EXCLUSIVE: Neil Howe on Steve Bannon, Trump and the Possibility of Civil War in America

EXCLUSIVE: Neil Howe on Steve Bannon, Trump and the Possibility of Civil War in America

By Jonathan Roth


In a revealing interview, Neil Howe—the co-author of The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny—candidly discusses his perspective on Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist and former head of the online news site Breitbart.

Bannon is a proponent of the theory that history generally moves in 80-year cycles, with each cycle ending in a crisis that destroys the old order and ushers in something new. It’s an idea proposed by Howe in The Fourth Turning.

In widely reported remarks, Bannon believes the United States has had three “turnings”—the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression/World War II—and is now in the midst of another emanating from the 2008 Financial Crisis.

In an exclusive interview with RiskHedge’s Jonathan Roth, Howe confirms he knows Bannon and they have worked together on documentary film projects in the past. “I didn’t find anything sort of out of the ordinary about him politically,” relates Howe. “Like most other Americans, I didn’t know what alt-right was until I read about it in the media.”

Howe portrays an interesting portrait of the man now advising President Trump.

“I think the main thing people should understand about him, which I think maybe has not been portrayed in the media, is that he’s not so much a policy person or a person with fervent policy or political beliefs; he’s fundamentally a culture person. He has ascetic sensibilities. He’s really interested in sort of how socially and culturally Trump’s coalition hangs together,” says Howe. “I do think that Steve Bannon, along with a few other people on sort of the conservative side of the spectrum, took an interesting lesson from The Fourth Turning and that is our prediction that this era would see the successful merging of economic populism and cultural and social conservatism.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Howe also details his own views about the possibility of civil war in America by discussing the mood in the United States just prior to the Civil War in 1859–1860: “Right up to the end, no one really realistically thought that actual war would happen. It just seemed incredible.”

Listen to the full, informative interview with Mr. Howe above.