Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager and White House chief strategist, has been creeping around Europe the past several months trying to cobble together an international front of far-right wing and neo-fascist political parties. Bannon calls his group “The Movement.” It is not known where Bannon intends to find the money to fund his venture, but a good bet is from his previous paymaster at Breitbart News, billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer. Bannon may have other tranches of money from which to nurture his emergent pan-European neo-fascist vanguard and grow the current far-right contingent in the European Parliament from 43 seats to 204 of the total 751 seats.
In his Euro-quest, Bannon can be expected to rely on the deep data mining tactics employed by the former “election engineering” company, Cambridge Analytica of Britain and the United States. Bannon and his team will likely use the social media manipulation, micro-targeting, and push-polling techniques offered by firms that have stepped in to replace Cambridge Analytica. These companies include Emerdata of London, which now occupies the name building out of which Cambridge Analytica once operated; Data Propria of San Antonio, Texas; and Awareness Analytics Partners (A2P) of Alexandria, Virginia.
It is interesting to note that while visiting the United Kingdom in December 2017, Bannon met with one of the Conservative Party’s chief Brexit supporters, Member of Parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg. Bannon is also close to former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, someone who Trump said would make a “great prime minister.”
Bannon announced he plans to expand his Brussels operation from a baseline staff of 10 employees to 25. What Bannon is not revealing is what sort of help for his embryonic headquarters for a modern-day Fourth Reich he will obtain from other deep-pocketed donors to extreme right-wing causes in the United States. The most notable of these, in addition to the Mercers, include the billionaire Charles and David Koch brothers; the Heritage Foundation, TD Ameritrade co-founder Joe Ricketts; and venture capitalist Peter Thiel. There are also the more secretive financiers of white supremacist Richard Spencer, who has past connections with Bannon and Stephen Miller, Trump’s speechwriter and political adviser.
During the past few decades, far-rightwing parties that were once considered “lunatic fringe” began to make political headway. These “fringe” parties subsequently began to field serious national candidates. Soon, the far-right began to score surprising wins in elections for national parliaments and the European Parliament.
What permitted these parties to germinate were many of the conditions that prevailed in Europe and North America in the 1930s. Widespread damnation of established political structures became the order of the day from the Danube valley to the banks of the Rhine and beyond, to the midlands of England and the Alpine region of Italy.
The Movement is the dream of the Nazi SS officers at the end of World War II. Realizing that the Third Reich was collapsing at the end of World War II, these officers established a secret network to spirit members of their own ranks and other Nazis out of German-occupied territories to Latin America and the Middle East. Once safely ensconced in Argentina – where President Juan Peron welcomed them – Brazil, Syria, and Egypt, via safe way stations in Switzerland and Spain, the former Nazi officials would set about to lay the groundwork for the Fourth Reich. They secretly supported like-minded political parties in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Paraguay, and Syria.
Bannon’s entry into European far-right politics comes while the German Interior Ministry reports that German groups with names like “Citizens of the Reich” and “The Sovereign” are increasing their membership. Although these groups are small and have no governing infrastructure, they have adopted common positions and they are prone to committing acts of violence. The same description could be used for the small group of far-right activists in Germany following World War I. Although small, disunited, and a nuisance to most, they grew into the Nazi Party and ushered Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
In each of the EU countries being targeted by Bannon, the fodder for increasing the political clout of the far-right can be found in both established far-right parties, from those that now participate fully in the governments of Italy and Austria, to the smaller xenophobic groups that exist on the fringes of politics. Most of the far-right parties that have political clout today began their crusades by settling for a few minor victories in seats for English local councils, French mayoralties, Austrian provincial assemblies, and Belgian city councils.
European mainstream politicians are sounding the alarm bells about Bannon’s plans. The German Minister of State for European Affairs, Michael Roth of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), told Die Welt that Europe should be wary of Bannon’s “hate and his lies.” Florian Hahn of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), the partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), told Die Welt that told Die Welt that Bannon’s plans for The Movement posed a threat to Europe. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) called Bannon’s plans a “frontal attack” on Europe’s values. However, far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Alice Weidel called Bannon’s plans “exciting and ambitious.” She met with Bannon at a March 2018 conference in Zurich, Switzerland. Bannon was the guest of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) federal legislator Roger Köppel, who is also the wealthy publisher of Die Welt woche magazine.
Bannon was also reportedly in “private contact” with former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during a June 2018 trip to the United Kingdom, a visit that coincided with Trump’s rather “stormy” visit to the country.
There is a major difference between many of the current far-right neo-Nazi and fascist parties in Europe and elsewhere and those of the past. Many current far-right groups have abandoned their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel dogma and made an accommodation with Israel’s government under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. This alliance views Islam as the common enemy. A prime example of this accommodation can be seen with the French National Front, now known as the National Rally.
In November 1988, National Front General-Secretary Jean-Pierre Stirbois died in an automobile accident. That created an opportunity for a change in the party’s neo-Nazi rhetoric. The National Front increasingly adopted more anti-Islamic policies, and, with the notable exception of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, it began discarding its anti-Semitic dogma. In the 1995 presidential election, Le Pen, still the standard bearer of the party, won 15 percent of the vote. That same year, the party also won mayoral elections in Toulon, Marignane, and Orange. The term “fringe” could no longer be applied to the National Front. The same metamorphosis from anti-Semitism to more pragmatic anti-Muslim xenophobia can be seen with the National Rally’s European partners in Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, and Sweden. There are still exceptions, such as with the Golden Dawn party in Greece and some far-right parties in Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, and Romania.
The National Democratic Party (NPD), founded in 1964 by a former Nazi Party member, Adolf von Thadden, continues to be anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has had a few neo-Nazis among its ranks, has positioned itself as the more moderate of the two parties on the far-right of German politics. In 2004, the NPD won 9.2 percent of the vote in Saxony, equating to 8 seats in the state parliament. It also won seats in Mecklenberg-Vorpommern, Chancellor Angela Markel’s home state. Today, because of the rise of the political power of the AfD, which is nationalistic but not anti-Semitic, the NPD is without any seats in German state assemblies and is left with only a single member in the European Parliament.
Bannon, as with all megalomaniac fascists, will not confine his Fascist International plans to Europe. He and his ilk are already looking to this coming October’s presidential race in Brazil, where a far-right neo-Nazi is being described by the Brazilian media as the “Brazilian Trump.” His name is Jair Messias Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro considers the indigenous natives of the Amazon to be “parasites,” claims climate change is a hoax – thus, the Amazon rain forests should be exploited to the maximum extent; believes black people should live in zoos and poor people should be sterilized; and has praised Adolf Hitler. Normally, someone like Bolsonaro would exist only on the political fringe. However, because Brazil’s most popular presidential candidate, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been imprisoned on facetious politically-motivated charges, Bolsonaro is now running second in opinion polls.
The world believed it had stamped out the scourge of Nazism and fascism in 1945. However, with the far-right now advancing its political influence, the reappearance of these twin evils on a global scale cannot be ruled out.