Seinfeld. Asher Miller So, to do the opposite, we've got to do the opposite of our clip and like . . . Jason Bradford Let's just talk to our attorney. Rob Dietz I think we need to have some kind of like bot reading it instead of George Costanza. Asher Miller No, on a more serious note of doing the doing the opposite, if Bannon is about sowing discord, breaking down trust in our institutions and our collective enterprise or collective experiments together, I think doing the opposite is promoting and practicing mutual aid, right? Mutual aid, solidarity, social cohesion over division. Even without the Bannons of the world trying to basically light the puppy on fire, we've got a lot of energy going in the wrong direction in terms of, you know, social media splintering people, and the stresses that are being felt throughout the modern system. Jason Bradford Literally successionist movements in states. Rob Dietz We have that going on right here. Like the entire eastern half of Oregon is looking to secede and become part of Idaho. Jason Bradford Yeah. Asher Miller But even without Bannon out there kind of, you know, stoking the fires, we're having all kinds of crises that are hitting us now or now are going to worsen - Climate, energy shocks, economic, what have you. So what we actually need is to put in place efforts that build social ties, that build mutual aid, and solidarity. We actually explored this in a two-part series that PCI did. Rob, you were part of it. I was part of as well. Looking at mutual aid. It was called "Mutual Aid and the Great Unraveling." Rob Dietz Yeah, I got to interview Dean Spade as part of that, who's a law professor up in Washington. And he wrote a book called "Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity during this Crisis and the Next." And it was kind of opening my eyes that, you know, you throw around terms like mutual aid. I mean, there's, there's actually kind of a rich history there and a method to it. And I'm not going to claim to be an expert. In fact, I am planning to go through that book in much more detail, but I would encourage our listeners to check that out. Jason Bradford Okay. So we'll have links in the show notes. You know, how do you find it? Can you search for this easily on PCI's website? Asher Miller Yeah. We'll put a link in the show notes. Jason Bradford Okay. Great. I also think that, you know, as Bannon is trying to sow distrust in collective institutions, maybe we should think about building trust. And the building of the trust happens only if you participate to make them more trustworthy, to make them more transparent. And of course, that's a lot easier to do if you're local. So there is actually a series of 25 articles on resilience.org called Democracy Rising. It was organized - Or the Deliberative Democracy Series, actually. Organized by Tom Prugh, and it's about really focusing on community-led democracy. So how do you get together and deliberate and sort of share power and decision making, And I think it's a very useful thing to do. Especially for this mutual aid process. Be ready to work together and get through, you know, the crises we're going to be facing. Because part of what I think about is if these guys are talking about how democracy has failed, you know, the question really is how well have we really worked to make the democracy what it can be? And I think we really haven't put enough effort into that. Asher Miller And I'll just add another resource along those lines, which is, there's an international group called the Global Tapestry of Alternatives that has done a lot of work. Ashish Kothari and Shrishtee Bajpai and others there, supporting these networks and models of different forms of collaborative democracy and decision making communities all around the world. So it's not just looking at how we could do that in places like the United States, but in other places as well. Rob Dietz Yeah. And I think for the three of us, our do the opposite charge is to go get jobs at Goldman Sachs so that we can fund these deliberative democracy initiatives. Jason Bradford That's genius. Asher Miller That's a great idea. Will they have us? Rob Dietz Oh, no doubt. Jason Bradford I'm gonna go get a Harvard MBA right now. Asher Miller Thanks for listening. If you made it this far then maybe you actually liked the show. Rob Dietz Yeah. And maybe you even consider yourself a real inhabitant of Crazy Town, someone like us who we affectionately call a Crazy Townie. Jason Bradford If that's the case, then there's one very simple thing you can do to help us out: Share the podcast or even just this episode. Asher Miller Yeah, text three people you know who you think would get a kick out of hearing from us bozos. Rob Dietz Or if you want to go away old school, then tell them about the podcast face to face. Jason Bradford Please, for the love of God. If enough people listen to this podcast, maybe one day we can all escape from Crazy Town. We're just asking for three people, a little bit of sharing. We can do this. We all know about the Patriots plotting to take down the grid. Before they do, all good Christians to prepare to thrive without the trappings of hedonistic corporate profit maximizing modern utility services. And sure, you can buy a set of PV panels. 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