Politics, Russia, Ukraine

Aleksandr Dugin: behind the Ukrainian War

Aleksandr Dugin

New Horizons International Conference 2018, CC BY 4.0

Since the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russians have conducted many military operations outside the country. Georgia (2006), Crimea (2014), Belarus (2020), Kazakhstan (2022) and then Ukraine (2022). Occupy a country somewhere, occupy a part of a country somewhere, protect the dictator of one’s choice from the people’s wrath, and contribute to “independence”.

Russia’s repeated military interventions on its borders have led the Western media to single-handedly portray Putin as a belligerent dictator. They also want to label him a “war criminal”. In reality, however, from the Russian perspective, these campaigns are not the military adventures of a single person. Behind each aggression lies broad, integrated thinking of the future geographical plan of the Russians. To understand Russia’s ongoing militarism, we need to turn our attention away from Putin to Aleksandr Dugin, one of Putin’s advisers.

Who is this Aleksandr Dugin?

Dugin, 60, is now considered one of Russia’s most important political theorists. Critics have called him an outspoken nationalist, but he has not denied an entanglement with the Russian ruling class.

Dugin is a very talented man. He is fluent in many languages. He once taught at Moscow State University. Dugin’s own website (The Fourth Political Theory) has disseminated his thoughts in dozens of languages. Dugin has written clearly about himself on this website, “he is not stuck on the border between left and right – but of course against the moderates”! By “moderates”, Dugin means the liberal democrats. Dugin’s self-proclaimed “opponent” is liberal-democratic ideology, and the United States is a significant centre of this ideology.

Born in Moscow, Dugin grew up in opposition to socialism. However, as an opponent of socialism, he did not turn to democracy but gradually sympathised with the right-wing intellectuals in Europe. He added spiritualism and religion to his political philosophy. Dugin always shows his readers and listeners the dream of the “old golden age”. In which there will be no more modern liberal democracy, but the “state” will come first. The media will only listen to the “national interest”.

Dugin calls on everyone to participate in the political work to hasten such a future, especially Russians. His book ‘Foundation of Geopolitics’ is the result of this. Here he shows how Russia needs to step back into the place of influence in the neighbourhood. The book was quickly read by the Russian army and various military institutions in Russia. Dugin often writes and at length with Russia’s top generals. This gives a good idea of his sphere of influence.

In his early life, Dugin entered politics under the banner of the National Bolshevik Party. He couldn’t derive any benefit from it. Then he changed the whole political strategy. Instead of good politics, Russia’s ruling elites succeeded in influencing the elites with extremist nationalist ideologies. Dugin calls his approach “metapolitics”. According to him, it is currently more important to change the political culture than to succeed in politics.

This is what he calls ad hoc politics. Many in Europe see Dugin’s dictatorship as a renewed form of Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. Although Gramsci’s class goal is the opposite of Dugin’s; Dugin is also called the “right Gramsci”.

What does Dugin want?

Dugin thinks equality is an invalid concept. Europe must now concentrate on building the empire of “Eurasia”, in which the Russians will be the heroes. In other words, it will be a “Great Russia”, a realm dominated by ancient religions and political structures. In other words, Dugin wants to restore the influence of monarchical tradition, religion and the church in politics and administration. He is against all civil liberties that undermine the old social bonds.

Because of this mindset, Dugin is considered a guru by many extremist nationalists in Europe and Russia. He also attracts Turkish nationalists. Dugin’s influence is also growing among American Republicans. Dugin has contributed to Trump’s constant admiration of Putin, the “Iron Man”, and his secret wish to be such a ruler.

Dugin’s philosophy has made Putin an “Iron Man”. And Duginhimself was created under the ideological influence of the Italian fascist Julius Evola. Evola is considered one of the gurus of fascist ideology in modern Europe. In turn, fans of this Evola are many Republicans in the United States, especially Steve Bannon, who was the theoretical guru of President Trump. From here, the philosophical distance between Dugin and many Americans is not great, and they know each other.

How close Putin and Dugin are?

Since the war in Ukraine, European and American journalists have become increasingly hostile to Putin. But this is not a lie; Dugin greatly influences Putin’s thinking. Some call Dugin Putin’s “Rasputin”. Investigators say Dugin is “Putin’s brain”.

Before the Lenin-Trotskyist revolution, everyone remembers old Rasputin’s influence on the ruling Tsarist family in the days of the Russian monarchy. Strangely enough, Rasputin and today’s Dugin look amazingly similar. Just as Rasputin hypnotised rulers in the Tsarist era, Dugin too dreamed of a greater empire for the Russian elite of the time.

Dugin’s 1997 book, The Foundation of Geopolitics, is considered a guide to Putin’s foreign policy of the last 20 years. In other words, to realise Dugin’s “dream”, Putin might have to change the constitution with the help of the Duma and stay in power until 2036. The regime that began in 1999 has now lasted almost two decades.

Does Dugin play a role in the aggression against Ukraine?

Although Russian forces are surprised the world about the invasion of Ukraine, Dugin said in 2008 that the incident would happen. During the rushed operation in Georgia, Dugin went to South Ossetia and supported his country’s military operations in Georgia, saying, “These regions, including Tibetans, Crimea, Ukraine, were Russian.”

Russia had annexed South Ossetia in 2008, just as Putin promoted the secession of the two Ukrainian territories in the recent aggression. The iconic picture Dugin took of South Ossetia with a rocket launcher at the time caused a stir in the internet world.

Georgia, Ukraine and other countries neighbouring Russia

The “Russian Spring” sees the freedom struggles as compromised. In South Ossetia, Georgia, Luhansk, Donetsk, Ukraine, etc., the initiators of the Russian Spring are all fans of Dugin. He has always called Ukraine “New Russia”. Putin is now imitating him. Dugin was an adviser to Putin’s United Russia party when he sent troops to Georgia. And now, he is seen as Russia’s spokesman.

When Russia sent troops to Georgia, Duginjust held a seminar with 200 “volunteers” and said the two battles were “civilisations”. We must go to Ukraine to end American hegemony” (Spiegel, 24 August 2008).

In an interview with the BBC on 10 July 2014, Dugin openly called on Putin to occupy Ukraine. He argued, “Russia must get Ukraine to maintain its moral high ground.”

Putin was talking about Dugin. Putin’s campaign is a step towards building a “Greater Russia”, as proposed by Dugin. After Russia invades Crimea, opinion polls show Putin gaining ground in Russia. In this way, the alliance between Dugin and Putin created a new Russia in the new century, in strong contrast to the face of the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1990.

The Dugin-Putin alliance’s views on the economic blockade by the United States and its allies can be seen in the well-planned operation in Ukraine. They see the blockade as positive for their political future. According to Dugin, such a blockade was their guess. The victims are mainly Russia’s prominent wealthy, liberal democrats in the political faith and allies of the West. Their weakening will give a boost to the “patriots” in Russia.

Western fears about Dugin!

Europe-America is worried about Dugin. At least, that is what emerges from the various writings of thinkers in these countries. In particular, Dugin urged the current Russian leadership to watch US domestic affairs. Concern in the United States is unabated. Many believe that Russian interest in Hillary’s presidential candidacy is Dugin’s philosophical provocation. In the United States, Dugin’s relationship with the white supremacist KKK is evident.

Dugin opposed the United States as a country and liberal democracy as a political system. Saying that the liberal ideology of the United States and its allies is nothing but a global obstacle to heaven. He also called on Russians to watch the ethnic divisions within the United States. For him, these are the “central works” of Russia. This kind of work requires a strong “kingdom”. The Russian elite has no doubt that Putin has reached out to Ukraine for this purpose.

Dugin believes that Russian politics is divided into two parts – liberal democrats on one side and patriots on the other. The Ukraine campaign is patriotic. The frightening thing about Dugin’s statement is that it reminded the world of Italy and Germany in 1933. The war in Ukraine could be just the beginning of a long-term global catastrophe.

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