Russian Collusion has lately come to signify a suspicion of Russia's interference in the 2016 US election campaign to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming USA´s president and secure Donald Trump's victory. Since then, the term has also come to denote Russia's alleged attempts to tear apart European unity. Trump has claimed that such speculations mainly are a conspiracy theory and insists that at least from his quarters there was Russian Collusion during the election campaign.

What is a conspiracy theory? The word comes from the Latin conspirare, to breathe together and suggests that people involved in a conspiracy try to keep their secrets from outsiders. Accordingly, it is difficult to map and prove a conspiracy.

One of the most damaging conspiracy theories is the one that that 1905 was invented by someone working for the Ochrana, the Tsarist secret police and was eventually spread all over the world in the form of a pamphlet called The Protocol of the Elders of Zion. This fake document was claimed to be the record of a secret Jewish conspiracy, which meant that Jews, supported by liberals, Freemasons, socialists, and capitalists (who did not necessary knew that Jews were behind the scheme), would submerge the entire world in chaos and thus make it ripe for a global Jewish takeover.

This bizarre lie turned out to be remarkably successful and was by millions considered to be the ultimate proof of the perfidious and devilish nature of each and every Jew and evidence that they in reality were behind every conceivable misery. A believer in the veracity of the “protocol´s” satanical plot could add any kind of association that s/he feared or despised as an accomplice to the fictitious Jewish plot.

Below is an illustration from one of the numerous publications that were spread at the time before and during World War II. It suggests that Jesuits, Communists, and the Catholic Inquisition were all created and supported by the perfidious Jews. The German text can possibly be translated as: The Jews bring destruction and corruption, making people and cultures face death and disruption.   

A typical example of how conspiracy theories have a tendency to compile and unite incompatible extremes, precisely in order to demonstrate that the truth is almost too inconceivable to be taken seriously, though it is this apparent absurdity that makes it possible for conspirators to hide their schemes from any serious attempt to scrutinize them. In this case, by presenting the Inquisition, which was largely instituted to combat Judaism in Spain and the Jesuits, who especially in France by the beginning of the last century were known to be fierce anti-Semites, were portrayed as being servants of the Jews. The devilish concoction of a planned Jewish takeover of the world was used to instigate and endorse the Nazi mass murders of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war.

The myth of a Jewish world conspiracy is still common among extreme right-wing nationalists and fundamentalist Islamists. Among the former, who in recent years have made their presence noticeable in Russia, the fictions surrounding the Elders of Zion have merged with stories about the crimes and origins of Bolshevism. It has been claimed that without the involvement of Jewish schemers Russian socialism could probably have turned out to be quite OK. This is a recycling of the so-called "Cultural Marxism" theory, which ever since the Russian October Revolution has been cherished by extreme hate groups.

Nowadays, it is not so much Lenin's and Stalin's Bolsheviks who among obsessive  fringe groups are portrayed as Jew-controlled creators of chaos and depravity, but philosophers who belonged to the German Frankfurt School and "liberals" who "advocate" abortion, homosexuality, gender equality, atheism, immigration, and a general "moral dissolution", all in support of a plan supposedly initiated and supervised by the imaginary  Elders of Zion The assumed adherents to this scheme are a motley crew; the Illuminati, Freemasons, The World Bank, Templars, Opus Dei, several foundations created and supported by multi-millionaires (like Georges Soros and Bill Gates), the UN Security Council, the Bilderberg Group, the IMF and spy organizations like the CIA, Mossad and KGB (since 1993 –FSB).

Incidentally, it is not only the extreme right that produces and spreads conspiracy theories, they are also common among left-wing movements, which often considers global capitalism to be a huge conspiracy, usually with a leading click of American capitalists and politicians at the top of the oppressive pyramid.

Conspiracy theorists, like Robert Langdon hero of Dan Brown's popular conspiracy novels, are experts in finding more or less hidden signs suggesting the presence and activities of uncanny organizations. For example, in the picture above the peak of the pyramid of world global capitalism is crowned the all-seeing eye that adorns US dollar bills. It has been retrieved from the back of the United States coat of arms, also known as The United States' Great Seal and its text Novus Ordo Seclorum, meaning "the new order of the ages", is generally interpreted as The New World Order and by fanatics related to the alleged strivings of Illuminati and the Elders of Zion. Suspicions of a plan for a new world order has not only been directed towards sinister secret societies, Israel and the US, but has recently also been applied to Vladimir Putin's foreign policy.

Are there some solid foundations for such speculations? Probably not, most wild-grown conspiracy theories remain far too fantastic and imaginative. Nevertheless, some of them that initially were suspected to be quite unfounded have over time been revealed as essentially true, like several tales about shady contacts between Mafia, big capital and politicians, as well as money flows between major banks and various decision makers and putschists. Several political conspiracies have proved to be true, even in their most bizarre details, such as the US Watergate Scandal, the Echelon Scandal, and Italy's P2 Freemasonry Scandal, which involved high-ranking lawyers, officers, businessmen, decision makers on both sides of the aisle,  and not the least the Mafia and the Vatican. So, is there any truth behind the speculations of Russian foreign policy involvement in American and European internal affairs? Does Russia, like the US for that matter, use financial contributions and subtle propaganda to support extreme groups and undermine "western democracies"? Do circles close to Vladimir Putin nurture a plan to divide Europe by weakening the EU and NATO?

I recently read an article in one of Italy's excellent weekly magazines. L´Espresso which specializes in investigative journalism, it is part of GEDI, Gruppo Editoriale that also owns the daily newspaper La Repubblica, a well-written, radical daily. On February 24 this year, L'Espresso revealed some discoveries about an assumed connection between friends of Putin and the supreme leadership of the populist party Lega Nord and the circle around its rude and xenophobic leader Matteo Salvini, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister.

The L´Espresso articles began by unravelling some threads that gradually led its journalists towards the Russian hierarchy and its association with Italian politicians. Eggzero is an Italian family business renovatiing and furnishing Italian luxury villas belonging not only to Italian millionaires, but also other wealthy people such as the emir of Abu Dhabi, Kuwait's royal family and Russian oligarchs. In 2017, Eggzero reported to the Tribunal of the town of Grosseto that billionaire Igor Rotenberg had ceased to pay his large debts to the company, which was thus threatened with bankruptcy. Igor Rotenberg is the son of Putin's Judo teacher and good friend Arkady Rotenberg, who has been able enrich himself and his family through profitable state contracts.

The owners of Eggzero had several times met and discussed with Igor Rotenberg, though all business transactions had initially been made through the Luxembourg branch of the Russian Gazprom Bank and an offshore company called Highland Ventures Group Limited, based on the British Virgin Islands. After the commitments of Eggzero had been finished to everyone's satisfaction, Igor Rotenberg bought yet another Italian villa, surrounded by 220 hectares and situated outside the coatal town of Santo Stefano. This time, payments were made through an association, Norba Ag, based in Vaduz. Hiwever, suddenly Rotenberg´s payments ceased completely.

Grosseto's tribunal discovered a variety of shell companies around Igor Rotenberg, but were unable do anything to recover the debts. Here, L´Espresso entered in close collaboration with a bold Putin-critical magazine Novaya Gazeta, where among others the murdered investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya had worked. Several Novaya Gazeta articles had described how Igor's father, Arkady Rotenberg and his brother Boris had become billionaires through the construction of the Moscow-Saint Petersburg highway, the construction of expensive installations for the Sochi Olympics and the impressive bridge between Kertj in Crimea and Krasnodar Krai on the Russian mainland, which with its 18 kilometres is Europe's longest bridge.

Part of the Rotenberg brothers' wealth has also been used to pay for the ongoing war in Ukraine. This has led to their blacklistng by the US and the EU. In Italy, Guardia di Finanza has frozen the Rotenberg brothers´ assets, including three luxury villas in Sardegna, and three others on the mainland, a restaurant in Rome and fifty percent of the ownership in a real estate company named Auror 31. It was also found that Arkady's son Igor controlled large parts of Gazprom Burenie, part of the Gazprom Group which main owner is the Russian state. Gazprom is currently Russia's largest company. Igor Rotenberg also controls TPS Real Estate, which owns a large number of Russian shopping centres. The size of untaxed gains from several of these activities was discovered through the so-called Panama Papers. Among them was also a wealth of information about other slightly shady economic transactions traced to Putin's close acquaintances, particularily the cellist Sergey Roldugin, godfather to Putin's oldest daughter Maria Putina.

The blacklisting of oligarchs around Putin have caused that several of them now are trying to secure their wealth and income, one of their means to do so is to try to influence European and American politicians, including Matteo Salvini and his Lega Nord. By the beginning of July 2018, Italy's Supreme Court decided that Lega Nord had to repay 49 million euros to the Italian state and immediately froze 1.5 million euros found in Lega Nord's bank accounts. This occurred in connection with the Party's founder, Umberto Bossi, being sentenced to two years and three months' imprisonment for between 2008 and 2010 having misappropriated large sums of state funding to Lega Nord. If the Party begins to repay the misappropriated amounts the ruling may be annulled and the freezing of its assets cease.

L´Espresso is now accusing Lega Nord of desperately seeking funding for the repayment of its large debts, an effort that includes complicated business transactions with Russia. One channel to Russian oligarchs has been secured by Salvini's consigliere Gianluca Savoini, founder of the Lombardia-Russia Foundation, through which he collaborates with businessmen close to Putin.

L´Espresso visited one of Gianluca Savoini's Moscow partners Marshall Capital and Avangrad Oil & Gas controlled by the oligarch Konstantin Malofeev with offices in a large building in central Moscow, which also houses Russian headquarters for multinational giants such as Exxcon, Repsol, Shell, Glencore and Samsung.

The financier Malofeev is not only an influential and wealthy oligarch, he also has a life task that involves a struggle against homosexuality, abortions and the "Russian breakaway state" Ukraine. Malofeev has, with large funds, contributed to the "return" of Crimea and also provided financial support to the Ukrainian breakaway enclave Donbass, as well as he is supporting a foundation called The World Congress of Families, a worldwide coalition based in Rockford, Illinois. The World Congress of Families states that it safeguards values upheld by true Christian forces and opposing same-sex marriages, pornography and abortion, especially by encouraging the foundation of a society based on a Christianity that is securely established upon "a voluntary union of a man and a woman within the life-long union of a marriage”. In connection with this commitment, Malofeev founded a foundation called Saint Basileo, which among other imitiatives runs a university promoting the values ​​of The World Congress of Families.

L´Espresso and the London-based radical newspaper The Guardian accuse Constantine Malofeev of providing financial support to a number of nationalist populist parties within the EU, such as Marine Le Pen´s Rassemblement national, Viktor Orbán's Fidez, as well as Jimmie Åkesson's Sweden Democrats. Money is channelled through bank accounts on islands such as Cyprus, the Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands, as well as First Czech-Russian Bank in Prague.

How is this accomplished? L´Espresso has tracked one example of such support. With Gianluca Savoino's Lombardy-Moscow Foundation as intermediary, Konstantin Malofeev's company Avangard sells and delivers through a Russian state-owned company, Rosneft, three million tonnes of diesel for the monthly price of 250 million euros to the Italian company Eni. Of these amounts, the Lombardy-Moscow Foundation receives a monthly four percent commission that goes directly into the coffers of Lega Nord. To secure the agreement, both Savoino and the party leader Salvini have visited Moscow, under the guise of attending a conference organized by Confindustria, Italy's largest employer organization.

On this occasion, Savoino also had a meeting with his good friend Aleksandr Dugin, whom he has met several times before and who also through the years has visited Italy several times. It is through Dugin´s involvement that the conspiracy theories become interesting and exciting.

The philosopher and successful writer Aleksandr Dugin adheres to transhumanism, an international movement that advocates the use of various techniques to improve and extend human mental and physical capabilities and is furthermore a fanatic promoter of an ideology called Eurasianism, which considers Russia to be the origin and protector of a separate and unique culture at the very centre of the world, separate from both European and Asian cultures, and not least the Atlantic sphere which includes Great Britain and the USA.

Aleksandr Dugin, is a prolific writer and has apparently key role in the business dealings between Lega Nord and Konstantin Malofeev. In 1999, Aleksandr Dugin published his most influential work, Osnovy Geopolitiki, Geopolitical Foundations, in which he through more than 900 pages outlineed the foundations of Eurasianism. Together with Petr Suslov, director of The Centre for European Studies at Moscow´s Higher School for Economics, Dugin has established a Centre for Geopolitical Competence, called Edinenie, Unity. Suslov, who is one of Putin´s acquaintances, was previously a senior officer at the SVR, The Russian Federation's Federal Security Service and has a past as "operator" in Afghanistan, Mozambique and Angola. Suslov has together with Dugin declared that the US commercialised culture is a lethal threat not only to the Russian way of life, but to the entire world. Among other statements Suslov has declared that:

Atlantism, in the form of US ideology, seeks to spread its values worldwide, threatening [Russian] orthodoxy and traditional Islam, which can only survive if united in a common struggle.

Dugin and Suslov do not regard Islam as a threat to Russian culture, it is rather an integral part of their Eurasian concept. The Muslim-Mongolian Tatar Empire, The Golden Horde, which ruled the Russian core lands between 1227 and 1380 is by Dugin considered to have been the crucial period time when Russian culture was formed. The Moscow region was developed through wars, shared heritage, colonization, interaction and intermarriage between Russians and Tatars. The Golden Horde allowed an extensive autonomy for the Russian Slavs and even supported the Orthodox Church. Only the highest officials were Mongols, while recurrent rebellions were stifled by their efficient and superior cavalry. In contrast, Edinenie strongly opposes Wahabism, which Dugin does not consider to be any true Islam, but rather an abomination supported by the House of Saud and the Americans, a sect that has to be fervently opposed for being contrary to true Islamic doctrine.

Edinenie is headquartered at the same address as Konstantin Malofeev's company, Tverskaya Street No.7 in the very centre of Moscow. Dugin considers himself to be a key player when it comes to develop a Putin "ideology". On December 23, 2013, Dugin published in his newspaper Evrazia, a renowned article in which he predicted that if Putin ignored the importance of ideas and history, just what Dugin was willing to offer him, the Russian president´s influence ran the danger of waning. Obviously, Putin snatched the bait and many of his speeches and appearances now seem to suggest that he has become influenced by Dugin's ideas.

I recently read in Italian a book written by Dugin together with Alain de Benoist, founder of Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilization européenne, Society for Research and Studies of European Civilization. de Benoist is a leading representative of the French Nouvelle Droite, the New Right, opposed to globalism, liberalism, and overseas immigration. He is a supporter of a so-called ethnopluralism, which assumes that to preserve the world's ethnic and cultural diversity, "different peoples" must live apart. However, this does not prevent him from cooperating with Dugin, who also liaises with other European nationalist populist parties, such as the Greek Syriza, the Bulgarian Ataka, the Austrian Freedom Party and, not the least, the French Rassemblement national.

However, Dugin's support to ethnic, national aspirations does not include Ukrainian nationalists whom he regards as traitors to their shared Mother Russia and Eurasian culture. While Dugin in 2014 was working as professor at the Department for International Relations at Moscow´s prestigious Lomonosov University , an increasingly bloody conflict between pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians peaked in Odessa when a pro-Ukrainian mob attacked the city's Labour Union House, which had been occupied by pro-Russians. As a result, the building caught fire and 42 pro-Russian activists were killed. Dugin was furious:

What we see on May 2nd is beyond any limits. Kill them! Kill them! Kill them! There should not be any more conversations. As a professor, I consider it so.

In their joint book, Dugin and Benoist state, among other things:

Eurasianism is an earthly force, an alternative to the Thalassocratic ideology born of the moving, changing sea - Atlanticism. The American Atlantic challenge is global, therefore, any move against it must also be global. Russia has always been the carrier of an idea. [...] The cultural and political projects of Eurasia are based on a geopolitical reality characterized by civilization, tradition, religion and coexistence, something that has been realized through a strong identity and a common destiny that is opposed to a totalitarian, Western development. Liberalism and Atlanticism are incompatible with Russian identity, the Eurasian affiliation which is in fact the world's geopolitical and geostrategic heart, an organic entity born from a symbiosis of Russian and Turkish-Muslim values. […] Ukraine is the current scene of a struggle between Eurasian and Atlantic ideas. It is not any European ideas that have taken a hold there, but harmful American, Atlantic values. Europe does not belong to either the Euro-Asian or the Atlantic realm. It is a distinct, free and independent civilization, which must face the hegemonic threats of Atlantia, with its big-money, globalism, linguistic hegemony and detrimental life-style. In other words, a "deadly system" of Anglo-American origin.

It may seem strange that a slavophile like Dugin collaborates with French nationalist. It is probably linked to the fact that Dugin as a young man was deeply impressed by German ideologues such as Oswald Spengler, Martin Heidegger, and the German-friendly Italian Julius Evola. After in 1989 having published two books based on such ideologies the sales revenues enabled Dugin to make several trips to Germany, Italy and France. In the latter country he came in contact with Alain de Benoist and the Belgian extremely nationalistic Jean-François Thiriart. In parentheses – it may seem strange that a young, he was twenty-seven years old at the time, and unknown author's books were printed in such large editions (each in more than 100,000 copies), something that may indicated that Dugin already at that time enjoyed political protection from above.

His European contacts inspired Dugin to come up with the idea of ​​creating three main axes with Moscow at the centre; Moscow – Tokyo, Moscow – Tehran, and Moscow – Berlin. Each city would become the centre of a new empire, while Moscow would be the hub of it all. For example, the axis Moscow – Berlin would mean that the Germany´s capital, in conjunction with France and Italy, which according to Dugin historically always had been opposed to the “debauched”, commercial Anglo-American culture, would become the centre of a European empire. Similarly, Tehran would become the centre of a Muslim empire and Tokyo of an oriental one. In order to achieve this ideal state of affairs, European countries have be torn away from the United States´ and NATO's grip and made to work for a united Europe on friendly terms with Russia. When Berlin and Tokyo have become centres of united empires they will be linked to Moscow and Russia would eventually be master of the world.

For Dugin, it was obvious that US-hostile empires would be linked to Russia. Europe, the Orient and Islam have become weakened, watered-down and hopelessly dependent on a liberal, money-soaked and decadent US, while Russia is becoming reborn, strong and united.

After a visit to France, Dugin wrote:

There is nothing interesting there, all that is interesting I have found in Russia. In Europe history is finished, in Russia it is open.

Occasionally, Dugin has been sceptical of Putin, especially when the president have proved to be "weak", i.e. lacking ideology and vision that could support him while he asserts Russia´s special interests. However, Dugin has gradually become an increasingly fanatical Putin supporter and may frequently burst out in excessive praise, as when he in 2007 declared:

There are no more opponents of Putin's course and, if there are, they are mentally ill and need to be sent off for clinical examination. Putin is everywhere, Putin is everything, Putin is absolute, and Putin is indispensable.

And Putin? Has he embraced Dugin's philosophy? It may seem as if he is increasingly feeling at home with notions about Russian exclusivity, though this stance may also be political tactics. After Crimea was annexed in March 2014, Putin's statements have possibly approached Dugin's thinking. During an annual television program, Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, in which Putin answers pre-prepared questions, he made the following observations one month after the annexation of the Crimea:

I believe that a Russian person, or to use a broader concept – a   person from the Russian world, first of all thinks that man has a higher purpose, a higher moral foundation. That is why a Russian person, a person from the Russian world, does not focus on his own person. […] I actually believe that we are now witnessing a process in which European countries have begun to re-evaluate earlier approaches. What we call conservative values are beginning to attract more people. Take Viktor Orbán's victory in Hungary, or Marine Le Pen's success […] Similar tendencies are spreading to other countries. It is obvious. Completely obvious.

Putin predicts an upcoming collapse of European unity and like Dugin he seems to consider it as a result of questioning the Anglo-American sluggish morals, which have been inflicted on the Europeans. Europe´s hope for escaping from this unfortunate fate is to become attached to the moral high grounds of a reborn Russia. However, if the Russians try to speed up this process remains an open question. During his opening speech to the Valdai International Discussion Club´s 2017 meeting, Putin explained:

Unfortunately, after dividing up the geopolitical heritage of the Soviet Union, our Western partners became convinced of the justness of their cause and declared themselves victors of the Cold War, as I just mentioned, and started openly interfering in the affairs of sovereign states, and exporting democracy just like the Soviet leadership had tried to export the socialist revolution to the rest of the world in its time […] It turns out that some of our colleagues think there are ”good“ fighters for independence and freedom and there are ”separatists“ who are not entitled to defend their rights, even with the use of democratic mechanisms.

The Valdai International Discussion is an annual event inviting 1,000 experts from around seventy countries, even if it has taken its name from the Lake Valdai outside of Novgorod it is celebrated in Sochi, Russia´s unofficial summer capital. During last year's meeting, Putin criticized the United States:

An empire always thinks that it can allow itself to make some little mistakes, take some extra costs, because its power is such that they don't mean anything. But the quantity of those costs, those mistakes inevitably grows. And the moment comes when it can't handle them, neither in the security sphere or the economic sphere. Thank God, this situation.

Such views are in accordance with Dugin's thoughts about Russia's awakening and other countries' emancipation from the United States´ ruinous domination.

What constitutes Dugin's philosophy? An introduction to this fascinating concoction might be a satirical article by Dmitry Bykov published in Novaya Gazeta 2013. Bykov is a well-known author, poet and journalist, who has written biographies of Boris Pasternak, Maxim Gorky and the troubadour Bulat Okudzhava. The article is available online but since I cannot speak a word of Russian, I have had to rely on Google Translate and thus blame possible misconceptions on that site.

In order to characterize some of Dugin's ideas, I will in the following comment upon some of the names mentioned in his article:

Dugin believes that all philosophies have ceased to exist, only Eurasianism has survived. I am pleased with such claims and also with his other speculations. Everyone is dead, he says: Venediktov, Shenderovich, Berezovsky and Bykov. According to him, their main ideologist was the deceased Berezovsky.

Dugin claims that his Fourth Political Theory implies a completely new thinking that unites, goes beyond, and makes liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism meaningless. Unlike these ideologies, his Eurasianism has a sacred, mysterious ingredient making it far more comprehensive than previous ideologies.

An important source of inspiration for these assumption is Lev Gumiljov (1912-1992), historian, ethnologist, archaeologist, cultural geographer, orientalist and linguist. Gumiljov mixed fancy with pragmatism. He joined no less than 21 expeditions to various and often isolated locations in the Soviet Union. Although he was not politically interested, Gumiljov's association with controversial academics forced him in and out of Stalin's prisons and labour camps, where he spent fourteen years of his life.

Gumiljov's lasting scientific achievement was to show how climate and landscape affect the emergence of different cultures. He eventually merged this ethnogenesis with wild speculations about certain areas being affected by high levels of comic energy. A radiation that was especially intense on the Russian steppes and according to Gumiljov particularily in Eurasia, i.e. the interior of the Asian continent. Gumiljov assumed that Russians do not originate from any European culture, but from Asian steppe people.

In conjunction with the special character of a landscape, cosmic energy radiation gives rise to a mutagenic effect which in some individuals causes a high degree of passion, an intense quest for power and change. Such passionate individuals join forces with similar persons and eventually form communities that develop into an ethnicity, an ethnos. If two or more geographically close ethnos are united they constitute what Gumiljov called a super-ethnos. This once occurred on the Central Asian steppes when Aryan ethnos mixed with a Mongolian one.

Such speculations made Dugin attracted to a kind of neopaganism, a creation of traditions known as Rodnovery, after Rod who was assumed to be the main god of the Slavs and who rules a number of natural deities, each reflecting different aspects of Russian ethnos. Dugin's Fourth Political Theory includes such reconstructions of Slav piety spiced with right-wing politics, teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as hermetic, gnostic, and Eastern traditions.

As a contemptible denier of his ideas Dugin has pointed out Victor Shenderovich, a popular satirist and television personality, well known for his criticism of Putin. In March 2010, Shenderovich was the co-author of a manifesto called Putin has to Resign.

Alexey Venedkitov hosts Echo of Moscow, a radio station, and is the owner of Diletant, a history magazine with broad circulation. Venedkitov controls 49 percent of the shares of Echo of Moscow, while an American company has 20 percent, this is in Dugin's eyes fatal and very suspicious. Venedkitov describes himself as a reactionary with Margaret Thatcher as his  beacon, though his numerous international contacts and his from Dugin's viewpoint far too liberal views has fuelled the philosopher´s  intense dislike.

Boris Berezovsky, who Dugin assumes was the main corrupter of Eurasian ideals, was an oligarch, engineer, mathematician and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He benefited from the takeover of a number of companies that had previously been state-owned, including Russia's state television channel. In 1997, Berezovsky's wealth was valued at 3 billion USD. Initially, Berezovsky supported Putin, but when his friend and confidant, Boris Jeltzin, suddenly resigned by the end of 2000, Berezovsky refused to favour Putin in the presidential election that followed four months later and became one of his most vocal critics. After Russia's Public Prosecutor in 2003 ordered Berezovsky to appear "for some inquiries," he fled the country and sought asylum in Britain. A few months later, he was found hung in his home, post-mortem analyses found no signs of violence and the case was written off as suicide.

Of course, Berezovsky is really dead. However, Dugin is not even born! I will explain to you what Eurasianism is, because I understand him. Telling you about Dugin does not have to take much time, what I will do, so to say, is carving in the living flesch. Dugin is a conspiracy theorist, he loves such things, and he reads Evola.

Julius Evola is an unusually unpleasant figure, often hailed by the European extreme right as a prophet and great philosopher. In a previous blog posting I have written some things about him. Evola can possibly be described as an extreme fascist, a radical traditionalist, a racist, anti-liberal, anti-democrat and elitist, qualities and opinions he have mixed with fuzzy metaphysics, mysticism, magic, yoga, alchemy and an overwhelming misogyny. Evola's articles in the fascist magazine La difesa della razza, The Defence of the Race, a fortnight magazine issued between 1938 and 1943, emits an odour of rancid racism.

In articles published in La difesa della razza Evola divides racism into three categories, corresponding to body, soul and spirit (corpo, anima, spirito). According to Evola, all three categories are equally valid. The lower degree of racism he calls “biological racism” and explains it as the difference between different races, both physical and mental, among which the "negroid - and Jewish breed" through their "feminine traits" are the most despicable. “Spiritual racism” is not only biologically determined, but also dependent on the "spirit of the place". Italians and Germans, are for example not biologically speaking entirely pure, though their common heritage is by far superior to that of other nations and every true Italian is part of this heritage. “Transcendent racism” refers to the charisma of superhumans who have been purified by an impeccable biological heritage, belong to a great, advanced culture and who furthermore have been endowed with a superior intellect. This form of predestined power and beauty is mainly manifested among purebred, hyperborean Aryans, who live closest to the sun, which day and night beams above their homes for half of the year. The Aryans´ distinguishing qualities are signs of the presence of the sun; Olympic, heroic, fiery, open and clear, glorious, and heavenly virile. Hyperborean Aryans have created profound symbols and mighty myths. By carrying, giving birth to and feeding their children, Aryan women serve these great, manly spirits. Women should not be ignored but "conquered and mastered". Thereby, even rape by Aryans is justifiable because it is "a natural expression of their unconditional virility."

Part of Evola's popularity with the abysmal right is not only due to this distasteful gibberish, but also a result of the fact that long before the Frankfurt School became a popular object for hate among fanatic conservatives, Evola wrote about bolscevismo culturale, Cultural Bolschevism, and described how many liberals unknowingly had been infected by its moral poison and thus favoured a progressive destruction of national strength and shared morals:

What we may call a culture of decomposition is above all a social tendency consisting of a tendentious approach displaying ideals as illusory, values as pure convention, while deeming institutions as unjust and defective. An attitude emphasizing the higher right of life; instinct, the irrational, the purely “human” and thus it creates a new superstition constituted by the subconscious, the unconscious, the libido and an all-encompassing Eros as the true roots of all existence and human exclusivity. …  [such notions] may be measured by their direct and indirect effects, they are ferments of ethical and spiritual decomposition and their ultimate consequence can only be Marxism. […] Cultural Marxism manifests itself in literature, art, philosophy and science. In a general culture, which appears to lack any relation whatsoever with Marxist thinking and Communist political propaganda. Even if its creators or promoters assume they are not exercising any political influence their actions will inexorably result in a destructive Marxism.

Bukov digs further into Dugins murky sources and comes up with Evola's inspirational masters. He manages to connect Dugin with Evola's muddled speculations about Eastern mysticism and Aryan warriors:

I speak plainly, without hysteria, and therefore I realize that I will not be understood by each and every one. The reason is that the spririt of enlightenment is deadly wounded, Dugin does not like it and many people do in his succession pay tribute to Guénon and Ahnenerbe, as well as the metaphysics of the great empires. We have once upon time been titans, but now we live in Kaliyuga. Let us therefore gather the Hyperborean forces in a final battle against the trading empire of the greedy South! We are the Aryans, the sacred race, the beacon of warriors, the priesthood of Arkaim. Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine belong to us – we have only temporarily lost them, but through our Eurasian vision and our customs union with China, they will once again become part of our Empire

René Guénon (1886-1951) was a Freemason and went from one mysterious community after another, until he through Gnosticism finally found Sufism, converted to Islam and settled in Cairo. Tradition is central to Guénon's thinking. He believes it will bring us back to the spiritual reality that existed in ancient times when heaven and earth were one. Tradition and untouched nature are prerequisites for divine presence on earth, but unfortunately since the Renaissance age-old traditions have been distorted and defiled.

Such ideas were enthusiastically adopted by Evola, who assumed we are now living in Kaliyuga, which according to Hindu scriptures is the worst of the four revolving world ages. Hinduism's time span is extensive, Kaliyuga began through a collapse in the World of Gods on February 18, 3102 BCE, but is probably now coming to an end.

Ahnenerbe, Ancestral Heritage, was a SS research foundation with the task of performing anthropological and cultural research on the origin of the German people, das Volk. Its framework was of course racist and most of the incompetent studies carried out by Ahnenerbe resulted in myth-creating, obvious fakes, unsustainable speculations and "evidence" created to fit into Reichführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's quirky, to put it mildly, world view. Julius Evola did on behalf of Ahnenerbe carry out "research" concerning the history of Freemasonry and its  "disruptive activities". Dugin has defined Ahnenerbe as "an intellectual oasis within the system of the National Socialist regime".

Arkaim is an archaeological site, situated on the steppe by the village of Arnursky, south of the Ural Mountains. It was discovered in 1987 by a team of archaeologists who investigated the terrain before the construction of a planned dam. It has been assumed that Arkaim is the remains of a city built by Indo-Iranians belonging to the so-called Sintashtak Culture (2100 - 1800 BCE). Arkaim is by several slavophiles considered be the original home of the Aryans and Eurasia's absolute centre.

Now, without panic, please consider this dogma and understand that Dugin is not at all a titan, rather a Titanic, due to his Eurasian convictions. We hear him speak about "empirical mysticism", though that is nothing but old debris from a cemetery. Like any cannibal it is easy to devour and use profound thoughts of others. [...] An Eurasian can only be defined by his eclecticism. It is a cannibalistic notion with a pompous purpose. An aging, rancid, racist and dismissible death cult – you do not have to resort to any microscopical scrutiny to discover what it is all about. Tailoring the Supreme Chief [Putin] is Eurasianism's foremost feature. Something that the smaller European states cannot convince themselves to do. To bow before the Holy Russia would to them equal being raped and sacrificed at the same time. That is your mystery, Dugin, the one you call Eurasia, which now has emerged from the oceans. Are you imagining yourself to be a resurrected Osiris? You are not even a vampire.

Why does Dmitry Bykov compare Dugin with Osiris, the Egyptian mummy god who brings corpses to a new life? Probably because Dugin's ideology intends to resurrect the Soviet Union from the dead. He has declared that "we are on the side of Stalin and the Soviet Union." Dugin's intention is to make Russia great again:

Only after restoring the Greater Russia that is the Eurasian Union, we can become a credible global player. Now these processes have significantly slowed down. The Ukrainan Maidan [Eurmaidan, the European Square, is now the common denomination of protests taking place at a central square in Kiev, sparked by the Ukrainian government's decision to suspend the signing of an association agreement with EU]  was the response of the West to the advance of the Russian integration.

Dugin's dream of a resurrected Soviet Union reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons called A Capitalist Nightmare. The complicated story tells, among other things, how Homer Simpson accidentally becomes a submarine captain and how his craft is seized by the Russian Marine. In the UN Security Council, the US representative asks his Russian colleague if he knows what happened to Homer and his submarine. The Russian announces: "The Soviet Union will soon release your vessel." The US envoy assumes the Russian delegate made a mistake by mixing up Russia with the Soviet Union and corrects him: "Didn't the Soviet Union cease to exist?" The Russian diplomat replies laughingly: "That was exactly what we wanted you to believe!” He then turns the sign saying "Russia" around and reveals the writing on the back: Soviet Union. A red banner is seen fluttering over the Red Square, Victory Day´s military parade has been replaced by carnival floats – but suddenly the silly vehicles are opened up and out roll threatening tanks. The Berlin Wall is being rebuilt and finally Lenin's mummy rises up in, crushes its glass sarcophagus, scares off the visiting tourists and like Frankenstein's monster he staggers forward with outstretched arms. Lenin slurs as if in trance: "Must crush capitalism! Must crush capitalism!"

Is Dugin's influence on Russian foreign policy insignificant? Are his speculations about Russia's uniqueness to be taken seriously? Perhaps not, though it may just as well be a fact that Dugin, in collaboration with wealthy oligarchs, is actively trying to influence chauvinist and xenophobic politicians in various European countries. Why would Dugin otherwise have his headquarters in Malofeev's office space, an oligarch who obviously supports European and American right-wing forces?

Already in the early days of his career as an amateur researcher impregnated with zany theories, Dugin's books were issued in huge editions and without a Ph.D. he landed a top job as professor at Moscow's prestigious Lomonsov university, while supporting Russia's wars in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine and constantly praising Putin.

Like several other populists, Dugin is a self-taught amateur convinced about his own excellence. Adolf Hitler was also an avid reader with diverse interests. He regarded himself as an expert in every possible field and could for hours expose his often quite banal insights and opinions. Such people tend to pose as maintainers of high moral principles, while they pay tribute to totalitarianism and conservatism. Hitler's speeches were filled to the brim with moral outrage:

I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity. We want to once again satiate fill our culture with the Christian spirit [...] We want to incinerate all recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press – in short, we want to burn away the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past years.

Sometimes it may even appear as if Dugin is plagiarizing Hitler, for example when he declares that

We, conservatives, want a strong, solid State, want order and healthy family, positive values, the reinforcing of the importance of religion and the Church in society. […] We are on the side of Stalin and the Soviet Union.

Like Hitler, Dugin is interested in conspiracy theories and often identifies his enemies by referring to such myths. Hitler was a convinced believer in the veracity of The Protocol of the Elders of Zion and together with similar deceptions he made it into a warrant for genocide. 

For Dugin, homosexuality is the ultimate proof of West's harmful influence on morality and social order. Described as a Western perversion fear of homosexuality has gained an increasingly prominent place in the Russian debate and to aggravate the matter further homosexuality is generally equalled to paedophilia. In his usual uncouth manner Dugin does not hesitate to recommend death penalty for homosexuality, or possibly castration. His oratory was especially uninhibited during his defence of Kuzntesov, a former boxer who killed a nineteen-year-old man, whom he on doubtful grounds accused of raping his eight-year-old stepson. Dugin declared:    

He did the right thing for his child. I think all Russians, all normal people, would do the same. If you witness such a crime you have to intervene. And if you have the opportunity to kill the scum, then you have to kill, and then you can sort it out later.

Such moral high ground and elevated perceptions of himself as a moral epitome is something Dugin shares with several other extremists. Fanatics who claim that "liberals" want to protect women from male chauvinists, homosexuals from homophobes, humanists from Christian fundamentalists, Jews from anti-Semites, Muslims from Islamophobes, criminals from aggressive police, and an unfair legal system, foreigners from racist nationalists, etc. etc. According to such conservatives do opinions that appear to be "politically correct" actually undermine a value-based society. Unlike any spineless radicals, extreme conservatives do not hesitate to mention society's enemies by name - socialists, radicalized Muslims, global capitalism, exotic immigrants, homosexuals, international crime cartels, the lax school, sex education, exaggerated feminism, mawkish Christianity, etc., etc. Despite his opinions about Russia's obvious superiority, Dugin has found lots of like-minded allies in Europe and, not the least, in the United States.

Several of Dugin's books have been translated into English by Nina Kouprianova, wife of Richard Spencer, a well-known advocate for white supremacy. Ten days after Trump's victory in 2016, Spencer gathered his followers to a meeting in Washington, after quoting Nazi propaganda and condemning the Jews, Spencer shouted, "Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!" The meeting participants made the Nazi greeting while they enthusiastically chanted: Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!

A few months later, Spencer organized and led a white supremacy march in Charlottsville, which resulted in the murder of a counter-demonstrator, depicted by the end of Spike Lee's excellent movie Black Clansman. Trump's comment about this insanity was that there were "very nice people on both sides". Spencer is one of the founders of Alt-right, a loosely organized right-wing movement claiming to constitute an alternative to the "watered down conservatism" represented by the Republican Party. With all right, Steve Bannon, who later became Trump's chief strategist and member of The National Security Council, claimed that Spencer is a “self-promoting freak and a goober”, the last word actually means a “peanut” but is generally used to denigrate someone from the southern states (though Spencer is actually from Boston). However, this contempt for Spencer has not prevented Bannon from openly declaring that Breitbart News, a right-wing extremist news and opinion site that Bannon was heading, "constitutes a platform for Alt-right".

On August 17, 2016, Bannon left the leadership of Breibart News to work for Donald Trump's presidential campaign. After Trump's victory, Bannon became the White House Chief Strategist, a newly established position. However, in April 2017, he was forced to leave all his political commitments, probably due to his sharp criticism of Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Nevertheless, Bannon claims that he still has frequent contacts with President Trump.

After leaving Breitbart News, Bannon is now travelling around the world offering his services as inspirer and advisor to national, populist right-wing movements. The list of his contacts is huge and long; France's Rassemblement national, Hungarian Fidesz, Italian Lega Nord, Germany's Alternative für Deutschland, Polish Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, Sweden´s Sverigedemokrater, The Netherlands´ Partij voor de Vrijheid, Austrian Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, Swiss Schweizerische Volkspartei, Britain's United Kingdom Independence Party, Belgium's Vlaams Belang, Spain's Vox, the Finnish Sannfinländarna/Perussuomalaiset, Israel's Likud, India's Bharatiya Janata Party, Turkey's Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi. In addition, Bannon openly and actively supported the Brazilian Jair Bolsanaro's presidential campaign. Bannon has now moved to Brussels where he works to unite EU populist parties before the election to the European Parliament that will take place May 23-26 in 2019 (if you are able to do so – you have to vote).

Bannon's rhetoric can be exemplified by a speech he held in Lille in March 2018 before Marine Le Pen and members of her Rassemblement national:

Let them call you racist, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativists. Wear it like a badge of honour. Because every day we get stronger and they get weaker.

Like Dugin, Steve Bannon has a certain weakness for Italy. Like the Russian, he seems to believe that Italy is the most important gateway to European influence, especially as Bannon is a convinced Catholic. However, he believes that Pope Francis's influence is detrimental to his conservative values, which he assumes are the same as those that the "true" Catholic Church support. Bannon has therefore lined up with ultra-conservative, Catholic forces that actively oppose Pope Francis, among other organisations Bannon openly supports Istituto Dignitatis Humanae, a populist, nationalist and conservative faction that from within the Catholic establishment, and with the support of an alliance of conservative Catholic laity, attempts to undermine the Pope's position with a hope that he will resign.

Steve Bannon is familiar with Aleksandr Dugin and his ideas. He also shares some of them and like Dugin, and probably Donald Trump as well, Bannon is a great admirer of the Russian president. For example, in 2014, Bannon praised Putin while talking to a group of conservative Catholics that had gathered in Rome:

Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the traditionalist movement […] A lot of people that are traditionalists are attracted to that. One of the reasons is that they believe that at least Putin is standing up for traditional institutions, and he’s trying to do it in a form of nationalism—and I think that people, particularly in certain countries, want to see the sovereignty for their country, they want to see nationalism for their country. They don’t believe in a pan-European Union […] We the Judeo-Christian West really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as traditionalism goes.

Should we take Dugin's and Bannon's thoughts, influence and actions seriously? I think so, especially since several decision makers seem to do so. We should study them and take warning. One day our ignorance may have proved to be fatal. When we have accepted their gobbledygook, or avoided to counteract with knowledge and good arguments, we might end  up being imprisoned by Dugin's and Bannon's utopias, which undoubtedly would have proven to be nasty dystopias.

(The cartoonist seems to have mixed up the Czech Republic's flag with Cuba´s)

Biondani, Paolo (2019) ”L´Ombra lunga degli oligarchi”, L´Espresso No. 9, anno LXV, 24 febbraio. Bykov, Dmytry (2013) “Eurasianism”, Novaya Gazeta, 20 april 2013, No. 44. Cohn, Norman (1976) Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish Conspiracy and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Aylesbury, Bucks: Pelican Books. de Benoist, Alain and Aleksandr Dugin (2014) Eurasia, Vladimir Putin e la Grande Politica. Napoli: ContraCorrente. Evola, Julius (2008) Anticomunismo positivo. Scritti su bolscevismo e marxismo (1938-1968). Napoli: ContaCorrente. Gessen, Masha (2017) The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia. New York: Riverhead Books. Hitler, Adolf (1947) The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pisanty, Valentina (2018) Educare all´odio; ”La difesa della razza” (1938-1843). Roma: GEDE, Gruppo Editoriale S.p.A. Tizian, Giovanni and Stefano Vergine (2019) ”3 millioni per Salvini”, L´Espresso No. 9, anno LXV, 24 febbraio.



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