June 2024


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Friday, June 21, 2024

A Leninist in the White House: Heavy-handed Steve Bannon

By Aidan Coffey

New Voices columnist

Steve Bannon is a self-described Leninist, and that is a far greater threat to the Republic than any wall or Muslim ban.  I do not mean that Bannon aims to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a communist state underpinned by Marxist ideology.

If anything, the Annapolis- and Harvard-educated businessman seeks a restoration of “Judeo-Christian” capitalism that would make Vladimir Lenin shake in his mausoleum.  What Bannon does admire about Lennin is his methodology and ideas on political struggle.  Lenin rejected the “bourgeois” notion that politics is a game of compromise between competing interests.  Instead, Lenin embraced a view of politics known as “democratic centralism” that  called for a complete centralization of power within the party to engage in a struggle for domination over state and society.  

This is Bannon to a tee:  a man who calls the media the “opposition party,” and rationalized his refusal to engage with reporters on the grounds that “politics is war.”  Comfortably ensconced in the West Wing, Bannon has a free hand to fundamentally alter the nature of American government.

The Muslim ban is a perfect case in point.  Although I do not agree with the ban, it is not a new phenomenon in American history. Less than 100 years ago, the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 explicitly forbade immigration from Arabs and Eastern European Jews to preserve the Anglo-Saxon race.  Despite its bigotry, the 1924 legislation  at least bothered to adhere to constitutional norms. The 1924 bill was passed through both houses of Congress, and signed by President Calvin Coolidge.  Not only was Trump’s ban instituted through an executive order with no congressional input, but the behind-the-scenes maneuvers are a clear violation of the separation of powers.  

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