Aleksandr Dugin (sometimes the first name is Anglicized to “Alexander”), a geopolitical thinker with influence in the Kremlin,[i] has drawn from a wide variety of Russian and non-Russian sources for his political ideas.
At one time he was loosely associated with the Nouvelle Droite (“New Right”) movement and its pioneer Alain de Benoist. Like theNouvelle Droite, Dugin draws from esoteric spiritual theories and schools, including the works of Julius Evola and René Guénon (1886-1951), the founder of the mystical and philosophical school of “Traditionalism.”
Eurasianism, the Fourth Political Theory:
However, Dugin is best known for his “neo-Eurasianism” (usually referred to as, simply “Eurasianism”), a theory that proposes the creation of various “great spaces,” each comprised of several contemporary nations states.
According to the Russian theorist, the first three ideologies of the modern age — communism, fascism, and liberalism — are either dead or in a state of collapse, and that only Eurasianism can answer the question of living authentically, both as an individual and as a civilization, in the contemporary world. To those who would decry him as a crypto-fascist, Dugin retorts that Russian and Eurasian identity is not racial, but rather is based on the ideas of different ethnic groups coexisting as a single civilization, yet with each retaining their traditional, authentic ways of culture, religion, etc.
Whether this is an adequate rebuttal or not, with the announcement in late 2012 that a Eurasian Union would officially come into being in 2015, with the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan as the founding member states,[ii] it seems inevitable that Dugin’s neo-Eurasianism will grow in currency outside of this bloc, and possibly even in the West.
Notably, despite being portrayed as Right-wing, Dugin’s sentiments are also echoed on the extreme-Left of Russia’s political spectrum, with leader of Russian Communist Party (KPRF) Gennady Zyuganov telling a rally that had gathered to mark the October Revolution, that he wanted to see “restore[d] in a new shape the “Eurasian bridge.” Russia had acted as a bridge between Europe and Asia, and according to RT (formerly Russia Today), Zyuganov wanted to see Russia and Asian unite in order to counter-balance “American-style globalization.”[iii]
Eurasianism believes that, having developed organically and representing the spirit of different peoples, the traditions of the world should be preserved from the dominance of Western liberalism (both in its political and cultural aspects, from ideas about “rights” and democracy to commerce, fast food chains, and so on). In this respect, Dugin regards the US as the main opponent to the “multi-polar world,” with countries such as Britain being lower down the scale as mere helpers of the US.
(This grouping, which he refers to as the Atlanticists, and the oppsotional forces of liberalism and Tradition, seems to bear some similarity to the liberalizing opposition of Evola’s “occult war.”)
According to Dugin, there are naturally four great spaces, according to four civilizational zones: the American, Afro-European, Asian-Pacific, and the Eurasian. Russia will be at the center of the Eurasian zone, having brought the Baltic nations as well as those of the former socialist bloc, and, eventually, Manchuria, Xingjian, Tibet, and Mongolia under its wing. It will also ally with Germany, Japan, and Iran, which will dominate surrounding nations. The alliance of these “great spaces”, led by the Eurasian bloc, will constitute a counterweight to the “Atlanticist” hegemony, led by the US.[iv]
Unsurprisingly, this position in particular, and his apparent influence on Vladimir Putin has caused him to be highly criticized, if not vilified, by US pundits, especially on the more pro-military Right, which sees the spreading of American ideals to the rest of the world as essential for world stability. Dugin’s sympathy for Islam (which is certainly in line with Traditionalism), and even for some Muslim militias, has proved another controversial position.
A Hezbollah for Russia:
Acknowledging the influence of Traditionalism on Dugin’s thought, “Choosing among the various currents of Traditionalism,” says the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars,
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.”
In its report Aleksandr Dugin: A Russian Version of the European Radical Right? the think tank also says that, “… 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.”
Eurasianism For Iran:
Eurasianism sharply contrasts the expressed neo-conservative aim to bring democracy to foreign states — from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya, Syria, and even Iran — to, as they see it, create a world of peaceful cooperation. (Of course, like all movements, neoconservatism is not entirely monolithic, but this vision of the world has been expressed countless times by neoconservatives.)
In 2002, US President George W. Bush placed the Iranian regime on the “Axis of evil,” along with North Korea and Iraq. At the same time, the American president openly supported Iran’s growing democracy movement and general populace (which has traditionally been pro-American). Dugin, in contrast, has been keen for Russia to ally with Iran, partly because of the ultra-traditionalism and rejection of the West that exists, influentially, within it. In 2008, Dugin told the Los Angeles Times that “Iran should and could be an ally of Russia”. This would mean Russia:
Working with Iran, exchanging weapons and the possibility of resources and the base to transport natural resources from Eurasia and Iran, to combine our efforts in strategy, military, economy and energy – we could create a real force to influence the whole Middle East…
With Iranians we have common interests… because I consider that to stop American unipolarity is the most important thing, the absolute thing.[v]
No matter what one thinks of his ideas, there is no doubt that he is one of, if not the only, contemporary thinker that has been able to transcend the political divide, gaining attention winning accolades at the fringes as well as, occasionally, from respected academia. In 2013, for example, he presented a talk on Eurasianism and the multi-polar world to visiting students from the London School of Economics (see video below).
[i] Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2008, Fred Weir, ‘Moscow’s moves in Georgia track a script by right-wing prophet’; http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2008/0920/p01s01-woeu.html
[ii] Eurasia Review, Angel Millar, Eurasian Union Presses Forward Despite Western Concern – Analysis; http://www.eurasiareview.com/23122012-eurasian-union-presses-forward-despite-western-concern-analysis/
[iii] RT, Communists propose Russia-led Eurasian unity vs. imperialist globalization; http://rt.com/politics/zyuganov-communists-globalization-eurasia-390/
[iv] Marlene Laruelle, Aleksandr Dugin: A Russian Version of the European Radical Right? The Kennan Institute, a division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; available at: www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/OP294.pdf
[v] Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2008, Megan Stack, ‘Russian nationalist advocates Eurasian alliance against the U.S.’; http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-dugin4-2008sep04,0,2871108.story
Angel Millar is the author of The Crescent and the Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Revolution in The Modern Age.