By David Wilson
LET ME introduce you to Alexander Dugin.
Not widely known in the Western world except in academic circles and adherents of the ‘New Right’, he is better known in Russia through his writings and media appearances.
Dubbed ‘Putin’s brain’, he was reviled by one Western commentator as “the most dangerous philosopher in the world”. Some repudiate him as a Russian fascist who convinced Putin to invade Ukraine.
Another commentator claims that his influence on Putin and the Kremlin is overrated, and that his influence on policy was greater over a decade ago than it is today. He and his various political associates have certainly influenced Russian geopolitical thinking.
Understanding Dugin’s thought will help Western observers understand better Putin’s aggressive violation of Ukraine’s right to independence as a nation.
Born in Moscow in 1962, Dugin’s father was a colonel-general in the Soviet military intelligence and a lawyer. Having failed to graduate at the Moscow Aviation Institute, Dugin subsequently undertook a correspondence course and eventually graduated with a master’s degree in philosophy and two doctorates in sociology and political sciences.
Involved at one time with the National Bolshevik Party, Dugin parted company with them in 1998 and reportedly set up the Eurasia Party three years later, pledged to oppose “American-style globalisation and resistance of a return to communism and nationalism.”
He has been outspoken in his support of Russian action in Ukraine from 2014, having encouraged the pro-Russian separatists to establish a dictatorship in the breakaway enclaves of Novorossiya (Donetsk and Luhansk).
Author of over thirty books, his principal ideas are contained in two principal works. The first of these was published in 1997 under the title The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia.
It had a significance influence on the Russian military and was adopted as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff. In this book, Dugin outlines his beliefs in neo-Eurasianism.
For Dugan and his neo-Eurasianist collaborators, Russian civilisation is neither European nor Asian but a stand-alone civilization with its own political and spiritual values.
He claims that Russia needs to restore its Empire by annexations of Slavic peoples and through strategic alliances with countries in the Islamic world such as Turkey and Iran and also with India. This is clearly neo-imperialist expansionist thinking.
Dugin is anxious to stop further encroachment of US political and cultural influence throughout the Russian landmass. He rejects the idea of a unipolar US-dominated world order and wants to see instead a series of power blocs representing multipolar cultural groupings of nations. He sees Atlanticism as the chief threat in Europe.
Dugin’s neo-Eurasianist vision of Ukraine is particularly chilling in the light of Ukraine’s present resistance. He claims that “Ukraine as a State has no geopolitical meaning, no universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its territorial ambitions represent an enormous danger for all of Eurasia.”
Also, part of his neo-Eurasianist vision is the notion that Moldova and Finland should become part of Russia, which is equally chilling in the light of Finland’s recent application to join NATO and the British Foreign Secretary’s suggestion that Moldova should be ‘equipped to NATO standard’ to guard against the threat of a Russian invasion.
His second key work is The Fourth Political Theory, first published in 2009. Here, Dugin repeats his visceral hatred for liberal democracy and the United States especially.
He repudiates modernism and speaks about the failed ideologies of communism and fascism. Dugin sees in liberalism an equally pernicious global threat which will obliterate cultural differences between civilisations. In Dugin’s eyes, liberalism leads to moral and spiritual decadence such as widespread atheism and the blurring of sexual and gender identities.
For Dugin, liberalism contains within in itself the seeds of the eventual destruction of human civilisation as we know it. Is Dugin projecting onto the liberal world order his own experience of Russian autocracy? Why are so many Ukrainians ready to give up their lives to embrace liberalism, I wonder? And is it not the case that liberalism spreads, not because it is imposed on people, but because they willingly choose it as the best hope for human freedom.
Many of Dugin’s wilder pronouncements are examples of a vicious brand of idealism as well as sometimes obscure abstraction which bear only a tenuous relationship to practical politics.
His obscurantist views are well exemplified in his wish that the Internet should be banned. His condemnation of historical progress and his embrace of an esoteric and hate-filled apocalyptic world vision make it difficult to take his ideas seriously as the basis for viable policies.
Alexander Dugin has been banned from entering the UK since 2009 and from the United States since 2015.
David Wilson is a linguist with expertise in Russian and Russian culture. He is based in York, England.
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