Aleksadr Dugin: A Russian Version of the European Radical Right?
Aleksadr Dugin: A Russian Version of the European Radical Right?
In studying contemporary Russian Eurasianism—both as a doctrine and as a political movement—one constantly comes across Aleksandr Dugin. One of the main reasons that he is relevant to any such study is the quasi-monopoly he exercises over a certain part of the current Russian ideological spectrum. This spectrum includes a plethora of right-wing groupuscules that produce an enormous number of books and an impressive quantity of low-circulation newspapers, but are not readily distinguishable from each other and display little theoretical consistency or sophistication. Dugin is the only major theoretician among this Russian radical right. He is simultaneously on the fringe and at the center of the Russian nationalist phenomenon. He provides theoretical inspiration to many currents and disseminates precepts that can be recycled at different levels. Above all he is striving to cover every niche on the current ideological marketplace. He proceeds from the assumption that Russian society and Russia’s political establishment are in search of a new ideology: he therefore owes it to himself to exercise his influence over all the ideological options and their possible formulations.
Beyond the doctrinal qualities that make him stand out among the spectrum of Russian nationalism, Dugin is noteworthy for his frenzied and prolific output of publications beginning in the early 1990s. He has published over a dozen books, either original texts or thematically rearranged articles initially printed in various journals or newspapers. He has also edited several journals: Elementy (9 issues between 1992 and 1998), Milyi Angel (4 issues between 1991 and 1999), Evraziiskoe vtorzhenie (published as an irregular supplement to the weekly Zavtra, with six special issues in 2000), and Evraziiskoe obozrenie (11 issues from 2001 to 2004).1 In 1997, he wrote and presented a weekly one-hour radio broadcast, Finis Mundi, which was prohibited after he commented favorably on the early 20th-century terrorist Boris Savinkov.2
Dugin also regularly publishes articles in numerous dailies and appears on several television programs. In 1998, he took part in the creation of the “New University,” a small institution that provides Traditionalist and occultist teachings to a select few, where he lectures alongside noted literary figures such as Yevgeny Golovin and Iurii Mamleev. Since 2005, he has been appearing on the new Orthodox TV channel Spas created by Ivan Demidov, where he anchors a weekly broadcast on geopolitics called Landmarks [Vekhi].3 He also regularly takes part in round table discussions on Russian television and occupies a major place in the Russian nationalist Web.4
Several intellectual tendencies manifest themselves in his thought: a political theory inspired by Traditionalism,5 Orthodox religious philosophy,6 Aryanist and occultist theories,7 and geopolitical and Eurasianist conceptions.8
One might expect this ideological diversity to reflect a lengthy evolution in Dugin’s intellectual life. Quite to the contrary, however, all these topics did not emerge in succession but have co-existed in Dugin’s writings since the beginning of the 1990s. While Eurasianism and geopolitics are Dugin’s most classic and bestknown “business cards” for public opinion and the political authorities, his philosophical, religious and political doctrines are much more complex and deserve careful consideration. The diversity of his work is little known, and his ideas are therefore often characterized in a rash and incomplete way. We therefore ought to look for his intellectual lineage and try to understand his striving to combine diverse ideological sources. Dugin is one of the few thinkers to consider that the doctrinal stock of Russian nationalism has depreciated and must be revitalized with the help of Western input. Dugin is thus “anchoring” Russian nationalism in more global theories and acting as a mediator of Western thought. It is this aspect of Dugin that will be the focus of this paper.
DUGIN’S SOCIAL TRAJECTORY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
It is particularly important to understand Aleksandr Dugin’s complex place within Neo-eurasianism, since, to a certain extent, his pos tion is representative of certain more general phenomena and thus helps trace the evolution of Russian nationalist ideas over the past twenty years or so. Between 1985 and 1990, Dugin was clearly in favor of a “r ight-wing” NeoEurasianism, and close to conservative or even monarchist circles. In 1988, he joined the ultranationalist and anti-Semitic organization Pamiat’, but did not feel intellectually at home there, since his ideas for a doctrinal renewal of the right were out of place in this fundamentally conservative organization. He therefore left Pamiat’ the following year, condemning its nostalgic monarchism and vulgar anti-Semitism. In 1990–1, he founded several institutions of his own: the Arctogaia Association, as well as a publishing house of the same name, and the Center for Meta-Strategic Studies. During this period, Dugin drew closer to Gennadii Ziuganov’s Communist Party, and became one of the most prolific contributors to the prominent patriotic newspaper Den’ (later renamed Zavtra), which was at that time at the height of its influence. His articles published in this newspaper contributed to the dissemination of Eurasianist theories in Russian nationalist circles. At first he was supported by the nationalist thinker Aleksandr Prokhanov, who thought that only Eurasianism could unify the patriots, who were still divided into “Whites” and “Reds,” but Prokhanov quickly turned away and condemned Eurasianism for being too Turko-centric.
From 1993–4, Dugin moved away from the Communist spectrum and became the ideologist for the new National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Born of a convergence between the old Soviet counter-culture and patriotic groups, the NBP successfully established its ideology among the young. Dugin’s Arctogaia then served as a think tank for the political activities of the NBP’s leader, Eduard Limonov. The two men shared a desire to develop close ties with the counter-cultural sphere, in particular with nationalisticallyminded rock and punk musicians, such as Yegor Letov, Sergei Troitskii, Roman Neumoev or Sergei Kurekhin.9 In 1995, Dugin even ran in the Duma elections under the banner of the NBP in a suburban constituency near Saint-Petersburg, but received less than 1 percent of the vote.10
However, this electoral failure did not harm him, as he was simultaneously busy writing numerous philosophical and esoteric works to develop what he considered to be the Neo-Eurasianist “orthodoxy.” Limonov would thereafter describe Dugin as “the ‘Cyril and Methodius’ of fascism, since he brought Faith and knowledge about it to our country from the West.”11
Dugin left the National Bolshevik Party in 1998 following numerous disagreements with Limonov, seeking instead to enter more influen tial structures. He hoped to become a “counsel to the prince” and presented himself as a oneman think tank for the authorities. He succeeded in establishing himself as an advisor to the Duma’s spokesman, the Communist Gennady Seleznev, and, in 1999, he became chairman of the geopolitical section of the Duma’s Advisory Council on National Security, dominated by the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, led by Vladimir Zhirinovskii. At the time, Dugin appeared to exert a certain influence on Zhirinovskii, as well as on Aleksandr Rutskoi of the Social Democratic Party and Gennady Ziuganov of the Communist Party12. The latter, for example, borrowed from Dugin the idea that Russian nationalism does not conflict with the expression of minority national sentiments. Indeed, Ziuganov presented the CPRF as the main defender of Tatar nationalism and Kalmyk Buddhism. His book Russia after the Year 2000: A Geopolitical Vision for a New State was directly inspired by Dugin’s ideas on the distinctiveness of Russian geopolitical “science” and his idea that Russia’s renewal provides the only guarantee of world stability. Dugin also regularly publishes on Russian official web sites, such as www.strana.ru, where he expresses his ideas on the opposition between the re-emerging Eurasian empire and the Atlanticist model.
Dugin’s entry into parliamentary structures was largely made possible by the publication (in 1997) of the first version of his most influential
work, The Foundations of Geopolitics: Russia’s Geopolitical Future.13 It is considered to be a major study of geopolitics, and is often presented as the founding work of the contemporary Russian school of geopolitics. By 2000, the work had already been re-issued four times, and had become a major political pamphlet, enjoying a large readership in academic and political circles. Indeed, Dugin has always hoped to influence promising young intellectuals as well as important political and military circles. He has stated that his Center for Geopolitical Expertise could quickly become an “analytical instrument helping to develop the national idea”14 for the executive and legislative powers.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, he has been especially keen on getting in touch with acting military officers: coming from a military family, he regularly asserts that only the army and the secret services have a real sense of patriotism. Thus, in 1992, the first issue of Elementy carried texts by three generals who were then heads of department at the Academy of the General Staff.15 In addition, The Foundations of Geopolitics seems to have been written with the support of General Igor’ Rodionov, who was minister of defense in 1996–7.16 Thanks to this book, Dugin has been invited to teach at the Academy of the General Staff as well as at the Institute for Strategic Research in Moscow. He offered them a certain vision of international politics colored by an “isolationism that only serves to disguise a project of expansion and conquest.”17 Following this best-seller, Dugin considerably expanded his presence in the main Russian media; to some, he became a respectable personality of public life. The success of his geopolitics book, now used as a textbook by numerous institutions of higher education, as well as his lectures at the Academy of the General Staff and at the so-called New University, satisfies his desire to reach the political and intellectual elites.
Thus the years 1998–2000 saw the transformation of Dugin’s political leanings into a specific current that employs multiple strategies of entryism, targeting both youth counter-culture and parliamentary structures. Dugin moved away from opposition parties such as the CPRF and the LDPR and closer to centrist groups, lending his support to the then prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov. In 2000, he briefly participated in the Rossiia movement led by the Communist Gennady Seleznev and wrote its manifesto, before leaving due to disagreements with its leadership. Putin’s election as president in March 2000 caused an even stronger shift in Dugin’s political attitudes, as he began to move closer to country’s new strong man.
On 21 April 2001 he resolved to put his cards on the table and created a movement named Evraziia, of which he was elected president. Dur ing its founding convention, Evraziia—often described as a brainchild of presidential counsel Gleb Pavlovsky, who is close to Dugin—officially rallied to Putin and proposed to participate in the next elections as part of a governmental coalition. The movement’s goal, according to Dugin’s declarations, is to formulate the “national idea” that Russia needs: “our goal is not to achieve power, nor to fight for power, but to fight for influence on it. Those are different things.”18 On 30 May 2002, Evraziia was transformed into a political party that Dugin defines as “radically centrist,” an ambiguous formulation that springs from his Traditionalist attitude. Dugin accepts the combination of “patriotism and liberalism” which he says Vladimir Putin is proposing, on the condition that the liberal element remains subservient to state interests and to the imperatives of national security. As he affirms, “our patriotism is not only emotional but also scientific, based on geopolitics and its methods,”19 a classic claim of Neo-Eurasianists. According to its own data, the new party has 59 regional branches and more than 10,000 members. Its creation was publicly welcomed by Aleksandr Voloshin, then the head of the presidential administration, and Aleksandr Kosopkin, chief of the administration’s Internal Affairs Department.
Dugin also enlisted the support of another influential figure close to the president, Mikhail Leont’ev, the presenter of Odnako (broadcast by Pervyi kanal, the first channel of Russian state TV), who joined the party’s Central Committee. Strengthened by his success after these public displays of recognition, Dugin hoped to acquire influence within a promising new electoral formation, the Rodina bloc, and use it as a platform for a candidacy in the parliamentary elections in December 2003. This alliance, however, was tactically short-lived, and questionable in its ideological import. Thus, Dugin never concealed his disdain for the monarchist nostalgia and the politicized orthodoxy embodied by Rodina leaders such as Dmitrii Rogozin and Natalia Narochnitskaia. Indeed, it seems that Sergei Glaz’ev20 was the one who was responsible for the rapprochement with Dugin. Although Glaz’ev cannot be considered a Neo-Eurasianist, he did participate in the founding convention of Evraziia in 2002. The two men share an interest in economic policies leaning toward socialism, and Dugin acknowledged his sympathy for Glaz’ev’s economic ideas (which he calls “healthy”) even after the latter left Rodina in March 2004.
Dugin and Glaz’ev met as early as February 2003 in order to constitute a party they defined as “left-patriotic.” In July, Evraziia declared itself ready to support the creation of this electoral bloc. However, internal arguments over personalities ensued: the bloc needed to choose three leaders who would be sure to become deputies if it passed, and would benefit most from the campaign’s publicity. Dugin hoped to be chosen, but was hampered by his political marginality linked to his reputation as an extravagant theoretician whose ideas are too complex to inform an electoral strategy.21 At the end of September, the disappointed Dugin left the Rodina bloc, explaining at a press-conference that Rodina’s nationalism was too radical for him—a statement that must draw a smile from those familiar with his work. This nationalist setting had not disturbed him until then. Nor did he move closer to Rodina when certain overly virulent nationalists such as V. I. Davidenko, leader of the small Spas party, were expelled from Rodina’s list of candidates under pressure from the Kremlin.
Dugin’s accusations against Rodina fall into two categories. He condemns the bloc for being too close to the CPRF and its oligarchy, and criticizes its “irresponsible populism.” He also takes to task those he calls “right-wing chauvinists”: Sergei Baburin and the Spas movement.22 By contrast, Dugin insists on the conciliatory and multinational mission of his Evraziia party, which “represents not only the interests of the Russians, but also those of the small peoples and the traditional confessions.”23 Dugin has also accused some Rodina members of racism and antiSemitism, stressing that the party includes former members of Russian National Unity24 as well as Andrei Savel’ev, who translated Mein Kampf into Russian. The first set of criticisms is justified by
Dugin’s own convictions: he has never hidden his disdain for the present Communist Party, does not appreciate the emotional attitude of the Orthodox in matters of international politics, rejects all Tsarist nostalgia, has always denounced the racialism of Barkashov’s theories, and condemns electoral populism. The second set of criticisms seems more opportunistic: a close reading of Dugin’s works clearly reveals his fascination with the National Socialist experience and his ambiguous anti-Semitism. Today, Dugin is attempting to play down these aspects of his thought in order to present himself as a “politically correct” thinker waiting to be recognized by the Putin regime.
In return, instances of Dugin borrowing ideologically from Rodina seem rather rare. His Traditionalist, National Bolshevik and esoteric ideas, which constitute an important part of his thinking, are not appreciated by Rodina and have not exercised any influence on the bloc’s conceptions. Indeed, Rodina is more conservative than revolutionary, and cannot take up Dugin’s provocative suggestions, which often aim to break the social order. The str ictly NeoEurasianist aspect of Dugin’s ideas—his bestknown “trademark” in Russian society today— is in tune with some of Rodina’s geopolitical conceptions, but this concurrence is actually founded on the anti-Westernism that is common to both, not on a shared vision of Russia as a Eurasian power. For this reason, despite their attempted alliance, Rodina may not be said to have adopted elements of Neo-Eurasianist thought in the str ict sense of the ter m. Nevertheless, these difficult relations did not stop Dugin from being delighted with the results of the December 2003 elections, which carried four nationalist parties (the presidential party United Russia, the CPRF, the LDPR, and Rodina) into the Duma. Dugin has connections with every one of them, and some members of each of these parties openly acknowledge having been inspired by his theories.
After this personal failure in Rodina, Dugin reoriented his strategies away from the electoral sphere, and toward the expert community. Hence the transformation of his party into an “International Eurasian Movement” (IEM), formalized on 20 November 2003. The new movement includes members from some twenty countries, and its main support seems to come from Kazakhstan and Turkey. Whereas the original organization founded in 2001 comprised mainly figures from civil society,25 the Supreme Council of the new Eurasian Movement includes representatives of the government and parliament: Mikhail Margelov, head of the Committee for International Relations of the Federation Council (the Parliament’s Upper House), Albert Chernyshev, Russia’s ambassador to India, Viktor Kalyuzhny, vice-minister of foreign affairs, Aleksey Zhafyarov, chief of the Department of Political Parties and Social Organizations in the justice ministry, etc. The IEM even officially asked Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbaev to head the movement’s Supreme Council. Dugin congratulates himself on having moved beyond a mere political party to an international organization. He now cultivates his image in neighboring countries, heavily publicizing his trips to Turkey, but also to Kazakhstan and Belarus. Dugin has become a zealous supporter of the Eurasian Economic Union and is pleased to think that he has influenced Aleksandr Lukashenko’s and Nursultan Nazarbaev’s decisions in favor of a tighter integration of their countries with Russia. His web site also presents the different Eurasianist groups in Western countries. Italy is particularly well represented, with numerous translations of Dugin’s texts, several Eurasianist-inspired web sites, and a journal, Eurasia. Rivista di studi geopolitici. France is represented by the “ParisBerlin-Moscow” association, while Britain has long had a Eurasianist movement of its own. Austrian, Finnish, Serbian, and Bulgarian associations, and of course organizations in other post-Soviet republics, especially in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, are presented as “fraternal parties”.
Having enthusiastically welcomed Vladimir Putin as a “Eurasian man,”26 Dugin now, since early 2005, appears to be deeply disappointed by the president. According to him, Putin hesitates to adopt a definitively Eurasianist stance, and his entourage is dominated by Atlanticist and overly liberal figures. In current affairs, Dugin is trying to play on the wave of anti-Westernism that swept part of the Russian political scene after the revolutions in Georgia in 2003, in Ukraine in 2004, and in Kyrgyzstan in 2005. He thus set up a Eurasianist Youth Union, led by Pavel Zarifullin, which became highly visible in September 2005 with the heavily publicized creation of an “anti-orange front.” Dugin is thus pursuing, with relative success, his objective of building up a global cultural hegemony: he is trying to gain a foothold in alter-globalization movements (which promote alternatives to American-led globalization) and to participate in international ideological regroupings. This right, which Dugin modernizes and profoundly renews in his theories, seems therefore to succeed in its strategy of entering into left-wing structures that are badly informed and looking for any and all allies in their struggle against American domination.
Thus Dugin’s regular but always temporary presence in the political field cannot, it seems, be considered a new phase of his life that would build on an already completed body of doctrine. Although Dugin currently seems to be concentrating on his involvement in the Eurasianist movement and publications on the topic of Eurasianism, one should not forget that a similar combination had been in place from 1994 to 1998, when his membership in the NationalBolshevik Party went hand in hand with publications on the concept of National Bolshevism. Dugin thus seems to adjust his strategy in accordance with the available opportunities to influence public opinion. Moreover, he continues even today to disseminate the Traditionalist ideas that have been his mainstay since the beginning, displaying a high degree of doctrinal consistency. What has evolved is his public status, marked by his desire no longer to be considered an original and marginal intellectual, but rather to be recognized as a respectable political personality close to the ruling circles.
A RUSSIAN VERSION OF ANTI-GLOBALISM: DUGIN’S GEOPOLITICAL THEORIES
All the Neo-Eurasianist currents that emerged in the 1990s share an imperial conception of Russia, but they are all based on different presuppositions. Aleksandr Dugin occupies a particular position inside this group, and is sometimes criticized virulently by the other NeoEurasianists. Indeed, Dugin “distorts” the idea of Eurasia by combining it with elements borrowed from other intellectual traditions, such as theories of conservative revolution, the German geopolitics of the 1920s and 1930s, René Guénon’s Traditionalism and the Western New Right. Nevertheless, Dugin has enjoyed the greatest public success of all Neo-Eurasianists, and most directly influences certain political circles looking for a new geopolitics for post-Soviet Russia.
Dugin thus largely outweighs small intellectual groups that pursue their own Neo-Eurasianist reflections without having any direct access to a larger public. He can be considered today as the principal theoretician of Neo-Eurasianism, even though he shared this role with Aleksandr Panarin in the 1990s. At first, the two men had been rather opposed to each other, and Panarin had refused to be assimilated into the same ideological current. He described Dugin’s geopolitics as pagan for viewing man as dependent on nature and led by a blind and determinist destiny, and conceiving the state as an isolated and selfish organism, not providing any guarantee of global stability, and relying only on strength. At the time, Panarin considered this view to be the strict opposite of the “civilizational” awareness that Neo-Eurasianism should be. The two thinkers did, however, end up sharing some points of view, as a consequence of Panarin’s intellectual evolution rather than to Dugin’s. Thus, Panarin gradually came to corroborate Dugin’s public supremacy in matters NeoEurasian, attending the foundation of the Evraziia movement in 2001 and becoming a member of the party’s Central Council in 2002.27
According to Dugin, Panarin had even agreed, before his illness, to write a foreword to one of Dugin’s latest books, Political Philosophy.28 The philosopher’s sudden death, however, eliminated this ally-cum-competitor from the public stage.
Dugin’s attraction to the early Eurasianism developed by 1920s and 1930s Russian émigrés is not a belated addition to his doctrines. At the end of the 1980s, while he was still close to certain monarchist groups, Dugin had already become the apostle of a Eurasianist conception of Russia, and had contributed to its spread among the patriotic circles linked to Den’. Today, he continues to be a dominant influence among those trying to rehabilitate the founding fathers of Eurasianism: he has edited compilations of the principal texts of the movement’s main theoreticians—Pyotr N. Savitsky, Nikolay S. Trubetskoi, Nikolay N. Alekseev etc.—at Agraf, then through Arctogaia publications.29 In his introductions to these compilations, he systematically tries to link the inter-war Eurasianist teachings as closely as possible with his contem-
porary definition of Neo-Eurasianism. He does not, however, appropriate the highly elaborate theories of the founding fathers concerning the historical, geographical or religious legitimacy of the Russian Empire. He is content with trying to establish a geopolitics for post-Soviet Russia, helping the country to become aware of its particular eschatological sensibility: “the current transformations in Russia’s geopolitical space and all of Eurasia are difficult to understand unless interpreted as a sign of the times, announcing the proximity of the climax.”30
Dugin even criticizes the founding fathers for having been overly philosophical and poetic: according to him, Eurasianism had the right intuitions (for example, the idea of a “third continent” and the importance of the Mongol period in the formation of Russian identity), but was unsuccessful in formalizing them theoretically. “In Eurasianism we are confronted with a double indeterminacy: the indeterminacy characteristic of Russian thought itself, and an attempt to systematize this indetermination into a new indeterminate conception.”31 His attitude toward the other Neo-Eurasianists is even more negative: apart from the historian and ethnologist Lev Gumilev (1912–1992), many of whose ethnicist conceptions he shares, Dugin considers his ideological competitors worthless, and affirms that their Neo-Eurasianist conceptions are “hardly consistent [and] represent only an adaptation to a changing political reality of the whole complex of ideas already quoted.”32
Dugin’s Eurasianism involves a great interest in geopolitics, the main discipline on which he bases his theories. For him, geopolitics by definition serves the state in which it is elaborated. Thus, Russian geopolitics could only be Eurasianist, since it is responsible for restoring Russia’s great power status. It is also intended exclusively for the elites: according to Dugin, geopolitics is opposed to the democratic principle because the ability to know the meaning of things is unavoidably restricted to the leaders. It is to this end that Dugin refers to the big names of the discipline, such as the Germans Friedrich Ratzel (1844–1904), Karl Haushofer (1869–1946), and Friedrich Naumann (1860–1919), the Swede Rudolf Kjellen (1864–1922), and the Briton Sir Halford Mackinder (1861–1947). Indeed, there is little that is Russian in Dugin’s intellectual baggage. Apart from Konstantin Leontyev (1831–91),33 whom Dugin sometimes mentions, he is far more inspired by Western authors than by Russians. For example, he speaks with admiration of the German organicists, such as Ernst Jünger (1895–1998), Oswald Spengler (1880–1936), Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (1876–1925), or Ernst Niekisch (1889–1967) and Carl Schmitt (1888–1985). He borrows from Schmitt his conception of the nomos, the general form of organization of the objective and subjective factors of a given territory, and the theory of Großraum, “large spaces.”
Dugin attaches great value to this German heritage, and wishes to be viewed as a continental geopolitician on a par with Schmitt and Haushofer: Russia’s centrality and continentality, to him, are comparable to those of Germany in the 1920s–30s. He thus develops his own bipolar interpretation of the world, opposing the ‘Heartland’, which tends toward authoritarian regimes, to the ‘World Island’, the incarnation of the democratic and commercial system. He combines the classic Eurasianist theories with this bipolar division of the world into sea-based and land-based societies, or thallassocracies and tellurocracies, and links them to various classic couples of concepts from “Russian thought” (Western Christianity/Orthodoxy, West/East, democracy/ideocracy, individualism/collectivism, societies marked by change/societies marked by continuity). The opposition between capitalism and socialism is seen as just one particular historical clash destined to continue in other forms. “The Earth and the Sea disseminate their original opposition to the whole planet. Human history is nothing but the expression of this struggle and the path of its absolutization.”34
Dugin then divides the world into four civilizational zones: the American zone, the AfroEuropean zone, the Asian-Pacific zone, and the Eurasian zone. Russia must strive to establish various geopolitical alliances organized as concentric circles. In Europe, Russia must of course ally itself with Germany, to which Dugin pays particular attention. Presented as the heart of Europe, Ger many should dominate all of Central Europe as well as Italy, in accordance with the theories of ‘centrality’ developed by the Nazi geopoliticians as well as 19th century Prussian militarism. In Asia, Russia should ally itself with Japan, appreciated for its Pan-Asian ideology and the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis dur-
ing the Second World War. Within the Muslim world, Dugin chooses Islamic Iran, admired for its moral rigorism. He presents Iran as one of the few real forces of opposition against American globalization, and invites it to unify the entire Arab world, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan, under its leadership. Dugin characterizes this quadruple alliance Russia-GermanyJapan-Iran which would react against the thalassocracies (the United States, Britain in Europe, China in Asia, Turkey in the Muslim world) as a “confederation of large spaces,”35 since each ally is itself an empire that dominates the corresponding civilizational area. Unlike the Eurasianists of the 1920s, Dugin does not talk of an irreducible and romantic opposition between East and West; in Dugin’s theories, both Asia and Europe are destined to come under Russian-Eurasian domination.
As the maritime and democratic enemy allegedly has a “fifth column” in Russia, Dugin calls for a restoration of the Soviet Union and a reorganization of the Russian Federation. He is the only Neo-Eurasianist to include in his political project not only the Baltic States, but the whole former socialist bloc.36 His Eurasia must even expand beyond Soviet space, as he proposes to incorporate Manchuria, Xingjian, Tibet, and Mongolia, as well as the Orthodox world of the Balkans: Eurasia would only reach its limits with “geopolitical expansion to the shores of the Indian ocean,”37 an idea that was taken up and popularized by Zhirinovskii. Dugin also proposes a general repartition of the Federation, and especially of Siberia, which he considers to have been on the verge of implosion for quite some time. He calls for the abolition of the “national republics,” to be replaced by purely administrative regions subservient to Moscow. In The Foundations of Geopolitics, he acknowledges his hopes for the breakup of Yakutia, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Buryatia, condemned for their separatism and their capacity to form Buddhist or Pan-Turkic anti-Russian axes with the neighboring regions. He wishes to unify them with industrialized regions that have a Russian majority, such as the Urals or the Pacific shore [Primorskii krai].38
As in the Eurasianism of the 1920s–30s, the non-Russian peoples, and particularly the TurkoMuslim minorities, are treated ambiguously. They are appreciated as key elements confirming the distinctiveness of Russia’s Eurasian identity, but are also presented as potential competitors or even enemies if they decided no longer to go along with a Russian-dominated multinational Eurasia. The international events of the past few years, especially 9/11, as well as the second war in Chechnya and the ensuing terrorist acts that covered Russia with blood, forced Dugin to finetune his conception of Islam, and to be more cautious in his positive appreciation of a certain type of Islamic radicalism. Thus, at a symposium called “Islamic Threat or Threat against Islam?” organized by Evraziia on 28 June 2001, the party officials disavowed fundamentalism, presented as a danger to traditional Islam, and asserted a wish to create a Eurasian Committee for Russian-Muslim Strategic Partnership. According to Evraziia, traditional Islam, Sufism, Shi’ism, and Orthodox Christianity are spontaneously Eurasian, whereas Catholicism and Protestantism, but also U.S.sponsored radical Islamism, represent Atlanticism. Dugin thus tries to distinguish between Shi’ite fundamentalism, which he considers positive, from Sunni fundamentalism, which he disparages.
Dugin’s wish to dissociate a “good” traditional Islam from the other branches of the religion, which he all equates with Wahhabism, is shared by numerous contemporarz Russian nationalist movements, which aim to woo official Russian Islam. This kind of talk permitted Dugin to recruit the leaders of the Central Spiritual Directorate of Russian Muslims into his Evraziia movement. Dugin tries to preclude any competition with Turkic Eurasianism on the question of the country’s religious and national minorities. He has managed brilliantly to present his movement not only as a tool for upholding Russian power, but also as a pragmatic solution to Russia’s internal tensions. Thus, from its creation in 2001, Evraziia includes representatives of sensitive regions such as Yakutia-Sakha, the North Caucasus, and Tatarstan, and was pleased to bring together all of Russia’s confessions: many muftis from the Central Spir itual Directorate of Muslims, including their leader, Talgat Tadzhuddin, but also Buddhists (DordzhiLama, the co-ordinator of the Union of Kalmyk Buddhists) and members of the Radical Zionist Movement, adhered to the party and stated their desire to fight the rise of religious extremism using the integration strategy implicit in the Eurasian idea.
However, Dugin does not limit himself to bringing Eurasianism’s geopolitical view of Russia up to date. He seeks to anchor it in a global vision and to present it as a relevant mode of analysis that would help understand the entire evolution of the post-Cold War world. Once again, Dugin is playing the “guide,” using the innumerable Western texts he is familiar with to adapt classic ideas from the history of Russian thought to contemporary debates. Thus, for several years now he has centered his argument about the Eurasian nature of Russia entirely on the topic of globalization. According to him, globalization presents as obvious truth what is actually ideology: representative democracy as the end of the history of human development, the primacy of the individual over any community, the impossibility of escaping the logic of the liberal economy, etc.39 He argues that only the Eurasianist solution offers a viable alternative with a strong theoretical potential that could face up to the current globalization processes instituted by the United States. “Russia is the incarnation of the quest for an historical alternative to Atlanticism. Therein lies her global mission.”40
Like all Neo-Eurasianists, Dugin is a supporter of Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” argument, which is fashionable in Russia. Huntington’s warmongering allows Dugin to affirm the necessity of maintaining the Russian imperial structure and to reject any prospect of a global equilibrium. According to him, the Russian nation needs to be prepared for “defending its national truth, not only against its enemies, but also against its allies.”41 Indeed, Dugin’s geopolitical doctrine cannot function without creating enemies. He bases his ideology on conspiracy theories, presenting the new world order as a “spider web” in which globalized actors hide in order to better accomplish their mission. Dugin even dedicated a whole book (published in 1993 and republished in a revised version in 2005) to what he calls conspirology. The ideas expressed in it are contradictory. He harshly criticizes the presuppositions about Jewish, freemason, Marxist etc. conspiracies held by numerous leftand right-wing political groups, but he also shares some of their ideas.42 For example, he recounts a secret history of the Soviet Union in which a Eurasianist order opposes its Atlanticist counterpart. The putsch of August 1991 is described as the culmination of the occult war between these two orders. According to Dugin, however, the alternatives to globalization remain limited: either left-wing ideologies worked out in the West, or a right-wing liberalism and the stagnation typical of Asian countries. Dugin also notes that these two alternatives are opposed to each other even though they share a common enemy. He therefore proposes that Russia elaborate a fertile combination, because “all anti-globalization tendencies are ‘Eurasianist’ by definition.”43
Dugin does not play the autarchy card at any cost: he is convinced that the Eurasian model of resistance to American domination is exportable to the rest of the planet. He presents it as the most appropriate way of resisting the so-called New World Order. One of the aims of his thinking is therefore, as he describes it, “to transform Russian distinctiveness into a universal model of culture, into a vision of the world that is alternative to Atlanticist globalization but also global in its own way.”44
Thus Russia is called upon to participate in world affairs while constructing a certain Eurasian cultural autarchy. Much more than, for example, Pyotr Savitsky and Count Trubetskoi, Dugin seems to have completely internalized the contradiction between, on the one hand, an exaltation of national distinctiveness and a passionate rejection of any borrowing that would risk “warping” Russia and, on the other hand, a desire for geopolitical and ideological expansionism and a new messianism. Far from being just a “successor” to the first Eurasianists, he is a theoretician who has multiple or even contradictory facets: many other doctrines have influenced his intellectual evolution at least as much as, if not more than, Eurasianism.
TRADITIONALISM AS THE FOUNDATION OF DUGIN’S THOUGHT
Traditionalism is a comparatively little studied strand of thought, although many 20th century thinkers have been more or less discreetly inspired by it.45 In the 1920s, René Guénon (1886–1951) formalized the main concepts of Traditionalism in five books.46 He went through a Catholic phase, followed by a spiritualist stage (first in a theosophist lodge, then in the Martinist Order), during which he discovered the oriental religions and became disappointed with the West, which he thought incapable of restoring a mystical bond with faith. He left France for Cairo, where he joined an Egyptian order and tried to put his Traditionalist precepts into practice in Sufism. During the 1930s, his ideas were developed in Italy, Germany and Romania, and Traditionalism became one of the main catchwords for fascist-minded spiritualist groups. The work of Guénon’s main disciple, Julius Evola (1896–1974), an Italian painter close to the Dadaists, should be mentioned here. One of his books, Revolt against the Modern World (1934), had a deep influence on German and Italian Neo-pagan movements. Traditionalism gained a new impetus in the 1960s, in particular in the Muslim world and, to a lesser extent, in Russia.
Traditionalists believe in the Tradition, that is, in the existence of a world that was steady in its religious, philosophical, and social principles and started disappearing with the advent of modernity in the sixteenth century. Modernity is considered to be harmful in that it destrois the pre-established hierarchical order that is natural to the world: the hierarchization of human beings is believed to be of transcendent origin and to have a mystical value. The Tradition is better preserved in non-Western civilizations, but through the colonial exper ience, the reassessment of the past begun in the West during Renaissance spread to other cultural spaces. Guénon gives this view—which, in its political aspects, is a typical example of counterrevolutionary thought (de Maistre, Bonald)—a religious coloring that makes Traditionalism stand out among conservative currents. For him, all religions and esoteric traditions—regardless of their concrete practice—reveal the existence of a now-extinct original sacred Tradition. Dubbed the “primordial Tradition,” it is seen as the secret essence of all religions. Guénon then urges the modern world to regain an awareness of this unity in the face of the desacralization and secularization of the modern world. Through this appeal, he has influenced numerous Gnostic and Masonic currents, as well as several Sufi orders.
Some Traditionalist texts seem to have been known in the USSR since the 1960s thanks to the poet Yevgeny Golovin and his discovery of Louis Pauwel’s The Morning of the Magicians. From the end of the 1970s, Dugin participated in Golovin’s circle of occultist intellectuals, which included, among others, the Muslim thinker Geydar Dzhemal’ and the writer Yuri Mamleev (who would later leave the country for the United States). The intellectual unity of this circle was based on a simultaneous rejection of the Soviet experience, the West, and Slavophilism. These clandestine activities, as well as the possession of forbidden books, caused Dugin to be expelled from the Moscow Aviation Institute where he had been studying. Introduced to Traditionalism at a very young age, Dugin translated the 1933 version of Evola’s Pagan Imperialism into Russian in 1981 and distributed it in samizdat. Choosing among the various currents of Traditionalism, Dugin did not content himself with the search for an individual inner spiritual way—such as that, for example, of A. K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1947), which concentrates on the aesthetic aspect of Traditionalism. Dugin is closer to Evola, who developed a politicized vision of Traditionalism, and does not hesitate to affirm a sacrificial conception of politics: “We need a new party. A party of death. A party of the total vertical. God’s party, the Russian analogue to the Hezbollah, that would act according to wholly different rules and contemplate completely different pictures. For the System, death is truly the end. For a normal person, it is only a beginning.”47
The influence of Traditionalism on Dugin seems to be fundamental: it constitutes his main intellectual reference point and the basis of his political attitudes as well as his Eurasianism. Dugin has made considerable efforts to disseminate Traditionalist thought in Russia. He regularly translates extracts from the works of the great Traditionalist theoreticians, René Guénon and Julius Evola, but also from so-called “soft” Traditionalist authors such as Mircea Eliade and Carl Jung; so-called “hard” Traditionalists like Titus Burckhardt; converts to Sufism, such as Frithjof Schuon; and converts to Islamism, like Claudio Mutti. The journals Elementy, and, especially, Milyi angel, whose full subtitle is “Metaphysics, angelology, cosmic cycles, eschatology, and tradition,” are dedicated to the diffusion of Traditionalist thought. They include articles on specifically Russian apocalyptic traditions, aiming to facilitate the acceptance of Traditionalism in Russia by proving that elements of it were present in old popular conceptions (the mystical currents of Orthodoxy, the myth about the submerged city of Kitezh, hesychasm, and the teachings of Gregory of Palama).
Dugin also lectured on Traditionalism at the New University in 2002, and published his lectures in The Philosophy of Traditionalism in the same year. He believes that the contemporary period, being profoundly eschatological, allows him to disseminate the Traditionalist message much more broadly than before, and to reveal the radical and revolutionary character of Guénon by teaching what Dugin calls Guénon’s “eschatological humanism.”48 “Tradition, according to Guénon’s definition, is the totality of divinely revealed, non-human Knowledge, which determined the makeup of all sacred civilizations—from the paradisiacal empires of the Golden Age, which disappeared several millennia ago, to Medieval civilization which, in its various forms (Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Confucian, etc.) reproduced the fundamental parameters of Sacred Order.”49
According to Dugin, the mission of soteriological Traditionalism has three stages: the first, or individual stage, is to contribute to the development of the Tradition as such, i.e. of esotericism; the second, political and exoteric stage, is to reaffirm the superiority of the laws of the church (or, for example, of the Shari’a); the third, or social stage, is to assist in the restoration of a hierarchy of medieval orders. Dugin is never, however, a simple ideological “reproducer.” He hopes to “Russify” the doctrines that inspire him, and to adapt them to what he calls the traditional concepts of the Russian world. Thus, he defines himself as a “postGuénonist,”50 seeking to deepen Guénon’s basic ideas, which implies acknowledging certain points of disagreement with the founding father. His main cr iticism of the Western Traditionalists, and in particular of Guénon, concerns their vision of Orthodoxy. In The Metaphysics of the Gospel (1996), Dugin asserts that Guénon, who held that Chr istianity became exoteric after the great Councils, was actually targeting the two Western confessions, but not Orthodoxy, which has retained its initiatic character and esoteric foundations to this day.51 He also affirms that metaphysics and ontology, which Traditionalism attempts to rehabilitate, have been particularly well preserved in Orthodoxy, which has never rejected an eschatological approach: “We are the church of the final times […], the history of the terrestrial church is probably nearing its end.”52
Concerning the divisions between Neopagans and Christians that shook the Western Traditionalist movement, Dugin remains in an ambiguous position that is revelatory of his own hesitations on this matter. He appreciates the rehabilitation of paganism as Tradition proposed by Evola. Like Evola, he believes that Christianity has remained the most pagan monotheism (through the figure of the Trinity), and admires the importance of entropy and eschatology in the pagan religions. He remains, however, deeply anchored in Christianity and, like Guénon, sees it (but only in its Eastern variety) as the repository of Tradition. Dugin affirms that “the developmental stages of the metaphysical constructions in orthodox Guénonian (and Evolian) Traditionalism [lead] to the ultimate affirmation of Orthodox Trinitarian metaphysics, in which all the most valuable vectors of insight found their complete and accomplished expression […] Everyone who follows this metaphysical logic […] necessarily arrives at Orthodoxy.”53
Dugin remains, however, attracted to Neopagan conceptions, which exalt the body and harmony with nature, although he remains embedded in Orthodoxy as the founding institution of Russian distinctiveness. His position on this question is therefore revolutionary in its break with Christianity, and fundamentally conservative in its respect for the religious institution and its hierarchy. Dugin links an esoteric account of the world to Orthodoxy, which he sees as having preserved an initiatic character, a ritualism where each gesture has a symbolic meaning. He thus calls for the restoration of an Orthodox vision of the world, for a “clericalization [otserkovlenie] of everything.”54 This opposition, however, which had divided the German National Socialists and later the New Right, may seem less relevant for Russia: Orthodoxy, unlike Catholicism or Protestantism, is more easily instrumentalized as a specifically national rather than universal faith. This is indeed how Dugin interprets it: he regularly participates in the various nationalist movements launched by official Russian Orthodoxy.55 His adherence, since 1999, to the Old Believers allows him to uphold a strictly national faith without having to make the difficult choice of converting to paganism and reject official Orthodoxy.56
Dugin tries to present the Russian schism of the 17th century as the archetype of Traditionalist thought, born of the rejection of the secularization of Orthodoxy, which he dates at around the same time as that given by Guénon for the end of Tradition in the West (after the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648). So “Eurasianism will only be entirely logical if it is based on a return to the Old Belief, the true ancient and authentic Russian faith, the true Orthodoxy.”57 According to Dugin, the schismatic church is simultaneously conservative and revolutionary, espousing a cult of the earth (like paganism), free of an institutionalized conception of faith, and driven by a fundamentally apocalyptic vision of the fate of humanity. This view is ideologically convenient since it permits Dugin to avoid making a choice between a national paganism and a universal faith. Thus, Orthodoxy, and in particular the Old Believers, can incorporate Neo-paganism’s nationalist force, which anchors it in the Russian soil and separates it from the two other Christian confessions.
Dugin fully agrees with the Traditionalist criticism of spiritualism. Guénon already considered spiritualism to be a “counter-initiation,” a reconstruction of pseudo-traditions actually born of modernity, which must be condemned for wanting to usurp the real Tradition. For Dugin too, theosophism, cosmism and the New Age religions are a spiritualist version of post-industrial modernity and a veiled cult of technology.58 He condemns their populism and lack of coherent spiritual conceptions, whereas he sees Traditionalism as intended for a restricted elite, which is alone able to understand its requirements.59
Dugin views religion as being at the foundation of societies as well as modes of analyzing societies. This implies a reinterpretation of modern Western intellectual life, and especially of its scientific attitudes. Following the Traditionalist precept that rationality is a mental construct, and progress a notion that bears no relation to reality, Dugin argues that the positivist foundation of contemporary science must be questioned in its very principle.60 Since the Renaissance, the separation between sacred and profane, like that between art and science, has opened the way to a distorted vision of the human ability to understand the universe. Dugin therefore calls for a rehabilitation of esoteric knowledge as part of scientific research, and appreciates Romantic Naturphilosophie because of its intention to recreate a holistic knowledge of the world. Likewise, he believes in the imminent end of positivist science, and in the rebirth of synthetic sciences that would be full of meaning and reveal man’s place in the world.
Dugin formulates this idea by trying to theorize so-called “sacred sciences.” According to him, their sacredness expresses itself not in a specific methodology, but rather in the functions and goals attributed to the discipline. Like the modern sciences, thus, these “sacred sciences” have a specific object of research, but they do not lose their ties with ontological and gnoseological knowledge.61 One of the fields capable of fusing objective data and philosophical background is geopolitics. Dugin systematically presents it not as a simple scientific discipline, but as a Weltanschauung, a meta-science which encompasses all the other sciences, thereby endowing them with meaning. According to him, “geopolitics is a vision of the world. It is therefore better to compare it not to sciences, but to systems of sciences. It is on the same level as marxism, liberalism, etc., i.e. systems of interpretation of society and history.”62
Dugin does not limit himself to a spiritual or intellectual understanding of Traditionalism. He asserts that it is in itself an “an ideology or metaideology that is in many ways totalitarian and requires that those that adopt it accept its stringent requirements.”63 Among these requirements, political commitment seems fundamental to Dugin. According to him, Traditionalism is the metaphysical root of numerous political ideologies, in particular those known as the theories of the Third Way. He thus outlines three types of doctrines that are simultaneously philosophical, religious and political, and between them govern the entire history of the world. The first, which he calls the polar-paradisiacal one, expressed itself on the religious level as esotericism or Gnosticism, on the historical level as the medieval civilization of the Ghibellines, then German National Socialism, and on the political level as eschatological totalitarianism. The second ideology, called the “creation-creator” one, is religiously exoteric, its historical incarnation is Catholicism or classical Sunnism. On the political level it blends theocracy, clericalism and conservatism. The third ideology, defined as “mystical materialism,” is a form of absolutist pantheism embodied in the militant atheism of the liberal West.64 Dugin thus formalizes two “rights,” a revolutionary and a conservative one (the third ideology represents the “left”), and displays a distinct preference for the former of the visions of the world.
Dugin also proposes another Traditionalist terminology with which to define the political spectrum, which he sees as always being divided into three groups. The right is “History as Decadence, the necessity of instantaneous Restoration, the primacy of eschatology.” The center is “History as Constancy, the necessity to preserve the balance between the Spiritual and the Material.” The left is “History as Progress, the necessity to contribute to its advancement and acceleration in every possible way.”65 In this second account, conservatism seems to be classified as being in the center, thereby reserving the right exclusively for the revolutionary movement of which Dugin considers himself a representative. This reveals the ambiguous political place he attributes to Traditionalism: “from the point of view of Integral Traditionalism, the only adequate position for implementing the principles of the Sacred Tradition to contemporary political reality is, in a normal case, that of the which is often called ‘extreme right’ […]. But social history advances in a sense which is strictly opposed to this ideal, from theocracy to secularism, from monarchism to egalitarianism, and from spiritual and empire-building discipline to an apology of comfort and individual well-being. […] This is why the ‘extreme right’ on the political level often proves to be too “left” for the authentic Traditionalist […] Some Traditionalists may pass from ‘extreme right’ positions to the ‘extreme left,’ revolutionary or even socialist or communist wing, while remaining fully consistent and logical in their actions.”66 This idea of the interchangeability of left and right is reminiscent of certain ideas of the Western New Right.
THE RUSSIAN EXPONENT OF THE NEW RIGHT?
Dugin has often been compared to Alain de Benoist (b. 1943), the principal theoretician of the French movement called “New Right.” This school of thought emerged in the second half of the 1970s, going back to the GRECE (Groupe d’Études et de Recherche sur la Civilisation Européenne) and the magazine Nouvelle École.67
The two men met during Dugin’s stay in Paris at the end of the 1980s, and they remained close collaborators for a few years. In 1992, for example, the patriotic newspaper Den’ published the transcript of a round table discussion with Dugin, Aleksandr Prokhanov, Sergei Baburin and Alain de Benoist.68 When Dugin launched his own journal the same year, he called it Elementy and presented it as the Russian version of Éléments, the magazine of the European New Right. This publication made the split between Dugin and the more classical nationalists of Den’ (future Zavtra) official, but did not prevent disagreements with de Benoist. Thus, in 1993, de Benoist strove to clear himself of associations with Dugin after a virulent French and German press campaign against the “red-and-brown threat” in Russia. In an interview, he acknowledged that he had become aware of a number of ideological divergences with Dugin, concerning politics—e.g. on the concept of Eurasia and Russian imperialistic tendencies69—but also theory. Indeed, de Benoist makes only partial use of Traditionalism, whereas Dugin draws on the whole body of that doctrine. Conversely, de Benoist is strongly attracted to Heidegger’s philosophy, while Dugin does not find it congenial.
Nevertheless, the careers of both men have many features in common. For example, it is impossible to classify either using pre-defined ideological patterns, or to pin down their political sympathies precisely in the classical rightleft spectrum. Both reject populism and, in spite a few fruitless attempts, neither of them has been able to find a political party capable of reflecting their complex thought. Since the early 1990s, de Benoist has never hidden his contempt for Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front,70 while Dugin condemns the famous figures of Russian nationalism, such as Eduard Limonov, Gennady Ziuganov, or Vladimir Zhirinovskii, despite having more or less directly inspired them. Like the French thinker, he subjects the entire right-wing spectrum in his country to fierce criticism, denies the relevance of the distinction between right and left, and cannot accept the electoral populism of those groups, in particular their most xenophobic statements. In the diversity of his sources of inspiration and in his striving to to find an alternative way of thinking, Dugin seems as alienated from traditional Russian nationalism as de Benoist is from the classic French nationalism of Charles Maurras or Maurice Barrès.
Both Dugin and de Benoist have therefore regularly had to explain their stance, and have been considered as “traitors” by other factions of the radical right. Dugin, for example, provided a lengthy explanation of his dismissal of ethnonationalism. According to him, the Russian nationalist milieu is divided into two groups: on the one hand are the Pan-Slavists and monarchists, who have an ethnocentric and politically outdated vision of Russia; on the other hand are the Eurasianists, Communists and pro-statists, who give priority to great state power over ethnic feeling, and who are above all focused on the future.71 Indeed, like de Benoist, Dugin attempts to “dissociate the question of identity affirmation from the question of nationalism”:72 he extols non-xenophobic nationalism, criticizes PanSlavist sentimentalism such as it manifested itself in Russia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and rejects the popular anti-Caucasian phobia instrumentalized by politicians such as Ziuganov, or, even more strongly, Zhirinovskii.
Dugin thus calls for a rational, dispassionate nationalism, one that would acknowledge its borrowings from alternative projects such as religious fundamentalism, Third Worldism or left-wing environmentalism. Since the 1980s, Dugin and de Benoist have been the main proponents, in their respective countries, of a doctrinal revitalization of right-wing thought. Both also presuppose that the conquest of political power requires first gaining cultural power. For more than a decade, de Benoist’s aim has been to disseminate his doctrines in French intellectual circles, in particular through the journal Krisis, which offers a space for critical discussion between the foremost right-wing and left-wing thinkers. This preference for culture also explains Dugin’s choice of public strategy over the past few years.
In spite of their break, Dugin continues to make regular references to de Benoist, and shares his hope for a continental destiny for Europe, built along overtly anti-Atlanticist lines. He borrows many conceptions from the Jeune Europe movement, as well as from the Belgian Jean Thiriart (1922–92), who had striven for a Euro-Soviet empire to be brought about by a movement he called “national communitarian”. What is common to all these trends is a striving for what they call organic democracy, which would place the state at the service of the national community. This kind of democracy would express itself in political unanimity as well as in a return to a “natural hierarchy” of social castes, and in a (professional, regional or confessional) corporatism that would leave no room for the individual outside the collectivity. Thus, Dugin distinguishes himself from other figures in the Russian nationalist movements precisely through his militant Europeanism, his exaltation of the Western Middle Ages, and his admiration for Germany. All these ideological features contrast strongly with the ethnocentrism of his competitors and a Soviet tradition of equating Germany with “fascism”. This is why Dugin has often been criticized, in particular by the Communists, for whom the Russian “anti-fascist” tradition rules out the recognition of any German, and more generally Western, cultural influence on Russian nationalism.
Even more than de Benoist, Dugin has an ambiguous position on the racial question. GRECE has largely abandoned the theme of “biological realism,” which was very present in Jeune Europe and other radical nationalist factions, and has preferred to insist on a cultural and non-racial differentialism since the 1960s. De Benoist was the main driving force behind this evolution, and, since the end of the 1960s, he has condemned all racial ideas, which he presents as an application of the Judeo-Christian presuppositions he criticizes. Nevertheless, racial arguments remain important in other Western radical right-wing circles. On this point, Dugin does not go as far as de Benoist: he remains more influenced by racialist currents as well as by those Traditionalists who, like Evola and unlike Guénon, were also sensitive to racial topics. Thus, Dugin condemns racialism in its Nazi version for having led to the Holocaust, but also for having crystallized around a German-centered vision of the world instead of a European one. Dugin supports Evola’s criticism of the racial and anti-Semitic determinism of Third Reich Germany, but shares his vision of race as the “soul” of peoples.78
He systematically constructs an opposition between race and geopolitics, between nationalism and loyalty to the state, and systematically takes a stand in favor of the latter. Nevertheless, he regularly uses the term “race” to clarify what he calls “civilizational” differences. For instance, Eurasia to him is a racial synthesis between Whites (the Indo-European Slavs) and Yellows (the Finno-Turkic peoples): according to the Evolian principle of “spiritual racism,” each of these races is endowed with innate qualities revelatory of certain philosophical principles79 which Dugin, borrowing from the Slavophile A.S. Khomiakov80 (1804–60), calls the Finnish and the Frisian principles: the former, that of the “Whites,” is associated with authoritarianism, hierarchy, order, exotericism; to the latter, that of the “Yellows,” correspond equality, liberty, and esotericism. The hybrid nature of Eurasia, which is simultaneously white and yellow, gives it a global role to play: Russia will start its Nordic renewal, and “wherever there is a single drop of Aryan (Slavic, Turkic, Caucasian, European) blood, there is a chance for racial awakening, for the rebirth of the primordial Aryan conscience.”81
Dugin’s texts abound in references to Aryanism and Neo-paganism, a classic corollary of the racial ideology and of the idea of the original superiority of the Whites. Here again, his inspiration comes from the New Right, which since the 1950s has tried to transcend traditional nationalism by refocusing on the European idea, and from the doctrines of Europe-Action. These proponents of the idea of an ethnic and cultural unity of European peoples no longer wish to express their identity in an insular or chauvinist manner, remembering the obstacles that divided the European nationalists during the Second World War. Thus Dugin accepts the theory of a “defense of the West,” if this term is understood in its ancient racial and Aryan sense, not in terms of contemporary Western culture. In his works, he regularly refers to Guido von List (1848–1919) and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels (1874–1954), the famous thinkers of Germanic Aryanism, and presents himself as one of the founders of Ariosophy, or the science of Aryan wisdom.
There are even more frequent references to Hermann Wirth (1885–1981), one of Dugin’s favorite authors, and to his occultist theories on the Arctic homeland of the original Aryan peoples. “Thousands of years ago, our land welcomed the descendants of the Arctic, the founders of the Hindu and Iranian civilizations. We (especially as Orthodox Christians) are the most direct heirs of the Arctic, of its ancient traditions.”82 Guénon would have affirmed that the Hyperborean civilization was not in Scandinavia but more to the East, a theory that Dugin has discussed at length, in particular in The Mysteries of Eurasia (1991). In this book, he presents Siberia and its enormous Nordic continental mass as the original cradle of the Aryans, as well as the magical center of the world, following the idea that “the continents have a symbolic significance.”83 In The Hyperborean Theory (1993) and The Philosophy of Traditionalism (2002), he also professes his belief in a runic writing, a kind of Aryan Grail written in a universal proto-language, supposedly discovered and published by Hermann Wirth in 1933 under the name of Chronicle of Ura-Linda.84
Dugin’s occultist leanings are also apparent in his striving to create a metaphysics of the cardinal points, which he perceives as absolutes that are sources of identity. The North and the East are at the heart of his esoteric concerns: the North confirms Russia’s Nordic identity, a fundamental element of the discourse of racial identity inspired by Nazism. The East is the expression of Russia-Eurasia’s inner Oriental nature. “The Drang nach Osten und Norden of Russia is the natural geopolitical process of Russian history.”85 Russia’s global role then appears distinctly, since only Russia combines the symbolic distinctions of being racially Northern, Eastern by its cultural and religious choices, and economically Southern, an ally of a Third World resisting Westernization. In a blend of the Nazi and Eurasianist traditions, Dugin sees Siberia as destined to play a major role in the new Russian identity. He thus elaborates a cosmogony of the world in order to make Siberia, the last “empire of paradise”86 after Thule, the instrument of his geopolitical desire for a domination of the world, justified by Russia’s “cosmic destiny.”87
Dugin advances various occultist lines of reasoning in favor of this Hyperborean theory, drawing on the mystique of the alphabets, sounds, numbers, and geometric symbols, references to the Kabbala, alchemy, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, the law of astrological correspondences, parallels with Iranian and Indian culture, etc. Dugin defines this set of theories as sacred geography, that is to say, “the unknown science of the secrets of world history, of the enigmas of ancient civilization and continents, and of the origin of races, religions and old mythologies.”88 All these elements of occultist culture are not specific to the New Right, they have their roots in the esoteric ideas of the founding fathers of Traditionalism, and have been explored by mystical currents of the 1920s and 1930s close to fascism.
FASCISM, CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION AND NATIONAL BOLSHEVISM
The connections between Dugin’s ideas and fascism have been a subject of much debate.89
However, the terms of the debate stand in need of definition. Fascism is a historically circumscribed phenomenon that was politically and intellectually liquidated with the end of the Second World War, though it left some traces with small Neo-Fascist groups which reappeared, above all in Europe and in Latin America, in the second half of the 20th century. Fascism can also be chronologically and ideologically divided into Fascist movements and Fascist regimes (in Italy and Germany). Only the first interest us here. To classify a thought as “Fascist” does not, then, mean to predict that it will take power and endanger human lives, nor to categorize it in a discriminatory manner that would deny it the right to be analyzed. This terminology merely points to an adherence to a specific intellectual tradition. Intellectual fascism shares with the other currents of the “extreme right” a Romantic heroism (a cult of the leader, the army, and physical effort, and the indoctrination of the young), but distinguishes itself from them by its revolutionary and pro-socialist aspects, as well as by its attraction to futurism and esotericism. Dugin’s ideas share many features of this original fascism, as he is expecting a cultural revolution aiming to create a “New Man”. It cannot, however, be equated with fascism if that is understood to designate the contemporary racist extreme right, a designation that is moreover historically and conceptually incorrect.
On economics, Dugin unapologetically stands “on the left,” even if this Western (or even “all-too-French”) terminology is not necessarily applicable to the Russian political spectrum. For example, Dugin repeatedly asserts that he has borrowed from certain socialist theories, in particular on economics, since he is in favor of giving the state a crucial role in production structures. Economics was not at all addressed in his first works, but it seems to have taken on an increasing importance since 2001. Dugin even hopes to establish the “theoretical sources of a new socialism,”90 based largely on a paternalistic version of Keynesian economics. He has also appropriated some Marxian ideas: for him, the opposition between labor and capital, Continentalism and Atlanticism, and East and West, are parallel.91 These left-wing conceptions played a role in Dugin’s rapprochement with the socialist-leaning economist Sergei Glaz’ev and their brief alliance in 2003 within the Rodina bloc, which presented itself as a left-wing alternative to the Communist Party.
Dugin never plays the communist card. He has only negative things to say about MarxismLeninism such as it existed in the USSR, and has, for several years, been a condescending critic of the Communist Party. He appreciates Ziuganov’s borrowings from his geopolitical theories, but condemns his electoral exploitation of Soviet nostalgia, and most of all regrets his ideological inconsistency. According to Dugin, the CPRF no longer has a claim to the heritage of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and cannot even present itself as a left-wing party, since it advances a series of arguments that Dugin classifies as right-wing, such as social conservatism, racism and anti-Semitism, monarchism, calls for tax cuts, etc. Dugin therefore believes that the Communist Party can be defined as an unacknowledged Eurasianist movement, whose function is to express social discontent, but not to take power.92
This combination of economic socialism and conservatism regarding values is typical of currents espousing the so-called “third way”. Dugin acknowledges his fundamental attraction to revolutionary ideas: he has never been a partisan of any return to the past, which explains his gradual break with so many other nationalist figures. He does not play the card of czarist or Soviet nostalgia and sees himself as resolutely turned toward the future. For example, he is a militant proponent of the introduction of modern technologies in Russia, cultivating a strong presence of his own on the Internet and calling for a “modernization without Westernization.” He is thus fully in accordance with the doctrines of so-called National Bolshevism, whose theoreticians he admires, whether they were Russian exiles, members of the Soviet party apparatus, German Communists, or left-wing Nazis. During his dissident years, Dugin seems to have opposed this strand of thought, which he did not identify as “Traditionalist,”93 but in the 1990s, he changed his mind and attempted a synthesis between his Guénonian philosophical conceptions and the political ideas of the National Bolsheviks. Like many dissidents, Dugin only took a positive view of the Soviet experience after two events: a trip to the West in 1989, and the disappearance of the regime in 1991.
Dugin then developed the distinction proposed by Mikhail Agursky, between “National Bolshevism,” a messianic ideology that has a national basis but a universal vocation, and “national communism,” the Soviet newspeak term that designated the separatism of the Russian Empire’s ethnic margins.94 Basing himself on Karl Popper,95 Dugin defines National Bolshevism as a “meta-ideology common to all the enemies of open society.”96 Indeed, what is most important for him is that right-wing and left-wing totalitarian ideologies are united in their refusal to accord a central role to the individual and to place it above the collectivity, be it social or national. The phenomenon of National Bolshevism, then, is not a specific moment of history, but a philosophical conception of the world which has lost none of its relevance, bracketing together all non-conformist thinkers seeking an alternative to liberalism and communism.
Dugin’s view of National Bolshevism rests largely on mystical foundations, which once more reminds one of the original Fascists. He stresses the parallels between esotericism and political commitment, be it Fascist, Nazi, or Bolshevik: National Bolshevism is thus to him merely a politicized version of Traditionalism, the modernized expression of the messianic hopes that have existed in Russia since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. According to Dugin, it heralds “the Last Revolution, worked by an acephalous, headless bearer of cross, sickle and hammer, crowned by the eternal swastika of the sun.”97 According to Dugin, the most complete incarnation of the Third Way was German National-Socialism, much more so than Mussolini’s Italy or the inter-war Russian exiles. He then points out parallels between “Third Rome, the Third Reich, the Third International,”98 and attempts to prove their common eschatological basis. For Dugin, the original triad of Father, Son and Holy Spirit reveal to the initiated that the Third Reich, just like Third Rome, will be the kingdom of the Holy Spirit. Thus, examining the fear that the term “fascism” still causes today, even though the phenomenon no longer exists as such, Dugin explains: “By fascism we obviously do not mean a concrete political phenomenon, but our deepseated secret fear that brings the nationalist, the liberal, the communist and the democrat closer together. This fear does not have a political or ideological nature, it expresses a more general, more deep-seated feeling […] [the fear of] a magical fascism.”94
Dugin therefore advances a positive reading of fascism, and does not denounce Nazism, even though he condemns its racism. He is content with regretting that Hitler attacked the USSR and made mistakes in his application of the theories of conservative revolution, which were better preserved by left-wing Nazis who called for an alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union. He especially appreciates the Waffen-SS95 and, even more, the cultural organization Ahnenerbe. In his publications of the 1990s, particularly in periodicals and on his web sites, Dugin’s ideological arsenal borrows from another typical component of the original fascism: the ideologization of sex. According to him, men and women respond to different philosophical principles (active and passive), and men’s superiority is proven etymologically since, in numerous languages, a single term designates both male persons and human beings in general.96 Thus, the liberalization of sex, pornography, feminism, homosexuality, and the fashion for Freudianism and psychoanalysis are part of the process of forced Westernization of the world. This “era of gynecocracy”97 heralds the “castration” of men and, along with it, the disappearance of traditional society. Dugin calls for a revindication of eroticism in a phallo-centric and patriarchal way, and hopes to develop a “patriotic conscience” of the sexual act because “empire represents the culminating point of eroticism.”98
Like the original Fascists, Dugin admires the Romantic taste for death and combat, shares a contempt for contemporary society, which he believes to be bourgeois and decadent, and aspires to form young, purified generations: “the Eurasian is a strong, healthy, and beautiful person, who has passionarity and passion […] Our ideal is to make good physical and moral health, strength, valor, fidelity and pride honorable goals.”99 The journals Elementy and Milyi Angel, as well as the Internet sites linked to Dugin, are therefore filled with a strong military symbolism, and sometimes exhibit muscular, weapon-laden and khaki-clad bodies. The back cover of one of his latest books, The Philosophy of War (2004), is particularly explicit: “The value of peoples, cultures and societies is proved in war and through it. The beautiful is what has as its foundation the accomplishment of self-affirmation. War renews Man, and the price to pay for this gigantic personal effort confirms his adherence to the community. War has always been a collective business, having as its goal the conservation of the people and the State, the increase of their power, of their space, and of their life regions. Herein lies the social and national sense of war.”100
A VEILED ANTI-SEMITISM
His exaltation of this warlike spirit, combined with numerous references to Fascist ideas, prompts questions on the place of the “Jewish question” in Dugin’s thought. As with the other Eurasianist thinkers, this question is particularly complex because they all combine philo-Semitic and anti-Semitic arguments. Dugin proposes his own version of that conjunction in the form of a paradoxical Judaeophobic philo-Zionism.
In The Conservative Revolution (1994), Dugin recognizes that the state of Israel has realized a kind of Traditionalism: “the only state that has partly succeeded in putting into practice certain aspects of the conservative revolution is the state of Israel.”101 This prompted him to establish close links with some Israeli ultra-nationalist currents. Thus, since 1998, Dugin has sought to develop contacts with that part of the Israeli right which upholds the belief that all Jews must live in Israel. This militant Zionism agrees with him because it is in accordance with the principle of ethno-pluralism: all peoples should live in peace, but “at home.” The Evraziia movement is linked with two radical Zionist groups, Vladimir Boukharsky’s MAOF Analytical Group and Be’ad Artzeinu, controlled by Rabbi Avram Shmulevich. These two groups, situated to the right of the right-wing Israeli party Likhud, are led by two former Soviet citizens of Jewish origin who emigrated to Israel and are now committed to politicizing the Israeli Russians. Both of them participated in the founding convention of Evraziia and occupy important positions in the party hierarchy.102 The web site of the International Eurasianist Movement also mentions a link with Avigdor Eskin, a former Soviet Jew who took refuge in Israel and is now fighting the “liberal oligarchy” which he says is running the country.103 Some radical currents of Judaism (most often Zionist, but also Hasidic and mystical) are also represented in Evraziia by Rabbis still living in Russia, for example Adol’f Shaevich. They are all united by the idea that Jewish tradition, like Orthodoxy and Islam, is a target of unceasing attacks by secularization, a kind of religious globalization: only the unification of the traditionalists of all religions will allow for the development of strategies of resistance.104
Dugin’s objective of an alliance with Israel derives from the idea of a distinction between “good” and “bad” Judaism, which had already been developed by the first Eurasianists, in particular in Iakov Bromberg’s texts on the Jewish question. Dugin borrows from Bromberg the distinction between a Eurasian and an Atlanticist Jewishness. For Bromberg, the goal was to involve the Jews of the Russian Empire in the construction of Eurasia, and to invite them to cultivate their specificities without trying to assimilate to the Russians. However, he belittled the West European Jews whom he saw as bearers of political and economic modernity, of capitalism and communism, and as being excessively assimilated to the Romano-Germanic world. In Dugin’s texts, the distinction is different: the “good” Jews are the citizens of Israel, as well as those who choose to leave for Israel, because this act signals their awareness of their irreducible Jewish specificity. The “bad” Jews are those who continue to live in the diaspora and try to be assimilated by the surrounding cultures, be it in the Atlanticist or the post-Soviet world. Thus, unlike the original Eurasianists, Dugin does not attempt to attract the East European Jews, whom he presents as historical enemies of Russian nationalism.
Dugin thus demonstrates a complex philo-Zionism combined with anti-Semitic statements, another combination typical of a part of the Western New Right. While he regularly criticizes the vulgar anti-Semitism espoused by most currents of Russian nationalism, he does expound a more sophisticated and euphemized version of anti-Semitism, centered on more subtle religious and philosophical arguments. For example, he disagrees with René Guénon, who considered the Kabbala to be an authentic esotericism: for Dugin, the sense of the universal— an indispensable element of any real Traditionalism—is absent from the Kabbala, which, like the Talmud, is founded on the Jewish ethnic consciousness.105 He also argues that Traditionalism views history as cyclical, whereas Judaism, because of its pessimism, regards it as linear.106 For Dugin, the idea of God’s incarnation as a man fundamentally changed the metaphysical cosmogony of Christianity. Thus, “from the point of view of Orthodox esotericism, the counter-initiation is, without doubt, Judaism.”107 Dugin then considers the term “Judeo-Christianity” to be an incorrect formula, in particular for Orthodoxy, which he argues is even more distant from Judaism than Catholicism is.108
This argument illustrates Dugin’s version of anti-Semitism. He attempts to efface the common historical roots that link Judaism to the two other monotheistic religions, and accuses the Jewish world of having created a biological conception of itself. This inversion, a classical feature of anti-Semitism, is found in many of his texts, where he rejects, but also partly admires, the Jews’ alleged capacity for conceiving of themselves as a race. Thus, according to Dugin, Israel is the archetypal example of a state founded on an ethnic or racial principle, born of the Holocaust, of course, but also having contributed to the creation of this drama to which the Jews fell victim. Dugin argues that Zionism and Nazism are an ideological couple, in which it is difficult to know which caused the other: their polarity is a sign of their intimate correlation.109
Dugin also repeatedly asserts that the Jews consider themselves to be a chosen people, which squarely opposes them to Russian Messianism, another ideology of national exceptionalism. Another consistent opposition between Judaism and Russianness concerns the relation to territory. According to Dugin, life in the diaspora has desacralized in the Jewish mind the territories on which the Jews have lived for two millenia, and only the long inaccessible land of Israel has kept its sacred character. Their lack of emotion toward nature and their theological rejection of redemption by the earth—embodied by Jesus in Christianity—reveals their incompatibility with the Eurasian idea, for which territory is laden with meaning, as well as with Russian identity, marked by the cult of the nurturing soil. The famous Jewish nomadism found its most sophisticated expression in the maritime character of the thallassocracies.110 This is why only the traditionalist Jews returning to live in Israel can be in agreement with the Eurasianist idea, all others being (possibly unconscious) bearers of an Atlanticist identity marked by affective indifference toward soil.
In his interpretation of Jewishness, Dugin also employs the esoteric elements that he develops in his theory of peoples. According to him, the world is divided into two types of cultures: Finnish (Judaism and Sunnism) and Aryan (Christianity, Aryan paganism, Shiism). The parallel is also sexual: Dugin argues that masochism is Jewish, while sadism is Aryan.111 The fundamental difference between them resides in their vision of the universe: for the Jews, the cosmos is God’s place of exile, whereas in Christianity, it is the place willed by God. Dugin’s antiSemitism appears in full here: the identity of the Jews, the ‘Finnish’ culture par excellence, is not just different from that of the Aryans, it is unassimilable to it. This irreducibility foreshadows, according to him, the coming metaphysical war between the Aryan and Semitic worlds: “The world of ‘Judaica’ is a world hostile to us. But the sense of Aryan justice and the gravity of our geopolitical situation require us to comprehend its laws, its rules, its interests. The IndoEuropean elite is facing a titanic mission today: to understand those who are different from us, not only culturally, nationally, and politically, but also metaphysically. And in this case, to understand does not mean to forgive, but to vanquish.”112 This paradoxical combination of a classic anti-Semitism and a politically committed philo-Zionism can partly be explained by Dugin’s differentialist theories.
ETHNO-DIFFERENTIALISM AND THE IDEA OF RUSSIAN DISTINCTIVENESS
As we have already noted, Dugin followed the theoretical turn of the New Right, which moved from a biological view of the differences between peoples to a primarily cultural one. This fashion for ethno-pluralism, transferred from the “left” to the “right” in the 1980s, catches on particularly well in Russia, where it fits into a conception of national distinctiveness that was already highly ethnicized. This differentialist neo-racism (in Taguieff ’s formula) and the exaltation of the “right to be different” are neither a new idea nor a mere import from the West. Throughout the 19th century, the principal thinkers of “Russian national distinctiveness” had upheld a culturalist approach, and, unlike their Western colleagues, accorded only very little importance to racial determinism.113
Slavophile and Pan-Slavist thought remained under the influence of Hegel and Herder, and perceived the factual dimension of reality as a hidden fight between ideas. Thus, for over a century, it has been “normal” for Russian intellectuals sensitive to the national question to affirm, in Dugin’s phrase, that “every people advances in History according to its own trajectory, upholding its own understanding of the world. That is why what is good for some peoples cannot be applied to others.”114
Dugin, however, deploys an ambiguous culturalist and biological terminology with regard to this question: he uses the term ethnos with a positive meaning, seeing it as the primary point of collective reference (“the whole, the ethnos, according to the Eurasianists, is higher than the part, the individual”115), but at the same time remains critical of ethno-nationalism. According to Dugin, the superiority of the collectivity over the individual must be expressed in the political field as a “political ethnism.” This differential pluralism would be based on a corporatist system that would institutionalize intermediate echelons between the individual and the state. It would reveal Russia’s true imperial nature. Unlike the Russians, who are “the empire’s constitutive nation” [imperoobrazuiushchaia natsiia], the nonRussian peoples may benefit from cultural autonomy, but not from sovereignty, contrary to what was proclaimed during perestroika.116 No nationality should be recognized territorially, because “Russians exist as the only national community within a supranational imperial complex.”117 Dugin argues that the negotiations between the federal center and the subjects of the federation started by Boris Yeltsin fostered separatism in the Caucasus and in the Volga-Ural region. This ethno-centrism should, on the contrary, be condemned, since stands in the way of a national supra-unification of the Eurasian ethnos. Dugin’s strength is in his capacity for playing with concepts: for example, he proposes to “meet these identification tendencies of the peoples and regions of the Federation half-way,” but in a controlled way that would subject them to the center.118
Whether he bases himself on Eurasianist or New Right arguments, Dugin condemns nationalism in its ethnic and “chauvinist” variety, which he considers dangerous and obsolete. The idea of an ethnic miscegenation of peoples celebrated by Western newspeak appears to him as disastrous as was the theory of racial purity, because both lead to ethnocide. On the contrary, “the Eurasianist attitude toward the ethnos remains conservative, based on the principle of the absolute necessity of protecting each ethnic group from the prospect of historical disappearance.”119 This terminology remains paradoxical: not only does Dugin refrain from rejecting the idea of race, he also seems confused in his understanding of ethnicity, as he gives it an eminently culturalist and civilizationist meaning, while at the same time using the terminology of the ethnos, which, following the Soviet tradition, remains very much tied to nature and even biology. This contradiction can be explained by Dugin’s “post-modern” approach: he says he wishes to restore all the ideas, both religious and ethnic, that have been thrown out by modernity, which is why he addresses the ethnic question in both a positive and a negative way: positive when he uses it against the globalized liberalism which he views as destructive of the differences between peoples, and negative when he sees ethnic nationalism as preventing the affirmation of Eurasian unity.
Thus Dugin’s main activity, for several years, has been to speak out for a new interpretation of the idea of human rights. He is convinced that they constitute, through their claim to universality, a “new kind of totalitarianism”. He proposes to develop a theory of the “rights of peoples,”120 appropriating Third Worldist discourse as the right has been doing for some time. According to Dugin, this theory will first be put into practice in Russia, because, due to its natural federalism, that country advocates ethno-cultural autonomy in exchange for unitarianism in state affairs. “The concept of people [narod] must be recognized as the fundamental legal category, as the main subject of international and civil law.”121 Individuals will be legally identified by their ethnic, religious or cultural affiliation. A similar theory had already been proposed a long time ago by Panarin, who put forward a “civilizational” rather than political pluralism which he saw as typical of Eurasia.
Dugin’s absolutization of the ethnic collectivity implies a difficult attitude toward the idea of cultural transfer. As Pierre-André Taguieff has justly and repeatedly noted, the cult of difference implies a phobia of intermingling: it celebrates heterogeneity, but fears the mixing of peoples and traditions. Dugin considers the possibility of miscegenation between populations, or the transfer of cultural or political elements from one “civilization” to another, as dangerous. Indeed, he claims he has a “tolerant attitude toward ethnic miscegenation on the level of the elites, but a cautious attitude on level of the masses.”122 Here he is once more in tune with the tradition of Soviet ethnology, which, following the theories of Yulian Bromlei and Lev Gumilev, had regularly called for the development of endogamous traditions in order to preserve the “genetic fund” [genofond] of each ethnic entity. Once again, Dugin succeeds with aplomb in fitting old conceptions based on Russian or Soviet stereotypes into global intellectual debates. He adapts the Russian case to a more global theory on the current recomposition of collective identities under conditions of globalization, anchoring his ideas in alter-globalization movements, many of which have turned differentialism into one of their main dogmas.
CONTEXTUALIZING DUGIN’S PLACE IN RUSSIAN PUBLIC LIFE
A survey of Dugin’s ideas naturally prompts questions about the extent to which he is representative, about his strategies, and about the networks through which his ideas are spread. In many senses, especially regarding his career, he can be considered to represent the general evolution of the Russian nationalist milieux over the past two decades. In the first half of the 1990s, these currents, then presented as “red-andbrown,” were united in their opposition to the liberal reforms of the Yeltsin era. A change in their attitude toward the establishment set in during the prime ministership of Primakov, and gained momentum when Putin came to power, an event which recomposed and narrowed down the political spectrum. Numerous nationalist figures came to support the authorities while preserving their political structures, resulting in a kind of vociferous but fictitious opposition. This was the case with Ziuganov’s Communist Party, as well as with Zhirinovskii’s LDPR and the Rodina bloc. Dugin also followed this path from radical opposition to public professions of loyalty. This is why he likes to classify himself as being in the “radical center” of the public spectrum:123 radical in his political and philosophical doctrines, but centrist by virtue of his support for the current president. He thus embodies one of the main tendencies of the European radical r ight, which virulently attempts to differentiate itself from the centrist discourse of the powers-that-be on an ideological level, while developing a public strategy for gaining respectability.
Paradoxically, Dugin is isolated within the nationalist currents. He is their only substantial thinker, and his theories inspire numerous public figures and movements. At the same time, his theoretical position is too complex for any party to follow him entirely and turn him into its official thinker. He is also disturbing for the entire camp of Russian nationalism on several points: he condemns populism, which is central to the strategies of of the main figures: Ziuganov, Zhirinovskii, and Eduard Limonov. The various nationalist currents do not recognize him as their ideologist; thus, while he makes numerous Aryanist statements and adopts an ambiguous anti-Semitism, he is seldom quoted by Aryanist leaders, as he does not refer to the main neo-pagan reference book, the Book of Vles. He is also strongly criticized by anti-Semitic circles for condemning theories of a Jewish plot, rejecting revisionism, and apparently denying the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This elitist position, which he refuses to compromise in exchange for electoral success, is reminiscent of Alain de Benoist. However, Dugin cannot be entirely equated with the New Right: his stance is also informed by Traditionalism and fascism (in the sense outlined above). Thus he does not go as far as de Benoist on Third Worldism, and uses racist arguments in a more pronounced way.
Dugin’s intellectual eclecticism assures him a certain degree of success among the young generation, revealing post-Soviet Russia’s lack of foundations of identity. His occultist leanings, his exacerbated religious sensibility, his rejection of communist ideology but not of the Soviet experience, as well as his ahistorical discourse about Russian grandeur, are his attractive points. Not only do his geopolitical theories restore to Russia the role of a global superpower, he also modernizes a certain variety of political fundamentalism, exalts a sense of hierarchy and war, resurrects the mythical tr iangle between Germany, Russia and Japan, and argues that cultures are incommensurable and will unavoidably come into conflict with one another. His anti-Western feelings are reinforced by the revival of Pan-Asianism in South-East Asia: all Neo-Eurasianists admire these countries for having successfully allied economic dynamism to political authoritarianism, as well as for their general rejection of Western domination and the “return” to Islamic values in the Muslim states of Indonesia and Malaysia.
Attempts to classify such a doctrine and personality inevitably remain guesswork: Dugin is above all in search of himself, and his inner quest, particular the religious one, probably constitutes one of the matrixes of his political doctrines. Dugin’s strategies are therefore tailored to fit his personal evolution and the institutional position he hopes to reach. These strategies are organized along several lines: Dugin understands that the Eurasianist and geopolitical part of his theories is best suited to be widely spread in contemporary Russian society. In the same way, the idea of a unification of the patriotic scene and the creation of a kind of “union of nationalists without borders,” which the International Eurasianist Movement hopes to become, strike a chord with numerous Russian political circles. Traditionalism, eschatologism and esotericism are relegated to the background of his public activities, and are reserved for a more restricted circle of initiated followers, for example in the framework of the New University. Dugin’s Eurasianism is probably more promising than his National Bolshevism or Traditionalism: the ter m “Eurasia” is being adopted very extensively in Russia among very varied social and political milieux, though in a way that strips it of its original theoretical implications. Dugin thus seems to have succeeded, at least regarding this aspect of his thought, in his entryism into official structures. Indeed, as was observed very justly by the weekly Obshchaia gazeta, “Dugin is no longer considered to be the preacher of an ideological sect, but rather as an officially recognized specialist on geopolitical questions.”124
Dugin thus attempts to pursue a multiform strategy on the fringe of the classical electoral political spectrum. He develops a geopolitical discourse aimed at a large public, a concept of Eurasia as the basis for a new ideology of Russian great power for the Putin establishment, and Traditionalism and other philosophical and religious doctrines restricted to small but influential and consciously elitist intellectual circles. Even if Dugin’s institutional presence, in Russia and abroad, is based on groupuscules, the influence of his personality and his works must not be underestimated. In spite of his rhetorical radicalism, which few people are prepared to follow in all its philosophical and political consequences, Dugin has become one of the most fashionable thinkers of the day. Using networks that are difficult to trace, he is disseminating the myth of Russian great power, accompanied by imperialist, racialist, Aryanist and occultist beliefs that are expressed in a euphemistic way and whose scope remains unclear, but that cannot remain without consequences.
Dugin’s role as an ideological mediator will probably be an important point to consider in any long-term historical assessment: he is one of the few thinkers to engage in a profound renewal of Russian nationalist doctrines, which had been repetitive in their Slavophilism and their czarist and/or Soviet nostalgia. His originality lies precisely in his attempt to create a revolutionary nationalism refreshed by the achievements of 20th century Western thought, fully accepting the political role these ideas played between the two world wars. Therefore, in his opposition to American globalization, Dugin unintentionally contributes to the internationalization of identity discourse and to the uniformization of those theories that attempt to resist globalization. He illustrates that, although aiming for universality, these doctrines are still largely elaborated in the West. This is a paradoxical destiny for a Russian nationalist, whose selfdefined and conscious “mission” is to anchor a profoundly Western intellectual heritage in Russia, and to use it to enrich his fellow citizens.
1. For further details on the distribution of his publications (print runs, re-editions), see: Andreas Umland, “Kulturhegemoniale Strategien der russischen extremen Rechten: Die Verbindung von faschistischer ideologie und metapolitischer Taktik im
Neoeurasismus des Aleksandr Dugin,” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, vol.
33, no. 2/2004, pp. 437–454.
2. Viacheslav Likhachev, Natsizm v Rossii, Moscow: Panorama, 2002, p. 103.
3. The title of this show is not neutral. It refers to a famous collection of articles from 1909 called Vekhi, considered a manifesto against the ideology of the radical intelligentsia. The authors of Vekhi argued for the primacy of the spiritual and appealed to the revolutionary intelligentsia to recognize the spiritual source of human life: to them, only concrete idealism, manifested in Russian in the form of religious philosophy, allows to objectivate traditional mysticism and to fuse knowledge and faith.
4. All his publications are available on the web.
His two web sites, Arctogaia (www.arcto.ru) and Evraziia (www.evrazia.org) also include links to a nationalist network that includes web sites such as Novoe soprotivlenie (New Resistance), as well as to web-based magazines such as Lenin.
5. The Ways of the Absolute (Puti absoliuta), written in 1989 and published in 1991, The Conservative Revolution (Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, 1994), Goals and Tasks of our Revolution (Tseli i zadachi nashei revoliutsii, 1995), Templars of the Proletariat (Tampliery proletariata, 1997), The Philosophy of Traditionalism
(Filosofiia traditsionalizma) and The Evolution of the Paradigmatic Foundations of Science
(Evoliuciia paradigmal’nykh osnovanii nauki,
2002), The Philosophy of Politics (Filosofiia politiki) and The Philosophy of War (Filosofiia voiny,
6. The Metaphysics of the Gospel: Orthodox Esotericism (Metafizika Blagoi Vesti (Pravoslavnyi ezoterizm), 1996) and The End of the World. Eschatology and Tradition (Konets sveta: Eskhatologiia i tradiciia, 1997).
7. The Mysteries of Eurasia (Misterii Evrazii) and The Hyperborean (Giperboreec, 1991), The Hyperborean Theory (1993).
8. Conspirology (Konspirologiia, 1992, republished
in 2005), The Foundations of Geopolitics (Osnovy geopolitiki, 1996, four re-editions), Our Way. Strategic Prospects for the Development of Russia in the 21st Century (Nash put’. Strategicheskie perspektivy razvitiia Rossii v XXI veke, 1998), The Russian Thing. Essays in National Philosophy (Russkaia veshch’. Ocherki natsional’noi filosofii, 2001), The Foundations of Eurasianism (Osnovy evraziistva), The Eurasianist Path (Evraziiskii put’) and The Eurasian Path as National Idea (Evraziiskii put’ kak natsional’naia ideia, 2002).
9. Markus Mathyl, “The National-Bolshevik Party and Arctogaia: Two Neo-fascist Groupuscules in the Post-Soviet Political Space,” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 36, no.
3/2003, pp. 62–76.
10. Stephen Shenfield, Russian Fascism. Traditions, tendencies, movements, London: M. E. Sharpe, 2001, p. 194.
11. Eduard Limonov, Moya politicheskaia biografiia, St. Petersburg: Amfora, 2002, p. 64.
12. Andrei Tsygankov, “Hard-Line Eurasianism
and Russia’s contending geopolitical perspectives,” East European Quaterly, no. 3,
1998, pp. 315–334.
13. Osnovy geopolitiki: Geopoliticheskoe budushchee Rossii, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1997. On this book, see J.B. Dunlop, “Aleksandr Dugin’s ‘Neo-Eurasian’ Textbook and Dmitrii Trenin’s Ambivalent Response,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies, vol. xxv, no. 1-2/2001, pp. 91–127.
14. Aleksandr Dugin, “Evraziiskaia platforma,” Zavtra, 21 January 2000.
15. Wayne Allensworth, The Russia Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and PostCommunist Russia, Lanham, Md.: Rowman
& Littlefield, 1998, and “The Eurasian Project: Russia-3, Dugin and Putin’s Kremlin,” paper presented at the National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Salt Lake City, 4-6 November 2005.
16. For further details on Dugin’s connections with military circles, see: Dunlop, op. cit., pp. 94, 102.
17. Françoise Thom, “Eurasisme et néoeurasisme,“ Commentaires, no. 66/1994, p. 304.
18. “Evraziistvo: ot filosofii k politike,” Dugin’s paper at the founding congress of the Evraziia movement, 21 April 2001.
19. “My—partiia natsional’noi idei,” Dugin’s paper at the conference preparing the transformation of Evraziia from a movement into a political party, 1 March 2002.
20. An economist by training, Glaz’ev was known since the collapse of the Soviet Union as a partisan of economic reforms. In 1991, he was named vice-minister (and, in December 1992, minister) of foreign economic relations in Egor Gaidar’s government. He resigned after the October 1993 events, when he refused to support Boris Yeltsin in his struggle against the White House. Between 1993 and 1995, he was a Duma deputy, chairing the parliament’s committee on economic policies. Between 1995 and 1999, he worked at the Federation Council and moved closer to Aleksandr Lebed’. During these years, Glaz’ev changed his mind on his liberal economic principles and moved closer to the Communists. Today he is an interventionist and statist in economic matters, although he doesn’t advocate a return to the Soviet model. In 1999, he was elected deputy on the CPRF list. Within Rodina, Glaz’ev embodied the left wing. In spite of his hasty departure from the electoral block, he succeeded in standing as candidate in the presidential elections of March 2004 and garnered 4.1% of the votes.
21. Dunlop, op. cit., p. 104.
22. “Partiia Evraziia vykhodit iz bloka Glaz’eva,” Km.Ru, 19 September 2003, http://www.km.ru/news/view.asp?id=7D D7770F40434412B24FDB116 DB19000.
24. Aleksandr Barkashov’s Russian National Unity (RNU) was one of the first groups to emerge after Pamiat’ split up. Barkashov, who rejects the Orthodox and czarist nostalgia of Pamiat’ leaders, founded his own movement as well as the party newspaper Russkii poriadok. The RNU borrowed a significant part of its symbols from Nazism: the swastika, the Roman salute, paramilitary clothes, and parts of the NSDAP’s program, including a mixed economy and eugenic theories. The RNU contends that the USSR implemented a program of racial miscegenation between Slavs and nonAryan peoples in order to make the Slavs disappear. The RNU differed from numerous others post-Soviet nationalist groups in its racialist definition of the Russian nation. The movement imploded in 2000 and is now split into numerous small groups.
25. The main exception was Dmitrii Riurikov, one of Boris Yeltsin’s counselors on international politics. In 2001, he became a member of the central board of Evraziia while he was Russia’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (he was later transferred to Denmark).
26. In Russian it is impossible to distinguish between ‘Eurasian’ and ‘Eurasianist’ (evraziiskii chelovek).
27. Andreas Umland, “Toward an Uncivil Society? Contextualizing the Recent Decline of Extremely Right-Wing Parties in Russia,” Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Working Paper No.02-03, 2002.
28. http://evrazia.org/modules.php?name =News&file=article&sid=1508.
29. He also republished Iakov Bromberg’s Evrei i Evraziia and E. Khara-Davan’s Rus’ mongol’skaia in 2002.
30. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 97.
31. “Evraziisky triumf,” in: P. Savitsky, Kontinent Evraziia, Moscow: Agraf, 1997, p. 434.
32. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 159.
33. Leontyev stood for a far-reaching turn in Russian thought. He argued that Russians are not really Slavs but above all a people mixed with Turkic groups. In an ambiguous manner, he anticipated the “turn to the East” of the later Eurasianists: he abandoned the linguistic argument about Slavic identity and, for example, acknowledged that he preferred the Greeks to the other Slavs in the religious realm. Leontyev was the first to understand the potential of the “Turanian argument” to help Russia assert her identity against Europe. See: M. Laruelle, “Existe-t-il des précurseurs au mouvement eurasiste? L’obsession russe pour l’Asie à la fin du xixe siècle,” Revue des études slaves, Paris: Institut d’études slaves, vol. LXXV, no 3-4/2004, pp. 437–454.
34. Misterii Evrazii, p. 19.
35. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 247.
36. However, Dugin accepts the separatism of those areas that he considers non-Russian (he proposes to return the Kuril Islands to Japan and Kaliningrad to Germany) provided they remain under the control of allies of Eurasia and Continentalism.
37. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 341.
38. He also wishes to return Ukraine into the Russian sphere of influence and to divide it in accordance with what he calls the ethnocultural realities of the country. For further details, see: Dunlop, op. cit., pp. 109–112.
39. “Evraziiskii otvet na vyzovy globalizacii,” Osnovy evraziistva, p. 541–563.
40. Nash put’, p. 47.
41. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 261.
42. Konspirologiia, also online at www.arctogaia.com/public/consp. 43. Evraziia prevyshe vsego, p. 4.
44. Osnovy evraziistva, p. 762.
45. The reference book on Traditionalism is: Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World. Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
46. Introduction générale à l’étude des doctrines hindoues in 1921, Le théosophisme, histoire d’une pseudo-religion in 1921, L’erreur spirite in
1923, Orient et Occident in 1924, La crise du monde moderne in 1927.
47. Tampliery proletariata, p. 128.
48. Filosofiia traditsionalizma, p. 11.
49. Milyi Angel, no. 1/1991, online at www.angel.com.ru.
50. Filosofiia traditsionalizma, p. 11.
51. Puti absoliuta, republished in Absoliutnaia rodina (Moscow, 1999), p. 174.
52. Metafizika blagoi vesti, republished in Absoliutnaia rodina, p. 510.
53. Puti absoliuta, p. 152–153.
54. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 255.
55. See for example his papers given at the 6th World Russian People’s Council in Osnovy evraziistva, p. 704–715.
56. The Old Believers are a current of Orthodoxy born after the Schism [Raskol], that is the separation, in the 17th century, of a significant portion of the Orthodox population from the official Russian church. They refused Patriarch Nikon’s reforms of the Orthodox ritual and liturgy. They were repeatedly persecuted in czarist times and were at the origin of numerous religious and social revolts against the central authorities. Dugin sees himself as one of the so-called “united believers” who follow the Old Believers’ rituals while recognizing the authority of the Patriarch. Other Old Believers, who have refused to acknowledge the Patriarchate in exchange for tolerance of their specific practice of worship, are in a minority today.
57. Russkaia veshch, vol .1, p. 569.
58. Milyi Angel, no. 3/1996.
59. Milyi Angel, no. 2/1996.
60. see his Evoliuciia paradigmal’nykh osnovanii nauki, his candidate of sciences thesis defended in 2000 at Rostov-on-Don University.
61. Evoliuciia..., p. 66.
62. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 12.
63. Puti absoliuta, p. 5.
64. Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, p. 85–97.
65. Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, p. 99.
66. Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, p. 4–5.
67. See Pierre-André Taguieff, Sur la Nouvelle droite. Jalons d’une analyse critique, p. 148–296.
68. In Den’ nos. 2, 22, 34 and 37/1992 and 3/1993.
69. “I have a lot of reservations about a
‘Eurasian’ construction, which seems to me to be mainly phantasmagorical” (Taguieff, p. 311).
70. Taguieff, p. 254–265.
71. Konservativnaja revoliutsiia, p. 131–136.
72. Taguieff, p. 259.
73. Filosofiia traditsionalizma, p. 135–191.
74. See for example the chapter “Races, Runes, and Worships” in Misterii Evrazii, p. 673–736 or Nash put’, p. 21.
75. The Slavophile philosopher A. Khomyakov (1804–1860) divided the world into two philosophical principles: Iranian and Cushite. He borrowed this idea from Friedrich Schlegel’s philosophy of history. For more information, see Laruelle M., Mythe aryen et rêve impérial dans la Russie du XIXe siècle, Paris: CNRS-Éditions, 2005.
76. Giperboreiskaia teoriia, p. 5.
77. Filosofiia traditsionalizma, p. 176.
78. Misterii Evrazii, republished in Absoliutnaia rodina, p. 575.
79. Metafizika blagoi vesti, p. 482.
80. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 190.
81. Misterii Evrazii, p. 78.
82. Misterii Evrazii, p. 26.
83. Misterii Evrazii, p. 2.
84. For example in Erwägen Wissen Ethik, vol. 15, no. 3/2004 between Roger Griffin, Andreas Umland, and A. James Gregor.
85. Osnovy evraziistva, p. 638–656.
86. Russkaia veshch, vol. 1, ch. 2: “The social idea,” pp. 251–500.
87. Programma politicheskoi partii “Evraziia”.
Materialy uchreditel’nogo s”ezda. Moscow: Arktogeya, 2002, p. 112, and Osnovy evraziistva, p. 579–588.
88. Osnovy evraziistva, p. 585.
89. Mikhail Agursky, Ideologiia natsional-bol’shevizma, Paris: YMCA-Press, 1980. See also: Erik van Ree, “The Concept of National Bolshevism: An Interpretative Essay,” Journal of Political Ideologies, no. 3/2001, pp. 289–307, and D. Shlapentokh, “Bolshevism, Nationalism and Statism: Soviet Ideology in Formation,” Cahiers du monde russe, no. 4/1996, pp. 429–466.
90. Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies,London, 1945.
91. Tampliery proletariata, p. 8.
92. Tampliery proletariata, p. 26.
93. Tampliery proletariata, p. 25.
94. Tampliery proletariata, p. 188.
95. Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, p. 54.
96. Filosofiia traditsionalizma, p. 353.
97. Elementy no. 6/1995, p. 18.
98. Russkaia veshch, vol. 1, p. 217.
99. Evraziia prevyshe vsego, p. 5.
100. Filosofiia voyny, back cover.
101. Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, p. 27.
102. Sedgwick, p. 237–240.
104. Osnovy evraziistva, p. 600.
105. Puti absoliuta, p. 175.
106. Milyi angel, no. 3/1996, www.angel.com.ru.
107. Konets sveta, p. 348.
108. Metafizika blagoy vesti, p. 248.
109. See the chapter “Vojna narodov” in
110. “Apokalipsis stikhii,” Elementy, no. 8/1997, p. 56.
111. “Ad-Marginem. Sacher-Masoch,” Elementy, no. 6/1995, p. 64.
112. Konservativnaia revoliutsiia, p. 248.
113. See, for example, M. Laruelle, “Regards sur la réception du racialisme allemand chez les panslavistes et les eurasistes russes,” in: C. Trautmann-Waller (ed.), L’Allemagne des linguistes russes. Revue germanique internationale, Paris, CNRSEditions, no. 3, 2006, pp. 145–156.
114. Nash put’, p. 3.
115. Programma politicheskoi partii “Evraziia,” p. 25.
116. Evraziiskii vzglyad, p. 62.
117. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 251.
118. Osnovy geopolitiki, p. 593.
119. Nash put’, p.135.
120. Evraziia prevyshe vsego, p. 22.
121. Nash put’, p. 124.
122. Evraziia prevyshe vsego, p. 19.
123. Evraziia prevyshe vsego, p. 4.
124. A. Maksimov., O. Karabaagi, “Oni v svoikh koridorakh,“ in: Obshchaia gazeta, 31 May 2001.
Tel. (202) 6914100 Fax (202) 69142