Von Drehle profiles "Putin's brain!"


In search of Putin's dream: Based on current tabulations, it's currently the fourth MOST READ piece in the whole of the Washington Post.

We recommend it strongly. It's David Von Drehle's profile of Aleksandr Dugin, the man who is apparently known as "Putin's brain."

First, we state a disclaimer. We've never heard of Aleksandr Dugin. We didn't know he was Putin's brain. On that basis, we can't tell you that Von Drehle's profile is perfectly accurate, or even basically right.

That said, Von Drehle works from the saner, brighter end of the mainstream press corps—and early on, he says this:

VON DREHLE (3/23/22): Dugin’s intellectual influence over the Russian leader is well known to close students of the post-Soviet period, among whom Dugin, 60, is sometimes referred to as “Putin’s brain.” His work is also familiar to Europe’s “new right,” of which Dugin has been a leading figure for nearly three decades, and to America’s “alt-right.” Indeed, the Russian-born former wife of the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, Nina Kouprianova, has translated some of Dugin’s work into English.

It sounds to us like David Von Drehle may know what he's talking about. 

"As the world watches with horror and disgust the indiscriminate bombing of Ukraine, a broader understanding is needed of Dugin’s deadly ideas," Von Drehle says. "Russia has been running his playbook for the past 20 years, and it has brought us here, to the brink of another world war."

Is Dugin really Putin's brain? We can't vouch for Von Drehle's claim, but this is Von Drehle's account of Dugin's worldview:

VON DREHLE: A product of late-period Soviet decline, Dugin belongs to the long, dismal line of political theorists who invent a strong and glorious past—infused with mysticism and obedient to authority—to explain a failed present. The future lies in reclaiming this past from the liberal, commercial, cosmopolitan present (often represented by the Jewish people). Such thinkers had a heyday a century ago, in the European wreckage of World War I...

Dugin tells essentially the same story from a Russian point of view. Before modernity ruined everything, a spiritually motivated Russian people promised to unite Europe and Asia into one great empire, appropriately ruled by ethnic Russians. Alas, a competing sea-based empire of corrupt, money-grubbing individualists, led by the United States and Britain, thwarted Russia’s destiny and brought “Eurasia”—his term for the future Russian empire—low.

In his magnum opus, “The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia,” published in 1997, Dugin mapped out the game plan in detail. Russian agents should foment racial, religious and sectional divisions within the United States while promoting the United States’ isolationist factions. (Sound familiar?) In Great Britain, the psy-ops effort should focus on exacerbating historic rifts with Continental Europe and separatist movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Western Europe, meanwhile, should be drawn in Russia’s direction by the lure of natural resources: oil, gas and food. NATO would collapse from within.

Putin has followed that counsel to the letter, and he must have felt things were going well when he saw window-smashing rioters in the corridors of the U.S. Congress, Britain’s Brexit from the European Union and Germany’s growing dependence on Russian natural gas. With the undermining of the West going so well, Putin has turned to the pages of Dugin’s text in which he declared: “Ukraine as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia” and “without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics.”

Von Drehle continues from there. We'd be inclined to add one possible element to Von Drehle's list of the factors which may have pleased Putin of late as he looked out at the world, but we'll wait for another day to name that possible factor.

At any rate, was Putin pleased when he saw rioters in the Capitol building? Did he think he was seeing an internal American conflict—a division which would hobble American response in the wider world?

We can't answer your question! But as Von Drehle continues, he offers this picture of what may be Putin's dream:

VON DREHLE (continuing directly): So what comes next, should Putin manage to “resolve” Russia’s “problem” in Ukraine? Dugin envisions a gradual dividing of Europe into zones of German and Russian influence, with Russia very much in charge thanks to its eventual stranglehold over Germany’s resource needs. As Great Britain crumbles and Russia picks up the pieces, the empire of Eurasia will ultimately stretch, in Dugin’s words, “from Dublin to Vladisvostok.”

In Von Drehle's view, it's important "for Western decision-makers to take Dugin’s mystical megalomania seriously." Dugin may be delusional, Von Drehle says. "But delusions become important when embraced by tyrants."

Has Von Drehle described Putin's dream? We'd like to hear more on this topic, but first, this final point:

Von Drehle's profile of Putin's brain is currently the fourth MOST READ piece in the whole of the Washington Post.

What's the number-one MOST READ piece at the Post? Dearest darlings, use your heads!

We long to get The Others locked up! Did you even have to ask?


  1. Jeez, dear Bob. If you really want to know "Dugin's worldview" (that, we would venture to guess, has nothing whatsoever to do with Dark Lord Putin) why don't you just read some shit Mr. Dugin himself wrote?

    We find it curious that while you're bravely denouncing some hate-mongering narratives of your tribal shamans, some other of their hate-mongering narratives you're perfectly happy to swallow, hook line and sinker...

    1. Do you accept a fee for making sure Bob never really sizes up the right spectrum of the political media?

    2. ma0 ma0 * ,!, ,!,

    3. "Do you accept a fee for making sure Bob never really sizes up the right spectrum of the political media?"

      What would Mao do if Bob did? Allude to and remind him of the blackmail materials?

  2. Hey, looks like I beat Mao. I better get some help myself. Anyway, Bob. Donald Trump, lying about the results of the election in 2000 in the same manner he hide lied about his popular vote loss in 2016, attempt to use his victory to overturn the 2000 election. An odious and unforgivable assault on Democracy. You are a very weak and stupid person, Bob, so F@ck you. -Greg

  3. I found it much more useful to research Hungary, on this blog's recommendation.

    Hungary, Ukraine, and several other countries have anti democratic movements supported by Putin. They coordinate leaks during elections and shout about gas prices. Things like that.

    Really, the anti democratic forces rally people to oppose real "kitchen table" problems, but they don't do so with any genuine intention of helping. They're opportunists.

    Now, there seems to be evidence they're justifying this to themselves with a beautiful tale of ethnic bravery. But these aren't wide eyed idealists, whatever grand theories they have, the actions are calculated to achieve immediate political goals. Sometimes they don't work, but they still try.

  4. Also, they did a good recap of Von Drehle's piece on MSNBC on the off hours where Bob probably wasn't watching. Sometimes MSNBC is awful, sometimes it's not. That's why a lazy person like Bob, throwing all liberal misdeeds into the sins of "our tribe:" is too lazy to be doing this job.

  5. Calling Dugin "Putin's brain," implies that Putin cannot think for himself and is some sort of mindless puppet. It makes more sense to call him Putin's strategist.

    Putin's intentions can be read from his actions. The desire to build a cross-continent empire is nothing new. It was Hitler's vision too.

    The main problem for the USA is that Dugin's vision seems to have infected our own right wing. But we cannot blame Putin's actions on Dugin, when Putin has sought his advice and followed his suggestions. Putin is the leader, not Dugin, and the buck stops with Putin. Similarly, our own right wing is responsible for its actions.

    Somerby is not big on holding anyone accountable for anything. His other essay today was about why Tucker Carlson's childhood caused his current behavior. Now Somerby wants to excuse Mark Meadows and his wife for breaking voting laws.

    He apparently thinks that with major baddies such as Dugin on the scene, all minor crimes, especially those committed by Republicans, should be overlooked. Somerby reduces this to "the left wants to see the Others locked up" instead of recognizing that the integrity of our voting system is worth defending, no matter who breaks the rules. And for some reason, it is mostly Republicans committing voter fraud and trying to rewrite our election rules to avoid fair elections. Recall that Pamela Moses received a six year sentence for mistaken trying to register to vote. What sentence should Mark Meadows and his wife receive for their worse crime of deliberate voter fraud?

    This voter fraud story has more direct relevance to American readers than a story about the megalomania behind Putin's dreams of conquest.

    But Somerby thinks it is important to chide liberals for thinking that those convicted of crimes should be locked up. Is Somerby aware that guys like Dugin would hang or shoot wrongdoers, because authoritarian dictators aren't big on due process? And this is who the Republicans have been supporting, allowing to meddle in our elections big time, and propping up Trump in office so that he can do their dirtywork!

  6. "(Somerby) apparently thinks that... all minor crimes, especially those committed by Republicans, should be overlooked."

    Somerby thinks liberals spend too much time obsessing over the minor crimes of the Others. There is no evidence he thinks minor crimes shouldn't be punished.

    1. Somerby claims to think protest is bad, and that racism is not an ongoing concern. He thinks society is overly punitive, particularly when it comes to right wingers. He goes on and on about this.

      Putin fucked up and is now in a world of shit. Putin is personally responsible for engaging in a genocidal imperial invasion. Those that have read TDH long enough can see Somerby is toying with the notion of blaming those he calls "liberals" for the Ukraine mess. Were Somerby to possess a functioning moral compass, he would quickly disabuse himself of such nonsense.

      Somerby too has fucked up, he thought he could manufacture ignorance, but it did not work, his claims are too easily debunked. He does have his small cadre of fanboys, though it is hard to tell if they are shrinking or just changing their names. whatever

    2. Krazy, what do you think it means when Somerby says we on the left are too quick to lock people up?

      Today he says: "We long to get The Others locked up!"

      This is a variation on his ongoing theme. He has also said that for himself, doesn't like to see anyone locked up. These statements are the evidence of his attitude about punishing crimes (and not just minor ones). Somerby has said he doesn't think Ethan Crumbley's parents should be prosecuted, most recently.

    3. He said that he didn't think those in Flint who polluted the water supply should have been prosecuted. He has said that Roy Moore shouldn't have been prosecuted. He didn't like it when they were trying the Republican Governor of Virginia for misuse of funds. This is one of his ongoing complaints and he routinely defends Republicans.

    4. Tricia can I trouble you to please provide sources for the claims you made here?

    5. I have done this several times in the past but I'm not spending my time that way any more. You can do a search through the blog's past entries yourself by putting in relevant search terms, such as Flint and Maddow and "lock up," since he was upset with her for wanting to lock up people. Or try Roy Moore and 18. Or look at what he said about Rittenhouse, who he thinks merely did something foolish because of his youth. Boys will be boys.

  7. It would be pointless respond to commenters' paraphrases and characterizations of Somerby's past comments. Because Somerby's writing is often drenched in irony, it needs to be evaluated in context.

    The only direct quote above is "We long to get the Others locked up" and I have explained exactly what that means.

    1. Repeating Right-wing nonsense memes is the new irony, apparently.

    2. I find your comment ironic.