Steve Bannon on Ayn Rand's Version Of Capitalism

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Tue, 2017-09-12 00:34

Here's an except from 2014 from former Donald Trump strategist and adviser Steve Bannon in which he discusses his view of Ayn Rand's version of capitalism:

"I’m a very practical, pragmatic capitalist. I was trained at Goldman Sachs, I went to Harvard Business School, I was as hard-nosed a capitalist as you get. I specialized in media, in investing in media companies, and it’s a very, very tough environment. And you’ve had a fairly good track record. So I don’t want this to kinda sound namby-pamby, “Let’s all hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya' around capitalism.”

"But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.

"One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Francis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

"The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the conservative movement — whether it’s the UKIP movement in England, it’s many of the underpinnings of the populist movement in Europe, and particularly in the United States.

"However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost — as many of the precepts of Marx — and that is a form of capitalism, particularly to a younger generation [that] they’re really finding quite attractive. And if they don’t see another alternative, it’s going to be an alternative that they gravitate to under this kind of rubric of 'personal freedom.'"

My Overall Appraisal of Steve Bannon

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

I finally found the free time to read the full transcript of the long, rambling, Steve Bannon article I myself posted 5 days ago...! Is it worth reading? Maybe. Bannon is a fairly intelligent guy who is also relatively decent as a person. And he has a pretty good spirit, with a lot of energy, ambition, and zeal. But: He's very ignorant of politics for those of us who have a sound, solid understanding of capitalism and libertarianism.

Bannon's basic intellectual success is he's strongly against crony capitalism, nation-building, smug bland PC elitism, and Islam.

Bannon's basic intellectual failure is, despite some (unknown) level of familiarity, he doesn't understand Objectivism or libertarianism very well. And he thinks the West has been Judeo-Christian for 2500 years when, in fact, it's been Greco-Roman. And Bannon is religious. And seemingly altruistic.

So he's an intellectual mediocrity, dolt, weakling, and failure. Still...he's a neo-liberal (as I define it) too, a cultural warrior for Western Civilization, and a beneficial part of the rising tide of the past 30 years moving toward pure liberalism in philosophy, culture, ethics, politics, art, and spirituality.

Team objectivism

Sam Pierson's picture

Team objectivism sure has turned out pretty irrelevant, as you say Kyrel. Makes for a fascinating study... and it's not just objectivists. Niall Ferguson, for his years of study of history, completely got himself on the wrong side of things over Brexit & Trump. There's a cleansing fire sweeping through, helping us sort who's judgement is really worth attention. We here have concluded that good judgement is worth more than ideas, and that the two are not the same. Ideas are easy. Judgement takes work & messy experience.

As per Bannon, he is out there raising some considerable existential matters. He basically argues that China will be the world hegemon in the next 20-30 years, if the US does not alter course. Is this desirable? Does it matter? We have nothing against the Chinese or their prosperity, but we feel US-led western dominance is preferable, given its benevolent performance overall, the last 300 years. Confucianism has different priorities.

Seeing Things From Bannon's Perspective

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Ed -- Good points! The ARI and AS Objectivists also fail to note and condemn the giant, evil, cultural phenomena of black racism and female sexism. And they don't admit the natural and nurtural differences between the races and sexes. And they don't acknowledge how much America has been degraded by demographic changes ever since the new 1968 immigration laws, and the importation of all these illiberal enemies of Western Civilization. These are all related issues which current Objectivist leaders are evidently too cowardly and dishonest to touch.

So probably Bannon and others rightly find Objectivism to be pretty irrelevant to the current political scene -- pretty useless to our current, real, serious, political problems. Or they even find the most prominent Objectivist intellectuals to be actively hostile to America and the West.

On Rand

edpowell's picture

This is obviously a calumny on Rand's views and what she actually wrote, which Bannon probably has not read. However, it rings true as a criticism of the Yaron Brook version of Objectivism, where the open borders, trade-with-everyone-even-our-enemies, and treat-people-as-solely-economic-actors attitudes (which are not in Rand's writing) are emphasized with pathetic regularity by Brook and his acolytes.

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