Friday, February 02, 2024

Dugin's multiple contexts

An excellent article on the multiple contexts of Alexander Dugin and Eurasianism has just been published in the New York Review of Books. It is “Russian Exceptionalism” (available here) by Gary Saul Morson, a scholar of Russian literature who has read Dugin and other Eurasianists carefully. He places Dugin in three larger contexts: the “Russian Exceptionalism” of his title, early Eurasianism, and contemporary Russia. And he may well be right in all three ways. He concludes that “Far from distorting earlier Eurasianism, Dugin’s bloodthirstiness represents its predictable development.” I myself would prefer “apocalypticism” to “bloodthirstiness,” but I must admit that the current Dugin can certainly seem rather bloodthirsty. 

Two thirds of the article is about the early Eurasianism of Nikolai Trubetskoy, Pyotr Savitsky, and Lev Gumilev, to which too little attention is usually paid. In Morson’s view, Dugin synthesized this “with the work of practitioners of geopolitics from Halford Mackinder on, along with structuralists, postmodernists (Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze), French ‘traditionalists’ (René Guénon and Alain de Benoist), and various Nazis or ex-Nazis, including Julius Evola, Carl Schmitt, and, of course, Martin Heidegger.” Yes, though Benoist would not identify himself as a Traditionalist like Guénon, even if there is indeed much Traditionalism in his through. And Evola, of course, should be listed as a Traditionalist, not a Nazi—he was never even a proper Fascist, let alone a Nazi. But this is not the point: the article is about contexts, not the classification of Dugin’s sources.

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