Categorized | Europe, Politics, Russia

Dugin vs. Traditionalism: A Closer look

Aleksandr Dugin

Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin (Russian: Алексaндр Гeльевич Дyгин) is a Russian political scientist who came to prominence by promulgating a theory of geopolitics known as Eurasianism in his book Foundations of Geopolitics. He was a key member of a number of Third Positionist groups such as the National Bolshevik Party, which was an anti-liberal political organization critical of American interventions in the former Soviet Union. To some degree, he credited the Belgian theorist Jean-François Thiriart and Evola as inspiration.

In recent times, Dugin has become an increasingly mainstream fixture in the Russian intellectual élite.  It should be said at this point that many of Dugin’s political views have merit, and indeed some portions of his outlook are difficult or impossible to deny.  However, the focus of this article is not upon the Dugin’s theories themselves, but rather their genesis, and we will attempt, here to briefly analyze the relationship between Evola, Guénon and Dugin.

Evidence

The original basis of Traditionalism, as promulgated by Guénon was that, in high antiquity, a “primordial Tradition” (also referred to as “perennial wisdom,” or sophia perennis) had been revealed and existed among mankind.  As time progressed, the world and its people became decadent, slothful, and increasingly disconnected from this Tradition.  In the so-called “Kali Yuga” or “Iron Age,” there remain only a few traces of this Tradition, which manifests itself in the teachings of the major world religions.  Traditionalism, then, is a rejection of the myth of progress that had commonly been accepted throughout the 20th century.

Such a view was accepted by Julius Evola, whose works such as Revolt Against the Modern World and Men Among the Ruins, advanced Traditionalist theory.  Whereas Guénon expounded a religious and spiritual theory of Traditionalism, Evola expanded this to show how the religious and spiritual effects manifested in political and social phenomena.  In other words, Evola, though he has his differences, presents us with the utilization of Guenon’s ideas.  This can be seen readily in how Evola treats politics: while the “old” Traditionalists were not concerned with Politics, Evola does delve into politics.  Dugin, however, is explicitly and overtly political in his outlook.  It is Evola then, along with the other figures of the European New Right who influenced him, such as Alain de Benoist and Troy Southgate, who form the crucial link between the older Traditionalist school of  Guénon and Evola.

Dugin, however, does not reject modernity as definted by Evola or Guénon in its entirety.  In fact, he proposed “modernization without Westernization” in 1997.  While citing the two Traditionalists frequently in his work, it seems that his own theoretical work is geared towards an abstraction of these themes, and whilst Evola explicitly rejected the myth of progress, the national-Bolshevik idea coincided with the renewed sense of progress in Russia.  Moreover, On more than one occasion, Dugin has even proposed Alistair Crowley as a Traditionalist.  This shows a remarkable misunderstanding of the original Traditionalism, as Guénon had condemned Crowley as being a stark anti-traditionalist.

Verdict:

If Dugin is a Traditionalist, then he is the founder of a uniquely Russian interpretation of it, which instrumentalizes the original ideas of the 20th century Traditionalist scholars, but re-packages them so as to be useful in Dugin’s political Third Way-oriented worldview.  This is not to say that Dugin was not influenced by the Traditionalist school of thought, but rather that it does not play a major role in Dugin’s own thought.  And while it is true that there are plausible links between the Third Way and Traditionalist schools, the Third Way must be viewed first as a political system, and not as an entire worldview in and of itself.

3 Responses to “Dugin vs. Traditionalism: A Closer look”

  1. Dominion says:

    Dugin is not the only one to make such a claim. Evola himself wrote an essay about Crowley in which he states:

    “If the Crowleyian view would seem troublesome and obscure to many, even objectively the “satanic” element, in spite of everything that the Great Beast 666 displayed almost theatrically, does not seem to us very relevant. The corresponding coloration does not have as much prominence as that which, fundamentally, possesses a magical, and in part initiatic, character.”

    The “Great Beast” has a peculiar role in the Traditionalist currents of thought and I highly recommend the other essays CC has on his theories. Black Front Press also has a book on him now, I believe. I would be interested to hear this site’s author’s opinions on the Right hand path/Left hand path division. As I understand it, the RHP is for those wishing to integrate themselves with the Divine, whereas the LHP is for those wishing to achieve some form of personal immortality. By that standard it seems paradoxically that Evola’s particular hermetic is more of a “Left handed” nature, whereas Thelema’s ultimate goal of ego-destruction is “Right handed”.

    http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/08/aleister-crowley/

  2. Mihai says:

    “Dugin has even proposed Alistair Crowley as a Traditionalist. This shows a remarkable misunderstanding of the original Traditionalism, as Guénon had condemned Crowley as being a stark anti-traditionalist.”

    Citation, please ? I would like to see where Guenon made any comments on Crowley.

    Even if it’s true, you have to understand that much of Crowley’s philosophy was and still is today, VERY misrepresented and distorted. It is true that his “satanic” facade contributed to that, but this has no influence on his real, serious, inner teachings. It may be possible that Guenon wasn’t very informed either of the essence of his teachings.

    Although studying the works of Crowley, one will encounter occasional slippery slopes, it is true that his central teachings are very much in accordance with traditional, esoteric disciplines. The Book of the Law projects and aristocratic, anti-democratic world-view, aimed at an expansion of the Self upward. It is a Solar philosophy at its core, despite its sinister appearance. Evola also had positive things to say regarding Crowley’s system and even included one of his texts in the third volume of his “Introduzione alla magia”

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    1. Dominion says:

      Dugin is not the only one to make such a claim. Evola himself wrote an essay about Crowley in which he states:

      “If the Crowleyian view would seem troublesome and obscure to many, even objectively the “satanic” element, in spite of everything that the Great Beast 666 displayed almost theatrically, does not seem to us very relevant. The corresponding coloration does not have as much prominence as that which, fundamentally, possesses a magical, and in part initiatic, character.”

      The “Great Beast” has a peculiar role in the Traditionalist currents of thought and I highly recommend the other essays CC has on his theories. Black Front Press also has a book on him now, I believe. I would be interested to hear this site’s author’s opinions on the Right hand path/Left hand path division. As I understand it, the RHP is for those wishing to integrate themselves with the Divine, whereas the LHP is for those wishing to achieve some form of personal immortality. By that standard it seems paradoxically that Evola’s particular hermetic is more of a “Left handed” nature, whereas Thelema’s ultimate goal of ego-destruction is “Right handed”.

      http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/08/aleister-crowley/

    2. Mihai says:

      “Dugin has even proposed Alistair Crowley as a Traditionalist. This shows a remarkable misunderstanding of the original Traditionalism, as Guénon had condemned Crowley as being a stark anti-traditionalist.”

      Citation, please ? I would like to see where Guenon made any comments on Crowley.

      Even if it’s true, you have to understand that much of Crowley’s philosophy was and still is today, VERY misrepresented and distorted. It is true that his “satanic” facade contributed to that, but this has no influence on his real, serious, inner teachings. It may be possible that Guenon wasn’t very informed either of the essence of his teachings.

      Although studying the works of Crowley, one will encounter occasional slippery slopes, it is true that his central teachings are very much in accordance with traditional, esoteric disciplines. The Book of the Law projects and aristocratic, anti-democratic world-view, aimed at an expansion of the Self upward. It is a Solar philosophy at its core, despite its sinister appearance. Evola also had positive things to say regarding Crowley’s system and even included one of his texts in the third volume of his “Introduzione alla magia”

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