Sunday, February 05, 2017

Another book on Eurasianism

Alexander Dugin and Traditionalism are discussed in a new collection edited by Mark Bassin and Gonzalo Pozo, The Politics of Eurasianism: Identity, Popular Culture and Russia's Foreign Policy (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017).

The book takes "Eurasianism" in its widest sense, and Dugin's Eurasianism--what some call "Neo-Eurasianism"--is thus only one of the topics considered.

The book is divided into four parts.

  • Part I, on "Eurasianism, Nationalism and Ideology," contains three chapters discussing Eurasianism in general terms. 
  • Part II, "The Cultural Politics of Eurasianism," contains three chapters looking at the status of Eurasianism in post-Soviet Russian life, as "alternative history" and in movies. 
  •  Part III looks at "'Project Eurasia' and Russia's Foreign Policy," and contains four chapters. Marlene Laruelle asks how Eurasianism sees China,  Gonzalo Pozo looks at the Eurasian Economic Union, Anton Shekhovtsov looks at "Aleksander Dugin's Neo-Eurasianism and the Russian-Uranian War," and Richard Sakwa looks at whether Eurasia really exists
  • Part IV looks at Eurasianism outside Russia: In Tartarstan (Victor Shnirel’man), Hungary (Balázs Trencsényi), Turkey (Emre Erşen), Kazakhstan (Luca Anceschi) and Germany (Ian Klinke on Alexander Rahr). 
Traditionalism is discussed explicitly only by Balázs Trencsényi, who notes its importance for the post-1980s alternative intellectual milieu in Hungary that drew on the work of Béla Hamvas, and the importance of this milieu and of Traditionalism for the Jobbik leader, Gábor Vona. This, in the view of Trencsényi, is one reason why Vona and Dugin see eye to eye. Another reason, he suggests, is that there is some evidence of Russian financial support for Jobbik. Trencsényi, incidentally, wrongly identifies Guénon as "an adherent of fascism."

Dugin is discussed especially by Shekhovtsov and by Erşen. Shekhovtsov shows that Dugin has long argued for the division of the Ukraine, explicitly in Foundations of Geopolitics (Основы Геополитики, 1997), but it is not clear to what extent he has actually played an important role in the recent Russian intervention. As Shekhovtsov reminds us, members of the Eurasian Youth Union (Евразийский Союз Молодежи, ESM) were early supporters of the secession of eastern Ukraine and established several branches there, but after their role in the spectacular destruction of Ukrainian national symbols atop Mount Hoverla in 2007 (see blog post), they suffered a split, were targeted by the Ukrainian security services, and declined in Ukraine. Other secessionists remained on good terms with Dugin, however, and when secessionism re-emerged after 2014, Dugin supported secession in his public pronouncements, and also encouraged ESM members to volunteer for action. So, however, did many other groups, and thus, as Shekhovtsov says, it "seems impossible to establish how successful or efficient the ESM was in recruiting the volunteers."

Interestingly, Shekhovtsov refers to a report by the Center for Economic and Political Reform, a Russian NGO, which shows Russian state financial support for the ESM (report available here). Dugin is often said to be close to the Russian state, but this is just as often disputed. Financial support for the ESM is evidence of a good working relationship. Sakwa, however, argues that Dugin’s "influence on Russian regime politics has been minimal" and notes that after his “militant and uncontrollable support for the insurgency in the Donbass," the Russian regime “fought back to control the monster of Russian nationalism." This makes sense: the Russian government undoubtedly wishes to use nationalism and Eurasianism, not be be used by it.

Erşen also considers Dugin's influence in Turkey. He covers familiar ground, and makes an important point: that while Dugin's anti-Westernism easily finds an appreciative audience in today's Turkey, his pro-Russianism does not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Turkish Eurasianists were critical in negotiations between Turky and Syria that ended the Turkish support for the Jihadists: