WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2022
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?