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Beyond NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into being on April 4, 1949, in Washington, DC. NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, described its purpose with rare candor: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

Today, some 67 years after the signing of the treaty and 77 years after the war that precipitated it, it is time to take a hard look at NATO and reach an inevitable conclusion—it has to go.

The geopolitical enemies that justified the creation of NATO—National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union—have long since disappeared from the world stage. They have been replaced by new threats, both conventional and unconventional, that cannot be adequately faced through NATO and are, indeed, exacerbated by NATO’s antiquated defense orientation. There is a great deal of truth to Richard Sakwa’s caustic assessment that Washington is trapped in a “fateful geographical paradox—that Nato exists to manage the risks created by its existence.”  

For the good of the United States and our allies in Europe, NATO must be dismantled and replaced with a new, updated organization prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Introduction

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into being on April 4, 1949, in Washington, DC. NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, described its purpose with rare candor: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”[1]

Today, some 67 years after the signing of the treaty and 77 years after the war that precipitated it, it is time to take a hard look at NATO and reach an inevitable conclusion—it has to go.

The geopolitical enemies that justified the creation of NATO—National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union—have long since disappeared from the world stage. They have been replaced by new threats, both conventional and unconventional, that cannot be adequately faced through NATO and are, indeed, exacerbated by NATO’s antiquated defense orientation. There is a great deal of truth to Richard Sakwa’s caustic assessment that Washington is trapped in a “fateful geographical paradox—that Nato exists to manage the risks created by its existence.”[2]

For the good of the United States and our allies in Europe, NATO must be dismantled and replaced with a new, updated organization prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The Origins of “Atlanticism”

NATO, like most treaties, is inescapably a product of its time. The Atlanticist school of thought was based on the idea of a strategic bond between the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe.[3] But this no longer has the hard geopolitical grounding it did in the days of the Interwar and Cold War periods. There is no longer a hostile superpower on the eastern edge of the Atlantic sphere. And the familiar binary of “Freedom vs. Socialism” is no longer a useful model for describing the ideological and political divisions in today’s world.

Reality has moved on, but Atlanticism has stayed put.

1. Hitler’s Germany

Adolf Hitler’s Germany was the main threat to Atlanticist (that is, British, French, and American) power up until the end of the Second World War in 1945. Despite Germany’s leniency towards retreating British forces in the early days of the war, and its attempts at a reconciliation with London, Churchill’s Britain was fundamentally unable to accept a peace agreement.[4]

The continuation of the war required a willing ally in the United States, provided by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Lend-Lease and the Atlantic Charter of 1941 were early indications of this Atlantic alignment against continental power (centered in Berlin). The “Allies” coalition and United Nations followed, and were crystallized in postwar NATO. The Atlantic Charter was ratified by Washington and London on August 14, 1941—months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ full entrance into the war. Lend-Lease, which supplied materiel to the UK, France, China, and Soviet Union, was begun even earlier, in March of that year. While Lend-Lease demonstrated Washington’s commitment to defeating Germany, the Atlantic Charter outlined the Atlanticist vision of the world after the war: free trade, freedom of the seas, “self-determination” of individual nation-states (with echoes of The League of Nations and Woodrow Wilson), and global cooperation for social welfare and the disarmament of “aggressor states.”[5]

While the Allies were assembled primarily to defeat Germany, NATO was designed to keep it defeated. And after near-total physical destruction in 1944-45, the replacement of existing German political institutions with U.S.-created ones, and an extensive policy of “de-nazification,” West Germany became a U.S. protectorate. (An analogous process with East Germany occurred in the Soviet sphere.) Put bluntly, Germany was humiliated, divided, and neutered. And even after reunification in 1990, it has never presented a real threat to Washington’s objectives.

2. Stalin’s Russia

While Germany inspired NATO’s precursors, Stalin’s Soviet Union inspired NATO itself.[6] After extensive cooperation with the Atlantic powers during the Second World War, the USSR became the chief competitor to the United States, Britain, and France immediately following 1945. In the wake of the annihilation of Hitler’s Germany, the Soviet Union became such a threat that the Allies developed a contingency plan “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire.”[7] Though this plan remained unimplemented due to its low odds of success—and potentially catastrophic consequences—the geopolitical balance of power between the two superpowers (the U.S. and the USSR) was set in stone for the next four decades. The Cold War had begun.

Predictable economic, political, and moral problems eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the chaotic period of 1989-91.[8] The Russian Federation, the legal successor state to the USSR, was half the size of its predecessor in population. American interests quickly waged economic war on a weakened Russia, manipulated major elections[9], and expanded the influence of NATO and U.S.-backed organizations like the European Union, all the way into former Soviet states on Russia’s border.

In February 1990—after the Berlin Wall had been dismantled but before the Soviet Union had dissolved—Washington and Moscow negotiated the reunification process for Germany. West Germany would effectively absorb East, and the new state would enter NATO; however, James Baker (George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of State) offered “ironclad guarantees that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward,” according to declassified transcripts.[10]

Baker’s “Not one inch eastward” was a promise Washington was unwilling to keep. By the turn of the century, NATO membership had been offered to Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, followed a few years later by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. This was accompanied by NATO’s “humanitarian” bombing campaign in Yugoslavia (a traditional Russian ally), and Washington’s attempts, in conjunction with various non-governmental organizations, to inspire changes of regime in various countries in the former Soviet sphere (the “Color Revolutions”).[11]

It is understandable that Russian foreign-policy makers view NATO, not as a “defensive” organization, but as one bent on encircling Russia, perhaps even engaging in regime change in Moscow. Moreover, despite the American and Western European media’s depiction of Russian military activity in Ukraine and Syria as “aggressive,” the geopolitical reality is that they are last-ditch attempts to prevent U.S. encroachment into Russia’s remaining circle of influence around its own borders and few foreign military bases. A Russian invasion of Western Europe, let alone the American mainland, is the stuff of a fever dream or Hollywood blockbuster.

New Enemies, New Threats

While Germany has been remade into a vassal and Russia, displaced from superpower status,[12] threats to the United States and Europe have not subsided—they’ve multiplied. The new threats do not come from traditional European great powers, however, but from a number of non-European states and unconventional non-state actors. History has not ended, as Francis Fukyama imagined in the 1990s,[13] but has taken unforeseen and unpredictable turns.

1. The Specter of Radical Islam

The morning of September 11, 2001, marked a turning point in America’s place in the world. Radical Islamic terrorism— inspired by Wahhabi Islam out of Saudi Arabia—established itself as a major threat to Western hegemony and set the stage for the next decade of American foreign policy.[14]

Islamic terrorism, as it is understood today, did not exist during the creation of NATO in 1949, and was effectively unthinkable. Arab states spent the Cold War mostly aligned with the atheist Soviet Union, and they flirted with secular pan-Arab nationalism (the Ba-ath Party, founded in 1947 and existing to this day, being a prime example). It was not until the late 1970s that the seeds of contemporary Islamic terrorism were sown, ironically, largely by the U.S. and its NATO allies.[15]

Even before the Soviet Union’s ill-advised entrance into Afghanistan in 1979, Washington had funded and trained radical Muslim insurgents in the region.[16] During the 10-year Soviet-Afghan War, the U.S. used these non-state actors (“the Mujahideen”) as pawns to be played against a greater power. It was a strategy with terrible unintended consequences, as the networks and individuals (which included none other than Osama bin Laden) would soon exchange one “Great Satan” for another.

After two major U.S. wars in the Muslim world and an international “War on Terror” that has stretched on more than a decade, radical Islamism has not been defeated; it has exploded.[17] Buoyed and supported discreetly by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Western (particularly U.S.) intelligence agencies playing fast-and-loose with Islamic proxy groups, Islamic terrorists have attained a greater position than ever before. This dangerous strategy is particularly obvious in the current Syrian war.

Their reach is evidenced by more frequent, more violent, and more brazen attacks on civilian and military targets in France, Germany, Belgium, and the U.S. mainland, such as the recent atrocities committed in Paris, Nice, and San Bernardino. NATO’s conventional military structure is ill suited for dealing with non-state threats like these, to put it mildly. Garrisons stretched across the European continent—which made NATO powerful in confronting the Soviet Union—are close to useless in addressing the challenge of Islamic terrorism.

2. Turkey—A Dangerous Ally

In 1951, Turkey joined NATO as a junior partner. Today, an increasingly Islamist and assertive Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dreams of re-creating the Ottoman Empire.[18] Erdogan’s moves have directly supported and emboldened radical Islamic terrorist groups, destabilized the Middle East, and threatened the safety of millions of Europeans who are supposedly under U.S. protection.

Turkey’s substantial support of the Islamic State (IS) and other criminal groups in Syria is an open secret.[19] Moreover, Turkey’s complicity in the 2015-16 “refugee” crisis continues to endanger Europeans and Americans. Its control over the flow of millions of non-European migrants who want to reach Europe is an unacceptable bargaining chip that has corroded European sovereignty and security. Ankara has exploited its geographic location, promising to cut the refugee flow for billions of Euros in aid and accelerated EU membership talks.[20] Attempts by Turkey to reassert its erstwhile dominance over the Balkan Peninsula (which includes Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, and Greece) can be expected if NATO remains as it is.

3. Managing the Rise of China

Enmeshed in a brutal civil war until 1950, China was not an immediate threat to U.S. or European interests, despite the eventual victory of Mao Zedong’s Communist forces over the nationalist Kuomintang and the alignment of China with the Soviet Union.

China’s fortunes turned around considerably in the 1970s under the reign of Deng Xiaoping, following the death of Chairman Mao. China was on the rise as early as 1971-72, with the transfer of the permanent Chinese seat on the United Nations Security Council from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the People’s Republic of China and U.S. President Richard Nixon’s famous “visit to China.”[21]

Today, with the world’s largest population, China’s economy is greater than the United States by some measures.[22] The Chinese leadership is putting its newfound might to use militarily, testing their reach in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

Speculation about a Chinese superpower has not been unfounded. Though economic relations are good and military confrontation is unlikely, China’s trajectory puts it on a direct collision course with the U.S. presence in Asia, in the form of military installations in Japan and South Korea. Indeed, being that America and China have achieved such economic interdependence —a relationship commonly known as “Chimerica”–Washington should seriously consider continuing such a presence, which can only be viewed by Beijing as a threat or expression of superiority.

Chinese intelligence operations and cyber-warfare will only intensify in the United States and NATO-aligned countries as time goes on. Much as with terrorism, NATO is neither equipped nor designed to deal with this kind of threat coming from this region of the world.

4. The Collapse of Mexico

Mexico has never been a paragon of stability and security, but the total collapse of the Mexican state and surrender to narco-terrorists and drug cartels in the last 20 years is unprecedented. With a relatively unguarded 2,000-mile border with the United States, Mexico’s colossal drug trade and the associated violence have spilled over into the U.S.[23] Such chaos has rendered some areas of the United States effectively controlled by Mexican drug cartels, according to local law enforcement.[24] This violation of national sovereignty should be of paramount concern, but goes unaddressed, while Washington pursues spectacular boondoggles in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The outdated, Eurasian orientation of NATO has more than a little to do with this failure of defense policy. The threat posed by non-state actors in Mexico to the United States homeland is not just outside the bounds of NATO but unrecognizable to it. Without a major change in defense and foreign policy, particularly policy regarding NATO, incursions across the U.S. border will only increase without any way for U.S. defense forces to reorient themselves away from Eurasia and towards Central America.

Replacing NATO

In the seven decades since the formation of NATO, the greatest threats to U.S. and European security have shifted from Russia and Germany to the Middle East, China, and Mexico. The dissolution of NATO would require a new treaty or set of treaties to formalize a foreign policy current with the latest geopolitical developments.

This new defense orientation would require the following three key principles.

1. Cooperation with Russia

American policy towards Russia since 1991 has consistently been one of aggression, typically cloaked under the guises of economic and political “development.” Based largely off Cold War inertia, this policy culminated in the 2013-14 U.S.-backed coup in neighboring Ukraine, which threw the country into chaos and prompted a military response from Russia.[25]

The threat of nuclear war—Russia inherited the Soviet Union’s entire arsenal—precludes an attempt to intimidate or force Russia into submission. The threats from Islamic terrorism, a rising Turkey, and an ascendant China require cooperation with the only significant power in the region with major exposure to all three—Russia.

Recognition of the changes in the security situation since 1949 requires sincere cooperation with Russia and the cession of Russia’s traditional sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, the Caucuses, and Central Asia. A stable power equilibrium will need to be reached to defend against external threats common to both the U.S. and Russia.

2. Reviving Western Europe

Western Europe has depended heavily on the U.S. military for defense since the end of the Second World War. Size and spending of the U.S. military dwarf those of Washington’s closest European allies and former colonial powers.[26]

With the Soviet Union broken up and Russia returned to its traditional status, it is time to also break up the unnecessary American “empire” in Europe. The dissolution of NATO must send a strong message to Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the rest of Europe that they must defend themselves.

The defense of Europe from Soviet Communism required tremendous American might and a unified military command, but the threats faced by Europe today require strong national militaries, intelligence services, and borders. Cooperation between the U.S., Europe, and Russia must be done on the basis of sovereign states with mutual interests, not clients servicing behemoths and far-off imperial capitals.

Europeans, in turn, must get tough and recognize that the American shield they have lived under for some 70 years will, eventually, vanish, due to Washington’s unwillingness to maintain Cold War-era military structures or its bankruptcy.

3. An Eye to Common Threats

The threats to Atlantic security outlined above—Islamic terrorism, Turkey, and China—also directly threaten the states of Europe and Russia. (Mexico is a North American problem.)

Europe and Russia[27] are prime targets of Islamic radicals in the Middle East, both due to interventions in the Middle East and large, troubling Muslim minorities at home that provide safe haven to terrorists. Russia’s bipolar relationship with Erdogan’s Turkey is well-known, as is Europe’s combative and losing diplomatic war against him. China, though a tentative ally of Russia, is eyeing sparsely-populated Siberia.[28] Chinese money flows freely into Europe, buying property and influence.

A post-NATO U.S. foreign policy needs to be based on countering the common threats faced by the U.S., our European allies, and the Russian Federation.

Conclusion

The change in the geopolitical situation since 1991 demands the dissolution of NATO and a common pan-European defense policy that allows the United States, Europe, and Russia to work as allies against clear and rising threats from across the globe, rather than repeat the unsustainable and outdated dynamics of the Cold War.

While the 20th century might have demanded NATO, the 21st century requires something very different. In this regard, it’s helpful to return to Lord Ismay’s famous trinity of “out,” “down,” and “in.” The U.S. needs to keep, not Russians, but Islamic radicals out of Europe. The Germans do not need to be kept down, but the Turks and Chinese most certainly do. And it’s debatable whether America needs to be in Europe at all.


  1. Jospeh Nye, The Paradox of American Power (London: Oxford University Press, 2002), 33. ↩︎
  2. Richard Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London: I.B.Tauris, 2015), 4. ↩︎
  3. Tim Dunne, “‘When the shooting starts'”: Atlanticism in British security strategy,” International Affairs, Vol. 80, October 2004, 893–909. DOI: 10.1111/j. ↩︎
  4. Benjamin Schwarz, ”Rethinking Negotiation With Hitler,” New York Times, November 24, 2000, accessed October 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/25/arts/rethinking-negotiation-with-hitler.html. ↩︎
  5. Douglas Brinkley and David Facey-Crowther (Eds.), The Atlantic Charter, The World of the Roosevelts (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994). ↩︎
  6. “A Short History of NATO,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, accessed October 1, 2016, http://www.nato.int/history/nato-history.html. ↩︎
  7. David Reynolds, From World War to Cold War: Churchill, Roosevelt, and the International History of the 1940s (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006), 250. ↩︎
  8. Leon Aron, “Everything You Think You Know About the Collapse of the Soviet Union Is Wrong,” Foreign Policy, June 20, 2011, accessed October 1, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/06/20/everything-you-think-you-know-about-the-collapse-of-the-soviet-union-is-wrong/. ↩︎
  9. Michael Kramer, “Rescuing Boris: The Secret Story of How Four U.S. Advisors Used Polls, Focus Groups, Negative Ads and All the Other Techniques of American Campaigning to Help Boris Yeltsin Win,” Time, July 15, 1996, Vol. 148, Issue 4, accessed October 1, 2016, http://people.bu.edu/tboas/Kramer.pdf. ↩︎
  10. Mary Elise Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward? Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev, and the Origin of Russian Resentment toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History, Vo. 34, No. 1, January 2010.

    Joshua Shifrinson, “”Not an Inch East”: How the West Broke Its Promise to Russia,” November 3, 2014, accessed October 1, 2016, http://russia-insider.com/en/germany_military_politics_ukraine_opinion/2014/11/05/04-31-59pm/not_inch_east_how_west_broke_its.

  11. See Andrew Korybko, “Hybrid Wars: Syria & Ukraine,” Oriental Review, March 11, 2016, accessed October 1, 2016, http://orientalreview.org/2016/03/11/hybrid-wars-2-testing-the-theory-syria-and-ukraine/. ↩︎
  12. Ashley Wiederhold, “Russia: Not The Super Power It Once Was,” World Policy Journal, World Policy Institute, April 25, 2014, accessed October 1, 2016, http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2014/04/25/russia-not-super-power-it-once-was. ↩︎
  13. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992). ↩︎
  14. George Friedman, “9/11 and the 9-Year War,” Stratfor Geopolitical Weekly, Stratfor Enterprises, September 8, 2010, accessed October 1, 2016, https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100907_911_and_9_year_war. ↩︎
  15. Deepak Tripathi, Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamic Terrorism (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2011). ↩︎
  16. Robert Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 145-46. ↩︎
  17. Lauren B. O’Brien, “The Evolution of Terrorism Since 9/11.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 8, 2011, accessed October 1, 2016, https://leb.fbi.gov/2011/september/the-evolution-of-terrorism-since-9-11. ↩︎
  18. Ishaan Tharoor, “Why Turkey’s President Wants to Revive the Language of the Ottoman Empire,” Washington Post, December 12, 2014, accessed October 1, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/12/why-turkeys-president-wants-to-revive-the-language-of-the-ottoman-empire/. ↩︎
  19. Nafeez Ahmed, “The elephant in NATO’s room: state-sponsorship of Daesh,” Medium, July 22, 2016, accessed October 1, 2016, https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/turkeys-secret-pact-with-islamic-state-exposed-by-operative-behind-wave-of-isis-attacks-6b35d1d29e18#.nu9tjjkv7. ↩︎
  20. “EU, Turkey: In Search of a Lasting Migrant Deal,” Stratfor, June 9, 2016, accessed October 1, 2016, https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/eu-turkey-search-lasting-migrant-deal. ↩︎
  21. Margaret MacMillan, Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (New York: Random House, 2007). ↩︎
  22. Ben Carter, “Is China’s Economy Really the Largest in the World?” BBC News, British Broadcasting Corporation, December 16, 2014, accessed October 1, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30483762. ↩︎
  23. Yelena Tuzova, “Cartels at war: Mexico’s drug-fueled violence and the threat to US national security,” Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 24, Issue 4, 2013, 769-70. ↩︎
  24. Jerry Seper and Matthew Cella, “Signs in Arizona Warn of Smuggler Dangers,” Washington Times, August 31, 2010, accessed October 1, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/31/signs-in-arizona-warn-of-smuggler-dangers/. ↩︎
  25. Conn Hallinan, “NATO’s Dangerous Game: Bear-Baiting Russia,” Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies, May 2, 2016, accessed October 1, 2016, http://fpif.org/natos-dangerous-game-bear-baiting-russia/. ↩︎
  26. Adam Taylor and Laris Karklis, “This Remarkable Chart Shows How U.S. Defense Spending Dwarfs the Rest of the World,” Washington Post, February 9, 2016, accessed October 1, 2016, http://fpif.org/natos-dangerous-game-bear-baiting-russia/. ↩︎
  27. Gillis, Charlie. “Unwanted Exposure.” Maclean’s 127.2 (2014): 28-29. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. ↩︎
  28. Frank Jacobs, “Why China Will Reclaim Siberia,” International New York Times, January 13, 2015, accessed October 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/03/where-do-borders-need-to-be-redrawn/why-china-will-reclaim-siberia. ↩︎
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The Real Dugin

Personally, I had once considered these critiques as being essentially valid, but upon a more thorough investigation of Dugin’s writings and thought, I concluded that these critiques were based on flawed premises and assumptions. My intention here is to point out what the most common reasons for denouncing Dugin have been and why they are based on misconceptions and propaganda rather than reality.

Alexander Dugin is by now well-known in “Right-wing” circles of all sorts across the world—whether we are speaking of nationalists, Fascists, traditionalists, cultural or national conservatives, or New Rightists (also known as Identitarians). Upon the translation of his book The Fourth Political Theory in 2012, Dugin has received a significant amount of international attention from anyone interested in Right-wing or Conservative theory. Since then, a number of other essays by Dugin on the topics of Eurasianism (also spelled “Eurasism”) and also the Theory of the Multipolar World (both of which are interconnected with each other and with what he calls the Fourth Political Theory) have been translated into English, among other languages, allowing us a better view into his thought.

There is no need to discuss Dugin’s theories in any depth here, since his own essays achieve that sufficiently. However, a problem has arisen among Right-wingers in the West in regards to Dugin: while many have appreciated his works, a large number have completely dismissed or attacked him and his theories largely on the basis of misunderstandings or propaganda from Dugin’s political enemies. The situation is certainly not helped by the fact that well-known Identitarian writers such as Greg Johnson, Michael O’Meara, Domitius Corbulo, and some others in Europe have denounced Dugin with reasoning based upon such misunderstandings. Personally, I had once considered these critiques as being essentially valid, but upon a more thorough investigation of Dugin’s writings and thought, I concluded that these critiques were based on flawed premises and assumptions. My intention here is to point out what the most common reasons for denouncing Dugin have been and why they are based on misconceptions and propaganda rather than reality.

Position on Race

First, one of the most difficult issues is the claim that Alexander Dugin believes that race has no substantial reality, that it is a “social construct” and must be completely abandoned as a harmful product of modern Western society. Certainly, he critiques racialist theory, but this is not the same as rejecting race entirely (since one can assert the importance of race without resorting to “racism.” See my essay “Ethnic and Racial Relations”). It must be admitted that Dugin has not taken a clear stance on the matter of race, and occasionally makes statements which imply a dismissal of race (although it is significant that, for the most part, he leaves it an open question). On the other hand, he has also made statements implying an appreciation for racial identity to some extent, such as when he wrote the following:

Being White and Indo-European myself, I recognize the differences of other ethnic groups as being a natural thing, and do not believe in any hierarchy among peoples, because there is not and cannot be any common, universal measure by which to measure and compare the various forms of ethnic societies or their value systems. I am proud to be Russian exactly as Americans, Africans, Arabs or Chinese are proud to be what they are. It is our right and our dignity to affirm our identity, not in opposition to each other but such as it is: without resentment against others or feelings of self-pity. (quoted from “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ & Other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution”)

However, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Dugin truly does believe that race is a “social construct”, as some have assumed. Would this be enough reason to declare Dugin a subversive intellectual in the Right? If this was the case, it would follow by the same reasoning that any past Right-wing intellectual who did not believe in the importance of race (or at least the biological form of race) must also be denounced. This would include such notable thinkers as Oswald Spengler, Francis Parker Yockey, Othmar Spann, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, Oswald Mosley, and numerous other Fascist or nationalist intellectuals and leaders who did not place much importance upon physical race. Yet, paradoxically, many of those we see denouncing Dugin today would not do the same for such thinkers. This is not to imply that previous Fascist or nationalist intellectuals are entirely agreeable for us today (in fact, most New Rightists reject Fascism and old-fashioned nationalism), it is only to point out the self-contradiction which has gone unnoticed.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that Dugin clearly believes in the importance of ethnicity and culture and advocates ethnic separatism. Similarly to German Revolutionary Conservative and Völkisch thinkers, Dugin has unmistakably placed the Volk or ethnos as one of the highest values of his philosophy: “The subject of this theory [the Fourth Political Theory], in its simple version, is the concept ‘narod,’ roughly, ‘Volk’ or ‘people,’ in the sense of ‘peoplehood’ and ‘peoples,’ not ‘masses’” (quoted from “The Fourth Estate: The History and Meaning of the Middle Class”). Thus, it is clear that even if he does not value race, Dugin certainly does value ethno-cultural identity. Of course, this is not to say that rejecting the reality of race is not at all problematic, only that it is not enough to denounce a philosopher. However, those who like to claim that Dugin dismisses race as a “social construct” are reminiscent of those who say the same thing about Alain de Benoist, whereas it is clear that Benoist asserts the reality of race and advocates racial separatism–specifically from a non-racist standpoint–in many of his writings, one of the most notable in English being “What is Racism?”.

Empire vs. Imperialism

The second problematic notion about Dugin is that he is an advocate of a type of Russian imperialism, usually suggested being of a Stalinist and Soviet type. However, this claim has no basis in fact, since he has renounced Soviet imperialism and has also distinguished between true empire and imperialism (which also made by Julius Evola and many other Traditionalist and New Right authors). In his essay “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy,” Dugin has asserted that there are three basic types of policy in modern Russia: Soviet, pro-Western (liberal), and Eurasist. He criticizes the Soviet and Liberal types while advocating the Eurasist policy: “Eurasism, in this way, is an original ‘patriotic pragmatism’, free from any dogmatics – be it Soviet or liberal… The Soviet pattern operates with obsolete political, economic and social realities, it exploits nostalgia and inertness, it lacks a sober analysis of the new international situation and the real development of world economic trends.” It should be clear from Dugin’s analysis of different forms of political approaches that his own viewpoint is not based on the USSR model, which he explicitly rejects and critiques.

Moreover, it is often overlooked that when Dugin advocates a Eurasian empire or union, there is a distinction between a true empire—in the traditionalist sense—and imperialism, and thus an empire is not necessarily an imperialistic state (for a good overview of this concept, see Alain de Benoist’s “The Idea of Empire”). Unlike domineering and imperialistic states, the Eurasian Union envisioned by Dugin grants a partial level of self-government to regions within a federalist system:

The undoubted strategic unity in Eurasist federalism is accompanied by ethnic plurality, by the emphasis on the juridical element of the “rights of the peoples”. The strategic control of the space of the Eurasian Union is ensured by the unity of management and federal strategic districts, in whose composition various formations can enter – from ethno-cultural to territorial. The immediate differentiation of territories into several levels will add flexibility, adaptability and plurality to the system of administrative management in combination with rigid centralism in the strategic sphere. (quoted from “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy”)

Of course, it must also be remembered that Dugin’s vision needs to be differentiated from the policies of the present Russian state, which, at this time, cannot be said to adequately represent the Eurasists’ goals (despite the influence of Eurasism on certain politicians). Furthermore, it should be mentioned that while Dugin currently supports president Putin, it is clear that he does not uncritically accept all of the policies of Putin’s government. Therefore, a sound analysis of Dugin’s proposed policies will not equate them with those of the Russian government, as some of his critics have erroneously done.

The “West” as the Enemy

Another common misconception is that Dugin is hostile to Western European civilization and even advocates its complete destruction. It is important to recognize that Dugin’s conception of the “West” is similar to that advocated by the European New Right (in the works of Pierre Krebs, Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, Tomislav Sunic, etc.). The “West” is not a reference to all of Western-European civilization, but rather to the specific formulation of Western-European civilization founded upon liberalism, egalitarianism, and individualism: “The crisis of identity […] has scrapped all previous identities–civilizational, historical, national, political, ethnic, religious, cultural, in favor of a universal planetary Western-style identity–with its concept of individualism, secularism, representative democracy, economic and political liberalism, cosmopolitanism and the ideology of human rights.” (quoted from the interview with Dugin, “Civilization as Political Concept”).

Thus, Dugin, like the New Right, asserts that the “West” is actually foreign to true European culture—that it is in fact the enemy of Europe: “Atlanticism, liberalism, and individualism are all forms of absolute evil for the Indo-European identity, since they are incompatible with it” (quoted from “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ & Other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution”). Likewise, in his approving citation of Alain de Benoist’s cultural philosophy, he wrote the following:

A. de Benoist was building his political philosophy on radical rejection of liberal and bourgeois values, denying capitalism, individualism, modernism, geopolitical atlanticism and western eurocentrism. Furthermore, he opposed “Europe” and “West” as two antagonistic concepts: “Europe” for him is a field of deployment of a special cultural Logos, coming from the Greeks and actively interacting with the richness of Celtic, Germanic, Latin, Slavic, and other European traditions, and the “West” is the equivalent of the mechanistic, materialistic, rationalist civilization based on the predominance of the technology above everything. After O. Spengler Alain de Benoist understood “the West” as the “decline of the West” and together with Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger was convinced of the necessity of overcoming modernity as nihilism and “the abandonment of the world by Being (Sein)” (Seinsverlassenheit). West in this understanding was identical to liberalism, capitalism, and bourgeois society – all that “New Right” claimed to overcome. (quoted from “Counter-hegemony in Theory of Multi-polar World”)

While Dugin attacks the “West” as modern liberal civilization, he simultaneously advocates the resurrection of Europe in his vision of the multipolar world: “We imagine this Greater Europe as a sovereign geopolitical power, with its own strong cultural identity, with its own social and political options…” (quoted from “The Greater Europe Project”). Similarly to the previous statements which we have quoted, he asserts here that European culture has multiple ideological elements and possible pathways in its history which are different from the liberal model: “Liberal democracy and the free market theory account for only part of the European historical heritage and that there have been other options proposed and issues dealt with by great European thinkers, scientists, politicians, ideologists and artists.”

Domitius Corbulo has argued, based on statements Dugin made in The Fourth Political Theory that liberalism and universalism are elements which run throughout Western civilization, that Dugin condemns Western-European culture in its entirety. However, it is important to recognize that these arguments are largely borrowed from Western-European authors such as Spengler, Heidegger, and Evola. These authors also recognized that anti-universalist, anti-liberal, and anti-materialist elements also exist in Western-European culture, and thus that there have always been other paths for the destiny of this culture. It is evident that Dugin would assert the same fact from his essays which we have cited here (as well as books not yet available in English, such as ¿Qué es el eurasismo?, Pour une théorie du monde multipolaire, or in Russian in Четвертый Путь, among others). It is important to remember here that The Fourth Political Theory is not a complete and perfect statement of Dugin’s thought, and that what he says there must be balanced with what he says in his other works.

It is often assumed that, considering his hostility to the liberal “West,” Dugin also advocates a complete destruction of the United States of America, which is seen as the epitome of the “West.” However, the very essence of his theory of the multipolar world is the idea that each civilization and nation must be granted the right to live and to determine its own destiny, political form, and way of life. For this reason, Dugin advocates the global combating of American cultural and economic imperialism, which denatures non-Western cultures. However, in the multipolar scheme, the United States also has the right to exist and to choose its own path, which means allowing the American people the right to continue the liberal model in the future, should they desire to do so. Of course, the liberal model would naturally be discouraged from abroad and be limited in its influence. This position can be drawn from Dugin’s key essays explicating the Theory of the Multipolar World: “The Multipolar World and the Postmodern” and “Multipolarism as an Open Project”.

The Fourth Political Theory vs. Reactionary Traditionalism

Some writers, such as Kenneth Anderson (“Speculating on future political and religious alliances”), have interpreted Alexander Dugin’s thought as a form of Radical Traditionalism (following Julius Evola and Rene Guenon) which is completely reactionary in nature, rejecting everything in the modern world–including all technological and scientific development–as something negative which needs to be eventually undone. This interpretation can be easily revealed to be incorrect when one examines Dugin’s statements on Traditionalism and modernity more closely. It is true that Dugin acknowledges Traditionalist thinkers such as Evola and Guenon among his influences, but it is also clear that he is not in full agreement with their views and advocates his own form of conservatism, which is much more similar to German Revolutionary Conservatism (see The Fourth Political Theory, pp. 86 ff.).

Unlike some Traditionalists, Dugin does not reject scientific and social progress, and thus it can also be said that he does not reject the Enlightenment in toto. When Dugin criticizes Enlightenment philosophy (the ideology of progress, individualism, etc.), it is not so much in the manner of the Radical Traditionalists as it is in the manner of the Conservative Revolution and the New Right, as was also done by Alain de Benoist, Armin Mohler, etc. In this regard, it can be mentioned that critiquing the ideology of progress is, of course, very different from rejecting progress itself. For the most part, he does not advocate the overcoming of the “modern world” in the Traditionalist sense, but in the New Rightist sense, which means eliminating what is bad in the present modern world to create a new cultural order (“postmodernity”) which reconciles what is good in modern society with traditional society. Thus Dugin asserts that one of the most essential ideas of the Eurasist philosophy is the creation of societies which restore traditional and spiritual values without surrendering scientific progress:

The philosophy of Eurasianism proceeds from priority of values of the traditional society, acknowledges the imperative of technical and social modernization (but without breaking off cultural roots), and strives to adapt its ideal program to the situation of a post-industrial, information society called “postmodern”. The formal opposition between tradition and modernity is removed in postmodern. However, postmodernism in the atlantist aspect levels them from the position of indifference and exhaustiveness of contents. The Eurasian postmodern, on the contrary, considers the possibility for an alliance of tradition with modernity to be a creative, optimistic energetic impulse that induces imagination and development. (quote from Eurasian Mission, cited in Dugin, “Multipolarism as an Open Project”)

It should be evident from these statements that Dugin is not a reactionary, despite his sympathy to Radical Traditionalism. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Dugin also supports a “Third Positionist” form of socialism as well as a non-liberal form of democracy. In regards to socialism, he has written that the “confusion of mankind into the single global proletariat is not a way to a better future, but an incidental and absolutely negative aspect of the global capitalism, which does not open any new prospects and only leads to degradation of cultures, societies, and traditions. If peoples do have a chance to organize effective resistance to the global capitalism, it is only where Socialist ideas are combined with elements of a traditional society…” (from “Multipolarism as an Open Project”). Whereas some have accused Dugin of being anti-democratic, he has plainly advocated the idea of a “democratic empire”: “The political system of the Eurasian Union in the most logical way is founded on the ‘democracy of participation’ (the ‘demotia’ of the classical Eurasists), the accent being not on the quantitative, but on the qualitative aspect of representation” (quoted from “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy”; see also the comments on democracy in his “Milestones of Eurasism”).

References to Leftists and Cultural Marxists

Finally, one of the most recent attacks on Alexander Dugin is based on his reference to Cultural Marxist and “Leftist” philosophers, which is seen by some as an indicator that Dugin himself is sympathetic to Cultural Marxism (see Domitius Corbulo’s “Alexander Dugin’s 4th Political Theory is for the Russian Empire, not for European Ethno-Nationalists”). However, Dugin has clearly pointed out that while he uses ideas from Marxist and “Leftist” theorists, he rejects their ideologies as a whole: “The second and third political theories [Fascism and Marxism] must be reconsidered, selecting in them that which must be discarded and that which has value in itself. As complete ideologies… they are entirely useless, either theoretically or practically.” (quoted from The Fourth Political Theory, p. 24).

If one notes that Dugin occasionally makes use of Marxist thinkers, then it should not be overlooked that he places even more importance on Right-wing thinkers, who clearly form the greater influence on him; the intellectuals of the Conservative Revolution (Heidegger, Schmitt, Moeller van den Bruck, etc.), the Traditionalist School (Evola, Guenon, Schuon, etc.), the New Right (Benoist, Freund, Steuckers, etc.), and the conservative religious scholars (Eliade, Durand, etc.). Furthermore, Corbulo objects to Dugin’s use of Claude Levi-Strauss’s work, yet respected New Right thinkers like Alain de Benoist and Dominique Venner (see Robert Steuckers, “En souvenir de Dominique Venner”, citing Venner’s Le siècle de 1914) have also referenced the ideas of Levi-Strauss on matters of culture and ethnicity, among other authors that Dugin uses, such as Jean Baudrillard.

In a recent interview, Dugin has clearly agreed with the European Right’s position on immigration (which advocates the restriction of non-European immigration), mentioning the threat that liberal cosmopolitanism brings to European culture: “The immigration changes the structure of European society. The Islamic people have very strong cultural identity. The European people weaken their own identity more and more in conscious manner. It is human right and civil society individualistic ideological dogma. So Europe is socially endangered and is on the eve to lose it identity” (quoted from “The West should be rejected”). Thus, when we take a less biased view of Dugin’s writings and statements, it is clear that his overall position is very far from that of the Cultural Marxists and the New Left.

From our examination thus far, it should be obvious that there are too many misconceptions about Alexander Dugin’s thought being circulated among Right-wingers. These misconceptions are being used to dismiss the value of his work and deceive members of Right-wing groups into believing that Dugin is a subversive intellectual who must be rejected as an enemy. Many other important Right-wing intellectuals have been similarly dismissed among certain circles, due to practices of a kind of in-group gleichschaltung, closing off any thinker who is not seen as readily agreeable. It is important to overcome such tendencies and support an intellectual expansion of the Right, which is the only way to overcome the present liberal-egalitarian hegemony. People need to take a more careful and unbiased look at Dugin’s works and ideas, as with other controversial thinkers. Of course, Dugin is not without flaws and imperfections (
nor is any other thinker), but these flaws can be overcome when his thought is balanced with that of other intellectuals, especially the Revolutionary Conservatives and the New Rightists.

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