Alexander Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory is a highly-inventive and relevant work; its renouncement of Liberalism and, more importantly, its advocacy of a new syncretic framework–a fourth political theory to challenge the premises of liberalism, fascism, and communism–is nothing short of radical. However, Dugin’s analysis is crippled by a series of grave category errors and historical inaccuracies that need to be addressed if serious opposition to the reigning Liberal ideology is to occur.
Dugin’s failure to accurately identify the nature of the principal enemy of today–Liberals (as distinguished from classical liberals) and “progressives” (an Orwellian term that many swallow without a hint of irony)–is one of the foundational errors in his well-intentioned attack on modernity. Dugin states that the integral qualities of Liberalism include a “belief in the sacred character of private property” and an “assertion of the equality of opportunity as the moral law of society”. What Dugin describes is libertarianism, particularly in the American tradition, as opposed to Liberalism. Libertarians, anti-statists, and others who advocate for emergent order–as an alternative to state-imposed central-planning–are not in power, as the palpable defeat of libertarian candidate, Ron Paul, in the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns has demonstrated. More distinctly, though, libertarians and the like are certainly not Liberals nor are they the enemy–to the extent that they do not oppose separation and secession on the macro-scale. Dugin hastily categorizes these thinkers, particularly Friedrich Hayek of the Austrian School of Economics, into the “neo-liberal school of the Twentieth century” responsible for developing “the base of historical liberalism”. In all consideration, a libertarian society is preferable to the welfarist, managerialist society that is extant in the West. It is preferable precisely because in a libertarian society, the arms of a centralized power–a state–cannot be expropriated for the authoritarian end of enforcing Liberal ideology. Most likely, there will be no well-oiled, institutional propaganda machines churning out the pedestrian tripe that Liberals cling to–tax-sustained welfare programs, civilian disarmament in the form of “gun control”, increased state intervention in the economy in the form of regulations, as the list continues–and no threat of state violence or social marginalization to materialize the Liberal’s perverse ambitions. Regardless of the feasibility and general desirability of libertarianism, we can conclude that Liberalism cannot assume a foothold in society by the means it resorts to in the modern age –indoctrination in state-approved “education” camps, maintenance of a monopoly on the primary units of communication such as mass media, and state enforcement of laws which reflect Liberal values.
It is here that we also arrive at a more concrete understanding of Liberalism; Liberals tend to be heavily-statist and hence vie for increased state control of the immediate functions in the individual’s daily life. The most striking evidence of this is the Liberal’s advocacy of “public property” over any demand for privatization, of social-democracy over anti-statism, of integration of federal law and state law (in the United States), and of anti-secessionist policies over voluntary separation. The Liberal favors increased consolidation of state power precisely because welfare statism, as it exists in the modern West, is a domesticating act; it is a profoundly paternalistic, effeminizing measure which seeks to systematically deprive the individual of freedom and its concomitant responsibilities. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the libertarian minimalist credo–the “freedom to” which Dugin deems “a disgusting formula of slavery”–is yet again preferable to the poorly-executed rights-inflation game of Liberals. For Liberals, the notion of rights has been abused so unabashedly that any group with a pretense of “institutional oppression” has a claim to state-sponsored protection as a minority class, and consequently, has access to the arms of the state, or some other centralized power. This undue expansion of rights, stemming back to the rise of a managerialist class (more on this later), has contributed to the political cesspool of today, and is largely evident of the defunct nature of Liberal democracy in face of hostile, competing nations (or groups) clamoring for the opportunity to siphon available resources towards their respective members. If anything, Liberalism, in its contemporary form, is the logical extension of statism, for nothing could be as dogmatic, authoritarian, and smugly-complacent in its self-interpretation as Liberalism.
There is yet another error in Dugin’s proposed demarcation between the three foundational theories of communism, fascism, and Liberalism. In regard to fascism, Dugin asserts, “The subject of the third political theory is either the State (as in Italian Fascism) or race (as in German National Socialism)”. While Dugin is certainly correct in stating that fascism entails an elevation of the state to an unreal scope, Nazi Germany’s infatuation with outright scientifically-illiterate, politically-motivated racial theories is not evidence of race being the subject of German-brand fascism. The most direct example is the anti-Slavic sentiment of Adolf Hitler, who deemed Slavs an alien, subhuman outgroup–despite profound racial commonality. The focus of Hitler’s Germany, thus, was predicated not on a scientific consideration of the material realities of race, or any concrete commitment to White Nationalism; rather, it was a politically-driven fabrication that relied on an unverifiable notion of “Aryan” supremacy.
A more egregious mistake, though, is Dugin’s reference to the USSR as a Marxist force, apparent in his statement that, “After the Second World War, the decisive stage of the battle for the heritage of the Enlightenment began: liberals supported by the USA fought the final battle with Marxism, personified by the USSR and its allies”. Contrary to Dugin, at this particular point in history there was no radical divide between the USA and USSR: both were on different stages of the same trajectory towards a managerialist state. As James Burnham, an American political theorist, noted, the post-war West was in the thralls of a managerialist revolution–an intermediary mode of governance following the reduction of the structures of capitalist government to figureheads and the abandonment of socialist projects–in which a New Class of planners, technocrats, “helping” professionals, bureaucrats, scientists, and the like assumed dominance. Burnham argued that the specialization of the direction and coordination of production, incurred largely from technological process, ensured that the owner–the capitalist–no longer bore the title of manager. This separation of control and ownership in the sphere of production ultimately violated the capitalist’s existence as the ruling class, and signaled the immediate end of capitalism. There was never a permanent capitalist arrangement in the USA, as there was never truly a Marxist society in the USSR. In the Soviet Union, though, this managerialism was magnified and rendered intolerable, as horizontal bureaucracies of state-appointed commissaries, overseers, and central-planners diverted the creative project of communism–the achievement of a stateless, classless society–into support for an inefficient, bloated managerialist state. Even the initial conception of a Soviet state was perverted by such influences, as Vladimir Lenin, admiring the theory of scientific management advocated by Frederick Taylor and others, adopted state-enforced managerialism under the banner of Leninism. In the US, this parallel was reinforced with the introduction of the welfare state, which assumed discernible form under the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt and a slew of other Progressive (with a capital letter) presidents.
Although these points distort some of the more sharply-drawn lines of distinction in Dugin’s description of political history, his fundamental point remains; Liberalism is the reigning ideology, and the alternatives of communism and fascism have long been discarded by the general populace–hence their continuation in small, parochial enclaves with little hope of an immediate ideological overhaul. In face of this, it is best to distinguish, observe, categorize, and understand–yet remain hostile–the modern Liberal enemy. Dugin has already assumed a part in this crucial step, and however questionable and inaccurate the conclusions may be, has introduced a new framework laden with significant potential.