Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Aleksandr Dugin's Foundations of Geopolitics

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Aleksandr Dugin's Foundations of Geopolitics

Article excerpt

John B. Dunlop is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His current research focuses on the conflict in Chechnya, Russian politics since 1985, Russia and the successor states of the former Soviet Union, Russian nationalism, and the politics of religion in Russia.

One perceptive observer of the Russian political scene, Francoise Thom, noted as far back as 1994 that fascism, and especially its "Eurasianist" variant, was displacing Russian nationalism among statist Russian elites as a post-communist "Russian Idea," especially in the foreign policy sphere. "The weakness of Russian nationalists," she emphasized, "stems from their inability to clearly situate Russian frontiers. Euras[ianism] brings an ideological foundation for post-Soviet imperialism." 1

There probably has not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period that has exerted an influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites comparable to that of Aleksandr Dugin's 1997 neo-fascist treatise, Foundations of Geopolitics. 2 The impact of this intended "Eurasianist" textbook on key elements among Russian elites testifies to the worrisome rise of fascist ideas and sentiments during the late Yeltsin and Putin periods.

The author of this six-hundred-page program for the eventual rule of ethnic Russians over the lands extending "from Dublin to Vladisvostok," Aleksandr Gel'evich Dugin, was born in 1962, the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Russian military officers. 3 His father is said to have held the rank of colonel, and, according to one source, he served in Soviet military intelligence, in the GRU. 4 By all accounts, Dugin was a bright and precocious youth with a talent for learning foreign languages. (He is said to have mastered at least nine of them.) While still a teenager, he joined a secretive group of Moscow intellectuals interested in mysticism, paganism, and fascism. Both the "masters" of this group and their "disciples" engaged, inter alia, in translating the works of foreign writers who shared their interests. As one of his contributions, Dugin completed a translation of a book by the Italian pagan-fascist philosopher Julius Evola.

Dugin is reported to have been detained by the KGB for participating in this study group, and forbidden literature was subsequently discovered at his apartment. According to one account, he then was expelled from the Moscow Aviation Institute, where he had enrolled as a student some time in the late 1970s. According to another account, he eventually managed to graduate from the institute. 5

In 1987, during Gorbachev's second year of rule, Dugin was in his mid-twenties and emerged as a leader of the notorious anti-Semitic Russian nationalist organization, Pamyat', headed by photographer Dmitrii Vasil'ev. During late 1988 and 1989, Dugin served as a member of the Pamyat' Central Council.

In 1989, taking advantage of increased opportunities to visit the West, Dugin spent most of the year traveling to Western European countries. While there, he strengthened ties with leading figures of the European New Right, such as Frenchman Alain de Benoist and Belgian Jean-Francois Thiriart. These contacts led to Dugin's "belated reconciliation" with the USSR, just as that state was approaching its final demise. It appears that, largely as a result of these contacts with the European Nouvelle Droite, Dugin became a fascist theorist. On the subject of Dugin's indubitable fascist orientation, Stephen Shenfield has written: "Crucial to Dugin's politics is the classical concept of the 'conservative revolution' that overturns the post-Enlightenment world and installs a new order in which the heroic values of the almost forgotten 'Tradition' are renewed. It is this concept that identifies Dugin unequivocally as a fascist." 6

By the beginning of the 1990s, as the Soviet Union was approaching its collapse, Dugin began to assume a more high-profile political role. …

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