The philosophers behind Putin




A developing narrative about why Putin invaded Ukraine is that his thinking was influenced by fascist Russian philosophers. But that account is both reductive and lacking in evidence. Alexander Dugin, the man who’s been called the brains behind Putin, has no direct connection to the Kremlin, and his overall influence is hugely exaggerated. Ivan Ilyin, the other philosopher who is said to have influenced Putin’s thinking, is a more plausible candidate but in his case the label ‘fascist’ is a caricature, at odds with a large part of his philosophy. Calling thinkers or political leaders fascist is an easy way to dismiss them out of hand, blocking a deeper understanding of Putin’s real motives and the ideas that have informed his world view, argues Paul Robinson.    As people seek to understand Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, one explanation that has become popular is that the Russian leader is a “fascist.” This idea promotes a binary view of the world as div…

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