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The world according to CPAC

Laura Carlson
29 Nov 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 28 Nov 2022 22:25:22
The world according to CPAC

The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, staged its latest far right extravaganza in Mexico this weekend. The gathering provided a perversely mesmerizing glimpse into the strategies, illusions, lies and objectives of the global neofascist movement.

The program featured all the ultraconservative international luminaries and wannabes—Steve Bannon, chief international operator; Donald Trump, and his former ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau: Ted Cruz; José Antonio Kast of Chile; Santiago Abascal of the political party Vox in Spain, Eduardo Bolsonaro of Brazil, Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei; Hungarian minister to Victor Orban, Gergely Gulyás; and Javier Milei, who recently announced his candidacy for the presidency of Argentina in 2023.

Most, however, sent video messages rather than traveling to address the scant audience. The event was held at the Westin Hotel in Mexico City’s Santa Fe business district. Located in the hills high above the nation’s capital, Santa Fe is a wealth-drenched corporate enclave– separated geographically and every other way from the sprawling Latin American city below.

The parallel reality of Santa Fe perfectly matched the parallel reality of the conference. In the world according to CPAC, the logical extension of gender rights is legalized pedophilia, women’s rights and autonomy threaten their families, and sovereignty is when US millionaires and failed politicians come to your country to tell you how to run elections, what messages to use and where to find international financing.

The global far right repeats its central themes over and over again, usually with the built-in assumption that the rightness of what they’re saying is self-explanatory. The conference showcased this messaging strategy by firing off a barrage of simplistic statements that trigger fear or anger, while discouraging critical thought.

The movement’s political guru, Steve Bannon, hit on most of these themes, although in his tape from Arizona he was clearly more preoccupied with his rage at the midterm results than with whatever was happening at CPAC Mexico. Bannon marked the battleground between “globalists” and “sovereigntists”, associating globalists with the mass media (controlled by rightwing moguls), multilateral institutions and immigration.

Globalism for Bannon is a weird combination of ideological bedfellows: “Our enemy is the international communist movement working with the capitalists right now, from Wall Street to Frankfort to the City of London and also the Party of Davos.” He travels throughout the world building “populist/nationalist” movements using the slogan of sovereignty while establishing foreign ties and financing, and participating directly in foreign national campaigns.

Bannon tore into “machines”–electronic voting systems that preclude tampering– and other measures to extend access to the vote with measures such as multi-day voting, saying that if they continue, “it will be almost impossible for any Republican to win”. He warned Mexico about the perils of modern election technology that has been certified by experts throughout the world and accused the “progressive left” of “ballot harvesting—the generation and manufacturing of ballots”, pitching the preposterous notion that filled-out “ballots” (for the left) are the dangerous evil twin of “votes” (for the right). He warned that 2023 will be “an economic firestorm globally” with “fights over the economy” and outlined the Republican priorities in the new US Congress: investigating and stopping the “border invasion” (including the impeachment of Garland and Mayorkas) and Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Trump’s former ambassador in Mexico, Christopher Landau took up the same theme: border control understood as blocking migrants as a requirement for national sovereignty. He used the European Union as a cautionary tale of the loss of sovereignty and Brexit as the positive example, while in the next breath praising the US role in the drug war in Mexico.