17 November 2009

Is Aleksandr Dugin a Traditionalist?

Mark Sedgwick, author of the important book Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) has been very kind to comment on the article 'Is Aleksandr Dugin a Traditionalist?"Neo-Eurasianism" and Perennial Philosophy', writen by Andreas Umland and me, and published by The Russian Review in October 2009.

Sedgwick's comments have indeed been highly anticipated, not least because Andreas and I somewhat disagreed with his conception of Traditionalism. Here I would like to briefly discuss specific issues that may clarify our points.

Certainly, the most important issue is how one defines 'Traditionalism', or 'Integral Traditionalism'. If we assume that the term should be defined ideal-typically, it must have both inclusive and exclusive qualities that distinguish the concept in question from others. However, as 'Traditionalism' itself is an over-extended term that has variety of meanings, I think it is most efficient to focus on exclusive rather than inclusive qualities. (Inclusive qualities are helpfully suggested by the etymology.) Yet here we encounter a really stiff problem: what exactly can be the foundation of ideal-typical "extraction"?

Mark Sedgwick writes:

If by "Integral Traditionalism" one means "Guénonian Traditionalism," then Dugin is clearly not a Traditionalist, and neither are many other people who consider or considered themselves Traditionalists, probably including Schuon. If by "Traditionalism" one means a whole school of thought, in which are found disagreements and developments, then Dugin clearly has an important relationship to Traditionalism, as well as to other schools of thought.

'Traditionalism' is doubtlessly a school of thought, but it is hardly possible to continuously extend the term 'Traditionalism' with various qualities which characterise thinkers who can be allegedly considered as 'members' of such a school. If we do this, the term will finally turn out to imply everything. Our point is that we should 'fall back' to the original 'Traditionalists' (René Guénon and Ananda Coomaraswamy), whose works were the source of the above-mentioned school of thought, and try to define 'Traditionalism' in accordance with their doctrines. Taking their works as a starting point does not imply bringing forward 'Guénonian Traditionalism' or 'Coomaraswamic Traditionalism'. Rather, it is an attempt to focus on the exclusive qualities of the school of thought and 'save' the term from losing its heuristic and communicative values.

While the doctrines of both Dugin and Evola do feature certain elements of 'Traditionalism', they should be first and foremost considered as varieties of fascist Weltanschauung. 'Traditionalist' themes are not central to them and are just adjoining components. They are exploited by Dugin and Evola only to strengthen their own fascist doctrines. Calling them 'Traditionalists' is like calling Nazism a 'Pagan movement'.

With regard to modernity, one might argue that Dugin is simply being more honest than Guénon in recognizing publicly that Traditionalism is not actually traditional--that it is a product of modernity, and in a sense a form of post-modernism.
Can't argue with that - both Guénonism and Duginism are products of modernity. I am not sure about 'post-modernism' though. Post-modernists use to deprive 'things' of their meanings, while Guénonism and Duginism are attempts at merging meanings into new constructs.

Mark Sedgwick also argues that Dugin does not use the term 'Integral Traditionalism' (we prefer this term to simple 'Traditionalism'). Well, this is not quite true. Dugin used the term 'Integral Traditionalism' in his essay 'Counterinitiation' (1998), where he presented his 'critical notes on some aspects of René Guénon's doctrine'; Conservative Revolution (1994); Philosophy of Politics (2004). Revealingly, in his broadcast dedicated to Julius Evola, Dugin directly linked Evola to 'Integral Traditionalism'.

But anyway, 'Integral Traditionalism' is widely used in the Internet and is usually synonymous with 'Traditionalism' (see Wiki, for example). The real problem is that 'Traditionalism' - despite the impressive and important work of Mark Sedgwick - is still largely under-researched. We clearly need more studies and wider academic discussion.

13 November 2009

Online Ukrainian libraries

For those of you who are interested in Ukraine, I would suggest several online libraries that feature both Ukrainian books and academic works on Ukrainian history, politics, society, religion, etc.

- Litera - Electronic Library (books in PDF and DJVU)
- Malorussian People's Historical Library (books in DJVU and PDF)
- Izbornyk (books in HTML)
- Library of the Institute of History of Ukraine (books in PDF)
- Electronic Library of Ukrainian Literature of the University of Toronto (books in PDF and HTML)

As some of the books are available in DJVU, you may need to download and install necessary plugins or software.

Although the libraries feature books in different languages, their interface is in Ukrainian or Russian for the most part. I assume this should not be a problem.

By the way, here is the archive of The Ukrainain Weekly. All the issues (1933-today) are available in PDF.