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An older Alexander Dugin

From his involvement with the National Bolshevik Party, Dugin went on to elaborate what he calls the 'Fourth Political Theory.' The three previous political theories were Liberalism, Communism and Fascism. Communism and Fascism had been comprehensively defeated and only Liberalism, the ideology of the Anglo-Saxon world, was left. This of course was the thesis of Francis Fukuyama's famous book The End of History. Liberal Democracy was now established as the optimum form of government, the direction in which the whole of history had been headed. It was firmly established in the United States and Europe and what 'history' was left was simply a matter of the rest of the world catching up.

Fukuyama's thesis was, however, challenged by Samuel Huntingdon's The Clash of Civilisations. Fukuyama's view was based on the notion of a common human nature - that basically all of us have the same needs and desires, in Fukuyama's view needs and desires that could be satisfied by all the good things that are available in the United States. Huntingdon however argued that there are essential differences between the human natures formed in the context of the different historically evolved civilisations of the world, and these cannot be easily dissolved and will result in conflict. As Pat Walsh has pointed out, The Clash of Civilisations includes a map showing the 'Eastern boundary of Western civilisations.' The line separating 'Western Christianity' on the one hand from 'Orthodox Christianity and Islam' on the other passes through the middle of Ukraine (and indeed also Belarus and Romania).

But the 'civilisations' Huntingdon evoked were larger than individual nation states. They relate to a concept developed by Carl Schmitt in the 1920s of the 'great space', which was, as it happens, adopted by Niekisch, living in East Germany after the war. And this is the idea taken up by Dugin with his 'multipolar world.' (6)

(6)  Aexander Dugin: The Theory of a multipolar world, translated by Michael Millerman, London, Arktos, 2021.

Although this term is central to Dugin's thinking I don't know to what extent he could be regarded as its originator or principle advocate back in the 1990s, but it has become central to the discourse of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and is unquestionably a large part of the appeal Russia has for countries that, one way or another, find themselves at odds with the American unipolar 'rules based international order.' However, the terms 'civilisation', 'great space', 'pole' imply, as I've suggested, something other than the nation state, something more closely resembling 'empire', and, as we saw in my previous article on the 'Katehon', Dugin, who regards the 'nation' as an artificial construct corresponding to the needs of the rising bourgeoisie - a bourgeois 'invention' as argued by Benedict Anderson - isn't afraid to admit the fact. What he has in mind, however, is a land-based, contiguous empire along the lines of the old Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires. These - based on a common religious idea - were quite different from the European - British, French, Dutch, Belgian, Spanish, Portuguese and, late in the game, German - empires, made up as they were of culturally very varied territories scattered throughout the world. The First World War could be interpreted as the triumph of the sea-based empires over the land-based empires. It was the great - indeed quite breathtaking - achievement of the Bolsheviks to preserve, and eventually to expand, the Russian land-based empire.

'Russia' - the 'Russian Federation' which is essentially an empire - now finds itself in Dugin's eyes charged with the job of opposing what he sees as a unipolar American empire. The ideology of the American empire is triumphant liberalism but Dugin would argue that liberalism:

'is an equally outdated, cruel, misanthropic ideology like the two previous ones. The term ‘liberalism’ should be equated with the terms fascism and Communism. Liberalism is responsible for no fewer historic crimes than fascism (Auschwitz) and Communism (the GULag):  it is responsible for slavery, the destruction of the Native Americans in the United States, for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the aggression in Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, for the devastation and the economic exploitation of millions of people on the planet, and for the ignoble and cynical lies which whitewash this history. But, most important, we must reject the base upon which these three ideologies stand: the monotonic process in all its forms, that is, evolution, growth, modernisation, progress, development, and all that which seemed scientific in the Nineteenth century but was exposed as unscientific in the Twentieth century. We must also abandon the philosophy of development and propose the following slogan: life is more important than growth. Instead of the ideology of development, we must place our bets on the ideology of conservatism and conservation.'  (7)

(7)   Alexander Dugin: The Fourth Political Theory, translated by Mark Sleboda and Michael Millerman, London, Arktos, 2012, p.65.

Liberalism, he argues, based as it is on individual freedom, contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Nothing stays still and the process of the freeing of the individual ultimately leads to the freeing of the individual from everything that gives substance to human being - attachment to the soil, family, ethnos (identification with particular people or community which Dugin distinguishes sharply from the idea of nation), creative work with one's own hands, religion - especially religion of the sacramental, priestly, 'magical' type, 'Orthodoxy' for example. All that has, one might think, already gone, but Dugin does not accept the 'eschatological' view that history is headed in one particular direction. Time, in Dugin's view, can turn back on itself and what has been lost can be restored. That is, after all, what the Soviet Union experienced when it went back to capitalism, national conflicts and Orthodoxy as a national religion. This flexibility of time leads Dugin to express considerable interest in and sympathy for the German 'Conservative revolutionaries' - Niekisch, Moeller van den Bruck, Junger, Schmitt. One could suggest that Dugin's Fourth Theory, like 'National Bolshevism,' is made up of what he believes can still be discerned as valuable in the wider circle of thinking that surrounded both Fascism and Communism:

'The second and third political theories [Fascism and Communism - PB] must be reconsidered, selecting in them that which must be discarded and that which has value in itself. As complete ideologies, trying to manifest themselves in a literal sense, they are entirely useless, either theoretically or practically. However, certain marginal elements which advocated ideas that were generally not implemented, and which remained on the periphery or in the shadows … may, unexpectedly, turn out to be extremely valuable and saturated with meaning and intuition.' (ibid., p.24)

But he distinguishes the Conservative Revolutionaries sharply from what he calls the Conservative Fundamentalists:

'the Conservative Revolutionaries say to the conservative fundamentalists: ‘You offer to return to a condition when man exhibited only the first symptoms of illness, when there first began the hacking cough. Today this man lies dying, but you speak of how good things were for him earlier. You contrast a coughing man with a dying one. But we want to dig down to discover from whence came the infection and why he started to cough. The fact that, in coughing, he does not die, but goes to work, does not convince us that he is whole and healthy. Somewhere that virus must have nested even earlier...’ ‘We believe’, continue the Conservative Revolutionaries, ‘that in the very Source, in the very Deity, in the very First Cause, there is drawn up the intention of organising this eschatological drama.’ In such a vision, the modern acquires a paradoxical character. It is not merely today’s sickness (in the repudiated present), it is a disclosure in today’s world of that which yesterday’s world prepared for it (so precious for traditionalists). Modernity does not become better from this; and tradition, meanwhile, loses its unequivocal positivity.' (p.95)

In Dugin's view the direction in which liberalism was heading, the true 'eschatology' of liberalism - 'post modernism' - was freedom from the last contact with the real world, a freedom that could be symbolised by 'virtual reality.' The individual enters into a world of his or her own making (or more likely chooses a world of someone else's making) and in that world he or she can be whatever they want to be at that particular moment. 

Which brings me to Heidegger. Dugin says that each of the major political theories - Liberalism, Communism, Fascism and his own fourth theory - has its own 'subject'. In the case of Liberalism it is the individual, in Communism it is class, in Fascism he separates Italian Fascism from German National Socialism. For Italian Fascism it is the state and in National Socialism it is race. In the case of the Fourth Political Theory, it is 'dasein.'

The term 'dasein' was not of course invented or first introduced in philosophy by Heidegger but it is very closely associated with him. Henry Corbin, the specialist in Iranian philosophy who was the first person to translate Heidegger into French, rendered it as 'human reality.' Another translation that has been proposed is 'being in the world.' Being, in this case human being, that is situated in the world, I would say, using a term Heidegger would never use though I suspect he wouldn't have disagreed with it, created by God. Or the gods. Heidegger declared that to be an issue as yet undecided. (8)

(8)  Martin Heidegger: Contributions to Philosophy - The event, translated by Richard Rojcewicz and Daniella Vallega-Neu, Indiana University Press, 2012, p.345. I discuss the relation between Heidegger and Dugin in Peter Brooke: 'Absolute Beginner - A review of Alexander Dugin: Martin Heidegger - The Philosophy of Another Beginning, Arlington VA, Radix/Washington Summit, 2014', Heidegger Review, No. 3, October 2016, accessible on my website at

But it is also of course the world as formed in a particular human collectivity, culture or civilisation - Islamic, Buddhist, animist, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Confucian or whatever. Even perhaps, as many of these tendencies would understand Western civilisation, Nihilist. While rejecting nationalism and racism (in its widest sense - 'the very ideology of progress is racist') Dugin enthusiastically advocates:

'a positive attitude toward the ethnos, an ethnocentrism directed toward that type of existence which is formed within the structure of the ethnos itself, and which remains intact throughout a variety of stages, including the highly differentiated types of societies which a people may develop in the course of their history. This topic has found deep resonance in certain philosophical directions of the Conservative Revolution (for instance, Carl Schmitt and his theory of ‘the rights of peoples’, in Adam Müller, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and so on) or the German school of ethnic sociology (Wilhelm Mühlmann, Richard Thurnwald, and others). Ethnos is the greatest value of the Fourth Political Theory as a cultural phenomenon; as a community of language, religious belief, daily life, and the sharing of resources and goals; as an organic entity written into an ‘accommodating landscape’ (Lev Gumilev); as a refined system for constructing models for married life; as an always-unique means of establishing a relationship with the outside world; as the matrix of the ‘lifeworld’ (Edmund Husserl); and as the source of all the ‘language-games’ (Ludwig Wittgenstein). Of course, ethnicity was not the focal point either in National Socialism, or in Fascism. Yet, liberalism as an ideology, calling for the liberation from all forms of collective identity in general, is entirely incompatible with the ethnos and ethnocentrism, and is an expression of a systemic theoretical and technological ethnocide.' (p.46) (9)

(9)  We can note in this context his book Ethnos and Society, translated by Michael Millerman, London, Arktos, 2018.

The great advantage of 'Empire' over 'nation', of course, is that, as in the case of the Russian Federation, it can accommodate many different ethnic groups.