Joshua Green in Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming Of The Presidency (2017) believes there is more to Bannon's politics than meets the eye. Green states that by now, Bannon's term for his politics, and Trump's--”nationalism”--was already in wide circulation in the political press. But the term's meaning was (and remains) confusing and has never been fully explicated. While Trump's embrace of “America first” nationalism was chiefly due to its resonance as a campaign slogan, Bannon's attraction to it had a far deeper and more complicated lineage.
From an early age, Bannon was influenced by his family's distinctly traditionalist Catholicism and tended to view current events against the broad sweep of history. Though hardly a moralizing social conservative, he objected bitterly to the secular liberalism encroaching upon the culture.
“We shouldn't be running a victory lap every time some sort of traditional value gets undercut,” he said in 2015. While he was still in the navy, Bannon, a voracious autodidact, embarked upon what he described as “ systematic study of the Roman catholic history first instilled in him at Benedictine, his Catholic military high school, he move on to Christian mysticism and there to Eastern metaphysics.
Everywhere Bannon looked in the modern world, he saw signs of collapse and an encroaching globalist order stamping out the last vestiges of the traditional. He saw it in governmental organizations such as the European Union and political leaders such as German chancellor Angela Merkel, who insisted that countries forfeit their sovereignty, and thus their ability to maintain their national character, to distant secular bureaucrats bent on erasing national borders.
He saw it in the Roman Catholic Church, whose elevation of Pope Francis, “a liberal-theology Jesuit” and “pro-immigration globalist,” to replace Pope Benedict XVI so alarmed him that in 2013, he established Breitbart Rome and took a Vatican meeting with Cardinal Raymond Burke in an effort to prop up Catholic Traditionalists marginalized by the new Pope.
Bannon's Response To Modernity
More than anywhere else, Bannon saw evidence of Western collapse in the influx of Muslim refugees and migrants across Europe and the United States—what he pungently termed “civilizational jihad personified by this migrant crisis.” Expounding on this view at a 2014 conference at the Vatican, Bannon knit together his own racial-religious panic to cast his beliefs in historical context and added, “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”
Bannon's response to the rise of modernity was to set populist, right-wing nationalism against it. Wherever he could, he aligned himself with politicians and causes committed to tearing down its globalist edifice: arch-conservative Catholics such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, Nigel Farage and UKIP, Marine Le Pen's National Front, Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom, and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. (When he got to the White House, he would also leverage U.S. Trade policy to strengthen opponents of the EU.) This had a meaningful effect, even before Trump. “Bannon's political entrepreneur and a remarkable bloke,” Farage said. “Without the supportive voice of Breitbart London, I'm not sure we would have had a Brexit.”