- Dugin, Alexander. The Fourth Political Theory. London: Arktos, 2014. 212 pp.
The first of the two books by Alexander Dugin reviewed here, Eurasian Mission, is what its subtitle says, “An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism,” where “Neo-Eurasiansim,” a commonly accepted name for Dugin’s ideology, is considered a form of fascism by a number of experts of right-wing extremism. Dugin himself uses both “Eurasianism” and “Neo-Eurasianism” almost interchangeably, thus explicitly implying his ideology’s kinship to Eurasianism, the interwar Russian émigré movement that was openly anti-Western and argued that Russian culture was closer to Turanian, rather than European, cultures. However, Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism has very limited relation to Eurasianism, having its roots largely in the Western intellectual traditions such as Integral Traditionalism, National-Bolshevism, and imperialist geopolitical theories.
Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism portrays Russia as a central power of the Eurasian continent that is “organically” opposed to the Atlanticist world represented by the United States and its allies such as the United Kingdom. For Neo-Eurasianism, Eurasia and the Atlanticist world are not simply geography-inspired concepts. In Dugin’s view, Eurasia is associated with “a plurality of value systems,” “tradition,” “the rights of nations,” “ethnicities as the primary value and the subjects of history,” and “social fairness and human solidarity.” At the same time, Neo-Eurasianism associates the Atlanticist world with “conventional and obligatory domination of a single ideology (American liberal democracy first and foremost),” “the suppression of cultures, their dogmas, and the wisdom of traditional society,” “the ‘golden billion’ and the neo-colonial hegemony of the ‘rich North,’” “homogenization of peoples, which are to be imprisoned within artificial social constructions,” and “exploitation and the humiliation of man by man” (p. 54). Thus Neo-Eurasianism positions itself as the main opponent of American-style liberalism, globalization, and the “New World Order.” Neo-Eurasianism, as the book argues, “is a revolutionary concept on a global scale” (p. 44) aiming to act as an ideological tool for uniting various forces against the United States and liberal democracy.
The Fourth Political Theory serves two purposes. First, the book, which is an abridged and modified translation of the original Russian version published in 2009, is Dugin’s bid for originality in the overcrowded market of far-right literature. Second, it is an attempt to present Neo-Eurasianism for an international audience without the implicit reference to Russia-centered phraseology.
In this book, Dugin claims that the three ideologies (or “political theories”) that dominated twentieth-century—liberalism, communism, and fascism—have lost their relevance. Fascism was defeated first, and then communism lost the struggle against liberalism. However, “having triumphed, liberalism disappears and turns into a different entity—postliberalism” (p. 19). Since “the form which all three political theories took in the Twentieth century is no longer useful, effective, or relevant,” and “they lack the ability to explain contemporary reality or to help us understand current events,” Dugin comes up with “the fourth political theory” that he considers to be an alternative to “postliberalism” and a “crusade” against “postmodernity,” “the post-industrial society,” “liberal though realised in practice,” and “globalisation, as well as its logistical and technological bases” (p. 21).
Despite the different name, a closer analysis of the ideological tenets of Dugin’s “fourth political theory” reveals that it does not differ from Neo-Eurasianism: it is significantly influenced by imperialist geopolitics, opposes liberal democracy, detests the West and the United States, and calls for a revolution against the perceived enemies of Russia.
The two books are clearly ideological, illiberal writings, but scholars of Russian ultranationalism will find them useful only to a limited extent. In comparison to Dugin’s works written in Russian language, these two books appear “sterilized”: they are not as extremist as Dugin’s original writings in Russian, are less detailed, and suffer from vague generalizations, perhaps to appear moderate to the Anglophone audience. It is for these reasons that these books cannot be efficiently used for analyzing Dugin’s role in Russia’s sociopolitical life. However, for the same reasons, these books can be helpful for investigating the roots of Dugin’s certain impact—however limited—on European and American extreme right and extreme left circles.
This review was first published in The Russian Review, Vol. 75, No. 3 (2016), pp. 542-543.