As Dostoyevsky once observed of the Russian soul, neo-Eurasianism is a ‘dark place’
Aleksandr Dugin has long been a source of controversy both in his homeland of Russia and throughout the West. Though he looks more like Rasputin than Halford Mackinder, it is the latter after whom Dugin fancies himself. Over the last several years Dugin, a political theorist, has been an advocate of a potent Russian ideology known as “neo-Eurasianism.”
While it may sound like a planet in the newest incarnation of Star Trek, neo-Eurasianism is a dangerous and noxious ideology that takes the most dangerous aspects of nationalism, fuses it with quasi-fascistic ideas, is fueled by traditional concepts of Russian autocracy as well as militarism, masks these notions behind a thin veneer of Russian mysticism for domestic consumption along with superficial anti-globalism to gain foreign support – notably from a loud but ultimately small element of the American right – and is shrouded behind an almost impenetrable layer of Marxist dialectic.
As Dostoyevsky once observed of the Russian soul, neo-Eurasianism is a “dark place.”
Yet ultimately, “neo-Eurasianism” is merely an opaque term to describe classical Russian geo-strategy.
According to Dugin, there is a war between the continentalist, illiberal autocracies of Eurasia – as led by Russia – against the liberal, globalist maritime powers of (primarily) the Anglosphere (including the United States). It is here that Dugin’s theories draw heavily on the works of classical geopolitical theorists, such as the turn-of-the-20th-century British thinker Sir Halford Mackinder.
It was Mackinder who believed that his beloved British Empire, as a primarily seafaring power heavily reliant on maritime trade, had to challenge the rising militaristic, autocratic powers of Eurasia. Because these Eurasian nations were in the center of what Mackinder referred to as the “world-island,” if one or an alliance of these Eurasian states coalesced, they would overwhelm the maritime democracies of the world.
In essence, Eurasia is the home of the world’s largest population and the most arable land, potable water supplies, and natural resources. If it fell under the sway of Eurasian powers, this “world-island” could come to dominate the entire world by sheer mass. Thus, whether it be Britain of yesteryear or the United States of today, it was essential for those maritime democracies to prevent such a coalescence of Eurasian autocracies.
Taking his cues from these theories, Dugin created his own theory, adapted for Russia, that has gained some influence among the siloviki, those Soviet-era intelligence and military officials who now rule the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin.
Many influential figures on the right in the United States have come to view Russia as led by Putin as a potential ally in the fight against the decadent, postmodern liberalism that has come to dominate the West since the end of the Cold War.
If the secular, democratic-globalist elite who purport to rule Western nations represent everything that is wrong with the West – everything we conservatives are fighting against – then Vladimir Putin’s traditionalist, nationalist Russia is a natural ally.
Sadly, however, this is not an accurate assessment of either Vladimir Putin or Russia as led by the neo-Eurasianist siloviki. In fact, neo-Eurasianism is nothing more than the same kind of globalist claptrap that Western leftists are threatening ordinary Americans with – only it is a globalism with an imperialistic, autocratic, Russian flair.
Most Americans would not find life under either the democratic-globalist elite who fancy themselves as our betters in Washington and Brussels or under the Duginists who dominate Moscow palatable.
If one were to search “Alexandr Dugin” on YouTube, invariably one would be inundated with long videos of the gonzo Russian theorist describing the essence and nature of his ideas. In fact, Dugin explicitly – repeatedly – describes the roots of his ideology as being opposed to Western-style liberalism.
It would be easy to assume that Dugin refers merely to the leftists whom Western conservatives have long opposed. Dugin is describing, though, philosophical liberalism. Both the postmodern leftists who are, frankly, destroying Western society as well as the conservative right opposed to those leftists – despite being ideological enemies – are still Westerners.
Dugin and his followers in Russia not only loathe the liberal traditions of the West but they also resent the West in its entirety – including the right-wingers who are attempting to forge a common cause with the Duginists of Russia.
Private property rights, democracy, equality in the eyes of the law, individual liberty, these are notions that the American right has long cherished and advocated. They are the gifts imparted to us modern Westerners from the heroes and thinkers who came before us; the legacy of those previous generations of Westerners that we could never repay.
None of these concepts of liberty are appreciated or desired by those who march beneath the banner of neo-Eurasianism under the iron-fisted rule of Vladimir Putin and his siloviki. On the contrary, the Russian regime is directly threatened by the philosophical liberalism that undergirds the Western, Judeo-Christian civilization we on the American right have struggled to preserve and protect.
As Whittaker Chambers, one of the most consequential men of the 20th century, said, “Political freedom is a political reading of the Bible.” Under Vladimir Putin, the traditional Russian religion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity has once again taken root (it had been shuttered by the old Soviet regime).
Although the Eastern Orthodox Christianity as practiced in Russia is not the same as the decentralized Christianity of the United States. And Putin’s regime embodies the opposite ideals of the “political freedom” that you and I cherish.
What’s more, the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith has been hijacked by the militant autocracy of Vladimir Putin, making it little more than a superficial artifice behind which the entirely un-Christian actions and beliefs of Putin and the neo-Eurasianists hide.
This explains how Putin, a purported defender of Western civilization and traditional Christian values, can wantonly engage in war crimes against fellow Eastern Orthodox Christians and Slavs in neighboring Ukraine without batting an eye.
And why is Putin’s regime slaughtering the Ukrainians?
Because Ukraine was experimenting with democracy, and if the experiment proved successful (a big “if”), then the prospects of a successful, dynamic, free Ukraine just across the border from Putin’s sclerotic Russian Federation would prove a direct threat to his continued strongman rule.
Thus Moscow had to crush the Kiev government at all costs; to kill the potential prosperous baby in the womb – and to push away unwanted American influence so close to Russia’s borders.
Setting aside the issue of democratic governance, for the American right, national sovereignty – self-determination – has been a pillar of Western civilization since the Treaty of Westphalia. Further, national self-determination has been a cornerstone of the international order. And a respect for sovereignty was the essence of the Trump movement in 2016.
Even though both Putin and his ideological svengali, Dugin, claim they are merely defending Russian sovereignty they are, in fact, protecting Russia’s traditional empire – at the expense of other countries’ right to self-determination.
This should be an affront to nationalists everywhere.
There is no common value set that the American right shares with the neo-Eurasianists of Russia. For the Duginists, Russia is a “civilization-state” that exists separate from and atop both European and Asian cultures.
According to these Russian imperialists, Russia must restore its empire to lead the land-powers of Eurasia in a final war of global dominance against the maritime democracies, as led by the United States. The American right and all that they have struggled to defend are also under threat.
It is, therefore, incumbent upon all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, to recognize the real threat that the Putin regime poses to the West. Supporting Ukraine is the least we could do to ensure that Putin’s, and Dugin’s, vision for Eurasia (and the world) at America’s expense goes unrealized.
BRANDON J WEICHERT
Brandon J Weichert is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower. He is a geopolitical analyst who manages The Weichert Report: World News Done Right. His work appears regularly in The Washington Times and Real Clear Politics. Weichert is a former US congressional staffer who holds an MA in statecraft and national security affairs from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, and is an associate member of New College, Oxford University. More by Brandon J Weichert