They liken him to Rasputin and Svengali: He’s the éminence grise of the Trump administration, the hard-line ideologue who represents and multiplies all the darkest impulses of that man in the Oval Office.

But who is Steve Bannon, really?

The New York Times, in a remarkably dishonest—even for them—piece implied that the President’s chief strategist and senior counselor, a devout Catholic, is a disciple of the Italian pagan and protofascist Julius Evola.  The Nation described him as someone intent on starting World War III.  The “libertarian” Freeman echoed The Nation, and went on to accuse Bannon of being an “historical determinist” whose sway over Trump would lead to a cataclysmic disaster.

If one looks at Bannon’s ideology objectively, however—a feat that most analysts seem incapable of—one comes to a very different conclusion.  And the best way to analyze Bannon’s thought is to watch his 2010 film Generation Zero, a remarkable documentary about the past and future of our nation.

The film is roughly based on a theory of history expounded in The Fourth Turning, a 1997 book by William Strauss and Neil Howe: Every 80 years or so, the country goes through a revolutionary crisis, a “turning,” in which the institutions built up over the previous period are destroyed and consequently reimagined and rebuilt.  These turnings are augured by war: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II (two phases of the same conflict), and now our seemingly endless “War on Terror.”

The generational lessons learned in the midst of the last crisis are invariably forgotten or outright rejected by the children of those who weathered the storm—and therein lie the seeds of the next turning.  Generation Zero presents this cyclical theory of history within an economic framework.  And Bannon’s analysis should cause libertarians, in particular, to perk up their ears and listen, because it limns the theory of the business cycle as propagated by Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school of economics, which locates the cause of severe downturns in credit expansion by the central-banking system.  Throughout the film, the responsibility of Alan Green span’s policy—the injection of vast amounts of cash created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve, and subsequent “easy money” in the credit markets—for the crash of 2008 is underscored.

Watching Generation Zero is, in essence, like listening to a speech by Ron Paul, but with the one thing missing from the usual libertarian analysis: a cultural critique.  Rather than treating human beings as if they were Homo economicus, Bannon gives us a theory of cultural change to explain how and why the “easy money” economy went so wrong.

The “Greatest Generation,” which lived through economic depression and a world war, gave birth to the Boomers and were determined that their children would never have to endure the privation they had suffered.  To dramatize this, Generation Zero contains old footage from such 1950’s favorites as The Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best, with the mother in the kitchen and the children and the father gathered together at the dinner table—an idyll that is soon eclipsed by the craziness of the 1960’s.  And so even as the remarkable achievements of American civilization are reaching their apex in the Apollo program and the landing of a man on the moon, the Dionysian chaos of the Woodstock generation is juxtaposed with Apollo 11 (a contrast, I might point out, that was made at the time by Ayn Rand in her essay “Apollo and Dionysus”).

The children of the 60’s who grew up with no knowledge of crisis or deprivation rebelled against the work ethic and the very concept of causation—the idea that actions have consequences.  Spoiled, protected from the world, ignorant of history, and contemptuous of its lessons, they went out into the world with the belief that life consists of a quest for self-gratification.  These narcissists, who recognized no limits on their desires, were and are the perfect vessels of the apocalypse.

The combination of Keynesian pump-priming and the culture of narcissism led to the crisis of 2008, the subsequent bailout of the financial elite, and the revolutionary era we are living in today.  Having outgrown their hippie phase, the children of the 60’s became the adherents of a gross materialism that perfectly suited their worldview.  Their journey from Maoism to becoming the Me Generation was remarkably short, rooted in the same heedless disregard for the values that had created the wealth and stability they had always known.  The same recklessness that had led them to reject the traditional values of their parents now enticed them to take enormous financial risks in an economy that had been transformed into a gigantic casino.  Assets backed by nothing, securitized mortgages that were little more than pure garbage, were packaged, sold, and then resold at prices that had nothing to do with their actual value.  Just as the Boomers had become unmoored from any concept of morality, so the financialization of the economy—fueled by the Fed and government actions that handed out mortgages like candy at a children’s party—had become unmoored from actual production and value.

It all came crashing down in the fall of 2008, wiping out “wealth” that had never existed in the first place.  One of the victims, among many, was Bannon’s father, whose savings went up in smoke.  And so the government bailed out the “too big to fail” institutions, owned by the very people whose greed had caused the crisis in the first place, while people like Bannon’s father were left to rot.

It’s personal with Bannon—and his hatred for the elites, which we saw reflected in the Trump campaign, illuminates Generation Zero like lightning at midnight.

You know the rest of the story: The Tea Party movement, which was a direct response to the bailouts, rose up and elected Republicans who subsequently betrayed the very movement that had elevated them into office.  But the “fourth turning” wasn’t over—not by a long shot—as Trump’s victory over the hated elites demonstrates.

There are no visions of World War III in Generation Zero, and the mystic fulminations of Julius Evola are nowhere to be seen.  To characterize Bannon as the mainstream media has is slander, pure and simple, but what else do we expect from these narrow-minded little ideologues of both the left and the right?

No, Steve Bannon isn’t a fascist, he isn’t a warmonger, and he isn’t a “Leninist,” as the neoconservative ideologue Ronald Radosh has charged.  He is a paleoconservative, one of our own—the very heart and spirit of the Trumpian revolution that our corrupt elites rightly fear.