By Israel Shamir
[A Review of The Fourth Political Theory, by Alexander Dugin. Arktos, London 2012]
Ideas do not flow easily westwards. It is a norm that Western ideas are being spread in the East, not vice versa. Russia, the heir to Byzantium, is an “East”, among other great “Easts” of Dar ul-Islam, China, India; of them, Russia is the nearest to the West, and still very different. This is probably the main reason why Dugin, this important contemporary Russian thinker makes his belated entrance into Western awareness only now.
Alexander Dugin, a youngish, stylish, slim, neat, hip and bearded don at the Moscow U, is a cult figure at his homeland; people throng to his lectures; his plentiful books cover a vast spectre of subjects from pop culture to metaphysics, from philosophy to theology, from international affairs to domestic politics. He is fluent in many languages, a voracious reader, and he made the Russians aware of many less known Western thinkers. He is ready to wade deepest waters of mystical and heterodox thought with mind-boggling courage. He thrives on controversies; adored and hated, but never boring.
He is a scholar and a practitioner of Mysticism, akin to Mirchea Eliade and Guenon; a church-going adherent of traditionalist Orthodoxy; an ardent student of conspiracy theories from Templers and the Holy Grail to Herman Wirth’s Arctogaia; he is a master of tools sharpened by Jean Baudrillard and Guy Debord; but first and foremost, he is a dedicated fighter for liberation of mankind from the vise of liberal tyranny in American-dominated New World Order, or even from Maya, the post-modernist post-liberal virtuality - by political means.
Like Alain Soral and Alain de Benoist, he considers the Left or Right dichotomy obsolete. What matters is Compliance with or Resistance to the New World Order. Dugin is all for Resistance. For this purpose, he cross-breeds political ideas like one cross-breeds ferocious fighting dogs. Faith, Tradition, Revolution, Nationalism and Communism are the ingredients. If Chavez were a nuke-armed Liberation Theology priest versed in Heidegger, it would be a near thing.
Dugin tried his hand in radical politics together with Eduard Limonov, the national-bolshevik poet, with Jamal Hyder, the Islam reformer; he was an ideologist for the Red-Browns, as an alliance of hardcore Communists and Nationalists in 1990’s Russia was called; now he is chaperoning a small Eurasian movement.
But he is not a politician by nature: like Confucius, he’d prefer to be a wise councillor to the ruler. In that, he succeeded as little as Confucius. He outlined an ideology for Putin; Putin used his words but dismissed his thoughts. Dugin was very critical of Putin for his half-baked measures, but still he supported the President when Moscow Liberals began their Fronde. In his books, he offers a blueprint for a future development of his homeland. Bearing in mind his influence, it is important to learn; and even more so if we remember that the Russians once showed the way for mankind, even if this way was eventually deserted.
Intellectually curious, Dugin has checked every concept, every idea of the East and West, even the banned and forgotten ones, as long as it could serve the Resistance. He used Communist ideas as well as those of radical traditionalists for whom Hitler and Mussolini were not sufficiently radical. He weaves theology, politics and metaphysics into a single meta-narrative. His style is lucid and pleasant.
The Fourth Political Theory as published by Arktos bears the same title as one of Dugin’s recent and more important books, but it is quite a different book altogether; it would be aptly called Dugin Reader, or Essential Dugin. It was specially prepared for a Western English-speaking reader. A good thing, too: as one who writes in Russian and English I witness that a Russian political philosophical text can’t be rendered into English directly for political cultures are too far apart. As is, the book provides a good starting point for discovery of Dugin the political thinker.
The Fourth Political Theory of the book’s title stands against three most prominent paradigms (political theories) of last century, namely Liberalism, Marxism (including Communism and Socialism) and Fascism (including National Socialism). In a century-long struggle, liberalism defeated the other two, and claimed its kingdom is forever (“End of History”). The Fourth Theory (or rather, a paradigm) is proposed to overcome and bury it. Dugin does not present a ready-made Fourth Theory to supplant the three, but rather points out some directions for its creation and practical implementation. This new theory should not explain the world, but change it. It should inspire a Crusade against West-centered liberalism, like the WW2 was a Crusade against Nazism. In other words, it is not so much a theory, rather a fighting doctrine, a call to rebuild our world.
‘The enemy is more important than friend, choose him carefully for this choice will influence your decisions”, said Dugin’s mentor Carl Schmitt. Dugin’s enemy No. 1 is Liberalism, in his view, a form of social Darwinism for the richest to survive and flourish, while the rest suffer and die spiritually and physically.
Liberalism is the greatest Evil of our days by virtue of its unavoidability, its choiceless imposition since 1990s; it is the dead end and Destiny to be defied, according to Dugin. Liberalism and its “freedom of” leads to disintegration of society; it “frees” man of family, of state, of gender, and even of his humanity. Liberalism will eventually lead to supplantation of man by genetically modified cyborgs, says Dugin.
The Fourth Paradigm should incorporate the best features of its three predecessors and reject their faults. Thus, Marxism’s tenet of historical materialism or belief in inevitability of progress, economism or belief in primacy of economics, its anti-spirituality and anti-ethnicity should be rejected, while its critique of capitalism should be retained, as well as the founding myth of return to the Lost Paradise of creative labour.
Dugin is ready to consider good points of Fascism and National Socialism, and for this reason he is sometimes branded “Nazi” by unfair critics, a misnomer, for he is definitely non-racist. In this book he preaches against racism, not only against rude biological racism of the Third Reich, but against racist unipolar civilisation, racist glamour and fashion, cultural racism, even of racist exclusion of political correctness. By expurgating racist component of National Socialism, this political theory is rendered “safe” and its positive aspects may be considered, he says. Such a positive aspect is love of people, of volk, an erotic love of men and women constituting people, ethnocentrism, acceptance of “ethnos in its environment” as a subject of history.
Though the Fourth Theory is brandished as a weapon against liberalism, some positive aspects could be taken even there. Dugin approves of freedom while rejecting individualism. Human freedom - yes, he says, individual freedom - no. He submits the concept of individual rights to scathing critique: liberalism approves of individual rights because they are puny; these are rights of a small man. Human freedom is freedom for a great man, for people, and it should be unlimited, he says.
Dugin thrives to cure faults of Communism and National Socialism, perhaps cross-breed these theories, aiming somewhere between anti-Hitlerites Strasser brothers and Ernst Niekisch on one side, and National Communists on the other side. This meeting ground of yesterday’s Far Left and Far Right should be fertilised by Myth and Tradition, desecularised, and Dasein-centered, at first.
Still, there are features of all three predecessors that are not acceptable for Dugin, and first of all belief in progress and linear development. A flyball governor, a device that prevents a steam engine’s blow up by cutting down fuel supply as it steams up, is the thing mankind needs for its endeavours. Instead of a monotonic process, there should be circular, cyclic process, what others would call a sustainable development.
Dugin intends to cure a deep ontological problem of alienation and denial of Being, in terms of Martin Heidegger, who said that the ancient Greeks confused Being-in-itself (Sein) and the human experience of Being-in-the-world (Dasein), and this small confusion, in fullness of time, caused technical progress and ushered in Nothingness. This is what Dugin wants to overcome by bringing forth Being-in-the-world as the most admirable actor of history. For liberals, the most important is Individual, for Communists it is a social Class, for Nazis it was a Race, for Fascists – a State, and for Dugin and his Fourth Paradigm – Being-in-the-world. Thus the deep night of alienation can be turned into a bright day of Being, says Dugin.
If Communist and National Socialist philosophies were based on Hegel, philosophy of Dugin as well as that of Dugin’s enemies, neocon liberals of Leo Strauss, is based on Heidegger. A contemporary wit described Stalingrad battle thus: “Leftist Hegelians fight Rightist Hegelians”. Perhaps we shall see People’s Heideggerians fighting against Elitist Heideggerians? …
Some of Dugin’s geopolitical thoughts are included in the book. He is an enemy of globalisation, and seeks independent life and development for big regions: Europe, North America, Russia, China etc. He thinks it is important to release Europe from the American yoke. Let America be free to live the way she likes beyond the ocean, but she should desist from interfering overseas and from forcing its way of life upon others.
As for Russia, he sees his homeland as a possible base of resistance to the NWO, together with other countries that defy the US diktat. He does not think today’s Russia is ready for the great challenge, it is evasive and of two minds; still this is the best we have. Its nuclear shield may defend the first saplings of new ideas from the rough justice of the world sheriff.
The Fourth Political Theory is a good beginning in delivering Dugin’s ideas to the Western reader. After all, even Heidegger’s rejection of Western nihilism is also a Western idea.