Occult Knowledge in Russia

As the birthplace of Communism, Russia is a land of contradictions. In October 1917, Russian society broke from its feudal yoke to embrace the democratic ideals of socialism. But after this short-lived victory, events soon took a deeply undemocratic turn under Joseph Stalin’s authoritarian hand. But Stalin’s toxic legacy lingered well past his death and beyond Communism’s official collapse in 1989. The official end of the Communist state thus only ushered in further attacks on the living standards of ordinary Russians, whose lives imploded because of another more amorphous dictator, that of the so-called free market. Then in 1999, riding a tide of anti-Western nationalism, Vladimir Putin seized control of the state, and in doing so he rehabilitated Stalin as a hero. He also sought to erase memory of Russia’s genuine revolutionary legacy as embodied by the leadership that was provided to the working-class by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky amongst many other Bolshevik leaders. In a strange way Russia has now gone full circle, with a leader who openly states his desire to embrace the conservative values of the days of reaction before the Revolution of 1917.

At the turn of twentieth century, Russia was certainly a world removed from the world’s most powerful industrial nations, like Britain, Germany, and the United States. Russia was a backward feudal state ruled with an iron fist by a brutal out-of-touch monarchy, representing a society whose citizens were largely peasants. Socialists were the first to admit that Russia was one of the last places on Earth that they expected the global socialist revolution to be launched. Nevertheless, because of a lot of hard work and perspiration, both in a physical and intellectual sense, in October 1917 Russia was rocked by a successful revolution that shook the world.

As a result of this democratic transfer of power from the hands of feudal overlords to the working-class majority, a tidal wave of creativity was unleashed within the Soviet Union. Spiritually speaking the revolution was also a harbinger of genuine religious freedom, as workers for the first time in history had the opportunity to discover themselves in the truest sense of the word. Thus, while the Marxist leaders of the Revolution for the most part subscribed to atheist beliefs, they remained adamant that every individual should have the right to choose their own religious doctrine free from State inference (neither affirmation nor discrimination). The ambition of socialist revolutionaries was not to dictate spiritual beliefs to workers, but first and foremost to unite the working-class irrespective of their religious creed. Under Communism, religious groups would thereafter be free to seek the voluntary support and cooperation of all workers without the financial incumbency of the State’s selective largesse — support that historically, has always favored one group over another, and acted to create artificial and often violent divisions within the working-class.

Religious groups that sought to organize amongst the people to violently overthrow the Communist government were understandably not deemed to deserve much democratic tolerance in this fledgling socialist state. This especially applied to the many displaced beneficiaries of Russian feudalism whose White Armies united with foreign imperial powers to wage a long and brutal civil war that helped lay the groundwork for Stalin’s eventual (but never inevitable) assumption of power. Chief among those first spiritual reactionaries that took up arms against the Bolsheviks were the forces known as the Black Hundreds, a group of disparate elites whose foundation can be traced to the turn of the century and to countless crimes against ordinary people. Indeed, patronized by the Tzarist regime, the anti-Semitic paramilitary cadres of the Black Hundreds had already proven their service to church and motherland by responding to the failed Russian Revolution of 1905 with pogroms which took the lives of thousands.[1]

Esoteric Fascism

One influential member of the Black Hundreds who died the year before the 1917 Revolution was Aleksandr Shmakov, who handed on his anti-democratic obsessions to his son, Vladimir, who conjured forth his own noxious blend of occultism and anti-Semitism.[2] In the immediate wake of the Revolution, however, contrary to the anti-democratic machinations of certain occultists, spiritual freedom was opened-up in ways previously unforeseen. Moreover, the upsurge in interest in esoteric doctrines that had flourished in the preceding decades did not simply evaporate into the ether (and why should it). The same can be said for the other cultural norms of the Tzarist era, such as sexism and homophobia; and while the fledgling Soviet State moved mountains to promote the rights of both women and homosexuals, they understood that old habits die hard. Indeed, the remnants of the old backward society could never be immediately vanquished as some might have proposed: instead, the Bolsheviks aimed to remove barriers to oppression and win people over to progressive ideals via the emancipatory gains made through struggle itself. The fact that other more developed countries like Germany, where Marxist ideas already had a firm footing, failed in their historic task to implement their own socialist revolutions only further limited the chances of Communism establishing longstanding democratic roots in Russia. Furthermore, during the bloody civil war that was waged by twenty-one capitalist nations upon the Russian Revolution, esoteric ideas also took on anti-democratic hues under the direct influence of groups that had grown out of the break-up of the Black Hundreds.

The Black Hundreds (which were formally dissolved in 1917) can be seen as having acted as the natural incubator of a rising tide of fascist politics.

“Like the Action Francoise, it was a halfway house between the old-fashioned reactionary movements of the nineteenth century and the right-wing populist (fascist) parties of the twentieth. With their strong ties to monarchy and church they largely belonged to the past, but unlike the earlier conservative groups they were no longer elitist. Having understood the crucial importance of mobilizing the masses, they were the harbingers of political parties of a new type. One of the most influential leaders of the movement wrote years later that in spirit this Russian movement was most similar to national socialism.”[3]

The influential leader referred to here was Nikolai Markov II, who had first been a member of the tsarist Duma before turning his hand to working for the Nazis after Hitler’s rise to power. Throughout the early 1920s Markov had led the pro-monarchical “Union of the Faithful,” while previously he had been a leader of a faction of the far-right known as the “Union of the Russian People.”[4] With the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, the latter group benefited from newfound political freedoms, and in August 1990 this reactionary group was eventually re-established in a meeting at the House of the Soviet Army in Moscow. At this time, one particularly “highbrow spokesman for the extreme right” who publicly supported the refounding of the “Union of Russian People” was Vadim Kozhinov, a disciple of the reactionary anti-Semite Lev Gumilyov. During the 1990s, Kozhinov was then able to successfully leverage his nationalistic credentials to support the rise of a younger breed of neo-fascists, the most famous example being provided by Alexander Dugin.[5] Like many of his far-right predecessors (e.g., Julius Evola) Dugin intimates a direct lineage to the most reviled leaders of the White Armies like, for example, Baron Ungern-Sternberg – a sadistic anti-Semitic Buddhist mystic whose life was documented in James Palmer’s book The Bloody White Baron (Faber and Faber, 2008). Dugin, famously celebrated Ungern’s life on national television (in January 2017), referring to him as an archetypal spiritual warrior of the aristocratic right, with Dugin fondly referring to the bloodthirsty baron as “a wonderful man”.[6]

Policing Dissent

Baron Ungern’s reign of terror was ended in late 1921 when he was executed by the Red Army after even his own soldiers had turned against him. But revelations of Ungern’s supposed occult powers went from strength-to-strength with the American publication of the New Age best-seller Beasts, Men, and Gods(Dutton, 1922). This was a popular book that had been authored by the former Polish intelligence officer, Anton Ferdynand Ossendowski, who had insider knowledge to draw upon as he had been one of Ungern’s spiritual comrades-in-arms during the civil war.[7] In keeping with Ungern’s own deep mysticism, Ossendowski’s well-read writings would go on to popularize hollow earth conspiracy theories that concerned themselves with the whereabouts of the secret subterranean city of Agartha (found beneath Tibet) — an esoteric idea that held by Theosophists and which was further elaborated upon another man of the Right, René Guénon (1886-1951).[8]

“In his seminal work of pessimism, The Crisis of the Modern World (1927), Guénon showed how the West had, since the end of the Middle Ages, succumbed to a spiritual decline. A process of materialization embraced all life; art and culture pursued mere externalities, while thought and science lost themselves in endless analysis, division and multiplicity. Western life was completely absorbed in “becoming,” with its attendant focus on rational means, speed and technical efficiency. The “humanistic” concern with man’s importance and consciousness, his social and political emancipation had displaced all transcendent references in an aberrant cult of individualism. Guénon regarded this decline as the fulfillment of the Hindu Puranic divisions of time.”[9]

Another mystical seeker who was obsessed about discovering Agartha in the early Soviet era was Aleksandr Barchenko (1881–1938), who in 1920 was invited by the neurologist and “Father of Objective Psychology” Vladimir Bekhterev (1857–1927) to join his Reflexological Institute for the Study of the Brain, of which a side project involved researching the material basis to paranormal phenomena.[10] Upon receiving a visit from the Bolshevik secret police in the early 1920s the police turned out to be “rather sympathetic to Barchenko’s [occult] tales about his research in the field of paranormal phenomena and the possibility of applying his discovery to enhance the Soviet Union’s defence capability”. This then led Barchenko into a powerful friendship with the former head of the Petrograd Cheka, Gleb Bokii, who he then mentored in the occult sphere through the activities of his United Workers’ Brotherhood (a mystical group that had been largely inspired by George Gurdjieff). By the 1930s “Barchenko and his work were still a state secret”; and in “1935 he transferred from the laboratory of the Energy Institute to another institution created by Stalin and [Maxim] Gorky, which was just as mysterious—the All-Union Institute for Experimental Medicine.”[11] However, as a result of Stalin’s reforms to the secret police, just a few years later all the members of the United Workers’ Brotherhood had been shot on Stalin’s orders.[12]

For the record Ossendowski’s anti-Bolshevik fantasies still impact on history today, as it was his detailed forgeries of 1917 (obligingly furnished for an American propagandist named Edgard Sissons) that furnished the lie that the revolutionary activism of Lenin and the Bolsheviks had been funded by German elites.[13]Ossendowski’s role in supporting the Provisional Government’s initial fairy tale investigations into the alleged German funding for the Bolshevik’s and in then manufacturing the Sisson documents was however widely exposed in Russia. Moreover, this was not the first-time time that Ossendowski had run successful smear campaigns against his political enemies.[14]

A Nationalist Hoax

Another nationalist myth that owed its popularity to the White émigré community revolves around the literary forgery known as The Book of Veles (Vlesova kniga), which is “arguably the most successful hoax invented in Russia since the publication of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”[15] It is worth bearing in mind that:

“No serious scholar regards the Veles Book as anything other than an obvious forgery that was created in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. Its provenance can be reliably traced only as far as [Yuriy] Miroliubov himself; one scholar has noted that Miroliubov seems not only to have forged the script, but also to have borrowed the plot of the story of how he came across his archaeological treasure from the classic Jack London story Tri serdtsa (Hearts of Three), which was very popular in the Soviet era.”[16]

It appears that the existence of this allegedly historical artefact first became known during the 1950s when the San Francisco-based émigré journal Zhar-Ptitsa (Firebird) published a series of articles authored by “New Thought” mystic Alexander Kurenkov, himself a former veteran of the White Armies who had emigrated to America in 1923.[17] As the story goes, Kurenkov had first obtained knowledge of the mysterious book from another Russian émigré and “eccentric folklorist” named Yuriy Mirolyubov, who came into ownership of the Book of Veles when details of its existence had been bequeathed to him by a White officer who had stumbled across the book during the Russian Civil War. Considering the reactionary roots of this alternative history it is appropriate that mythical efforts by Soviet exiles to “deny the conventional place of Orthodoxy as the key element of ‘Russian soul’” eventually gave birth to a form of neo-paganism that is often couched in nationalism.[18]

“The Book of Vles told the story of pastoral ancestors who travelled extensively across the Eurasian steppes through the centuries, maintained their spiritual heritage, and defended their values in an endless struggle against treacherous enemies. Within this mythology an image of Slavic ancestors merged with the earliest Indo-Europeans, and the latter were called Aryans. The term that had been so discredited by the Nazis was thus restored. Furthermore, as the 1990s began, the myth in question was enriched with a new theme, that of the [mythical] northern (Arctic) homeland, and the racial arguments acquired a seemingly sound [albeit fictitious] footing.”[19]

Thus, the one neo-Nazi author who famously spread the word about the Book of Veles was Valeri Skurlatov – a writer who was keen to “demonstrate that the Russian were the Aryan people par excellence”.[20] Although Skurlatov had never been able to foist his mythical wares upon historians of his day, in subsequent years the ecological novelist Vladimir Chivilikhin took these fascist ideas straight to the public, most notably through the publication of his novel-essay Pamyat (‘Memory’). Word of this novel spread like wildfire during the 1970s and early 1980s with millions of copies flooding Russia’s streets which helped stimulate the evolution of a new reactionary spiritual revival.[21] Seeking solace in a form pre-Christian Slavic spirituality which draws strength from the Book of Veles, the neo-pagan movement that grew out of these developments is collectively referred to as Rodnoverie (ethnic faith).

“However, in contrast with Western New Age movements, in which female participation is dominant, Rodnoverie in Russia is not marked by feminine symbols. Despite the cult of ‘Mother Earth’ and of fertility rituals, the Russian movements are mostly made up of men. Virility and masculine symbols are particularly visible, and some currents exalt warrior values. In addition, the narrative of Rodnoverie is very conservative in terms of its mores: its calls for heterosexuality, fidelity, and procreation. The sexual liberation dimension of the Western New Age is totally absent from it, and even disparaged. “[22]

Other writers suggest that “nationalism is the most pervasive and prominent feature of Rodnoverie politics, despite the fact that the movement encompasses both extreme left-wing [Stalinist] and extreme right-wing groups.” Here the “biggest Rodnoverie group” is Kontseptsiya Obshchestvennoi Bezopasnosti (KOB), which “propagates a far-leftist, anti-Semitic and socially conservative ideology, celebrating Stalin as its main hero.”[23]

Following the increasing popularity of the Book of Veles, during the 1970s urban elites within the “underground ultranationalist opposition” developed a keen interest in an anti-Semitic variety of paganism, with the first pagan book Desionizatsiya (1979) being authored by Valerii Emelyanov who (like Valeri Skurlatov) became a founding member of the notorious Russian nationalist organization, Pamyat.[24] Other pagan authors who rose to fame in the 1990s included Aleksander Asov, who published a popular version of the Book of Veles,and Aleksander Belov, and whose warrior-paganism rejected anti-Semitism for the “ultraconservative elitism” associated with “traditionalists such as Julius Evola or René Guénon”.[25](Notably, Alexander Dugin wrote the preface for a translation of Evola’s Pagan Empire.)

Other radical nationalist narratives that were grounded in the pseudohistory of the Book of Veles include the dangerous (albeit popular) idea that Russian identity can be traced back to a mythic ‘Arctic homeland’ inhabited by Aryans (in Blavatsky’s parlance the Hyperboreans). During the late 1970s, academics like Natalia Guseva joined the nationalist fray as a leading advocate of just such a northern homeland. In the post-Soviet period Guseva “went even further and expressed affinity for the occult ideas” of Madame Blavatsky without mentioning her name. The same cannot be said with regards the prestigious occult output of the late Moscow philosopher Valery Demin (whose specialist area was Russian cosmism) who further consolidated the Arctic myth: “Unlike Guseva, Demin openly recognized Blavatsky’s great contribution to the development of the ‘Hyperborean idea’ and emphasized proudly that a triumph of the latter was associated with the works of such traditionalists as Herman Wirth, René Guénon, and Julius Evola.”[26]

“The suggestion that Hyperborea was a utopia whose descendants degenerated as they moved farther away from their Russian motherland has energized alternative historians, and an army of like-minded occultists and mystics, to locate more precisely this ancient homeland. Due credit for the popularity of Hyperborea should be given to Helena Blavatskala (1831-91), the Russian-born giant of late nineteenth-century mysticism, occultism and a founder of the Theosophical Society. Blavatskala’s account of humankind’s seven ‘root races’ included the Hyperboreans of the Arctic north. This idea of primordial and superior races existing in the distant past has provided inspiration for racial thinking across Europe. Hyperborea’s northern location is especially attractive to Russian nationalists.”[27]

Spiritualism as a Bourgeois Obsession

Unfortunately, these are not problems that remain isolated to the political fringes, as the Aryan myth that has been so assiduously promoted by Valery Demin and others has “carv[ed] its way into the midst of the highest Russian authorities and parliamentarians.”[28] The degree to which such ideas influence Putin’s regime (as currently constituted) remains in question, but whatcannot be in doubt is that both prior to and after the Russian Revolution of 1917 (as in the wake of the Soviet Union’s eventual collapse) people from all walks of life were searching and experimenting with new ideas in a frantic bid to bring order to the world around them.

Yet genuine Marxists (not Stalinists), had always been forthright in their condemnation of the spiritual turns that always seemed to obsess so many bourgeois scientists. These longstanding criticisms were clearly outlined in Friedrich Engels’ important essay “Natural science and the spirit world” which was belatedly published in 1898. Moreover, in the same year this essay was first published, a young revolutionary by the name of Leon Trotsky had just been imprisoned because of his involvement in revolutionary politics. And it was during his confinement that Trotsky was first able to concretely grapple with a materialist conception of history. This led him to author his first major study which concerned itself with a critical history of the elitist prelections of freemasonry (although unfortunately this book remains unpublished because the manuscript was lost). After his release from prison Trotsky would go on to lead the 1905 Revolution as the head of the St Petersburg Soviet and then of course would eventually go on to lead the October Revolution of 1917, and from the 1920s onwards he sat at the head of the socialist opposition to the new Stalinist regime.[29]

Marxists like Engels and Trotsky always had some sympathy for the religious yearnings among the masses and saw such expressions as an understandable response to capitalist alienation, a means by which ordinary people could make sense and protest against the injustice of the world around them. “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering,” Marx memorably explained. “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Conversely the anti-Christian nature of modern spiritualism proved all too alluring for many bourgeois socialists, and it is fitting that new religious sects maintained overlapping relationships with many leading social democrats — whether they be in Britain or Russia.[30]

Ordinary members of the working-class across the world therefore became involved in all manner of religious and psychic explorations, particularly when mass movements to democratize society stumbled in their efforts to dismantle capitalism. But it should be highlighted that those elites who maintained the institutional structures of many of the new occult organizations that swelled at the turn of the century had little interest in democracy, let alone socialism.

Irish poet William Butler Yeats was one such individual who before becoming an influential proponent of fascism had felt drawn to the innate elitism of the Theosophical Society and towards the mysteries of the occult realm more generally. Reflecting upon the connection between Yeats’ fascist politics and his abiding occult interests, George Orwell observed: “It is not clear at first glance why hatred of democracy and a tendency to believe in crystal-gazing should go together.” Yet, as Orwell goes on to explain, “the very concept of occultism carries with it the idea that knowledge must be a secret thing, limited to a small circle of initiates.” This concept of secret knowledge being “the same idea” that is so “integral to Fascism,” he continued. “Those who dread the prospect of universal suffrage, popular education, freedom of thought, emancipation of women, will start off with a predilection towards secret cults.”[31]

A Russian Alternative to Science

The Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RAEN), which was founded in 1990, should be sharply distinguished from the better-known Russian Academy of Sciences,[32] as for many years RAEN has been home to all manner of climate sceptics,[33] transpersonal psychologists, mystics,[34] xenophobes and extreme nationalists. For example, the former chairman of the nationalist Rodina party is a longstanding RAEN member.

Connections to Soviet militarism has also been played out through the work of RAEN’s previously influential section on Geopolitics and Security (which was headed by Rear Admiral Vladimir S. Pirumov, an expert in radio electronic warfare) – a section that “was established for all practical purposes by the Russian General Staff on 22 November 1991, its membership composed of senior Russian officers associated with the General Staff.”[35] It is significant that the Russian General Staff were also “instrumental in establishing another ‘think-tank’, the Institute for Defense Research” (INOBIS) which began to show the influences of Alexander Dugin’s own work on geopolitics “as early as October 1995”.[36]

Another former member of the military elite who remains a RAEN member is Lt. General Alexey Yu. Savin who in 1989 was placed in charge of establishing the “Military Unit 10003” whose state-sanctioned operations were dedicated to exploring paranormal research and whose activities followed much in the vein of the remote viewing projects that were still being undertaken in the United States.[37]

More recently (in 2008) RAEN affiliated academic, professor Sergei Komkov — who at the time was the president of the all-Russian Education Foundation — promoted his belief that the so-called “Dulles Plan” conspiracy was informing the West’s deliberate effort to destroy Russia’s education system as part of the West’s ongoing efforts to undermine Russian morality.[38] The “Dulles Plan” being a deeply paranoid conspiracy that was first spread following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which connected the nefarious plan to the anti-Semitic fiction that was the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[39]

To this day the “Dulles Plan” remains one of Russia’s most widely spread conspiracy theories. But when it comes to individual conspiracists, the most influential pseudo-historian in Russia today is the renowned mathematician and RAEN member, Anatolii Fomenko. This popular conspiracist is famous for his New Chronology publications which “draw inspiration from the Aryanist theories and from the Book of Veles”.[40]

“With his seductive emphasis on Russia’s past greatness and foreign plots which concealed the truth, Fomenko can be looked upon as an ideal type when it comes to the nationalist paradigm of pseudo history. He is not by training a historian; but he does have academic credibility and a capacity to use science, or at least scientific jargon, to push conventional historians out of their comfort zones. He has conjured into existence not just a good story, but also a story that is in tune with the zeitgeist, at least from a Russian nationalist perspective. It is a story about a magical Russian past and a paradise lost. The villains are Western academics and their local accomplices in the Western-oriented Russian elite.”[41]

As if all this were not bad enough the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences’ contributions to the institutionalization of pseudoscientific ideas is more problematic still because they count among their members many legitimate scientists too. This has had the devastating effect of confusing the boundaries between anti-scientific theories and genuine science, and in many ways serves a similar purpose to the bringing together of scientific and religious theories, which of course only serves to degrade the legitimacy of the former.[42]

Considering this confusing heritage it is relevant that RAEN has always maintained an intimate relationship with all things theosophical, which has brought the Academy into direct conflict with the conservative traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, RAEN president, Oleg Kuznetsov, does not shy from such mystical connections as he presently serves on the board of directors of the International Centre of the Roerichs. [43] He also sits alongside longstanding Roerich devotee, Mikhail Gorbachev, on the board of trustees of the Centre’s famous and oft-persecuted Museum,[44] a connection that still remains controversial today as it was under Gorbachev’s own initiative that Russia’s theosophical legacy was revived in 1987.[45]

Here one of the most important ventures undertaken by the International Centre of the Roerichs has been their enduring efforts to meld mysticism and science. As part of these activities, in 2004 they founded the United Scientific Center of Cosmic Thinking. Such work makes the Centre a natural ally of RAEN, and during the 1990s the “most active Russian physicists participating in the Roerich movement are (or were) those investigating so-called ‘torsion fields,’ Anatoliy Akimov (1938-2007) and Genadiy Shipov”.[46] Both Akimov and Shipov conducted their pseudoscientific research at RAEN, and it is not surprising that their torsion field nonsense is used to lend an aura of academic creditability to the bogus theories relating to Zero Point Energy by consciousness talking-heads like Ervin Lazlo.[47]

Democracy in Ruins

What cannot be doubted is that in the post-Soviet period most ordinary Russians have suffered immense deprivation and faced mammoth betrayals from intellectual elites, whether they be fascists or liberals, and sometimes by so-called socialists too. Writing during this tumultuous period of history that oversaw the consolidation of gangster capitalism by first Gorbachev and then by Yeltsin, Boris Kagarlitsky noted that the one thing that the newly empowered liberal intelligentsia feared most of all was the growing signs of left radicalism as workers sought to use their newfound democratic rights to struggle collectively for a better future. He recalled how the “news-stands” were “packed with publications telling us of the evil deeds of the Bolsheviks… and criticism of Trotsky and Trotskyism is reaching a scale not seen since Stalin’s time.” The liberal elites therefore did the far-right’s bidding by propagating a critique of Bolshevism that was “conducted exclusively from the positions of the White movement.” This battle by Russian liberals against a potentially radicalized public was simultaneously carried out in the American press, and Kagarlitsky refers to an article published in the New York Review of Books (August 19, 1990) by Gavriil Popov that was titled “The dangers of democracy.” As Kagarlitsky surmised, this article…

“…explained that the participation of the masses in political life, and democratic liberties in general served to hinder the implementation of the reforms which the country needed. The implications of this were obvious: if the policies of market capitalism were to succeed, democracy had to be done away with.”[48]

Gavriil Popov, who served first as the chair and then the Mayor of Moscow between 1990 and 1992, relied heavily upon US advisors in his attempts to save his city from democracy. Thus shortly after he became the chairman of the Moscow City Council, one integral way that Popov acquired such elite connections was by becoming the president of the Russian division of the World League for Freedom and Democracy (which was previously known as the World Anti-Communist League), which he did after meeting with other members of the League in South Korea.[49]

In October 1991 Popov would then preside over the opening of an organization called Russia House, which acted as ago-between for Russian and U.S. businesses” and had been established by the Washington-based lobbyist for far-right intrigues, Edward Lozansky. Lozansky still remains a committed far-right warrior and as such is presently considered to be one of Putin’s most influential cronies. In addition to running the World Russia Forum, Lozansky is widely considered to be “the key man who introduced the Republican Party’s conservative movement to Russia.”[50] In keeping with these political connections, funding for Russia House was provided by the American businessman Robert Krieble – a powerful ultra-conservative who is associated with the shadowy Council for National Policy.[51] And a key far-right activist from America who was present at the launch of Russia House was Paul Weyrich, who was reported as saying, “When we first went to the Soviet Union we were considered foolish. But democracy is real. The change is real.”[52] Yet Weyrich’s conception of democracy is about as far from the real thing as possible.

This essay is an excerpt from two chapters of The Occult Elite: Anti-Communist Paranoia and Other Ruling-Class Delusions (2022). The footnotes for this essay can be found here.

Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017).