The Secret to Putin’s Geopolitics Is Found with This Russian Philosopher

The current events in Ukraine have pushed many to wonder what Putin’s real intentions are when it comes to his geostrategy.

Putin’s influences include many trends of nationalist thought in Russia, such as the 19th century Slavophile movement which wanted to curb the Western influence or Ivan Ilyin in the 20th century, a fascist thinker who wrote his most important works in German and died in exile because of his stand against communism.

But out of all these influences, the most substantial is probably that of Aleksandr Dugin.

A contemporary Russian philosopher, he authored some 30 books, most being political essays even if not always, for instance a book on anthropology titled Ethnosociology.

More importantly, at the time of the invasion of Crimea, he was dubbed “Putin’s brain” by Foreign Affairs, so let’s look into that “brain” to better understand Putin himself.

Against Liberalism

The most salient component of Dugin’s ideology is his stance against liberalism, by which he also poses a critique of the Western civilization as a whole, and thus its dogmas such as individualism, rationalism, scientism, globalism, and even postmodernism.

He writes in The Fourth Political Theory, perhaps his best-known book:

A humanity under liberalism, comprised of individuals, is naturally drawn toward universality and seeks to become global and unified. Thus, the projects of the ‘world state’, global governance, and the ‘world government’ or globalism are born.

A new level of technological development makes it possible to achieve independence from the class structuralization of industrial societies, i.e. post-industrialism.

The values of rationalism, scientism, and positivism are recognized as ‘veiled forms of repressive, totalitarian policies’, or the grand narrative, and are criticized. At the same time, this is accompanied by parallel glorification of complete freedom and independence of the individual from any kind of limiting factors, including reason, morality, identity (social, ethnic, and even gendered), disciplines, etc. This is the condition of Postmodernity.

The “fourth political theory” he proposes is a new ideology, not liberalism obviously, but not fascism or communism, either.

Dugin pushes for a political movement which doesn’t limit itself to what he calls materialist categorizations (the liberal’s “individual”, the fascist’s “nation-state” or “race” and the communist’s “class”) but to Dasein (or “existence”), a metaphysical concept he takes from German philosopher Heidegger, through which he wants a “spiritual” approach to politics.

And thus it’s only natural that he gives a religious angle to postmodernism:

This marks the return of theology and becomes an essential element of the Fourth Political Theory. When it returns, postmodernity (globalization, postliberalism, and the postindustrial society) is easily recognized as ‘the kingdom of the Antichrist’ (or its counterparts in other religions – ‘Dajjal’ for Muslims, ‘Erev Rav’ for the Jews, and ‘Kali Yuga’ for Hindus, etc.). Now this is not simply a metaphor capable of mobilizing the masses, but a religious fact – the fact of the Apocalypse.

This theological and eschatological perspective is also due to the fact that Dugin openly calls himself a Perennialist, following the likes of René Guénon and Julius Evola, so his whole narrative is full of religious imagery.

RELATED: Is Imran Khan Promoting Perennialism in Pakistan?

Outside Perennialists, Dugin mobilizes different thinkers in his critique of liberalism, most prominently Alain de Benoists, France’s leading right-wing thinker, but also more “consensual” figures such as the late American intellectual Immanuel Wallerstein.

To show his hate of liberalism, also in the same book, he writes:

Liberalism must be defeated and destroyed, and the individual must be thrown off the pedestal.

For Eurasianism

Dugin doesn’t want his critique to remain theoretical but to also become a geopolitical reality, which he does through the notion of Eurasia.

Eurasia is an old idea in Russian thought that one could find among the Slavophiles and more completely in the books of Lev Gumilyov, a Russian historian and anthropologist of Tatar roots who was influential enough to get an university named after him in Kazakhstan.

Gumilyov, like Dugin and a few others, thought that Russia didn’t belong to Europe, as its Westernized elite wanted since Peter the Great’s modernization drives during the Enlightenment. But they also thought that it wasn’t completely Asian either, like some critics of Russia, who considered Russians to be a “mongrel race” mixed with Tatars, these “Turkic Asians,” making Russians unable to ever attain “civilization” like the “pure” Europeans did.

What they said is that Russia was an in-between. It had a bit of Europe in it but also a bit of Asia.

Its European component is basically racial – Russians are an ethnic White population – while its Asian component is ideological, in the sense that, due to the Mongol and Tatar influences, Russians are “collectivists” as opposed to Westerners who are individualists and so on.

Basically that Russians are unable to ever be liberals as opposed to the West, thus the eternal competition (through Putin today but also the Soviet Union before).

Dugin continues elaborating this ideology in his Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism:

Eurasianism viewed Russian culture not as simply a component of European civilization, but also as an original civilization, encompassing the experience not only of the West but also — to the same extent — of the East. The Russian people, from this perspective, must not be placed either among the European nor among the Asian peoples; it belongs to a completely unique Eurasian community. Such originality in Russian culture and statehood (displaying European as well as Asian features) also defines the distinct historical path of Russia and of her national and state program, which does not coincide with that of the Western-European tradition. (…)

Russia’s Eurasian future should be built in a form that corresponds to the specificity of Russia’s structure and in accordance with its values and basic beliefs. The Eurasianists proposed to take and affirm these qualities as its norms. They said “no” to progress. They saw social development as a cycle, not in terms of capitalist notions of development. They called for an organic, agricultural economy, not materialism, and for ideocracy (the power of ideas). They also said “no” to democracy, favoring popular monarchy. They rejected the notion of purely individualistic, superficial liberty, and advocated for social responsibility and spiritual, inner freedom.

For Dugin, Russia being an “Eurasian” country means that Russia should seek more engagement with the “Asian” countries (the Islamic world but also the Buddhists, the Hindus and so on), which for him is a way to respond to the Western-led liberal globalization.

But, as we shall see soon, defining Russia as a civilization of its own also justifies a muscular approach towards its neighbors as well some hawkish foreign policy, which is ironic considering Dugin’s critique of the American neo-con.

…But How Does That Reflect On Putin?

We have seen that Dugin’s anti-liberalism is basically a way of being anti-Western, and that such stance is not purely intellectual but also geopolitical through his idea of Eurasianism.

We’ve also pointed out that this approach to Russia as an Eurasian civilization of its own might have consequences in terms of territorial expansionism… but how, exactly?

In his 2020 book War for Eternity: The Return of Traditionalism and the Rise of the Populist Right, Benjamin Teitelbaum wrote:

By the time of the founding of the Eurasian Party, the Kremlin had already been releasing foreign policy guidelines using Dugin’s peculiar terms and concepts, like a call for a “multipolar world order” opposite American unipolarity in geopolitics. Over time, journalists noticed that Putin seemed to be echoing—sometimes in a matter of hours—expressions Dugin was using in media broadcasts, whether describing Russia as “Eurasian,” naming “fifth column” conspiracies, referring to Georgian actions in Ossetia as “genocide,” or reviving descriptions of Eastern Ukraine as “Novorossiya,” or New Russia. A symbiotic relationship between Dugin and the Russian government was emerging, in which Dugin’s commentary was influencing the government and in turn the government was increasing his media exposure. Indeed, Dugin was soon to become a featured personality on state television.

Meanwhile, starting during the early years of the twenty-first century, Dugin began a series of diplomatic missions, sometimes at high levels. He participated in closed negotiations surrounding the end of the Second Chechen War between the Kremlin and local Chechen leaders, leading to the emergence of Chechnya as a largely self-governing republic in Russia run through clans and Islamic courts. The Chechen side actually requested his presence. But in subsequent years, his own media sites documented a stream of other official meetings, with figures including with Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, with the ambassadors of Iran and Syria, and eventually with European far-right parties.

We can now make sense of Putin’s geopolitics: through Dugin’s Eurasianism, Putin adopts a pro-active and aggressively assimilationist policy towards its immediate neighborhood. After all Russia is a “civilization of its own,” so the likes of Ukraine are by default just “artificial” post-Soviet creations which need to be “re-integrated” into “Mother Russia.” Putin has to “correct history” and, thus, during the recent conflict, as the New York Times reported few days ago, Putin did openly deny the very legitimacy of Ukraine’s “creation.”

RELATED: War in Ukraine: How Would Muslims Be Affected?

This of course doesn’t only apply to Ukraine but also to the Muslim-majority republics of the North-Caucasus such as Chechnya, all considered parts of Russia’s unique “Eurasian” civilization.

This ideology also impacts foreign policy towards the Muslim world. For instance, “Islamists” are considered not a fit for this Eurasian ideology based on the Perennialist principles of the unity of world religions. Thus Dugin’s role in the Syrian conflict or, more generally, his permanent criticism of “Salafis” and “Wahhabis,” i.e., anyone who wants to see Islam takes its rightful place in the affairs of a country.

Dugin’s Russia, then, as an “Eurasian” world power must crush “political Islam” as well, “political Islam” which is also the main target of the New World Order (NWO), or the Western-led neoliberal globalization he decries so much.

RELATED: Putin and Assad: Like Father Like Son

For those who want to dig further into this topic, we recommend a 2013 article by Ataullah Bogdan Kopański, a Polish convert who specializes in the history of Islam in Europe and teaches at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, titled: “The Russian Neo-Eurasianism, the West and the Reconstruction of Islamic Civilization in Alexander Dugin’s Geopolitical Doctrines.

MuslimSkeptic Needs Your Support!
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
21 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Md. Alam

Man never expected an article with such insights from muslim skeptic

IkBenGoed

And that’s why they are allies with COMMUNIST china. Meanwhile loosing blood and wealth in supporting DPR and LPR…

akh

China needs Russia as a buffer state against an encroaching West. They basically need them to direct attention away from China. The Iranian regime would also be negatively effected by a weakened Russia. In fact they probably will fall quickly after a Russian defeat.

Takeshi

I read long ago about this misterious figure (Dugin) and it really makes me wonder how lost in his mind he must be (included putin).
One thing is sure for me, all the events we see, including the recent ones in russia and ukraine are part of an agenda that we will never fully understand or even know.

Wee Jim

After all Russia is a “civilization of its own,” so the likes of Ukraine are by default just “artificial” post-Soviet creations which need to be “re-integrated” into “Mother Russia.” 

There are further complications. Kievan Rus in the middle ages is the supposed cultural origin of modern Russia. Kiev as the capital of a separate avowedly non-Russian Ukraine destroys Russia’s historical legitimacy.

Bill Browder

Better a civilization of its own, than an anti-civilization like the zionist entity or its American and British puppets.

Mesa

This article is ridiculous to say the least.Present day conflict was started by US and NATO forces in 2014 following the plan of sitting on the borders of Russia with heavy missiles and weapons just to keep Russians in check.PLEASE EDUCTAE YOUSELF on HISTORY and on CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS(1962)when Russia wanted to keep Missiles in Cuba,US came and threatened by force and didn’t let it happen. One doesn’t expect you to praise Putin but ATLEAST STATE the right history and make sensible statements.HU

Takeshi

During the “CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS”, Russia did not exist ; it was the Soviet Union (a whole different thing with a whole different ideology)…
Today’s Russia is compared to the Czarist imperialist Russia, but without the monarchy.

Mesa

Who cares about fourth or fifth political theories when these are completely irrelevant at the moment? US and EU want to keep their liberal hegemony that’s why they are trying to corner China and Russia. So disappointed and frustrated that Muslim writers and thinker in such matters completely miss the mark.Yes, China and Russia are non-muslim countries, but it becomes irrelevant when you make fair analysis of such international issue.You have to see who is right in a certain situation and learn.

Bruno al-Andalusi

7,000 Ukrainian troops invaded a sovereign Iraq in 2003 for no reason. The Ukrainians served as the third-largest Coalition forces contingent during Iraqi occupation. 
Hundreds of thousands were killed because of the Ukrainian occupation of Iraq. Thousand of women were raped. I dont know why some muslims support Ukraine, a zionist state that supports lgbt parades in Kiev.

Baz

Why some Muslims defending Ukraine now? Because in this particular conflict, it’s obviously clear that Ukraine has the moral upper ground, as the underdogs defending their homeland against giant brutal foreign occupier (who invaded without any believable justification), just like Muslim skeptic’s semi-idol in Afghanistan until last year. And Russia has relations with Zi0n too. Kiev is only just getting started baby steps with pride parade, they haven’t yet reached the extreme level of the west.

Mesa

Instead of going into PUTIN’s BRAIN and if his agenda is Dajjali or not,Why can’t MUSLIMS discuss the corruption of HUNTER BIDEN in this Conflict?Why can’t muslims talk about US paying attention to its own citizens instead of creating wars in other territories. No matter what Putin thinks, this whole conflict could be avoided with no loss of lives if ZELENSKYY had agreed to stay neutral. In this particular conflict, these fourth and fifth political theories have nothing to do with this mess.

Last edited 4 months ago by Mesa
Fere

Well, if there really was a war, Russia, as the third largest military power, would have taken Ukraine in 5 days, with all the consequences. But they didn’t, so there is another strategy behind it.
But you shouldn’t let yourself be swayed by the media and think for yourself.

akh

Thus Dugin’s role in the Syrian conflict or, more generally, his permanent criticism of “Salafis” and “Wahhabis,” i.e., anyone who wants to see Islam takes its rightful place in the affairs of a country.”

Kadyrov also likes to rant against “Wahhabis”. Dugin is a big fan of the Shia rulers of Iran.

Baz

“Wahhabi” is just a magic scapegoat term that all the ex-USSR regimes along with Irаn use to call any Muslims who don’t support their regime and its policies. In some of the more extreme secular states like some of the central Asian -stans (who follow the old extreme version of secularism like France or Turkey before Erdogan), Muslims have been arrested and jailed and t0rturd and called Wahhabi just for practicing Islam (e.g. Praying namaz, teaching Quran, wearing hijab/burka, long beard, etc.)

akh

Russians are “collectivists” as opposed to Westerners who are individualists and so on.”

Than why is their population in such decline? Russia has a birthrate of 1.5…this includes the high birthrate among its sizable Muslim population. The number for ethnic Russians is thus even much lower.

Low fertility is a feature of individualistic peoples.

The median age is 40. Which means people settle down late and have children later. This is also a feature of an individualistic mindset.

shinchad

That’s great news, cuz Cechneya’s current Babies per whaman is 2.58 children per woman, which is above standerd 2.1 children per whamen, so eventually Muslims in Russia will increase…

Faizan Mansoori

Its simpler than this: its all about power dynamics. Philosophy is just justification and rationalization of political actions. The West used narratives of “Christian Civilization” and “Free Market” during Cold War, but now use the opposite narratives of “Secularism” and “Social Justice” to fight Muslims. They will use some other totally different narrative to fight China. Same is with Russians, they will use “Eurasian” Civilizational narrative like they used “Communism”.

Baz

Dugin is/was presidential adviser for Putin, he also held meeting with Sheikh Imran Hosein in Moscow in 2013 (you can see it on his YouTube). It is around that time & since then, that Imran Hosein (whom I used to follow since 2009) became a total sellout and cheerleader/shill for Russia/Putin and islamically justifying everything he does by promoting his theory that there is a prophesized end times “alliance” between Islam and “Ruum” which he interprets to mean only orthodox Christian Russia

Richard Kilgore

Putin’s strategy is very easy to understand: he does not want a bulwark of NATO right on Russia’s doorstep in Ukraine.
He has sound strategic thinking: he is reacting the way the USA would if Russia tried to turn Mexico into a military ally.
No need to bring philosophers into this.

Simple

No ideology considers Islamists / Muslims / Islam fit for anything. Is this not a given based on Albaqara ayah 120? “And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow (depend on) their religion”

With that said, were not there constant wars between empires of the past? Roman vs. Persian? others?

Could this current rivalry between East and West actually prove beneficiary for Islam and Muslim?