What I am about to say does not concern the ordinary man of our day. On the contrary, I have in mind the man who finds himself involved in today’s world, even at its most problematic and paroxysimal points; yet he does not belong inwardly to such a world, nor will he give in to it. He feels himself, in essence, as belonging to a different race from that of the overwhelming majority of his contemporaries. ~ Julius Evola.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Race, "Ethnos" and "The Fourth Political Theory"

By Giuliano Adriano Malvicini 

Part 1 of 3

Alexander Dugin has designated liberalism as the enemy of the “fourth political theory”, or rather, since the enemy can only be an actually existing group of people and not an idea or ideology, he has designated as the enemy all those are in favour of the global hegemony of liberalism (that is, the hegemony of “the West”). “If you are in favour of global liberal hegemony, you are the enemy” is one of his slogans.  
What does Dugin mean by “liberalism”? Not the ideology of those whom Americans refer to as “liberals.” It is important for Americans to realise that calling someone a “liberal” in Europe means something quite different from calling someone a “liberal” in the United States. “Liberals” in the United States are on the left: they vote for the Democratic party and are in favour a welfare state and a regulated economy. In Europe, they would be considered social democrats. Ideologically, they are egalitarians and tend to be critical of laissez-faire capitalism. They oppose “racism”, “sexism” and “homophobia” from an egalitarian point of view. They view prison sentences as therapeutic and socialising rather than as forms of punishment. They believe in “social justice” rather than justice through retribution. They believe that human beings are basically good and can be redeemed through “social work”. They believe in social conditioning rather than personal responsibility. They believe that human beings can be redeemed in this world. They tend to be in favour of a strict separation of church and state, while at the same time advocating an egalitarian world-view that is essentially a form of secularised Christianity.

In Europe, “liberals” are on the right: they are generally opposed to the welfare state, in favour of free markets, the privatisation of the infrastructure and a largely unregulated economy. Traditionally, they also support various conservative social policies, placing an emphasis on individual responsibility as the correlative of the notion of individual rights. In other words, liberalism is a bourgeois ideology, favouring a capitalist economy, based on the enlightenment ideology of individual human rights. Today, however, the polarity between left and right is becoming much less sharp, and gradually being replaced by a general consensus. The social policies of European liberal parties often coincide with those associated with the post-1968, libertarian left. Liberal, pro-capitalist parties oppose “racism”, “sexism” and “homophobia” from the point of view of individualist libertarianism. They oppose categorisations of human beings in collective terms. Everyone should be treated as an individual, in an unprejudiced way. Ideas of national, religious or sexual identity are passé. National borders and ethnic communities, insofar as they limit the freedom of the individual, should be abolished. The freedom of the individual must be defended as long as it does not interfere with the rights of other individuals. This is the liberalism that Dugin has designated as the enemy: globalist capitalism founded on the ideology of human rights.

Today, the common foundations and origins of the social democratic, egalitarian left and the bourgeois, liberal right in the enlightenment ideology of human rights has come more to the fore. Both left and right-wing mainstream parties today tend to favour multiculturalism, immigration, gay rights and the separation of church and state. They share fundamental views about gender equality and sometimes drug liberalisation. These policies are legitimised by the “right” from the point of view of individual rights, and by the “left” from the point of view of egalitarianism. Moreover, the middle-class leftist “revolutionaries” of the late 60s and early 70s have often made a transition from the communist left to the liberal right, realising that their adherence to the left was based on an ideological self-misunderstanding. They were essentially bourgeois libertarians who mistook themselves for communists.

The difference between the left and the right in Europe today is a difference of interpretation of a single fundamental anthropological and ideological legacy, that of the enlightenment. It would more correct to talk about “liberal-egalitarian hegemony” rather than simply “liberal hegemony”. Both liberalism and egalitarianism are based on the ideology of human rights, but emphasise different aspects. Right-wing liberals emphasise the individual aspect of human rights. Leftist egalitarians emphasise the universal aspect of human rights. Both conceptions of humanity - universal man and individual man - are abstractions: defined only in negative terms, embodying an abstract freedom. Both universal man and individual man are defined as NOT belonging to a particular group or category (ethnic or otherwise). Insofar as man is universal, “he” cannot be defined or limited as belonging to any particular ethnic group, gender or other category. The individual, on the other hand, cannot as such be subsumed under any category or defined as belonging to any collectivity (nationality ethnicity, gender, etc) since this would violate his or her (its?) individuality. The individual, then, is any and every human being and potentially corresponds to all of humanity. The individual is universal (as a representative of “humanity” as such) and all human beings are, as such, individuals. In other words, "universal man" can only be "individual man". Egalitarianism and individualism ultimately boil down to the same thing.

It would more correct, then, to talk about a “liberal-egalitarian hegemony” than simply “liberal hegemony”. This hegemony is both political and metapolitical. All established, mainstream political parties in Europe today gravitate towards this liberal-egalitarian centre. This leaves certain groups marginalised. Since the centre is the rational, humane, bourgeois individual, monopolising the legacy of the enlightenment, with reason itself as the defining trait of humanity, those who deviate in some way from the centre are in varying degrees viewed as less-than-human, non-rational and unenlightened. The marginalised are dismissed as irrational, “crazy” and “extremist”. They are de-humanised, deprived of a voice and the right to participate in the political sphere: deprived of political subjectivity. These groups include the various losers of liberal modernity, such as religious conservatives (mainly Christian and Muslim), who oppose gay rights and the separation of church and state. Christian religious conservatives are not completely marginalised, however - they still have a presence within established political parties, albeit one that is growing ever weaker. Another marginalised group are communists, who oppose the idea of individual rights, free enterprise and private property. They, too, however, are not completely marginalised, especially within the universities and cultural institutions. When the need arises, they are allowed to form parts of coalition governments. They also share a common basis with the established political parties in the egalitarian, universalist aspects of their ideology, which has its roots in the enlightenment. Much more marginalised and demonised are nationalists, who oppose, in varying degrees, universalism (to the extent that they oppose immigration), free trade (to the extent that they want to protect national economies) and individualism (to the extent that they view national and ethnic identity as in some cases having primacy over individual identity). Finally, the most marginalised and “untouchable” group of all are racialists and racial nationalists, who oppose not only universalism, but also egalitarianism. However heterogenous these groups are, they are often reduced to the same by the liberal centre.

Alain de Benoist, Dugin and Alain Soral want to create an “alliance of the periphery against the centre”, that is, of more or less marginalised groups against the dominant political establishment. In practice, this has so meant not so much an alliance between the radical left and the radical right as an alliance between religious conservatives (mainly Muslim and Orthodox) and ex-communists. A good example of this in western Europe is Alain Soral’s “Egalité et réconciliation” (“Equality and Reconciliation”), which attempts to build an alliance between Muslim immigrants and French patriots. The name of Soral’s movement already makes it clear that a critique of egalitarianism is not part of the agenda. Neither is racialism or racially-based nationalism. Dugin, too, avoids any critique of egalitarianism, downplaying the real differences between left and right by focusing entirely on attacking “liberalism”. The concept of “liberalism” - intentionally left ambiguous, referring at times to capitalist economic individualism, at times to the moral individualism of gay rights activists and secularists - functions as a central pole of opposition that is supposed to artificially unify into a single (purely utopian) front groups that are otherwise profoundly heterogenous.

Dugin, who calls for a “crusade against the West” is not opposed to liberalism because it is causing the destruction of the white race. On the contrary, he frequently seems to identify the former with the latter. His primary stated goal is to destroy liberalism, even if this should mean rejecting the white race along with it. As he puts it in “The Fourth Political Theory”: “liberalism (and post-liberalism) may (and must – I believe this!) be repudiated. And if behind it, there stands the full might of the inertia of modernity, the spirit of Enlightenment and the logic of the political and economic history of European humanity of the last centuries, it must be repudiated together with modernity, the Enlightenment, and European humanity altogether. Moreover, only the acknowledgement of liberalism as fate, as a fundamental influence, comprising the march of Western European history, will allow us really to say ‘no’ to liberalism” [“The Fourth Political Theory”, p. 154]. He also defines the race of the subject of the “fourth political theory” as “non-White/European” [Ibid. p. 189]. He has predicted world-wide anti-white pogroms as retribution for the evil deeds of the white race, pogroms that Russians, however, will be exempt from, since they are not, he says [Russian language link], fully white.

In other words, Dugin is not a white nationalist. Dugin has stated that he views race as a social construct. This may seem to us like a ludicrous claim, but we may assume that he is not simply being disingenuous. It is consistent with his postmodern and relativist theoretical orientation, as well as with statements he has previously made to the effect that the idea of white racial solidarity is both unrealistic and potentially dangerous:

"When it comes to the myth of 'the solidarity of the white race', it is a complete utopia that leads not only to the Holocaust of the Jews, but also to a genocide of the Slavs. The remains of the Third Reich are a basis for this miserable, contradictory and completely false conception. The Anglo-Saxon world is one sociopolitical and cultural reality. The inhabitants of Central Europe are something different. The Eastern world of Orthodox Christianity and Slavs is a third reality. I am certain that many non-white peoples of Eurasia are a thousand fold closer to us in spirit and culture than Americans." 
[Alexander Dugin, "The Magic Disillusion of a Nationalist Intellectual"].

In other words, Dugin holds the view - shared by many Jews - that any form of positive racial identity among whites will inevitably and fatally lead to "a new holocaust".

Presumably, Dugin follows Alain de Benoist in viewing the concept of race - and the phenomenon of racism - as a product of the Enlightenment, a modern phenomenon, and for Dugin, “modern” always means “bad”. Alain de Benoist is correct that the concept of race was first formulated in the context of the Enlightenment. This does not in itself constitute sufficient grounds for rejecting the concept of race. Even before the concept of race was formed, race was a biological fact, just as DNA existed before being discovered by scientists. It may be that as a social and linguistic constructivist, Dugin would contest the idea that race can exist in the absence of a concept of race. Philosophically, Dugin takes the view that nothing has being outside of language and social relations. Relativism, which is characteristic of postmodernism, is according to Dugin, philosophically compatible with traditionalism, since, he claims that “[f]rom the point of view of the ‘integral tradition’, the difference between ‘artificial’ and ‘natural’ is generally rather relative, as Tradition never knew anything similar to cartesian or kantian dualism, strictly separating the ‘subjective’ from the ‘objective’ [“From Sacred Geography to Geopolitics”]. Dugin tries to interpret postmodernity - with its relativist critique the universalism of the enlightenment Reason, in other words of the basis of the project of modernity - as opening the way to a resurgence of traditional, pre-modern, pre-rationalistic modes of thought. Dugin's relativist approach is integral to the entire project of the "fourth political theory", since it is the philosophical basis for the idea of an ethno-pluralistic, multipolar world.

It may be that Dugin subscribes to the idea that in order for the biological concept of race to be meaningful, that is, in order for it to be possible to categorise individuals as belonging to a certain race, there must exist a racially pure individual who could embody a standard of comparison, an ideal norm. Since on a genetic level, there are arguably no such individuals, the concept of race is supposedly deprived of its scientific foundation and revealed to have only a social meaning.

Since Dugin views race as a construct, he can freely manipulate and extend the concept of "racism" to include various forms of discrimination that are not normally included under this term: cultural, civilisational, technological, social, economic, and even glamour and fashion racism. The concept of “racism” is stretched and expanded (simply becoming synonymous with discrimination on the basis of norms that are subjective or relative) to the point that almost anyone can claim to be the victim of it. Defining racism as "any attempt to raise a subjective assessment to the status of a theory", he can claim that not only nazism and fascism, but also communism and liberalism are racist, since they posit a certain political subject as normative (the proletariat or the enlightened, bourgeois individual). There are indubitably racist elements in the writings of Marx. He viewed colonialism favourably, as a means of modernising and industrialising non-European nations, which was a necessary pre-condition for the final transition to communism. He was also convinced that some races were doomed to perish, since they  were inherently incapable of surviving the inevitable historical progression to communism.

Dugin also turns anti-racism against modernity and progressivism. It is "racist", for example, to judge black African or middle eastern immigrants negatively for their inability to adapt to a modern, technologically advanced Western societies. In fact, the traditional views of Arabs and Africans with regard to women, homosexuality, the raising of children - as well as their rejection of evolution and religious views - is viewed by Dugin as, if anything, a sign of their spiritual superiority. Moreover, he sees the idea of progress itself as inherently racist, since it implies that modern society (which means Western society) is normative and superior to non-Western, traditional societies. The latter, he says, should not be regarded as stuck in archaic social forms because they lack creativity or the ability to build civilisations. On the contrary, it is because they are more spiritual and have conserved tradition better than the white race. 

From the perspective of the modern West, all societies are inherently striving towards the normative type of Western modern society, but have simply not yet succeeded in achieving it. Rightists explain this failure as the proof of the racial inferiority of non-Western populations, while leftists explain it as the consequence of colonial exploitation and western imperialism. Both share the implicit premise that Western modernity represents the most advanced and desirable form of society. It is certainly true that in Western societies, “modern” tends to be a positively charged term. It is more or less synonymous with dynamic, youthful, enlightened and "open-minded”. It is the anthropological norm, in the sense that those who either reject it or fail in some way to live up to it are judged negatively as being backwards, stupid, socially unpresentable, etc. This is undoubtedly a social - and consequently also political - disadvantage for conservatives of all types, one that they share with non-Western immigrants in Western societies. Dugin concludes from this that conservatives should ally themselves with immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants, against the liberal, white establishment (NOT the Jewish establishment - Dugin doesn’t believe that Jews are responsible for Western decadence, he believes that Western “decadence” is simply the full manifestation of the essence of the West and the wicked nature of the white race).

However much even the most “progressive” Westerners may try to rid themselves of racism and racist exclusion, in a mechanism that psychoanalysts call “the return of the repressed”, it keeps sneaking back in through the back door, taking on new, unconscious forms, so that, as Dugin correctly observes, even political correctness itself is "transformed into a totalitarian discipline of political, purely racist exclusions." Not only white “racists” but religious conservatives and nationalists are subjected - with complete impunity - to forms of social exclusion, aggression, openly exhibited contempt, bullying, physical and psychological violence that are clearly an acting out of precisely those patterns of behaviour that in all other contexts are denounced as “racist”. These groups, which are often made up of the “underdogs” of white society, the socially and economically most vulnerable groups, including the working class, the unemployed, inhabitants of rural areas and pensioners, are routinely spat upon by the establishment, its journalists and its “intellectuals” as culturally, morally, intellectually, and even biologically deficient (“white trash”, “inbred”, and so on).

Dugin’s mania with denouncing racism looks suspiciously like an intentional parody of contemporary political correctness, which sees discriminating norms everywhere, and it is possible that while accepting the postmodern deconstruction of the concept of race, he intends to turn it into a deconstruction of the term "racism" itself, extending the term ad absurdum, to the point of emptying it of meaning and turning it against itself. Rather than attempting, the way most conservatives do, to resist postmodern relativism by upholding certain absolute moral norms, the authority of the western tradition and universal, objective standards of rationality, his strategy appears to be to overcome the last residues of modern ideological presuppositions by pushing them to their extreme, postmodern conclusions.

However, in "The Fourth Political Theory, Dugin condemns racism, and above all, German national socialism, not only on epistemological grounds, but also on moral grounds. Dugin's condemnation of the moral consequences racism is simply taken as axiomatic and not subjected to any philosophical criticism. It is not clear on what moral basis this condemnation of Western racism is compatible with absolute cultural relativism, the denial that there is any universal point of view from which normative judgments about other cultures could be made (including moral judgments). Are slavery and genocide only morally reprehensible when committed by modern Westerners, but not when committed by other groups? Dugin apparently thinks so, as is shown by the following statement he has made on Facebook about the enslavement and exploitation (as food!) of black Africans by other black Africans:

"There are African tribes in West-Atlantic shore who breed human slaves to eat them. I find it perfectly reasonable and fully responsible. If we kill animals by our hands, contemplate them suffering and dying, cut off their skin and separate bones, touching their inner organs -- or at least if we vividly imagine that act each time when we eat our meal, we are completely sane and we could proceed eventually applying - in wars -- the same attitude toward human. In the war it is essential to take responsibility of act of killing. The very similar responsibility is connected with the act of eating animal food. But animal signifies sentient, that presupposes suffering. Let us do it with full responsibility -- eating as well as fighting, in one word -- the responsibility of killing. Or abstain. It is free choice."

We may assume that this is a sincere statement and not simply a banal attempt at "shocking the bourgeois". It is completely consistent with Dugin's position of cultural relativism (the claim that all normative statements about other cultures must be suspended, since there are no universal norms on the basis of which such statements could be made), although we may ask ourselves how this kind of moral relativism is philosophically consistent with his claim to be a Christian. Dugin is apparently criticising bourgeois moral hypocrisy, that is, the failure to take responsibility for the killing and exploitation that are the conditions that make bourgeois society possible. Dugin continues like this:

"To kill or not kill (to eat or not to eat): 'do what thou wilt' but never lie. (Continuing vegetarian/cannibal topic). What is good or bad depends on the set of the values accepted in the society.  We live in one society the other people live in other. Every society kills, murders and commits the acts of violence - on the human beings or animals. But some societies recognize that and embed the death, killing and violence in their sacred concepts. The other societies, making just the same or worse hypocritically, deny that, appealing to non-violence, tolerance and promoting peace via murder and war. So I don't judge the violence in itself that depends on the culture - some cultures sacralize it some not - but each human group commits the same acts - kill, torture and eat. So I have only pointed out that it is the fact. The peoples who do it consciously are more civilized and cultivated, more honest and spiritually developed, less infantile and more grown up than those who commit the same act without noticing it or denying its cannibal nature. The world is build on the act of killing (and eating) - God - Man - beast. That is the sense of priesthood. The priest is primordial killer. So existence is painful. We must accept it as it is. We cause pain, we feel pain. It is quite normal situation. The cannibalism is not 'disgusting exception' and 'horrible sign of moral depravity'. In some way it is natural. Indian tradition affirms that 'kshatriya eat vaishyas'. Vedic hymns are full of the eating (killing, devouring) metaphors. I only try to stress that we are responsible of what we eat, of whom we kill and destroy. The African and Oceanian tribes give us example that I find beautiful and pure."

Given that he accepts moral relativism, it is not clear how Dugin can consistently condemn the national socialist extermination and enslavement of Slavs or Jews, or, for that matter, the enslavement and genocide of other populations by European colonists - none of which is by any means historically unique to Western Europeans (cf., for example, the Old Testament). What moral universal standard is he referring to? The ideology of universal human rights? Probably not. Christian morality, which he refuses to apply to West African cannibals and slave traders? It is also not clear how he can accuse racists of inconsistency, since not all aggressive racial supremacists are inconsistent or hypocritical about their intentions. Finally, it is not clear at all how Dugin can without hypocrisy condemn national socialism from a moral standpoint while at the same time rehabilitating figures like Stalin and Pol Pot as "national communists".

Although Dugin views "racism" as a typically Western "disease", it is not particularly difficult to find examples of it among non-Western and traditional or archaic societies, especially if we define "racism" as "viewing one's own ethnic group as normative". This is particularly true of tribal societies, where the name of the tribe will often simply be the word for "humanity", and members of other tribes are viewed as more or less non-human or sub-human. For example: 

"An instructive case is that of the Yanoama of the Amazon basin, who not only call themselves 'humanity' (the meaning of their name) and all others 'lesser subhuman beings' (nabä) but carry the process still further: members of of one Yanoama village habitually accentuate the minor differences of dialect (or the like) that separates them from residents of other villages; then they deride the others for being less than fully Yanoama, which is to say, somewhat subhuman."
[Bruce Lincoln, "Death, War and Sacrifice: Studies in Ideology and Practice”, p. 142]

 Moreover, he makes no distinction between the the recognition of race as a reality and racism in the sense of racial supremacism. An example of imperialist racism (white supremacism) would be the following statement by Winston Churchill from 1937:

I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

The vast majority of American "white nationalists" or European ethno-nationalists today are, however, far less "racist" or "white supremacist" than Winston Churchill. Even those who do believe that the white race is innately superior to other races, as opposed to merely recognising the reality of racial specificity, do not usually see this as being a moral justification of the enslavement or genocide of other races. For the most part, contemporary racialists merely assert the right to racial separatism and the right of each race to build a society adequate to itself and to cultivate its unique characteristics and potentialities.

As for the historical validity of Dugin's interpretation of national socialism as a project of world domination (the creation of a "planetary Reich" analogous to world communism or global liberalism), it is debatable to say the least. Certainly the pursuit of world domination was not a universally accepted idea among national socialists, as this statement by Léon Degrelle demonstrates:

German racialism has been deliberately distorted. It never was anti-”other -race” racialism. It was a pro-German racialism. It was concerned with making the German race strong and healthy in every way. Hitler was not interested in having millions of degenerates, if it was his power not to have them. Today one finds rampant alcohol and drug addiction everywhere. Hitler cared that the German families be healthy, cared that they raise healthy children for the renewal of a healthy nation. German racialism meant re-discovering the creative values of their own race, re-discovering their culture. It was a search for excellence, a noble ideal. National Socialist racialism was not against the other races, it was for its own race. It aimed at defending and improving its race, and wished that all other races did the same for themselves.”

The claim that there is no biological basis for the concept of race, or that it is not useful in explaining contemporary reality, is of course patently false. But Dugin follows postmodern thinkers like Foucault and Althusser in arguing that not only race, but all political subjects are constructs. Race is a product of society, rather than society a product of race. Man, he argues, exists as a subject only within the political realm. “What man is, is not derived from himself as an individual, but from politics. It is politics that defines the man. It is the political system that gives us our shape. Moreover, the political system has an intellectual and conceptual power, as well as transformative potential without limitations [169].” In other words, the subject does not create itself, nor is it a natural given like race or the individual. The subject is a construct, existing only within a political system.

It follows that ultimately, there is no master subject who creates or exercises conspiratorial control over the system. On the contrary: subjects exist only as functions, produced by subjectless political structures. As the political system changes, shifting from one historical paradigm to another - from traditional society to modern society, for example - it constructs the normative type of subjectivity it requires to function. “[T]he political concept of man is the concept of man as such, which is installed in us by the state or the political system. The political man is a particular means of correlating man with this state and political system. […] We believe we are causa sui, generated within ourselves, and only then do we find ourselves within the sphere of politics. In fact, it is politics that constitutes us. […] Man’s anthropological structure shifts when one political system changes to another.” [169]. In other words, the subject cannot bring about a political paradigm shift on its own - it is the new paradigm that will call a new subject into being through a process of “interpellation”. The study of the anthropological shift from the type of man belonging to traditional society to the type of man belonging to modern society leads to the relativisation not only of modern man, but of modern rationality as such. This relativisation of modernity is “postmodernity”. The modern idea of progress towards a humanity unified on the basis of universal Reason is shown to be an illusion, and this implies that traditional societies are placed on the same level as modern society.

In a nutshell, the argument is as follows: the subject cannot radically break through the system (carry out a revolution or “paradigm shift”) and go beyond it if it is itself a product of the system, only existing within the limits of that system. This was why class, race, and the individual, all of which are subjects constituted and defined within the horizon of modernity, failed to overcome the crisis and impasses of modernity. In other words, the subject would have to be grounded in a kind of Archimedean point outside of the political system, in order to have the leverage needed for any radical political agency. There would have to be a “radical subject”, and for Dugin the “radical subject” can only be chaos. Chaos is freedom beyond its capture within the limits of the bourgeois, humanist conception of the individual. The shattering of the liberal individual is not the negation of freedom, but the revelation of the essence of freedom as anarchic, sovereign chaos.

The political subject acts within the realm of politics. Ideologically, however, it must be founded in a realm prior to and beyond the political. In other words, the subject of politics must transcend the sphere of politics in order to be able to master, define, and found it. For example, liberal ideology posits the existence of the individual prior to the existence of the social order, in order to found the political order on the individual and its universal, natural rights. Analogously, national socialists view race as a biological given existing prior to and beyond the political, and the state as possessing meaning only insofar as it is an instrument through which a race is protected, preserved and its potentialities are actualised and enhanced. This means that for national socialists, race transcends the political realm, subordinating it to itself. The political consciousness they strive to awaken others to is racial self-consciousness, much as Marxists attempt to awaken the proletariat to class consciousness. For Marxists, the means of production transcend the political realm, forming its material basis and driving force. A class constitutes itself as a political subject by taking control of the means of production.

"The definition of a historical subject is the fundamental basis for political ideology in general, and defines its structure" (4PT, p. 38).
For example: for nationalism, the real subjects of history are nations, viewed as a sort of supra-individuals with a will and a destiny of their own. History is the history of nations. Identity is primarily national, and the friend/enemy distinction (which is constitutive for the political, as Carl Schmitt has shown) goes along national lines. For racism, on the other hand, the true subjects of history are the various races, locked in a Darwinian struggle for life. This view of history is determined by the modern concepts of biological evolution and progress. Identity is primarily racial, and the friend/enemy distinction goes along racial lines. For Marxism, the subjects of history are classes, again viewed as forms of collective subjectivity, and consequently, the whole of history was interpreted as the history of class struggle. Identity is class identity, and the friend/enemy distinction goes along class lines.

The political subject is also an historical subject. This means that each modern political ideology corresponds to a "grand narrative" - an over-arching interpretation - of history. History as a whole is viewed as created through the agency of a certain historical subject. It then becomes obvious that political ideologies are secular substitutes for a theological interpretation of history, and that the historical subjects posited by them are substitutes for divine Providence as the transcendent subject of history. As Carl Schmitt demonstrated, all the fundamental concepts of politics are secularised theological concepts.

The place of the political subject - the vacuum left when God withdraws from the world and history - is a site of contestation between the various modern political ideologies. Each of them fought to occupy that vacant place with their own concept of the political subject. Each of them claimed to master the destructive and creative forces liberated by modernity, bringing modernity to its full actualisation. Communism saw itself as the final, inevitable and culminating stage of modernity, for which industrial capitalism had only paved the way. Liberalism views the progressive liberation of the individual, along with the processes of secularisation, modernisation and globalisation, as an historical necessity. Fascism saw itself as an avant-garde, revolutionary movement, dismissed liberal, bourgeois democracy as an outdated residue of the nineteenth century, and claimed that the organic state was the only adequate form through which the masses could be mobilised in modern societies. Both Italian fascism and German national socialism modernised and revolutionised their respective nations, and this contributed to their political success. Early fascism was influenced by the avant-garde modernism of futurism, which called for the nihilistic destruction of the past and unconditionally worshipped modern technology and "progress".

(This lead Evola to reject futurism as a form of "Americanism". Marinetti retorted that he had as little in common with Evola as with "an Eskimo". Bizarrely - for someone who claims to be a traditionalist - Dugin views futurism as one of the admirable elements of early fascism that he wishes to recuperate.)

Each of these political systems, then, claimed that it was the most appropriate form for modern, technologically advanced society. This form corresponded to a certain figure or human type, an embodiment of a certain political project, the normative "man of the future": whether homo sovieticus, the new fascist man, the racially purified Aryan superman, or the enlightened, bourgeois individual. In other words, each of these ideologies or "political theories" posited a normative subject as the basis of its political vision and its interpretation of history. The transition into fully realised modernity was not only a political revolution, but also an anthropological revolution, the creation of a "new man".

According to Dugin, in the crisis of the end of modernity, not only race and class, but also the nation-state ceases to be an authentic political subject, even though he recognises that the will to preserve national sovereignty is, in the current situation, a natural locus of resistance to globalism. The de-sovereignisation of the nation is, philosophically speaking, its de-subjectivisation. However, Dugin sees this de-sovereignisation/de-subjectivisation as inevitable, even inherent in the nature of the nation itself. He fully accepts the postmodern idea that the nation is an artificial, ideological and political construct, an "imagined community" created as a means of unifying fragmented, modern societies. The nation is, in his view, merely a simulacrum, an artificial substitute for the lost totality of traditional society (presumably, he views race similarly, as being a modern simulacrum of the “ethnos”). Historically, its emergence corresponds to the precise moment when traditional society enters into crisis. It is a compromise, a transitional form, a ruse. Moreover, he views the function of the nation as a device for facilitating the transition from pre-modern, traditional society to fully modern, liberal, civil society. As a result, it cannot constitute an enduring force of resistance to liberal globalisation. He views the nation as a dispositive of power geared to producing a certain standardised, normative type of political subject: the bourgeois individual (citizen). In doing so, it destroys regional, organic, ethnic communities (for example, through the suppression of regional dialects in Italy and France, and the imposition of a standardised national language) as well as liquidating the last residues of traditional elites (the aristocracy). Thus, the concept of "ethno-nationalism" is, in his view, ultimately an absolute contradiction in terms: the nation is inherently"ethnocidal" . It destroys the ethnos and replaces it with a "demos". Nationalism, according to Dugin, must be condemned not just because it has been the cause of so many wars, but because the nation itself is inherently violent - violent in the sense that it is an arbitrary construct without any sacred, transcendent basis. Its violence is the violence of modernity itself. (Certainly, this is true of many nations, perhaps most notably of the nation of Israel, which is an entirely modern, artificial construction, as is perhaps the idea that Jews are a unified, homogenous race or ethnic group.) Nothing, however, so far indicates that the idea of Eurasian empire dominated by Russia would be less artificial, violent or “ethnocidal”. 

(The new European post-war order projected by the dominant faction of the Waffen SS was not based on the nation-state, but on a pan-European federation of culturally autonomous regions. Dugin fails to mention this fact, but his characterisation of National Socialism is tendentious.)

As for the fascist concept of the organic state, based on Hegel's philosophy of the state, Dugin does not discuss his reasons for rejecting it as a credible candidate for the political subject. In general, Dugin simply takes the defeat of both the second and third political theories as axiomatic, without providing much in the way of substantial argument for this. In his view, modernity has been fully actualised in liberal society, and consequently, the ideological contest of modernity is over. This view is more credible with regard to communism than with regard to fascism. The death of communism was, as Dominique Venner has written, an "inglorious demise". Its collapse was due to its own bureaucratic inertia and failure to manage economic development. Fascism and national socialism, on the other hand, were spectacularly successful as political experiments, and, perhaps for this very reason, had to be militarily destroyed by their international rivals. Dugin clearly views the defeat of national socialist Germany as a consequence of its anti-Russian and anti-communist policies. Since Dugin views both of these policies as connected with the infection of national socialism by Atlanticism and Anglo-Saxon, biological racism, he views the defeat of the third position as a consequence of ideological errors, and not simply as an historical contingency. Not only was Nazi Nordicism a vulgar, materialist misinterpretation of the traditional doctrine of the north as the pole of tradition, national socialism was anti-communist and anti-Slavic because it was anti-Eastern, that is, pro-Western (modern). Today, according to Eurasianists (who in this respect are inheritors of national bolshevism), European nationalists are repeating the disastrous errors of the German national socialists when they again oppose “the East” in the form of Islamisation. Generally, Eurasianists try to downplay the idea of a “clash of civilisations” or any claim that there is a sharp opposition between Islam and European civilisation. They accuse nationalists who view Islam as incompatible with European values of confusing  Europe” with “the West”. Any interpretation of European history that sees enlightenment values as rooted in the European tradition itself - in classical Greece, for example - is accused of trying to legitimate “the West” by inventing historical precedents and falsifying the true European tradition, which is rooted in Eurasia and not at all opposed to Islam.

Liberalism has triumphed because it can legitimately lay claim to being the most successful actualisation of the potentialities of modernity. Liberalism did indeed succeed in modernising the West to a much greater degree than communism succeeded in modernising the countries of the Eastern bloc, so much so that "the West", and particularly the United States, is today more or less synonymous with modernity. In the decades after the second world war, capitalism, using economic means, modernised Western European societies to a degree undreamed of by fascism, making the third position ideologies seem archaic and obsolete by comparison.

It is possible that Dugin follows Heidegger in viewing nationalism as an "anthropologism" (cf. "Letter on Humanism"). What Heidegger mean by this is that nationalism, like Marxism, places man, rather than Being, at the centre of history. Nationalism is a "subjectivism", in the sense that it views man as the subject of history. In this sense, nationalism is indeed a modern phenomenon, since modernity, for Heidegger, is essentially an epoch in the history of metaphysics dominated by the philosophy of the subject. It begins with Descartes' cogito: with the rational subject as the secure foundation of philosophy and science. Descartes identifies the subject with reason (ratio). This became the metaphysical foundation for the Enlightenment and its anthropology.

Why does Dugin give Heidegger's concept of "Dasein" the pivotal role in the "fourth political theory"? Heidegger elaborated his analysis of Dasein as an attempt to overcome the abstractions of the metaphysical concept of the subject. Hence, his "analytic of Dasein" offers the possibility of going beyond the modern political ideologies based on various interpretations of the subject. Dasein is beyond, or prior to, the subject-object split. Dasein is not the rational subject as the abstract basis of the concept of universal man. Dasein is the historical, spatio-temporal structure of concrete existence. The subject is outside of the world, relating to the world as a system of objects. Dasein is always already IN the world, involved in it, struggling within it. The world, as Heidegger uses the term, is a totality of relations of meaning. Each thing refers to other things in an endless, circular web of relations. Dasein's relation to things is one of understanding and interpretation, not (primarily) one of objectification.

The subject is reason, that is, it is defined by its relation to an ultimate cause and foundation (Grund). Dasein is defined by its relation to finitude, death and the abyss (Ab-grund). However, all this means that it is not clear how Dasein, which according to Heidegger is precisely NOT the subject, can be called "the subject" of the fourth political theory. Dasein is not a subject that arbitrarily imposes its will, creates itself from nothing or freely makes history. Instead, it is part of a cosmic process that transcends man and his agency. Man does not decide the history of Being. Heidegger is not interested in re-elaborating or modifying the concept of the subject, nor is he interested in returning man to “god and tradition” in the sense of metaphysical foundations, but is trying to overcome metaphysics itself, that is, all thinking in terms of the Being of beings as a “foundation” (Grund). This also means that Heidegger is far from the conceptions of “traditionalism”.

If Dugin invokes Heidegger and the analytic of Dasein, we must assume that behind the critique of liberalism and the West, he is attempting a critique of modernity as such (identified with the West). Heidegger’s critique of modernity is linked to an attempt to overcome the philosophy of the subject. In Heidegger's view, modernity, when the humanitarian masks of the Enlightenment fall off, is technological nihilism, and this nihilism is the fatal consequence of Western metaphysics. Western metaphysics, however, is the basis of Western civilisation as a whole.

Heidegger’s critique is not simply political. He is criticising Bolshevism, liberalism (which paved the way for Bolshevism) and other modern ideologies for failing to grasp not only their own essence, but the essence of modernity itself: technological nihilism. The emancipation of the subject is not the purpose of technological development. It is the other way around - the emancipation of the the subject is a means through which technology emancipates itself. The last glimmers of transcendence are extinguished from the world so that technology can pursue, unobstructed and on a planetary scale, the endless, circular self-enhancement of its productive power, drawing everything into its vortex, with no ultimate goal other than power for its own sake. The West becomes “das Abendland”, the evening-land, the realm of the darkening of the divine, the withdrawal of the gods. Technology as “Ge-stell” is not mastered by man (the subject), but reveals itself to be an impersonal destiny of Being itself. Man as a subject can never master technology, but as a subject is “subjected” by technology, to the extent that the essence of technology as Gestell constitutes man as a subject. Technological development has no intrinsic, immanent limit, and no boundary can be arbitrarily set to it as long as thinking remains blocked within the horizon of the philosophy of the subject (humanism) and of technological calculation (the final deviation of the Western logos). But as modern technology reaches the full actualisation of its dominion, the subject that it once called into being enters into crisis, begins to “vanish”. It is liquidated in a system of purely functional relations without centre, fixed norms or foundations. The essence of the subject reveals itself to be a kind of limit, which initially functioned as a necessary ground or condition, but now becomes only an obstacle to be overcome. For Heidegger, this crisis, this ultimate threshold of nihilism - brought about by technology itself - opens up the possibility of thinking the essence of man and Being in a much deeper dimension, beyond the subject. Instead of man as subject, Heidegger tries to think the historicity of Dasein. This is why the “inner truth” of national socialism for him meant the confrontation between modern technology and “historical man” (that is, not man as subject).

For Heidegger, Western modernity and materialism are not, as traditionalists claim, the consequence of a mysterious fall from the normal, traditional society of medieval Europe. On the contrary, he views the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age more as a development than as a radical break with the traditional past. For Heidegger, medieval scholasticism, with its misinterpretation of the Greek logos as “ratio” and its onto-theological synthesis of Greek philosophy with Christianity, prepared the way for Descartes’ rationalism. In a sense, Heidegger develops Nietzsche’s idea that nihilism is not so much a break with Christianity, but a revelation of the nihilistic essence of Christianity. As a Christian and a traditionalist, however, Dugin consistently elides the anti-Christian aspect of Heidegger’s thought, without, however, being able to articulate a critique of it. For Heidegger, as for the majority of the conservative revolutionaries, the origin of modernity is Christian, or rather, it lies in the “onto-theological” synthesis of Christianity and Greek metaphysics. It is the Christian conception of the “sovereignty” of God with regard to the world as creation that is at the origin of the modern concept of the subject, just as the Christian notion of the free individual with a personal relation to God and the Christian concern with the salvation of the immortal soul of all individuals is the origin of modern mass individualism. It is God as the “highest being” - both causa sui and causa prima, the first cause, sovereign over all other beings and the “maker” of the world - that is at the origin of the sovereign subject whose relation to things is one of instrumental manipulation and objectification. Modern secular humanism is onto-theological: it has it origin not in Greek thought, but in Christianity and the Christian interpretation of Greek thought. 

In any case, following Heidegger, we may agree that race, insofar as it is conceived as a purely human, biological characteristic, is insufficient as a political subject, or rather, that it is too narrowly anthropological, and must be integrated into a deeper conception. This is not the same as liquidating the concept of race completely. It does mean the rejection of certain extreme forms of racism, where the biological concept of race plays an analogous reductive role to the Marxist concept of a material base that determines the ideological superstructure (culture, mentality etc.) of a society.

Man is not the unconditioned, self-creating subject of modern metaphysics. Human existence is conditioned and finite - men are, as Jünger wrote, "sons of the earth". Race is one of the many earthly conditions of man's existence. An historical world is not an unconditioned, arbitrary construct ex nihilo. There is, in Heidegger's terms, a struggle between world and earth - the world, an articulated, historical space of possibilities and decisions, and the conditions set by the un-objectified, elemental forces of the earth, among them blood. Blood is given the meaning of a destiny in an historical world (this is not at all the same as claiming that it is an arbitrary historical and social construct). For Heidegger, the limits set by the biological potentialities of human beings are not arbitrary historical creations - what is historical is the particular figure or constellation of relations that gives them meaning.

We can also note that the statistical concept of race referred to by race realists today is very different from national socialist racial theories, which were based on the idea of racial purity, and are, in the form in which they are available today, are not on their own sufficient to non-reductively account for the specificity of our or other civilisations or cultures. The differences between the mentality of Americans of European descent, on the one hand, and the mentality of Europeans, on the other, underscores this clearly. Intuitively, however, we understand that race plays a role in shaping the general character of civilisations, and that genetic research will confirm this intuition more and more in the future.

Dugin views the Marxist concept of class as useful and "very interesting" as a tool for the ideological critique of the mystifications of bourgeois-liberal society. However, he views the materialism of Marxism as reductive, and recognises that class today is no longer a credible candidate for political subjectivity (i. e., agency), since the class structure of society has been largely dissolved (presumably as the result of the atomisation and  bourgeoisification of society as a whole, as well as technological developments). He also recognises that ethnic conflict often lies behind class conflict, instead of the other way around. One wonders why Dugin cannot, in the same spirit, acknowledge that the concept of race also is scientifically legitimate and heuristically useful, while rejecting an overly reductive application of the concept. In my view, this has to do with the fact that he is an ideologist rather than an authentic thinker. Eurasianism is an ideology tailor-made to suit contemporary Russia’s geopolitical ambitions. Russia is a multi-cultural, multi-racial empire, and Russian identity is, since "the great patriotic war" against Germany, deeply anti-fascist.

Part 2

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

102 Years in the Heart of Europe - A Portrait of Ernst Jünger

A 1998 interview by the journalist Björn Cederberg with the German writer, philosopher and war veteran Ernst Jünger.