He is a “pragmatic realist”, according to the philosopher who created the theoretical foundations for the “great Eurasian project” that inspires the Russian president.
Russia does not need anything that Ukraine has, except for Ukraine itself and what it means: a vital piece in a project of much greater power, which places the country at the center of the “great Eurasian project” traced by the man who makes the head of Vladimir Putin, philosopher Alexander Dugin.
Inevitably, he is called “Putin’s Rasputin”; Coincidentally or not, he has the long beard that marks intellectuals and madmen, if not both, of the great Russian tradition of eccentric and genius personalities. Dugin himself gives a slippery version of the importance of his strategic theories about Putin: “My influence on him is strong, albeit indirect.”
Both are, of necessity, marked by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the huge vacuum it left. It has become commonplace to repeat a famous Putin phrase about the fall of the Red Empire; “The greatest political catastrophe of the 20th century” – but Dugin traces a more specific path.
“Starting in 1991, I began to fill this void by disseminating my ideas among officers and decision-makers, explaining why the United States and the West continued to pressure Russia even though the Cold War was over,” he says.
“I was talking about the importance of a new idea about Russian geopolitics that should be diametrically opposed to the goals of the western radiating centers and should encompass the creation of the Eurasian bloc.”
“He is not an ideologue, he is a pragmatic realist, but he understands that my vision is the right one if Russia wants to throw itself headlong into the challenges that lie ahead in the coming years.”
Dugin said this in 2018 and Putin’s moves seem to mirror his theories, inspired by, among others, one of the most mysterious figures of Italian fascism, Julius Evora, who mixed occultism with a rejection of all the foundations of Western thought, including democracy, liberalism. and Christianity.
“Evora’s books changed my life. I’ve never seen anyone describe the contradictions of the modern world like him,” says Dugin, who presents himself as a “traditionalist” and proposes a “fourth political theory”, above liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism.
In the most ambitious moments, the “great Eurasian project” goes from Dublin to Vladivostok, in a kind of delirium of grandeur driven by “ethnic Russians”. In the more realistic ones, he reconstructs the “traditional” Russian sphere.
In this view, restoring Ukraine (and Belarus) as an integral part of Russia is not an autocratic whim, a challenge to the West caught in a moment of weakness, but a key step in the process of separating Europe from the United States and advancing the creation of the great Eurasian project.
The English commentator Charles Moore summed up in the Telegraph, in very direct terms, Putin’s motivations.
“Vladimir Putin is our enemy. I don’t mean that he personally harbors a scorching hatred towards us (although that may be true, despite parking his spurious origin billions with us).”
“What I mean is that he believes that the West is Russia’s eternal enemy and it is best for Russia to defeat us whenever possible. When we lose, Russia wins, and vice versa.”
This is, very simply, Alexander Dugin’s theory. Many of his ideas, especially when they enter the sphere of anti-globalization, are sympathetic to Europe’s right-wing populism, including the parties led by Marine Le Pen in France and Matteo Salvini in Italy. He also once had a meeting with Steve Bannon (“the only American intellectual familiar with Evola and Guenon and interested in Heidegger,” he praised). Hence the conceptual link between Putinism and non-traditional conservative movements.
Dugin has already created a Eurasia Party and the International Eurasian Movement. They are expressions and ideas reminiscent of Orwell, if not supremacist theories.
“Eurasianism is a toxic combination of ideas taken from metaphysics, symbolism, esotericism and racism,” says writer Claude Forthomme. “It has deep roots in Dugin’s bizarre ethnocentric historical vision in which Russia occupies the central place and the West the periphery. Western liberalism is totally rejected and the Russian people are promoted to rule the continent. Dugin argues that he arose at the dawn of time and predates all other peoples. Therefore, it has the right to rule over other peoples on the Eurasian continent”.
How does Putin take advantage of these ideas?
We are seeing now. What seemed inconceivable, bending an entire country on the basis of brute force, is happening in the middle of Europe. And Alexander Dugin is starting to look like a far more important figure than a bearded guru full of wild ideas.
Many of them appear on the Geopolitica website (with the motto “Carthago delenda est”, a reference not to the opposing city of Rome, but to current enemies).
Important: Dugin is brilliant, nuanced, and recognizes that “it is impossible” to assimilate western Ukraine to Eurasia.
“Not even Stalin was able to integrate these territories and he used quite harsh methods”, he comments, obviously underestimating the Stalinist “methods”.
“We should only take what we can realistically assimilate and defend. Stalin understood this very well in relation to Europe, looking on several occasions for its ‘Finlandization’ or ‘neutralization’. We have failed to assimilate Eastern Europe and to continue to hold it by force would have been suicide.”
“Build an empire; or revive a lost empire; it is a complicated art and it is not a linear or monotonous process”.
No one can complain about monotony in this moment of intersection between the Putin and Dugin duo.