- Dugin’s philosophic roots: mysticism, “Traditionalism” and fascism vs. reality of social class.
- Dugin’s international fascist links.
- Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics – towards Eurasianism and Russian imperialism.
- Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory – No left or right anymore.
- The Anti Globalization Movement of Russia brings the left and right together.
- Dugin spells it out in RT interview.
In early March of this year, Russian-based RT television broadcasted an interview with Russian philosopher and political strategist Aleksandr Dugin. In Russia, Dugin is fairly well known and is also connected to the Russian military tops. He presents what could be called the distilled essence of much of popular politics there. This makes him something of an outlier while at the same time giving a clearer view of that those politics actually are.
In America, few may know Dugin’s name, but many are influenced by his thinking. He gives conscious expression not only to the thinking but – even more important – to the very method of approaching issues of both the far right and, ironically, much of the far “left” in the United States and the world. Understanding Dugin enormously helps us understand much of the thought of both the far right and the left.
Dugin’s early years: Mysticism and fascism
Born in 1962, Dugin came of age in a period of crisis and turmoil in the then Soviet Union. As it returned to capitalism, it seemed society was collapsing around the great majority of Russians. Such tumultuous and crisis ridden conditions are not unique in the human history. In fact, we are seeing something similar developing today. Often in such periods people respond by searching for some “eternal truths”.
Guénon & Evola
This means some sort of spiritualism or metaphysics, and an attempt to return to some ancient ways and a mythical past. That is exactly what Dugin did. He started by reading two philosophers: René Guénon and Julius Evola. Guénon was a founder of a school of thought called “Traditionalism”. He believed in the eternal truth of the ancient ways, first delving into Hinduism and then into Islam. He converted to Islam and lived out the latter part of his life in Egypt. The author of Eternal Wars, Benjamin Teitelbaum, explains that Guénon “celebrated timeless values.” He was apolitical, interested in just exploring some great “truths” for all times and places. Teitelbaum also explains that for traditionalists, human history is a cycle that “proceeds through four ages, moving from golden to silver to bronze to dark, and then – after a cataclysmic event – back to golden again.”
All of this is based on mysticism rather than actually investigating the real world around us. Guénon retreated from the real world, and therefore did not draw overt political conclusions. However, all philosophies tend towards political conclusions, and that is certainly true for Traditionalism.
These religious traditions did not develop out of thin air; they developed in class societies – either slave societies (Christianity in ancient Rome) or ancient feudal ones (Hinduism and Islam). The religions reflected the interests of the ruling class of those societies. For Guénon, inherent in the ancient traditions to be worshipped was a strictly hierarchical society, with the caste system of Hinduism as the model.
Julius Evola did draw the practical , which means the political, conclusions from that philosophy. According to Wikipedia he regarded his values as aristocratic, monarchist, masculine, traditionalist, heroic and defiantly reactionary.” Evola, who developed his ideas during the crisis-ridden era of the 1930s and ’40s, was a fascist. His criticism of Hitler and Mussolini was that they didn’t go var enough.
Absence of Class Question
Not only lacking but actually ruled out is the issue of social class, conflicting class interests and class struggle. In short, the working class vs. the capitalist class. Guénon’s Traditionalist philosophy contradicts that understanding of the facts of life in class society, and Evola’s fascism prohibits it in practice. We will see how Dugin’s role further suppresses workers organizing as workers to defend their interests as such.
Making links with European fascists
It was around the writings of Guénon and Evola that Dugin first clarified his thoughts. We see this in one of his earliest political activities – his involvement in the group “Pamyat”, which means “Memory”. According the writer Anton Shekhvovtsov, this was a fascist and anti-Semitic group. In 1989 Dugin ran afoul of them and was expelled. He then spent the early 1990s making links with different fascists in Western Europe. These included “notorious Belgian fascist”Leon Degrelle, the French fascist Jean-François Thiriart, another Belgian fascist named Robert Steuckers, the Evola Foundation in Italy, and others.
“Foundations of Geopolitics”
In 1997, Dugin published his first book, The Foundations of Geopolitics. It was an immediate best seller and it also became influential among Russia’s military leadership. In it, Dugin argued that there was a decadent Western alliance centered around the United States and Britain. This central axis of power must be replaced by one axis centered around Berlin and another, even more important, centered around Russia. Regarding Russia’s role, Dugin advanced the concept of Eurasianism, something that was first proposed in the period before WW II by wings of fascism. But Dugin took this concept further. Roberto de Mattei, history professor at the University of Rome, explains “In Dugin’s Eurasian plan, the Orthodox countries of the northern Balkans, in particular the historically pro-Russian Serbia and Bulgaria, constitute the south of Russia, which is destined to extend to the Caucasian and Turkish-speaking republics, all the way to Mongolia. Europe will have to pass from American strategic control to that of the Kremlin, which will also rely on the support of Iran and China.”
This is part of what Dugin meant when he called for a “multipolar” world. But it is only part. This call is inextricably bound up with Traditionalism, as described above. Traditionalism and “Eurasianism” not only mean a shift in the axes of imperialist power; they mean a war on “liberalism” and a return to “traditional” values. (Note: here, “liberalism” means capitalist democracy.)
Dugin believes in a different form of national self-determination from how we traditionally conceive of it. Again to quote Shekhovtsov, for Dugin nationalism and national self-determination mean a “new world of boundaries where men and women are different from each other, where different cultural groups, ethnicities, and races are separate from one another, where national boundaries reemerge, where federations and empires disintegrate if they really are colonizers, where there are different understandings of truth that are allowed to coexist without commingling and influencing each other. That’s the real goal here.”
That is what Dugin means by the right of nations to self-determination and a multi-polar world. A world in which each ethnic or national group builds a nation based on their ancient (feudal) traditions – grounded in feudal mysticism and bigotry. It is the polar opposite of working class unity and any independent role of the working class.
Dugin’s form of nationalism is really just a rehash of cultural racism, as Oaklandsocialist has discussed. This is partly why far right racists and outright fascists in the United States support Dugin. Such supporters
include Steve Bannon, former KKK leader David Duke, and the racist group American First, all of whom support Dugin and/or Putin. The Proud Boys base themselves on cultural racism, which really is the same as Dugin’s nationalism. This is partly why far right racists and outright fascists in the United States support Dugin. Such supporters include Steve Bannon, former KKK leader David Duke, and the racist group American First, all of whom support Dugin and/or Putin. The Proud Boys base themselves on cultural racism, which really is the same as Dugin’s nationalism.
“Fourth Political Theory” and Anti Globalization Movement of Russia
In 2009, Dugin published a second book called The Fourth Political Theory. According to Dugin, there are three historical political theories: liberalism (meaning liberal democracy), communism/Marxism, and fascism. Dugin proposes a fourth theory – his own – which combines elements of “communism” and fascism. According to Dugin, there is no “left” or “right” anymore. His “fourth political theory” stems from his view of human history. In particular, Dugin rules out any role of the working class as a class. But it is exactly the understanding of the role of class that is fundamental in distinguishing socialism from the right, especially the wing of fascism that toys with anti-capitalist slogans. Without a class point of view, Dugin is correct that there is no left or right anymore.
This was borne out in a 2014 Moscow conference of the Anti Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR). Although the conference was attended by Dugin’s youth group, the Eurasian Youth Movement, it’s uncertain whether Dugin was involved in organizing this conference.
Among the fascists at that conference, either in person or by recognition, were the LaRouche group, Russia’s far right Rodina party, Italy’s neofascist Millenium, and Dugin’s “Eurasian Youth Movement”. From the United States came the far right Texas Nationalist Movement and the openly racist/segregationist League of the South.
They were joined by “leftists” Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report and UNAC; Joe Iosbaker of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and UNAC; Bill Dores of the International Action Center: women’s rights activist, Mo Hannah; Marina Nova of UNAC; and Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of UNAC. Their report makes no mention of the presence of far right nationalists, racists and even fascists at that same conference.
That there is no “left” and “right” anymore, that the two are combined – that is Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory lived out in real life through the AGMR conference. It represented the “left” turning away from a class perspective and international working class solidarity. This further opened the door to the infiltration of far right ideas into the left. The entire process could be called the “Duginization” of the left.
The AGMR conference was held right at the start of Ukraine’s popular revolt known as the Maidan Uprising. This uprising led to an increase in Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, and ultimately was one impetus for his 2022 military invasion. Dugin wholeheartedly supports the invasion and, in fact, he called for such an invasion as early as 2008. The recent RT interview with Dugin revealed how his views are translated into this war:
He first of all said that the war has to be understood as a civilizational conflict between Russian Orthodox Traditionalism vs. Western “global liberalism”.
He then said that Ukrainian nationalism is the same as Nazism. That is because, according to Dugin, Ukraine as a nation is a Western myth used to hide the domination of Nazism in Ukraine. “Ukraine will disappear during this conflict,” Dugin said. “This artificial Nazi creation, as modern Ukraine, sooner or later, will cease to exist, and there will be no Ukraine.”
He also said that peace talks are only possible if Russia is clearly winning the war.
The most interesting comments came when he discussed the broader global implications. “First of all, I think that the majority of humanity is somehow on our on our side…, not openly, not fully, but everybody will have positive positive results if the world [becomes] multipolar. So a Russian victory in Ukraine means immediate multipolarity…” Dugin said. In other words, the strengthening of Russian imperialism at the cost of U.S. imperialism. He also said that a Russian victory would also facilitate the increased strength of Indian imperialism. Possibly Dugin had in mind India’s head of state, Narendra Modi, whose ethno-nationalist views make him a natural ally of Dugin.
Dugin also sees a possible alliance with the reactionary Arab regimes. He said: “the Islamic world, all the Islamic people living in the multipolar world world, could start to defend seriously their religious identity. And that is impossible under a global dominance of the LGBT plus technological technocentric technocratic West. Western hegemony is incompatible with Islam. So Islam, finally, after our victory, will become the real player on the global scale and not regionally divided and manipulated by the West.”
As for Africa and Latin America, he said those regions would benefit, but at the same time he more or less dismisses those continents. “I don’t think they can seriously help us,” he said.
He sees some hope for the United States in the role of Trump. “Donald Trump had nothing against multipolarity and he was radically against globalism and the global liberal agenda of Biden and the Democrats. So, half of United States is already prepared to accept multipolarity; you can clearly and easily imagine the greatness of the United States,” Dugin said.
Dugin closed with a classic Traditionalist appeal for the coming apocalypse: “We Russians, we deeply believe that we have some very special mission to accomplish in history. And now, we are very near to this critical and crucial moment. And maybe because of that, the payments are so high and this so deep and so unbearable. Because we are very near to this final moment of our history when we are (approaching) some huge, spiritual act.” This is a reference to the “cataclysmic event” and a return to a “golden age” that Teitelbaum describes as essential to Traditionalist thought. (Shades of Christian fundamentalists’ “End Times” or “Rapture”!)
Elsewhere, Dugin has implicitly calls for the use of nuclear weapons if Russia is losing the war. In those same comments he says that Ukraine cannot survive. If Russia wins, Ukraine “will disappear” because it will be absorbed by Russia. If Russia loses, Ukraine will disappear in a nuclear holocaust. There are no other alternatives.
As we said at the outset, Dugin is a bit of an outlier. As such, he represents the distilled essence of the thinking and the policies of the Putin regime, although Putin is more cautious in what he says and does. Overall, when keeping that in mind, it is hard to see how Putin can accept anything short of conquering new territory. Even that would only be a temporary respite until he moves to conquer more. It is either that, or the overthrow of Putin himself, and even there we would face the extreme danger of a half dozen local Dugins, each with a nuclear arsenal. And while the capitalist class is highly unlikely to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust, these fanatics are different. The alternative to such chaos and possible catastrophe is an independent movement of the working class itself.
So we return to our original point about Traditionalism, mysticism and fascism vs. fact-based scientific thinking – especially in relation to human society – and a class point of view. Those are the alternatives.
Note: This is the first part of a two-part series on Dugin and his ideas. The second part will explore how his ideas are expressed in U.S. politics by both the left and the right.