If Taleb and Yarvin laid some of the theoretical groundwork for Trumpism, the most muscular and controversial case for electing him president—and the most unrelenting attack on Trump’s conservative critics—came from Michael Anton, a onetime conservative intellectual writing under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus.
Thanks to an entree from Thiel, Anton now sits on the National Security Council staff. Initial reports indicated he would serve as a spokesman, but Anton is set to take on a policy role, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. A former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush’s National Security Council, Anton most recently worked as a managing director for BlackRock, the Wall Street investment firm.
Hiring Anton puts one of the key intellectual forces behind Trump in the West Wing. In his blockbuster article “The Flight 93 Election,” a 4,300-plus-word tract published in September 2016 under his pseudonym, Anton strikes many of the same notes as Taleb and Yarvin. “America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad,” he writes. He blasts conservatives as “keepers of the status quo” for refusing to take account of the need for “truly fundamental” change—especially a crackdown on immigration that he argues is promoting “ethnic separatism” and risks entrenching a permanent Democratic majority.
Anton is no blind Trump supporter—the analogy in his essay’s title suggests that electing the Manhattan mogul was merely an alternative to the certain civilizational death of choosing another member of the “bipartisan junta” that he says is driving America “off a cliff.”
“2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die,” he writes. “You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.”
Will Trumpism work, Anton asks? He’s not sure—but he argues that it’s worth trying, given the alternative: “[T]he ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle.”
Anton’s real target is his fellow conservative intellectuals, who by opposing Trump are “objectively pro-Hillary”—a choice he warns will lead to “Caesarism, secession/crack-up, collapse, or managerial Davoisie liberalism as far as the eye can see.”
If that sounds like a highbrow expression of Trumpism—his inaugural address ripping the “establishment” in both parties for allegedly selling out the American people to foreign interests—it’s because it is. Hiring Anton speaks to Bannon’s ambition to displace traditional American conservatism with the sort of populist nationalism that Trump rode to office, and that his allies say is merely a return to the country’s original ideals.