Whenever I read mainstream press analysis on Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon, I always come across this quote that he alleges he is somehow a “Leninist”. The quote, often going something like this:
“I’m a Leninist,” Mr. Bannon was quoted as saying by a writer for The Daily Beast who met him at a party in 2014. He later said he did not recall the conversation. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too,” the site quoted him as saying. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
Reminds me of an interview the Guardian did with Hitler in 1923. In it, Hitler exemplifies an often overlooked practice that fascists have had since their inception, being students of the militant left, and re-appropriating the militancy to bastardize it and remake the meaning for their own reactionary methods. Attempting to win over working class or militant activists, this method is used to confuse those attempting to organize against the ruling class and for a better society with injecting a toxic mix-mash of politics and bigotry into the mix. In the 1923 interview with Hitler, he states something very interesting and along the same lines of Bannon’s misunderstanding of what Leninism means:
“”Why,” I asked Hitler, “do you call yourself a National Socialist, since your party programme is the very antithesis of that commonly accredited to socialism?”
“Socialism,” [Hitler] retorted, putting down his cup of tea, pugnaciously, “is the science of dealing with the common weal. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.”
This re-appropriation, deliberate or not on Bannon’s part, is a crux in attempting to show militant credentials as well as put opposition in confusion. The fact that Hitler called himself a socialist was ludicrous, especially along the lines that the fascists saw socialists, Marxists, and anarchists as their first main enemy. The constant quoting of Bannon claiming to be some dangerous revolutionary misses the point that he is just simply claiming any revolutionary tendency to scare and confuse opposition to himself as well as buckle down on age old red-baiting that appears to be making a comeback since Sanders’ run against the Democratic establishment.