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You want it darker? We kill the flame.

Stephen Bannon, chairman of the fascist platform Breitbart News, has been appointed chief strategist in President-Elect Donald Trump’s new administration.

In apparent response to fears that a darkness has fallen on the US since Trump’s election, Bannon countered: “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”

The binaries dark and light, good and evil, have long dominated western political discourse. George W.Bush and his axis of evil; Tony Blair and his messianic conviction that the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of Saddam Hussein was a just and holy intervention: the bright light of democracy beamed into the abyss of despotic darkness by the forces of good.

There’s no nuance in the narrative, no shades of grey, and the lack of hue hasn’t changed with the ascension of Trump, it has merely been reversed. Trump doesn’t pretend the light and the good are superior ideals to which we should aspire. Darkness is good. Evil is power. There’s no longer any need to mask the dark with false light, as did Blair, Bush and sycophant John Howard. Trump has dragged us from those layered duplicities into his unmitigated and unmediated darkness. A million candles burning for the help that never came. You want it darker? We kill the flame.

I’m quoting from Leonard Cohen’s final album, released just weeks before he died. As with all great work, it’s both intensely personal and universal. I’ve been listening to it for days, not just because he’s dead and I mourn his loss, but because the album seems to speak with uncanny prescience of our current transition into a Trumpian world.

At first blush the work is about Cohen’s approaching death, but it is also about the dying of our irresponsible innocence, our smug carelessness, our neglect, our wilful blindness to how the Blairs, the Bushes and the Howards led us inevitably to Trump and Bannon, leaders of the killers of the flame, leaders of those who want it darker.

Trump’s vision for the US (and necessarily the world) Fox News, 2014

You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.

Bannon, 2016 interview with the Daily Beast:

I’m a Leninist, Bannon proudly proclaimed.

Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

Lenin, he answered, wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.

Meanwhile, at home, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia found it necessary to release a press statement expressing concern over inflammatory remarks made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the subject of various “cohorts” and “nationalities” welcomed to Australia by former PM Malcolm Fraser. These refugees, Dutton asserts, may well be responsible for producing “terrorist” children and grandchildren. Fraser should have been more careful, Dutton (no doubt emboldened by Trump’s success) claims.

And to top off an increasingly dark fortnight, the UN Human Rights Council has appointed the Saudi ambassador to oversee women’s rights world-wide. The Ambassador will have the right to vote on, participate in and influence the following:

Elimination of discrimination against women
Equal participation [of women] in political and public affairs
Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
The right to a nationality: women’s equal nationality rights in law and in practice
Addressing the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls
Annual full day debate on women’s rights
Annual half-day panel on the integration of a gender perspective

Saudi Arabia has among the worst, if not the worst, record on women’s rights in the world.

What I’m seeing in our new picture is even less nuance than we had before, which wasn’t all that much, we could have done with a bit more. Like an individual who decides to thoroughly trash his or her life as a means of effecting change, so Trump and Bannon see disaster and destruction on what could well be a global scale, as a legitimate method to correct perceived wrongs. We’re post fact, post truth, and post nuance.

You want it darker?



This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. wam

    how depressing except for the grabbers and those women who benefit from pussy come there are so many rabbotts, joyces, cashs, leys, pynes, bernadis, hansons.christensons and xenophons. how depressing how depressing and so few wilkies, mccarthys?

  2. mark delmege

  3. stephentardrew

    The tragedy is that all that effort in the sixties is being eroded day by day. What has the left done to stop this dive into intolerance other than embrace neoliberalism. Labor will fight like hell pretending they are progressive. I recently had a discussion with a closed group who for the life of them think they have the answers with more of the same. It was like talking to a group of Blairites. We need real revolution and a countervailing force to this cruelty and brutality. It takes courage not pretence.

  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    When times get tough, the tough get going.

    Trump cynically harnessed misguided passion in some quarters of disenfranchised people. Hanson and Bernardi seek to do the same in Australia.

    None of us thinking Aussies are blinded by their false promises that they want to “drain the swamp”. They only want to cause enough disturbance to undermine people’s security, so that their ultra-neoliberalist puppet masters can exact total control.

    But what Trump, Hanson and Bernardi fail to see or regard, are the greater numbers of disenfranchised, passionate and more discerning people who in America are identified as Sanders, Warren and Stein followers and in Australia, as Progressives.

    It is these undaunted, angry and more discerning people, who I encourage and support for bringing about societal change so Trump’s pig, Bannon doesn’t get his malevolent desire of societal destruction, which is the antithesis of what Lenin would want.

  5. OrchidJar

    It’s not the “Blairs, the Bushes and the Howards (that) led us inevitably to Trump and Bannon”.

    It was us, the left, that managed to pull that coiffured bunny out of the hat.

    Our fascist lunacy over political correctness and identity politics, our hypocrisy over Bill Clinton’s sexual peccadilloes, staunchly defended by our grrrl Hillary, as if what Trump had done was any worse, our privileging of race over class, our inability to reaffirm traditional liberal values, our profoundly deleterious tribalism, much worse than anything the Republican (conservatives) experienced, our mollycoddling of our Left youngsters who, poor dears, were so traumatized, so existentially ‘triggered’ by Trump’s victory, were able to have their Yale exams postponed, seek the soothing comfort of therapy dogs, and were given safe spaces in which to primal scream and return to some nascent time where play-doh and crayons spoke to their inner political souls, the temper tantrums played out on the streets of Baltimore, Philly, Portland – the perverse irony of an identity warrior smashing the windows of a gay, Pakistani shop owner lost to all, the unforgivable assumption that, as the voice of minorities , and of course, woman, Hillary would hoover up their votes without having to work for them, belief in the idiotic lie that somehow Hilary was less establishment than Trump, Hillary and the entire democrat establishment’s disgraceful attacks on Bernie Sanders, where her contemptible dog whistle appeals to race deflected and dulled his excellent anti corporate/bank cronyism platform, and my personal favourite, the Democrats insane reflex; that identity/race politics would deliver them the larger electoral slice. The predominantly white voters of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, who had previously voted for Obama, begged to differ, and handed Trump the keys.

    Would you like me to go on?

    This kind of apologia, your kind, for our own failings is what will keep the Democrats (liberalism) in the dark till doomsday.

    “You want it darker”?
    It appears so.

  6. jimhaz

    Bannon said this in 2014/ Silver lining?

    “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 bailout. I think the bailouts in 2008 were wrong. And I think, you look in hindsight, it was a lot of misinformation that was presented about the bailouts of the banks in the West.

    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.

    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 cleanup of the banks balance sheets.

    In addition, I think you really need to go back and make banks do what they do: Commercial banks lend money, and investment banks invest in entrepreneurs and to get away from this trading — you know, the hedge fund securitization, which they’ve all become basically trading operations and securitizations and not put capital back and really grow businesses and to grow the economy.”

  7. jimhaz

    Like Drudge, was Breitbart once a straightforward news site?

    Just curious as I don’t recall ever having a great problem with the news feeds I used to see years ago – conservative, yes, but not radical right.

  8. paulwalter

    jimhaz, it is a very shrewd comment in getting to the context in which Bannon’s cynicism becomes explicable. We are talking about $trillion dollar institutionalised and state-legitimised crime here.

    re Breitbart (Simpson?) my memory has it that it was always conservative but it a bit sharper than the rest.

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