Steve Bannon is an American political aide, and former media executive and film producer, who is currently Assistant to the President and White House Chief Strategist in the Trump administration.
Michael Richardson-Borne: You have worked closely with computer scientist and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer for a long time and have been associated with such organizations as Media Research Center, SCL Group, and Cambridge Analytica. These organizations specialize in “election management strategies” and “messaging and information operations”– in no uncertain terms, it’s data collection and mass propaganda that works on people’s emotions. For you, what is the end game of your participation in Big Data and psychological operations?
Steve Bannon: In specific regards to Big Data, it’s a case of using the tools available to “know thy enemy.” In today’s world, this doesn’t mean the populace at large as a collection of monitored individuals, or any sort of national opposition or evil figurehead. The enemy we are learning is the behavior and actions of the separate self as they are lived as consumer egos.
This is a different kind of enemy than humanity has ever had to comprehend. We are such a visual and story-based people– but this enemy isn’t one that can be seen or media-demonized in the separative world to fuel a simple “us versus them” scenario. Winning this battle isn’t one where the majority can sit back and enjoy a reality television script of “getting the bad guys.” Everybody must, I repeat, must show up and fully participate as the enemy is the real-time filter through which the world is living us– which means the enemy has to be perceived as living on the inside of every individual. The obsessive focus on the external world and the mind’s stories has to be postponed. It’s this lengthened pause that can give space for questions to arise and for truth to be recognized so that inner and outer can finally fall away.
It’s difficult to find the point of view that is inherently rather than strategically non-violent. Where there are no opponents outside of ourselves to better. Where the entire existence is within consciousness rather than outside of our bodies. Where separation is seen as a product of a false assumption that is living in the basement of our psychological makeup. But this is where my end game exists– championing a civilization based on the principles of non-separation to bring humanity, as a collective, back in alignment with our natural state.
If there’s anything we’ve proven over the past couple of centuries, it’s the fact that you can’t nuke people into the realization of non-separation. Not even that level of destruction could bring the separate self into submission. You can’t push, argue, or, most times, even love people to see beyond the self. The ego would rather die than to see itself for what it is– as seeing itself clearly would be the death of its archaic dominance.
So, what we’re initiating is an online environment where the conditions are created around the separate self for a process to begin. We are learning more about the tendencies of the separate self than we’ve ever known at any other time in history. We think of it as collecting information on who we falsely think we are– but with the intention of using it to break the illusion of separation. We believe there is a way to personalize the break from the personal.
SB: In essence, we are collecting information about who you are not, right? My goal is to wake people up to this truth by utilizing the already existing infrastructure– media production, big data, tracking technologies, social media etc. to create a “filter bubble” around people that initiates and guides the process of realizing non-separation. I don’t know how I can say it any more clearly.
MR-B: As stated before, one of your interests is modeling mass populations and then changing their beliefs and behaviors. We’ve seen you do this with Breitbart as the central node of a successful propaganda operation. It seems like your next move is to spread Breitbart across Europe and eventually the world. Do you have any other projects you are currently working on?
SB: Breitbart started out as an experiment in how media plays on emotions and other aspects of the separate self. We became directly involved in the cultural and political wars playing out within the United States and made our target the neutralization of left-wing media bias. To enact this, we learned how to do things like dominate Google’s search algorithm and how to personalize ads on multiple social media sites. And there’s also the data collection we just briefly discussed. We now have detailed profiles on over 220 million Americans. So, we feel Breitbart has been a successful experiment in terms of coaching the separate self to embrace a particular ideology.
But, frankly, this seems like child’s play compared to the ultimate goal which is using the same technologies to support people in their realization of non-separation. Shifting the views of the separate self is quite different than transcending it. The latest project I am working on has to do with this more sophisticated goal. How do we move our work from molding a separate self to annihilating it? How do we move from believing in stories to understanding the essence of story? How do we move from manufacturing truth for the mind to revealing the truth of identity in a way that people will be able to recognize immediately when it’s laid bare right in front of them?
The biggest obstacle to getting this project off the ground was training a group of computer scientists with the needed skill-sets to actually see the enemy. To see an enemy that wasn’t there. So, we spent a long time at the beginning taking a team of programmers through a rigorous self-inquiry process until they could collectively see non-separation. Out of 50 coders, 3 made it through the program.
MR-B: Sorry to interrupt. But this is an important point. Can you talk about why you took the time to do this?
SB: The reason we did this was due to our awareness of what is called “lock-in.” If you don’t know what this is, it’s a term used to describe when software engineer’s design decisions that fundamentally shape user’s behavior become frozen into place. Just as decisions about the dimensions of railroad tracks determined the size and velocity of trains for decades to come, so choices made about software design now may yield defining, unchangeable rules for generations to come. It’s exactly what has happened to humanity with our attachment to our assumption of a separate self. We are, basically, “locked in” to this design rule, and all of our cultures and institutions reflect this with their separative nature.
So what we concluded was that a software whose goal was to guide the realization of non-separation actually needed to be written, from the start, with this realization. If the opening “rules” were tainted with the belief in the separate self, then we saw this as just another way to continue the arc of separation.
What we’re after is an AI that can write its own code from the foundational realization of non-separation. Think Siri or Viv, but written from a different opening “assumptionless assumption.” Can we win the race to become the go-to platform for the glut of mass consumer personal assistant products hitting the market? Can these be used to wake people up in a way that doesn’t feel like brain-washing or state-sponsored dogma? Only time will tell.
MR-B: Controlling the national and global narrative requires organization and money. But, as you know, if you use enough AI bots and people, cleverly linking them together, any narrative can become legitimate. You can create what people think of as “the truth.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the new war is the information war and has begun full-scale information warfare on the United States. How do you see average people protecting themselves from this kind of warfare? It’s one thing when the battlefield is a geographical location. It’s another thing completely when the battlefields are social media sites.
SB: There are the obvious answers of cyber security companies and people just being informed about what is going on every time they log in to one of their social media accounts or surf the net. But this sort of security is just a band-aid for the separate self in the world of the separate. These solutions are still linked to the assumption of separation and continue the rumblings of our tribal drama.
The real answer that we’re proposing is to get people completely off the arc of egoic development. When this happens, one’s relationship with the mind and emotions transforms. The arc of egoic development becomes a small blip on your radar and your susceptibility to influence via emotionally charged, what Putin calls “weaponized,” media falls to nearly zero. But non-separation is the only way to get off the arc. It’s the only way to exit and integrate the drama of the separative world. It’s the only way to win the war of information that will implement a new context from which media must be delivered.
By reframing the experience of identity, the notion of personal information and concern with saving face drops to the wayside. It literally becomes a non-issue in the sense of worrying about personal reputation and protecting what was formerly thought of as your self authored habits. Non-separation will reveal to us that the self-authoring individual was a hoax we lived under for centuries. With this, the tone around what is personal will change immediately– from paranoia and fear to a peaceful knowingness.
MR-B: As Trump’s top advisor, why do you focus so much on framing the mainstream media as an enemy of the people?
SB: The slant of media is meant to inform people, not free them, to convince people, not invite them, to manipulate people, not empower them. All our contemporary media outlets exist as vehicles of separation.
So when Mr. Trump says the news is fake, he’s correct, just not in the way he’s thinking. It’s all lies because the foundational assumption of the media is the belief in the separate self. This creates an environment where scandalous stories about “individuals” are coveted and facts, which are merely extractions from the whole, are the highest form of truth. So the media, as it currently exists, is very much an enemy of the people. They are front and center in the continuation of our tribal world– thinking they are doing us a favor while playing their part in the grand facade that is our existence. Just another fragment reinforcing our separative world.
I’ll leave your audience with a question. What happens to the media after humanity understands that things can be no other way than the way they are right now? How does the context, delivery, and feeling-tone of media change when the self-authoring individual is a thing of the past?
MR-B: One of your favorite books is the French novel, The Camp of Saints, a story about how massive immigration from the third world leads to the destruction of Western Civilization. This seems to coincide with the administration’s attempt at new immigration policies. Why are you such a proponent for stricter border control?
SB: Look, we see that the real problem is the fact that there are human beings thought of as “American people” and “Russian people” and “Mexican people” etc. We see the problem is that the psychic infrastructure is present where humans can be thought of as “immigrants” and “refugees.”
I know you see this as well. To be an immigrant, a national concept must be attached to a person (another concept) and attached to an assumption of separation (another concept)– and none of these concepts are real. It’s this kind of separative thinking that must be overcome. But how do we do this? Do we stretch people until the separate self breaks off inside a greater awareness, or do we put separation so close to the separate self that it integrates? Do we use fission or fusion? Or both? We really don’t know. That’s what we’re working with right now while understanding that it’s not us making the decisions. We’re just trying to till the soil and have it as fertile as possible if this process of non-separation wants to take root.
MR-B: Another one of your favorite books that seems to guide your thinking is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. A core concept of The Fourth Turning is that social history proceeds through four recurring cycles, of which the most relevant and important to our current circumstances is the “Winter” or “Crisis” cycle where the total set of changes (economic, cultural, social, political, military, technological, etc.) produced during the preceding three cycles “come to a head” and must be resolved. The old system can no longer be maintained. It’s probably what Yeats meant in his poem The Second Coming when he said: “the center cannot hold.” How do you see us getting from here to there?
SB: Another systemic translation of separation won’t get us anywhere new. And we may not even have time for this techno-eco-paradise that still believes in the separate self to take shape and play itself out into its own winter of the obsolete. When it comes to non-separation, we could be playing a game of now or never. There just isn’t another stepping stone I can surmise that has a solid footing of separation under it. People are going to have to level up and realize truths about identity that have never been the meshwork of society before.
MR-B: Or what?
SB: Or else.
So, from here to there? People first have to understand what “here” is not. This will lead to the realization of “here.” Which will lead to an alive process rooted in non-separation.
Making predictions on what this will look like is separative thinking. It’s believing in a concept and driving it towards an end goal that is the very definition of attachment. What I’m suggesting is that people can realize their true natures and join a “world process” that is effortlessly lived into existence. It sounds utopian in a sense. But once the truth of non-separation is realized, it’s all pretty simple from there. The answers to our challenges will come because the field of separation has been cleared for them to arise. The key is to make the pre-existing unity of all people and concepts the basis of society. With this, there is no opponent. And all knots that exist in our current world will actually untie themselves.
*This is a fictional interview written by Michael Richardson-Borne as a teaching of Non-separation.