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EPISODE # 258

Jacek Kugler — Putin & Power Transition Theory: China, Russia, and Ukraine

Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of International Relations, Dr. Jacek Kugler, about his Power Transition Theory which states that an even distribution of political, economic, and military capabilities between contending groups of states is likely to increase the probability of war; peace is preserved best when there is an imbalance of national capabilities between disadvantaged and advantaged nations; the aggressor will come from a small group of dissatisfied strong countries; and it is the weaker, rather than the stronger power that is most likely to be the aggressor.

Shermer and Kugler discuss: Power Transition Theory and how it applies to Putin and Russia today; the relationship between a nation’s economic strength and its political power; where China figures into the future of the new world order; what happens if Putin succeeds in Ukraine? What if he fails?; What should the U.S. should have done in response to the annexation of Crimea, intervention in Syria, the destruction of Georgia and Chechnya, the imprisonment and murder of Russian dissidents?; What should NATO do now or in the near future?; and more…

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The following article was published in Skeptic magazine 20.2 (2015). It will strike readers, therefore, as all too prescient. We asked Dr. Robert Zubrin to update it this week, in light of Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Zubrin’s update follows the article.

ABOVE: Photo of Alexander Dugin by Mehdi Blourian, taken at The Eurasian Civilizations Summit in Tehran (Feb 2017). Original photo credit: Fars Media Corporation (CC BY 4.0). (Image altered, converted to greyscale, added Eurasia Party symbol overlay.)

Putin’s Rasputin
Meet Aleksandr Dugin, the Mystical High Priest of Russian Fascism Who Wants to Bring About the End of the World

Men of action cut a large figure in the history books, but it is the ideas placed in their heads by men of thought that actually determine what they do. Thus the scribblings of mad philosophers can lead to the deaths of millions. As the modernday heir to this tradition, Aleksandr Dugin bids fair to break the record.

Most Americans don’t know anything about Aleksandr Dugin. They need to, because Dugin is the mad philosopher who is redesigning the brains of much of the Russian government and public, filling their minds with a new hate-ridden totalitarian ideology whose consequences can be catastrophic in the extreme, not only for Russia, but for the entire human race.

As I write these lines, Russia has invaded Ukraine and Vladimir Putin is threatening further actions that could initiate additional conflict, and possibly even another world war. It has thus become apparent that a new force for evil has emerged in Moscow. It is essential that Americans become aware of the nature of the threat.

Putin is sometimes described as a revanchist, seeking to recreate the Soviet Union by reclaiming territory lost after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR. That is a useful shorthand, but it is not really accurate. Putin and many of his gang may have once been Communists, but they are not that today. Rather, they have embraced a new totalitarian political ideology known as “Eurasianism.”

The roots of Eurasianism go back to czarist émigrés interacting with fascist thinkers in between-the-wars France and Germany. But in recent years, its primary exponent has been the very prominent and prolific political theorist Aleksandr Dugin. Born in 1962, Dugin was admitted to the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1979, but was later expelled because of his involvement with mystic neo-Nazi groups. He then spent the 1980s hanging around monarchist and ultraright- wing circles, before joining Gennady Ziuganov’s Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF, a neo-Stalinist group partially descended from, but not to be confused with, the previously ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU) for a while, after which he became a founder and chief ideologue of the Eurasianist National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in 1994.

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