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The Prophet of the New Russian Empire


The Montréal Review, 2009


In the winter issue of Azure Magazine (2009, No. 35) Yigal Liverant makes a penetrating analysis of contemporary Russia while tracing intellectual life and political rise of Aleksandr Dugin - an influential Russian populist, author of sixteen books on philosophy and politics, professing authoritarianism, Russian imperialism, suspicion to liberal democracy, and war with the West.

Liverant's choice of Dugin as a collective image of Russia's intellectual and political trends is not accidental. As Liverant says, Dugin and his philosophy are not an "insignificant episode in Russian intellectual history; on the contrary, they reflect the dominant trend in current Russian politics and culture. If we wish to understand the zeitgeist that prevails in Russia today, it is essential for us to acquaint ourselves with this thinker, who expresses the innermost feelings of many of his fellow countrymen and their leadership."

Liverant explains the appearance of Dugin in the Russian political and public life as a result of the collapse of Soviet Union. The euphoria that followed the fall of communism, says Liverant, was quickly overtaken by disappointment, insecurity, and despair. For many Russians the USSR's global reach and power were a source of pride that, for whole decade, faded into despair and humiliation. Russia of the 1990s was a mere shadow of the "Evil Empire" it once had been. During the 1990s and beginning of the new century the Russian sense of national tragedy and decay has been additionally aggravated by the military actions of America and her allies in Serbia and Iraq that showed a profound disrespect for the Kremlin. The humiliation, says Liverant, resulted in fierce nationalism and rage, directed not only toward the former Russian republics Ukraine and the Baltic States, but to the ethnic minorities, Jews and the West. "Overtaken by confusion, frustration, and nostalgia for its former glory, Russia was a breeding ground for xenophobia and nationalist discontent," writes Liverant. This environment gave birth to radical movements and activists, and the most brilliant and talented of all them, says Liverant, was Aleksandr Dugin.

Mystic, fascist, Russian nationalist and imperialist, follower of the French philosopher René Guénon, Trubetskoy and Gumilev, Dugin has found a fertile soil for his ideas and political aspirations under the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Combining Gumilev's "ethnoses" theory, according to which Russia is a super-ethnos, created from a synthesis of Slavic, Mongol, Tatar, Finno-Ugric, and other smaller ethnic groups, with various other geopolitical theories, Dugin sees in Russia a rising Eurasian power. His mystical, "national-Bolshevik" (as he calls his ideology) dreams received popularity that coincided with the renewed sense of progress in Russia, achieved under the authoritarian rule of Putin.

"Aleksandr Dugin has every reason to feel profoundly satisfied - finishes his essay Yigal Liverant - Before his very eyes, the ideology which he developed under the names "Traditionalism," "National Bolshevism," and "Eurasianism" is becoming the official line of the Russian government. He is quite justified in proclaiming, "Putin is becoming more and more like Dugin." This once-obscure intellectual is now the chief philosopher of the "radical center." And while the glorious Russian nation is marching to his tune, we would be wise to recall the words of Isaiah Berlin-a thinker who was Dugin's opposite in almost every way-who warned us that ideas "nurtured in the stillness of a professor's study" could destroy a civilization." READ MORE



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