I thought this video interview from 2022 between Aleksandr Dugin and Andreas Xirtus on Odyssee was intriguing as hell for probably all the wrong reasons. Here’s I guess the same thing on Youtube which is easier to embed here (the entire Odyssee site is cheesy and sad, but also informative):

I don’t know Xirtus from Adam, but in this video he poses a number of questions about the Tartaria conspiracy theory to Dugin, who I have personally long-suspected as being one of the originators of this supposed “mystery.” He comes off as a bit breathless in his questioning, and seems to be some kind of admirer of Dugin, lapping up whatever is on offer.

Dugin I think deftly sidesteps a number of times the simple confirmations of “yes, dude, they totally had free energy and all that schtuff” that Xirtus seems to be seeking in his line of inquiry, instead shifting again and again the focus to his own brand of neo-Eurasianism. At the same time he offers what I think amounts to a kind of Rosetta Stone for decoding many of the Pro-Russia narratives we see not only circulating as part and parcel of the Tartaria conspiracy theory (which I attempted to spoof and detourne in one of my early AI Lore books). If you’re curious about that sort of thing, I think this video is a must-watch for untangling parts of the giant mess we’re in today.

It’s debatable what the actual level of influence Dugin has with officials in the Russian government (and for what reason and by whom his daughter was killed in a car bomb explosion – possibly meant for him, or both of them together), and how much of it is a convenient confluence of different thinkers obsessed with power reacting to the same socio-political and cultural histories. In Dugin’s case, it turns into this weird justification that Russia is the rightful heir to the historical Tartaria (and by extension also the ahistorical one, I think is the intended subtext), and that it continues its struggle as the land-based glorious empire on behalf of the entire continent against the hegemonistic powers of the sea-based “Atlantis” which is a stand-in symbol for Atlanticism, and American/British/NATO military and commercial might.

If you’ve ever actually looked at the claims and complexity of the narratives around the Tartaria conspiracy stuff, or if you’ve followed broadly the paths of Russian disinformation over the past decade or so, you will readily recognize the stories being told in this video by Dugin. But, like me, you might be surprised to hear them told in such a straightforward open manner, instead of having them buried in the layers upon layers of swill that passes for “content” on much of the web today.

It’s a bit of a shame the coverage that the Tartaria stuff gets in the mainstream press, because I think they’re misunderestimatering the seriousness of things like it as carriers for harder-edged ideologies. The Daily Beast touches on it here, despite calling it “floridly wonky,” also correctly identifies it as “a quasi-fascistic longing for antiquity and rejection of anything modern as degenerate.”

If you watch the video of Dugin above, those sentiments are going to ring out crystal clear. They are not, as the Daily Beast seems to suppose, some weird accident. Some accidental fault of stupid conspiracy people too gullible for their own good. They are, in my opinion, part of an orchestrated campaign which has spawned its own organic imitation and continuation. In other words, it’s a spectrum. And here in this video, we have a rare look at the purer form of the memeplex’s narrative roots.

One interesting point Dugin raises toward the end actually seems to converge with anothe trope from the media lately, that I think Cory Doctorow and Kim Stanley Robinson have been advocating for sci fi writers etc to create more optimistic visions of the future. I forget Dugin’s exact wording, but in this video he suggests that Western sci fi visions of the future always depict dystopias, and always (perhaps we can correct that to often) advocate for a return to Traditionalism. Which of course the re-emergent Imperial Russia is the rightful steward of on behalf of not only Eurasia, but the world. /s

At the same time, it’s difficult to discern whether this video depicts a world-class propagandist going at it in the moment (where he says coyly there are “some things he disagrees with” re: Putin’s actions), or whether it’s just an attention-hungry old nobody getting to play the part of the professor to young gullible-malleable minds is hard to split apart with any kind of clarity. Signs point to “yes.”