Would you like fries with that conspiracy?

 

Remember that invitations-only closed-door meeting, organized by Konstantin Malofeev and Alexander Dugin for the top brass of the European far-right  in Vienna on May 31 2014? If you have forgotten, here’s a refresher.

Shortly after that get-together, Malofeev was put on the EU and USA sanctions list over his role in funding and coordinating the invasion of Ukraine.  The following year, Dugin was placed on the US and Canada sanctions lists, and while the EU did not sanction him officially, his freedom of travel in Europe has been severely restricted since his Schengen visa was revoked and he could not appear as honorary guest at Richard Spencer’s white-power conference in Budapest (full disclosure: Dugin blames me for his no-show).

Three months to the day after the Vienna meeting, Dugin penned a confidential internal document, mapping out the European extreme right and its various constituents’ attitudes towards Russia and Putin. He emailed a copy of his analysis to his colleague Georgi Gavrish, a former officer of the Russian embassy in Athens, and – like Dugin – at that time subsisting on Maloveev’s payroll. Gavrish’s emails were hacked in 2015, and thus our original copy.

The report makes for a mixed reading, alternating between passable analytical insights (as in, “the extreme right took the political space that the extreme left dominated in the 20th century due to the ideological intermarriage between the extreme left in the liberal mainstream”), and wild conspiracy (as in “the neo-Nazi movements in Europe and run by CIA and MOSSAD as part of Israel’s repatriation strategy”, or “Leaders of neo-Nazi movements are often Jews or gays”). There is also the plausible paradigm of the extreme right being split into two groups: an anti-Russian, pro-American half (bad, created by the CIA during hte cold war), and a pro-Russian, anti-American half (good,  the “New Right”, organically growing thanks in no little part to the teachings of the report’s humble author).

Clearly from the context, and from the numerous references to the Russian perspective, the report was meant by Dugin as a policy tool: if not for the Putin personally (by that time, Dugin’s personal sway with VVP had subsided significantly), at least for the Kremlin’s foreign-policy think-tank RISS, and for Dugin’s his geopolitically overreaching billionaire boss Konstantin Malofeev (you want a Hollywood mnemonic for Malofeev? Think of Otto Düring, from Homeland. And then think of the exact opposite).

If you want to read the whole exercise, I have uploaded a translation here.

I was re-reading this paper over the holidays, while doing some research for a French journalist who is putting finishing touches to a book detailing the Russian (financial) symbiotic support for the French extreme (and, more recently, the not-so-extreme) right.  But what shocked me during this re-read was the following paragraph:

In general, it is possible to predict a further (almost inevitable in the face of economic crisis) growth of the extreme right in Europe, making them an essential factor in European politics in general, and in Russian-European relations in particular.

  The main theses on the extreme right are:

  • The fight against immigration and immigrants
  • Nationalism and xenophobia
  • Criticism of globalism
  • Extreme conservatism, appealing to the political institutions of the past
  • Criticism of political liberal establishment
  • Anti-communism
  • Conspirology, theory of a conspiracy of the world financial elite
  • Sympathy for the historical forms of European fascism.

These points are common to all of the extreme right-wing movements and groups, regardless of whether they declare them openly or not. Those who have such views represent a major social and political mass of supporters of extreme right-wing views.

The reason this paragraph stood out was that it sounded disarmingly honest, and startling familiar  (And not only because, as someone tweeted, it was like a sheet torn out of Steve Bannon’s pocket book). This real-politik, condescending tone made me realize that Dugin – and his handlers, do not actually like back the extreme right wing; they simply understand it, instrumentalize it, and thus are able to direct it.

Shortly after Dugin penned this internal analysis, he – along with Konstantin Malofeev, Putin’s adviser Glazyev, and RISS’s chairman SVR-General Reshetnikov, launched Katehon, a multi-language website & think-tank,  speaking directly to the international extreme right in English, German, French, Spanish, Serbian and Russian.

I leave you with a few randomly selected headlines from the last few months, as tweeted out by Dugin himself. The overlap with the “theses” bullet-points from Dugin’s memo is, doubtless, not coincidental.

My take-away from re-reading this memo is that Dugin – and his handlers – do not believe the tinfoil-hat conspiracies they promote. They do not necessarily believe in the quasi-reactionary ideology that they pretend to espouse.  They just did market research – identified a niche – and are manufacturing and selling the product.  And are very likely privately laughing at the intellectual paucity of their customer.

No, Dugin & co are not Orthodox, Byzantine-ist nuts. They are savvy,  diligent manipulators of the West.

And the West is  utterly unprepared.

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