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

Against the Gnostics

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Is it a bird … is it a plane … is it a political theory?

Transcript with additional a/v material:

Alexander Dugin is controversial in a unique way. He seems to be reviled, praised, accepted and rejected all at the same time. Nothing peculiar there, if it weren’t for the fact that these conflicting reactions can occur in the conscience of a single man, reading a single one of his books. In the lines to follow we’ll try to demonstrate why this is so, by attempting to digest Dugin’s cocktail of contradictory ideas without getting too intoxicated, something which, unfortunately, happens to good number of his readers in the West. 

On closer scrutiny, the ideas underlying Dugin’s sociological and political analysis appear to be contradictory to the point of insanity, in the sense not so dissimilar to insanity found in writings of ancient Gnostics – both in stylistic form and content. Dugin invites his readers to embrace Chaos, as he finalizes his pamphlet politico-philosophicus titled, The Fourth Political Theory.

In the following, we’ll proceed to scrutinize this book just short of close reading analysis.

Firstly, 4PT is so chaotic, so chock full of contradictions and of juxtaposing irreconcilable doctrines – from Rene Guenon to post-structuralism – that any kind of consequent interpretation would not do it justice. Alexander Dugin preaches Chaos. As both sanitary measure and act of common courtesy we’ll let him have it. And in the process, make an argument why it should be utterly rejected.

A Birth of Melodrama from the Spirit of Modernity

Doubtless, like every self-respecting Gnostic, Dugin would be pleased to know he provokes enantiodromia in his reader’s soul. After all, he sees himself as philosopher of radical “new beginnings”, and such endeavours require upheavals.

You know the drill: old vessels not fit for new wine must crumble, new world must rise on destruction of the old, temples must be cleansed, etc., etc.

Thus a “new beginnings” philosopher usually gets dangerously close to being a prophet of curious, rather obscure and, accordingly, rather confusing sort. Dugin’s Fourth political theory is as consciously prophetic and confusing an attempt at “new beginning” as it gets. Moreover, it is “an invitation” to a possibility of novel way of thinking and acting, the highly politicized – if not throughout politicizing what cannot and should not be politicized – new beginning, purportedly the either-or choice of destiny for contemporary man.

Will he remain in history or will he be bereft of it in an explosion of post-human freedom erasing the time itself? Will he reclaim his right to exist as a finite being endowed with a possibility of authenticity – a Dasein as Dugin’s mentor of choice Martin Heidegger called it? Or will he sink beneath the event horizon of dying time at the end of history?

Rather melodramatic propositions, don’t you think?

Well, this author has tremendous problem with melodrama in philosophy. There is something incredibly lazy in those apocalyptic notions coming from peak modern philosophers like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche or Heidegger. They radically – a favorite expression of theirs – reduce things to what they see as a “historical destiny” to be affirmed and transcended in some kind of act that will bring about upheaval: choice of eternity over finitude, revaluation of all values or some other kind of semi-religious revelation of Being in epochal Ereignis.

They appear to be highly individualistic and, consequently, highly democratic in proclaiming their incurable insights as truths of the age, a message of destiny for all and no one. To an extent Dugin fits in this typical modern and postmodern frame of mind while at the same time seemingly advocating teachings like Traditionalism, Christianity and Platonism, i.e. modes of thought and existence radically opposed to modernity and it’s melodramatic martyrs. (For Dugin’s dubious Traditionalism, see: Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2004., cp 12.; Andreas Umland, “Is Alexandr Dugin a Traditionalist? ‘Neo-Eurasianism’ and Perennial Philosophy”)

He is apt in depicting the shortcomings of Western world – necessary shortcomings he would rightly add – but at the same time obscure about where exactly does he stand, and, as we shall see, necessarily so. It is no wonder that his insights on postmodernity awake interest in the West because he can be an extremely discerning observer, endowed with genuine philosophical talent and willing to take a deep look into dark corners were few bother to even cast a glance.

However, it is a contention of this author that Dugin’s proclivity for taking deep looks into darkness has lesser to do with pursuit of truth than with hope of darkness looking back at him; a genuine, to an extent even sensual, love for this twin sister of original Chaos – the ancient principle whose symbol he appropriated for banner of his Eurasian movement and for the title of last chapter of The Fourth Political Theory, a most revealing essay named “Metaphysics of Chaos”. And this makes him dangerous and profoundly misleading thinker and ideologue; one who’s invitation must be utterly and irrevocably rejected.

To argue the point we’ll stick to philosophy and not to geopolitics and sociological analysis, which is, unfortunately, rarely the case in approaching Dugin. Namely, the hint for understanding the core of Fourth political theory is to be found in Dugin’s reverence of Martin Heidegger, whose term Dasein he accepts as subject of both his political analysis and political movement. Therein, i.e. in Dugin’s urge to go down to fundamentals the way Heidegger has done it before, with his own – as he calls it in one of his early essays: “left hand” – radicalism, lies his profound madness.

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Let our contemplation be as clear and farsighted as vintage RPG optics

Four political theories

The Fourth political theory, as Dugin would have it, is an invitation to completely and irrevocably reject the dead end of historical process he calls “Transition”. This terminological peculiarity stands to his credit because it’s pejorative equivalent “Globalization” is a rather misleading term. It gives a definitive, programmatic, purpose to a process which is, as we can observe on every day basis, not exactly clear about where it’s heading.

Moreover, Globalization is commonly understood as spontaneous, progressive, movement of humanity towards accepting certain definite social, economical and metaphysical aims and values as forming principles of all societies across the Globe. Nowadays this movement is grinding to a halt and, in it’s deceleration, reveals it’s true nature, i.e. that it has never been spontaneous at all.

Dugin rightly affirms that Transition is, therefore, much better term than Globalization, because it shows that the real purpose and the end of this process are in fact unknown and can only be conjectured. Globalization on the other hand is simply an attempt of the Euro-Atlantist’s Block, lead by USA, to impose it’s own purpose – it’s own political metaphysics – upon rest of the Globe.

This process is, as it seems, progressively failing and it’s programmatic forms are being dissolved. Transition is nevertheless afoot as a movement of dissolution of modernity, i.e. so called postmodernity. It is spontaneous insofar as it merely brings epoch’s logical presuppositions to their consequent resolutions. The best we can conjecture about it’s end is that it will necessarily be self-destructive, because of the contradictory nature of modernity it finalizes, and that it is essentially process of dissolving time, more precisely, as this author explained elsewhere, of eradicating the past. The Fourth political theory is a proposition of accepting this Transition in a positive way and devising appropriate political theory and practice to exist in it; a proposition of moulding one’s own existence and the existence of political and social entities one belongs to in the form appropriate to Transition, but in opposition to political metaphysics currently pushing it on.

In this context, Dugin depicts, using somewhat Weberian ideal-type approach, three political theories that struggled to rule the modernity. Those are Liberalism (first p.t.), Communism (second p.t.) and Fascism (third p.t.). Only one of them is truly alive today and it is Liberalism, term which for Dugin encompasses ideological and metaphysical framework of all Western societies. It won the battle of twentieth century against it’s two younger contenders and showed to be the only truly appropriate political philosophy of modernity. All three political philosophies have their respective subjects in the sense of underlying principle from and for which they came into existence. The subject of the first political theory is Individuum, second political theory relies on Class, while the third political theory is a system built on Race and/or Nation. These subjects are to be understood in the sense of both project and substance, i.e. as both active purpose and foundation of three contending metaphysics, in the respective senses of Greek word hypokeimenon and it’s Latin translation subjectum. For anyone in the know, this etymologizing approach already reeks of Heidegger and his “phenomenological destruction of traditional ontology”; an approach which, as we shall see, leads to philosophical suicide. However, Dugin, as well as Heidegger before him, has some good arguments for it. Namely, subject of political theory is a kind of image of man, a picture which imposes itself on world and it’s humanity contending that it is veritable and definite. The subject is, in this sense, a foundation for a possibility of system of metaphysics. This is very important to stress. Metaphysics, as a political project, acts on much deeper, not so obvious, level than mere ideology, i.e. while ideology reflects existing state of affairs, metaphysics is an attempt of it’s rational foundation, both the theoretical substratum and value system producing not only positive laws and institutions, but projecting a certain image of man, society and world in general. This is political derivation of what Heidegger calls oblivion of “ontological difference”, necessary and inborn error of human thought which imposes identity on difference, extrapolating some singular being – say, in political context: Class or Worker – and proclaiming it Being in eminent sense – that by which is everything that is. So, to develop and somewhat simplify the example, people leaning towards political Left tend to beatify the ‘Worker’ and demonize the spectral ‘Oppressor’ while, as it is often remarked by their opponents from the Right, most of them never met a living and breathing specimen of their political subject. However, this is entirely beside the point, because political metaphysics seeks to explain and rule the world – to systematize it – and it’s subject is truly a principle and purpose of power, not of compassion towards well being of real people. Heidegger’s understanding of ontological difference was, as we shall see later, more fundamental than this but Dugin is pretty consequent in stretching the notion to politics and stating that political theories are in fact modes of political metaphysics. Unfortunately, he proceeds to draw the conclusion that there is no a-political or trans-political metaphysics or a-metaphysical or trans-metaphysical politics too.

And so we end up with three political theories imposing their principles on the world, fighting for supremacy to the death. Now, in the wake of 21th century, it is obvious that the winner was Liberalism, the metaphysics of Individuum. It’s victory came about not by force of arms or even by subtle workings of economical and political warfare. It won because it deserved it. The modernity, as Dugin states, belongs to Individuum because it is it’s logical and therefore rightful master.

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Hail Nothing … full of Nothing … Nothing is with Thee …

Reign of Individuum and signs of the times

Some of the better passages in Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory concern depiction of this historical victor, the spectral indivisible and sacrosanct “I” of modern man.

The Individuum is a being whose substance is pure negative freedom from-, i.e. the absolute freedom of it’s reason and will to become and remain unconditional. On more superficial level of politics it is expressed in liberal principle of autonomy of individual, be it economic, moral or scientific. While contending for supremacy with other political theories, modern liberalism successfully kept it’s own principle in check, as an ideal, while trying to prevent them from enslaving it in the confines of Class, Nation or Race and this struggle became the “great narrative” of freedom, the most widespread myth of 20th century.

Moreover, the Individuum and it’s struggle for liberation successfully fooled the humanity into belief that they represent man and his freedom; that the struggle is somehow natural, yet eschatological, process to be endorsed by anyone of sane reason and good will. They are, unfortunately, anything but. Individuum is a metaphysical construct, projection of certain historically conditioned image of man and his destiny which in the end threatens to devour all other possible images and excrement them in it’s own form.

Namely, Individuum is a being without properties or, better to say, being compulsively shedding it’s own properties to achieve total freedom, the ultimate aim being freedom from itself, i.e. from every form of identity except the pure ‘I’.

This abstract notion is something very real and can be observed now throughout the Western world in phenomena of institutionalization of every conceivable form of transgression, from beatification of homosexuality and legal empowerment of feminism to invoking the right to die or euthanasia.

The purpose is metaphysical, namely: not to liberate the suffering, but to liberate the Individuum by abolishing anything keeping it confined in some kind of limitation. Dugin claims that this tendency of liberalism was hidden from most in the second half of 20th century mainly because it was contending with it’s enemies who themselves were out-of-the-box totalitarian.

However, if we take a closer look it is astonishing how both younger political theories applied the same principles as the first. Perhaps the best example is the notion of ‘Race’, now a dirty, but curiously often used, word throughout the media sphere of the West. This notion of human being as in essence biologically preconditioned pervaded the whole political spectrum of pre-World War II Western Europe and USA. It is a kind of modern day inverted Platonism seeking eternal in contingent as well as compulsively striving for perfection of naturally imperfect. In this context, it is a little know, yet well documented, historical fact that eugenics is not a consequence and sort of off-shoot of Darwinism but it’s very purpose, as well as Darwin’s work was inspired and preconceived by social theory we now anachronistically name ‘social darwinism’, devised in outlines by Malthus and Herbert Spencer.

Francis Galton, Karl Pearson and Charles Davenport were not radicals but junior fellow travelers of Darwin. The similar applies to an astonishing extent to first woman rights, birth control and euthanasia advocates recruited both from the Left and from the Right. While in Europe ‘race’ was somewhat overshadowed by the ‘class’, essentialist preconception of perfectible contingence of man lay at the foundation of both terms, making them even interchangeable to some extent (In this respect see most instructive history of eugenics: Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics, Berkley: University of California Press, 1985.).

And precisely this ‘contingent’, one could argue, is what ‘Individuum’ really is – that of which, as old Scholastics new very well, there can be no real knowledge. The reason for this is the fact that the contingent is merely a kind of substratum to which intelligible form is predicated and cannot exist in itself. An amorphous matter, in truth just a logical boundary of what can be thought or said, quite similar to logical principles of non-contradiction or identity: something we must presuppose to understand something real, but itself nevertheless completely unreal in itself. The notions of ‘Race’ and ‘Class’ give this murky pseudo-something an intelligible essence in the forms of “law of inheritance”, “survival of the fittest” or “class struggle” making it a hidden substance of all political theories of modernity. Hence the victory of liberalism. It is a metaphysics which with all power and clarity adheres to fundamental principle of modernity and expresses it’s nothingness in the most pure and powerful form.

heideggerMartin Heidegger, a hyerophant of nothingness

Dasein as subject of Fourth Political Theory

(NOTE: All passages interpreting Heidegger refer to M. Heidegger Sein und Zeit (eleventh edition, Tuebingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1967.) and  Identität und Differenz (M. Heidegger Gesamt Ausgabe – Band 11, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2006.))

Anyone in the know about Dugin’s views would affirm that this line of thought is fairly along his lines. However, here this author must diverge. Dugin’s answer to the challenge of Individuum is establishment of a being depicted by Martin Heidegger through his peculiar interpretation of German word Dasein.

Literal, albeit Latin-tainted, English translation would be: ‘existence’, in the unqualified, most common, sense. But Heidegger gives it a novel spin: Dasein is a being for which to exist means to have a priori meaningful relation to Being. The meaning however is commonly derived from it’s being-thrown-in-the-world (geworfenheit) signifying the fact that all existence is a priori contingent, i.e. pointed towards meaning but originally meaningless. This paradox stems from the fact that eminent characteristic of Dasein is it’s necessity to choose or project the meaningful mode of it’s existence but is unable to project it’s foundation and it’s ultimate end, it’s ultimate whence and where to.

Dasein is not simply a man, as Heidegger is all too eager to point out, because the term ‘man’ in his view always presupposes some preconceived meaning of what the man is, some unconscious metaphysical foundation. Here we can already glimpse why Dugin clings to Heidegger’s phenomenological approach: if Dasein is taken as a subject of political theory, then the space remains open for something that transcends the metaphysical constructs of three modern political theories.

Dasein is a being which originally projected these images of man out of it’s own irksome and inauthentic existence, but by it’s very nature there is always a possibility of authentic project insofar as Dasein is always, irreducibly, mine (Jemeiningkeit). While there is a possibility of individuation, there is also possibility for new beginning, because there is always something that a priori rejects any meaning imposed from the outside. The principle of individuation which makes Dasein what it is, is the absolutely certain possibility of death. This is the only context in which Heidegger uses the term ‘absolute’; death is absolutely certain but only as forever possible, it must be experienced as possibility and dealt with as possibility. And it is always mine. While everything can be appropriated in a world systems and world images of ruling metaphysics, man can never be bereft of his own death, the greatest possibility of Dasein’s existence lies in inescapably certain possibility of it’s own inexistence.

Well, how’s that for melodrama?

While Heidegger’s thorough analysis from Sein und Zeit can provoke us to think that his “fundamental ontology” really is something fundamental, it is anything but. Namely, Dasein is je mein and relationloss possibility, i.e. unrelated and unconditional reality of human being as individual, unrelated to any concrete man or woman except maybe if we affirm that Dasein is in fact Heidegger himself. Dasein of Heidegger’s philosophy is a historically conditioned being, but it’s historicity is transcendental in the sense that it is completely handed over to it, completely passive, due to it’s original nothingness. Moreover, the modes of it’s being depicted in Sein und Zeit – so called existentials as opposed to categories of traditional metaphysics – remain curiously unrelated to the world itself and other Daseins.

This makes this poor hero of the wasteland of modernity curiously isolated in it’s own relation to nothingness, always inescapably possible, but never truly real. Heidegger was well aware of this fact and in his latter works endeavoured to depict it from the higher standpoint of Being. This means he tried to ditch the traditional philosophical terminology, still underlying his early works, and employ a sort of quasi-poetical language devised not to explain, infer or clarify but to show and indicate the truth, or as he calls it in etymologizing the Greek term:”being un-covered” (Aletheia).

Needless to say, this language is extremely obscure while the method itself prevents any semblance of critical approach from outside of Heidegger’s terminology. So we are treated with things like Ereignis or Enthrallment of Being, man as shepherd (Hirt) of Being, Language as a ‘House of Being,’ and in his posthumously published magnum opus, Beitrage zur Philosophieapparently especially close to Dugin’s heart – we are treated with Last God (letzte Gott), Geshichte des Seyns, etc., etc.

This makes Heidegger’s thought by it’s very design at the same time elusive and labyrinthine yet essentially completely hermetic, a kind of philosophical occultism requiring completely counterintuitive initiation which comes dangerously close to philosophical equivalent of “brain washing”. Moreover, he was extremely careful to ditch such expressions as “soul”, “person”, “spirit” and, above all, “mind”, all of them terms – indeed: beings – without which philosophy is in fact impossible.

Instead he seeks some new, more original, more authentic ground out of which the new thought will arise and be expressed in the way understandable only to a specific kind of intellectual elite trained in the ways of phenomenological demonstration. And these wuthering heights of spiritual arrogance reach their rather slippery peak in Heidegger’s approach to philosophical tradition, his interpretation of great thinkers of the past – the famous destruction of traditional ontology. Not to exhaust the reader with his minute and violent (gewaltbrauchende) interpretations of Anaksimander, Plato, Aristotle or Hegel, we’ll stick to his important lecture on Parmenides, Satz der Identitat.

Here Heidegger displays with crystal clarity just how mislead is even the most profound thought of modernity when it tries to face the Tradition proper. Namely, he argues that Parmenides statement: to gar auto noein estin te kai einai or “for the same is thinking and Being” in fact expresses fundamental and necessary error of metaphysics: the identity of “the same” hides the moment of “difference” denouncing it as “nothing”, the path which, as Parmenides states, should, and in fact could not be taken by thought.

For Heidegger this is the moment when the idea of truth as correspondence of inference to reality is born, to be latter developed by Plato. The identity is the only reality sought for, while the difference is banished to the realm of error, lie and, ultimately, nothingness. Here he conveniently omits to note that Parmenides himself had a word for this ultimate otherness of Being. He calls it Night (Nyx), precisely the mythical principle of Greek cosmogonies to which all ancient Greek philosophy bore some relation. It is the realm of which there can be no knowledge, but betwixt it and Being proper there is a realm of illusion where there are only opinions of “two headed mortals” walking the “road that always reverses upon itself”, i.e. the road that leads to Chaos, the Precipice as is the original meaning of the word.

While ancient Tradition, including Parmenides, warned on diverting down this road, “upon which there is no certainty”, Heidegger, somewhat like a poor Coyote from old Road Runner cartoon, is all too certain that he can traverse it, shedding in the process more than 2500 years of philosophical tradition and it’s concepts.

The identity of Thought and Being of Parmenides is for him nothing less than birth of modern technological thought which reifies the beings and makes them ready-to-hand (zuhande) in the form of Gestell to be exploited and systematized in metaphysical systems of modernity. This is ultimately the Logos of the West, the tyrannical principle that imposes identity on difference, ever seeking to bring everything to light, be it light of Divine Reason or neon light of McDonald’s rest stop.

Here we are presented with astonishing lack of discernment characteristic of modern philosophers: to identify Logos of Platonic and Christian tradition with measurement and quantification of contemporary tehne displays precisely inability to point out what Heidegger purportedly likes best: the difference itself. All thorough Platonic scholars (above all Werner Beierwaltes. See W. Beierwaltes Identität und Differenz Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1978.) know very well that precisely interplay of identity and difference is an origin and end of Platonism as well as foundation of Christian theology both in the East and in the West. Logos, being the origin of discernment, is both the principle of thought and Being, but never a thing, a reified, systematized measurement tool as Heidegger would have it. The very possibility of any kind of thinking, Heidegger’s phenomenology included, is inconceivable without relation to it.

And it is not true that Logos tyrannically excludes it’s radical other. On the contrary the precipice of Chaos is Matter (hyle), the formless Darkness haunted by it’s light, capable of nothing but reflection of it. As Proclus once said, Matter can exist only insofar as it is held in existence by clinging to infinite power of God, because it is in itself ou-de-hen: nothing or not-even-one.

Here we can deduce where Heidegger’s and Dugin’s Dasein stands. It is the completely isolated, contingent being-unto-death of modern man, bereft even of everything original but it’s death. Stuck between metaphysics of total identity of Individuum and total difference of it’s Nothingness, two poles that comprise one and the same. Because it is clear as a day that Dasein in fact is Individuum. The same negative freedom burrowing in their respective essences renders them the one and the same essence, only observed from different standpoint. While Individuum projects Itself everywhere, Dasein is forever retracting into It’s own nothingness, running from light, ever more into it’s own darkness, in love with reflections it provides. One passage from Croatian philosopher Marijan Cipra illustrates this consequence of Heidegger’s thought perfectly:

As individual and contingent, this “always mine” existence is principally deprived of being and mind – and as such factually indemonstrable, while ontologically ineffable. Individuum est ineffable – as Scholastics very well new. There is no thought and no words of non-being, as Parmenid very well new. (…) The illusion with nothing at it’s base, a schein shining in itself is the dark shine emanating from Heidegger’s philosophy. It is the deepest night that seeks to resolutely install itself as ultimate possibility of contemporary philosophy (…) As Parmenid would say:”Now, you’ll hear my word on false order, where there reigns the dark night, it’s form laborious and heavy” (fr.53). And, indeed, if we are to follow Heidegger we must enter the dark night of illusion and bear upon ourselves his laborious heaviness. As for me, I feel no inclination to do it. And that’s why I reject Heidegger with antipathy. I am pretty entschlossen about it.

To return to Dugin, this is more or less what the subject of his Fourth political theory should be. Much the same as Heidegger, he impresses the gullible with his rants “against the modern world” but is in fact embracing it all too eagerly. The purpose of Fourth political theory is not to reject but to appropriate the Transition.

In this respect it is astonishing how Dugin at one time can use Rene Guenon’s insights to prove the destructiveness of Western political metaphysics, while just few pages later he’ll embrace the gender theory and it’s “insights” about “Death of phallocentric Logos” in order to prove equality of civilisation matrixes ranging from Greek polis to cannibal village, to be incorporated into “multipolar world”. To think in this way is possible precisely because the foundation of thought is a pure nothingness, building a virtual image of Tradition while utterly rejecting it by it’s very nature. Thence politicizing the metaphysics, bringing down angels to play geopolitical games, all peppered with peculiar Orthodox nationalist mysticism, something this author to his misfortune recognizes all to well from bitter experience denied to his more fortunate Western readers.

Good friends we have and good friends we lost … along the way: former Dugin’s friend Edička Limonov and his nowadays friend Radovan Karadžić talking all things philosophical while contemplating besieged Sarajevo. Finally, Limonov takes a few potshots with heavy machine gun at the city. Fingers crossed he didn’t disembowel anyone. 

But, at the same time, Aleksander Dugin is important, even as a un-thinker. If for nothing else, then to point out how melodramatic either-or choices are not the luxury we can safely enjoy these days. The Fourth political theory is precisely such choice, but with somewhat exotic, Gnostic, spin which renders it attractive but infinitely elusive, as a mirage in the desert.

To wrap things up, let’s see what’s so Gnostic about it.

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Strategy of Chaos

As Dugin’s approach implies that there are no eternal truths in metaphysical or religious sense, we are permitted to invoke another kind of truths, not simply inventions of natural and social sciences, but something that lies not above reason but beneath it. In his own words:

“(…) we should postpone such notions as the dimension of spirit and the divine, and move towards chaos and other vertical and depth-oriented concepts.”(Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory, ch. 12. Fourth political practice)

One could argue that to postpone doesn’t mean to outright deny, but let’s be careful here. Dasein is essentially being of noch nichts or not yet. This means that it is essentially being of postponing, only projecting it’s reality but always condemned to the modality of possibility. While, for instance, Plotinus talks of reversal of Soul into itself, facing it’s temporality to reach it’s eternal root in Spirit or Mind (Nous) – in fact making itself real by dissolving it’s accidental form – Dasein is always only reversing into it’s own nothingness because the only form it has is the accident. While Christian interiorise the Logos by turning to what Augustine calls interior man, Dasein is digging ever deeper into the abyss of it’s own insubstantiality, escaping the light towards darkness.

The gullible reader, unfamiliar with traditional metaphysics and theology, can very, very easily fall into trap of confusing what he feels to be his or hers true self with what Heidegger and Dugin put forward as invitation to possibility of unknown something. And that invitation leads straight down into the great Precipice, into original Chaos. The name Ancient Greeks gave to unknown and forever unknowable Nothing.

In the Appendix II to The Fourth Political Theory, named “Metaphysics of Chaos”, Dugin explicitly invites his reader to do just that. His argument is that there are in fact two kinds of Chaos. The first, most obvious for us, postmodern men, is a postmodern Chaos. It is a condition where time – above all past – is dissolved and history is rendered into virtuality, the insubstantial simulacrum of real world, where all one can do is contemplate infinite possibilities forever to remain unactualized. This is necessary consequence of dissolution of modernity because it’s subject – the Individuum – demands it. The absolute negative freedom is the freedom from the world itself, i.e. the world itself must be rendered unreal as well as it’s essential elements: human body, ancestry, sex and other potentially substantial limits of Individuum.

In this sense, for instance, posthumanist Ray Kurzweill insists that tattooing is a form of externalizing one’s own body preparing humans to merge with machines. The merging itself is a virtualization because it ditches reality for free project of oneself, admittedly cast in chrome and plastic, but still forever elusive and unreal simply because it is coming about merely to affirm the otherness from oneself. It is, simply put, a contradictory absolute act of revoking contingency by making oneself absolutely contingent, an ultimate metaphysical escape from oneself.

Now, if this posthumanist approach doesn’t sound Gnostic enough to you, let us hear what Dugin proposes.

There is, namely, another, more original, form of Chaos. It is, in Dugin’s opinion, the ancient, primordial and ever present Origin of all – both Gods and Men – Mother Night banished from history by the light of Logos; the primordial waters as they were before Fiat Lux of arrogant Demiurgos, the absolute freedom encompassing all, including the errant Logos itself, to which we can return at every given moment by deliberate (entschlosen) embrace of it’s eternal possibility. This is the Existential Empire of Dasein, a condition where all semblances of rationality are ditched for the sake of absolute freedom towards death, the complete negation of actual for the sake of possible.

In this sense, Dugin observes Chaos as a sort of Platonic dynamis panton, an all-possible, eternal root of everything that is. However, he really inverts the order of principles of traditional metaphysics, as exposed both in Platonism and traditional Christian theology and puts in the forefront that which is in fact the last and least of all. While Platonist’s name for dynamis panton is the One, ineffable, immaterial and, in most eminent sense, supernatural Origin of all, which is so all encompassing and at the same time ever present as to contain both ultimate possibility and ultimate actuality, Dugin takes for his principle it’s absolute Other – the Matter.

This, in Platonic tradition proper, is a principle only insofar as it is a boundary of finite Beings, but is, taken in itself, a pure sub-mundane Nothing, Mother Night negating all light, reason and reality, that which is absolutely ‘bellow’. It is the cosmic underworld, metaphysical catacombs for Gnostic to hide, not from the persecution of man, but from the world and their own conscience. In this sense Dugin’s Fourth political theory is a typical form of “left hand” Gnosticism, more or less identical with what we in the West call Satanism. Here’s how he himself describes it in one of his early essays:

The mankind has always had two types of spirituality, two paths — “Right Hand Path” and “Left Hand Path”. The first one is characterized by the positive attitude to the surrounding world; the world is seen as harmony, equilibrium, good, peace. All the evil is viewed as a particular case, a deviation from the norm, something inessential, transient, without deep transcendental reasons. Right Hand Path is also called “The Way of Milk”. It doesn’t hurt a person, it preserves him from radical experience, withdraws from immersion into suffering, from the nightmare of life. This is a false path. It leads into a dream. The one going by it will reach nowhere…

The second path, the “Left Hand Path”, sees all in an inverted perspective. Not dairy tranquility, but black suffering; not silent calm, but torturous, fiery drama of splitted life. This is “A Path of Wine”. It is destructive, terrible, anger and violence reigns there. For the one who is going by this path all reality is perceived as hell, as the ontological exile, as torture, as immersion into the heart of some inconceivable catastrophe originating from the heights of space. If in the first path everything seems as good, in the second — as evil. This path is monstrously difficult, but only this path is true. It is easy to stumble on it, and it is even easier to parish. It guarantees nothing. It tempts nobody. But only this path is the true one. Who follows it — will find glory and immortality. Who will withstand — will conquer, will receive the award, which is higher than life.

Well, if there is something more appalling than melodramatic philosophy, it is the melodramatic Satanism. For all the refinement of his later writings, this spirit of the occultist “left hand” is demonstrably ever present throughout everything Alexander Dugin says or does. What he preaches is admittedly not posthumanism. On the contrary, it is no less ambitious subhumanism. It is an invitation to shed all semblance of humanity on the way down to regression into the waters of original Chaos, dissolving body, soul and mind into animal, sub-animal, vegetable, sub-vegetable, mineral and finally non-mineral world of absolute deprivation.

This is, give or take, what for discerning observer the Hell should look like. Darkness in which only possible thought is a mirage while it’s only possible utterance is onomatopoeia, cacophony of shrieks ever being reduced into sounds of muddy waters boiling into silence. And this, dear reader, is the Existential Empire of Dugin’s dreams. You are invited to it – after all, he knows how eager the Westerners are to escape the aberrations of their broken empires. But to escape fire by jumping into drained cesspool of original precipice – albeit decorated with images of dead Byzantine tranquillity and endowed with Laibach soundtrack to make descend more cool – is a rather flimsy move, don’t you think? Is posthuman vs. subhuman really either-or choice? Is it really so melodramatic?

I think not.

It is no choice at all. Dasein has no choice. Individuum has no choice. Only the discerning human being can have a choice. And it is, as it indeed was from the dawn of Divine Logos, the ancient gesture Christians took from the oath giving ritual of Roman soldiers; the gesture of waving ‘no’ to the Darkness.

At the same time it is the ultimate “no thanks” to all those strange men offering strange candy to spiritual children of non-spiritual age.

An universal antidote against the Gnostics.

Branko Malić

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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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