I never made it to Zurich but met up with Steve Bannon through the miracle of technology, thanks to my hosts at Weltwoche, the Swiss weekly. They gave him my telephone number and he rang at a civilized time and we had a very cozy chat for an hour or so. I don’t know how it was done, and don’t ask me for details, but I could see him and apparently so could he see me. The first thing I said was that I was 100 percent heterosexual and what a pity it was that I had to be introduced to this while talking to a man—one I admire, but nevertheless a man. “That makes two of us,” answered the great one, “and we used to go out with the same girl…” Like a gent, he never mentioned her name, and I didn’t ask.
The reason all this was done electronically was that I had turned into a hydrocephalus, with my head twice its normal size after colliding with a hard place while skiing and showing off without a helmet. Head injuries at my age are a bore, but it’s the brain cell loss that concerns me, and to hell with the looks. But back to Steve Bannon and what he had to say.
Basically the populist movement differs in each country, as it should. According to Steve, central banks are in the business of debasing currencies as the business and political classes are debasing citizenship, making us slaves. He compared the new serfdom to the pre–French Revolution situation, with Google, Amazon, and Facebook living it up in Versailles, urging us to eat cake. The Time’s Up movement he likened to the French Revolution. What will save us from the ogres, always according to Steve, is the new currency. This I found very interesting.
I understand currencies as well as I comprehend modern technology—i.e., zero. I nevertheless am still capable of not thinking of women long enough to concentrate, and here are the results: Entrepreneurs are now selling their own virtual currencies to raise money for software that they say they are building. In return for real money, investors receive digital tokens, similar to Bitcoin. These coin offerings rose out of nowhere last year to become a popular way for start-ups to raise tens of millions of dollars. That leaves bankers out of the loop, and entrepreneurs free to practice free enterprise. Steve Bannon is all for it, and I am also behind it, however little I understand, and it is very, very little. But it makes sense—the freeing of the serfs, that is—so I’m all for it. Apparently there are already eight virtual currencies making the rounds, and all the Bitcoins in the world are worth around $185 billion. Caramba, as they say in Mexico.
A parallel currency can create liquidity and overcome the credit crunch for small Italian and Greek companies that the E.U. has hog-tied to the euro. A parallel currency would also slowly break the chokehold of the European Central Bank and Berlin, a fact that Brussels views as anathema. Yanis Varoufakis, who briefly served the Greek turncoat and sellout Tsipras as finance minister, advocated something similar until Tsipras was ordered by Brussels to get rid of the pest. Which he did, immediately after saluting. Steve and I had a good laugh about this. Bannon has a blue-collar background and three daughters, two of whom vote Democrat. One served in Iraq and is in the Army, another is at West Point. He served in the Navy and graduated from Harvard. He is a rumpled, fine American, and reminded me of those good men in the movie The Deer Hunter.
God protect us from the illuminati, was Steve’s message. The poor, the workers, and the middle class did not cause the 2008 meltdown—the elite bankers were the cause, and not a single banker paid a single penny as a penalty, says Steve. Berlusconi was the first populist to come to power for the same reason Trump did years later: Voters were fed up with a governing elite that was out of touch and corrupt. European elites believe that the very concept of borders should not exist. Basically, it all has to do with sovereignty and the peoples’ wish not to be told how to live by Brussels. I asked him about my No. 1 politician in the whole wide world, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister. Steve agreed he is numero uno.
We finally turned to The Donald. Bannon was very complimentary, touching upon policy rather than personal quirks and Michael Wolff-like gossip. After all, he knows the man very well and inside out. The exporting of Chinese goods gutted Midwestern American manufacturing, and free trade with totalitarian states makes for only one loser: Uncle Sam. Basically Trump had to happen. Steve also said that unless America stops waging wars around the world, only the elites will profit, while the rest continue to suffer. Amen, said I. “The problems of sub-Saharan Africa cannot be solved by taxing the middle and working classes. Unelected government officials in Brussels have been rejected of their immigrant and refugee policies over which they’ve presided. The European Central Bank can veto national economic legislation. Hence the revolt.”
I will be meeting with Steve next week in New York. We might work something out to save the world from the clutches of the greedy ones. I’ll keep you posted.