ALEXANDER DUGIN’S APPROACHES TO THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATIONS

ALEXANDER DUGIN’S APPROACHES TO THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATIONS

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Shahzada Rahim

Alexander Dugin and the Philosophy of History. Image @zaabbas

Alexander Dugin is one of the popular political face and renowned philosopher in the Post-soviet Russia. His milestone work ‘The Fourth way or Fourth Political Theory’ is centered in the Russian historiography and history. He studied Russian imperial history from the context of the ‘Times of troubles’ or ‘Inter-regnum’ that refers to period of social and political chaos in Russian history back in the seventeenth century. For Dugin, the term ‘Times of Troubles’ is not just a social and political upheaval rather he use the term in the context of philosophy to emphasize the deep spiritual crisis. His whole work is surrounded by the Philosophy of Marin Heidegger and Post-modernism, through which he deduced the second ‘Times of trouble’ in the contemporary Russian history that occurred as a result of soviet disintegration. Similarly, he pioneered the

Fourth Political theory with the fall communism in Russia, which marked a significant ideological crisis around the globe. For Dugin, all three ideologies either Liberalism, fascism or Communism was the product of European Modernity, which is under severe decline. Moreover, what Dugin emphasizes is the Post-modern critic on the degenerated European modernity that has given materialism an upper hand above the social and traditional domain.

For Dugin, the so-called Enlightenment civilization of the west has lost its traditions and values into the form of hyper-materialism and hyper-modernity. In this regard, the fall of Communism marked a significant ending of the so-called modern ideologies, which were the product of European renaissance. According to Dugin, with the fall of Communism, Russia has risen again with new religious wholeness that makes Russia a post-modern state on the Eurasian landmass, which still upholds the traditional values. However, with the fall of Communism in the 1990s, Russia tilted itself towards degenerated form of western democracy that has given birth to the archeo-modern political culture.[1] Basically, Alexander Dugin contemplated the Russian form archeomodernity from the perspective of western modernity and Russian conservatism. For Dugin, though attempted several times to become modern but at the heart of it, the conservative Russian traditions were the essential determiner. Moreover, in the opinion of Alexander Dugin, Russia in the 18th century was more modern than the 19th century and the 19th century was more modern than the 20th century. Nevertheless, in the context of civilization, the writings of Alexander Dugin are concerned with ‘identity’ because various nations around the world are perplexed with their national identity.[2] The identity-puzzled nations search for their identity in the history of foreign nations without knowing anything about their ethno-genesis and anthropology. Thus, in case of Russia, for Dugin, it harbors the multi-ethnic communities of the Eurasian steppes and is a symbol of collective identity — the pure identitarian state.[3]

On the contrary, Dugin’s famous work ‘The fourth way/ Fourth Political Theory’ is completely phenomenological, which is influenced from the writings of Martin Heidegger. However, it was Heideggerian Hermeneutics and phenomenological concept ‘Dasien’ that shaped the foundations of Dugin’s ‘Fourth Position’ or ‘Fourth Political theory’. It was the concept of ‘Being’, that was at the center of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy because for Heidegger, the determination of human beings as ‘Animal rationale’ led the human genuine characteristics from purity towards impurity. In this regard, the better characteristics of human being as Zoon Logon echon, shelters the discourse of the ancient Logos, which determines the phenomenological ‘purity of being’. [4]

For Dugin, we have entered into the age of hyper-confusion, where the connection between the cause and effect has been altered and polluted. As a result, this gave birth to the world of Nihilism that refers to de-sacredness and de-ontologization, which has torn apart the essence of everything and caused a distorted identitarian chaos. In the context of ‘Heideggerian existential analytic’, the concept ‘Dasien’ not only refers to the ‘being-there-in-the-world’ but also denotes ‘being-ahead-of-oneself-already-being-in-the-world’ — to which Heidegger calls ‘Care’. In contrast, Heideggerian ‘Existential analytic’ is a discussion about the existential temporality — that denotes the Being-towards-death as the destiny of human beings. [5]

On the other hand, the fact cannot be denied that the philosophy of Martin Heidegger has also hugely influenced the philosophical creation of the French thinkers throughout the course of the twentieth century. [6] Moreover, Heideggerian modes of being, the ‘Authenticity’ and ‘in- authenticity’ remained a significant contribution to the leftist political theory especially to the National Socialism of Nazis. [7] Meanwhile, his ontological talk of being, much emphasized on the practice of the reactionary politics and this is the reason, some left leaning intellectuals criticized his way of politics.[8] In this way, the Heideggerian semantics have influenced theoretical approach of Alexander Dugin towards the philosophy of History. Based on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, Dugin also criticized the post-modernist approach to civilization and history. He even criticized some of the post-modern philosophers such as Jurgen Habermas, who he declared as one of the vile of Post-modernism.[9]
If we touch the process of modernization in Russian history, we will see that the narrow elite during the reign of the last Tsar was the supporter of Westernization while the majority of Russian people were against the westernization process. In this regard, Dugin’s approach of archeomodernity towards Russian civilization is rooted in Russian imperial, soviet and post-soviet history. Thus, in order to develop the post-modernist approach through the cannon of tradition, Dugin used the methodological insights of Martin Heidegger to write his fourteen volume work; ‘Noomachy: the war of the intellect’.[10] As an illustration, the whole post-modern historical analysis of Dugin on civilizations is based on the methodology of Martin Heidegger. With the defeat of fascism and communism and degeneracy of liberal enlightenment ideology, Dugin asserted that each of these ideologies have a core, and if that core is rejected then the remaining elements lose their cohesion that must be restored with something new — the new way or with new possibilities.

Similarly, if we overhaul the Soviet era, the ideology of the Marxism was of western origin and even the Russian intelligentsia used to look for the western guidance but it was practiced by Russian elites on conservative lines. As a result, the rise of Communism in Russia saved Russia from the epidemic of western degenerated modernity — precisely; communism emerged as a resistant force against the westernization in Russia. In this regard, if we want to understand the archeomodern history of the contemporary Russia then we must situate Russia between the imperial and soviet history. Here the soviet history was more archaic than the Russian imperial history because the people in the soviet era were having more ancient world worldview and were more Slavophiles that later contributed in overcoming the hermeneutic shades of communism.[11]

On the other hand, in his famous work ‘Nomos of the Earth’, Carl Schmitt describes the internal socio-political confusion of the American society, which is oscillating between the economic presence and political absence, and between isolationism and global interventionism. It was through the concept of Nomos, philosopher Schmitt gave birth to the field of ‘political theology’ with a diverse concept of sovereignty such as ‘state of exception’ and ‘friend-enemy’ distinction. Moreover, today the world is experiencing a hyper-confusion at social, political and economic level and it was the result of American led ‘neo-liberalism’ that challenged the core traditions of the historical civilizations. In this regard, the resistance emerged as a result of the ‘Return of Chaos’ by challenging the neo-liberal disorder and in this regard, the Schmitt’s Nomos refers to the ‘apparatus’ and ‘appropriation’ of the world’s material resources. Likewise, Carl Schmitt’s Nomos gave birth to the concept of ‘geopolitics’ while the work was later expanded by the famous French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who used Carl Schmitt’s concepts to develop his ‘geo-philosophy’.[12] Thus, according to Dugin, the core traditions of the unique civilizations on earth are under severe threat from the neo-liberal disorder and chaos. In contrast, the concept of ‘New Russian idea’ is solely aimed reviving the Russian civilization from the chaotic barbarism of archeomodernity — the utter confusion in the contemporary Russian society.
For Dugin, the history of Russian civilization is unique and distinctive because it has never been part of the so-called universal history of the Europeans. During the imperial rule especially after the ascension of the Romanovs, religion has been the nominator the Russian society while during the Stalinist rule, religion became denominator with resistance from the eschatological essence. Famous American anthropologist Clifford Geertz introduced the famous concept of ‘thick description’ by using the famous method of semiotics and thus, today in order to understand the contemporary cultural condition of the Russian society, we are required to use the Geertz’s concept of thick description.[13] In this regard, the questions arise: Can an ethnic Russian remain Russian outside its history? How an ordinary Russian will define himself as ‘part’ by detaching himself from the ‘whole’? Is attachment to Russian culture necessary to define the ‘unique identity? These are the question which compels the Dugin to describe the contemporary Russian society in the context of archeomodernity — half conservative and half western.
On the other hand, Clifford Geertz’s ‘Interpretation of Cultures’ provides a foundational outline to study the condition of contemporary cultures and civilization. Moreover, the discourse of analysis of different cultures through the concept of ‘thick description’ provides the contextual understanding of complexity within cultures.

Notes

[1] For Dugin, the contemporary Russia is archeo-modern state, which is half culturally modern and half- Russian. Basically, Alexander Dugin used Heideggerian hermeneutics to trace the essence of archeo-modernity as ‘hermeneutic eclipse’, whose two foci are western and Russian. Moreover, through his archeo-modern approach Alexander Dugin traces the modernization programs during imperial and soviet Russia, which were indeed partial. For instance, the westernization program of peters the Great in the 18th century and the attempt of ‘communism’ in the form of Bolshevism has its own semantics. Similarly, for Dugin, by overhauling the history of the Soviet society, it becomes clear that the Soviet era was more archaic than the imperial one.
What Dugin says; ‘in my opinion, one can imagine the archeomodern as a system like fractions: the numerator is the modern, and the denominator is the archaic’.
[2] Basically, the Dugin’s philosophy of ‘identitarianism’ is influenced by the writings of Frederick Nietzsche — his famous proclamation ‘God is dead and we killed him’ denotes that ‘Human must overcome God and Nothingness in order to reclaim their identity. His concept of ‘Ubermensch’ or ‘Superman’ was used by the Nazi regime in Germany in order to proclaim and transverse their vow of the ‘Aryan Race’. Basically, this proclamation has its foundation in the concept of ‘being’ as the center of everything.
[3] For Dugin, the ‘Ubermensch’ takes two steps to overcome the phenomena: to overcome God (which is the external absolute) and to overcome the nothingness — the space of Godliness, desacralized and void reality — in this regard, Dugin suggests the interiorization of the Absolute to discover the sacredness of ‘Being’. Moreover, this can only happen through the experience of the nothingness and emptiness. Most of Dugin’s work is against modernity in defense of traditions and values. For Dugin, ‘The end of the age of God is a transition from pre-modernity to modernity’. Thus, the ascension of Modernity over traditions has exposed the world of nothingness and this nothingness is the actual modernity. In this regard, it is the overcome of nothingness — the second step that give birth to the ‘Ubermensch’. Thus, the superman is the legendary character of post-modernity and if we look at post-modernity through the lens of the traditions then it contemplates the historical cycles in domain of civilizations that evolved through cycles: Pre-modernity-Modernity-Post-modernity.
[4] The phrase ‘Zoon Logon Echon’ is ancient Aristotelian tradition of calling Human as ‘rational animal’ — the purity of human being with pure characteristics. The phrase ‘Zoon Logon Echon’ was also used by Martin Heidegger in his phenomenology, to describe his word ‘Dasien’ that refers to the ‘Being-in-the-world’.
[5] For Dugin, the heroes are dead, and the world has turned into tragic apocalypse because the actual reality has disappeared and only tragedies are the fact of life. Thus, the horrendous tragedies are the result of confusion, perversion and degeneration — this depicts the beginning of the tragedies out of nothingness. In this regard, Nietzsche wants two things from us: first to conquer our metaphysical needs and second, the animal certitudes of our existence. But Nietzsche did not talk about converting people to this type because ‘we do not easily admit that anyone has right to it’.
[6] Heidegger’s milestones work ‘being and nothingness’ influenced the existentialist philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre, who admired the phenomenological work of Martin Heidegger at larger scale. Especially Heidegger’s concept of ‘Dasien’ and ‘Existential temporality’ became the cornerstone of Sartre’s existentialism. For various contemporary philosophers, the philosophy of Martin Heidegger is the essence of modern critical debate and has contributed at larger scale to the political thinking of various theorists such as Hannah Arendt, Levi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida, and Jurgen Habermas.
[7] The logical positivists have criticized the writings of Martin Heidegger by declaring them as totalitarian texts especially Karl Popper in his famous book ‘Open Society’ declared the political thought of Plato, Hegel and Marx as totalitarian thinker because of their style of ideological preaching. In case of Martin Heidegger, it was his association with the National Socialist Nazi party that dragged a lot of criticism towards his writings. On the contrary, in my opinion, the criticism of Karl Popper on Marx, Plato, Hegel and Heidegger are baseless, because their writings have never been against the scientific knowledge but what they stressed was on the logical essence of science.
[8] Basically, Heidegger criticized the subject-object distinction and based his ontology on the unified structure of ‘Dasien’; this was based on pure hermeneutics, which pioneered a different kind of aesthetic politics.
[9] Though, Hebermas was a post-modernist but he defended the European enlightenment, whose intellectual production has given rise to the chaos and tragedies? The ideological confrontation between the three major enlightenment ideologies such as Liberalism, Communism and Fascism depicts the degeneracy of the European modernity.
[10] Nookamia or Noomachy: the war of logos or intellect or minds is a milestone work of professor Dugin that stresses on the return of ancient Logos to deal with the epidemic of confusion and mind wars. In this regard, it can be said that professor Dugin is a serious philosophical and political thinker of our time, who attempted to reposition the post-modernism for the critique of western Modernity.
[11] According to Nietzsche, throughout human history the intellect has produced nothing but errors, though some of them turned out to be useful and species preserving; those inherited them fought their fight for themselves and their progeny with greater luck. Thus, in case of Russia, the conservatism remained their ancient heritage and cultural symbol that resisted every act of westernization even today. In the Nietzschean context human will should be free because it is the truth that very lately emerges as the weakest form of knowledge.
For Nietzsche, there are some erroneous articles of faith that survives as inheritance and thus become part of human organism as truth…it was very lately the deniers and doubters emerged, who questioned every fragment of the faith and truth and in this way the organism was geared with opposites having all higher functions and the perception of the sense. Today, the archeomodern culture of the Russian people is quite unique because the Russian society in infested by doubters and firm believers. The doubter embrace the modernity by denying the ancient conservatism — lately truth — while the firm believers perceive modernity as the ill-symbol and sinful tradition of European heretics — the eschatological religious truth.
In his famous work ‘the statesman’ Carl Schmitt writes; ‘law can never issue an injunction binding on all which really embodies what is best for each; it cannot prescribe with perfect accuracy what is good and perfect for each member of the community at any one time’ . If we trace the Jurisprudence traditions of Russian law ‘Russkaya Pravda’ which is often known as the Russian truth or Russian Justice, the very tale of Russian conservatism is embodied in this ancient text — thus the jurisdiction of this law is binding on every Russian citizen.
[12] Basically, in order to develop his ‘geo-philosophy’ Gilles Deleuze used the metaphysical concepts such as Plato’s ideas, Kant’s faculties, and Descartes use of cogito.
[13] Famous anthropologist, Clifford Geertz famous work was the ‘interpretation of cultures’, which is a famous semiotic work, which overhauls the essence of different existing cultural patterns. Through his famous work he gave the concept of ‘thick description’ that refers to the process of giving the cultural context and meaning to different symbols, words and actions. Thus, through the perspective of Geertz’s ‘thick description’ a person can make meaning or behavior by remaining outside the existing culture.

Aktürk, Ş. (2015). The Fourth Style of Politics: Eurasianism as a Pro-Russian Rethinking of Turkey’s Geopolitical Identity. Turkish Studies , 16 (1), 54–79.
Dugin, A. (2014). Putin vs Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed from the Right. Arktos Media Ltd.
Last War of the World-Island2015LondonArktos Media Ltd
Pearson, K. A. (2005). How to read Nietzsche. London: Granta Publications .
Petersen, A. (2011). The World Island. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger Security International.
Tsygankov, A. P. (2007). Finding a Civilisational Idea: “West,” Eurasia,” and “Euro-East” in Russia’s Foreign Policy. Geopolitics , 12 (3), 375–399.

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