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Photo of Alexander Dugin by Mehdi Blourian, taken at The Eurasian Civilizations Summit in Tehran (Feb 2017). Original photo credit: Fars Media Corporation (CC BY 4.0). (Image altered, converted to greyscale, added Eurasia Party symbol overlay.)

Putin’s Rasputin:
Meet Aleksandr Dugin, the Mystical High Priest of Russian Fascism Who Wants to Bring About the End of the World

The following article was originally published in Skeptic magazine 20.2 (2015). It will strike readers, therefore, as all too prescient. We asked Dr. Robert Zubrin to update it this week, in light of Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Zubrin’s update follows the article.

Men of action cut a large figure in the history books, but it is the ideas placed in their heads by men of thought that actually determine what they do. Thus the scribblings of mad philosophers can lead to the deaths of millions. As the modernday heir to this tradition, Aleksandr Dugin bids fair to break the record.

Most Americans don’t know anything about Aleksandr Dugin. They need to, because Dugin is the mad philosopher who is redesigning the brains of much of the Russian government and public, filling their minds with a new hate-ridden totalitarian ideology whose consequences can be catastrophic in the extreme, not only for Russia, but for the entire human race.

As I write these lines, Russia has invaded Ukraine and Vladimir Putin is threatening further actions that could initiate additional conflict, and possibly even another world war. It has thus become apparent that a new force for evil has emerged in Moscow. It is essential that Americans become aware of the nature of the threat.

Putin is sometimes described as a revanchist, seeking to recreate the Soviet Union by reclaiming territory lost after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR. That is a useful shorthand, but it is not really accurate. Putin and many of his gang may have once been Communists, but they are not that today. Rather, they have embraced a new totalitarian political ideology known as “Eurasianism.”

The roots of Eurasianism go back to czarist émigrés interacting with fascist thinkers in between-the-wars France and Germany. But in recent years, its primary exponent has been the very prominent and prolific political theorist Aleksandr Dugin. Born in 1962, Dugin was admitted to the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1979, but was later expelled because of his involvement with mystic neo-Nazi groups. He then spent the 1980s hanging around monarchist and ultraright- wing circles, before joining Gennady Ziuganov’s Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF, a neo-Stalinist group partially descended from, but not to be confused with, the previously ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU) for a while, after which he became a founder and chief ideologue of the Eurasianist National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in 1994.

Nazism, it will be recalled, was an abbreviation for National Socialism. National Bolshevism, therefore, put itself forth as an ideology that relates to National Socialism in much the same way as Bolshevism relates to Socialism. This open self-identification with Nazism is also shown clearly in … the NBP flag, which looks very similar to a Nazi flag, with a red background surrounding a white circle, except that the black swastika at the center is replaced by a black hammer and sickle.

National Bolsheviks with flag

Duma.gov.ru, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dugin ran for the Duma on the NBP ticket in 1995, but got only one percent of the vote. So, switching tactics, he abandoned the effort to build his own splinter party and instead adopted the more productive strategy of becoming the idea man for all the bigger parties, including Putin’s United Russia, Ziuganov’s CPRF, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. In this role he has succeeded brilliantly.

The core idea of Dugin’s Eurasianism is that “liberalism” (by which is meant the entire Western consensus) represents an assault on the traditional hierarchical organization of the world. Repeating the ideas of Nazi theorists Karl Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, Carl Schmitt, and Arthur Moeller van der Bruck, Dugin says that this liberal threat is not new, but is the ideology of the maritime cosmopolitan power “Atlantis,” which has conspired to subvert more conservative land-based societies since ancient times. Accordingly, he has written books in which he has reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome v. Carthage to Russia v. the Anglo Saxon “Atlantic Order” today. If Russia is to win this fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (because foreign-imposed) ideas as human rights, however, it must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into a grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.

In order to be so united, this Eurasian Union will need a defining ideology, and for this purpose Dugin has developed a new “Fourth Political Theory” that combines all of the strongest points of Communism, Nazism, Ecologism, and Traditionalism, thereby allowing it to appeal to the adherents of all of these diverse anti-liberal creeds. Although he would adopt Communism’s opposition to free enterprise, he would drop the Marxist commitment to technological progress—a liberal-derived ideal— in favor of Ecologism’s demagogic appeal to stop the advance of industry and modernity. From Traditionalism, he derives a justification for stopping free thought. All the rest is straight out of Nazism, ranging from legal theories justifying unlimited state power and the elimination of individual rights, to the need for populations “rooted” in the soil, to weird gnostic ideas about the secret origin of the Aryan race in the North Pole.

The open devotion to Nazism in Dugin’s thought is remarkable. In his writings he celebrates the Waffen SS—murderers of millions of Russians during the war—as an ideal organization. He also approves of the most extreme crimes of Communism, going so far as to endorse the horrific 1937 purges that killed, among numerous other talented and loyal Soviet citizens, nearly the entire leadership of the Red Army—something that Stalin himself later had second thoughts about.

What Russia needs, says Dugin, is a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism.” On the other hand, “Liberalism, is an absolute evil. … Only a global crusade against the U.S., the West, globalization, and their political-ideological expression, liberalism, is capable of becoming an adequate response. … The American empire should be destroyed.” To further support this political ideology, Dugin has created a mystical cult theology, which has been subjected to a chilling analysis by Lutheran bishop James Heiser in his short book The American Empire Should Be Destroyed: Alexander Dugin and the Perils of Immanentized Eschatology. Heiser writes:

It would be our contention that Dugin’s fusion of Traditionalism and Eurasianism has become a “gnostic mass movement” of the third type, “activist mysticism.” It is not an exaggeration to state that Dugin’s intended goal, his telos, is the End of the World, and that the accomplishment of that end is dependent, he believes, on the implementation of his ideology. As Dugin has proclaimed in his recent book, The Fourth Political Theory: “The end times and the eschatological meaning of politics will not realize themselves on their own. We will wait for the end in vain. The end will never come if we wait for it.… If the Fourth Political Practice is not able to realize the end of times, then it would be invalid. The end of days should come, but it will not come by itself. This is a task, it is not a certainty. It is an active metaphysics. It is a practice.”

This desire to bring about the end of the world is not a sudden development in Dugin’s thought. … As early as 2001, Dugin’s intentions were being published abroad, and could be read by an Englishspeaking audience. In 2001, [Stephen] Shenfield observes that Dugin’s eschatological view is “Manichean”—which is to say, a dualistic form of Gnosticism which views the world as a battleground of equally matched forces of good and evil, in which spiritual forces of light contend with material forces of evil. Into this Manicheanism, Dugin admixes Christian concepts, oft repeating the notion that the West is the realm of “Antichrist.” As Shenfield quotes Dugin: “The meaning of Russia is that through the Russian people will be realized the last thought of God, the thought of the End of the World.…Death is the way to immortality. Love will begin when the world ends. We must long for it, like true Christians.”

It is hard to know how to react to someone who claims to want to bring about the end of the world. When that desire is expressed with a thick Russian accent, the hearer is all the more likely to simply dismiss the speaker as some sort of “super villain” from a bad “action/adventure” movie. It is a claim which evokes the snicker—until one realizes that the man who thinks that the “meaning of Russia” is “the End of the World” is the man whose geopolitical doctrine is being implemented by the ruler of Russia.

Heiser concludes: “Dugin is quite keen on the notion that the coming age is the third, and final, age.”

This is the ideology behind the Putin regime’s “Eurasian Union” project. It is to this dark program, which threatens not only the prospects for freedom in Ukraine and Russia, but the peace of the world, that former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych tried to sell “his” country. It is against this program that the courageous protesters in the Maidan took their stand and—with scandalously little help from the West—somehow miraculously prevailed. It is on behalf of this program that the Putin regime has created a bloodbath in eastern Ukraine, which, following Dugin, it now terms Novorossiya, or “New Russia.”

It is also on behalf of this program that Dugin, with massive support from the Russian government, has organized a fascist international of European fringe parties, and on behalf of this program that the Quislings leading those parties are willing to betray their nations to Kremlin domination. These ultra-right wing parties have rallied to Dugin’s “traditionalist” sloganeering, hailing Putin as Europe’s “redeemer” from Americanism, liberalism, secularism, and homosexuality. They are using Moscow’s current “traditionalist” pose much as the Communist International previously used the slave-labor practicing Soviets’ equally-fake pose as the defenders of the working class: to gain recruits to serve the Kremlin. In fact, far from being “conservative” defenders of fundamental Western values— such as individual freedom and dignity—the Duginites, in classic national socialist style, seek to invoke a combination of mysticism and the tribal instinct for the purpose of empowering the most radical, depraved, and destructive forms of collectivism imaginable.

The sleep of reason produces monsters. END


Postscript by Robert Zubrin

written March 26, 2022

The preceding article was written by me in 2014. It has held up all too well. As Professor Jane Burbank commented in the New York Times on March 22, 2022, Dugin’s Eurasianism is “the grand theory driving Putin to war.” It is also behind many other major developments that have occurred since 2014, notably the rise of a new Kremlin Comintern in the form of international AltRight. This movement which includes the French National Front, the Alternative for Deutschland, and a variety of other right wing Quisling parties in Europe, played a critical role in helping to engineer the nomination of and partial takeover of the Republican Party in the United States by Donald Trump. Indeed, Nina Kouprianova (aka “Nina Byzantia”) the former wife of American AltRight leader, Richard Spencer, is Dugin’s English language translator. In 2016, I was an active Republican. However, on the basis on my reading of Dugin, I was able to identify Trump very early as an actor reading from Dugin’s playbook, and wrote a number of articles on the subject, including one that was subsequently cited in the Mueller Report.

The 2016 Trump campaign was backed by Kremlin-linked funds, staff, agitprop, black operations, and AltRight foot soldiers. It is true that these were of secondary importance in determining the outcome of the general election, which if not for gross incompetence and the internal contradiction between the interests of the Democrats’ blue-collar base and the preferences of its environmentalist donors, should have been won by Hillary Clinton by 20 points. (“For what profitteth a candidate if she gains the donations of Tom Steyer but loses the votes of the industrial Midwest.”) However, Dugin’s direction of AltRight support was absolutely critical in pulling Trump out from the mass of the rest of the 5 percenters in the 19-candidate GOP field and winning him the nomination.

The two key pillars of the world order since 1945 have been collective security and free trade. These were so successful in creating the long Pax Americana of general peace and unprecedented economic growth that, for seven decades, no serious candidate from either U.S. major party challenged them. Then Trump came along, opposing them. But what truly marked Trump out as a Dugin asset was his attempted use of blood-libel class demagoguery regarding immigration as the central thrust of his campaign. It should be acknowledged that anti-immigration is anti-free enterprise, anti-Judeo-Christian, contrary to the founding creed inscribed in the Declaration of Independence, and contrary to the method that was used to grow America into a great power. It is therefore not a conservative position.

Rather, anti-immigration—especially of the sort focused on raising passions, rather than defining policy—is a national socialist position. That is, as the great political theorist F.A. Hayek explained in his 1944 classic The Road to Serfdom, it is a method of invoking the tribal instinct in order to raise the passions required to implement a collectivist agenda.

While Trump is no Nazi, he is in the above sense a national socialist, and when you get right down to it, national socialism, understood broadly, is what Dugin is selling. Thus, anti-immigration agitation is central to all the international AltRight movements. It is key to Dugin’s program to destroying the West, both by the Balkanization of it and, more importantly, by undermining its adherence to Enlightenment humanist values. According to Homer, the sorceress Circe used potions to turn men into animals. In like manner, Trump used anti-immigration as the poison to effect a similar transformation on the GOP.

Following his 2020 electoral defeat, Trump’s dominance of the GOP has become less marked, although agitation by a number of Kremlin-aligned figures, such as Tucker Carlson, has remained evident.

The real problem now is that the political center in the West still does not understand what it is dealing with. Dugin has laid out the Kremlin’s program loud and clear, but like Western statesmen in the 1930s who refused to take Hitler’s deranged rantings in Mein Kampf seriously, today’s leaders simply don’t get it. In July 2021, Putin published a 7,000-word Eurasianist-inspired manifesto clearly announcing his intent to reconquer all the lost lands of the Russian empire, which include not only Ukraine, but the Baltic States, Finland, Poland, the Caucasus, and most of Central Asia. Yet Western leaders, observing the assembly of a Russian invasion force surrounding Ukraine starting in November 2021, chose not to “provoke” Putin by airlifting arms.

They should have understood that Putin required no “provocation” or justification to invade. He is not responding to perceived injustice. He is responding to perceived opportunity. In fact, the only way to prevent the invasion would have been to arm Ukraine to the teeth well in advance, in order to make that opportunity less attractive.

Instead, the Biden administration provided assurances that U.S. forces would not get involved “under any circumstances.” These guarantees were welcomed with joy by Putin’s supporters. Instead of deterring the invasion, we literally invited it, as I explained on Twitter:

Tweet by Robert Zubrin (Feb 23, 2022)

Since the invasion began, the central motivation of the Biden administration has been trying to “contain” the conflict by restricting military aid to Ukraine to forms that Putin will not deem too provocative. This is a huge mistake. Again, Putin has a vision. It’s Dugin’s vision. He is not acting on provocation. He is acting on opportunity. He does not require legal justifications for use in the UN or world court in order to act. Rather, he will do whatever he thinks he can get away with. Since 1999, he has undertaken one aggression after another, starting in Chechnya, then Georgia, then Syria, then Ukraine. Each one tested the West, and when we failed to respond adequately, he then escalated to still more outrageous actions.

For the record, I’ll say what I think should be done now. To check Putin, NATO should use airpower based in Poland and Romania to provide air cover and close air support to the Ukrainian army to swiftly drive the invaders out. I don’t believe that Putin would respond to this by striking targets in those countries because he is having enough problems taking on the Ukrainians in Ukraine and the last thing he needs is to bring NATO fully into the war. If he thought it was in his interests to strike Poland he would have done it already. The alternatives to this policy are either capitulation, which would lead to the next planned invasion (most probably the Baltics,) extended guerilla war which would devastate the country and potentially cost millions of lives both in Ukraine and abroad through the resulting harvest failure, or even nuclear escalation by Putin if he concludes that the West won’t fight.

I recognize that my remarks above are very controversial, and many people will take issue with them. But before you do, I suggest you read Dugin. END

About the Author

Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, of Lakewood, Colorado, and the author of The Case for Mars, Entering Space, Energy Victory and, Merchants of Despair. His latest work, The Case for Space was recently published by Prometheus Books. Follow him on Twitter @robert_zubrin.

 
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