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International brotherhood of assholes

CPAC goes global fash

The Conservative Political Action Conference—which Donald Trump is slated to headline this weekend—started Wednesday with a self-proclaimed “international summit.” Seated at long tables, arranged in a rectangle, were representatives from the far-right movements of half a dozen countries with little flags in front of them. Nigel Farage, former leader of the nativist UK Independence Party, sat between Hungarian Ambassador Szabolcs Takács and his own country’s former prime minister, Liz Truss.

Jikidō “Jay” Aeba represented the Japanese Conservative Union. (Aeba’s “Happiness Realization Party” has called for a nuclear-armed Japan and denies that the 1937 Nanjing Massacre happened.) Argentina’s far-right security minister Patricia Bullrich sat next to Rabbi Yitz Tendler, head of the pro-settler Young Jewish Conservatives and CPAC Senior Fellow for Israel and Jewish Affairs. At the head table sat Steve Bannon, in a frumpy military-style jacket and his trademark three black shirts, two of them collared.

“I first came to CPAC in 2012, and I was the only foreign speaker on the stage, The only one,” Farage said, once given a microphone. “And as the years have gone by, we’ve seen more and more people coming together. CPAC itself has been an extraordinary international movement … The globalist narrative that somehow we’re isolationists, we don't want to work together. Not only do we want to work together internationally, we need to work internationally to combat the great threats we face in the world.”

Listening to him, I couldn’t help but think of the 1934 conference in Montreux, Switzerland, organized by the Italian Comitati d'Azione per l'Universalità di Roma. Organized by agents of Benito Mussolini, the conference was an attempt at the creation of a Fascist International, which would bring together European movements including Romania’s Iron Guard, the Greek National Socialists, the Spanish Fallangists, the French Mouvement Franciste, and so on. It failed, somewhat predictably, because the nationalists couldn’t get along. (Both Mussolini’s Fascisti and the Nazis avoided the summit, in the latter case because the Nazis had just assassinated the Austrofascist Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, and in the former because Mussolini wanted to be sure the effort got off the ground before associating himself with it.) As Federico Finchelstein has written: “The relationship between fascism and the nation was always ambivalent, since fascism was both a global ideology and an extreme form of nationalism.”

CPAC 2024 in many respects resembles a soft reboot of Montreux. It featured a speech by El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele, the “world’s coolest dictator,” as his fanboys call him, who ranted about George Soros. (I did a

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