Strange news appears to be coming out of Russia.
While the United States media has been preoccupied with decoding what Donald Trump’s aggressive staff shake-up might mean to the future of his campaign, the Kremlin has quietly been implementing a shake-up of its own. Sergei Ivanov, considered one of the most influential men in Russia up until last week, was removed from Vladimir Putin’s “inner circle” in a surprise move that even long-time Kremlin observers and analysts did not see coming. Ivanov, like Putin himself, was a former member of the KGB and had been an important member of Putin’s strongman rule for years, and his sudden departure sparked startled Russians into a whirl of speculation over the possible reason and whether it meant a major upheaval in the Kremlin.
But before anyone could even begin to predict Putin’s next move, or attempt to comprehend what it might mean for the future of the Russian political landscape, the President of Russia announced that he had already appointed a new chief of staff — Anton Vaino — a relatively fringe figure who has steadily made his way up the ranks since 2008. Little known outside Russia, Vaino is known as a self-effacing technocrat in his country, who has suddenly made himself indispensable to Putin.
But what is about Vaino that has prompted his unexpected surge to the very top?
Anton Vaino has been appointed Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office https://t.co/i9nbIMVeNl— President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) August 12, 2016
BBC reports that Vaino, not unlike many of his contemporaries who hold important positions within the Kremlin, has a master’s degree in economics and has contributed to various scientific publications. But what is particularly distinctive about Vaino is that he claims to have found answers to all human suffering — and consequently — to the world’s major political and economic problems by inventing a device called the “Nooscope,” which, according to reports, can “tap into global consciousness” and understand all human activity.
If that sounds utterly bizarre to you, hold your horses.
In 2012, AK Vaino reportedly published an article in the Russian journal Economics and Law titled “The Capitalization of the Future,” in which he described several levels of power within which the modern world operates. Rejecting traditional methods of organizing and regulating society, Vaino appears to have constructed a mythology of his own through the clever use of intense academic jargon and quasi-mystical language, hoping to lead Russians to believe that he has gained access to a transcendental code which could bring an end to all human suffering. Claiming that he has a “code of the market” at his disposal, Vaino’s article argues that the “Nooscope” can render the invisible visible, thus ushering in a new era of technologically adept humans that can co-exist peacefully with each other.
“The sensory network of the Nooscope, beginning from new-generation bank cards and finishing with ‘smart dust,’ straightforwardly identifies co-Being in time and space.
“The Nooscope is the first device that allows the study of humanity’s collective consciousness.”
Nooscope! The theory of world history laid out by Putin's new chief of staff is so weird. https://t.co/dM1SEtGwz1— Nicholas Thompson (@nxthompson) August 16, 2016
As bizarre as it may sound, the “Nooscope” is not entirely Vaino’s creation. The idea was first developed as a theory in the early 20th-century by Russian thinker Vladimir Vernadsky, who argued that the “Noosphere” — the sphere of human thought — would be the third stage in the Earth’s development when humanity’s collective thought would affect the Earth as a whole, according to ABC News.
You might be surprised to learn that the “Noosphere” has been studied elsewhere, including the United States, where scientists formerly part of Princeton University’s controversial PEAR parapsychology lab, studied it to explore if physical reality can be altered with the mind.
The following chart in Vaino’s article, which has had Russian philosophers and scientists scratching their heads as to the meaning behind it, has been touted by Vladimir Putin’s new man as the one diagram which could make humans understand their relationship to each other, as well as their relationship to the material world and the “spirit” inside.
While the “Nooscope” has bewildered many in Russia, contrasting views about its significance have also continually poured in since Anton Vaino’s appointment as Putin’s chief of staff. Viktor Sarayev, an award-winning economist and businessman who has co-authored a number of articles with Mr Vaino, said that the device’s invention will go down in history as bringing the same amount of transformation that the telescope or the microscope did.
But leading Russian academicians have denounced the “Nooscope,” with some even going to compare Vladimir Putin to Hitler and Himmler.
“The story of the Russian ‘Nooscope’ confirms that there is no difference between Putin, Ivanov, Patrushev and Hitler, Himmler or Kaltenbrunner. These people share the same values, they adore the same homeland or Reich. The difference is the time and space.”
Others said that Anton Vaino is attempting to indulge in “mythological” hypotheses about the future which contrasted with the genuinely progressive ideas explored by the first generation of Russian reforming economists in the early post-Soviet years.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]