The News Hour this week is running a segment titled Putin's Russia. It quotes an archpriest whose view on church and state differ from US tradition:
The state and my faith are united. They can’t be separated. The values of the church and the state coincide.
Shortly thereafter, the segment quotes Russia's Alexander Dugin sounding like a fascist:
Patriotism is organic. It is not artificial. Empire, or state, is not something additional or artificial, because it is our breath, our skin, our organic way of life.
Dugin has been a sociology professor at Moscow State University. He is described at BigThink.com as a prolific writer, "an advisor to key political and military figures and an articulator of a Kremlin-approved political philosophy." He is said to speak ten languages.
In a BigThink.com piece titled "The Most Dangerous Philosopher in the World," Paul Ratner describes Dugin as believing that liberalism is a dying ideology. Ratner quotes Dugin:
The [world's] liberalism insists on the freedom and liberation from any form of collective identity. That is the very essence of the liberalism. The liberals have liberated the human being from national identity, religious identity and so on.
Yes. Dugin supports Russia's old/new religiosity. (With his long beard Dugin looks like an Old Believer). Putin also supports Russia's return to religiosity. This is different from Trump embracing evangelicals, but Trump's aide Steve Bannon has his similarities with Dugin, Bannon faulting secular liberals for threatening Western civilization.
Newsweek Magazine compares Dugin and Bannon:
They both believe global elites have conspired against ordinary people. Their enemies: secularism, multiculturalism, egalitarianism. In both Bannon’s and Dugin’s worldview, the true global ideological struggle is not between Russia and the United States but between culturally homogenous groups founded on Judeo-Christian values practicing humane capitalism on one side and, on the other, an international crony-capitalist network of bankers and big business.
Dugin seeing a Trump victory as apocalyptic and civilization-changing. Paul Ratner quotes Dugin:
We need to return to the Being, to the Logos, to the foundamental [sic] ... to the Sacred, to the New Middle Ages — and thus to the Empire, religion, and the institutions of traditional society (hierarchy, cult, domination of spirit over matter and so on). All content of Modernity is Satanism and degeneration.
Dugin supports a greater Russian multi-national empire. He is ambivalent about Putin apparently because Putin is not as aggressive enough in pursing this empire. During the 2014 Russia-Ukraine conflict, the sociologist Dugan is said to have called for a massacre of Ukrainians and annexing Ukrainian lands that were part of the former Russian Empire.
Dugin's bestselling book “The Foundation of Geopolitics” 1997, has been described as a textbook at Russian military universities. And Dugin supports efforts to undermine order in the United States. He has written:
It is especially important to introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the US. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.
Like Bannon, Dugin wants to preserve civilization — Russian civilization. He emphasizes the uniqueness of cultures and civilizations, and he sees modernity as a threat to these. This is despite the voluntary nature of these diffusions. Russians took to French literature, Japanese nobles in the Meiji era and Chinese revolutionaries borrowed from Western culture.
Dugin is deeply into the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, whom he describes "not only as a great philosopher, on par with the other greats, but as the greatest of them all." This fits with my view of the ease with which people can get muddled philosophically, despite their high IQ. My view of Heidegger (one of the philosophers described on this site) is not kind. Heidegger is not a clear thinker, Bertrand Russell having written of Heidegger creating the suspicion that his language is running riot. Heidegger is a Platonist who uses essence frequently, pretending knowledge he doesn't have while denying knowledge created from sense experience. I believe in the modernity and science that Dugin derides and that is incompatible with Plato.
Dugin doesn't make much of Heidegger having joined the Nazi Party (in May 1933, a few months after Hitler became chancellor). He sees it as Heidegger's hope for a new, higher-minded era. (I fault Heidegger — Hannah Arendt's former professor and lover — for the philosophical confusion, in part political, that allowed him to join Hitler's party.
Unlike Dugin, I believe in the Western liberal tradition that developed in Britain with John Locke. I believe in freedom of the press and freedom from the kind of gangsterism for the status quo under Putin that threatened dissent in Germany in the 1930s and threatens Russia today — while Putin pretends innocence.
Some supporters of the old Soviet Union were afraid of cultural influences from what they saw as the bourgeois and decadent United States. Dugin still sees this Western culture as a threat. And his view is enjoying some attention today, but that's a long way from today's liberalism and freedoms ending with a return to Dugin's Middle Ages.
Recently we've been hearing people who have an apocalyptic element in their thinkers Rather than waiting fatalistically they want us to prepare for it, as people were doing in the Middle Ages more than today. After almost 2000 years of talk of the coming apocalypse, no apocalypse — while some of us, like Ron Reagan Jr, remain not afraid of "burning in Hell."
Copyright © 2017 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.