Social media has been gripped by Dugin derangement syndrome
Dugin derangement syndrome. What else might we call the reaction to the assassination of Darya Dugina, daughter of nationalist Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, coming from some quarters? The war in Ukraine has created a class of highly influential social media “experts,” whose analysis we might normally simply ignore if their collective reach did not number in the millions. But their latest idea is too odd to overlook. They have accused Alexander Dugin, her father, of having her killed in a ritual, esoteric sacrifice.
Take Kamil Galeev, whose following since the war has skyrocketed to 350,000 in number, including such names as Simon Schama, Bill Kristol and the Moscow bureau chief and Economics Editors of the FT. He posted a thread arguing that Darya’s assassination was an FSB plot designed to pin the blame on Ukraine, providing a pretext for an escalation: “Alexander was probably notified about this decision only after it was taken. But if it was the dad who suggested his daughter as a sacrificial animal, I wouldn’t be much surprised.”
“For context”, as he put it, Galeev retweeted a screenshot, posted by Sergej Sumlenny, showing an article on an old Dugin website that referenced (in Sumlenny’s words) “the ancient mystical tradition to sacrifice children, including a case of a father sacrificing his daughter’s life”. Sumlenny, a “Berlin-based Eastern European expert” with 100k+ Twitter followers, opined that,“Alexandr Dugin looks to be involved in the murder of his own daughter; the murder was partly seen as an esoteric ‘sacrifice’ to supernatural powers.” Joining the chorus was Dave Troy, “investigative journalist” with his own 72k Twitter followers, who wrote: “Dugin… sacrificed his own daughter, as part of an esoteric human sacrifice to advance the war to its next stage.”
In this way an article written about the iconography of the Christian holiday of Candlemas, authored by someone other than Dugin, is offered as evidence that he was involved in the ritual sacrifice of his daughter. This kind of “evidence” and “reasoning” shows you what some “Russia experts” are capable of in moments of collective derangement.
Not everyone was infected by the insanity. More grounded observers like Dr. Ian Garner posted that “There is zero evidence that Aleksandr Dugin killed his daughter as part of a ritual sacrifice. I can’t believe I have to write that.” Indeed. But the existence of these kinds of “experts” and “analysts” and their wild theories is a sobering reminder of how far away from reason the Russia discourse is headed. The challenge, now as ever, is to keep your head while those around you are losing theirs.
Michael Millerman is the author of Inside Putin’s Brain: The Political Philosophy of Alexander Dugin and the founder of the online school MillermanSchool.com