Against the Gnostics: Anti-Traditional and Anti-Christian Core of Alexander Dugin’s 4th Political Theory

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18 Responses

  1. Wahid Azal says:

    This is an outstanding essay and mirrors my own conclusions about Dugin which I wrote about here http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/10/dugins-occult-fascism-and-the-hijacking-of-left-anti-imperialism-and-muslim-anti-salafism/

    I did not learn about this piece until after I published my own Counterpunch piece.

    Very good work.

    • Malić says:

      Thank you. I have read your article some month or so ago and I did broadly agree with most of your points. I’m affraid it will take some time until people in the West start picking up on Dugin’s quicksand principles for what they really are. He can be extremely insightfull and his brand of satanism is alien to most Westerners, so people tend to fall for it.

  2. Mike Kay says:

    Mr. Malic’,
    I do think you stretch Gnosticism a bit far, to conflate such with political theory.
    While it may be true that philosophy can inform politics, it is certainly true that neither can inform Gnosis. At best, politics and philosophy form a venue wherein Gnosis is actualized, in this world of forms.
    Philosophy presupposes that it is possible to articulate the human condition using the tools of this condition, politics presumes that this condition is open to change. The mystic is weary of both, and seeks the fire of the numinous.
    Gnosticism never presented a single narrative, an overall dogma, or a one size fits all religious point of view. The reason? Because the Gnostic = the visionary, the mystic.
    This can be quite difficult for those coming from a Christian background to understand, largely due to the savage antipathy of Christianity toward genuine mysticism.
    If Dugin is flirting with an intellectualized perspective of Gnosticism, then it is empty without an active mysticism. If, however, he is a mystic, and has sipped from the chalice of Gnosis, then his struggle to actualize the Gnosis makes perfect sense.
    Love him, hate him, or both, Dugin has the temerity to offer a map of where the world is headed, and to demand a resistance to it. Clearly, we don’t need Dugin to tell us the world is moving toward greater desperation and disaster. Its overwhelmingly evident that we are living in times of mass hysteria, where a mental virus is driving humanity toward self destruction on a vast scale. The question is, what is the appropriate response to this crazed situation?

    • Malić says:

      I use gnosticism to denote a standpoint affirming special form of knowledge, not accessible to all, and the desire to reject the present world. I don’t agree that Gnosticism was entirely disparate body of doctrines, they all have very peculiar doctrinal and stylistic similarities, i.e. exploiting already existing body of doctrine and relying on non-discursive demonstration (visions, flashes of insight, etc.). As regarding mysticism, the title of this piece, as I believe you already perceived, was taken from Plotinus, who is a premiere mystic of the West. Don’t you find it just a bit peculiar that he recognized nothing of merit in gnosticism? Mystical state is completely reliant on uplifting of rational faculties of human being. It requires no special knowledge, only astute discernment and humility.
      Concerning Dugin, he is well adjusted to modern world which is obvious, among other things, from the fact that he responds to crazed situation with ever more crazed answers.

      • Akira says:

        “I use gnosticism to denote a standpoint affirming special form of knowledge, not accessible to all, and the desire to reject the present world.”

        It is a nearly useless term at best, a viscous slander from the mouths of murderers at worst.

        Why use it all?

        • Malić says:

          Because it is not useless. “A vicious slander from the mouth of murderers”? Come on …

          • Akira says:

            “gnosticism to denote a standpoint affirming special form of knowledge, not accessible to all, and the desire to reject the present world.”

            This is such a wide net, that for example the Apostle Paul would be included, and thus the entire Christian Church. It would also include Hinduism, Buddhism, and also almost every form of western esotericism. In other words anyone with any kind of mystical experience and a dislike of the state of affairs, IE any real religion that isn’t completely housebroken by the powers that be. This “concept” is pure ideology, not anything else.

            The root of this ideology is the long war of extermination that was waged by the inquisition against “heretical” forms of Christianity, a war that would include tying you to the stake if it was still going on today.

            For a full scholarly argument against this term see:

            https://books.google.com/books?id=EOdrTzNo2w4C&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

          • Malić says:

            Love the smell of barbecue in the morning.

  3. Mike Kay says:

    Plotinus railed against the Gnostics , true. To fully understand this, we must grasp the climate of the times. Gnosticism challenged and irritated existing structures and hierarchies, which doubtless bruised egos and made enemies, yet this was hardly unique to Gnosticism.
    Christians seize upon Plotinus for his attack without ever realizing that they are as opposed to Theurgy as they are to the visionary Gnostic. I view this as a search for allies in the effort to punish Gnostics.
    What everyone should find amazing is the spontaneous and constant reinvention of Gnosticism throughout history, despite a universally hostile and often murderous ruling complex. It is certainly true that all three abrahamic ideologies remain firmly opposed to visionary Gnosis today.
    It is beyond the scope of this reply to offer more than a brief statement on the phenomenon of Gnosticism, but I think it should be clarified that Gnosticism stems from an authentic mystical experience, rather than a simple rejection of the philosophy and politics of the times.
    I believe there is a tendency to overlook this truth.

    • Malić says:

      I don’t consider Abrahamic traditions as ideologies. Plotinus didn’t condemn Gnostics because of his ego, but because they considered the world to be evil and rejected Tradition he stood in. If we are talking about the Gnosticism of Nag Hammadi compilation, then it is an interpretation of what you name ‘ideologies’, not a self-sufficient tradition.

  4. Mike Kay says:

    I personally find every reason to describe the abrahamics as ideologies, since from their inceptions their focus has been preoccupied with political and economic conditions.
    Mysticism, especially the mysticism practiced by the ever present Gnostics, is one devoid of such concerns. Thus we discover once again that Christianity is devoid of genuine mysticism, and is ill equipped to either recognize it, or admit it has a place within the scope of human behaviour.
    In attempting to classify Gnosticism, scholars have made a number of assumptions, all the while avoiding the obvious. The Nag Hammadi clearly articulates an experiential visionary exploration. This mysticism is powered by the eternal questions, including “Who am I?”
    Thus mysticism has no time to fulfil dogma, meet external expectations, or fit into convenient categories.
    The fact that Gnosticism spontaneously arises throughout the ages speaks more of a reality than any kind of movement. The fact that Gnosticism has been met with such consistent open hostility also points to a much greater milieu.
    If anyone is to take anything from what I’ve written, I hope it is a budding awareness that the west has a rich mystical tradition, spanning long periods of time, and that Gnosticism is integral to it.
    Thank you, Mr. Malic’, for allowing this conversation.

  5. Tim says:

    Branko
    I really enjoyed this essay even though some of it was a little difficult for me to grasp. Dugin’s thought is certainly very interesting , and he makes some very good observations about modernity and liberalism, but I have no idea how he has been associated with Traditionalism. One may as well say that he is a Marxist because he has read some Marx. His thought is seductive though, but I doubt one could pin him down on what he really believes. He comes across as a philosophical huckster. What makes me laugh is when these philosophers show their true colours. I mean, how can you with a straight face say something like ‘logos was the wrong choice’, or with Heidegger, ‘all thought up until now (meaning me) was wrong and I am right’! Taking people who say things like that seriously is seriously funny, but with very unfunny consequences. They should be called out for what they are. Anti-traditional and Counter-initiatory.
    Anyway, I have only just come across your writing and I will be catching up on what I have missed so far. Keep up the good work!

    • Malić says:

      Dugin proposes that we should “read Guenon like we read Marx”, i.e. he uses Traditionalism as revolutionary theory. He wants to be all things to all men, from alt right to radical left, from post-structuralist to Traditionalist. And he is able to accomplish this by relying on chaos as a guiding principle, because it is precisely this: the mirror that can reflect anything you wish. Only, after some time you end up not recognizing who you are anymore because chaotic reflections are just images. Dugin is specifically Russian phenomena and I suspect his Western adherents do not realize this. He builds on tradition of revolutionary tacticians like Lenin, always with his mind set on one goal, everything and everyone else being expendable. The best way to understand this is to remember Lenin’s dictum: “Tactics, comrades, we need tactics …” which relies upon dialectical dissolution of morality into revolutionary tactics where end justifies the mean. For Lenin it was world revolution, for Dugin it is the battle for Eurasia.
      Everything else is only a mean to that end, including Rene Guenon and Dugin’s Wstern friends.

      Besides, seeing him fraternizing with piece of shit like Radoslav Karadžić and purposefully inciting the worst Serbian national myths whenever he gets the chance, rubbing the bellies of individuals who in effect lead that people on the path of (self)destruction, clearly shows me what kind of “spirituality” he is indulging in. Moreover, because he very well knows what he’s doing.

      In the end it’s all about pushing the boundaries of your village and, if possible, poisoning the neighbor’s cow.

  6. Akira says:

    The “Left Hand Path” is neither “Satanism” nor “Gnosticism”:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-hand_path_and_right-hand_path#Left-Hand_Path

    It is clearly a form of Tantric Hinduism. How does a supposed “Traditionalist” not know that?

    • Malić says:

      In modern times, the expression “Left Hand Path” is widely used by Satanists to identify themselves, as well as the term ‘gnostic’. Also the plethora of Eastern or mystery religions monikers are being used to the same effect. The passage of Dugin quoted in the text clearly puts him in this category (“path of wine”, “black suffering”, etc., etc.). If anything is clear in it, it’s the presence of idea of salvation through depravity.

  7. Akira says:

    Your narrative about Alexander Dugin is pure Neoconservative ideology. The only difference is that your version is dressed up in Geunonistry instead of the voeglinism of the National Review. The end result is exactly the same: Dugin is an “Evil Gnostic Satanist” spreading chaos as the left hand of the new Yellow Peril: Putin the Terrible.

    You clearly don’t understand the metaphysics of the “ancient gnosticism” that you are trying to pin on Dugin. The concept of Chaos is quite common in “Gnostic” mythologies, usually as the source of matter, or of the evil lord of this world. Contrary to what you appear to believe, the so-called “Gnostics” were trying to escape this matter in order to return to the higher world of the spirit. This is exactly the opposite of your accusations against Dugin.

    Your evidence from The 4th political theory is half a sentence of technical Heideggerian ontology taken completely out of context and then mendaciously misunderstood. One paragraph down from your half-sentence is an explicit statement of the actual “Gnostic” content of 4pt practice: Neoplatonic Hermeticism. You completely missed it, and use obviously fake evidence instead.

    • Malić says:

      Neocon? I think simple ‘no’ will suffice. I don’t hold any political theology, and I’m neither American nor pro-American, why would one of American ideologies mean anything to me except for you to securely put me in the framework you understand? Also “no evil gnostic satanist”, just satanist in the strict sense of upheaval of principles – going down instead of up, and explicitly so. This reversal of principles means everything in pure thought but this is not apparent until it is applied. By virtue of this Dugin can, for example, be a close friend of Karadžić the hesyachist who managed to be in succession red bourgeois, first self help psychiatrist in Yugoslavia, ditch communism to lead the siege of Sarajevo, turn to Christianity and finally end up a new age healer. Analogously, he can be traditionalist, read Guenon “as we read Marx”, national-boljševik, Starovjerac, etc. If you lived in Yugoslavia of the Eighties, you would’ve meet at least a dozen Dugins with more eloquence and considerably more charm, yet of the same protean character. They all ended up parodying themselves.

      To cut the long story short, I did use fake evidence: Dugin’s own book. And this is no insult to him, because he’s very well able to ditch everything he wrote in it at the opportune moment and take completely opposite course. It’s no problem also, because that’s what chaos allows you to do, being all things to all people, like a magic mirror. So the more rational criticism of anything stemming from it is, the more at disadvantage the critic becomes. Except when he ditches it altogether. Very similar, especially in literary form, to how Gnostics argued: reversals, enantiodromia, visions, exploiting existing tradition to interpret it freely into oblivion.

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