As exciting as the 1930s is not a line you hear every day, but rather than an alt-right dog whistle, what I heard in Bannon’s formulation was the idea that in the Trump era, as in the crisis years that gave us both F.D.R. and Hitler, everything might be up for grabs: not just electoral coalitions, but the nature and destiny of the liberal order. Which would be a terrifying prospect but also an exciting one, since it would mean that the long “end of history” that followed the Cold War had irrevocably ended, and that it was time to imagine radical revisions to a stagnant-seeming liberal West.
Flash forward a year and a couple months, though, and Bannon’s vision seems pretty much dead: its rumpled leader sacked and ritually denounced, its bold populism subsumed into the same old, same old Republican agenda. Trump remains temperamentally authoritarian and personally vile, but the idea of Trumpism as an ideological revolution, whether akin to Roosevelt’s or Mussolini’s, has mostly evaporated.