We are in a hotel suite at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Zurich when Stephen K. Bannon tells me he adores the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
But let’s be clear. Bannon — as far as I can tell — is not a fascist. He is, however, fascinated by fascism, which is understandable, as its founder Benito Mussolini, a revolutionary socialist, was the first populist of the modern era and the first tabloid newspaper journalist.
Il Duce, realising that people are more loyal to country than class, invented fascism, which replaced International Socialism with National Socialism. He was thus able to ‘weaponise’ — to use a favourite Bannon word — what the people wanted. Bannon is now touring Europe to weaponise what lots of European people seem to want, which is national populism.
Mussolini was perhaps the reason Bannon granted me an interview. It turns out he likes a book I wrote about the dictator years ago.
‘How many guys have you interviewed who have read your biography?’ he asked. ‘Am I the first?’
Had he really read it? ‘I have, definitely … I haven’t read all the old biographies but it’s the only modern one that treated Mussolini as … one of the most important figures of the 20th century. You put the juice back in Mussolini. He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. He has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini.’ [Continue reading…]
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