The Long Path

The Long Path

A recent interview with Alexander Dugin and a South American journalist we’re happy to share here on Open Revolt.

1. The greater public of don’t know about you, can you speak a little bit about your intellectual path in Russia?

Sincerely it is a long path. First of all in my early youth I was deeply inspired by Traditionalism of Rene Guenon and Julius Evola.  That was my definitive choice of camp – on the side of sacred Tradition against the modern (and post-modern) world. This choice and all consequences are still there in the present. I firmly stand for spiritual and religious values against actual decadent materialist and perverted culture. Traditionalism was and rests central as the philosophic focus of all my later developments.

In the same spirit I have discovered a little later the ideological trend of Conservative Revolution and its revival in the French New Right of Alain de Benoist who has personally become my friend and influenced me directly. At the same time I was interested by the field of geopolitics, discovering the classical works of Mackinder, Mahan, Spickman and Haushoffer. Very similar ideas I have identified in the texts of Russian Eurasianists of 1920-1930 who tried in immigration to create an original ideology combining tradition, conservatism, slavophile concepts with some contemporary notions in the field of geopolitics (Savitsky), structural linguistics (Trubetskoy), law (Alexeev), historical science (G. Vernadsky) and so on. So that was the starting point of neo-eurasianism, developed by me from the middle 80′s when the main features of new world vision were clear to me.

Further in the early 90′s I’ve begun to apply that to political analysis of the current event in domestic and international domain enlarging and detailing the general frame of neo-eurasianism. So I’ve founded the Russian school of geopolitics, introducing the main texts and authors as well as promoting new and original concepts. At the same time I’ve laid the basis for Traditionalist thought trying to apply the ideas of Guenon and Evola to the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition. Also I explored the field of the Russian Conservative Revolution basing of Russian historic values.

Being anti-communist during the Soviet era I changed my mind in 1991 in front of the liberal revolt that I’ve judged to be worse than socialism. The result of this analysis was the first serious change in my world vision: I’d broken with anti-communism concentrating on anti-liberalism, liberalism seen as the main enemy and the final incarnation of the spirit of Modernity that was always considered by me as the absolute evil (in the sense of Guenon and Evola). The victory of liberalism over communism was the proof in my eyes of its eschatological nature. So I’ve moved from more classical right traditionalism to the left traditionalism, called something national-bolshevism. It wasn’t in fact really communism or bolshevism. It was and still is a total refusal of liberalism identified as the ideology that during his fight with communists and fascists has proved to be more consistently modern and identic with the very nature, very essence of the Modernity.

The resolute turn of political history produced in 1991 I’ve conceived as the confirmation that fascism and communism were less modern and possessed some anti-modern features.

That was almost obvious for fascism but much less obvious for communism. So I’ve proposed a reading of Marxism and socialism from the Right and a Left reading of Traditionalism (Evola visto da sinistra – such was the name of my lecture in Rome in 1994 during the congress dedicated to the 20 years anniversary of the death of Evola).

So the 90′s were under this search of left-right anti-liberal synthesis. In current politics that meant the total refuse of Boris Yeltsin politics and my personal participation of various patriotic right and left group of opposition.

This national-bolshevist period lasted from 1991 till 1998. From 1998 with some steps of the Russian government in favor of patriotism (Primakov politics) I’d begun to develop a moderated version of the former and essentially the same political ideology in the context of the Radical Center. The idea was that in the modern West in the absolute Center stands liberalism (right and left at the same time – right in economics, left in cultural and social sense). So for the West national-bolshevist synthesis of the two anti-liberal extremes is meaningful and correct. But Russia has a particular political structure where the liberalism is something formal and not essential. That is why we should rather promote the idea of Radical Center that is not an artificial creation of some parts of right and some parts of left, but rely on an original Russian ideology that is not liberal at all, not being communist or nationalist. Eurasianism fit here excellently being not right nor left.

From 1998 up to 2004 I was the official adviser of the head of Russian State Parliament G. Seleznev and also was director of the Center of Geopolitical Expertize in the Russian Duma.

In 2000 Putin came to power. That was the shift from Yeltsin’s imitation of Western liberalism to more organic Russian politics. That was the time for the Radical Center and Eurasianism. The Eurasian Movement was then formally constructed as the network of those who accepted the same political philosophy. Soon the foreign branches of the Eurasian Movement followed and structure became international. With Putin my position that began to shift toward Radical Center already in 1998 has moved much to the mainstream. And Eurasian ideas were partly accepted by Russian government.

From that period my position was assured inside the  political establishment as the extreme but accepted form of Russian patriotic attitude.

In this period the concept of Fourth Political Theory was finally elaborated, continuing the ideas of Radical Center and Eurasianism. Here was the second important change in my ideological development: the passage from the acceptance of the communism and nationalism in their anti-liberal aspects to overcoming of any kind of political Modernity – including communism and fascism.

From 20008 when the main principles of the 4PT were clearly formulated I have renounced to any appeal to the second or third political theories (communism and nationalism) and I has concentrated exclusively on the elaboration of fully independent Fourth Political Theory breaking any ties with the Modernity.

4PT is seen instead as the alliance between Premodernity (premodern traditionalism) and Postmodernity (Heideggerian existentialism and the centrality of the Dasein taken as main political subject).

Meanwhile Putin came to power for third term and that was the moment of his decisive rupture with liberalism. Now Putin accepted Eurasianism and Radical Center orientation moving every day closer and closer to Fourth Political Theory. So this move is going on right now.

Symmetrically my position in the political establishment moves as well – from the patriotic end of Putins follower to the heart of political mainstream. So right now Putin’s political realism is joining my Fourth Political Theory and updated version Eurasianism. Here we are right now.

2. What is ‘Eurasianism’, that many say is the geopolitical strategy behind Putin’s foreign policies?

Eurasianism is based on the multipolar vision and on the refuse of the unipolar vision of the continuation of American hegemony.

The pole of this multipolarism is not national state or the ideological block but rather great space (Grossraum) strategically united in the borders of the common civilization. The typically great space is Europe, unification of USA, Canada and Mexica or united Latin America, Greater China, Greater India and in our case Eurasia.

Eurasia is the territory of the ancient Tsarist Empire of Russia or Soviet Union. We call it in other terms Greater Russia (Bolshaya Rossia) or else Russia as Eurasia. In order to make firm the independent pole we need to unite different countries in a centralized geopolitical, economic and social entity.

The multipolar vision recognizes the integration on the basis of the common civilization. So we speak of Eurasian civilization common not only to Russians and slaves and/or Orthodox peoples but also to the Turkish and aboriginal peoples of Central Asia, Siberia and the Caucasus. Putin’s foreign policy is centered around multipolarity and Eurasian integration that is necessary to create the full standing pole.

2. What brought you to support Putin?

I have explained that in the first answer. Putin’s political realism and emotional patriotism made him move closer and closer to my own geopolitical and ideological position. I support Putin right because he declares and fulfills the goals and ideals that are essentially mine.

3. Putin has once said that the end of the USSR was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. What do you think of this statement?

The accent here is made on the word geopolitical. That stresses that Putin deplores not so much the ideological content of Soviet ideology but rather the collapse of the political space united long before bolshevism and representing Greater Russia as the political entity based on the civilizational similarity between the history and the cultures of different ethnical groups and peoples. The West knows little or nothing at all about the real history of Russia. Sometime they think that the Soviet Union was purely a communist creation and the States as Ukraine, Kazakhstan or Azerbaidjan were independent before the USSR and conquered by Bolsheviks or forced into Soviet State.

The fact is they never existed as such and represented but administrative districts without any political or historical meaning inside Russian Empire as well as inside USSR. These countries were created in their present borders artificially only after the collapse of USSR and as the result of such collapse.

So Putin wants to stress the artificial, casual and unfounded character of such process and suggests that such artificially created countries are but failed states. In order to prevent this failure they need to be integrated in new geopolitical frame – that is the Eurasian Union.

The idea of Eurasian Union is not conquer or force into Russian sphere of influence completely independent and successful countries but rather prevent their inevitable collapse that is announced in the events as Georgian split in 2008 or Ukrainian in 2014.

4. What do you think of the annexation of Crimea and the protests by pro-Russians groups in eastern Ukraine?

During the last weeks the Crimea became the integral part of Russian Federation and some new Republics (Donetsk and Lugansk) have appeared on the political map of ex-Ukraine. That is the logical result of the efforts of the ultranationalist forces that accomplished a coup d’etat in Kiev in march 2014 to impose the West-Ukrainian (mostly neo-nazi) identity on all Ukrainian population. But the fact is the East and South of Ukraine have the population with completely different historical and cultural identity.

Ukraine is a typically post-soviet extremely artificially failed State that never existed in history before 1991. The West of Ukraine has one identity the South and East other and sometime opposite identity. The first one is pro-Hitler, Banderite and strongly anti-Russian. The second one is pro-Russian, anti-fascist and roughly pro-Soviet (pro-Stalin).The population of South East belongs to Russian World (Russky Mir) and to Eurasian civilization. Hence the present civil war and the logical return of the separated parts to the Russian geopolitical zone.

That is only beginning of the process: just now there is only 8,000,000 of population with pro-Russian Eurasian identity has announced for independence or entrance in Russia. But there is at least 12,000,000 with the same pro-Russian identity that are still under control of Kiev. So the struggle continues.

5. Is the current situation in Ukraine a challenge to the rebirth of Russia as a world superpower?

Yes it is. If Russia will be able to handle it, we will be living in multipolar world. If Russia will fail the unipolarity will continues a little bit longer… But I doubt that American hegemony could stay any more. So Russia will win.

6. How do you evaluate the role of Russian diplomacy in the civil war in Syria?

It is really great. Putin has shown to everybody in the world and in the region that there is not only one place where strategic decisions on who is the bad guy and who is the good one is taken anymore. The USA and its sub-imperialist proxies in Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Turkey and so on) support the rebels. Moscow and China support Assad. So there is the strong stand and the example to follow as how the multipolar world should be. There is more than one option in this critical situation. And more than one point of main strategic decisions concerning problematic issues.

7. What do you think of Russia’s anti-gay laws?

They are quite correct. The liberalism insists on the freedom and liberation from any form of collective identity. That is the very essence of the liberalism. The liberals have liberated the human being from national identity, religious identity and so on. The last kind of collective identity is gender. So there is time to abolish it making it arbitrary and optional.

The absolute majority of Russian people are against it and have a conservative attitude in front of collective identity in general and gender identity in particular.

Putin struggles with such laws not against homosexual relations but against application of liberal ideology in the form of obligatory law, against normativization and juridical legitimation of what is considered a moral and psychological perversion.

8. What do you think of the western reaction to Russia’s anti-gay laws? Do you think it can harm Russia’s image?

Russia is not a liberal country nor does it pretend to be such. So liberals are free criticize it.

But in the world there are many non-liberal and conservative societies and group that on the contrary applaud Russian position in this field. Political elites of the West are reacting against the Russian choice of straight edge norms of the gender field. But huge masses of the Western countries support Putin and Russia precisely for the same reason.

9. You said once in an article for the Financial Times that the world needs to understand Putin, how can the world do this?

To understand Putin is the same as understanding the other. Russia is the other. We have other values, other history, other ideas, other morals, other anthropology, other gnosis-ology as the modern liberal West.

If the West identifies its own values with the universal ones it is impossible to understand Putin.

You can but criticize him and blames him for all that he is doing. Because he is other (than the modern West) he thinks otherwise and acts otherwise. Or You accept the right to be other – in this case You ask Your question seriously and the answer demands deep knowledge of Russian history and Russian culture. Or it just symbolical question showing the absence of will to grant to the other the chance to affirm its otherness positively.

In the last case You are obliged to hate other. We are prepared to the dialogue based on mutual understanding of each other. But we are prepared to the hate from the part of the West as well.

We do know the Eurocentric, culturally racist, universalist and imperialist manners of the West dealing with the other.

So it’s better really try to understand us. Try to read our classics attentively… Try to grasp the meaning of our Christian Orthodox philosophy, theology, mystic authors, our stars and our saints, our poets and our writers (Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Gogol). And You surely will easily find the way to understand Putin, understand Russia, understand all of us.

Alexander Dugin (b. 1962) is one of the best-known writers and political commentators in post-Soviet Russia. In addition to the many books he has authored on political, philosophical and spiritual topics, he currently serves on the staff of Moscow State University, and is the intellectual leader of the Eurasia Movement. For more than a decade, he has also been an adviser to Vladimir Putin and others in the Kremlin on geopolitical matters.

His first English language book, the Fourth Political Theory, is available here.