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Alexander Dugins Neo-Eurasianism and the Eurasian Union Project: A Critique of Recent Scholarship and an Attempt at a New Beginning and Reorientation

Michael Millerman POL 2337/H 998594766 Professor Peter Solomon

December 31, 2012

Introduction The day after Vladimir Putin announced the goal of establishing a Eurasian Union between the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, an important article appeared in the Financial Times1. In that article, Charles Clover asserted that Putins announcement marked the epitome of the ambitions of a small group of committed Eurasianists, Alexander Dugin foremost among them. According to Clover, Dugin, the head of the International Eurasianist Movement2, even took credit for most of the content of Putins announcement at a conference at the University of Moscow the day the announcement came out, claiming to have helped in its preparation. Before leaving the topic of Dugins influence on Putins Eurasian Union project, Clover recalls John Maynard Keyness acute remark that [m]adman in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. In this paper, I argue that a comprehensive analysis of the proposed Eurasian Union and its underlying political theory must pay more attention to the recent writings of the academic scribbler Alexander Dugin, the leading theorist of Eurasianism3. To support my argument, I examine a number of recent primary sources, including books, university lectures, and articles by Dugin, none of which are cited in the contemporary literature, and show how they enrich our understanding of Eurasianism. Then, I criticize a representative sample of English-language literature on Dugin for its lack of engagement with recent primary sources and correct misconceptions regularly occurring in that literature. Finally, I make the case that Eurasianism,

Putins article, A New Integration Project for Eurasia: The Future in the Making, was originally publish ed 03/10/11 in Ivestia. Accessed 28/12/2012. Clovers article, Putin Calls for a New Eurasian Union was published 04/10/11. Accessed 28/12/2012. 2 For the history of Dugins involvement in Russian politics, including his founding of the Evraziia party and its transformation into the International Eurasianist Movement, see Laurelle (2006), Dunlop (2006) pp. 96-98, 101-105. 3 I shall make the distinction between Eurasianism and neo or contemporary Eurasianism below. Until then, I use Eurasianism broadly to refer to both classical and contemporary Eurasianism.

on Dugins account, should be thought of primarily as a philosophical, rather than merely geopolitical doctrine. The Fourth Political Theory Alexander Dugin is the author of over twenty books and ten textbooks on matters that should be of interest to any student of the Eurasian idea4. Despite this, only a small number of his writings are referred to by the select group of scholars who write about him. This is in part forgivable on account of his prolific output, with which it is difficult to keep pace. Yet, any comprehensive understanding of Eurasianism will have to keep pace with his writings and take into account the theoretical developments that they contain. In this section, I examine two versions of Dugins book The Fourth Political Theory the Russian version (2009) and English version (2012) in order to discover what each has to teach us about contemporary Eurasianism. As far as I can tell, this book has not been referenced by the scholarly community in either the English or Russian versions, despite being available in Russian for two years. In his most recent public statement5, Dugin calls his notion of the Fourth Political Theory perhaps the most vanguard sector of my scientific research [into] political philosophy. Eurasianism, according to Dugin, can be thought of as one of the preliminary versions of such a fourth political theory6. His book The Fourth Political Theory has recently been translated into English, Italian, French, Farsi, and numerous other languages7, and the major English-language website promoting his thought refers to the concept in its web address ( Lomonosov Moscow State University, where Dugin is the head of the Department of Sociology and the

A comprehensive list of his monographs and textbooks is available at the Wikipedia entry on him. As of 18/12/2012. Interview with Dialogue of the Seas, No.5/2012. Accessed 18/12/2012. 6 Ibid. 7 sidebar, personal correspondence with the author.

founder of the Centre for Conservative Studies, regularly conducts a range of conferences and workshops and issues publications devoted to the elaboration of the Fourth Political Theory8. Accordingly, scholars of Eurasianism ought to study the idea of the Fourth Political Theory9. Yet, no scholarly articles reference it even superficially10. Here, I shall offer a few observations on Eurasianism and the Fourth Political Theory in order to correct one of the most common misconceptions of Dugins thought in the literature and to offer some new vistas for scholarship on Eurasianism as a political theory and on the Eurasian Union as a political project. Eurasian Conservatism The first prolonged discussion of Eurasian in The Fourth Political Theory occurs in a chapter entitled What is Conservatism?11 In that chapter, Dugin distinguishes a number of kinds of conservatism, including traditionalism or fundamental conservatism, status-quo or liberal conservatism, the conservative revolution, and left-wing or social conservatism. The first of these is characterized by its rejection of the fundamental vector of historical development. It is a view according to which [t]he idea of progress is bad; the idea of technological development is bad; Descartes philosophy of the subject and object is bad; Newtons metaphor of the watch-maker is bad; contemporary positive science and the education and pedagogy founded on it is bad (2012, 87). Rene Guenon, Julius Evola, Titus Burckhardt, Leopold Ziegler and others are representatives of this form of conservatism (2012, 88)12. The oldest entry, A Congress on the Fourth Political Theory took place at the MSU Faculty of Sociology dates November, 25 2008. Accessed 18/12/2012. 9 Other resources include the video archive at the website:, which features a video of the recent 2012 conference on the Fourth Political Theory in held in Bordeaux. 10 I was unable to find any articles referencing the Russian or English versions of the book on Jstor, Google Scholar, or any other scholarly database. Certain English, French, and German websites of the New Right, however, have discussed and reviewed the book; see for instance the review by Alex Kurtagic Unthinking Liberalism, Accessed 28/12/2012. 11 Chapter five in the Russian version. In the English version, this chapter is called Conservatism and Postmodernity and is chapter six. 12 For a critique of Dugin as a traditionalist, see Shekhostov and Umland (2009).

It is worth observing that, according to Dugin, the association of fundamental conservatives with fascists is altogether wrong13. On his account, fascism is sooner the philosophy of modernity, which in a significant degree is contaminated with elements of traditional society, though it does not protest against modernity nor against time (ibid). Thus, those who associate Dugin with traditionalism, traditionalism with fascism, and hence Dugin with fascism, err badly, in light of the Fourth Political Theory and would benefit from studying his disambiguation of Eurasian conservatism from both traditionalism and fascism. As we shall see, accusations that Dugin is a fascist on other grounds ought also to be rethought in light of the theoretical distinctions of the Fourth Political Theory. Status-quo or liberal conservatism consists in a yes said to modernity, mitigated by a desire to slow down or postpone the end of history (2012, 91-92). The liberal conservative seeks to defend freedom, rights, the independence of man, progress, and equality, but by other [than leftist] means through evolution, not revolution; lest there be, God forbid, a release from some basement of those dormant energies which with the Jacobins issued in terror, and then in anti-terror, and so on. (2012, 92) Dugin mentions the German liberal thinker Jurgen Habermas as an example of a statusquo conservative, because of his fear of returning to the shadow of tradition, the sense of the war against which was in fact represented by modernity (ibid). Francis Fukuyamas turn to nation-building as a stage on the way to democratic liberalizations also belongs here (2012, 91). The Conservative Revolution holds the greatest philosophical interest for Dugin. To this school of conservatism belong such figures as Martin Heidegger, the Junger brothers, Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, Werner Sombart, Othmar Spann, and a whole constellation of

Dunlop makes such a reference when he refers to Evola as a Italian pagan-fascist philosophy (2001, 92).

mostly German authors, who are sometimes called the dissidents of National-Socialism (2012, 94). These thinkers share the fundamental conservative critique of modernity, but wonder whether there was not something in the traditional state of affairs that implied its own destruction. From their perspective, a simple return to pre-modernity therefore does not solve the problem, for it might be that in the very Source, in the very Deity, in the very First Cause, there is laid up the intention of organizing this eschatological drama (2012, 95). Hence, [c]onservative revolutionaries want not only to slow down time (like liberal conservatives) or to return to the past (like traditionalists), but to pull out from the structure of the world the roots of evil, to abolish time as a destructive quality of reality (ibid). Finally, left-wing or social conservatism, as typified by Georges Sorel, maintains that the left and the right both fight the bourgeois as a common enemy. According to Dugin, this view has similarities to Ustralyovs National-Bolshevism (2012, 98). Eurasianism concerns itself with the class of conservative ideologies. It shares some characteristics with fundamental conservatism (traditionalism) and with the Conservative Revolution (includingsocial conservatism), but rejects liberal conservatism (2012, 98-99). Analyses of Eurasianism as a political idea or political ideology will need to understand the ways in which it borrows from and incorporates the insights of various conservatisms, without erroneously concluding either that because it is conservative, it cannot be leftist or that because it is conservative, it must be status-quo or liberal conservative. Most importantly, such analyses must avoid the confusion of calling Eurasian conservatism fascist14. The logic of this error, simply put, runs as follows: Eurasianism is neither


As in Dunlop (2001), where it is written, for instance, that [a] perceptive observer of the Russian political scenenoted as far back as 1994 that fascism, especially its Eurasianist variant ( 91), and where Foundations of Geopolitics is referred to as a neo -fascist treatise (92). Accusations that Dugin is a fascist or even neo -fascist should be reconsidered and revised in light of The Fourth Political Theory. Dunlop exceeds himself in making such

liberal nor communist, nor a variant of liberalism or communism. Therefore, it must be fascist. It is precisely against the claim that three political theories liberalism, communism, and fascism exhaust the options that the Fourth Political Theory has been announced. The surest antidote against such confusions consists in the study of Dugins political theoretic works, where the necessary distinctions are introduced15. The idea of civilization plays a distinctive role in Eurasian conservatism. According to Dugin, Eurasianism differs from the conservative ideologies it resembles in that the alternative to modernity is not taken from the past or from a unique revolutionary-conservative revolution, but from societies historically co-existing with Western civilization, but geographically and culturally different from it (2012, 99). In this paper, I shall not elaborate this aspect of neoEurasianism. Instead, I shall offer a brief criticism of recent literature on the topic. A Critique of Recent Literature

accusations. He writes repeatedly of Dugins indubitable fascist orientation, referring to him as a fascist theorist (93). Umland does not hesitate to call Dugin a fascist (e.g. 2009, 676), and Shlapentokh (2007), despite cautioning that [i]t would bewrong to dub Dugin as a neofascist, plainly because fascism, liberalism, and other isms taken from the West are mostly irrelevant to the Russian phenomenon that carries their names (221), unflinchingly dubs Dugin as a dangerous neo-fascist extremist (218). If such inaccurate characterizations were excusable in 2006 and 2007, in 2012 they must be avoided by responsible scholars. 15 I agree with M. Laurelle that Dugins philosophical, religious, and political doctrines arecomplex and deserve careful consideration and that because the diversity of his work is little knownhis ideas areoften characterized in a rash and incomplete way (1). An example of such rash characterization can be found in Shlapentokhs essay, in which it is claimed that Dugin hates Western ideas mostly because they were responsible for the destruction of the USSR (2007, 216). In fact, if Dugin can be said to hate Western ideas, the reasons for that are only partly geopolitical; they are also, and primarily, philosophical and theological. But as his recent works make clear, it is inaccurate to speak of a hatred of Western ideas, and better to speak of what he sees as the nihilism of the Western logos and the wickedness of the ideas of negative liberty and human rights. Unfortunate ly, Shlapentokh does not refer to any of Dugins books written after 1996, despite that his essay was written in 2007. On the disambiguation of the Fourth Political Theory from fascism, I have in my possession a chart, sent to me by the author, that compares the four political theories liberalism, communism, fascism, and the FPT on eighteen variables, such as Attitude towards the third world, Attitude towards intellectualism and elitism, Attitude towards the philosophical concepts of rationality and irrationality, Attitude towards religion, and so on. Frankly, such a comparison is of greater value and indicates greater thoughtfulness and nuance than do the accusations of some of the authors whose works I have referred to in this essay.

The importance of the idea of civilization in contemporary Russian ideological discourse has recently been noted by such scholars as Verkhovskii16. In a recent issue of Russian Law and Politics (Nov/Dec 2012) dedicated to The Claim of Russian Distinctiveness as a Justification for Putins Neo-Authoritarian Regime, Verkhovskii and others discuss the resurgence of the age-old idea of Russias special path (5) and, in particular, one version of it, which Verkhovskii calls civilizational nationalism. Verkhovskii, who perpetuates the error of referring to Dugin as a neofascist (60), categorizes neo-Eurasianism as one type or political current of civilizational nationalism. Significantly, he states that all the sections of Russian nationalism discussed above make use of [Dugins] ideas to some degree (61). Unfortunately, he does not elaborate the specific ways in which various Russian civilizational nationalists draw on Dugins ideas. Instead, he is content to remark that the appointment of Dugin, one of the most odious ideologues of civilizational nationalism to a position at Moscow State University is evidence of the increasing influence of the rhetoric of civilizational nationalism in the academy (79). Of course, Verkhovskii cannot undertake a serious and nuanced analysis of the idea of civilizational nationalism as elaborated by Dugin when he unjustly perceives Dugin as an odious neo-fascist and is already committed to a view of things in which it is a dead end to try to go against the global tendencies of world development (82), thus begging a central question against those he is criticizing. But the more serious problem, it seems to me, is not that Verkhovskii doesnt like or agree with Dugin, or that he begs important questions against him, but that he doesnt study him. If we accept with Verkhovskii that the theoretical constructions of the radicals are founded on three pillars: (1) that a special Russian civilization exists, (2) that the natural territorial16

Verkhovskii (2012). See also Raskin (2008), Gromyko (2008).

political form of such a civilization is the empire, and (3) that the leading role in the empire must be played by ethnic Russians (58), and we further admit Dugins importance as the most theoretically sophisticated, relevant, and influential of the theorists of civilizational nationalism, then it would be irresponsible not to undertake a careful analysis of Dugins recent statements on those three pillars - civilization, empire, and ethnos - and instead rashly to rehash pronouncements of his neo-fascism. After all, precisely the themes of civilization, empire, and ethnos play an important role in both the Russian and English versions of The Fourth Political Theory, neither of which, sadly, but tellingly, are referred to in the most recent issue of Russian Law and Politics. In the English version, a chapter on Civilisation as an Ideological Concept runs 20 pages (Dugin 2012, 101-121). In the Russian version, in a chapter entitled Conservatism as a Project and Episteme, empire is given a robust philosophical defense and is articulated in a tripartite structure consisting of space, narod, and religion, which itself is a reflection of the tripartite structure of the conservative episteme: geopolitics, ethno-sociology, and theology (see below, 13). Part Three of the Russian version of the book bears the title The Geopolitical Context of the 21st Century: Civilization and Empire and features numerous chapters and sections on the question of civilization and Russian identity; for instance, the section called Russia as a Civilization (Cultural-Historical Type) and the two chapters Carl Schmitts Principle of Empire and the Fourth Political Theory and The Project Empire. In Part Five of the Russian edition of the book (available, I repeat, since 2009), Dugin discusses the formula of Russias socio-genesis, including specifically the elements of the ethnic constant and the


ethnic variable, structurally distinguishing not only constants and variables, but also the ethnos from the narod17. In short, even the most recent literature on the topic of Dugins neo-Eurasianism as a type of new Russian ideology fails to consider the relevant primary source materials, in which all the pertinent theoretical categories are elaborated in detail. This failure stems in part, it seems to me, from an apriori anti-Duginism, which itself arises, in part, from the erroneous judgement that Dugin is a neo-fascist. I must therefore repeat the central finding of my research, namely that scholars of Dugin and neo-Eurasianism should set aside their prejudices, consult recent primary source material, and be guided in their analyses, at least preliminarily, by Dugins own theoretical distinctions. Perhaps these scholars can then find rationally defensible grounds on which to contest Dugins thoughtful positions, rather than resorting to the kinds of hasty mischaracterizations Laurelle warned about (see footnote 8). But besides references to Dugin in general surveys of resurgent Russian nationalism, research dedicated to Dugins neo-Eurasianism itself also exists. For instance, the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of the journal to which I have been referring, Russian Politics and Law, was devoted to an analysis specifically of Dugins neo-Eurasianism. How does that research fare in terms of citing Dugins (then) recent primary sources? Leonid Luks article A Third Way or Back to the Third Reich? discusses the picture of Eurasianism that emerges from a reading of articles in the early journal Elements, edited by Dugin. The guiding question of the article is whether the self-proclaimed Eurasianism of the

Additionally, the topic of civilization was discussed at the December 10 th All-Russian Scientific-Practical Conference of Young Scholars and Students on the topic of the Eurasian Project: The Eurasian Idea Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Yuri Vladimirovich Popkov, the first speaker of the conference, spoke on the foundational values of the peoples of Inner Eurasia as a basis for their civilizational commonality. Accessed 24/12/2012. On the ethnos, see Dugins lectures on Ethno-Sociology, which have been available online since 23/11/2009. Accessed 28/12/2012.


authors of Elements in fact represents the legacy of the classical Eurasianists (8). Surprisingly, although the study does not cite any articles or books written after 1995, Luks writes of the thoughts of the editors of Elements about present-day theories of globalization [and] the oneworld model (8). Since his study was written in 2009, it is curious that Luks takes comments from 1993-1995 as current appraisals of present-day theories. Luks study, which concludes that the Eurasianism of Elements has more in common with the Weimer conservative revolutionaries than with the classical Eurasianists, is, as is the journal issue as a whole, an important, if alarmist, contribution to the study of neo-Eurasianism. But because it fails to refer to more recent developments in Dugins neo-Eurasianism, a number of its analyses miss the mark. For instance, Luks writes that Elements sets against the unipolar American conception of the world a bipolar conception based on a new conflict between East and West (20). But a correct understanding of neo-Eurasianism today would surely have to focus not on bipolarity, but on multi-polarity18. Because Luks did not take account of the more than twenty or so books that Dugin published between 1995, the date of the last article Luks quotes, and 2009, the year in which his own article came out, it is difficult to see the value in his sweeping generalizations about the Hitlerist implications of todays neo-Eurasianism19 on the basis of Elements articles from 1993-1995. Laurelles article does not cite any of Dugins works written after 1997, though she does refer to some of her own writings on Dugin, and to Dugins 2004 The Eurasian Mission of

For the most recent published statement by Dugin on the question of multi-polarity, see Dugin, A. A Multipolar World and Russian Foreign Policy. International Affairs, No. 6, 2012. Pp. 141-145. Also, according to the website, Lomonosov Moscow State University Department of Sociology and Centre for Conservative Studied hosted a discussion on the Geopolitics of the Quadripolar World in October of 2012. Accessed 24/12/2012. 19 He writes: unlike those who feel nostalgia for empire in todays Russia, the publishers of Elementy are not satisfied with simply returning to the past. Restoration of the original borders of the Russian empire is only the first stage of their strategic plan (21), and so on. That is, on the basis of no evidence from 1995 -2009, Luks makes proclamations about the strategic plan of the publishers of Elementy, i.e. of Dugin, concerning todays Russia.


Nursultan Nazarbayev, brought out by the Moscow publishing house Evraziia, printed on glossy paper, and probably financed by Astana (99). Unfortunately, a similar failure to reference recent writings also detracts from the general implications of Umlands article. Sokolovs article New Right-Wing Intellectuals in Russia, does not cite Dugin even once and does not go farther in engaging with his works than merely naming two of them (66). Following this trend, Senderov cites only one of Dugins books, Foundations of Geopolitics, and only once. Thus, in an issue dedicated to the Dugin phenomenon (4), what is most phenomenal is the scantiness of reference to Dugins own writings. Contemporary Eurasianism: More than Geopolitics One of the shortcomings of literature on neo- or contemporary Eurasianism is its onesided emphasis of geopolitical questions and its consequent undervaluation of other elements of that doctrine or approach20. According to Dugin, neo-Eurasianism accepted the main points of the worldview of the Eurasian thinkers of the 20s and 30s, but supplemented them with attention to traditionalism, geopolitics, structuralism, the fundamental-ontology of Heidegger, sociology, and anthropology (2012, 100). But from what I have been able to discover, almost all of the significant English-language scholarship on Dugin has focused on his geopolitical writings, to the exclusion of the other components of neo-Eurasianism listed by Dugin, with a few noteworthy exceptions21. Even the recent dissertation by Todd Bennington on the International New Right contains the incorrect description of neo-Eurasianism as a belief that


E.g. Dunlop (2001, 2004), Hagen (2004), Richardson (2012), Shlapentokh (2007), Tsygankov (1988, 2003), Rangsimaporn (2006), etc. 21 Such as Shekhostov and Umland (2009), Rossman (2009), and Sedgwick (2004) on Dugins traditionalism.


geopolitics mandates that Russia must hold dominion over the countries of the former Soviet Union and beyond (112)22. A comprehensive account of neo-Eurasianism will have to include the philosophical, sociological, anthropological and other elements of that approach and understand how they interact. Previous accounts of Dugins thought should be revised to correspond to a more accurate and up-to-date description of neo-Eurasianism. For instance, Laurelles contention that Dugin does not find congenial the philosophy of Martin Heidegger (2006, 18) must be abandoned, now that Dugin has written two books about Martin Heidegger23 and refers to him as providing the deepest foundations for the Fourth Political Theory and for the possibility of a distinct Russian philosophy24. In this section, my goal is to offer a brief sketch of Dugins neo-Eurasian episteme as he describes it in the Russian and English versions of The Fourth Political Theory and to make a few observations on the role of Heideggers thought for Dugin. The purpose of this section is to contribute to an understanding of Dugins thought that is not marred from the outset by a prejudice against it, by a failure to consult recent primary sources, or by a narrow focus on geopolitics. The necessity for such an undertaking increases daily. Yigal Liverants perceptive remark that there is an undeniable connection between Dugins politics and the regime change led by Putin, his correct contention that Dugin and his philosophy cannotbe dismissed as an insignificant episode in Russian intellectual history[but rather] reflect the dominant trend in


Despite its merits, Bennigtons dissertation suffers from the same flaw as some o f the other literature I have reviewed (on which it depends, for the most part): lack of engagement with primary sources. 23 They are Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning, published in Russia in 2010, and Martin Heidegger and the Possibility of Russian Philosophy, published in Russia in 2011. (My translation of the first volume is expected to be published in 2013.) 24 Dugin calls Heideggers philosophy the most profoundfoundation for the Fourth Political Theory (2012, 28).


current Russian politics and culture and his prediction that their influence over the general public and decision makers in the Kremlin is only going to become stronger (52) command our attention no less today than they did when he made them three years ago. Indeed, Putins request to be received at the EU-Russia summit later this month as the representative of the Eurasian Union25 and the spat caused by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she remarked that the US knows what the goal is of the Eurasian Union and is trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it26 both testify to the ongoing relevance of the Eurasian idea and project, and hence also to the importance of its leading theorist and visionary. The Eurasian/Conservative Episteme Dugin refers to Eurasianism not as a political philosophy but as an episteme (2012, 98)27. An episteme, according to the French philosopher whom Dugin follows here terminologically, is a strategic apparatus which permits of separating out from among all the statements which are possible those that will be acceptable within, I wont say a scientific theory, but a field of scientificity, and which it is possible to say are true or false (Derrida, 1980). If the modern episteme is dominated by modern, mathematical, natural science and the post-modern


Putin to Visit Brussels as Eurasian Union leader, 04/12/2012. Accessed 18/12/2012. 26 Globalist Mouthpiece Hillary Clinton Attacks Russia, Eurasianism, 07/12/2012. Accessed 18/12/2012. 27 This refers to classical Eurasianism. Neo-Eurasianism should be understood as both an episteme and a political philosophy. For neo-Eurasianism as a political philosophy, see Russian translation 114-116, where (neo) Eurasianism is called an imperial philosophy, an impressive Russian philosophy, and where it is affirmed that Eurasianism is in the first place philosophy philosophynot geopolitics! See also the transcript of the interview of Dugin with Dmitrii Smirnov on the television program Spas, where Dugin characterizes himself as fi rst and foremost a philosopher: Accessed 24/12/2012. Also, a 2012 issue of the journal Dekonstrukciya issued by the MSUs Centre for Conservative Studies, of which Dugin is the head, is dedicated to Plato and extols his relevance for contemporary Russia, asserting that The project of a New Russia must begin with a Platonic proclamation. Accessed 26/12/2012. In short, it is absolutely urgent to begin to consider contemporary Eurasianism as a principally philosophical movement with a geopolitical component, rather than as a geopolitical movement with a philosophical component.


episteme by the linguistic turn and the deconstruction of texts and power relations, what characterizes the Eurasian episteme, on Dugins account? The specific character of the Eurasian episteme is its refusal to consider as an inevitability the universality of the Western logos (2012, 99). Eurasianism considers Western culture as a local and temporary phenomenon and affirms a multiplicity of cultures and civilizations, which coexist at different moments of a cycle (ibid). Because there is no single historical process and every nation has its own historical model, which moves in a different rhythm and at times in different directions, the Eurasianist can assert that modernity is a phenomenon peculiar only to the West and call on others to build their societies on internal values, rejecting the Wests claim to the universality of its civilization (ibid). Thus, Eurasianism opposes to the unitary episteme of modernity a multiplicity of epistemes, built on the foundations of each existing civilization (ibid). Neo-Eurasianism takes this Eurasianist view of modernity and gives it a philosophical analysis (2012, 100). Philosophically, it articulates a rejection of the notion of unidirectional time (ibid; see also 55-67). In the view that it criticizes, time proceeds from past to future through the present and is considered not from the standpoint of being, but from that of becoming, of movement forward. The conception of the conservative as one who is trying to retrieve a past moment from a linear progression of time thus presupposes a unidirectional concept of time, which the neo-Eurasianists reject on philosophical grounds. This notion of an alternative temporality is not irrelevant to the political consideration of neo-Eurasianism. Some critics of neo-Eurasianism accuse it of being nothing more than a program to return to the glorious days of the Soviet Union. Recently, for instance, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that the Eurasian Union project is a move to re-Sovietize the


region, thus conceiving of the new project as a return to the past. Similarly, the Telegraph ran a story about the Eurasian Union in in 2011 entitled Vladimir Putin is trying to take Russia back in time28. Some commentators have quipped that the Eurasian Union hearkens a movement Back to the USSR. Others might plausibly interpret such a move as turning back the clock, i.e. returning to a time before the enlightenment of political life through the doctrines of liberalization, Westernization, and human rights29. But because the neo-Eurasianist conservative is not someone who wants to recover a lost past from a unidirectional temporal history, criticisms of the neo-Eurasianist project that view it in unidirectional temporal terms fail to understand it in its own terms. Only by begging the question of temporality against the neo-Eurasianist from the outset is it possible to view his project as in some sense retrograde (2010, Chapter Six)30. Russia has many incompatible moments in its history, making the notion of the conservative as one who wants to return to the past, in Russia, at least, inconsistent and contradictory. As Dugin puts it, [w]hen a conservative turns over the pages of a book of Russian history, he sees in it both golden and abominable pages, including muchthat is categorically unacceptable and anomalous for a consistent Russian conservative (ibid). Rather than unidirectional temporality, the neo-Eurasian conservative operates with a synchronic model of time (ibid). On this model, the conservative does not fight for the past, but for the constant, the perennial, that which essentially always remains identical to itself


10/05/2011. Accessed 20/12/2012. 29 Such a metaphor was used, in a different context, for instance, in a report by the Human Rights Watch on human rights in Belarus. Human Rights Watch, Republic of Belarus: Turning Back the Clock, 1 July 1998, D1007, available at: [accessed 20 December 2012]. 30 I worked with an electronic copy of the Russian text that does not have page numbers.


(ibid). Past, present, and future are modalities to which one can be oriented, but what is important in them is what is constant in them. To explain his view of temporality, Dugin relies on a formulation he later elaborates in his first book on Heidegger. According to this formulation, the merely temporal categories of past, present, and future are not what interest the conservative thinker. Instead, that which has been, that which is, and that which will be commands his attention. In other words, not empty time but being as it was, is, and shall be, being as constant but under different modalities, commands the attention of the conservative thinker. If, Dugin writes, for progressives and the followers of the philosophy of history being is a function of becoming (of history, time), then for the conservativetime (history, duration, Zeit) is a function of being. Being is primary, time is secondary (ibid). This orientation towards being as constant underlies the neo-Eurasian critique of other conservative projects in todays Russia. These projects are conceptually and philosophically on the wane, weak and superficial because they lack the most important thingthe breath of eternity (ibid). They imitate liberals and attempt to impart to conservative ideas a catchy and marketable package, whereas true philosophical and ontological conservatism ought to avoid such approaches and instead seek to demonstrate the irresistible truth of eternity by any means and at any price (ibid). Dugin blames the failure of Russian conservatism on Russias epistemological deficit. Both the communist period and the period of liberalization that followed it were premised on the superiority of becoming to being and imbued the humanitarian sciences, and education foremost


among them, with a scientific worldview established on the explicit negation of eternity (ibid)31. Crucially, Dugin maintains that the project of implementing conservative policies is a secondary question, preceded by the task of elaborating a preliminary system of coordinates, a sort of new, expressly conservative (ideologically, not methodologically) sociology, which is read to perform the gigantic work of wide revisions of scientific, humanitarian and sociological conceptions (ibid). Eurasianism as a political project depends on the elaboration of an ideologically and ontologically conservative sociology, meant to replace the liberal and communist epistemes. Although The Fourth Political Theory is but an invitation to contribute to the elaboration of such an episteme, Dugin does provide some specific suggestions as to how it should be developed. It should be based on trichotomy (ibid), both at the general level and at the particular level. For instance, at the general level, the conservative episteme consists of theology, ethnosociology, and geopolitics, analogous to mans spirit, soul, and body (ibid). At the particular level, Empire should be analyzed in terms of religion, the narod and the territorial space, also on analogy with man. This episteme should replace the dominance of the liberal emphasis on jurisprudence and economics (ibid). For it is not that economics is serious and theology is optional, but strictly the other way around: He who knows eternity knows everything. He who knows the temporary material regularities of the circulation of money, merchants, and goods does not even know that which he supposes himself to know (ibid).


Incidentally, the great German Jew Leo Strauss attacked in his own way the negation of eternity implied by scientific social science as Americas foremost political scientist in the first half of the 20 th century. Dugins Russiabased ontological criticism of liberalism should thus be seen as having important precedents in America among migr political theorists, and Dugin himself should therefore receive a hearing from more than just scholars of postSoviet studies and geopolitics.


The idea of a specifically Eurasian educational and scientific paradigm meant to correct the inadequacies of the predominant liberal paradigm has important implications for the study contemporary Eurasianism. For instance, although commentators have noticed that a mystical view of the world implicitly underlies Dugins geopolitical writings, lacking the key of the conservative episteme, they have not been able to give a proper account of why Dugin should see geopolitics in light of spirituality. Talk of empire as sacred is not simply poetic metaphor; it is in accordance with the axioms of the conservative episteme, where every phenomenon is seen in light of its fundamental ontological significance. In short, because the necessary condition for the working out of a full-fledged conservative project is the implementation of the conservative episteme (ibid), as Dugin contends, analysts of the former the Eurasian Union ought surely to pay some attention to latter, to the conservative episteme as it is worked out by Dugin and others at Lomonosov Moscow State University in books, journals, and articles. Indeed, as Dugin indicated in an interview on Voice of Russia earlier this year, Putins plans for a Eurasian Union are unintelligible and unfeasible outside of the broader context of the Eurasian political philosophy32. So far, I have argued that contemporary scholars of neo-Eurasianism and the Eurasian Union project have failed to pay due attention to the recent writings of the leading theorist of neo-Eurasianism, Alexander Dugin. In order to begin to remedy that situation, relying on the English and Russian versions of his book The Fourth Political Theory, I discussed Dugins

Eurasianism is a Multi-Dimensional Reality. Interview with Armen Oganesyan. Accessed 24/12/2012. Dugins Lomonosov Moscow State University lectures on the following topics are available at structural sociology, ethnosociology, sociology of geopolitical processes, sociology of Russian society, deep region studies, Russias contemporary identity, postphilosophy, the ontology of Martin Heidegger, religious studies. Detailed discussions of a conservatism that is broader than neo-Eurasianism can be found in the journal of the Centre for Conservative Studies, Russian Time, available online in Russian at:


conception of neo-Eurasianism as a form of conservatism and sought to correct the common error of referring to Dugin as a neo-fascist. Then, I showed that many of the themes of interest to these scholars for instance, civilization, empire, and ethnos are treated extensively by Dugin in recent books, which none of them have referenced; thus further supporting the claim that there is much to be gained by turning to consider primary sources33. I suggested that the failure to do so stems from an apriori anti-Duginism, which itself involves begging the relevant questions against Dugin from a liberal, progressive viewpoint. In order to combat such an approach, I felt it necessary to discuss the notion of a conservative episteme, according to which the neo-Eurasianism and the Eurasian Union project should be understood and evaluated before a liberal critique is undertaken. Finally, I defended the view that neo-Eurasianism should be thought of primarily as a robust political philosophy and serious alternative to the liberal and communist intellectual paradigms, rather than as merely a geopolitical doctrine, demonstrating that Dugin himself presents it as such. Hopefully, as a result of the arguments I have made, scholars of post-Soviet studies with an interest in neo-Eurasianism and the Eurasian Union project will begin to pay greater attention to Dugins prolific output and to the work of the think-tanks he has founded, such as the Center for Conservative Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University and will modify their previous assessments of Dugin and his project in light of those recent writings, such as I showed was necessary to do in the case of Laurelles assessment of the relevance for Dugin of Heidegger. Secondly, I hope to have made a plausible case that the study of neo-Eurasianism should be undertaken not only in the context of post-Soviet studies, but also as part of the study of


A caveat is in order: in this essay, I limited my analysis of literature on neo-Eurasianism and Dugin to scholarly journal articles and did not consult book length publications such as Marlene Laurelles work on Eurasianism.


comparative political theory and political philosophy, alongside other critiques of and alternatives to modern liberal-democratic thought. If I have achieved either of these aims in part, my task will have been accomplished.

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