Geopolitics - Alain de Benoist, Halford Mackinder, Carl Schmitt, Zbigniew Brzezinski

But I began this essay by evoking the need for a specifically Russian idea in the context of the Cold War being orchestrated in Washington and the reader may be wondering what is specifically Russian about what has been said so far. In fact the reader may be wondering in what way it differs from the ideas developed by Alain de Benoist and his group GRECE (the Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne). The critique of liberalism and the willingness to take seriously ideas usually associated with the fringes of Fascism are both very characteristic of de Benoist whose Manifesto for a European Renaissance, published in 1999, but intended as a condensed statement of ideas developed since the founding of GRECE in 1968, covers much the same ground as The Fourth Political Theory, including the transition from 'Modernity' to 'Post-modernity' and the evocation of 'tradition'. The connection is very straightforward. Articles by Benoist appear on the 4pt website, Dugin draws attention to the fact that a selection of Benoist's writings have been published in Russian with the subtitle ‘Towards a Fourth Political Theory’, the English translation of Dugin's book has been published by Arktos, who also publish Benoist (and, as it happens, Guénon and Evola). 

Benoist also shares Dugin's insistence on a multipolar world:

'The Twenty-first century will be characterised by the development of a multipolar world of emerging civilisations: European, North American, South American, Arabic-Muslim, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, etc. These civilisations will not supplant the ancient local, tribal, provincial or national roots, but will be constituted as the ultimate collective form with which individuals are able to identify in addition to their common humanity. They will probably be called upon to collaborate in certain areas to defend humanity’s common interests, notably with respect to ecology. In a multipolar world, power is defined as the ability to resist the influence of others rather than to impose one’s own. The main enemy of this pluriverse will be any civilisation pretending to be universal and regarding itself as entrusted with a redeeming mission (‘Manifest Destiny’) to impose its model on all others.'

(Manifesto for a European Renaissance, Page 29)

I don't know Benoist's thought well enough to know if there is any significance in the fact that his list of emerging civilisations does not include 'Eurasia'. It certainly would include Eurasia if he were writing it now.

'Eurasia' is a somewhat elastic term. It is the chessboard of Zbigniew Brzezinski's book The Grand Chessboard - the whole land mass from Belgium to China. Its basic characteristic is certainly land. Dugin's website includes, under the title ‘The Great War of Continents’, an extract from a book he wrote in 1992 - therefore still in the period of alliance with Limonov - “Konspirologya” (The Analysis of Conspirations [sic - PB]), Arktogeya, Moscow 1992, which says:

'Let's remind ourselves of the basic postulates of geopolitics - a science which was earlier also known as “political geography” and whose basic elaboration is due to to the English scholar and political expert Halford Mackinder (1861-1947). The term “geopolitics” was for the first time introduced by the Swedish Rudolf Kjellen (1864-1922) and then brought into use in Germany by Karl Haushofer (1869-1946). Anyway the father of geopolitics remains Mackinder, whose fundamental pattern stood at the bases of all subsequent geopolitical studies. 

'A merit of Mackinder is that he managed to outline and to comprehend the definite objective laws of political, geographical and economic history of mankind. If the term “geopolitics” appeared rather recently, the reality designated by this term has a pluri-millennial history. The substance of the geopolitical doctrine can be summarized in the following principles. In world history there are two opposite and constantly competing approaches to the assimilation of land and room - the "overland" approach and the "maritime" approach. Depending on what attitude (“overland” or “maritime”) the diverse states, peoples, nations, their historical consciousness adhere to, their foreign and domestic policy, their psychology, their world-view are shaped according to completely definite rules. Given this, it is quite possible to speak about an “overland”, “continental” or even “steppe” (“steppe” is “land” in its pure, ideal kind) world-view and about a “maritime”, “insular”, “oceanic” or “aquatic” world-view ...

'In the Modern Age and in recent history the "insular” and “maritime” pole became England, “Mistress of the seas”, and later the giant island-continent America. England, as well as ancient Phoenicia, mostly employed sea trade and the colonization of the coastal areas as its basic instrument for domination . The Phoenician-Anglo-Saxon geopolitical type generated a special “mercantile-capitalist-market” pattern of civilization founded first of all on economic and material interests and the principles of economic liberalism. Therefore, despite all possible historical variations, the most general kind of “maritime” civilization is always linked to the “primacy of economics above politics”. As against the Phoenician pattern, Rome represented a sample of warlike-authoritarian structure based on administrative control and civil religiosity, on the primacy of “politics above economics”. Rome is the example of a non-maritime, overland, purely continental type of colonization, with its deep penetration into the continent and assimilation of the submitted peoples, automatically “romanized” after the conquest. 

'In Modern History the incarnations of the “overland” power were the Russian Empire and also Central European imperial Austro-Hungary and Germany. “Russia - Germany - Austro-Hungary” are the essential symbols of “geopolitical land” during Modern History. Mackinder clearly showed that in the last few centuries the “maritime attitude” means “atlantism”, as today the “sea powers” are above all England and America, that is the Anglo-Saxon countries. Against “atlantism” personifying the primacy of individualism, “economic liberalism” and “democracy of a Protestant kind”, stands “Eurasism”, necessarily presupposing authoritarianism, hierarchy and the establishment of “communitarian”, national-state principles over simply human, individualistic and economic concerns. The clearly expressed eurasian attitude is typical first of all of Russia and Germany, the two mightiest continental powers, whose geopolitical, economic and - most important – world-view concerns are completely opposite to those of England - US, that is the “atlantists”.'

He then goes on to an account - quite fascinating if there is any truth in it at all - of twentieth century history, particularly German/Russian history, in terms of a confrontation between occult Atlanticists and occult Eurasianists, especially operating and fighting each other in the secret services of both countries.

The theme of a land/sea confrontation is also developed by the German jurist and political theorist Carl Schmitt. Schmitt is often represented as a major influence behind the US Neo-conservative movement usually with a view to tarring the Neo-Cons with a Nazi brush (Schmitt joined the Nazi Party in the same week as Heidegger). Alain de Benoist has recently published an essay - Carl Schmitt Today: Terrorism, 'Just' War, and the State of Emergency - to free Schmitt from the taint of association with the Neo-Cons. In it he gives a summary of Schmitt's view of the land/sea confrontation:

'Carl Schmitt writes that "World history is the history of the wars waged by maritime powers against land or continental powers and by land powers against sea or maritime powers" ... The Earth determines concrete freedom, which is always a situated freedom, as opposed to the "fluid’" and "formless’ freedom of the sea. The Earth constitutes the substratum of thought of a concrete type. The logic of the sea is, on the contrary, intrinsically fluctuating and chaotic, for it ignores boundaries ... That is why it is the preferred place for exchanges which operate in all directions: freedom of the seas and freedom of international commerce have constantly been associated in history ... Land warfare implied a decisive confrontation in the field ... the maritime war, on the other hand, favoured such characteristic means as bombardment, the blockade of the enemy shores, and the capture of enemy and neutral merchantmen, in virtue of the right to capture. As such, the sea war tactics were directed both against enemy combatants and the non-combatants. Thus a starvation blockade indiscriminately affected the entire population of the involved territory: soldiers, civilians, men, women, children and old people.’ (pp.90-91)

'After 1945, the essential theme of the writings of Schmitt is that of the "nomos of the Earth." According to Schmitt, the modern age signifies the disappearance of the old nomos, and he investigates what is destined to succeed it. One of the essential questions he poses is whether history is oriented towards a political unification of the world and what the consequences of that would be, both for the world and for the concept of politics itself ... 

'The nomos is not understood in his works in the sense of a law (Gesetz), that is to say, as a simple product of legislation, but as a ‘first measure’ (Messung), an original distribution or sharing of space. The error of Western modernity, according to Schmitt, has been to replace the law as concrete order (nomos) with the law as a simple rule (Gesetz). Nomos is of course related to the logic of the Earth, to the extent that everything in it is a matter of boundaries. Without boundaries, without spatial limits, no order is possible: every fundamental order (Grundordnung) is a spatial order (Raumordnung) ... The question of the ‘"new nomos of the Earth" arises in the form of an alternative, which Carl Schmitt defined already in the late 1930s: the world of the future will be either unipolar or multipolar. If it is unipolar, it will inevitably be subjected to the hegemony of the dominant power, which can today be only the United States. That will then be the advent of a unified world that Schmitt equates with the end of politics, since the essence of politics implies that one can always determine, in relation to the plurality of actors, who is the friend and who the enemy (there is politics only as long as there exist at least two different polities). If, on the contrary, the world remains a ‘political’ world, it will quite necessarily also be a multipolar world, composed of ‘large spaces’ (Großräume) — cultural territories and crucibles of civilisation, but also of geopolitical territories — which alone will be able to play a role of regulation and diversification in relation to the vast movement of globalisation. Schmitt summarises this alternative in the formula: ‘Large space against universalism.' (pp.96-7)

'The alternative between the unipolar world and the multipolar world corresponds to the opposition between sea and land, for a multipolar world implies the territorial concept of borders ... Likewise, one could say, the alternatives of a European Union as a simple transatlantic domain of free trade and a European Union as an autonomous continental power relates again to this opposition, to the extent that the sea is on the side of commerce whereas the land is essentially on the side of politics. ... the major geopolitical objective of the United States is to avoid the formation of a continental or Eurasian heartland which could rival its own power, that is, to do everything to avoid the emergence of a rival power in Western Europe, in Asia or on the territory of the former Russian Empire.' (p.104)

And this is of course the burden of Bzezinski's book. But Brzezinski's argument, unfortunately, is a strong one. Within Russia there may be a desire to reconstitute the 'great space' that was the Soviet Union but there does not seem to be the same enthusiasm among the other nations that would have to reunite with Russia in order to form it. Undoubtedly the US is fishing in troubled waters, but the waters are already troubled.

'Eurasia' is of course not the same thing as 'Russia' (the nation). Nor is it the Orthodox World (religion) nor the Slav world (race). It is Russia plus something else. It might signify a possible alliance with, say, Germany as 'Europe' and Russia as at least in part 'Asia'. But Germany has its own slowly but successfully developing 'great space' project, the development of a large free trade zone that rather resembles the old Austrian Empire. That the Germans know what they are doing is indicated by the sudden ruthlessness they showed in breaking up Yugoslavia when the opportunity was suddenly presented to them of reincorporating Croatia and Slovenia into their own ‘near abroad’. But the countries in the natural German 'near abroad' tend to be countries that in the twentieth century were unnaturally thrust into the Russian 'near abroad' in the form of the Soviet Union and are therefore very hostile to Russia. While aspiring to an eventual alliance with the German 'great space', then, Russia is really obliged to look East. Dugin sees Eurasia as a 'superethnos' uniting Russia with the Islamic, Tartar world. The case that Russians and Tartars constitute a common people was developed by the Soviet ethnologist, Lev Gumilev, son of the poets Nikolai Gumilev and Anna Akhmatova. To quote Brzezinski:

'Eurasianism was given an academic gloss in the much-quoted writings of Lev Gumilev, a historian, geographer, and ethnographer , whose books Medieval Russia and the Great Steppe, The Rhythms of Eurasia, and The Geography of Ethnos in Historical Time make a powerful case for the proposition that Eurasia is the natural geographic setting for the Russian people’s distinctive “ethnos,” the consequence of a historic symbiosis between them and the non-Russian inhabitants of the open steppes, creating thereby a unique Eurasian cultural and spiritual identity. Gumilev warned that adaptation to the West would mean nothing less for the Russian people than the loss of their own “ethnos and soul.”'

One thing that is noticeable about Dugin's writings and his website, however, is the absence of any substantial connection with the Tatar Muslim world. He does evoke, somewhat in passing, the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev as an enthusiast for Eurasia (the L.N.Gumilyov Eurasian National University is situated in Kazakhstan opposite Nazabayev’s presidential palace). But that is about all. It happens that the movement among the Muslim peoples of the Russian Empire that supported the Reds in the Civil War was called ‘National Communism,’ theorised by the Volga Tatar, Mir-Said Sultan Galiev, purged in 1937 and executed in 1940. One would expect a ‘National Bolshevik’ who wished to assert a Eurasian superethnos uniting Russians and Tatars to be very interested in him yet if I only had Dugin’s website as a source of information I would not know that such a thing as Muslim National Communism or such a person as Mir-Said Galiev ever existed.