The Fourth Political Theory and Its Reception: A Review of a Non-Review Posted on May 1, 2013

The Fourth Political Theory and Its Reception: A Review of a Non-Review

Michael O’Meara is the author of the definitive English-language overview of the French Nouvelle Droite’s ideas, New Culture, New Right. Anti-Liberalism in Postmodern Europe. An acute and perceptive writer himself, O’Meara is also the author, as Michael Torigian, of Every Factory a Fortress. The French Labor Movement in the Age of Ford and Hitler. For all those who gravitate towards the ideas of the Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne (GRECE) and are serious about seeing them come to fruition in the real world, they could do worse than read the latter book and its account of what a militant labor movement can accomplish (That’s right, the working class also plays a role in a revolutionary struggle. Metapolitics alone and publishing articles on “Implicit Whiteness in the Second Season of Veronica Mars” are not going to cut it, no matter how many footnotes they have.)

O’Meara’s grasp of the nouvelle droite’s postulates as well as its ideological and cultural antecedents is second to none. If this was not enough, he is one of the few voices in his ideological sphere to unambiguously espouse a socialistic worldview and who understands that there can be no genuine change if you don’t do away with the libertarian delusions that afflict so many of his fellow travelers. This is why reading hisunderwhelming review of Russian thinker Alexander Dugin’s The Fourth Politcal Theory(Arktos, 2012) was such a disappointment. Focused on a minuscule portion of what the book actually says, if faults its author for allegedly turning the page too briskly on fascism (which O’Meara refers to as the “Third Political Theory” or 3PT) as a viable ideology to confront the onslaught of liberalism. Even if O’Meara’s take on Dugin’s analysis was right, not only does he fail to contribute a meaningful commentary on the Russian thinker’s seminal work, but he is also unable to posit arguments in favor of fascism or “3PT” as the alternative anti-liberals should be paying attention to.

Dugin has long railed against Western liberalism’s “colonization of the spirit and of the mind.” For Dugin, “This is a cultural, philosophical, ontological, and eschatological struggle, because in the status quo we identify the essence of the Dark Age, or the great paradigm.” Those who struggle against the liberal hegemon, however, are in dire need of concrete achievements in the political arena (as opposed to the ideological or even the metapolitical realm) and realize that in a global arena the fight is waged at all levels and regardless of national boundaries. “[A]t this geopolitical level,” Dugin says, “Russia preserves the potential, resources and inclination to confront this challenge, because Russian history has long been intuitively oriented against the same horizon.”

But even if given its historical and cultural circumstances, Russia is singularly positioned to spearhead this challenge, this does not mean that Dugin is espousing a new form of Russian imperialism. Building on the foundations of many conceivably 3PT strains of thought such as German national bolshevism and the ideas of Jean Thiriart, Dugin proposes an alliance of anti-liberal forces premised on the classical geopolitical principles and the outlook of thinkers like Alain de Benoist – especially in his bookEurope,Tiers monde, même combat (Europe, Third World, same struggle) and his further elaborations of this argument.

This is where O’Meara sharply draws a line between himself and 4PT, and what he sees as a multicultural concession (and ultimately, a fatal flaw) in the ideas of Dugin and de Benoist. More than a review, the aforementioned analysis of The Fourth Political Theoryis a gripe against Dugin’s take on fascism. Thinking of a hypothetical reader who potentially wants to get acquainted with the Russian thinker’s ideas or at least this particular tome, O’Meara leaves us in the dark about the rest of its contents. One can only wonder why he zeroed in on Dugin’s interpretation of fascism if at the same time he claims “there is almost no discussion” about said ideology in the book (*).

For all his intimate familiarity with the European New Right’s ideas and his extremely acute insights elsewhere, O’Meara is approaching Dugin’s work with too many prejudices. One of them stems from Dugin’s political affinity with de Benoist (which O’Meara seems to condemn even though he sympathizes with both thinkers) and how O’Meara misrepresents de Benoist’s ethnopluralism as multiculturalism. Far from proposing a melting pot society of anomic identities, ethnopluralism or cultural differentialism asserts a right to difference that does not undermine the specificity of each culture. Given the current scenario, it is a far more realistic (if less idealistic) approach than dreams of regional homelands in the Pacific Northwest or plans of massive deportation by people who cannot bring themselves to drop out of the same system that facilitates their alienation.

O’Meara’s summary of Dugin’s political itinerary is equally superficial. While it is hard to outline a trajectory that goes from Pamyet to Gennady Zyuganov’s Communist Party and so forth, this scrutiny does not necessarily reveal deep contradictions in Dugin’s thought. His willingness to work and be part of different camps (some of them, like Zyuganov’s organization in the ‘90s, seemed perfectly positioned to assume a larger role in Russian history before they imploded) are also signs of pragmatism and reaffirm one of the 4PT’s core principles in that all serious anti-liberal forces have something to contribute. This does not mean that Dugin’s thought did not experience an evolution, but that is not the same as claiming it is contradictory in its present form.

Likewise, you cannot assume that Dugin’s last decade of thought and activism is exclusively predicated on his relationship with Putin. Dugin himself has said that he has only had sporadic contacts with the Russian leader and the fact that he has advised Putin doesn’t mean that: a) there is a significant overlap between Dugin and Putin’s politics, and b) that this denotes a change in Dugin’s own thought. What are the exact matters in which Dugin has advised Putin? If you don’t know, you can’t claim they constitute a different stage in his thought or a “conflicting interpretation” within his work.

Still, perhaps the object of most of O’Meara’s reticence towards the 4PT comes from Dugin’s stance on racial matters. Besides the fact that neither Dugin nor de Benoist are even remotely close to liberals on race as the review seems to imply, O’Meara does not strengthen his case by citing Francis Parker Yockey’s ideas as comparatively superior examples of both theory and practice. If anything, Yockey’s concepts of vertical and horizontal race are exactly the type of racial relativism that O’Meara sees in de Benoist and Dugin. On the other hand, de Benoist has never denied the contributions of Konrad Lorenz and ethology to differentialist thought, placing the French thinker much closer to the human biodiversity camp than Yockey or even Evola. The review is ripe with these contradictions. While O’Meara says at one point that spirit is far more important than race, the attention he pays to de Benoist and Dugin’s supposed deviation muddles his argument.

Whatever the reasons for O’Meara distancing himself from the New Right –and there should be more points of disagreement than just de Benoist’s stance on race– his admission that he no longer reads the GRECE’s publications is baffling. This is not a matter of not reading the right authors but of willingly ignoring one of the most dynamic powerhouses of political ideas worldwide –the GRECE’s publications are not just magazines, but a treasure trove of valuable orientations to navigate modernity– a rather unusual stance for an intellectual of O’Meara’s caliber.

This obsession with race as a stumbling block for building meaningful alliances between anti-liberal forces is also evidenced in O’Meara’s hostility to Dugin’s tactical inclusiveness of Islam. It is unfortunate that this idea –articulated more famously by former GRECE member Guillaume Faye– has gained so much traction among intellectuals who should know better and be able to denounce it as the neoconservative Trojan horse it is.


Fascism’s Praxis


In criticizing Dugin’s dismissal of fascism, O’Meara also seems to claim that the heterogeneity of the different interwar fascist movements somehow invalidates the argument that they are part and parcel of the same political family. The notion that they had “little ideological similarity” is ludicrous. Roger Griffin and others have sufficiently debunked that line of analysis and while someone as well read and sharp as O’Meara is most assuredly familiar with this historical interpretation of fascism (also espoused to different degrees by Zeev Sternhell, Ernst Nolte, A. James Gregor, among others) his arguments don’t show it. Similarly, the notion that slapping the “3PT” label on these movements somehow changes the fact that they are fascist offshoots is simply non-conducive, semantic nitpicking.

O’Meara also faults Dugin for allegedly ignoring the accomplishments of postwar fascism but, truth be told, there’s not much to look at outside of the realm of ideology. When it comes to putting fascist ideas in practice, there are very few examples you can mention other than short-lived parliamentary victories (which some would say are useless in and of themselves,) the work of individuals such as Giorgio Freda (and only in the sense that he’s lived a life according to his principles) and, perhaps, the more revolutionary initiatives of the MSI and its splinter groups in Italy. As a matter of fact, one could argue that the GRECE has accomplished more than most of the post-war “3PT” put together.

The argument becomes downright absurd when O’Meara contrasts alleged (but mostly unspecified) “3PT” achievements with those of the “free-floating intellectuals” de Benoist and Dugin, who are likened to irrelevant British figurehead Prince Charles in their supposedly shared Traditionalism. The Fourth Political Theory is a comparatively younger school of thought than whatever O’Meara sees fit to identify as “3PT” and criticizing the former for not having accomplished in its young life what postwar fascism has in almost 70 years is unsustainable. Whatever the reasons for its shortcomings in the political arena, postwar fascism has to own up to its failures and while these owe more to its proponents and so-called leaders than to the ideology itself, this lack of self-criticism among its sympathizers speaks for itself. Not even the most rabid fascist advocates can deny that their ideology has been systematically weighed down by the often freakish incarnations of fascism that have surfaced throughout the years, especially in the United States, where even the more lucid individuals in this camp refuse to weed out obvious misfits, posers, and frankly deranged elements.

While it would not be fair to say O’Meara falls in this particular camp, it is worth noting that many of those who are ready to fault de Benoist and Dugin for their “soft” stance on race are the same who have no compunction in associating with racist Buckleyites like Jared Taylor. While questioning ethnopluralism or the soundness of a geopolitical strategy predicated on Eurasia, they have no problem working together with advocates of unbridled free market capitalism and Israeli colonialism, and who support delusional pipe dreams like the “majority strategy” to “recapture” the Republican party (as if making the Republican party openly pro-white will change the fact that the ideology that inspires it and the U.S. itself since its foundation wasn’t the source of the problem.) How can you claim to be anti-system and fault others for their stance on Islam while overlooking these “lapses” among some of the main players in your own camp?

Going back to what O’Meara actually says in the review, his wildest claim is not necessarily what we’ve critiqued above, but his belief that global socioeconomic conditions are facilitating an eventual “3PT” uprising. It is hard to ascertain how O’Meara makes the connection between the objectively deteriorating global scenario and whatever he thinks these “3PT” forces are accomplishing or working towards accomplishing. What are the actual inroads being made? Greece’s Golden Dawn might grow but it hasn’t even won 10% of the national electorate yet and that’s assuming its irruption is indeed a positive development. I at least am not familiar with the party to make that assertion. To use another of O’Meara’s examples, Italy’s Casa Pound constitutes an encouraging development and its innovative tactics are a template that more should follow (instead of devoting their energies solely to “metapoliticking”) but at the moment their impact is marginal. O’Meara’s forecast is based on pure voluntarism, which is not necessarily negative as a political disposition but is certainly not enough to make accurate forecasts of how the political situation will evolve.


Unbecoming Bombast


This commentary would not be complete without noting some of the bombastic rhetoric (“fighting the dark legions of the Antichrist,” “Satan’s synagogue”) used throughout the review, as if someone had channeled the spirit of Richard Butler or Francisco Franco. The use of cryptic language and conspiratorial turns of phrase sends mixed signals and further undermine its credibility. For example: While on the one hand O’Meara makes the perfectly rational claim that the “hedonist dictatorship” that is modern society was not the “invention of maniacal Jews” (and it’s amazing that these caveats still have to be made among intelligent people) he also talks about the “Hebraic” model of state of society (there is no such thing unless you believe in the Protocols.)

All in all, it seems that no matter how well-equipped you are intellectually, if you do not shed dead weight ideas and attitudes –which is not the same as betraying core principles for the sake of mainstream acceptance– that have consistently helped marginalize your political camp you are bound to be hostile to new schools of thought, even if they are conceivably fighting for the same values of social justice you are. Genuine revolutionary movements need more people willing to throw a punch and take a punch than nitpicking over differences that are negligible when compared to the tasks ahead.

(*) See “Unthinking Liberalism” by Alex Kurtagic, also published in Counter-Currents, for a more comprehensive and even-handed commentary on Dugin’s book.