The Norka group’s Plot against Russia is probably the most detailed extrapolation of the Harvard Project since Klimov, but it is far from the end of the story. To follow it further, we have to make the “species jump” I alluded to a few posts ago, when I mentioned that conspiracy theory moves from text to multimedia at the dawn of the 21st century. What happens when the Harvard Project meets the Internet?
In the blogosphere and on YouTube, the Harvard Project has mutated. If the Harvard Project were a living organism, we would say that it mated with its better-known cousin, the Dulles Plan, and gave birth to the Houston Project (but not before picking up a nasty hereditary bug known as the Golden Billion). The next few posts will address Dulles, Houston, and the Golden Billion, before circling back to Harvard (with a special guest appearance by Igor Shafarevich). But before moving on, I’d like to consider the strange flexibility of the “Harvard Project” brand (a flexibility the becomes even more ironic when you consider the university’s motto: “Veritas,” or “Truth”).
If you do a Google or YouTube search for “Harvard Project” in Russian, there is no shortage of rabbit holes to go down. What becomes clear, however, is that the “Harvard Project” discussed in the videos contains only a few traces of Klimov’s original vision. This is partly because, as current conspiracists often point out, the Harvard Plan was a plot to destroy the Soviet Union. Now that Harvard can comfortably fly a “mission accomplished” banner, it would seem that believers should consider it a matter of simple historical record.
The subsequent iterations of the Harvard and Houston Projects will have a built in confirmation bias: Harvard will be adapted to fit what already happened to the Soviet Union and Russia in the 1990s (or at least, what happened from a quasi-fascist point of view), thereby presenting itself not just as prophecy (Klimov’s version), but as prophecy fulfilled. In turn, this means that the parts of the conspiracy dealing with the future (mostly the Houston Project) will appear credible—after all, they’re presented along with the Harvard Project, and the Harvard Project turned out to be true!
Once it has left Klimov’s hands, the Harvard Project proves to be aptly named: it is an open-ended fantasy of impossible achievement, subject to the same circular logic that reinforces American parents’ desperation to get their children into an Ivy League School. Ideally, the Harvard/Houston conspiracy would come with a familiar disclaimer (“Past performance is no guarantee of future results”), but that would be contrary to the conspiracist worldview.
Next: Rock 'n’ Roll Suicide