Alexander Dugin & Nicolas Gomez Davila: The Rebellion of the Eternal
History as “leitmotiv”
Between the motives of revolutionary deeds of modernity, the infamous scourges of slavery, servility, misery, inequality, ignorance and submission have always marched by its rhetoric paths. Tangible and conscious motivations which transit from the lips of individuals to the parliaments of the great contemporary societies and whose combat cements the reasons for being of our modernistic social pacts. Much less adverted is the role of the image-concepts which lay transparent to our daily comprehension of reality and which on the contrary to their overstated and overestimated qualities, conform the rhizomatic nucleus that thrills the movement of men, societies, epochs. We talk of the capital ideas which build the visions about the world, men and history: the great metapolitical triad. Specially is, on the latter variable of the equation –history– that as fundamental category, gravitates the deep thinking of two great geniuses keep apart by geographic antipodes, but reunited in a very singular spirit of the critique against modernity. Nicolás Gómez Dávila, untimely genius of Colombian thinking, and Aleksandr Gel’evich Dugin, grand illustrious of the Russian intelligentsia; represent two taxa of one same philosophy, rising parallels in the illiberal denounce and building their critique, their poetry and their analytics around the different feelings of history which are being played to death in our contemporary epoch.
The authentic reactionary
The feeling of history which detents hegemony in modernity is the linear conception of history. According to the characterization of Dugin, this movement is denominated as monotonic process, understood as growth and accumulation in its own sense and by which one has “the idea that human society is developing, progressing, evolving, growing and each time is better and better”. And in front of the historic eugenics of such conception which debugs the spiritual manifestations still “archaic, pre-modern and not civilized”, diversity of criticisms arise which praises another understanding of time and history. Between them and our Colombian nation, the spirit of Nicolás Gómez Dávila is school for all the dissidents of modern times.
In his condemnation of modernity, the epithets of conservative and reactionary that are centered over Gómez Dávila do not represent to the author however, ashamed motives, but instead the opportunity to realize a transgressive position against modernist morality, re-signifying the appellatives as foundation of his own affirmative stance. Categorically and by principle we must reject any association of the traditional conception of reactionary with that of typical conservative. This is not the counter-revolutionary who fights against liberal and socialist ideas in order to save his comfortable position in the system. His reaction is found by us again in the terrain of confronted histories.
In front of the progressive liberal who swindles that history is liberty and to the radical progressive he affirms that history is right, the reactionary then exerts a haughty attitude in so far as, by accepting the partial dominion of both visions, decides to condemn both. The radical progressive is diagnosed with stupidity because history is immanent rationality which is insinuated progressively towards their absolute revelation. The liberal on his behalf assumes him as immoral in so far as history is liberty which wishes to be absolutely possesses by the man. Liberty as supreme value must not back down not even by the weight of honor. Both progressives guided –despite their differences– by the theological fatality of his history, they demand of the reactionary, gestures and symbols of compensation.
The first demands of him to renounce to condemn the fact is necessary, and the second to not limit himself to abstain if he confesses that the fact is reproachable. Both censor their passive loyalty to defeat.
The revolutionary ethic imperative of the radical and of the liberal, also comes from its historic conceptions. For the radical the spirit of history is the succession of progressive, necessary and determined phases towards the final dominion of universal reason. The moral obligation of the revolutionary is to contribute to the final advent the historic sense.
The radical progressive only adheres to the idea that history cautions, because the profile of necessity reveals the characteristics of new born reason. Since the very same course of history emerges the ideal norm which surrounds it.
Meanwhile for the liberal, the reason that the radical displays its creation of the human will which aspire for absolute freedom.
The revolutionary act condenses the ethical obligation of the liberal, because breaking with whatever bothers him is the essential act of freedom which he realizes.
However, and in front of kilometers of ink that liberals and radicals inject in order to legitimize their historical idea, the reactionary offers lessons and refutes the partial dogmas of the revolutionaries. “History is not necessity, nor freedom, but instead its flexible integration”. He refutes the progressives with their Hemiplegic stories:
The human dust does not seem to rise up like under the breath of a sacred beast; epochs do not seem to order themselves as stadiums in the embryogenesis of a metaphysical animal (…) The whimsical and free of charge will of man is not its rector supreme. The facts do not mold, like a viscous and plastic paste, between eager fingers.
History is not that “autonomous and unique dialectic process” which preaches the Hegelian theory of the one-history, the one-humanity realized in universal reason. All of the contrary, is dialectic diversity.
Indeed, history is not a result of one impersonal necessity, nor from human caprice, but from a dialectic of wills where freewill develops in necessary consequences (…) History, thus, is a tight union of hardened wills in dialectic processes. As deeper the layer where the freewill spreads would be, more diverse the zones of activity which the process determines, and greater its duration would be. The superficial and peripheral act runs out in biographic episodes, while the central and deep act can create an epoch for an entire society.
And under Dugin’s light, this central and profound action is found in the levels of the self-referentiality from one’s own consciousness, there where it runs away from itself in order to give origin to the intimate texture of time: the notions of present, past and future. It is not the world the one which contains time, but instead, the consciousness of man; which by endowing the world with time gives it reality, dimension and figure; in sum, the creation of the world by the internal me. Just as our Russian professor exposes, the future has an ontology, a reality which is nothing more than the one granted by the historicity of a people, of a civilizational organism. History for Dugin is melody –applying Husserlian phenomenology–; it has a content and a sense which is not comprehended without the existence of the entire musical structure, in so, the future as essential component of the melody.
When we comprehend well history, and its logic we can easily guess what will follow, what is about to occur and what will come next. Knowing society, we could identify in its history the harmony, the newspapers, the chorus and the structure of the piece.
Against all Universalist pretension Dugin affirms the cultural diversity of historic time. In each people the self-referentiality of their own historical consciousness –there where the contact with their own being configures their sense of time–, falls into different versions of history. In this sense, the eternal circular time finds its short-circuit in the center of its own consciousness: the past unites infinitely with the future; the image of the Ouroboros. The traditional time on its behalf finds the reencounter with its consciousness in the past, on that every sacred act would be a tireless search of getting back in time. On the contrary, the messianic time, hopes to re encounter its historical consciousness in the future; the inherent scatology to linear history. History, time itself, is and will always be local. Dugin claims:
It is for this reason that humanity as a whole, cannot have a future. It doesn’t have one.
The only possibility that men have –according to the Spenglerian vision– is the one of achieving the possibilities of their own culture not achieved yet. However, Dugin and Gómez Dávila evoke this crusade, the commonality of what surpasses what is purely historical in each culture.
Two stances facing history and the opening of the eternal
Asking for history is reflecting in front of the human condition and its freedom itself in and by time. It’s like this that diversity of answers installs different ethical stances and their consecutive historical praxis in front of how to act and build history. Alexander Dugin and Nicolás Gómez Dávila converge in such a way in their analysis of history and the ethical stance in front of the very same, however their praxis of rebellion moves divergently, but only for matter of layers.
Refuting the progressive sentiment of history does not contaminate Gómez Dávila to give for granted his own understanding of it. Precisely from these comes its ethical reactionary stance as pessimism and historical negation.
The collective epochs are the result of an active communion in an identical decision, or of passive contamination of inert wills; but while the dialectic process in which liberties have been verted lasts, the freedom of the uncomfortable one twists in ineffective rebellion.
In the democratic epoch, the man-mass –according to the Orteguian (Ortega y Gasset) conceptualization– determines the inclination of the historic balance. It is not justice or reason, neither freedom already alienated, but instead the weight of the number and the quantitative which moves our epoch to the endgame of senselessness. By recognizing the futility of its complaint, the reactionary gives the sober contemplation of inevitable defeat.
The reactionary admits the present sterility of its principles and the inutility of his censorships, it not because the spectacle of human confusions is enough. The reactionary does not abstain of acting because the risk might spook him, but because he estimates that actually the social forces are pouring fast the goal he disdains. Inside the present process, the social forces have dug its channel in the rock, and nothing will twist its course while it doesn’t fall in the satin of an uncertain plain.
This stance of patient contemplation which waits for the oppression of historic dialectic falls into its necessary consequences, recalls the opinion of Dugin about the attitude of the conservative revolutionaries which assume how the bad consciousness of times which passes by waiting for the final fatality provides a new opening for authentic freedom.
Let’s leave buffoonery of post-modernity to follow its course; let’s leave it erode the defined paradigms, the ego, the super-ego and the logos; let’s leave it join with the rhizomes, the schizophrenic masses and the fragmented consciousness; for nothingness to leave the substance of the world and, then, the secret doors will open and ancient and eternal ontological archetypes will come to the surface and, in a terrible way, will finish the game.
Then enters the scene of the “temporal” horizon over which his rebellion stance of both authors is funded. Critiquing modernity and its historical dialectic do not condemn them to sigh about past time. Here is the key of their lectures: history will always be history of men. Their social archetypes are trans-historical, supra-historical. The human history is just the excuse for eternal motives; the mundane epochs, colored projections from a far-away ether. Like this is for Dávila:
In effect, even when it would not be necessity, nor caprice, the history for the reactionary, is not however, dialectic of immanent will, but instead temporal adventure between men and what transcends him (…) If the progressive leans towards the future, and the conservative towards the past, the reactionary does not measure his desires with yesterday’s history or with the history of tomorrow.
In that same way Dugin clears the purpose of his rebellion against the monotonic system:
We want to oppose triumphant liberalism something that goes far beyond modernity, advocating the return of pre-modernity, to the traditional world. However, we must comprehend that it must not be a return to the past, but instead to the eternal principles of the tradition which belong to all epochs.
Eternity as its atemporal horizon then opens itself both in its philosophy which is rooted in the ontological, in the eternal present of the human being and the powers that transcends him. While the liberal conservative simply resists to negative tendencies of modernity and the traditionalist longs to return to the golden epochs of his culture, the conservative revolutionary clashes in order to:
Take out from the structure of the world, the roots of evil in order to abolish time itself as a destructive quality of reality and, by doing so, to fulfill like this some kind of parallel secret, the non-evident intention of deity itself.
History does not escape from man, but man does not escape man himself. The absolute liberty of the will from which the progressive mockingly displays has a “genetic” seal. The causality of freewill points out an ontological fingerprint in the effect it imprints over reality: it is the character of human nature, the Dasein (being-there) as the being of the authentic man.
But this liberty is falsified when the understanding of man in modernity, in his desire to conquer absolute liberty, abstracts man from himself. It is the kingdom of the inauthentic, of the crippled human essence. Just as it is warned from Heidegger to Dugin, is the inauthenticity of the Dasman (the-they). For Dugin and Gómez Dávila the true liberty is realized when man by opening himself to the eternal is reintegrated in his ontological essentiality recovering what’s contingent in the perennial and the perpetual in the immortal moment: the temporality of myth. And by opening himself to the eternal it is not but an excuse to accommodate for the sacred, understood as the permanent and most truthful, in the core of our being. As this for Gómez Dávila the liberty:
Is not an instance which fails conflicts between instincts, but instead the mountain from which the man contemplates the ascension of nine stars, between the luminous dust of the starred sky (…) the free instant dissipates the vain clarity of the day, in order for it to raise above the horizon of the soul, the immobile universe which slips its passing lights over the tremble of our flesh.
It is not the past which is eternal what gives absolute sense to the stance of the reactionary. Here in his final lines the “Authentic reactionary” unveils his spiritual inclination:
The reactionary does not claim what the next dawn might bring, neither does he grasps the last shadows of the night. His lair rises in that luminous space where the essences interpellate him with their immortal presences.
Action and contemplation
In the search of this “return”, or rather, des-hiding of the eternal sacred, both authors diverge in the what-to-do in front of modern domination. The anti-modern rebellion of Gómez Dávila is not a praxis of active aggressive politics, but instead a very personal negation to following the modern trend.
The reactionary, however, is the stupid which assumes the vanity of condemning history, and the immorality of yielding to it.
His stance is the patient personal contemplation which condemns and denies through crude and transgressive truth in the form of a prosaic, irreverent, elegant, aggressive criticism; but which is assumed as defeated in the contingency of the historical epoch. The reactionary rebels in regards of the sacred and the eternal are revealed freeing him of historical alienation.
The reactionary escapes servitude of history, because he chases in the human jungle the footsteps of divine steps. The men and the facts are, for the reactionary, the servile and mortal flesh which encourages tramontane wind blows. To be reactionary is to defend causes that do not roll over the board of history, causes which are not important to lose
On his behalf, Dugin prefers to choose the path of action and the active revolution in order to give a fatal blow to the already aging modernity and to redirect what must be fate itself. Everything is synthesized in his political work that culminates in revolutionary action which overcomes modern paradigms.
The return to the sacred must be conceived, in the Heideggerian context, as a new beginning, to be built around the concept of Dasein; this, the destruction of the individual concept in favor of the human, concrete, thoughtful fact (…) Marxists and socialists are kids in relation with the great spiritual, social and political revolution which we the representatives of the fourth political theory must realize.
Action and contemplation synthesize the stances which both intellectuals take facing history and which diverge the direction of their own existence. Both however realize their crusade against the tyranny of time and historical progressivism in order to reintegrate to the atemporal of the sacred. We must not discard however the literary plastering of Gómez Dávila simply as passivity and renunciation, the fact of eternizing his denounce already represents a rupture of political transgression. The difference of both perhaps could be understood by the historical contexts in which their biographies are framed. Gómez Dávila suffered the weight of “an epoch without foreseeable”, a “somber place of history” which determined his pessimism and condemned him to “resign to look with patience the human arrogances”, waiting to “act only when necessity is overthrown”. His projection is directed at the transcend which beats and calls inside each man. He points out with passionate prose:
The reactionary is not a nostalgic dreamer of abolished pasts, but instead the hunter of sacred shadows above eternal hills
On the other hand, Dugin enters into scene in a modernity which is crumbling but threatens to take to the grave the human essence itself with it. His rebellion is projected revolution over the earthly and the political action, without pretending in any way to transcend Dasein, which is an imperative task for each people. His proposal demands a new historical principle which culminates completely the end of modernity founding a new epochal life over the return of the sacred and eternal archetypes. For Gómez Dávila, this would be the return of the sign of Christ; its historical praxis: the devotion to the miracle. For Dugin, the aegis of his Russian Orthodox Church, which reaffirms however, a plural comprehension of the gods: the logos of each people.
In order to culminate such shallow exposition of two great anti-modern iconoclasts, we must comprehend that both thinkers complement each other in a rebellion which, being personal stance or political project, shows the anguish of two existences which have dealt with an oppressing and falsifying history for both, and that, however, they do not decant for completing the process with contingent propositions, rather attracting to themselves the immortal presences of the eternal as dominant recuperation of the authenticity of man in an “central and profound act” which could give origin to a new era for awakening the sacred.
Dugin, Alexander. (2012). “The Fourth Political Theory”. New Republic Editions. Barcelona-Spain.
Gómez Dávila, Nicolás (2013). “The authentic reactionary”. Properties of the Chimera N°314 (15-19). University of Antionquia.
Geopolitica.ru. (2017). “Tenemos que hacer explotar el sistema liberal: entrevista al politólogo ruso Alexander Dugin”.
Translation of the above article is also available at The Fourth Revolutionary War: https://4threvolutionarywar.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/aleksandr-dugin-we-...