Who is Aleksandr Dugin?

by Ronald Beiner on March 10, 2015

Aleksandr Dugin has come to public attention as “Putin’s Brain,” as Foreign Affairs memorably dubbed him – that is, as the ideological mastermind behind Russia’s moves towards reasserting imperial ambitions, notably with respect to Ukraine. Is this accurate, or is it just media hype? The truth is that it’s extremely difficult to judge with confidence exactly to what extent Vladimir Putin’s more aggressive policies towards, for instance, Ukraine reflect Dugin’s influence (or supposed influence) as an omnipresent publicist and behind-the-curtain advisor to aspiring czars. (The suspicion easily arises that Putin uses Dugin – lets him rant on state TV – without himself buying into the crazy worldview.) But whether Dugin really is influencing Russian policy or is simply the object of excessive hype, either way intellectuals as well as ordinary citizens in the West need to be aware of him, lest they be taken in by his pretensions as a theorist and his claimed interest in civilizational dialogue and pluralism, which functions as a rhetorical cloak. Either way, he’s dangerous.

Dugin has dubbed his distinctive ideology with a variety of different labels: National Bolshevism, neo-Eurasianism, the fourth political theory. They all amount to the same thing: a scheme for uniting all the global enemies of liberalism under Russian leadership and displacing the current liberal dispensation with something virulently anti-liberal and anti-modern or pre-modern. Dugin aims, in fact, at a fusion of totalitarian ideologies, from fascism and even Nazism at one end to Marxism at the other end. Yet his ideological roots are far closer to fascist and proto-Nazi sources (for instance, the demented “Ariosophy” doctrines of Guido von List and Jörg Lanz) than they are to anything in the Marxist tradition – which is why both Dugin’s English-language publishers and the websites that are drawn to him belong to the ultra-Right. Dugin’s “politics” are bathed in the swampy waters of mystical esotericism and occultism, and his root-and-branch rejection of liberal democracy likely owes far more to his spiritualist and theological or pseudo-theological commitments than to anything we would customarily understand as political or philosophical.

On February 5, 2015, TVO (the Ontario equivalent of PBS) broadcast an episode of “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” featuring Dugin. The show (entitled “Big Minds on the Future of Democracies”) included Francis Fukuyama, a well-known and influential public intellectual, as well as Ivan Krastev, another heavyweight political scientist concerned with the future of democracy. This already conveyed the impression that Dugin is a serious academic on a par with the other two. The show went out of its way to publicize Dugin’s newly published work, Eurasian Mission, giving it equal standing alongside one of Fukuyama’s books. Eurasian Mission is published by Arktos Media, an incontrovertibly “Aryanist” or white supremacist outfit. On its cover, repeatedly displayed on the TV screens of TVO’s viewers, is the Symbol of Chaos —Dugin’s no less malevolent version of the swastika. It is hard to imagine that Paikin or the TVO producers knew what they were doing when they gave the purveyor of this reptilian ideology his platform on public television. But it is not too late to educate ourselves.

In presenting Dugin to their viewers, TVO advertised him as a “Russian philosopher and political activist.” Is Dugin a Russian philosopher? Yes, it seems that he is. Dugin’s book, Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (published by Radix, a far-right press), offers a competent and at times interesting commentary on the philosophy of Heidegger, one of the major thinkers of the twentieth century. Only a fellow philosopher could pursue that kind of engagement with a philosopher as challenging and as important as Heidegger—although Dugin’s book in no way hides the fact that he’s at least as strongly drawn to Heidegger’s ideological significance as to his philosophical significance. (Dugin is very intensely focused on the Heidegger of 1936-1945, a period throughout which Heidegger was a card-carrying Nazi, however much he may have believed that Hitler’s version of National Socialism was grossly inferior to his own.) Since the Enlightenment, there has been a line of important thinkers for whom life in liberal modernity is felt to be profoundly dehumanizing. Thinkers in this category include Joseph de Maistre, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, and Heidegger. For such thinkers, liberal modernity is so humanly degrading that one ought to (if one could) undo the French Revolution and its egalitarianism, and perhaps cancel out the whole moral legacy of Christianity. For all of them, hierarchy and rootedness is more morally compelling than equality and individual liberty. In his Heidegger book, Dugin helps to bring out why certain intellectuals of the early twentieth century gravitated towards fascism: a grim preoccupation with the perceived soullessness of modernity, and a resolve to embrace any politics, however extreme, that seemed to them to promise “spiritual renewal” (to quote Heidegger). Dugin is now the latest thinker in this line of philosophers of the radical right. But his identity as a philosopher is only one aspect of Dugin’s intellectual personality. He’s also very much captivated by mysticism and occultism, and he’s a determined ideologue who is willing to reach out to allies in the gutter.

It seems that there are really three Aleksandr Dugins. Let’s call them: the philosophical Dugin; the witchcraft-dispensing Dugin; and the ideology-mongering Dugin. One notable work of Dugin’s available in English is entitled The Fourth Political Theory. Despite the misleading title, intended to convey the image of Dugin as a “theorist,” offering the world a new “political theory,” this work corresponds to what I’ve called the ideology-mongering Dugin. Here Dugin is not in the theory business at all; he’s in the ideology business. And the ideology that he is hawking involves celebration of blatantly totalitarian and ruthlessly imperialistic forms of politics.

Consider a telling passage in a recent text by Dugin entitled “The Fourth Estate”:

The Fourth Political Theory … is built on the imperative of overcoming modernity and all three political ideologies in order (the order has tremendous significance): (1) liberalism, (2) communism, (3) nationalism (fascism). The subject of this theory, in its simple version, is the concept “narod,” roughly, “Volk” or “people,” in the sense of “peoplehood” and “peoples,” not “masses.”

What does Dugin mean in suggesting that while one must overcome all the leading ideologies of the twentieth century, “the order has tremendous significance”? The implication is that the normative objections to liberalism far exceed the normative objections to fascism. Fascism may not be perfect, but there is more there (even in the Nazi version!) that is worthy of being incorporated in Dugin’s higher ideological synthesis than there is in Western-style bourgeois liberalism. Yes, all three ideologies have to be “overcome,” but they are not on the same level. One needs to rank them. Shockingly for a reader in the liberal West, the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century (Bolshevism, fascism, Nazism) rank higher – much higher – than morally egalitarian liberalism does.

Dugin’s desire to incorporate fascism in his anti-liberal ideology is not a matter of conjecture or interpretation: he himself openly avows it. In The Fourth Political Theory, he writes that the kind of radically anti-liberal grand coalition that he envisions (encompassing the Far Right, the Far Left, the radical Green movement, jihadi Islam, and millenarian – for instance, evangelical and Pentecostal – Christianity) requires

putting aside anti-Communist as well as anti-fascist, prejudices. These prejudices are the instruments in the hands of liberals and globalists with which to keep their enemies divided. So we should strongly reject anti-Communism as well as anti-fascism. Both of them are counter-revolutionary tools in the hands of the global liberal elite. (4PT, p. 196).

Marxism was right in its collectivism and anti-capitalism, and fascism/Nazism was right in its primordialism and anti-rationalism. These disparate ideologies have to be fused and made to work together (hence “National Bolshevism,” Dugin’s antecedent to neo-Eurasianism). In the interests of advancing this more potent synthesis of totalitarian ideologies, concerns about 20th-century fascism and Nazism are to be dismissed as mere “prejudices.” Dugin is far from being a closet fascist. Nor, for that matter, is he a closet Bolshevist. The key idea is that if Communism and Nazism were not sufficient on their own to defeat liberalism, only a synthesis of the two can do the job. Dugin’s suggestive slogan, “Third Rome – Third Reich – Third International,” aptly conveys the scope of his ambitions.

In The Fourth Political Theory, Dugin claims that he repudiates the “racism, xenophobia, and chauvinism” of the fascist past, which he refers to as “unacceptable elements” of fascism/Nazism (4PT, p. 195). Yes, he wants to incorporate a fascist and Nazi component in his anti-liberal ideology, but his will be a kinder and gentler fascism purged of racism and nationalist chauvinism. One would have to be credulous in the extreme to be taken in by these disclaimers. Dugin’s “National Bolshevism” arose in concert with the Pamyat’ movement of the late 1980s, which in turn is traceable in a direct ideological line back to the infamous Black Hundred movement in the early 20th century responsible (according to Walter Laqueur) for 700 or so anti-Jewish pogroms.

With respect to Dugin’s political affiliations and alignments within Russia, the story is one of a bewildering multiplicity and diversity of political identities, zigzagging from the far right, to the left, to the right, to the “centre,” and so on. What consistently underlies and makes sense of these frantic migrations and manoeuvrings all over the political map is commitment to a project of a Nazified Russia laying claim to an ambitious empire straddling continents, and thereby coming to dominate the world. If these mad imperial designs lead to World War III, so much the better, since we know from Dugin’s lunatic theology that he heartily welcomes, in fact positively yearns for, an eschatological “climax”—what he typically refers to as Finis Mundi, “the end of the world.” (Dugin offers us a millenarian vision that matches to an astonishing degree the parallel millenarianism of the Islamic State.) What this erratic political career, with all its volatile ideological shifts, also tells us is that none of Dugin’s various statements and disclaimers (for instance, on the topic of racism) can be taken at face value. Or rather: the only Duginian utterances and pronouncements that can be trusted are those that are most extreme, which are certainly in no way lacking.

Make no mistake: Dugin is not speaking to Russian imperialists alone. Dugin aims to assemble as broad an anti-liberal coalition as possible, extending even to environmentalist terrorists like the Unibomber, although he tends to side with Shiite and Sufi Islam over Sunni Islam (hence he sometimes goes so far as cast Sunni extremists as if they were allies of the West). From Dugan’s own standpoint, all enemies of liberalism are crusaders fighting in the same cause (to destroy modernity). Dugin is an ecumenical jihadist. “Jihadists of all civilizations unite!” is his true slogan.

In a sense, exposing Dugin as a dangerous charlatan is redundant. He does it to himself with words spoken out of his own mouth. And it’s all on YouTube. Consider an especially revealing eight-minute interview filmed in Indonesia in which Dugin fully lays out his “political-theological” vision. He cites the authority of Russian Orthodox monks who assure him of the coming Apocalypse. He divides up the world into good Muslims (Sufi mystics and theocratic Shiites) and bad Muslims (Sunnis aligned with the West, it would seem); good Christians (Orthodox) and bad Christians (Western); good Jews and bad Jews (mainly bad!). He posits an “eschatological line” and arranges world civilizations on one side of this line or the other, foretelling their historical destiny or historical extinction. He predicts the re-conquest of “Constantinople” on behalf of Russian Orthodoxy (ISIS predicts the same thing on behalf of the caliphate!). He refers to the existing world order as “Pax Judaica.” He claims to have a direct line to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran at the time of the interview). It is easy to dismiss all of this as a wild rant, since that is what it is, except that it is a wild rant emanating from someone listened to with seeming respect by the president of Russia, the former president of Iran, and the current Foreign Minister of Greece. (As regards the third, there is a congenial-looking photo posted online of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias posing in close proximity to Dugin.)

Why should one worry so much about one pseudo-intellectual kook or crank? I think there are indeed very serious reasons to worry. That he is influencing powerful people in the Kremlin (right up to the top) cannot be ruled out. But even if Putin and the people around Putin are using Dugin rather than being influenced by him, there is no question that there are vast numbers of people, within Russia and beyond Russia, who are being influenced by Dugin’s ideology and by his political-theological fantasies. According to Anton Barbashin and Hannah Thoburn, there are no less than 56 branch offices of Dugin’s Eurasian Youth Union: 47 within Russia and nine abroad. Our contemporary context is mightily relevant. I would urge readers to consult a wise and penetrating analysis published by John Gray in the October 2014 issue of Prospect entitled “The Liberal Delusion.” Gray argues that for liberals, peace, freedom, and prosperity are self-evidently the natural aspirations of all human beings, and liberals get utterly bewildered when individuals or societies have the opportunity to choose these liberal ideals and instead unaccountably opt for anti-liberal visions of life. One important example of this liberal bewilderment, but not at all the only one, concerns Putin’s Russia: his authoritarianism and his reassertion of “the claims of geopolitics, ethnicity and empire” are astoundingly popular within Russia. This makes no sense to those for whom liberal ideals are the default aspiration of humanity. Gray writes:

The Soviet debacle [at the conclusion of the Cold War] was an opportunity to reclaim a [liberal] normalcy denied them for over 40 years. A sort of normalcy has returned; but it is the kind that Europe experienced in much of the first half of the last century, a condition of chronic crisis. Structural flaws in the single currency have left much of Southern Europe in permanent depression. Reunited by the fall of communism, the continent has been re-divided by the European project. Across Europe, there has been a resurgence of the far right and the politics of hate.

As we should have been taught by the catastrophes of the twentieth century, cultural-economic-political crisis of this kind provides the perfect opening for demagogues and lunatics who can exploit these crises in order to turn the whole world upside side. If the far right and the politics of hate are enjoying a notable resurgence (which they are), then Dugin, however much he may look to liberals as a kind of intellectual clown, is precisely the sort of thuggish enemy of liberalism that we must most fear. We are learning anew that fascism (including its theocratic versions), with its brown uniforms and black flags, has a romance that we liberals underestimate at our peril. Similar wisdom can be drawn from George Orwell as quoted by Graeme Wood in a recent report on the rise of ISIS written for The Atlantic: fascism is “psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life.” Socialism and capitalism convey the message: “I offer you a good time”; Hitler’s message, by contrast, is: “I offer you struggle, danger, and death.” “We ought not to underrate [the latter’s] emotional appeal.”This is relevant to understanding not only the appeal of Hitler and ISIS but also that of Dugin. Crooked timber indeed!

It should seem obvious that the twentieth century is not something any of us would want to replay in the twenty-first century. Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo, predicted in 1889 that the century to come would see “upheavals, a convulsion of earthquakes, a moving of mountains and valleys, the like of which has never been dreamed of. There will be wars the like of which have never yet been seen on earth.” And so it came to pass! Why would any sane person want to do it all over again, namely seeing the world convulsed by totalitarian ideologies, genocide, and apocalyptic wars? How can this prospect possibly be attractive in the eyes of Dugin and his disciples or anyone else? Can human beings really be so blind and misguided as to have learned nothing from the twentieth century at its worst? That seems unthinkable, yet the atrocious ideologies currently gaining ground in Europe and in other parts of the world are forcing us to reconsider what Gray calls “the liberal delusion” (the faith that history favours liberalism). That’s why Dugin and like-minded extremists have to be taken with deadly seriousness. As the recently assassinated Russian opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, put it in an interview with Toronto’s Globe and Mail: “The most difficult question for Russia is what kind of revolution you will get – orange or brown or red. There is a very big danger for Russians and for the world because, unfortunately, nationalists and fascists are very popular in this country.”

Barack Obama in his Nobel Peace Prize address got it right—“evil does exist in the world”—and in the case of Duginism, that very thing is staring us right in the face. Readers are urged to check out the websites of Dugin’s English-language publishers, Radix and Arktos Media, so that they may judge for themselves the ideological complexion of these organizations. Is this a kind of guilt by association? No: Dugin is so eclectic and ecumenical in his extremism that we need to be aware of those with whom he associates in order to pierce through the bewildering variety of his sources and references. Dugin himself decides which toxic intellectual sources to draw upon for his own ideological activities, and these are the vile comrades with whom he chooses to collaborate. Choosing to align yourself with Julius Evola (one of Dugin’s arch-fascist intellectual heroes) and Arktos Media is decidedly a mode of self-disclosure and is probably our most reliable point of access to what Dugin is really about.

Andreas Umland, an important scholar of Duginism, has recently written: Dugin “envisages himself not as a public intellectual but rather as a mastermind who need not necessarily run the state himself, but should define the thinking of the elite: not a politician, but a meta-politician. Ideally, Dugin the theoretician would generate ideas that the political leaders and the propaganda workers would, consciously or subconsciously, realize.” With this concerted commitment to “meta-politics” on the part of Dugin and his followers as well as kindred ideologues of his ilk, we need to, as one website rightly puts it, keep “an eye on the neo-fascists burrowing their way into a subculture near you.” Dugin puts huge emphasis on the idea of “geopolitics,” and Dugin’s spreading influence, first in Moscow and now in other societies, has its own significant geopolitical implications. After Putin’s aggressions against Ukraine, with their real potential for geopolitical mischief, it no longer seems hyperbolic to call Aleksandr Dugin one of the most dangerous ideologues on the planet. All responsible citizens in the West need to know who he is and what he stands for.

Ronald Beiner is a professor of political theory at the University of Toronto

{ 151 comments }

1

Ze Kraggash 03.10.15 at 6:07 pm

“Putin’s aggressions against Ukraine”? WTF? Jeez.

As for Dugin, I understand that paranoia is comforting, but it’s absolutely unnecessary. He’s not against you practicing liberalism. He is against you forcing your liberalism on other cultures, other ‘civilizations’. And that’s not something new or remarkable. It’s a quite common complaint. I believe I already posted this link here somewhere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFI6fg8NITg

2

Jeff R. 03.10.15 at 6:52 pm

Are you seriously claiming that Ukraine was asking for it? WTF WTF?

And any liberalism worthy of the name must apply all human rights and claims to equality equally across all humanity, so yes, he is against anyone practicing actual liberalism.

3

Anarcissie 03.10.15 at 7:02 pm

Ze Kraggash 03.10.15 at 6:07 pm @ 1 — There is a school of liberal capitalist thought in which liberalism-capitalism is held to be the One True Truth, and in which all opposition to or deviation from liberalism is therefore the work of the Devil. See, for example, ‘All The Devils, All Together, All At Once’, which is actually a doubtlessly illegal, copyright-violating transcription of ‘Postmodern Jihad: What Osama bin Laden learned from the Left’ by Waller R. Newell, that appeared on Usenet back in the bad old days. As you can see, the article could be easily updated to include new slaves of Satan like Putin and Dugin, whoever he is.

4

Ze Kraggash 03.10.15 at 7:16 pm

The state of Ukraine self-destroyed Feb 22 last year; the elected government was overthrown by ultra-right paramilitary forces. Once it’d happened (with a direct US involvement, incidentally, as Obama admitted: “we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine”), it’s free for all: right to self-determination, baby.

“must apply all human rights and claims to equality equally across all humanity”

Well, you’re right, this is the essence of it. You believe you speak for all of humanity, and he thinks anyone who does is full of shit and very dangerous. Respectfully, I’m on his side in this.

5

Rich Puchalsky 03.10.15 at 7:17 pm

“On its cover, repeatedly displayed on the TV screens of TVO’s viewers, is the Symbol of Chaos —Dugin’s no less malevolent version of the swastika. “

Does Dugin also carry a black, sentient broadsword that consumes souls? I would find that to be a concern, certainly.

6

marcel proust 03.10.15 at 7:24 pm

The show (entitled “Big Minds on the Future of Democracies”) included Francis Fukuyama, a well-known and influential public intellectual, as well as Ivan Krastev, another heavyweight political scientist concerned with the future of democracy. This already conveyed the impression that Dugin is a serious academic on a par with the other two.

I admit to being unfamiliar with Krastev, but using Fukuyama as a standard sets a pretty low bar.

7

Jeff R. 03.10.15 at 7:37 pm

There is no alternative, though: the idea that human rights and claims to equal status are dependent on accidents of geography is laughably dumb and to deny those claims entirely is unspeakably evil. So given the alternatives, every decent person has no choice to aspire to being full of shit.

8

Luke 03.10.15 at 7:39 pm

@1
With a very little digging, it appears that your interviewee (Michael Millerman) specialises in Strauss and Heidegger and has written for the ‘we’re not far-rightist, honest!’ journal Telos. Funny story: I was prompted to look him up because I once met a young man who looked very much like him handing out anti-immigrant literature on the Toronto subway. I would take all talk to the effect that Dugin is, for example, ‘not really homophobic’ with a healthy pinch of salt.

@ Rich
Why do you think we need all those NATO bases in Eastern Europe?

9

Ze Kraggash 03.10.15 at 7:50 pm

“There is no alternative, though: the idea that human rights and claims to equal status are dependent on accidents of geography is laughably dumb and to deny those claims entirely is unspeakably evil.”

One alternative would be to realize that “human rights” (I don’t know what “claims to equal status” are) is an ideological gimmick in service to western imperialism and neo-liberalism.

10

Jeff R. 03.10.15 at 7:56 pm

That would fall under “unspeakably evil”.

11

stevenjohnson 03.10.15 at 8:00 pm

Is it still possible for supposedly serious people to keep babbling about totalitarianism?
Andrew Jackson’s populist democracy included chattel slavery. And after the defeat of Reconstruction, Redemption gave us democracy with Jim Crow and lynch law. Modern anti-totalitarianism is compatible with apartheid and Zionism, with Zia’s (and Erdogan’s) Islamic democracy, with Saudi Wahabis and Paul Kagame and East Timor. Anyone who wants to start a moral panic about the malign influence of ideology needs to start with their own mouth, I think.

As for Dugin? Any Russian political philosopher who says something nice about communism in general but still advocates overcoming communist ideology is not some sort of secret commie. It appears pretty clear that most people lived better under communism, so vaguely hinting that a system which actually provides benefits to the majority might be on offer is just tact. The pretense that communism hasn’t been defeated in Russia is BS. That does give away the reactionary impetus.

12

Harold 03.10.15 at 8:01 pm

What I want to know is where does Sholzenitzin stand on all this?

13

Matt 03.10.15 at 8:02 pm

At one point I was fairly interested in Eduard Limonov, the nominal leader of the National Bolshevik Party. It was pretty clear that, while the authorities were a bit worried about Limonov, that for him, at least, the NBP’s primary purpose was to provide sustenance to Limonov’s ego. It was unfortunate that a fair number of young followers of him ended up spending quite a bit of time in nasty prisons for that end. (Their fate did allow you to see which supporters of Khodorkovsky were just paid-up shills. When they would talk about helping political prisoners in Russia, in relation to Khodorkovsky, I’d ask what they were doing for detained NBP members, whose actual crimes were much smaller than Khodorkovsky, but who could not pay American law firms. The answer was typically a blank stare.)

What this all makes me wonder, though, is if Dugin has anything that can properly be called an ideology at all. It seems like such a silly hodge-podge of bad ideas and nonsense that it’s hard for me to think that he might not be primarily a con-man. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a pretty bad guy, but I’m not really sure if I believe that he believes his own stuff.

By the way, is ze kraggash our old “friend” abb1 in yet another form? The style is a bit different, but the “content” seems all too familiar.

14

Harold 03.10.15 at 8:06 pm

Also, how does Russian Orthodoxy “cancel out the whole moral legacy of Christianity”. Weren’t Schmitt and de Maistre rather fervent believers? I am not religious myself, so my mind can’t comprehend these things.

15

Harold 03.10.15 at 8:08 pm

I should have said, “fervent Christians (i.e., Roman Catholic)” — at least they identified themselves as such.

16

Luke 03.10.15 at 8:10 pm

@Matt
Fascism was always a bit of a magpie creed. From what I’ve seen of e.g. the Greek far right, the mixture of mysticism and ‘commies had half a point but were moral and racial degenerates’ type arguments is absolutely typical of the contemporary European far right (in the US they of course shade into libertarianism).

17

Jeff Martin 03.10.15 at 8:21 pm

I’m with Mr. Kraggash on this, with all due respect to those who pen lengthy treatises on the political theory of Dugin, its tainted sources, and its potential consequences. Part of the problem is the old distinction between theory and practice; there isn’t much of a credible argument that the Russian state is endeavouring to achieve Dugin’s philosophico-political project, only perhaps that Dugin’s intellectual output is employed to shore up a small, but volatile component of the government’s base (and I can tell you precisely what it is, to the extent that the government is using Dugin, or allowing him to be used by elements of the apparatuses: there is a rough divide among hardcore Russian nationalists – no, not the ordinary people who vote for Putin and approve of Crimea, but actual nationalists somewhat analogous to the Pravy Sektor cadres in Ukraine – between “Eurasianist” types, who believe that Russia is sufficiently different from Atlantic Europe that it should go its own way, and outright ethnic nationalists, who want an ethnically pure Russian state. Dugin’s tainted sources notwithstanding, his material tends to push in favour of the former group, and against the latter, whose ideas would have “Russia” warring against a sizable percentage of its own population).

Something not entirely disanalogous, though more extensive, has been happening on the American side since the end of WWII; though the US crows loudly, and selectively, about human rights, the American apparat has cultivated ties to actual fascists and actual Islamists, using them initially as Cold War chess pieces, and later more broadly in any manner deemed useful in the circumstances. In theory, yes, human rights are wonderful and universal; in practice, not so much; the concept is disregarded when it ceases to be useful, and when it is invoked, it is often weaponized to achieve demonstrably crass ends. Theory/practice, albeit the theory seems to be that practice is determinative for theory. Ask a Bahraini, or a Palestinian, or a Ukrainian who backed the Party of Regions, and so on and so forth. Human rights, except when their bearers might employ them to oppose the desired policy outcomes.

In the end, as dreadful as I might find Dugin’s theorizing, I’m much more concerned with things like the drone war, the surveillance state, dishonest brokering in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (when those happen), US cozying up to Gulf autocracies, the desire of some members of the American establishment to fight a proxy war with Russia, right in a border region, etc. I just don’t see a modal world in which Dugin is more threatening than these things, unless it’s one in which Putin gets Maidaned out of office, because his replacement is unlikely to be moderate, whatever “moderate” means.

18

bob mcmanus 03.10.15 at 8:24 pm

Oh my, an interesting day of posts on Crooked Timber! Is there a link to the Vinyard of the Saker in there somewhere?

“(hence he sometimes goes so far as cast Sunni extremists as if they were allies of the West)”; “Sunnis aligned with the West, it would seem”

Out liberal-capitalist-rationalist-pluralist allies in Saudi Arabia, I presume.

Looking more like war everyday.

19

Hidari 03.10.15 at 8:32 pm

As regards the Ukraine (and many other countries round the world), I have noticed that even (or especially) to liberals who are prepared to admit, in a highly abstract way, that the United States is an imperial power, there is a distinct unwillingness to think through what that means, and what it implies about the way the US will probably behave, in most situations.

It may be true (or it may not) that Putin is ‘reasserting’ Russian imperial ambitions, but when did the US ever unassert its own?

20

Cian 03.10.15 at 8:33 pm

While I dislike Putin immensely, yeah the Ukraine government pretty much was asking for it. First of all they stoked ethnic tensions needlessly. An ethnicity that happens to be the same as their powerful neighbor. Then when this resulted in moves towards secession – rather than defusing it politically, they attacked them with the army.

So yeah, Putin might be an opportunist (though one in this case who’s being pushed from multiple segments of the Russian elite – it’s not entirely clear who’s driving) – but who gave them an opportunity, then presented it in such a way that Russian public/elite opinion meant that he really had no option but to take it.

21

Harold 03.10.15 at 8:35 pm

To answer my own question@ 12. Solzhenitsyn died in 2008 but while alive was a Putin fan. Gérard Depardieu likes him, too (I think he is still alive).

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/03/why-do-russians-support-still-support-vladimir-putin

22

Luke 03.10.15 at 8:37 pm

“Looking more like war everyday.”

I hope you’re wrong. It’s funny how we’ve all learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

23

Harold 03.10.15 at 8:44 pm

Hmm. What it means to be an imperialist? Let us turn to wikipedia to find out:
The Grand Chessboard
The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives is one of the major works of Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski graduated with a PhD from Harvard University in 1953 and became Professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University before becoming the United States National Security Advisor during 1977-1981 under the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Regarding the landmass of Eurasia as the center of global power, Brzezinski sets out to formulate a Eurasian geostrategy for the United States. In particular, he writes, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger should emerge capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America’s global pre-eminence.

Much of his analysis is concerned with geo-strategy in Central Asia, focusing on the exercise of power on the Eurasian landmass in a post-Soviet environment. In his chapter, dedicated to what he refers to as the “Global Balkans”, Brzezinski makes use of Halford J. Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory [Also known as the Geographical Pivot Theory of History.]

§See also
American imperialism
Geopolitics
Geostrategy in Central Asia
The Great Game
Zbigniew Brzezinski
*****
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geographical_Pivot_of_History
The Geographical Pivot of History
EXCERPTS:
The Geographical Pivot of History, sometimes simply as The Pivot of History is a geo-strategic theory, also known as Heartland Theory.

“The Geographical Pivot of History” was an article submitted by Halford John Mackinder in 1904 to the Royal Geographical Society that advanced his Heartland Theory. In this article, Mackinder extended the scope of geopolitical analysis to encompass the entire globe.
**********
Influence of the theory on foreign and military policy

In Germany up to 1945
Some influential Germans, such as Karl Haushofer both before and during the Third Reich, found this theory compatible with their desire to control Mitteleuropa and to take Ukraine. The intention to take the latter was indicated by the slogan Drang nach Osten, or “drive to the east”.

In the Western powers
Mackinder identified the geopolitical nightmare that was to haunt the world’s two sea powers during the first half of the twentieth century — Great Britain and later on the United States. The nightmare was that if Germany or Russia were allowed to control East Europe then this could lead to the domination of the Eurasian land mass by one of these two powers as a prelude to mastery of the world.

24

christian_h 03.10.15 at 9:32 pm

Being of the tendency in the radical left that does, and has in the past, acknowledged the reality of Russian imperialism and its oppression of the many non-Russian nations of the former Tsarist Empire and later Stalinist empire; and thus being stridently opposed to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and certainly to Dugin’s absurd ideology – I expected to agree with this post. But then it turns out to be an excavated piece of Dissent anti-communism adapted to the enemy of liberalism of the day. Meh.

25

Bloix 03.10.15 at 9:33 pm

#4 – well, no. We don’t say that a state has “self-destroyed” when it undergoes a change in regime, regardless of whether that change was legal or illegal from the point of view of the internal law of that state.

So whether the change was a coup or a legal transition, Ukraine had not self-destroyed; it was and is far from a failed state; it had a functioning government and control of its territory until its larger neighbor decided to dismember it, and it still maintains control of territory that is not held by forces armed and supported by — and supplemented by the armies of — that neighboring state.

26

Jeff Martin 03.10.15 at 9:47 pm

But then it turns out to be an excavated piece of Dissent anti-communism adapted to the enemy of liberalism of the day. Meh.

There must always be a reason to avoid confronting the fact of the American Empire, to spoon with it for just a little while longer. If that reason cannot be an actual geopolitical threat, a marginal intellectual figure will do, provided his oeuvre can be conflated with the strategic doctrine of a nation-state. Look, I think it’s simple: some on the Left are terrified of going back to the Seventies, when the Right, and the media, demonized them as unpatriotic and anti-American; hence they try to confabulate ways of being both progressive and indirectly supportive of the American Empire, which is rather unprogressive. But whatever.

27

phenomenal cat 03.10.15 at 10:10 pm

The OP writes:

Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo, predicted in 1889 that the century to come would see “upheavals, a convulsion of earthquakes, a moving of mountains and valleys, the like of which has never been dreamed of. There will be wars the like of which have never yet been seen on earth.” And so it came to pass! Why would any sane person want to do it all over again…

Um, I don’t know who Dugin is, but you might want to address the last question to august liberal institutions such as NATO, IMF, CIA, World Bank, EU, the U.S. congress and its mortal enemy–Barack Obama. While you’re at it you could also query some transnational banks and corporations to see what they have to say.

28

Harold 03.10.15 at 10:25 pm

Q OP, “Why would any sane person want to do it all over again…”

A. There’s a lot of money to be made in the short run.

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2015/02/27/kredite-aus-steuergeldern-saatgut-konzerne-kaufen-land-in-der-ukraine/

Excerpt: Seed producers have a strong interest in Ukrainian lands (Google translated):

Ukraine is one of the promising growth markets for seed producers Monsanto and DuPont. It is feared that Monsanto has exerted great pressure on the authorities in Ukraine to enforce its demands for an expansion of biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Last year, Monsanto has invested 140 million to increase the potential for future production. “

German companies are also benefiting this Ukrainian land grab.:

Examples of German companies that profit from land grabbing in Eastern Europe include AGRARIUS AG, founded in 2007 and headquartered in Bad Homburg, which “offers investment in farmland” and “services related to the purchase of land”; Hamburg-based German agricultural CEE GmbH lures investors with returns of 100 percent from the “most attractive agricultural market in the world”; and KTG Agrar SE, also based in Hamburg, advertises organic products that promise to yield “much higher profit margins”.

Multinational and national companies receive financial, development, and EU subsidies, enabling agricultural corporations to build in Ukraine for ten years, and more for the production of rape seed oil, due to the EU’s growing demand for biofuels. About 90 percent of rape seed is exported to the EU and processed there. The German Federal Government reports that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) awarded 2,014 loans to a total of 131 Ukrainian and 55 international agroholdings.

The German Federal government did not specifically respond to the Left Party’s question as to whether DuPont and Monsanto would receive KfW loans for its operations in Ukraine. The government’s response states:

“The publication of information on lending by the KfW bank group involves trade and business secrets of the undertakings concerned. The public response to the question of whether and to what extent a company finances its business activities, and over which type of loan generally serves to give competitors information not only about the financial resources of a company, but also about its strategy and positioning in the market. “

29

Harold 03.10.15 at 10:28 pm

Returns of 100 percent. Not bad.

30

hix 03.10.15 at 10:44 pm

The 100% return among other things is a rather strong indication that the only victims are overpaid western professionals in this case. And im genuinly sorry for them. They dont deserve to be made poorer that way.

31

Robespierre 03.10.15 at 10:45 pm

@4: How convenient.

32

Matt 03.10.15 at 11:08 pm

AFAICT the fighting in Ukraine reflects real divisions in the country. Russian philosophers and international agribusiness might take advantage of the situation but they didn’t create the divisions.

The eastern portion of Ukraine has most of the heavy industry and mining. The equipment and practices are old, energy-intensive, and the quality of manufactured products is not competitive with Asian/EU/North American exports. Products made in the East found an export market in Russia though. If Ukraine were opened for trade with the EU the East would suffer doubly: loss of Russian exports since Russia was going to restrict Ukraine trade in the event of liberalized trade with the EU, and loss of domestic demand if imports from the EU took market share.

The Western portion of Ukraine had less dependence on manufacturing, lower unemployment, and higher fertility rate. People there generally saw more advantage than disadvantage to getting closer to the EU. Different regions had different material interests.

The mystery to me is not so much why the eastern portion tried to break away but why the western portion is trying so hard to stop it. The eastern heavy industry is outdated. The population there is older and less fertile. One might think the western portion would gladly shed the seceding eastern regions along with shedding all obligations to persons residing there. Maybe western Ukraine wanted to keep the east as a buffer against Russia, even if they didn’t really plan to improve it? Or maybe once the shooting starts people get too angry to stick with cold cost-benefit calculations.

33

Peter T 03.10.15 at 11:21 pm

While the primary causes of state disfunction are almost always internal, outside forces are not therefore negligible. In the Middle East and Eastern Europe a broad array of Western institutions have, sometimes by design, more often by accident, lent their weight to disorder. And when things are chaotic, outcomes are much more unpredictable: it’s from the long tail that Nazism and ISIS emerged. So don’t dismiss Dugin out of hand.

34

Jeff Martin 03.10.15 at 11:32 pm

“The mystery to me….”

The Western half of the country really ought to have allowed the East to go; better yet, they ought not have antagonized them by overthrowing the government that hailed from the East, then proposing to abolish the linguistic rights of the region, and to abolish the political parties that represented the East. That tends not to go over terribly well. But the reason they’ve been unwilling to let the East go its own way is that some of the folks in the Western Ukrainian coalition are desirous that the political and ideological outcomes of WWII be relitigated; hence, all of the ‘strange symbols’ and Stepan Bandera posters one sees in the torchlight parades of the Western Ukrainian nationalists. In a sense, they wanted to do unto the East what their ideology says was done unto them in the outcomes of WWII. Additionally, I rather doubt that the American operatives assisting the new government wanted that government to permit the East to walk; they have their own purposes, which take into account neither the East nor the West of the country.

35

Matt 03.10.15 at 11:38 pm

OK, I found a material incentive to not just let the east go. It has the highest levels of wheat production. Maybe the eastern heavy industry and its workers were considered expendable but the food was not.

This first link is a wheat production map of Ukraine and the second is a linguistic map.

http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/highlights/2009/05/ukr_20may2009/wheatarea_map.htm
https://danieljmitchell.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/russian-in-ukraine.jpg

36

Harold 03.11.15 at 12:21 am

I still don’t understand in what way Orthodox Christianity undermines Christian morality — as I understood the OP to be saying.

37

engels 03.11.15 at 12:38 am

‘the wise and penetrating analysis published by John Gray’

Shurely shome mishtake?

38

bianca steele 03.11.15 at 12:40 am

Harold:

Presumably all those church councils that took place under Rome and under the presumption of Rome’s preeminence? I can’t remember which those were, but I ran into a guy once (on the Internet, naturally) who thought along those lines.

39

christian_h 03.11.15 at 12:53 am

Sorry Jeff but “allowing the East to go” presumes some kind of unified identity as Russians in Eastern Ukraine. This is wrong. No single district (outside Crimea) has a Russian language majority; the rural areas in particular are Ukrainian and have not forgotten the mass murder of Ukrainian peasants during forced collectivization – if Eastern Ukraine became independent rather than a Russian puppet, it would descend into further civil war almost immediately. Opposing the liberal imperialism of the West does in no require support for great Russian nationalism, any more than opposition to Russian imperialism requires support for NATO meddling. How about we walk and chew gum.

40

bob mcmanus 03.11.15 at 1:11 am

23,26:There must always be a reason to avoid confronting the fact of the American Empire

I usually keep quiet about it, but I have played with a theory that the United States as global threat has been the driving force of global history since sometime between when New England embarrassed Britain in shipbuilding (whaling and clippers*) and “Konnichi wa, Perry-sama!” That threat remains.

The combinations of technological and social openness, vast resources, welcome to immigrants, capitalist ideology…with aggressive actually genocidal imperialism and brutal homicidal slavery never reconciled and continued in more acceptable forms, a civil war that showed a willingness to sacrifice its citizens in millions…by the 1870s, and I would say earlier, the US was one scary actor on the world stage, and the potential terrifying. Hindsight helps, we now know who won, but the prediction if only subconsciously, was always possible.

If Britain had emptied India so that only Anglo-Saxons and Celts were today living on the subcontinent you would have an idea what America is, and how it should be viewed by the world. We are still that barbaric nation, those people.

Those two little islands off Normandy and Korea were never going to rule for long.

As I said, I think the driving force of history is American Imperialism, to the extent that I view fascism, Stalinism and Imperial Japan as defensive reactions, mad and cruel and futile as they may have been, to the American hegemonic future. 40% of spoken Japanese is now English derived.

Shit yes, Dugin has some kind of mad point. But madness may be the only possible escape.

*because of resources, tall timber.

41

Harold 03.11.15 at 1:23 am

Russian orthodoxy undermines Christian morality by not being Roman Catholic? Does. Not. Compute.

42

jwl 03.11.15 at 1:29 am

“Most people lived better under communism”. What’s most and which people are we talking about here? Certainly not the Poles, for example. Not the people of the Caucasus, despite their tragic history after the fall of the Soviet Union. Not the peasants of Ukraine and western Russia in the 30s who starved to death in their millions. Not the Balts or the vast numbers of people who ended up in Kazakhstan.The Crimean Tatars didn’t live better under communism or the Volga Germans. Most Eastern Europeans are living better now, except for Yugoslavia. The Kazakhs are living way better than they did under communism. We’re not even talking about the zeks and the gulag archipelago in its entirety.

I’m confused why ” progressives” support Putin. He’s not progressive in his domestic dealings, and has just recently cut medical and social benefits substantially. Ethnic nationalism is on the rise in Russia and tacitly supported by the government, particularly against Caucasians and Central Asians. What’s the attraction for non-Russians of Russian chauvinism, the quasi-official creed of the current Russian government?

43

Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 1:33 am

(My last comment is in moderation. This may be because I posted the first one or two from the office, a next one from my mobile while with my son at an extracurricular, and the most recent one from home – three different devices. I hope that my comments will be allowed through.)

44

Anarcissie 03.11.15 at 1:33 am

jwl 03.11.15 at 1:29 am @ 42:
‘I’m confused why ” progressives” support Putin. …’

Most of them obviously don’t, so I’m confused as to why you ask such a question.

45

jwl 03.11.15 at 1:34 am

Bob,

You know more than 50% of Japanese vocabulary is Chinese derived, right? It’s just that the Chinese don’t often recognize it. And yet somehow Japan has retained their vital essence. Japanese has been borrowing foreign words for more than a millennia.

46

jwl 03.11.15 at 1:39 am

Anarcissie,

When people post things like “Ukraine was asking for it”, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t say that about Cuba or Grenada or Iraq.

47

bob mcmanus 03.11.15 at 1:42 am

I’m confused why ” progressives” support Putin.

I don’t “support” Putin, except to the extent I refuse to support Putin’s enemies, and in fact the Cold War redux “with us or against us” bullshit is exactly what pisses and frightens me.

48

Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 1:51 am

I don’t “support” Putin, except to the extent I refuse to support Putin’s enemies…

The same folks who have lied to me about every single occurrence in world affairs over my lifetime are the ones telling me that Putin is teh evul, and must be stopped via Cold War 2.0. Umm, no. You’ve lied to me 13,873 times, and so you haven’t earned my trust for tale 13,874. I may not know precisely what the game is, though theories abound, but I’m certain that those folks are full of shit.

49

Harold 03.11.15 at 1:55 am

Also, I don’t understand what the OP means when he equates being “anti-modern”with “evil”. What exactly is meant here by “modern”? What aspects of it are “good”? Is “progress” uniformly “good” and conservatism uniformly “evil”? Some aspects of “progress”, if you believe in it, are good, clearly, at least I think so, but are all , really? What about light pollution, say? Is that really so good? Suburban sprawl, or global warming? It it evil to be against these?

50

bob mcmanus 03.11.15 at 1:56 am

In fact, as a Marxian, one of the things that fascinated and frightened me about the OP was the radical aggressive There is No Alternative undertone of the piece.

“You know who else doesn’t love Goldman-Sachs and ADM? Dugin, that’s who. Are you with Dugin or with us?”

51

Anarcissie 03.11.15 at 1:57 am

jwl 03.11.15 at 1:39 am @ 46 — That is one person, not ‘progressives’, and I don’t see any support for Putin in the remark, which I take it refers to doubting the wisdom of including extreme nationalist elements in the putschist government — people who talked openly of exterminating or expelling Russians from Ukraine. One can’t help wondering exactly what role the US government played in this bloody fiasco — who, specifically, they were giving all that money to.

52

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 2:01 am

“The same folks who have lied to me about every single occurrence in world affairs over my lifetime are the ones telling me that Putin is teh evul”

You don’t think Putin is lying to you when he tells you he’s teh aewsume?

53

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 2:10 am

” You’ve lied to me 13,873 times, and so you haven’t earned my trust for tale 13,874. “

If you have managed to believe 13,873 consecutive lies by the same person, then that’s your problem rather than a societal one.

54

Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 2:11 am

He’s not telling me, as an American, that he’s teh awesum; he mainly telling Russians that he’s teh awesum, or, if not that, at least a hell of a lot better than the 1990s, and the remnants of that low, fetid decade.

I don’t really get this impulse to gape at foreign leaders and declaim upon how awful they are. The practice ranges in value from shooting fish in a barrel to mongering on behalf of whatever damned fool thing Washington is plotting. My country ran the death squads in Latin America during my childhood. My country imposed sanctions on Iraq, resulting in over a million premature deaths, and had a Secretary of State say that it was worth it. My country broke Iraq, on the basis of the most brazen lies of the past sixty years or so, set up some torture chambers, and radicalized the folks who became ISIS. My country drone-murders a hundred or so civilians in the course of killing one or two *suspected* militants, suspected on the basis of metadata. My country claims to be at war with ISIS, yet looks the other way as its Gulf Arab allies fund ISIS. I’ll worry about my country, and leave Russia to Russians, etc.

55

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 2:14 am

I don’t get the impulse to turn everything that happens in the world into a stage where the American soul can be expunged of its sins.

56

Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 2:14 am

If you have managed to believe 13,873 consecutive lies by the same person, then that’s your problem rather than a societal one.

No belief was implied. I stopped believing them around the time I went to high school, in 1989. It’s the universalization of political deceit in my country that I find troubling.

57

Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 2:20 am

The stage is already there, and the American Empire bestrides it, preening endlessly about its virtue, necessity, and exceptional nature. I don’t want America to expunge its sins upon a stage in Ukraine, or Iraq, or Syria, or wherever. I want America to come home and become itself – something that I could not say of it were my view of it wholly negative. America can never become itself unless it comes home, not least because the Empire has long been the excuse for not fixing shit here at home.

58

Harold 03.11.15 at 2:57 am

Chess champion Gary Kasparov also is big on esoteric ideas. It’s a long tradition in Russia, not to forget Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Are/were they also “evil”?

59

Harold 03.11.15 at 3:04 am

Who is Fomenko? One might well ask. Gary Kasparov is a devoté. http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/newchronology.html

60

Harold 03.11.15 at 3:13 am

Fomenko believes all the Egyptian antiquities are forgeries and the classical languages a hoax, not to put too fine a point on it. Then there was Immanuel Velikovsky. You don’t hear too much about him, these days.

61

jwl 03.11.15 at 4:02 am

I see. So the extreme nationalist elements in the Russian government don’t matter, but the very limited representation in the Ukrainian parliament justifies the dismemberment of the country? It’s OK if you are Russia? The American Empire is terrible, so creating a Russian empire is a good idea?

Still not following the logic for anyone who isn’t a Russian chauvinist.

Putin quite explicitly is saying that gay rights and “tolerance” are bad things that the West and especially America is suffering from and that the Russian legal approach to social issues like homosexuality is superior. Witness the freakout about Eurovision.

62

jwl 03.11.15 at 4:05 am

Implicit in these analyses is that Ukrainian political choices are irrelevant. What Russia wants, Russia gets. “The strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must.”

Self I determination for Crimean Tatars, for example, is completely off the table.

63

Anarcissie 03.11.15 at 4:10 am

jwl 03.11.15 at 4:02 am @ 61 — I think you need to stop setting up straw men.

64

Harold 03.11.15 at 4:19 am

I wonder how Svoboda and the Right Sector feel about gay marriage? Or our friends in Saudi Arabia. Do they need to be regime changed, too?

65

Peter T 03.11.15 at 4:40 am

66

Sebastian H 03.11.15 at 4:57 am

Russia annexing the Crimea wasn’t about the US.

Russia killing their dissidents isn’t about the US.

Take a breath people.

67

Harold 03.11.15 at 5:03 am

I used to not be enthusiastic about gay marriage, but now I think it is the greatest thing since Swiss cheese. I wish we could regime change Antonin Scalia, he is against it.

68

hix 03.11.15 at 6:50 am

@Matt, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ukrainian_subdivisions_by_GDP_per_capita

In addition to an east west split, the ukrainian/russian identification split also maps the urban/rural split. So overall the russian identification group is economically better off.

69

Alex K--- 03.11.15 at 7:58 am

I have always thought of Dugin as a buffoon and charlatan not worth discussing or debating – with the exception of a brief period when I suspected his public ravings might be a minor art form of their own. I cannot believe that he managed to produce a competent study of any subject, much less an esoteric one like Heidegger’s thought, at least without major help from a trained philosopher.

For the record, I am Russian and lived in Moscow for most of the 1990s and the 2000s. On Russian discussion boards of the 1990s, Dugin was often quoted by educated young men and women who seemed to hold extremely illiberal views pour épater la bourgeoisie, that is to spite their liberal-minded, dissident-ish, anti-Soviet parents. Most of those quotes sounded like a hodgepodge of nonsense, “Arctogaia blah blah blah… René Guénon blah blah blah… Atlantis (or was it the Atlantic Ocean?) against the primordial Continent blah blah blah…” At best, a jabbering anti-Fukuyama on acid and steroids.

Some time around 2000, I heard Dugin on Ekho Moskvy, the respectable independent radio station, babbling through an all-night talk show. At times he sounded like an eccentric postmodern player: performance art was big with hip Russian intellectuals in the 1990s; names like Kulik, Osmolovsky and Brenner were shibboleths in polite conversation. Dugin reminded me of Sergei Kuryokhin, the uncannily gifted avant-garde musician prone to outlandishness towards the end of his brief life in 1996, and a co-author of the “Lenin was a mushroom” meme, but Dugin had none of Kuryokin’s artistic talent or achievement to his credit.

Fast forward to May 2014. Dugin is a professor at the Moscow University, department of sociology. He uploads a video of himself saying, “Ukrainians should be killed, killed, and killed! I’m telling you this as a professor.” Curtains.

70

Ze Kraggash 03.11.15 at 8:36 am

@25 “So whether the change was a coup or a legal transition, Ukraine had not self-destroyed; it was and is far from a failed state; it had a functioning government and control of its territory until its larger neighbor decided to dismember it”

I don’t get this, the logic. First of all, I said that “the state of Ukraine”was destroyed, not “Ukraine”, which, arguably, never even existed as a coherent political entity.

In any case, once the elected government, representing (this time around) mainly the eastern half, was overthrown by force, I don’t see – and I don’t see how anyone can see – any good reason for the people in the east to consent. They tried to protest peacefully, but their leaders were arrested. People in the east rebelled, they had their referenda, they declared independence. Which means that, contrary to your assumption, the new government (the junta) did not have control of the territory. Everything they did seems perfectly kosher, from the liberal point of view (unlike, say, the Kosovo independence story, no vote there). And then the pro-Washington junta attacked these new independent territories, and captured some of them. Yes, many of the cities and towns where the people voted for independence are now controlled by the junta, and some other towns have been destroyed, bombed into the stone age. Frankly, I can’t imagine the mental gymnastics a good liberal has to perform to doublethink this.

71

Ze Kraggash 03.11.15 at 8:55 am

@69 “He uploads a video of himself saying, “Ukrainians should be killed, killed, and killed! I’m telling you this as a professor.” Curtains.”

He didn’t upload it, it was an interview. He didn’t say, obviously, that Ukrainians should be killed, that’s a lie. Rather, from the context, it’s ‘kill fascists‘. The context is the May 2, 2014 massacre in Odessa, where dozens of anti-maidan protesters were burned alive by Ukrainian ultra-nationalist militants, in the Trade Unions building. Those trying to jump out of the windows were shot from the outside.

72

Hidari 03.11.15 at 9:17 am

For an insight into why Russia is behaving in this ‘unreasonable’ way, imagine that Russia won the cold war. Texas and Alaska and Puerto Rico have declared their independence (Alaska returns to the Russian sphere of influence). There has been a wave of ‘colour’ revolutions in which nearby states (e.g. Canada, Mexico) have been ‘encouraged’ by Russia to overthrow (‘democratically’ of course) their pro-American governments and replace them (coincidentally of course) with pro-Russian governments (i.e. pro-Russian on the whole). Warsaw Pact military forces spread through South American and, now, into Central America.

Obviously in this case, I remain convinced that American politicians would respond with the calm, evidence based rationality for which they are renowned. But perhaps there might be crazy people out on the lunatic fringe that might propose a more ‘robust’ response?

73

David 03.11.15 at 9:21 am

”One alternative would be to realize that “human rights” (I don’t know what “claims to equal status” are) is an ideological gimmick in service to western imperialism and neo-liberalism.”

Well, yeah. The problem at the moment is that history basically turned out wrong.
Some version of Leftism – whether Leninist or an extreme version of the Scandinavian model – should have won out in the ideological struggles of the last century. Instead Right-Liberalism in the form of US dominance defeated its opponents, setting us up for at least another round of warfare against capitalism and imperialism before we reach the end of exploitation and the beginning of history proper.

The self conception of Western liberals at this moment is a monumentally naive illusion kept alive by the US’ overwhelming (if incompetently deployed) material power.

”There is no alternative, though: the idea that human rights and claims to equal status are dependent on accidents of geography is laughably dumb and to deny those claims entirely is unspeakably evil. So given the alternatives, every decent person has no choice to aspire to being full of shit.”

Oh Jesus Christ.

74

David 03.11.15 at 9:23 am

But anyway, raise your hand if you are at least slightly uncomfortable with the whitewashing of Fascists/Ultranationalists in the Ukraine, and the laughably transparent anti-Putin media crusade of the last year.

75

David 03.11.15 at 9:39 am

And, one final note, massive war IS a way to restore economic growth, as Piketty showed us, so…there is that.

76

Alex K--- 03.11.15 at 9:56 am

@71: “The context is the May 2, 2014 massacre in Odessa, where dozens of anti-maidan protesters were burned alive by Ukrainian ultra-nationalist militants, in the Trade Unions building. Those trying to jump out of the windows were shot from the outside.”

That’s Putin’s take on that conflict. The reality was rather different. Pro-Ukrainian soccer fans (most of them Russian speakers) were attacked by pro-Russian militants (some of them fresh off the train from Russia). The fans fought back and the attackers found refuge in the trade unions building. It caught fire and some of them died. “Burned alive” and “shot from the outside” are Putinist embellishments.

77

Ze Kraggash 03.11.15 at 10:26 am

@ 76, listen to yourself, man. Why would these alleged “pro-Russian militants” (how do you know they were fresh off the train, did Kiev tell you?) attack “soccer fans”? Your narrative, I have no doubt that you believe it, but it doesn’t stand up to a simplest scrutiny.

““Burned alive” and “shot from the outside” are Putinist embellishments.”

So, you are denying that people burned alive in that building? Right? Do I get it right?

And finally, do you still insist that Dugin was inciting to kill Ukrainians in that video? Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX4r1eXpUSI

78

Randy McDonald 03.11.15 at 10:48 am

“America can never become itself unless it comes home, not least because the Empire has long been the excuse for not fixing shit here at home.”

Regardless of the cost to non-Americans?

79

Randy McDonald 03.11.15 at 10:49 am

Hidari:

“For an insight into why Russia is behaving in this ‘unreasonable’ way, imagine that Russia won the cold war.”

And let’s also imagine that there’s no moral difference between the Soviet and American systems, too.

80

Alex K--- 03.11.15 at 10:49 am

@77: I’ve lived in Russia for long enough to see through Putin’s propaganda and KGB trickery. He sent his boys (and girls) to Odessa like he sent them to Kharkiv and Donetsk to stir unrest and take on Maidan activists. It worked in Donetsk but not so well in the former two cities.

Why am arguing with a Kremlin troll, for goodness’ sake?

81

David 03.11.15 at 10:54 am

“For an insight into why Russia is behaving in this ‘unreasonable’ way, imagine that Russia won the cold war.”

And let’s also imagine that there’s no moral difference between the Soviet and American systems, too.”

Iraq and Afghanistan kinda used that credit card all up for the forseeable future.

82

Ze Kraggash 03.11.15 at 11:22 am

“Why am arguing with a Kremlin troll, for goodness’ sake?”

I wish you were arguing, but you haven’t been arguing; so far you’ve been making statements. The slightest pushback – and you fall back into the “Kremlin troll” routine. I’ve seen this a million times.

83

Jim Monaghan 03.11.15 at 12:27 pm

A good site which opposes both sets of oligarchs http://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org/ Look at the links for a articles on Ukrainian history and it’s buried by Stalin left tradition.

84

engels 03.11.15 at 12:45 pm

fast forward to May 2014. Dugin is a professor at the Moscow University, department of sociology. He uploads a video of himself saying, “Ukrainians should be killed, killed, and killed! I’m telling you this as a professor.”

When you torture somebody to death … everybody would acknowledge that’s torture. But placing a sterilized needle under somebody’s fingernails for fifteen minutes, causing excruciating pain but no permanent physical damage—is that torture?

-Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard University speaking on NPR

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Cian 03.11.15 at 12:46 pm

What I don’t get is why people think you have to support either side?

On one side we have Putin, and the rest of the Russian elite. Corrupt, brutal, nationalistic, but undeniably efficient and effective on their own terms. If you ever find yourself on the side of Putin – take a deep breath, pause and think about it.

On the other hand we have the Ukranian political elite. A mixture of corrupt chancers, criminals, Ogliarchs and fascists. Who for some reason we’re supposed to support in the west because many of their spokesmen were educated in the west, speak good English (sometimes better than their Ukranian…), or worked for western banks/consultancies.

But if you look at the situation in Ukraine I honestly find it hard to have much sympathy for the Ukranian government (I have a lot of sympathy for ordinary Ukranians on both sides, but then I did before any of this started). The conflict with the separatists was completely unnecessary, and a situation they created and then provoked. They had non-violent political solutions to the problem at hand, which they ignored in favour of war. When your first solution to a political problem is violent conflict, you’re not the good guys. When the political problem is one you created deliberately for political advantage/out of racism – you’re really not the good guys.

And yeah it sucks being next to a regional superpower (just ask Mexico). But if you deliberately, and repeatedly, poke that superpower in the eye? Am I supposed to feel sorry for you? The local hardman may be a vicious thug known for victimizing all and sundry – but that doesn’t mean you get any sympathy when you deliberately start a fight with him out of machismo. And when you’ve also borrowed money from the hardman, which you’re refusing to pay back, have a history of stealing from him (natural gas is a thing) before deciding to attack his relatives…

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Alex K--- 03.11.15 at 12:53 pm

@32: This thread is supposed to be about Dugin, not Ukraine, but since it’s veering Ukraine-wards, may I point out two presumptions about that country with which I profoundly disagree.

First, the West-East division is a crude simplification. Ukraine may have a “hardcore” rural West and its geographic and cultural opposite, the separatist-held industrialized far East, but 70-80% of Ukrainians live outside these areas.

Second, this is not, for the most part, an ethnic or linguistic conflict. Ukraine is far more Russian-speaking or bilingual than Ukrainian language fetishists/purists would prefer. I understand that the regular Ukrainian army and most of its volunteer battalions use Russian. Out of 37 volunteer units active last summer only four were from Western Ukraine. In contrast, seven (19%) were from the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, largely Russophone, next door to Donbass, typical Southeastern Ukraine.

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Cian 03.11.15 at 12:54 pm

@76 Alex K:
Whereas your account is clearly not remotely biased.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 1:13 pm

“The conflict with the separatists was completely unnecessary, and a situation they created and then provoked. They had non-violent political solutions to the problem at hand, which they ignored in favour of war. When your first solution to a political problem is violent conflict, you’re not the good guys. When the political problem is one you created deliberately for political advantage/out of racism – you’re really not the good guys.”

The really frustrating thing about arguing the war in Ukraine is that many people, of reasonable good faith and intention, have accepted the above narrative of the conflict despite it being utterly false, and largely a product of Kremlin propaganda.

The war in Donetsk began when armed men, made up of a mixture of local mafia goons (such as Igor ‘Bes’ Bezler) and Russian special forces and spooks of various stripes (such as Igor ‘Strelkov’ Girkin) took over municipal buildings in various towns of the Donbas and set themselves up as local warlords. Their very first acts in Sloviansk (the original HQ for the militants) was to kidnap, torture and murder their political opponents.

The Ukrainian government, both the provisional one that existed until Poroshenko’s election in May 2014 and thereafter, was unable to organise a military response initially, and was humiliated when it tried. After his election, Poroshenko declared a unilateral, six week ceasefire which the separatist leadership declined to take up. After that, Kyiv used its armed forces to reassert government authority over areas under the control of a coalition of local criminals and hostile foreign military units, as any government would be obliged to as part of its responsibility for maintaining a monopoly on legitimate force throughout its territory. Then, in August, Russia massively invaded to prevent its proxies from suffering a military defeat, and we end up where we are now.

This is not to say that the Ukrainian government has not made mistakes in the prosecution of the war, or that the volunteer bats it has had to rely on are made up of the most politically progressive and mannered of folks. But it IS fighting a war, and one forced on it by a hostile neighbouring power which has already annexed its territory, not some form of interethnic conflict (and the available polling data, social research, language use trends etc, all support this).

Last note – the casual assertion, taken as absolute truth by many commenters here, that the Ukrainian government is riddled with fascists, or that the Maidan was a neo-nazi uprising are profoundly ignorant of the political situation in Ukraine, and insulting to the many ordinary Ukrainians who made extraordinary sacrifices simply to try and turn their country into a normal, functioning parliamentary democracy. The Svoboda party had a brief role in the provisional government, before being electorally annihilated in the September parliamentary elections. The May presidential election resulted in a victory for Poroshenko, instead of Tymoshenko whose Batkivschyna party dominated the provisional government (insert joke about fascists allowing themselves to be voted out of power here). Indeed, given the situation (both in terms of the domestic economy and the ongoing, aforementioned war) the lack of electoral success for the far-right is somewhat anomalous compared to other European countries.

Anyway – the TL:DR – As in other historical conflicts, many many many people have suddenly become experts on Ukraine over the past year, while showing a staggering lack of knowledge about what is actually occurring in Ukraine. It is a real country, with real people who have real aspirations (Ze Kraggash’s offensive claims to the contrary notwithstanding). To claim that Russia’s attempts to subjugate, undermine and control the Ukrainian state is somehow the West’s fault, or that it is wrong to criticise such actions ‘because Iraq’ are not arguments that stand up to empirical or moral scrutiny.

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engels 03.11.15 at 1:15 pm

I agree with Cian about not supporting either side, but in a tie of this kind I tend to give points to the side who aren’t wearing swastikas

Also unfortunately have to agree with Christian H re the quality of the OP.

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Alex K--- 03.11.15 at 1:36 pm

@86: My account is my own, whereas my opponent’s claim the revolution in Ukraine was a coup “by ultra-right paramilitary forces” comes straight out of Putin’s propaganda book.

@87: Spot on. “…the casual assertion… that the Ukrainian government is riddled with fascists, or that the Maidan was a neo-nazi uprising are profoundly ignorant of the political situation in Ukraine, and insulting to the many ordinary Ukrainians who made extraordinary sacrifices simply to try and turn their country into a normal, functioning parliamentary democracy.” It took an enormous propaganda effort to portray a middle-class uprising against a corrupt regime as a neo-Nazi plot.

This said, the thread was actually about Dugin so in the spirit of Duginian self-promotion, I would argue I’ve been the only one to talk about the man’s insufferable phoniness from personal experience.

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Joost 03.11.15 at 2:15 pm

Re: Dugin being “listened to with seeming respect by the current Foreign Minister of Greece”, what is the evidence of that, beyond there being a photo that includes the both of them (this one, I imagine)? Because that by itself seems like a very flimsy ground for such a claim. However “close” the author deems the “proximity” of where the two men are standing in the group photo (Dugin in the center, Kotzias on the far left).

FWIW, the only evidence of “ties” between Dugin and Kotzias I ever seem to come across is that Kotzias is accused of (but denies) having once invited Dugin to present a lecture at the University of Piraeus when he was a professor there. That would be somewhat more substantive as evidence, but only slightly so. It still seems like a bit of a reach to present as proof that Dugin is exerting a dangerous amount of influence on Kotzias’s thinking.

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Cian 03.11.15 at 2:17 pm

Daragh:
1) Ukrainian propaganda is also a thing.
2) Fascists played a key role in overthrowing the previous government, and were given non-trivial roles in the new government.
3) The new government deliberately stoked anti-Russian sentiments.
4) The government could have defused separatist tendencies by giving the Russian regions more autonomy (thus strengthening the moderates). They also could have acknowledged that the Russian regions had some legitimate concerns, rather than calling them ‘scum’.
5) Are we supposed to ignore the fact that Ukraine’s government is yet another bunch of corrupt oligarchs who will loot the country of whatever remains? Or is it different because this bunch of crooks are pro-western (whatever that is supposed to mean).

Also, while you’re accusing others of denying the agency of ‘Ukrainians’, you appear to be denying the agency of those living in the separatist region. Something I’ve noticed about both sides is the tendency to deny the agency of the side they oppose.

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Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 2:33 pm

One of the first things the Ukrainian government attempted, post-coup, was to overturn the bilingualism of the state, along with hinting that the Party of Regions – representing the East and South – and the Communist Party should be proscribed. To this day, the Poroshenko government refuses to consider reinstating the official status of Russian in predominantly Russian-speaking regions; additionally, there are ongoing efforts, albeit typically disorganized, unsystematic Ukrainian ones, to “lustrate” government officials who belonged to the banned parties.

If Red America seized power in some extra-constitutional action, and attempted to proscribe the Democratic Party, would we be saying simply that this was just a bunch of ordinary folks trying to build a normal democratic country? Come on. If Blue America, after such an extra-constitutional action, showed itself willing to offer resistance to the new regime, would we be crowing about the illiceity of separatism? The reality is that Ukraine was always, post-independence, a precarious and unstable country, a textbook illustration of a country that should not be compelled to make a ‘civilizational choice’; the reality is also that folks in the American government, and some folks in EU governments, deliberately encourage this sort of binary nonsense, even though American meddling is not the sole cause of the unrest in Ukraine; the reality is also that one of the objectives of this political transition is to bring Ukraine into the EU/IMF orbit – and why should I be cheering the structural adjustment/Thatcherization of another country? I get that Putin’s Russia is this, that, and the other thing, where this, that, and tot are all negative qualities; but it’s a declining power, continually encroached upon by the expanding US sphere of influence, and it’s a neoliberal state, *in one country*. Meanwhile, Ukraine is being incorporated into the neoliberal Internationale, which no one has yet figured out how to best.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 2:38 pm

@Cian

1) I am aware of this. I work on the region professionally. However, to compare Russia’s sophisticated, global propaganda apparatus with the rather amateur efforts of the Ukrainian government demonstrates, to my mind, a lack of knowledge about the resources available to both.
2) Define ‘key.’ I’ve discussed the atmosphere on the Maidan with numerous participants – most were dismissive of Right Sector, and accused them of turning tail once the snipers came out. You might also note that responding to a peaceful protest (as Maidan was from November to about late January – a period you seem curiously uninterested in incorporating into your analysis) with police brutality, torture and disappearances of opposition activists may tend to radicalise the opposition. As to the government – name me one other figure than Parubiy who a) has links with the far right, b) is still in government.
3) Which one? Their have been competitive elections (twice!) since the Maidan. And what have they done that justified armed insurrection? Was it this kind of offensive cultural chauvinism?
4) You’re assuming a provisional government can enact meaningful constitutional reform, in the midst of both economic chaos and external military aggression. You are also assuming that Russian special forces would be assuaged by political concessions. As counter-evidence I offer this – the Ukrainain government has repeatedly and routinely promised some form of decentralised power, just not one that allows Russia to de facto assume control of bits of Ukraine and use them to paralyse the central government.
5) Please name, without going to Wikipedia, at least ten members of the Ukrainian government. Less snarkily – you are aware that most corruption in Ukraine takes place among the professional class – civil service, doctors, lawyers etc. – and is extremely difficult to combat given the lack of qualified cadres to replace them after lustration? More to the point, the Poroshenko/Yatsenyuk government, while not ideal, is certainly light years ahead of its predecessors in terms of professionalism, seriousness of intent and overall cleanliness.

Nice reversal on the end there, but you seem to believe that a minority of fanatics, mainly drawn from local mafias and backed up by the Russian military, who spent their first days after taking power hunting down and murdering people who disagreed with them represent the aspirations of the people of east Ukraine. You might instead ask yourself while similar Russian backed uprisings in Kharkov failed so spectacularly – it might be to do with the fact that all of the data shows that the people of east Ukraine overwhelmingly want to remain IN Ukraine.

In short – your knowledge of Ukraine, its politics, society and culture is, too my reading, pretty superficial and bears the mark of a lot of pseudo-lefty commentary (Pilger, Milne, Counterpunch etc) that has wed together myth, stereotypes and basic assertions in a way such that no-one is forced to abandon their ‘The WEST is BAD!’ comfort blankets and face the fact that an aggressive, revanchist and chauvinist Russia is a threat worth countering.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 2:46 pm

One of the first things the Ukrainian government attempted, post-coup, was to overturn the bilingualism of the state, along with hinting that the Party of Regions – representing the East and South – and the Communist Party should be proscribed. To this day, the Poroshenko government refuses to consider reinstating the official status of Russian in predominantly Russian-speaking regions; additionally, there are ongoing efforts, albeit typically disorganized, unsystematic Ukrainian ones, to “lustrate” government officials who belonged to the banned parties.

Of course, the SECOND thing the Ukrainian provisional government did was to return to bilingualism, realising that doing otherwise was silly. Funny how many of the experts on Ukraine’s ethno-linguistic politics forget that.

The banning of the Communists (PoR disbanded beforehand) was due to its comprehensive penetration by Russian security agencies since the 1990s at least. In any case, the KPU failed to reach the 5% threshold in parliamentary elections rendering the point moot.

As to lustration – you are aware that Yanukovych’s government was corrupt on a scale virtually unheard of in any modern state, I’m assuming. Now should the government officials who profited and abetted said corruption remain in place, or be removed? Answers on a postcard, please.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.11.15 at 2:49 pm

“no-one is forced to abandon their ‘The WEST is BAD!’ comfort blankets and face the fact that an aggressive, revanchist and chauvinist Russia is a threat worth countering.”

Countering how, exactly? If we’re talking as realists, then Russia has nuclear weapons and Ukraine is firmly within their sphere of influence if any country can be said to be within any country’s. If we’re talking as idealists, then we pretty much burned our chance for influencing the region towards lasting peace when we helped Russia towards neoliberalism rather than a new Marshall Plan.

When people start talk about how we need to counter threats that are half a world away, that goes by old-fashioned words like warmongering. I don’t have to believe in the particular goodness or badness of the West to know that I see no reason why my friends and neighbors have to kill and die in a conflict that isn’t theirs — something which might well prolong the conflict and cause far more deaths all around.

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Ze Kraggash 03.11.15 at 3:00 pm

“My account is my own, whereas my opponent’s claim the revolution in Ukraine was a coup “by ultra-right paramilitary forces” comes straight out of Putin’s propaganda book.”

Lol. Either it was a coup by ultra-right paramilitary forces, or it wasn’t.

This is not a matter of ideology or your irrational Putin-phobia; it’s a matter of facts. And whether it’s also written into the Putin’s book, and whether it exists in your head is irrelevant. And the facts in this case are not difficult to ascertain.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 3:37 pm

@Rich – wow, I forgot – military strength is the only valid measure of national power, and nuclear weapons are an unbeatable trump card, shielding their holders from all means of external influence and suasion. Guess that’s why the Cold War is still going on. As to the standard ‘It was all Larry Summers’ fault!’ account of Russia’s economic woes, I note that much of the rest of the post-Communist world has done just fine under the oppressive yoke of the hated neo-liberalism.

More seriously – there is such a thing as an international order based around rules and sovereignty. If you’d like to live in a Europe where large states on occasion decide to tear strips off their neighbours and start dirty wars in order to prevent them signing trade deals with other states, that’s your right. I think the record shows that it tends to breed the kind of large conflicts you’re afraid of, not prevent them.

And can someone just ban ZK?

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Rich Puchalsky 03.11.15 at 3:58 pm

I don’t live in Europe, I live in the U.S., a country which recently decided to not just tear a strip off of but to outright conquer Iraq baed on faked war propaganda. So how is that international order based on rules and sovereignty going? Of course no one is seriously saying that the US is a threat worth countering, because we have nuclear weapons and a massive military.

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Cian 03.11.15 at 4:06 pm

I note that much of the rest of the post-Communist world has done just fine under the oppressive yoke of the hated neo-liberalism.

Right, just look at the Ukraine. Oh wait…

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 4:07 pm

“I don’t live in Europe, I live in the U.S., a country which recently decided to not just tear a strip off of but to outright conquer Iraq baed on faked war propaganda.”

Actually that war, unjustifiable as it was, ended with a SOFA that ended up with US troops leaving the country entirely. Crimea is a rather different story. BONUS – the reason Iraq wound up on the US shit list was its attempts to annex Kuwait, which resulted in a massive international coalition to oust them. You may sneer at territorial integrity and sovereignty, but historically their observance has been the default position of the international community (especially, it must be added the West).

“Of course no one is seriously saying that the US is a threat worth countering, because we have nuclear weapons and a massive military.”

Actually, many countries, organisations, and political groupings are saying just that, in places all over the world! And they view the threat and the means of countering it, as stemming from many different types of power, with different appropriate methods for countering.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 4:09 pm

@Cian –

First, it’s Ukraine, not the Ukraine. For various historical, linguistic and cultural reasons the latter term is considered insulting by Ukrainians (though, a regional expert such as yourself is no doubt aware of this).

Secondly – Please tell me how the policies of the Kravchuk and Kuchma administrations amounted to anything like ‘neoliberalism.’ I’ll even give you ten minutes of google time to find out who Kravchuk and Kuchma are.

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Cian 03.11.15 at 4:12 pm

However, to compare Russia’s sophisticated, global propaganda apparatus with the rather amateur efforts of the Ukrainian government demonstrates, to my mind, a lack of knowledge about the resources available to both.

Given that the western media, particularly in the US, has been far more sympathetic to the Ukrainian side, and is very skeptical of anything coming from Russia, I’m not sure that it does. There’s also the propoganda that has come from the US. Which is not without its own resources.

As to the government – name me one other figure than Parubiy who a) has links with the far right, b) is still in government.

The operative word here is ‘still’. And my point was as much about perception. Imagine you’re a ‘RUssian’ Ukrainian and the government is overthrown, and the new government includes fascists who are openly hostile to ‘Russians’. How do you think that makes you feel about the government, or your future? I mean are you seriously denying that this would affect them?

You might also note that responding to a peaceful protest (as Maidan was from November to about late January – a period you seem curiously uninterested in incorporating into your analysis) with police brutality, torture and disappearances of opposition activists may tend to radicalise the opposition.

I didn’t incorporate the police brutality, torture, etc in ‘my analysis’ because it didn’t seem relevant to the point I was making. Given that you’re really only using it as special pleading, I’m not sure it’s hugely relevant to yours either. Did ethnic Russians torture the new political class? I mean where are you going with this?

You’re assuming a provisional government can enact meaningful constitutional reform, in the midst of both economic chaos and external military aggression.

No I’m assuming that when various members of that government make loud noises in that direction, particularly during a period of political strife, it’s probably not going to end well. Russia wouldn’t have the raw material for a lot of their propoganda if Ukrainian politicians hadn’t given it to them. And not all the politicians who did so were fascists.

You might instead ask yourself while similar Russian backed uprisings in Kharkov failed so spectacularly – it might be to do with the fact that all of the data shows that the people of east Ukraine overwhelmingly want to remain IN Ukraine.

Um, haven’t you just made my point for me. One uprising failed because there was no popular support for it. Doesn’t this rather suggest in the regions where they succeeded there was some measure of popular support for it.

Less snarkily – you are aware that most corruption in Ukraine takes place among the professional class – civil service, doctors, lawyers etc. – and is extremely difficult to combat given the lack of qualified cadres to replace them after lustration?

So the various Ogliarchs didn’t loot the country, Tymoshenko was as white as snow, etc. Inequality didn’t rocket, etc. Who knew?

all of the data shows that the people of east Ukraine overwhelmingly want to remain IN Ukraine.

Yes, but with more autonomy.

the Ukrainain government has repeatedly and routinely promised some form of decentralised power, just not one that allows Russia to de facto assume control of bits of Ukraine and use them to paralyse the central government.

Okay, this I’m interested in. Can you give me some kind of citation for this, preferably from a source which is not nakedly partisan.

Your knowledge of Ukraine, its politics, society and culture is, too my reading, pretty superficial and bears the mark of a lot of pseudo-lefty commentary (Pilger, Milne, Counterpunch etc) that has wed together myth, stereotypes and basic assertions in a way such that no-one is forced to abandon their ‘The WEST is BAD!’ comfort blankets and face the fact that an aggressive, revanchist and chauvinist Russia is a threat worth countering.

I haven’t read any of those people on the Ukraine, or indeed any other topic. I haven’t once said anything to suggest that I think ‘The WEST is BAD’. I was pretty forthright about my opinions on Putin. I think it would be comforting for you to believe that anyone who disagrees with you is all these things, but that doesn’t make them true. I don’t pretend to understand fully what’s going on in the Ukraine, but I have my suspicions that your own particular biases probably blind you to some of the realities also.

I do think that US foreign policy tends to be as selfish and self-interested as Russian. But then I’m not blind, or deluded. That doesn’t lead to me thinking that anything bad that happens in the world is the US’s fault.

face the fact that an aggressive, revanchist and chauvinist Russia is a threat worth countering.

Which means what in practice. Going to war with Russia over Ukraine would seem like a really dumb idea. The current policy is not working, while the west’s policy towards Russia over the last ten years seems to have been spectacularly counter-productive. So?

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 4:25 pm

Cian – there’s a lot to respond to here, but briefly.

A) Your first point seems to be that you’re suspicious of Western reporting on Ukraine (which, I can assure you, has been highly critical of the Ukrainian government on many issues) because Western reporters tend to ignore the obvious propaganda dissimulated by the Kremlin and its very media arms. If ‘refusing to give credence to obvious lies’ is for you a sign that a reporter is hopelessly biased, we may have fundamentally different values.

B) So your argument is that certain people who were once members of the Ukrainian government had unsavoury associations in the past, therefore the Ukrainian government as a corporate body is inherently suspect. Makes sense.

C) On autonomy for Eastern Ukraine – the separatist militias have not made autonomy their goal. In fact, their first acts once they consolidated control over a certain amount of territory in April 2014 was to make unilateral declarations of independence and then hold ‘referendums’ confirming this decision (similar to Crimea). During the Minsk accords, the DNR and LNR leadership have consistently refused to rescind their claims to independence. Funny that.

D) On decentralisation. I really shouldn’t do this, but there’s a secret tool for finding this kind of thing out. It’s called Google.

Finally, if you really believe “I do think that US foreign policy tends to be as selfish and self-interested as Russian ” then you are incredibly ignorant of how policy is both made and employed in both countries, and should really limit your opining on the topic until such time as you’ve done a bit more reading.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 4:28 pm

Sorry I missed one point

“Russia wouldn’t have the raw material for a lot of their propoganda if Ukrainian politicians hadn’t given it to them.”

Yeah, its not as if the Kremlin would do something so nefarious as just start making stuff up.

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Cian 03.11.15 at 4:30 pm

Kravchuik presided over similar kinds of privatization as elsewhere in the Eastern block, no? The kind of actions that Summer’s gang assured people would result in economic miracles. I even remember the Economist arguing that it didn’t matter how these assets were acquired – the miracle of private ownership would solve everything.

And yes you made your point. I’m not an expert on the Ukraine. Not that I ever claimed otherwise.

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Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 4:34 pm

In re: christian h @ 39, since my comment seems to have disappeared:

Notwithstanding the rural-urban Ukrainian-Russian linguistic divides, supermajorities in the Eastern and Southern regions voted for the Party of Regions, which not only defended the economic interests of the Russophone parts of the country, but protected the Russian language and cultural heritage. Apparently, the rural Ukrainian-speakers in the East had little problem with this, and were happy, like most of the Russians, for both languages to have official status. I rather doubt that the Eastern oblasts would have descended into civil war upon independence, at least over the language question. No, they might have descended into low-grade conflict owing to the warlordism of the various militias, a problem besetting both sides of the general conflict.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 4:35 pm

@Cian – No, he didn’t, at least not in any meaningful sense. Its why he was replaced by a typical red director.

And if you’re not an expert on Ukraine (again, no the, in fact adding the the is rather insulting) why are you expounding at length about intricacies of its domestic and ethnolinguistic politics, in order to pretend that a straightforward case of unprovoked military aggression by a neighbouring power was somehow caused by imaginary Nazis running amok in Kyiv?

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Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 4:38 pm

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Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 4:40 pm

That’s not to state that the regime, in its totality is fascist, nor that it is even majority fascist; it to state only that a critical component of the current ruling coalition is fascist, and/or derives support from fascist circles. I’ve not the slightest idea why a Russian should be concerned about that…

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Cian 03.11.15 at 4:41 pm

Point A: No, my point is that the western media is biased towards the Ukraine. This has definitely improved recently among the non-US media, though. I’ve seen Ukrainian propoganda reported in the western media. I have yet to see Russian propoganda reported. Ideally I’d like to see neither. That’s just me though.

Point B: No my point, which at this point I think you’re wilfully ignoring because it’s inconvenient, is that actual members of the Ukrainian government were fascists. That they have since been forced out, does not change the fact that when tensions were high, there they were. And you know, that this might affect how Russian Ukrainians felt.

Point C: This has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make. So good luck with that.

Point D: And was this happening before the armed conflict?

in order to pretend that a straightforward case of unprovoked military aggression by a neighbouring power was somehow caused by imaginary Nazis running amok in Kyiv?

Again not actually an argument I made. I’d trust your expertise a little more, if you were more honest in your arguments. You can have the last word. Go at it.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 4:50 pm

@Jeff martin – the second picture in the Yahoo search you put up is Oleg Tyannibok, a man who is now a political irrelevance following his party’s electoral curbstomping in September’s parliamentary election. While this is somewhat more concrete than your assertion that there’s a fascist cabal within the Ukrainian government (made up of people who you, mysteriously, are completely incapable of identifying) its not exactly a convincing argument.

@Cian

Your inability to distinguish between propaganda and reporting does not concern me.

The brief presence in relatively marginal positions of a few dubious pols in the provisional government was indeed, concerning to me and many others. More concerning were the armed men who seized radio and TV stations in the east, and tuned them to Russian channels that then pumped out a steady diet of nonsense about the Banderite-Fascist Junta in Kyiv in order to terrify the local population. And even then those same armed men had to resort to death squads to keep the locals in line, so yeah, not sure the ‘fascist’ argument has become any more convincing.

You’ve spent ages talking about autonomy, and how it is the wellspring of the conflict. Then you were caught out no knowing what you were talking about. Don’t pretend it wasn’t part of your argument, deal with it.

And decentralisation wasn’t on the agenda before the conflict, no. That’s largely because the country’s elite was made up of Donbas mobsters backed up by Russia, and neither of those two had an interest in decentralising the country, nor was there any particular clamour for said decentralisation. Funny that – it’s almost as if the whole ‘federalism/autonomy/decentralisation’ thing is a red herring, cooked up by Kremlin propagandists to hoodwink the gullible about what’s caused all this ruckus.

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Rich Puchalsky 03.11.15 at 4:50 pm

“BONUS – the reason Iraq wound up on the US shit list was its attempts to annex Kuwait, which resulted in a massive international coalition to oust them”

You may be a Ukraine expert, but you don’t know much about the U.S. BONUS: there were two Bushes (yes, I know it’s confusing) and the second one had a W in his name. Strangely enough the second one wasn’t really motivated by the attempt to annex Kuwait, but rather by a plan to remake the Middle East, justified by the pretext of concerns about WMD.

Now another thing that I’ve grown familiar with, in the exotic and poorly understood world of U.S. politics, is the phenomenon of the “Hitler of the Week”. There’s something about this post — oh, maybe it’s the connection of Chaos Nazis — that looks like a rather silly attempt to groom Dugin as the next such HotW, just to do its tiny bit to help convince the public that this is a threat worth countering, in your language. I don’t know what this language means to you, but to a U.S. audience “a threat worth countering” means bombs falling on someone a few months later, so maybe you’d better specify what actual actions you’re supporting.

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Jeff Martin 03.11.15 at 4:51 pm

As to lustration – you are aware that Yanukovych’s government was corrupt on a scale virtually unheard of in any modern state, I’m assuming. Now should the government officials who profited and abetted said corruption remain in place, or be removed? Answers on a postcard, please.

All of the governments of Ukraine, post-independence, have been luridly corrupt, the Yanukovych government simply more so; one of the many reasons Yanukovych’s government collapsed so quickly last February was that he had alienated some of the other oligarchs by attempting to appropriate their fiefs for himself, and members of his own clan, instead of managing the balance of kleptocratic extractions.

As to the status of the Russian language, Ukrainian is still the only official language in the country, so the government apparently reconsidered its immediate reconsideration of the initial ban. The thing I find darkly amusing in all this is that, as someone with family in the affected regions of the country, prior to last February, almost no one in the East and South even contemplated independence, or reunion with Russia. No one wanted it. They all considered themselves Russian-Ukrainians, and just shook their heads over the nationalists from the far West of the country. What caused the shift in opinion was not Russian agitprop, or a sudden love for Putin (in fact, virtually everyone I know openly mocked the 2012 Putin-Medevedev switcheroo), but the combination of the language question, the de facto stripping of political representation (shuttering the Party of Regions much more so than the Commies), the threat the EU agreement, unmodified, posed to industry in the East. Polling still shows that majorities in these regions are skeptical of Russian propaganda; the same polling also shows that they’re a bit more skeptical of the Ukrainian propaganda.

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Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 5:00 pm

@Jeff Martin

So you don’t seem surprised as to how a region without any serious separatist sentiment is now in open rebellion, with thousands of men under arms fielding sophisticated imported weaponry. That’s interesting.

As to multilingualism – take a look at pictures of the Crimean Rada before and after the annexation. I think you’ll find very quickly which side here is more attuned to the need for cultural sensitivities surrounding language.

Also on multilingualism – a 2012 law allowing regions to grant official status to languages used by more than 10% of the population remains in effect. So on a practical level, the language issue isn’t really the big deal you’ve been making it out to be.

On corruption – so because previous Ukrainian governments were corrupt we should be wary of attempts to kick out corrupted officials? Gotcha.

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Harold 03.11.15 at 5:13 pm

“Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.” — Henry Kissinger, “To settle the Ukraine crisis, start at the end”, Washington Post, March 5, 2014

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Bruce Wilder 03.11.15 at 5:13 pm

bob mcmanus: “. . . the Cold War redux “with us or against us” bullshit is exactly what pisses and frightens . . . ” pretty much summarizes it for me. That the bs still works on so many fools, more than 10 years after WMD in Iraq, makes me despair for humanity.

Ukraine — especially but not exclusively the Russian-speaking industrial eastern regions — encompassed some of the most miserable places in the middle-income world, even before the outbreak of civil war. Crimea went from being among the richest regions of Ukraine to being among the poorer regions of Russia — that should tell us something about the state of things. Even before the shooting started, the death rate in parts of Ukraine — especially the rust-belt East — was staggering — surely an indicator of some deeply serious social and economic problems.

Before people get into the by-play of Putin’s (or America’s) imperial hubris, it might be worth considering the economic decay underlying all of this. At the very least, you might gain some appreciation for Putin’s reluctance to actually take responsibility for or possession of eastern Ukraine, as well as the near-impossibility of finding Ukrainians of whatever linguistic persuasion, competent to govern.

That the neoliberal vulture capitalists want to buy up Ukraine’s famous black earth tells us only the nature of neoliberal vultures.

118

Harold 03.11.15 at 5:29 pm

In the nineteenth century it was poorer than Ireland. It had large landholdings, slavery (serfdom) and an agricultural monoculture vulnerable to recurrent famines. Mississippi, anyone.

119

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 5:36 pm

I don’t see why this is so difficult. Sometimes those in power exert agency, they aren’t merely actors mindlessly responding to larger structural or political forces. The Bush 2 admin is one such collection of political elites. It is easy, for us, to say to them ‘your war was unnecessary, idiotic and a humanitarian disaster.’ Of course there are deeper patterns, causes, structural effects etc that can explain a historical event, but for our purposes we can just say the Bush admin made a terrible choice , and a lot of people suffered for it.
And so here are the Russian elite making an objectively awful decision (on the basis of humanitarian fallout rather than Russian interests) . They are not simply mindless actors responding to geopolitical forces beyond anyone’s control. They are individuals with great power making concious decisions who are causing significant suffering. Why do so many on the left insist on couching their responses to this in so much ‘whataboutery’, overwrought excuse making, and holier than thou ‘everyone is wrongism.’ ?
And yes, if Obama tomorrow declared war on Russia, or sent in special forces and instigate WW3, then that would be idiotic., and we could say, ‘why did you do that, you moron.’
Jesus Christ.

120

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 5:43 pm

A post soviet Marshall plan would have just meant western money keeping the regional oligarchs in cavier and coke. The primary reason post Soviet Russia developed as it did is because domestic elites decided to bleed the country dry, not because some halfwitted Harvard economists had a plan….

121

TM 03.11.15 at 5:51 pm

Ronan: “Why do so many on the left insist on couching their responses to this in so much ‘whataboutery’, overwrought excuse making, and holier than thou ‘everyone is wrongism.’ ?
And yes, if Obama tomorrow declared war on Russia, or sent in special forces and instigate WW3, then that would be idiotic., and we could say, ‘why did you do that, you moron.’
Jesus Christ.”

This is fascinating and thought-provoking. (Thinking…) It would really serve Putin well if commenters on CT spent more time telling him what terrible choices he made.

122

phenomenal cat 03.11.15 at 5:56 pm

Wilder writes:

That the neoliberal vulture capitalists want to buy up Ukraine’s famous black earth tells us only the nature of neoliberal vultures.

Oh, but who cares, right? We have seasoned, reality-based interlocutors that do work on the region like Daragh McDowell telling us that Russia is a threat worth countering; music to Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan’s ears.

Threats, threats everywhere; the free world and the world’s free market are besieged by neo-Rasputin scholar-mystics and the Russian bear on the march.

123

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 6:06 pm

TM – you are a tedious fool. It would serve US WELL if said commenters acknowleged those choices.

124

Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 6:07 pm

@phenomenal cat

Ignoring the uncomfortable notion that it might just be worth selling Ukraine’s land to people able to cultivate it effectively, rather than for Ukraine to remain net importer of food, I’m pretty sure the military invasion and annexation of Crimea was pretty frigging threatening, the opinions of galactic overlords Nuland and Kagan notwithstanding.

Also – am I going to be the first to take a whack at the Kissinger pinata dangling over the whole conversation? Good lord…

125

TM 03.11.15 at 6:32 pm

Ronan, your comment 123 is on a par with your 52 and 53. Can we perhaps do without the strawmen?

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Harold 03.11.15 at 6:36 pm

@124 Since Ukrainians are incompetent to grow their own food, let big ag. grow rape seed there to be processed for fuel elsewhere, you mean.

127

Cheryl Rofer 03.11.15 at 6:40 pm

Thanks, Ronan, for 119. Refreshing. And thanks, Daragh McDowell, who actually knows something about what is happening in Ukraine.

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Anarcissie 03.11.15 at 6:46 pm

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 5:36 pm @ 119:
“… Why do so many on the left insist on couching their responses to this in so much ‘whataboutery’, overwrought excuse making, and holier than thou ‘everyone is wrongism.’?”

I think what they’re trying to do is break up a Two Minutes’ Hate or so-aptly-named Hitler of the Week narrative, for reasons which ought to be pretty obvious. I wouldn’t go about it that way, myself; I think it’s quite enough to draw attention to the characters and history of those who are pushing the narrative, which is not hard to do given the body count.

129

TM 03.11.15 at 6:49 pm

“Ignoring the uncomfortable notion that it might just be worth selling Ukraine’s land to people able to cultivate it effectively”

No don’t ignore it. Speak your mind. Let it out.

130

Hidari 03.11.15 at 6:52 pm

“And let’s also imagine that there’s no moral difference between the Soviet and American systems, too.”

Oh I don’t have to imagine that.

131

Daragh McDowell 03.11.15 at 6:55 pm

@Harold – no, I don’t. I mean that Ukraine has not been able to devise a means in its 25 years of independence of effectively using its agricultural land, largely due to the impact of Soviet collectivisation, the historical extermination of much of the Ukrainian peasantry, and poorly enforced property rights. Under these circumstances, selling the land to people who can successfully grow things, will employ Ukrainians and pay the Ukrainian state (in the form of land purchases and taxation) while doing so, might just not be the worst idea in the world.

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Harold 03.11.15 at 7:03 pm

How many Ukrainian citizens will each rape seed plantation employ and at what wages, exactly?

133

Harold 03.11.15 at 7:04 pm

The companies and oligarchs are there already and are leasing the land instead of owning it, why is that not a good deal for the Ukrainian state?

134

Rich Puchalsky 03.11.15 at 7:14 pm

Ronan(rf): “The Bush 2 admin is one such collection of political elites. It is easy, for us, to say to them ‘your war was unnecessary, idiotic and a humanitarian disaster.’ Of course there are deeper patterns, causes, structural effects etc that can explain a historical event, but for our purposes we can just say the Bush admin made a terrible choice , and a lot of people suffered for it. And so here are the Russian elite making an objectively awful decision (on the basis of humanitarian fallout rather than Russian interests) .”

What’s the difference? Well, the difference for me is that people in my country died in Iraq, were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, and are paying the bill for the invasion of Iraq, and also made it impossible for me to explain to my children how our country does good on the world stage. While the people in Russia and/or Ukraine are people who I really know very little about other than that some people are telling me that it’s very important to counter a threat there, a phrase which — and I’m sorry to repeat myself — really means only one thing within the U.S.: it means that the person using it wants war.

I think that your comment is especially bad, Ronan(rf), since in the very next one you criticized the idea of naively sending the post-USSR a lot of free money, saying that such an action would only have enriched oligarchs. The lesson being that we should be quick to decide that we know what’s going on there and which actions would be a good idea?

135

phenomenal cat 03.11.15 at 7:18 pm

Ronan,

perhaps I haven’t read carefully enough, but I don’t see all the whataboutery or some such equivalence-making going on here. And of course “those in power exert agency,” so what? If you will kindly recall, the point of this thread is the imminent danger posed some Russian pseudo-intellectual that’s maybe (or maybe not, it doesn’t matter b/c he’s still a threat) Putin’s brain. The question is not about the elites’ agency as a general axiom of geopolitical principles, but of locating actual and effective agencies and powers as they manifest on the ground. Seriously, whose agency do you respect and fear more, this Dugin fellow or Nato or the World Bank…?

And echoing TM, yes Daragh please do expand the uncomfortable notion of selling Ukraine’s land to people who can cultivate it better. If I may, please first tell us who these people are. It might help make my point to Ronan.

136

Luke 03.11.15 at 7:19 pm

“I mean that Ukraine has not been able to devise a means in its 25 years of independence of effectively using its agricultural land, largely due to the impact of Soviet collectivisation, the historical extermination of much of the Ukrainian peasantry, and poorly enforced property rights.”

I’ve held my tongue so far, but this is offensively stupid. You’re asserting, what, that the breakdown of Soviet-era supply chains was due to the Holdomar? That property rights need to be returned to the Ukranian peasantry (are you proposing redistrubution of land?) so that they can then be re-collectivised my market forces? I note also your previous and absolutely typical etymological slide from aseptic consequentialism to moralising blather (‘people able to cultivate it effectively’) and back again.

Furthermore, w/r/t geopolitics: explain to me (1) how you expect Russia to react to the threat to its naval base at Sevastopol and (2) why you think pushing a thuggish nuclear power into a corner is a good idea.

137

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 7:43 pm

“What’s the difference?Well, the difference for me..”

Yes, I understand why you would care more about the actions your government takes than the actions Putin takes, but that’s beside the point.

“I think that your comment is especially bad, Ronan(rf), since in the very next one you criticized the idea of naively sending the post-USSR a lot of free money..”

I don’t understand why that negates my first comment. It might be that I am engaging in the same practice that I complain about, but that just makes me a hypocrite.

“..saying that such an action would only have enriched oligarchs. The lesson being that we should be quick to decide that we know what’s going on there and which actions would be a good idea?””

well, I was working from your claim:

“If we’re talking as idealists, then we pretty much burned our chance for influencing the region towards lasting peace when we helped Russia towards neoliberalism rather than a new Marshall Plan”

Yes, I think ‘burned our chance for influencing the region towards lasting peace’ is naive.
I am also not saying ‘the lesson being that we should be quick to decide that we know what’s going on there and which actions would be a good idea’, but saying that 2 decades worth of evidence (and after nation building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan) would have me assume this would have been the outcome.

138

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 8:08 pm

If you want to argue that a Marshall Plan would have influenced ‘the region towards lasting peace’ then do it. The burden of proof is on you to show how that would have happened. Instead of assuming it, explain the mechanisms that could have transformed the post Soviet Russian political economy into a prosperous democracy.

139

Harold 03.11.15 at 8:09 pm

@138, What do you mean, Ronan (rf), by “proserous democracy”, exactly?

140

Harold 03.11.15 at 8:10 pm

prosperous, I mean.

141

Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 8:28 pm

Does it really matter, Harold ? I’m asking Rich to expand on his (as usual) very vague description of roads not taken which would have influenced ‘the region towards lasting peace.’ I’m assuming he meant something like ‘democratic institutions, elite buy in to the democratic process and their neighbours sovereignty, and growing sustainable economies.’
Is this not what a call to ‘a new Marshall Plan’ would imply ?

142

Rich Puchalsky 03.11.15 at 8:30 pm

Ronan(rf): “2 decades worth of evidence (and after nation building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan) would have me assume this would have been the outcome.”

If people were saying “Let’s wait 2 decades and see how the Ukraine / Russia situation works out, and then we’ll think about taking action” then I think you’d have a point. And I’d agree that we should wait 2 decades. But as it is, you seem to want us to quickly come to a decision.

Positive defenses of a two-decades-ago Marshall-Plan-like action would begin by pointing out that the actual Marshall Plan a) most emphatically did not simply distribute resources to the same power structures that existed before the war, b) did not have to deal with an active insurgency (as we would not have had to in the case of Russia, since we didn’t have troops there). But this brings us increasingly off topic. What’s on topic is that any mention of throwing money at a problem is quickly labelled naive, while throwing bombs at a problem is not.

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Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 8:33 pm

I have no idea what youre talking about. I dont support military action over Ukraine or even arming the Ukranian government, and have never said I did.

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Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 8:34 pm

to be clear, Yes military action would be ‘naive’. Or more explicitly, it would be stupid.

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Harold 03.11.15 at 8:43 pm

@”Does it really matter?”

I think it does.

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Ronan(rf) 03.11.15 at 8:45 pm

Yes, but you also thought copy and pasting Zbigniew Brzezinski’s wikipedia page was relevant, so forgive me for not caring.
Or put it like this, why does it matter ?

147

Harold 03.11.15 at 8:52 pm

If you don’t know what you mean, how can anyone else? I posted a page that defined what imperialism meant, because I want people to know what I am talking about. You don’t care. Well, that is obvious.

148

Rich Puchalsky 03.11.15 at 9:22 pm

So what do you want, Ronan(rf)? All right then, I’ll take your #119 at face value. Certainly this is a form of intervention that for once, I think that we have the resources to do and that is ethically not very questionable. Here, I’ll do it myself:

Putin (and the Russian elite), you made an objectively awful decision. You should not have done whatever you did in Ukraine.

(I’m willing to repeat this for any Ukrainian politicians, but people will have to Google their names for me.)

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stevenjohnson 03.11.15 at 9:28 pm

Sane people generally consider the armed forces part of the state. Indeed, informed people consider them the hard core of the state. The Azov battalion, the Dnepr battalion, the Donbas battalion, the “National Guard” are all semi-independent military units with powerful ties to fascists in both leadership and membership. Since this is despite the notable lack of electoral support, this shows the entire Kyiv government is in no sense democratic. It is the Maidan regime that has clung to the fascists, despite the voting results. They aren’t going to be able to carry out the neoliberal program without some muscle behind them.

And this is particularly evident in the Maidan regimes complete refusal to tackle its ostensible issue, the misrule of the oligarchy. An essential aspect of Putin’s support to the Donetsk and Lugansk provinces is I think the requirement that those governments do not attempt to rouse popular support against the oligarchs, in any part of the country. I also think this is why there is no chance of anti-Maidan forces in the east restoring a unified Ukraine on a democratic basis.

As to the notion that there should be no political settlement between Kyiv and Donetsk/Lugansk? That’s exactly like saying that there should be no political settlement between Damascus and its opponents, who are just as dependent on foreign backing as Donetsk/Lugansk. I must say that it seems that Putin seems far more amenable to a political solution that doesn’t involve the surrender of the entire country to the minority than Saudi/Qatar/US(/Israel too?) Any claim there is a massive Russian invasion is a falsehood, pure and simple. There is no honest definition of “massive” that can’t have pictures taken of it.

It is my impression that the CT commentariat considers itself centrist but what is centrist about fascist apologetics? In fact, I was under the impression the CT bloggers considered themselves centrist, but what is centrist about the hysterical OP?

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Dominick Bartelme 03.11.15 at 10:25 pm

Long-time reader and extremely infrequent commenter here. I find many of the comments on this thread to be utterly remarkable. I can see Dugin’s hoped-for coalition of fascists and socialists and other illiberal elements forming before my eyes. The level of disgust of many on the left with the U.S. dominated capitalist world order has rendered them unable to read a simple denunciation of a dangerous fascist ideologue without immediately reacting that he must be 100x better than our evil capitalist overlords. The logical (and short) next step is to make common cause with Dugin and his ilk in our struggle against the liberal order.

Any lover of peace and freedom should stand with the OP against this dangerous ideology and the too-easy rationalization of it by those who do not care for the current global political and economic system. We don’t need to agree on much to agree that this man and his allies are promoting a profoundly evil vision of the future.

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Maria 03.11.15 at 11:34 pm

And with the last word to Dominick, comments on this remarkable thread are closed.

Comments on this entry are closed.