Alexander Dugin on Eurasianism, the Geopolitics of Land and Sea, and a Russian Theory of Multipolarity
IR has long been regarded as an Anglo-American social science. Recently, the discipline has started to look beyond America and England, to China (Theory Talk #51, Theory Talk #45), India (Theory Talk #63, Theory Talk #42), Africa (Theory Talk #57, Theory Talk #10) and elsewhere for non-Western perspectives on international affairs and IR theory. However, IR theorists have paid little attention to Russian perspectives on the discipline and practice of international relations. We offer an exciting peek into Russian geopolitical theory through an interview with the controversial Russian geopolitical thinker Alexander Dugin, founder of the International Eurasian Movement and allegedly an important influence on Putin’s foreign policy. In this Talk, Dugin—among others—discusses his Theory of a Multipolar World, offers a staunch critique of western and liberal IR, and lays out Russia’s unique contribution to the landscape of IR theory.
What, according to you, is the central challenge or principle debate within IR and what would be your position within this debate or towards that challenge?
The field of IR is extremely interesting and multidimensional. In general, the discipline is much more promising than many think. I think that there is a stereometry today in IR, in which we can distinguish a few axes right away.
The first, most traditional axis is realism – the English school – liberalism.
If the debates here are exhausted on an academic level, then on the level of politicians, the media, and journalists, all the arguments and methods appear new and unprecedented each time. Today, liberalism in IR dominates mass consciousness, and realist arguments, already partially forgotten on the level of mass discourse, could seem rather novel. On the other hand, the nuanced English school, researched thoroughly in academic circles, might look like a “revelation” to the general public. But for this to happen, a broad illumination of the symmetry between liberals and realists is needed for the English school to acquire significance and disclose its full potential. This is impossible under the radical domination of liberalism in IR. For that reason, I predict a new wave of realists and neorealists in this sphere, who, being pretty much forgotten and almost marginalized, can full well make themselves and their agenda known. This would, it seems to me, produce a vitalizing effect and diversify the palette of mass and social debates, which are today becoming monotone and auto-referential.
The second axis is bourgeois versions of IR (realism, the English school, and liberalism all together) vs. Marxism in IR. In popular and even academic discourse, this theme is entirely discarded, although the popularity of Wallerstein (Theory Talk #13) and other versions of world-systems theory shows a degree of interest in this critical version of classical, positivistic IR theories.
The third axis is post-positivism in all its varieties vs. positivism in all its varieties (including Marxism). IR scholars might have gotten the impression that postmodern attacks came to an end, having been successfully repelled by ‘critical realism’, but in my opinion it is not at all so. From moderate constructivism and normativism to extreme post-structuralism, post-positivistic theories carry a colossal deconstructive and correspondingly scientific potential, which has not yet even begun to be understood. It seemed to some that postmodernism is a cheerful game. It isn’t. It is a new post-ontology, and it fundamentally affects the entire epistemological structure of IR. In my opinion, this axis remains very important and fundamental.
The fourth axis is the challenge of the sociology of international relations, which we can call ‘Hobson’s challenge’. In my opinion, in his critique of euro-centrism in IR, John M. Hobson laid the foundation for an entirely new approach to the whole problematic by proposing to consider the structural significance of the “euro-centric” factor as dominant and clarifying its racist element. Once we make euro-centrism a variable and move away from the universalistic racism of the West, on which all systems of IR are built, including the majority of post-positivistic systems (after all, postmodernity is an exclusively Western phenomenon!), we get, theoretically for now, an entirely different discipline—and not just one, it seems. If we take into account differences among cultures, there can be as many systems of IR as there are cultures. I consider this axis extremely important.
The fifth axis, outlined in less detail than the previous one, is the Theory of a Multipolar World vs. everything else. The Theory of a Multipolar World was developed in
a country that no one ever took seriously during the entire establishment of IR
as a discipline—hence the fully explainable skepticism toward the Theory of a
The sixth axis is IR vs. geopolitics. Geopolitics is usually regarded as secondary in the context of IR. But gradually, the epistemological potential of geopolitics is becoming more and more obvious, despite or perhaps partially because of the criticism against it. We have only to ask ourselves about the structure of any geopolitical concept to discover the huge potential contained in its methodology, which takes us to the very complex and semantically saturated theme of the philosophy and ontology of space.
If we now superimpose these axes onto one another, we get an extremely complex and highly interesting theoretical field. At the same time, only one axis, the first one, is considered normative among the public, and that with the almost total and uni-dimensional dominance of IR liberalism. All the wealth, ‘scientific democracy’, and gnoseological pluralism of the other axes are inaccessible to the broad public, robbing and partly deceiving it. I call this domination of liberalism among the public the ‘third totalitarianism’, but that is a separate issue.
How did you arrive at where you currently are in your thinking about IR?
I began with Eurasianism, from which I came to geopolitics (the Eurasianist Petr Savitskii quoted the British geopolitician Halford Mackinder) and remained for a long time in that framework, developing the theme of the dualism of Land and Sea and applying it to the actual situation That is how the Eurasian school of geopolitics arose, which became not simply the dominant, but the only school in contemporary Russia. As a professor at Moscow State University, for six years I was head of the department of the Sociology of International Relations, which forced me to become professionally familiar with the classical theories of IR, the main authors, approaches, and schools. Because I have long been interested in postmodernism in philosophy (I wrote the book Post-philosophy on the subject), I paid special attention to post-positivism in IR. That is how I came to IR critical theory, neo-Gramscianism, and the sociology of IR (John Hobson, Steve Hobden, etc.). I came to the Theory of a Multipolar World, which I eventually developed myself, precisely through superimposing geopolitical dualism, Carl Schmitt’s theory of the Grossraum, and John Hobson’s critique of Western racism and the euro-centrism of IR.
In your opinion, what would a student need in order to become a specialist in IR?
In our interdisciplinary time, I think that what is most important is familiarity with philosophy and sociology, led by a paradigmatic method: the analysis of the types of societies, cultures, and structures of thought along the line Pre-Modernity – Modernity – Post-Modernity. If one learns to trace semantic shifts in these three epistemological and ontological domains, it will help one to become familiar with any popular theories of IR today. Barry Buzan’s (Theory Talk #35) theory of international systems is an example of such a generalizing and very useful schematization. Today an IR specialist must certainly be familiar with deconstruction and use it at least in its elementary form. Otherwise, there is a great danger of overlooking what is most important.
Another very important competence is history and political science. Political science provides generalizing, simplifying material, and history puts schemas in their context. I would only put competence in the domain of economics and political economy in third place, although today no problem in IR can be considered without reference to the economic significance of processes and interactions. Finally, I would earnestly recommend to students of IR to become familiar, as a priority, with geopolitics and its methods. These methods are much simpler than theories of IR, but their significance is much deeper. At first, geopolitical simplifications produce an instantaneous effect: complex and entangled processes of world politics are rendered transparent and comprehensible in the blink of an eye. But to sort out how this effect is achieved, a long and serious study of geopolitics is required, exceeding by far the superficiality that limits critical geopolitics (Ó Tuathail et. al.): they stand at the beginning of the decipherment of geopolitics and its full-fledged deconstruction, but they regard themselves as its champions. They do so prematurely.
What does it entail to think of global power relations through a spatial lens (‘Myslit prostranstvom’)?
This is the most important thing. The entire philosophical theme of Modernity is built on the dominance of time. Kant already puts time on the side of the subject (and space on the side of the body, continuing the ideas of Descartes and even Plato), while Husserl and Heidegger identify the subject with time altogether. Modernity thinks with time, with becoming. But since the past and future are rejected as ontological entities, thought of time is transformed into thought of the instant, of that which is here and now. This is the basis for the ephemeral understanding of being. To think spatially means to locate Being outside the present, to arrange it in space, to give space an ontological status. Whatever was impressed in space is preserved in it. Whatever will ripen in space is already contained in it. This is the basis for the political geography of Friedrich Ratzel and subsequent geopoliticians. Wagner’s Parsifal ends with the words of Gurnemanz: ‘now time has become space’. This is a proclamation of the triumph of geopolitics. To think spatially means to think in an entirely different way [topika]. I think that postmodernity has already partly arrived at this perspective, but has stopped at the threshold, whereas to cross the line it is necessary to break radically with the entire axiomatic of Modernity, to really step over Modernity, and not to imitate this passage while remaining in Modernity and its tempolatry. Russian people are spaces [Russkie lyudi prostranstva], which is why we have so much of it. The secret of Russian identity is concealed in space. To think spatially means to think ‘Russian-ly’, in Russian.
Geopolitics is argued to be very popular in Russia nowadays. Is geopolitics a new thing, from the post-Cold War period, or not? And if not, how does current geopolitical thinking differ from earlier Soviet (or even pre-soviet) geopolitics?
It is an entirely new form of political thought. I introduced geopolitics to Russia at the end of the 80s, and since then it has become extremely popular. I tried to find some traces of geopolitics in Russian history, but besides Vandam, Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky, and a few short articles by Savitskii, there was nothing. In the USSR, any allusion to geopolitics was punished in the harshest way (see the ‘affair of the geopoliticians’ of the economic geographer Vladimir Eduardovich Den and his group). At the start of the 90s, my efforts and the efforts of my followers and associates in geopolitics (=Eurasianism) filled the worldview vacuum that formed after the end of Soviet ideology. At first, this was adopted without reserve by the military (The Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia), especially under Igor Rodionov. Then, geopolitics began to penetrate into all social strata. Today, this discipline is taught in the majority of Russian universities. So, there was no Soviet or pre-Soviet geopolitics. There is only the contemporary Eurasian school, which took shape at the end of the 80s. Foundations of Geopolitics was the first programmatic text of this school, although I had published most of texts in that book earlier, and some of them were circulated as texts in government circles. Recently, in 2012, I released two new textbooks: Geopolitics and The Geopolitics of Russia, which together with The War of Continents are the results of work in this field, along four axes.
In your book International Relations, not yet published in English, you set out your Theory of a Multipolar World as a distinct IR theory. What are the basic components of the Theory of a Multipolar World—and how is it different from classical realism?
In order to be understood and not get into the details, I can say that the Theory of a Multipolar World seriously and axiomatically adopts Samuel Huntington’s thesis about the plurality of civilizations. Russia has its own author, who claimed the same thing more than a hundred years ago: Nikolay Danilevsky, and then the Eurasianists. However, everything starts from precisely this point: civilization is not one, but many. Western civilization’s pretension to universalism is a form of the will to domination and an authoritarian discourse. It can be taken into account but not believed. It is nothing other than a strategy of suppression and hegemony. The following point follows: we must move from thinking in terms of one civilization (the racism of euro-centric versions of IR) to a pluralism of subjects. However, unlike realists, who take as the subject of their theory nation-states, which are themselves products of the European, bourgeois, modern understanding of the Political, the Theory of a Multipolar World proposes to take civilizations as subjects. Not states, but civilizations. I call them ‘large politeiai’, or civilizations, corresponding to Carl Schmitt’s ‘large spaces’. As soon as we take these civilizations—‘large politeiai’—as subjects, we can then apply to them the full system of premises of realism: anarchy in the international system, sovereignty, the rationality of egoistic behavior, etc. But within these ‘politeiai’, by contrast, a principle more resembling liberalism, with its pacifism and integration, operates, only with the difference that here we are not talking about a ‘planetary’ or ‘global’ world, but about an intra-civilizational one; not about global integration, but about regional integration, strictly within the context of civilizational borders. Post-positivism, in turn, helps here for the deconstruction of the authoritarian discourse of the West, which masks its private interests by ‘universal values’, and also for the reconstruction of civilizational identity, including with the help of technological means: civilizational elites, civilizational media, civilizational economic algorithms and corporations, etc. That is the general picture.
Your theory of multipolarity is directed against the intellectual, political, and social hegemony of the West. At the same time, while drawing on the tools of neo-Marxist analysis and critical theory, it does not oppose Western hegemony ‘from the left’, as those approaches do, but on the basis of traditionalism (Rene Guenon, Julius Evola), cultural anthropology, and Heideggerian phenomenology, or ‘from the right’. Do you think that such an approach can appeal to Anglo-American IR practitioners, or is it designed to appeal mainly to non-Western theorists and practitioners? In short, what can IR theorists in the West learn from the theory of multipolarity?
According to Hobson’s entirely correct analysis, the West is based on a fundamental sort of racism. There is no difference between Lewis Morgan’s evolutionistic racism (with his model of savagery, barbarism, civilization) and Hitler’s biological racism. Today the same racism is asserted without a link to race, but on the basis of the technological modes and degrees of modernization and progress of societies (as always, the criterion “like in the West” is the general measure). Western man is a complete racist down to his bones, generalizing his ethnocentrism to megalomaniacal proportions. Something tells me that he is impossible to change. Even radical critiques of Western hegemony are themselves deeply infected by the racist virus of universalism, as Edward Said showed with the example of ‘orientalism’, proving that the anticolonial struggle is a form of that very colonialism and euro-centrism. So the Theory of a Multipolar World will hardly find adherents in the Western world, unless perhaps among those scholars who are seriously able to carry out a deconstruction of Western identity, and such deconstruction assumes the rejection of both Right (nationalistic) and Left (universalistic and progressivist) clichés. The racism of the West always acquires diverse forms. Today its main form is liberalism, and anti-liberal theories (most on the Left) are plagued by the same universalism, while Right anti-liberalisms have been discredited. That is why I appeal not to the first political theory (liberalism), nor the second (communism, socialism), nor to the third (fascism, Nazism), but to something I call the Fourth Political Theory (or 4PT), based on a radical deconstruction of the subject of Modernity and the application of Martin Heidegger’s existential analytic method.
Traditionalists are brought in for the profound critique of Western Modernity, for establishing the plurality of civilizations, and for rehabilitating non-Western (pre-modern) cultures. In Russia and Asian countries, the Theory of a Multipolar World is grasped easily and naturally; in the West, it encounters a fully understandable and fully expected hostility, an unwillingness to study it carefully, and coarse slander. But there are always exceptions.
What is the Fourth Political Theory (4PT) and how is it related to the Theory of a Multipolar World and to your criticism of the prevailing theoretical approaches in the field of IR?
I spoke a little about this in the response to the previous question. The Fourth Political Theory is important for getting away from the strict dominance of modernity in the sphere of the Political, for the relativization of the West and its re-regionalization. The West measures the entire history of Modernity in terms of the struggle of three political ideologies for supremacy (liberalism, socialism, and nationalism). But since the West does not even for a moment call into question the fact that it thinks for all humanity, it evaluates other cultures and civilizations in the same way, without considering that in the best case the parallels to these three ideologies are pure simulacra, while most often there simply are no parallels. If liberalism won the competition of the three ideologies in the West at the end of the 20th century, that does not yet mean that this ideology is really universal on a world scale. It isn’t at all. This episode of the Western political history of modernity may be the fate of the West, but not the fate of the world. So other principles of the political are needed, beyond liberalism, which claims global domination (=the third totalitarianism), and its failed alternatives (communism and fascism), which are historically just as Western and modern as liberalism. This explains the necessity of introducing a Fourth Political Theory as a political frame for the correct basis of a Theory of a Multipolar World. The Fourth Political Theory is the direct and necessary correlate of the Theory of a Multipolar World in the domain of political theory.
Is IR an American social science? Is Russian IR as an academic field a reproduction of IR as an American academic field? If not, how is IR in Russia specifically Russian?
IR is a Western scientific discipline, and as such it has a prescriptive, normative vector. It not only studies the West’s dominance, it also produces, secures, defends, and propagandizes it. IR is undoubtedly an imperious authoritarian discourse of Western civilization, in relation to itself and all other areas of the planet. Today the US is the core of the West, so naturally in the 20th century IR became more and more American as the US moved toward that status (it began as an English science). It is the same with geopolitics, which migrated from London to Washington and New York together with the function of a global naval Empire. As with all other sciences, IR is a form of imperious violence, embodying the will to power in the will to knowledge (as Michel Foucault explained). IR in Russia remains purely Western, with one detail: in the USSR, IR as such was not studied. Marxism in IR did not correspond to Soviet reality, where after Stalin a practical form of realism (not grounded theoretically and never acknowledged) played a big role—only external observers, like the classical realist E.H. Carr, understood the realist essence of Stalinism in IR. So IR was altogether blocked. The first textbooks started to appear only in the 90s and in the fashion of the day they were all liberal. That is how it has remained until now. The peculiarity of IR in Russia today lies in the fact that there is no longer anything Russian there; liberalism dominates entirely, a correct account of realism is lacking, and post-positivism is almost entirely disregarded. The result is a truncated, aggressively liberal and extremely antiquated version of IR as a discipline. I try to fight that. I recently released an IR textbook with balanced (I hope) proportions, but it is too early to judge the result.
Stephen Walt argued in a September article in Foreign Policy that Russia ‘is nowhere near as threatening as the old Soviet Union’, in part because Russia ‘no longer boasts an ideology that can rally supporters worldwide’. Do you agree with Walt’s assessment?
There is something to that. Today, Russia thinks of itself as a nation-state. Putin is a realist; nothing more. Walt is right about that. But the Theory of a Multipolar World and the Fourth Political Theory, as well as Eurasianism, are outlines of a much broader and large-scale ideology, directed against Western hegemony and challenging liberalism, globalization, and American strategic dominance. Of course, Russia as a nation-state is no competition for the West. But as the bridgehead of the Theory of a Multipolar World and the Fourth Political Theory, it changes its significance. Russian policies in the post-Soviet space and Russia’s courage in forming non-Western alliances are indicators. For now, Putin is testing this conceptual potential very gingerly. But the toughening of relations with the West and most likely the internal crises of globalization will at some point force a more careful and serious turn toward the creation of global alternative alliances. Nevertheless, we already observe such unions: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, the Eurasian Union—and they require a new ideology. Not one like Marxism, any universalism is excluded, but also not simple realist maneuvers of regional hegemons. Liberalism is a global challenge. The response to it should also be global. Does Putin understand this? Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes it seems he does, and sometimes it seems he doesn’t.
Vladimir Putin recently characterized the contemporary world order as follows: ‘We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white’. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, what is required as a response to this international situation?
These are true, but rather naïve words. Putin is just indignant that the West establishes rules in its own interests, changes them when necessary, and interprets allegedly ‘universal norms’ in its own favor. But the issue is that this is the structure of the will to power and the very organization of logo-phallo-phono-centric discourse. Objectivity and justice are not possible so long as speech is a monologue. The West does not know and does not recognize the other. But this means that everything will continue until this other wins back the right to recognition. And that is a long road. The point of the Theory of a Multipolar World is that there are no rules established by some one player. Rules must be established by centers of real power. The state today is too small for that; hence the conclusion that civilizations should be these centers. Let there be an Atlantic objectivity and Western justice. A Eurasian objectivity and Russian justice will counter them. And the Chinese world or Pax Sinica [world/peace: same word in Russian] will look different than the Islamic one. Black and white are not objective evaluations. They depend on the structure of the world order: what is black and what is white is determined by one who has enough power to determine it.
How does your approach help us understand Russia’s actions on the world stage better than other IR approaches do? What are IR analyses of Russia missing that do not operate with the conceptual apparatus of multipolarity?
Interesting question. Russia’s behavior internationally is determined today by the following factors:
First, historical inertia, accumulating the power of precedents (the Theory of a Multipolar World thinks that the past exists as a structure; consequently, this factor is taken into account from many sides and in detail, while the ‘tempocentrism’ (Steve Hobden, John Hobson) of classical IR theories drops this from sight. We have to pay attention to this especially taking into consideration the fact that Russia is in many ways still a traditional society and belongs to the ‘imperial system’ of IR.) There are, besides, Soviet inertia and stable motives (‘Stalinism in IR’);
Second, the projective logic of opposition to the West, stemming from the most practical, pragmatic, and realist motivations (in the spirit of Caesarism, analyzed by neo-Gramscians) will necessarily lead Russia (even despite the will of its leaders) to a systemic confrontation with American hegemony and globalization, and then the Theory of a Multipolar World will really be needed (classical IR models, paying no attention to the Theory of a Multipolar World, drop from sight the possible future; i.e., they rob themselves of predictive potential because of purely ideological prejudices and self-imposed fears).
But if an opponent underestimates you, you have more chances to land an unexpected blow. So I am not too disturbed by the underestimation of the Theory of a Multipolar World among IR theorists.
In the western world, the divide between academia and policy is often either lamented (‘ivory tower’) or, in light of the ideal of academic independence, deemed absent. This concerns a broader debate regarding the relations between power, knowledge and geopolitics. How are academic-policy relations in Russia with regards to IR and is this the ideal picture according to you?
I think that in our case both positions have been taken to their extreme. On one hand, today’s authorities in Russia do not pay the slightest attention to scholars, dispatching them to an airless and sterile space. On the other hand, Soviet habits became the basis for servility and conformism, preserved in a situation when the authorities for the first time demand nothing from intellectuals, except for one thing: that they not meddle in socio-political processes. So the situation with science is both comical and sorrowful. Conformist scholars follow the authorities, but the authorities don’t need this, since they do not so much go anywhere in particular as react to facts that carry themselves out.
If your IR theory isn’t based on politically and philosophically liberal principles, and if it criticizes those principles not from the left but from the right, using the language of large spaces or Grossraum, is it a fascist theory of international relations? Are scholars who characterize your thought as ‘neo-fascism’, like Andreas Umland and Anton Shekhovstov, partially correct? If not, why is that characterization misleading?
Accusations of fascism are simply a figure of speech in the coarse political propaganda peculiar to contemporary liberalism as the third totalitarianism. Karl Popper laid the basis for this in his book The Open Society and its Enemies, where he reduced the critique of liberalism from the right to fascism, Hitler, and Auschwitz, and the criticism of liberalism from the left to Stalin and the GULAG. The reality is somewhat more complex, but George Soros, who finances Umland and Shekhovstov and is an ardent follower of Popper, is content with reduced versions of politics. If I were a fascist, I would say so. But I am a representative of Eurasianism and the author of the Fourth Political Theory. At the same time, I am a consistent and radical anti-racist and opponent of the nation-state project (i.e. an anti-nationalist). Eurasianism has no relation to fascism. And the Fourth Political Theory emphasizes that while it is anti-liberal, it is simultaneously anti-communist and anti-fascist. I think it isn’t possible to be clearer, but the propaganda army of the ‘third totalitarianism’ disagrees and no arguments will convince it. 1984 should be sought today not where many think: not in the USSR, not in the Third Reich, but in the Soros Fund and the ‘Brave New World’. Incidentally, Huxley proved to be more correct than Orwell. I cannot forbid others from calling me a fascist, although I am not one, though ultimately this reflects badly not so much on me as on the accusers themselves: fighting an imaginary threat, the accuser misses a real one. The more stupid, mendacious, and straightforward a liberal is, the simpler it is to fight with him.
Does technological change in warfare and in civil government challenge the geopolitical premises of classical divisions between spaces (Mackinder’s view or Spykman’s) heartland-rimland-offshore continents)? And, more broadly perhaps, does history have a linear or a cyclical pattern, according to you?
Technological development does not at all abolish the principles of classical geopolitics, simply because Land and Sea are not substances, but concepts. Land is a centripetal model of order, with a clearly expressed and constant axis. Sea is a field, without a hard center, of processuality, atomism, and the possibility of numerous bifurcations. In a certain sense, air (and hence also aviation) is aeronautics. And even the word astronaut contains in itself the root ‘nautos’, from the Greek word for ship. Water, air, outer space—these are all versions of increasingly diffused Sea. Land in this situation remains unchanged. Sea strategy is diversified; land strategy remains on the whole constant. It is possible that this is the reason for the victory of Land over Sea in the last decade; after all, capitalism and technical progress are typical attributes of Sea. But taking into consideration the fundamental character of the balance between Leviathan and Behemoth, the proportions can switch at any moment; the soaring Titan can be thrown down into the abyss, like Atlantis, while the reason for the victory of thalassocracy becomes the source of its downfall. Land remains unchanged as the geographic axis of history. There is Land and Sea even on the internet and in the virtual world: they are axes and algorithms of thematization, association and separation, groupings of resources and protocols. The Chinese internet is terrestrial; the Western one, nautical.
You have translated a great number of foreign philosophical and geopolitical works into Russian. How important is knowledge transaction for the formation of your ideas?
I recently completed the first release of my book Noomachy, which is entirely devoted precisely to the Logoi of various civilizations, and hence to the circulation of ideas. I am convinced that each civilization has its own particular Logos. To grasp it and to find parallels, analogies, and dissonances in one’s own Logos is utterly fascinating and interesting. That is why I am sincerely interested in the most varied cultures, from North American to Australian, Arabic to Latin American, Polynesian to Scandinavian. All the Logoi are different and it is not possible to establish a hierarchy among them. So it remains for us only to become familiar with them. Henry Corbin, the French philosopher and Protestant who studied Iranian Shiism his entire life, said of himself ‘We are Shiites’. He wasn’t a Shiite in the religious sense, but without feeling himself a Shiite, he would not be able to penetrate into the depths of the Iranian Logos. That is how I felt, working on Noomachy or translating philosophical texts or poetry from other languages: in particular, while learning Pierce and James, Emerson and Thoreau, Poe and Pound I experienced myself as ‘we are Americans’. And in the volume devoted to China and Japan, as ‘we are Buddhists’. That is the greatest wealth of the Logos of various cultures: both those like ours and those entirely unlike ours. And these Logoi are at war; hence, Noomachy, the war of the intellect. It is not linear and not primitive. It is a great war. It creates that which we call the ‘human’, the entire depth and complexity of which we most often underestimate.
Final question. You call yourself the ‘last philosopher of empire’. What is Eurasanism and how does it relate to the global pivot of power distributions?
Eurasianism is a developed worldview, to which I dedicated a few books and a countless number of articles and interviews. In principle, it lies at the basis of the Theory of a Multipolar World and the Fourth Political Theory, combined with geopolitics, and it resonates with Traditionalism. Eurasianism’s main thought is plural anthropology, the rejection of universalism. The meaning of Empire for me is that there exists not one Empire, but at minimum two, and even more. In the same way, civilization is never singular; there is always some other civilization that determines its borders. Schmitt called this the Pluriverse and considered it the main characteristic of the Political. The Eurasian Empire is the political and strategic unification of Turan, a geographic axis of history in opposition to the civilization of the Sea or the Atlanticist Empire. Today, the USA is this Atlanticist Empire. Kenneth Waltz, in the context of neorealism in IR, conceptualized the balance of two poles. The analysis is very accurate, although he erred about the stability of a bipolar world and the duration of the USSR. But on the whole he is right: there is a global balance of Empires in the world, not nation-States, the majority of which cannot claim sovereignty, which remains nominal (Stephen Krasner’s (Theory Talk #21) ‘global hypocrisy’). For precisely that reason, I am a philosopher of Empire, as is almost every American intellectual, whether he knows it or not. The difference is only that he thinks of himself as a philosopher of the only Empire, while I think of myself as the philosopher of one of the Empires, the Eurasian one. I am more humble and more democratic. That is the whole difference.
Alexander Dugin is a Russian philosopher, the author of over thirty books on topics including the sociology of the imagination, structural sociology, ethnosociology, geopolitical theory, international relations theory, and political theory, including four books on the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. His most recent books, only available in Russian at the moment, are Ukraine: My War and the multi-volume Noomachia: Wars of the Intellect. Books translated into English include The Fourth Political Theory, Putin vs. Putin: Vladimir Putin Viewed From the Right, and Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning.
- Who is Alexander Dugin? Interview with Theory Talks editor Michael Millerman (YouTube)
- TheFourth Political Theory website (English):
- Evrazia.tv (Russian)
- Evrazia.tv (English)
- Geopolitics.ru (English version)
- InternationalEurasian Movement (English version)
- Centerfor Conservative Studies (Russian)
Print version of this Talk (pdf) Russian version