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Articles on this Page
- 08/14/15--15:07: _Quaid e Azam and Iq...
- 10/24/16--20:47: _Film: Royal Indian ...
- 10/24/16--21:06: _General Mohammed Ak...
- 10/24/16--23:04: _More "Collateral Da...
- 10/25/16--14:17: _Pakistan and GHQ's ...
- 11/08/16--22:42: _President Trump
- 11/15/16--21:37: _Stephen Bannon Spea...
- 11/21/16--06:19: _President Trump. Th...
- 12/01/16--14:48: _Lt Gen SK Sinha
- 12/05/16--08:57: _Is Islam the rock o...
- 12/20/16--10:53: _PIA's Black Goat Sa...
- 12/27/16--09:17: _The Bokhari Brother...
- 01/02/17--09:50: _General Raheel Shar...
- 01/05/17--14:03: _Martial Races Theor...
- 01/06/17--10:49: _Review of Crossed S...
- 01/08/17--09:49: _Major General Anant...
- 03/06/17--10:25: _The INA (Indian Nat...
- 03/17/17--11:27: _ A Few Questions re...
- 03/27/17--09:06: _Review. Field Marsh...
- 04/03/17--11:18: _Review: Age of Ange...
- 08/14/15--15:07: Quaid e Azam and Iqbal. A meeting of minds..
- 10/24/16--20:47: Film: Royal Indian Army Service Corps in World War 2
- 10/24/16--21:06: General Mohammed Akbar Khan (and some others)
- 10/24/16--23:04: More "Collateral Damage" in Quetta General Durrani
- 10/25/16--14:17: Pakistan and GHQ's commitment to fight terrorists..
- 11/08/16--22:42: President Trump
- 11/15/16--21:37: Stephen Bannon Speaks..
An Imaginary meeting..
By Pakistani-American writer Asif Ismael.
"Didn't I tell you, sir, this idea of yours: a separate homeland for the Muslims, is a bit fanciful? And you continued to press me to come to Bombay." Jinnah said, arranging the crease of his pants over his knees. Through a slit in the curtains hanging behind his host's back, a sunbeam streamed into the room and fell on the silver base of a hooka placed next to his feet--its reflection distorted in his impeccably shined black shoe. He sat on the rocking chair stiff as a board, for even a slight movement made the chair squeak.
His host, Iqbal, lying down on his side in a four-post bed, had his temple glued to his fist: a man in deep thought--a posture imprinted on the minds of the masses--the bed-sheet crumpled around the point of Iqbal's elbow.
Iqbal, for the last several minutes, had been staring at the floor, lost in thought. Actually he'd been marvelling at Jinnah's shoes, glistening, on his Isfahan, planted firmly, an inch or two apart, one slightly ahead of the other, but not too far ahead, reflecting a certain precision which his poetic sensibility had found challenging to grasp.
"Look, it's not over yet," Iqbal said. He closed his eyes, grabbed his hooka pipe and began inhaling through his fingers clenched around the tip. The embers turned crimson within the bowl. The room smelled of imported tobacco. The toking filled the room with gurgles.
Jinnah's lips quivered without emitting a sound as he tried talking through the loud and prolonged guggle of the hooka; then pressing them together he waited for the old man to finish his noisy inhale. The gurgling stopped followed by a spell of raspy cough that brought the host's eyes to tears. Raising his eyebrows Jinnah took a deep breath, like a sigh, and holding it in his chest he waited for the cough to subside. And when it did and as he slowly exhaled the trapped air in his chest, he noticed drops of tears rolling down on Iqbal's cheeks. The smoke, the swirling blue haze caught in the sunbeam over the head of his host, thrown in turmoil when touched by his breath. He decided to stay quiet.
A man in his twenties, his hair held in a ponytail, appeared at the door holding a pigeon, white as snow. He held the bird next to his chest, petting it. "Allama Ji, today is the day, when the whole town will know what kind of pigeons we breed here in Mohalla Kashmarian," he said. He stopped in his tracks at the door upon noticing the stare of Jinnah. He was unsure, though, if those two arrows of steel were directed at him or at the pigeon.
"Oh, don't mind this chap: He's my pigeon breeder, the best in Punjab," Iqbal said, clearing his throat.
"I'd better be going--I'll have to catch the train early in the morning from Lahore. Meetings and more meetings!--I wonder when this will end, if ever," Jinnah said, getting up. "Think about what I've said. Have a nice Pigeon Day." Putting his black overcoat on, he glanced at the pigeon breeder who stood in the doorway lost in his world, his eyes on the pigeon, petting it softly. Jinnah put his hat on, shrugged his shoulder to ease them into his coat, and left the room.
"Allama Ji, is he the only one you've been able to find in the whole world to lead the Muslims of India? Sometimes, you seriously make me wonder, Allama Ji," the pigeon breeder said, sitting on the rocking chair where Jinnah had sat. The pigeon emitted a squeal.
"Oh Bashir, my son, you're too innocent--To win you must find the best of the breed. When the pigeon is flying high, looking like a dot, darting across the vast blue sky, who cares if it has been bred in Sailkot, Daska, Lahore, London, Paris or New York," Iqbal said, getting off from the bed and sliding his feet into a pair of slippers. "Lets go to the rooftop."
"Allama Ji, hurry up! Wearing a yellow shawl bright as sun, she's been waiting for you on her rooftop," Bashir said. "I'm going to carry your hooka. How about some daaroo?"
"Oh Bashir, you are a bastard of the highest order. Don't you see the sun is still way too high? Do you want me to see four pigeons flying in the sky, instead of two?" Iqbal said, taking the bird from him. The pigeon fluttered a bit before settling in a new set of hands. "What a beauty! Look at her eyes! Wells filled with water sweet and pure; the delicate nose, the straight neck putting even a shaheen to shame!"
"Today's the day, when the pigeons fly high--when the eyes meet across the sky; when love fills the old boot; and water rises in the new shoot," Bashir said, stepping behind Iqbal on the stairway.
"Okay! Okay! just get the damn daaroo," Iqbal said, turning around. He looked up and said: "The wind blows lifting the yellow sand off the golden dunes, carrying the musk of the beloved."
From the rooftop they both saw Jinnah, hunched like a bow, getting his skinny frame into his black Bentley, his chauffeur standing stiff holding the car's door open for him. A gang of kids availing this godsent opportunity of putting their hands on such a shiny creature, had touched the car to their heart's content, leaving streaks of dirt in the spotless glimmer of its black armor.
With one foot in the car, Jinnah turned around as if he felt their gaze on his back. He looked up for an instant, and saw Iqbal and his pigeon breeder standing at the rooftop. They waved at him, smiling. Shaking his head he slid into his car. The driver shut the door softly and yelled at the kids already planning to run behind this sleek creature that looked so foreign and new in their old Mohalla Kashmarian.
Inside, the car smelled of tanned hide, tobacco, English tweed, and dog.
At least 50 young people (mostly police recruits, a few guards) have been killed in another terrible terrorist atrocity in Quetta. A police training college was attacked (not for the first time) by terrorists on a road that has seen literally dozens of attacks and has a checkpoint every few hundred yards . The chief law enforcement officer in Balochistan (the head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps) has blamed the Lashkar e Jhangvi al Alami (the worldwide army of Jhangvi, an anti-Shia group) for this attack. This group is supposedly a splinter of the larger (and until recently, semi-legal) Lashkar e Jhangvi, who are themselves the "militant wing" (implausible deniability) of the even larger (and even more legal) ASWJ (supposedly banned, but recently invited to meet the interior minister, who reportedly assured their chief that he was "a man of Islam and therefore a supporter of Islamic parties"), and so it goes.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's incredibly efficient and competent "Inter-Services Public Relations" (ISPR) department (headed by a three star general, probably the only military PR department in the world, perhaps the only one in history, to be led by a three star general; we may not produce Guderians and Rommels, but we do produce Bajwas, Mashallah) is on the job to make sure we all understood how:
A. The army has reacted extremely competently to the attack and the attackers had been killed in short order (this claim has some credibility; our mid-level officers and soldiers are indeed competent, brave and aggressive and deserve some credit)
B. The attackers were talking to someone in Afghanistan and may have had foreign backing (hint hint cough RAW cough cough), so, dear countrymen, the army is off the hook. WE didnt do it and neither did OUR proxies.
C. The army chief will surely fly in soon, raising morale, calling the Afghan president for a chat and generally doing stuff (and need we say, the civilians have no clue).
But what this ISPR effort (with the concurrent appearance of multiple military proxies on TV channels and social media, all claiming that India is behind this attack, as it is behind all attacks) really tells us is that the game remains the same. Even as we were being told that we are the victims of cross-border terrorism and that this was intolerable and no state could allow its neighbors to harbor terrorists who come across the border and kill innocents, OUR terrorists (the good Taliban, the Kashmiri Jihadis) proudly continue killing endless civilians and police and armymen in Kabul, Kashmir, Mumbai, etc.
The double game must go on.
General Asad Durrani, ex-chief of the ISI and proud "intellectual soldier" said it best; the deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistanis are the collateral damage of our successful strategy of "winning" in Afghanistan. Which is itself collateral damage of our eternal "war till victory" with India. Great nations have to be willing to make small sacrifices. And what are a few thousand dead people in the greater scheme of things? and of course, what are a few lies between friends?
Watch at 9 minute mark onwards. Please do. You will not regret it.
What more can one say?
There are, literally, no words.
Meanwhile, Chori Nisar's meeting with the ASWJ and the good terrorists of various stripes is a clear indication that nothing will change because nothing CAN change. If we are the citadel of Islam and India is our eternal enemy whose current borders we intend to change (by force, there being no other obvious way of doing so), then the rest follows like the cart follows the horse.
We cannot really ban the Islamic parties because they are the truest expression of our Islamic millennial dreams and (more to the point for geniuses like Durrani sahib) the source of our most motivated proxy warriors. We cannot ban the ASWJ because all the Islamists are cousins and you cannot act against one without upsetting the others. Or, maybe because they might attack GHQ if they get upset (believers in the importance of ideas can go with theory #1, pragmatists will prefer #2; either way, these people cannot be targeted too hard). And if we cannot ban the Islamists and we cannot ban the ASWJ, then the Lashkar e Jhangvi will always be around too, because they all support each other and the same swamp that breeds LET types will always breed LEJ types too.
And so it goes.
Until the next atrocity.
PS: some friends will no doubt want to talk about the CIA and the Saudis, but I do believe that while the CIA and the Saudis were our paymasters and teachers for decades, the CIA is no longer interested in promoting Pakistani Jihad and even the Saudis are having second thoughts. The people who are NOT yet having second thoughts are the geniuses like General Durrani (and we can have no doubt that his successors in GHQ feel the same way he does) who feel a thrill of pride at having defeated their second superpower (China will be number 3, inshallah).
And so it goes.
By the way, as shown in the above poster, the LET is holding a funeral in absentia for one of its terrorists/militants/freedomfighters killed in an attack in Kashmir that killed soldiers (on a smaller scale) similar to the attack on the police training center in Quetta. To own one and condemn the other would be morally shaky, though perfectly reasonable in terms of war. But the weird thing is, most people in Pakistan (even as many of them accept the necessity and even support the ideals of this war) do not really go about their lives as if we were at war with India. We get upset that our artists are not permitted free travel and opportunities in India or that Modi is not as "soft" with our establishment as past Congress regimes have sometimes been in public pronouncements... but it may be time to think about this: it is possible to have your cake and eat it too, but not forever.. Sure, if we are fighting a 1000 year war for Kashmir (and beyond), then so be it. We will have our successes and our enemies will have theirs. But have we really thought this through?
Some people express doubts about the Pakistan army's commitment to eradicating all Islamist terrorist groups. (and there can be no doubt that it IS the Pakistani army that makes such decisions in Pakistan. ..PMLN, PPP, ANP may be in "power" here or there, but security and foreign affairs are ultimately run by the army and if they are not on board, no strategy can possibly work). Others point to the thousands of soldiers killed in the line of duty and insist that the security forces are doing all they can and criticism is just "playing into the hands of our enemies".
Is there a way to tell who is right?
Suppose you have no inside information. Just from public sources, can you tell if they are doing all they can? I believe you can. And just off the top of my head, lets look at a couple of things we can use as metrics:
1. The enemy is identified and targeted AS the main enemy. For example, British security services fighting their own dirty war against the provisional IRA were fighting, first and foremost, the IRA. Their Irish-American supporters, Irish Republic politicians, the KGB, Gaddafi, whatever, could all be blamed for supporting them (they could even be mentioned as the one thing that keeps the IRA going, take X out and they will collapse, etc), but there was no question about who the enemy was.
Is this true in Pakistan? I don't think so. The main focus of the state's impressive psyops machine seems to be to identify India or Israel or the USA (or all three, or "Hinjews" or whatever) as the cause of our problems, with the actual terrorists (who never happen to be Hindus or Jews or Americans) being nothing more than misguided or paid youth whose own aims and ambitions play no real role in this campaign.
i.e., on this point, GHQ is clearly NOT doing what any outside observer would expect. They don't spend a lot of time and effort identifying, demonizing and targeting the organizations and people who actually conduct all these attacks.
2. When a terrorist attack takes place, there is an investigation. It may not be very public, but if you are serious about stopping them, you have to investigate where the perpetrators came from, how and why did they join a terrorist organization, who recruited them, who trained them, who led them, who facilitated them....and you have to go back and roll up all these networks. Only then can you hope to defeat them. This is not rocket science, it is basic police work. Some of this clearly gets done in Pakistan too, but very little of this makes it into the news. Why? Because the facts turned up are inconvenient? Because too much focus on the actual perpetrators and organizations would take away from the "RAW did it" storyline? Because the state still wants to protect some of the Islamist networks? Who knows..
On this point, I have no real inside information, but if you hang around police officers, you do hear a lot of anecdotes about police officers who were stopped from pursuing this or that lead by the "intelligence agencies". Some of these anecdotes may be self-serving lies. But there IS a lot of smoke. With this much smoke, there may also be fire..
3. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Follow any paknationalist on twitter and facebook. Count the references to RAW and Mossad. Then look for references to Lashkar e Jhangvi, ASWJ, Jaish e Mohammed, etc.
Yes. You will find tweets like these (I assure you, this is a representative sample):
By the way, that last tweet reflects a sentiment that I have heard some people express about another country, one created 200 years after Afghanistan came into being..
Don't believe the Pakistani army could be stupid enough to STILL play double games with terrorists? Set your mind at rest. See General Asad Durrani in action:
Read more about our narratives and issues by clicking on the following links:
Quetta. Collateral Damage?
The Narratives Come Home to Roost
Pakistan: Myths and Consequences
How can you not say a few words :)
Some are just question (not rhetorical questions, I am genuinely curious about some of them)
1. Trump managed to convince rustbelt voters that they need to stick it to the system. They did.
2. But now that he will be President, what will his achievements be? Can he get more done than the existing establishment? it is conceivable, but it is not likely. These same voters may not back him next time around.
3. I am willing to buy some sort of Hayek-ian argument about what revives an economy, but Trump was not making that argument. In terms of economics, trade etc, what will he do that will revive the American rust-belt?
4. Which of the apocalyptic visions will come true? Will Russia get Ukraine and the Baltics? will Muslims in America get it worse than African-Americans? Will Trump nuke some country in the Middle East? and so on..
5. Trump has some instincts that are more humane than those of the Republican establishment. For example, he thinks poor people should not die on the streets and maybe they should get medicaid. But he will not be king. He will be president with the SAME Republican House and Senate as before, with a narrow electoral victory behind him. Why would he be able to somehow carry out a revolution? Isnt it more likely that he will mostly end up with the same corrupt, security-statist, police-prison-prosecutor based ripoff that the Republican half of the ruling elite have been practicing for years?
6. On the other hand, he WILL have some freedom to change things in foreign policy. Harder line against Muslims, almost certain. But will Russia get to expand its empire? What about China? India? Pakistan?
6. What lesson will the liberal elite learn from this? If any..
"dark men in mien and movement, flashing in their mocking mirrors the obscure soul of the world, a darkness shining in brightness which brightness could not comprehend.” (James Joyce, Ulysses)
PostScript: Cathy Young on surviving the Trumpocalypse
The Reason also has a theory about the role of PC culture.
btw, I seriously believe ALL leftists and liberals will do well to stay away from left-liberal social media and journalism for one week. Things will get better for them (and for everyone else) :) Really, the mutually reinforcing freakout is ridiculous (especially since some of the "intellectual elite" assisted in bringing this about through their own "woke" bullcrap)
PPS: The PC culture post from reason (see above) has triggered some pushback. My response:
I dont think that this one thing (political correctness) caused her to lose. It was just one factor. But it WAS a factor. I only know of universities through my kids and from social media etc, but it does seem that the better liberal universities have limitations on free speech (including, but NOT limited to insults and smears) that seem to exceed what can be considered reasonable. Beyond any formal restrictions (which also exist) there is a definite social pressure to conform to ideologies that are self-evidently true to their inventors and fans (as all ideologies are) but that seem laughable to outsiders. And you are not supposed to laugh. This pressure not to laugh can be oppressive. Like triggered students themselves, other modern people also tend to make a big deal of such subtle and almost immaterial "oppressions". It is a two way street..
btw, If i was writiing this article I would not stress PC as such, but the relentless race-baiting ("White privilege" being its mildest form, "performativity of Whiteness" type "academic studies" being its apogee) and the mirror-image stylized (and frequently fake or tendentious) history and cultural studies that are taken for granted as the default truth (just like their mirror image "White man's burden" themes were taken for granted 150 years ago)....all this has made it easier for White racism to make a comeback among decent people (it never went away among the indecent ones). All of which is just one part of why Hillary lost.
btw, if you think i am completely off base, do read Lena Dunham.
Listen from 3-30 mark onwards (btw, I dont think Bernie could have won, but we will never know)
Postscript: There is another Bannon profile in (of all places) The Hollywood Reporter that is worth a look. The man is serious. And he thinks he is Thomas Cromwell. Which is interesting, because some of you may remember that Cromwell was beheaded. By Henry the VIIIth, the king he so loyally served.
Buzzfeed has an article that consists of the verbatim remarks of Stephen Bannon at a Vatican conference in 2014. Since this was pre-Trump, these are not filtered for the presidential campaign (though some of them may still be filtered the way all ideologues filter their public pronouncements keeping "the cause" in view).
These remarks are interesting. That he is totally committed to a global war with Islam is no surprise. But I urge you to read the rest. And comment. Some of you will no doubt agree with his elite-bashing (and/or his Islam bashing), but there is a lot more in there. And he is now senior adviser to the US president. The worldview is definitely at odds with prevailing Western opinion, but is it "thick enough" and does it overlap enough with reality to stand on its own? and what happens if you try to put it into effect?
What do you think?
I think he is wrong on several simple matters of fact, not just on ideology (which i find wrong in any case). The notion of a historic Judeo-Christian West that has stood as one against the Islamic tide for centuries is just bunk. Judeo is a new apellation and he knows it. Christendom, yes, Judeo-Christian, certainly not. Which makes you think that he may have some nasty surprises up his sleeve for the Jews. But since he is focused on first smashing the Islamic threat, he will probably be good to Israel, for now. Those Jews who regard weak-minded liberal Western Jews as traitors (or at least, as softies) may be happy to embrace him. For now. Like Stalin did with Hitler, both parties can think "I am using him, for now, to become stronger". One party will of course turn out to be wrong. But all that is speculation. It may be that he is genuinely ignorant and really does think "Judeo-Christian civilization" has been bravely fighting Islam for 1400 years. We will see.. (Whatever his own inner beliefs, the Alt-Right he has promoted is not shy in its attitude towards Jews...if you check out the Alt-Right sites, you may find their obsession with ovens and trains less than reassuring).
His whole theory about the only right kind of capitalism being "Judeo-Christian" seems shaky to me as well (though in this case he may not know it; i.e. these may be his sincere beliefs) but I will let experts comment. In fact, the whole banks and crony capitalist issue I will leave to the better informed. I dont think that is the scary part.
The notion that "strong nations make good neighbors"is high grade, class A bullshit and he likely knows it, but who knows. He may not be that well informed. And his notion that Putin and the West can join hands in a grand White Christian alliance to first beat the shit out of Muslim barbarians is also bunk. Putin would much rather eat the Baltics, the Ukraine and maybe even Poland before he seriously starts any extermination campaign in the Stans.
China and Japan get no significant mention.
India gets approvingly cited for electing Modi, but in the greater scheme of things must surely prepare for Christianization if team Bannon wins the war (when push comes to shove, would you expect Bannon to stand with the Evangelicals or with Hindu nationalism? Do the math). Interin calculation is another matter. See Stalin and Hitler above. Some in India will no doubt see possibilities in the medium term. I don't because I think this is a flaky worldview that will damage the USA and the current system and not build anything better. India still needs the current system to grow in. Thats just my opinion.
Overall, the current world system is to be trashed. In the melee that follows, what civilizations have the coherence and the strength to fight it out. And who wins? is a less violent reform possible? Is HE a less violent reformer?
I still hope (and even expect) that we will not go too far from the current (irredeemably corrupt?) system, but here you have it: the senior adviser to Donald Trump, President Elect. President Elect IN the current system.
Chunks of his remarks pasted below. The original is at Buzzfeed.
The remarks — beamed into a small conference room in a 15th-century marble palace in a secluded corner of the Vatican — were part of a 50-minute Q&A during a conference focused on poverty hosted by the Human Dignity Institute, which BuzzFeed News attended as part of its coverage of the rise of Europe’s religious right. The group was founded by Benjamin Harnwell, a longtime aide to Conservative member of the European Parliament Nirj Deva to promote a “Christian voice” in European politics. The group has ties to some of the most conservative factions inside the Catholic Church; Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most vocal critics of Pope Francis who was ousted from a senior Vatican position in 2014, is chair of the group’s advisory board.
The transcript begins 90 seconds into the then-Breitbart News chairman’s remarks because microphone placement made the opening mostly unintelligible, but you can hear the whole recording at the bottom of the post.
Here is what he said, unedited: (Big chunks, but not all, you have to go to the site to read the full thing, i recommend you do, i had no time to focus on the best excerpts)
Steve Bannon: [World War I] 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.
“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 end 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.”
“Look at what’s happening in ISIS … look at the sophistication of which they’ve taken the tools of capitalism … at what they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook.”
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.
“With all the baggage that those [right-wing] groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially— but we think that will all be worked through with time.”
Benjamin Harnwell, Human Dignity Institute: Thank you, Steve. That was a fascinating, fascinating overview. I am particularly struck by your argument, then, that in fact, capitalism would spread around the world based on the Judeo-Christian foundation is, in fact, something that can create peace through peoples rather than antagonism, which is often a point not sufficiently appreciated. Before I turn behind me to take a question —
Bannon: One thing I want to make sure of, if you look at the leaders of capitalism at that time, when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West. They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christians’ faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs was manifested in the work they did. And I think that’s incredibly important and something that would really become unmoored. I can see this on Wall Street today — I can see this with the securitization of everything is that, everything is looked at as a securitization opportunity. People are looked at as commodities. I don’t believe that our forefathers had that same belief.
Harnwell: Over the course of this conference we’ve heard from various points of view regarding alleviation of poverty. We’ve heard from the center-left perspective, we’ve heard from the socialist perspective, we’ve heard from the Christian democrat, if you will, perspective. What particularly interests me about your point of view Steve, to talk specifically about your work, Breitbart is very close to the tea party movement. So I’m just wondering whether you could tell me about if in the current flow of contemporary politics — first tell us a little bit about Breitbart, what the mission is, and then tell me about the reach that you have and then could you say a little bit about the current dynamic of what’s going on at the moment in the States.
Bannon: Outside of Fox News and the Drudge Report, we’re the third-largest conservative news site and, quite frankly, we have a bigger global reach than even Fox. And that’s why we’re expanding so much internationally.
Look, we believe — strongly — that there is a global tea party movement. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start reporting on things like UKIP and Front National and other center right. With all the baggage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially — but we think that will all be worked through with time.
The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not conspiracy-theory guys, but there’s certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run.
“Putin’s … very, very very intelligent. I can see this in the United States where he’s playing very strongly to social conservatives about his message about more traditional values, so I think it’s something that we have to be very much on guard of.”
Now, with that, we are strong capitalists. And we believe in the benefits of capitalism. And, particularly, the harder-nosed the capitalism, the better. However, like I said, there’s two strands of capitalism that we’re quite concerned about.
One is crony capitalism, or what we call state-controlled capitalism, and that’s the big thing the tea party is fighting in the United States, and really the tea party’s biggest fight is not with the left, because we’re not there yet. The biggest fight the tea party has today is just like UKIP. UKIP’s biggest fight is with the Conservative Party.
The tea party in the United States’ biggest fight is with the the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules of how they’re going to comport themselves and how they’re going to run things. And, quite frankly, it’s the reason that the United States’ financial situation is so dire, particularly our balance sheet. We have virtually a hundred trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities. That is all because you’ve had this kind of crony capitalism in Washington, DC. The rise of Breitbart is directly tied to being the voice of that center-right opposition. And, quite frankly, we’re winning many, many victories.
On the social conservative side, we’re the voice of the anti-abortion movement, the voice of the traditional marriage movement, and I can tell you we’re winning victory after victory after victory. Things are turning around as people have a voice and have a platform of which they can use.
“That center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India.”
And you’re seeing that whether that was UKIP and Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom, whether it’s these groups in the Low Countries in Europe, whether it’s in France, there’s a new tea party in Germany. The theme is all the same. And the theme is middle-class and working-class people — they’re saying, “Hey, I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked. I’m getting less benefits than I’m ever getting through this, I’m incurring less wealth myself, and I’m seeing a system of fat cats who say they’re conservative and say they back capitalist principles, but all they’re doing is binding with corporatists.” Right? Corporatists, to garner all the benefits for themselves.
And that center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi’s great victory was very much based on these Reaganesque principles, so I think this is a global revolt, and we are very fortunate and proud to be the news site that is reporting that throughout the world.
Bannon: It’s exactly the same. Currently, if you read The Economist, you read the Financial Times this week, you’ll see there’s a relatively obscure agency in the federal government that is engaged in a huge fight that may lead to a government shutdown. It’s called the Export-Import Bank. And for years, it was a bank that helped finance things that other banks wouldn’t do. And what’s happening over time is that it’s metastasized to be a cheap form of financing to General Electric and to Boeing and to other large corporations. You get this financing from other places if they wanted to, but they’re putting this onto the middle-class taxpayers to support this.
“I’m not an expert in this, but it seems that [right-wing parties] have had some aspects that may be anti-Semitic or racial … My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right?”
And the tea party is using this as an example of the cronyism. General Electric and these major corporations that are in bed with the federal government are not what we’d consider free-enterprise capitalists. We’re backers of entrepreneurial capitalists. They’re not. They’re what we call corporatist. They want to have more and more monopolistic power and they’re doing that kind of convergence with big government. And so the fight here — and that’s why the media’s been very late to this party — but the fight you’re seeing is between entrepreneur capitalism, and the Aspen Institute is a tremendous supporter of, and the people like the corporatists that are closer to the people like we think in Beijing and Moscow than they are to the entrepreneurial capitalist spirit of the United States.
Harnwell: Thanks, Steve. I’m going to turn around now, as I’m sure we have some great questions from the floor. Who has the first question then?
Q..... from your point of view especially, your experience in the investment banking world — what concrete measures do you think they should be doing to combat, prevent this phenomenon? We know that various sums of money are used in all sorts of ways and they do have different initiatives, but in order to concretely counter this epidemic now, what are your thoughts?
“For Christians, and particularly for those who believe in the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West, I don’t believe that we should have a [financial] bailout.”
Bannon: That’s a great question. The 2008 crisis, I think the financial crisis — which, by the way, I don’t think we’ve come through — is really driven I believe by the greed, much of it driven by the greed of the investment banks. My old firm, Goldman Sachs — traditionally the best banks are leveraged 8:1. When we had the financial crisis in 2008, the investment banks were leveraged 35:1. Those rules had specifically been changed by a guy named Hank Paulson. He was secretary of Treasury. As chairman of Goldman Sachs, he had gone to Washington years before and asked for those changes. That made the banks not really investment banks, but made them hedge funds — and highly susceptible to changes in liquidity. And so the crisis of 2008 was, quite frankly, really never recovered from in the United States. It’s one of the reasons last quarter you saw 2.9% negative growth in a quarter. So the United States economy is in very, very tough shape.
And one of the reasons is that we’ve never really gone and dug down and sorted through the problems of 2008. Particularly the fact — think about it — not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with 2008 crisis. And in fact, it gets worse. No bonuses and none of their equity was taken. So part of the prime drivers of the wealth that they took in the 15 years leading up to the crisis was not hit at all, and I think that’s one of the fuels of this populist revolt that we’re seeing as the tea party. So I think there are many, many measures, particularly about getting the banks on better footing, making them address all the liquid assets they have. I think you need a real clean-up of the banks balance sheets.
Questioner: Thank you.
Bannon: Great question.
Questioner: Hello, Mr. Bannon. I’m Mario Fantini, a Vermonter living in Vienna, Austria. You began describing some of the trends you’re seeing worldwide, very dangerous trends, worry trends. Another movement that I’ve been seeing grow and spread in Europe, unfortunately, is what can only be described as tribalist or neo-nativist movement — they call themselves Identitarians. These are mostly young, working-class, populist groups, and they’re teaching self-defense classes, but also they are arguing against — and quite effectively, I might add — against capitalism and global financial institutions, etc. How do we counteract this stuff? Because they’re appealing to a lot of young people at a very visceral level, especially with the ethnic and racial stuff.
Bannon: I didn’t hear the whole question, about the tribalist?
Questioner: Very simply put, there’s a growing movement among young people here in Europe, in France and in Austria and elsewhere, and they’re arguing very effectively against Wall Street institutions and they’re also appealing to people on an ethnic and racial level. And I was just wondering what you would recommend to counteract these movements, which are growing.
Bannon: One of the reasons that you can understand how they’re being fueled is that they’re not seeing the benefits of capitalism. I mean particularly — and I think it’s particularly more advanced in Europe than it is in the United States, but in the United States it’s getting pretty advanced — is that when you have this kind of crony capitalism, you have a different set of rules for the people that make the rules. It’s this partnership of big government and corporatists. I think it starts to fuel, particularly as you start to see negative job creation. If you go back, in fact, and look at the United States’ GDP, you look at a bunch of Europe. If you take out government spending, you know, we’ve had negative growth on a real basis for over a decade.
And that all trickles down to the man in the street. If you look at people’s lives, and particularly millennials, look at people under 30 — people under 30, there’s 50% really under employment of people in the United States, which is probably the most advanced economy in the West, and it gets worse in Europe.
And that’s what I think is fueling this populist revolt. Whether that revolt is in the midlands of England, or whether it’s in Middle America. And I think people are fed up with it.
And I think that’s why you’re seeing — when you read the media says, “tea party is losing, losing elections,” that is all BS. The elections we don’t win, we’re forcing those crony capitalists to come and admit that they’re not going to do this again. The whole narrative in Washington has been changed by this populist revolt that we call the grassroots of the tea party movement.
And it’s specifically because those bailouts were completely and totally unfair. It didn’t make those financial institutions any stronger, and it bailed out a bunch of people — by the way, and these are people that have all gone to Yale, and Harvard, they went to the finest institutions in the West. They should have known better.
And by the way: It’s all the institutions of the accounting firms, the law firms, the investment banks, the consulting firms, the elite of the elite, the educated elite, they understood what they were getting into, forcibly took all the benefits from it and then look to the government, went hat in hand to the government to be bailed out. And they’ve never been held accountable today. Trust me — they are going to be held accountable. You’re seeing this populist movement called the tea party in the United States.
“I certainly think secularism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals, right?”
Bannon: Could you summarize that for me?
Harnwell: The first question was, you’d reference the Front National and UKIP as having elements that ar