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Fri Apr 4, 2014, 08:57 PM

The Roots of Putin's Nationalism

I keep seeing stuff about how right wing and evil the Ukrainian government is, filled as it is with eeh-vul neo-Nazis.
So, to balance this out and point out that Putin is at least as vile as the new Ukraine government, some information on the folks who back "United Russia". (a name that kinda gives it away, but apparently it's not as blatant as I think it is. Oh well.)

In the course of reading this link here - Understanding Svoboda - I ran into this interesting bit of information right at the end:

HSI asks him whether the conflict over Crimea could strengthen the ultra-nationalists in Ukraine, and maybe in Russia, too.

“It is quite likely that this leads to an increased polarization, as wars tend to do, and maybe more so in Ukraine, which is the country being threatened,” Rudling said. “In Russia, we already find an authoritarian regime in power, a regime that lends its ear to both Aleksandr Dugin and other right-wing radicals.”

This was the first I'd ever heard of this Dugin character, so I commenced to Google, and right away found the below extremely suggestive headline:

Russian nationalist advocates Eurasian alliance against the U.S.

So now, what is it that Putin calls his imitation EU thing? Eurasian Union I think?

Anyway, read on:

Writer, political activist and father figure for contemporary Russian nationalism, Aleksandr Dugin is the founder of Russia's International Eurasian Movement and a popular theorist among Russia's hard-line elite. He envisions a strategic bloc comprising the former Soviet Union and the Middle East to rival the U.S.-dominated Atlantic alliance. The Times interviewed Dugin this week at his Moscow office, a room draped with flags bearing the slogan "Pax Russica." The following are excerpts.

Dugin: We consider that all of the post-Soviet space -- except the Baltic states -- we are dealing with Eurasian civilization. Not with European, not with the West. And to try to get these spaces out of our control, or out of our dialogue, or out of our special relations with them, based on history -- it was a kind of attack, a declaration of war. It is not, as Americans like to put it, a competition. . . . It was perceived to be not a competition but an act of aggression, as Napoleon or Hitler, and nothing else...

If Ukraine were to move into NATO, what do you think the Russian reaction would be?

I think that Russian reaction would be to support an uprising in eastern parts and Crimea and I could not exclude the entrance of armed force there, as in the Ossetian scenario.

But the difference is that half of the Ukrainian population is Russian, is directly Russian, and this half of the population regards itself as being oppressed by the values, by the language, by the geopolitical issues, completely against their will. So I don't think that, in this case, direct intervention of Russian armed force will be needed. I think on the eve of the entrance into NATO there will be public riots and the split of Ukraine into two parts.

So far, sounds like a regular standard-issue Russian, really. I don't think any Russian is going to be pro Ukraine going to NATO.
But here's where it gets interesting:

Your views on Vladimir Putin have fluctuated.

I appreciated very much his concrete steps to reinforce political order in Russia, his steps to get away the oligarchs, to diminish influence of Westerners and to save Russian territorial unity in the Chechnya situation.

But also I saw that he was encircled by pro-Western, pro-liberal politicians and advisors and experts . . . and that was main reason for my criticism toward him.

But I think that now, after [Russia's military intervention in Georgia on] Aug. 8, Putin and Medvedev have passed the irreversible point. They have shown that the will and the decision to put the words into practice are in fact irreversible. So my support to Putin and Medvedev is now absolute.

Once Georgia happened, he converted to all-out support of Putin. And as noted in the below, he began to become much more influential.
Now from the above there doesn't seem like there's much that's extreme about him. It's when you dig a little further that it starts to sound like a Russian version of Svoboda. The only difference, as always with these types, is who gets to be on top:

Aleksandr Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism: The New Right à la Russe (ENR = European New Right in the below)

In August 2008 Russian troops intervened in the armed conflict between Georgia and the separatist self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia, and Russian society found itself increasingly affected by the almost Soviet-like propaganda espoused by the right-wing newsmakers backed by the state. A quasi-religious mantra, ‘Tanks to Tbilisi’, was introduced into the Russian mass media by Aleksandr Dugin, Doctor of Political Science and a leader of the International Eurasian Movement, and widely publicised by radio, TV and press. ‘“Tanks to Tbilisi!” – this is a voice of our national history’. ‘Those, who do not second the “Tanks to Tbilisi!”, are not Russians.
...A month after the tragic events in both South Ossetia and ‘core Georgia’, a Financial Times article correctly asserted that ‘against the backdrop of conflict in Georgia and deteriorating relations with the west, Russia’s ultra-nationalist thinkers were starting to exert unprecedented influence’.

In his most important book, Osnovy geopolitiki (Foundations of geopolitics), Dugin – ‘a sort of mouthpiece and ideologue’ of ‘the demonization of Western values’ – has geopolitically grounded Neo-Eurasianist aversion to the US and the Anglo-Saxon world in general.
The propagators of both a decentralised federal Europe (‘a Europe of a hundred flags’) and the Eurasian empire of ethno-cultural regions assume the Third World states that allegedly embody the rooted traditional communities to be their natural allies in a battle against the ‘homogenizing New World Order’. According to de Benoist, the cultural ‘diversity is the wealth of the world’, and the ENR promote the idea of anthropological culturalism in their ‘struggle against the hegemony of certain standardizing imperialisms and against the elimination of minority or dominated civilizations’.
Here the ENR imitate – in a rather twisted way – the democratic call for the right of all peoples and cultures to be different. As the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms, ‘all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind’, while‘recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such’.
The ENR turn this right into an imperative, so ‘exclusion is given a place of honour’.
Now, ‘[t]he right to difference’ changed from being a means of defending oppressed minorities and their ‘cultural rights’ into an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defence of a ‘threatened’ national (and/or European) identity.
This kind of legitimisation was required to maintain respectability as the tragic developments of the twentieth century discredited biological racism and it was ‘no longer possible to speak publicly of perceived difference through the language of the “old racism”’.
Therefore, the ENR claim the insurmountable difference not in biological or ethnic terms but rather in terms of culture, while – in a politically correct manner – rejecting the idea of the hierarchy of cultures. However, the main thrust of the ENR is of European identity, and their ideal is ‘a federal Europe’ made up of ‘homogeneous ethnic-cultural communities’.
It is thus evident that Neo-Eurasianist interpretations of ‘the right of all peoples to be different’ is not so much a means of defending the ethnic-cultural peculiarities of Eurasian peoples, but rather ‘an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defence’ of a Russian ethnic identity perceived to be in decline. This idea is perhaps best and most laconically articulated by Dugin himself: ‘The will of any people is sacred. The will of Russian people is sacred a hundredfold’. In other words, though all animals are equal, some animals are indeed more equal than others.

So what is Dugin's relationship to the current Russian government? As noted above, at the time of the Georgian incursion in 2008, Dugin's influence increased. Note that the date Putin proposed the Eurasian Economic Union was 2011, a few years after the Georgia incursion and the increased influence of Dugin. Is the fact the name happens to be very similar to Dugin’s ideology a mere coincidence? I don’t think so, but I claim no special knowledge. Anyways, I got no beef against the new EEU, except it will doubtlessly be just as retarded as the old EU.
Regardless, Dugin now hobnobs with very prominent members of the ruling party, as noted in the below as well from the Guardian:

Ukraine and Crimea: what is Putin thinking?

The events of recent months have also solidified the hold of "Eurasianism" on the imaginations of Russia's top lawmakers. This ideology envisions Russia's re-emergence as a conservative world power in direct opposition to the geopolitical hegemony and liberal values of the west. The ideology was largely developed by Alexander Dugin, the son of a KGB officer who has become the wide-eyed prophet predicting a "Russian spring", as he called his recent plan for Russia's domination of Europe via Ukraine. Dugin serves as an adviser to State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin, a key member of the ruling United Russia party who has loudly supported Russian intervention in Ukraine, and has made widely viewed television appearances to discuss the Ukraine crisis alongside high-ranking members of the government. Glazyev is also an associate of Dugin's.
Upset with western criticism of him when he returned to the presidency for a third term in 2012, Putin realised that an independent Russia could never be part of the "western club" as he had previously wanted, says Dugin. "Putin sees the west as his main enemy, but to come to this conclusion he lived through a lot, he lived through a historical situation," Dugin said. "He came to the same conclusion in practice as we did in theory."

Bio of Sergey Naryshkin from RT:

Sergey Naryshkin is a politician and a businessman. He has been the head of the Russian Presidential Administration since May 2008. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Management of Channel One, the Russian federal TV channel and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rosneft Oil Company, Russia's extraction and refinement giant.

Naryshkin is way up there in the hierarchy, as can be seen from his position as Deputy Chairman of Rosneft. So Dugin and his far-right ideology are part of the normal discourse of the Russian elite.
Given all this, I don't see a whole lot of daylight between the Right Sector and Svoboda, and United Russia. Which is what I thought before I did all this reading. So beyond the actual fact that Russia invaded, I don't see why I'm supposed to care what the excuses for Russia's behavior are or why I keep seeing posts about how evil the new Ukraine government is, when any pro-Russian government would just be carrying water for Putin's "Eurasian" dream, the flip side of Svoboda's Banderist nonsense.
So given that in this duel of competing rightists, the ideology of the Russian elite differs from that of the Ukraine elite only in who comes out on top (which agrees with this radical dude I heard about in passing, can’t remember his name…), the only thing that matters for a non-Russian and non-Ukrainian is: Russia violated the terms of the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, and it invaded another country.
That sort of thing should have some consequences. Not war of course, but what's been done has been effective and restrained, so far, in my opinion.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Original post)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 11:39 AM

1. Thank you for putting this together. I read something about the Eurasian Union and Putin

wanting to form a gas OPEC. If I can find the story I'll come back and post a link.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Original post)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 01:24 PM

2. With Putin it may have more to do with NATO surrounding it's border.

As we guard our own "territories" Russia has every right to be concerned with NATO's activities on its borders. Already there is the US threat of doing joint NATO exercises over Ukrainian air space. No way is Putin going to put up with that.

Your post is an interesting read but, it's just one part of the picture.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 02:11 PM

3. NATO is a large part of the picture.

As Dugin points out, Putin started out pro-West. And George Kennan, of all people, very correctly foresaw where we are now back in 1998, when NATO expansion was first passed by the Senate:

"I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,'' said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ''I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.''

''What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,'' added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ''X,'' defined America's cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ''I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

''And Russia's democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we've just signed up to defend from Russia,'' said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was U.S. Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ''It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are -- but this is just wrong.''
We are in the age of midgets. The only good news is that we got here in one piece because there was another age -- one of great statesmen who had both imagination and courage.

As he said goodbye to me on the phone, Mr. Kennan added just one more thing: ''This has been my life, and it pains me to see it so screwed up in the end.''

Russia has real grievances against the West, but that doesn't mean Putin has to associate his party with far-right whack jobs like Dugin. That's a choice he made, and he started that all the way back in 2008 with Georgia. Invading Crimea was another not terribly good choice.
It's not like we haven't seen Obama make the effort to find diplomatic solutions to thorny problems. They should realize there is some difference between Obama and Bush. Had Russia pursued that with Obama, I have no doubt a solution to Crimea could have been found. But what distinguishes Crimea is that no such effort was made. Instead they unilaterally declared Ukraine to be in chaos and moved in. I believe that's because Putin is, at this point, pandering to his right wing, for two different reasons: to get at whatever oil and gas might be close to the Crimean coast, most importantly, but secondarily to keep them on his side as going into this year the Russian economy had already run into some roughness.
The problem here is that Dugin is even whackier than our Tea Party folks, and that's saying something. So this whole thing is now down to a competition between two right-wing regimes. I don't see any reason to take sides in that by endlessly quoting RT and RIA-Novosti and whatever other sources to beat up on the new Ukraine gov't's policies, which is what I see happening here.
Meantime, except for this, Dugin and his faction in Russia never gets mentioned. I didn't know who he was until I ran into his name in that article I quoted at the top by accident. The constant drumbeat of threads on this topic somehow never address the far-right connections Putin has.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 02:38 PM

4. Not much different from Obama having to deal with RW NutJobs in Congress or the

NeoCons that infest our Foreign Policy.

Politicians have to deal with those influences. Obama has Wall Street Big Money shaping his policy just as Putin has his Russian Oligarchs to deal with along with the Gas & Oil business and the Western Companies that drill.

So...I just can't put this all on Putin as the next "Stalin in waiting" any more than Obama is Bush II.

Just saying....

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Response to KoKo (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 03:13 PM

5. No, but if you're going to compare,

Putin's regime is like McCain at the head, with Ted Cruz as Senate Leader, and him regularly hobnobbing with the infamous folks over at The Heritage Society who see nothing wrong with white supremacists writing papers re how Hispanic immigrants are costing America because they're too dumb to learn like white people.
But around here, United Russia and Putin are somehow seen as to the left of the Democrats and Obama. This is, simply, nuts.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 03:18 PM

6. Do you mean DU...as around here?

I haven't found that the case here. But, I do see those of us who disagree that Putin is Evil and Stalin II called "Putin Lovers/Worshipers." That talk reminds me of the Hoover/McCarthy Era...and is more dangerous than anything going on in Russia to our society here in American. imho.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 03:21 PM

7. Find me one post anywhere else about Dugin.

Lots of stuff about Svoboda and the Right Sector, lots of stuff about Lavrov's position re, well, just about anything.
No one mentions the Russian supremacists that back Putin. The picture is painted by omission. The effect is exactly the same.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 05:58 PM

8. There are Supremists who sponsor own own Presidents. They Choose their loyalty to

their Donors. It's Politics.

If one is lucky they will throw a few bones to the people...but, mostly they are run by special interests. Protecting Borders and Interests is something the USA has Done very AGRESSIVELY...in the past Century and this one.

So...we are not much different in what Politicians do when they are Powerful.

If we want to change that...then we have work to do. The US Supreme Court and what Putin has in Russia dealing with "Multi-Nationals" he needs to court are not that different in what both Obama and Putin and China's Premier face. And the European Union is fighting for it's OWN INFLUENCE.

The best we could hope for is a Balance between these Powers and that the Politicians will start to crack down on the Multinationals and Banking Interests so that they could focus on the Good and Well Being of their POPULATIONS who VOTE FOR THEM always hoping they will listen...but often with rigged voting and "outside interests/special interests/global Corporation Interest" they are not listened to until the people revolt and chaos begins.

Just saying.....

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Original post)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 06:22 PM

9. Been saying this a lot about Dugin.

Putin is following his roadmap to a tee.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #9)

Sat Apr 5, 2014, 08:01 PM

10. But could you explain why an "Elected Official of a Government" shouldn't Protect their Borders

from those who want to cause them problems.

You might have missed the "back and forth" on this issue.

What is your view of the "Political Dynamics" between Putin and the IMF/EURO/American Cold War NeoCons Views...and HOW...he should Navigate for the Russian Federation's Sustainability..given that they are not a "small" WORLD POWER?

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Original post)

Fri Apr 18, 2014, 11:52 AM

11. Thanks very much for the excellent OP. I found the LATimes piece and the links from there, great.

Also the Understanding Svoboda piece is very informative on the mindset there that we have not often seen explained. Like the LATimes pieces, these are so much better written, and the media much more rounded than what is presented on American television, that it is heartening to read things spoken with reason and facts rather than emotional appeals and slogans, beating the reader over the head with triggers and dog whistles.

Regarding what is going on in Ukraine and Russia, it is not dissimilar and mentions a generic fascism. When you read closely the history of the Cossacks in the area, I think the roots of what we in the west call backward in our economic push, is a real thing to them and we must remember these are real people living this reality, it is not dead history to them:


I don't see much difference in the generic sense of what Koch funded groups who represent the solid red rural areas in our nation and the views that we are taking Russia to task for now. The white supremacist, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-public worker, anti-union, anti-gay, anti-reproductive freedom, anti-science, anti-emigrant and anti-public education, pro-Christianist, cronyism, nepotism and the other anti-democratic ideas they believe define their lives and their success, and the ownership of land to be used however they choose, including factory farming, oil and mining or fracking that urbanites abhor, they see as their right. So they vote for things we despise.

The article from 2008 is in synch with what I learned from Russian nationals I knew in the early years of this century. A lot of the fallout of what we see today came of the aggressive, shredding policy of Cheney. From them I learned that Russia had decided to go its own way after their initial support from 9-11, as they saw a similarity in their view, to what they were experiencing. These views were from those who had lost family in terrorist acts and pushed the limits of the modern social model they thought they would have.

There was a lot of business going back and forth from American oil workers and other business including the aerospace industry during that time. This is only from my extended familial view and friends, who really were not into politics. The people I know in our country were very positive about Russia, with family in Kiev and Moscow both, and for most of their lives they felt there was no conflict looming. They were, and are still, as the article on Dugan says was one of his complaints against Putin in the past, very pro-American, having met many Americans, they have moved here and they love this country. For them, the Cold War is over, and Russia is in their rear view mirror except for concerns about relatives still there.

Others living in Moscow felt that western actions in Kosovo and Georgia were wrong from their point of view and a humanitarian crisis that the West has not been fully informed, from their side. It's a complex relationship that has not been working as it should and they felt they were the victims of the west.

I still think that the USA is a babe in the woods dealing with this ancient part of the world, as there are blood feuds and alliances in that part of the world that have nothing to with our view of the world being divided into nation-states. They see that as a recent invention. It's hard for us, with only a few centuries of history to get a grasp on the connections of the thousands of years of shared histories over there.

It is sad that what could have been a more positive outcome in these events is not what is going on now.

Once again, thank you for bringing so much together from good sources. I was unable to access all of them, but what I saw was better than most information we are getting.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #11)

Fri Apr 18, 2014, 12:06 PM

12. You're welcome.

Thanks for that stuff re the Cossacks.
I didn't realize until Putin's speech that Kosovo was such a huge issue. Still can't grasp why.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Reply #12)

Fri Apr 18, 2014, 12:31 PM

13. The people I knew who are still there and lived through all of this, had family die in Kosovo from

NATO bombing. We drop a bomb and leave, we don't see where they land. That's modern warfare. Those are real people in the war zones, it's not cut and dried or ideological to them at all. It's personal, and they don't forget.

They said atrocities against the Orthodox Christian religionists in the region occured, that they were not allowed to continue to be Christians under the new government. Their houses of worship were burned down. And that criminal gangs killed people for organ harvesting. This kind of thing happens in war zones, all kinds of uncivil and barbarity, that Americans have not really seen at home. It's a very dangerous world at times.

They were shot at by snipers in Ossetia before Russian tanks arrived, which they saw as a rescue. They also don't blame Americans as a whole, just think we have been woefully misinformed. I might add after a while they sounded like they had been listening to Infowars, and Alex Jones is on RT. They think they are well informed, just like we think that we are.

That is all just anecdotal, and I only bring it up as I see things more in human terms and less in ideology. I found it very interesting in one of the articles I found at your links, that the people at the Crimean orphanage for disabled people were looking forward to better conditions for themselves and their charges, no doubt, under Russian rule than Ukrainian. One of the links showed that Russia lost money from the turmoil in Ukraine, and a thread here a short time back with the BBC said that during the Maidan that over half a million people crossed into Russia from the Ukraine to escape trouble. And the Russians had to absorb them all. This is also a common feature in war times, refugees.

I understand the ideological and political reasoning behind what Obama is doing, and don't ascribe the heart of darkness to any one side, nor necessarily some kind of incompetence or malevolence. I just know I would not want to be living there or having to make any of these decisions. And I support Obama for doing the best thing he can in the environment he is working in nationally and elsewhere.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #13)

Fri Apr 18, 2014, 06:14 PM

14. My barber's actually a Catholic from Kosovo,

maybe I'll talk to him about this.
I can't believe the organ harvesting thing, though. That kind of stuff always seems to pop up on the rumor mills, but were there any substantiated cases?

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