Alexander Dugin and the teachings of Traditionalism

Peter Edel | Today's Zaman | November 15, 2010

Doğu Perinçek is known in Turkey as the leader of the Workers’ Party (IP). In 2008 he was arrested on suspicion of being a member of Ergenekon, a secret network that wants to terminate the current government in Turkey, according to the prosecutors in this case.

Perinçek combines Kemalism with Marxism but is also a neo-Eurasianist, meaning that he strives towards an alliance between Turkey, Russia, Iran and the Central Asian republics against the Western hemisphere. On several occasions Perinçek has shown respect for the leader of the international neo-Eurasianist movement, Alexander Dugin. Much has been said about this person in the Turkish media because of his contacts with Doğu Perinçek, but also because the Russian newspaper Kommersant went as far as to label him as the leader of Ergenekon. This assertion was strongly denied by Dugin, but he remains interesting with respect to developments in Turkey, nevertheless.

Contrary to his relation with Doğu Perinçek and his fanatic nationalism, Dugin’s sources of inspiration have not gotten much attention so far, which is a shame, since there are some pretty interesting connections to be found there. Connections that make one wonder what drove Doğu Perinçek to his decision to join forces with Dugin

Homage to Heydrich

For Alexander Dugin nationalism, aversion to the West, socialism, fascism and national socialism go hand-in-hand. He contributed to the political program of the newly founded Russian communist party but also prophesized the advent of revolutionary fascism in Russia. Simultaneously, Dugin is one of the most devout proponents of Russian expansionism and the values of tsarist Russia. At one time he worked for the Soviet intelligence unit KGB. Later he was a founding member of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Eduard Limonov, the leader of this party, combined sentiments for the old Soviet Union with a symbolism that would have appealed to Adolf Hitler. Limonov simply took the swastika from the Nazi flag and replaced it with the Soviet hammer and sickle.

Eventually, Dugin turned his back on Limonov, and nowadays there are strong differences between them as Limonov is an outspoken opponent of Vladimir Putin, while Dugin is on good terms with the Russian prime minister. But apart from their differences Dugin and Limonov have much in common, such as a fascination with national socialism. Dugin likes to see himself as the inheritor of the “ancient Eurasian order.” He described such matters in “The Great War of Continents” (1992). According to this propaganda for Dugin’s movement, elements of Eurasianism were already present in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the secret service of the elite Nazi corps -- the SS. Jew killer and SS leader Reinhard Heydrich was a “convinced Euroasianist” for Dugin. He has stated that Heydrich became victim of an “intrigue of Atlanticides.” With this homage to Heydrich in mind, it will not surprise that Dugin has often been accused of anti-Semitism, although he seems to have distanced himself from such ideas more recently, most probably because anti-Semitism results in bad publicity, but maybe also because of certain alliances.

René Guénon

Dugin feels especially inspired by Traditionalism. This esoteric movement is also know as Integral Traditionalism or Perennialism and developed during the years of the interbellum. It was primarily based on the ideas of René Guénon, a French metaphysicist born in 1886. The exoteric ways of practicing Judaism, Christianity and Islam were far too limited for Guénon. His ambition was to experience a way beyond the religious salvation most believers settle for. That’s why he chose the esoteric path and became involved in Gnosticism, the awareness of the divine presence within. Guénon assumed that esoteric knowledge would lead to what he called the “supreme identity,” a concept in which he showed himself an adherent of Hinduism. But Guénon was also involved in Freemasonry and Sufism. In fact, he became a Muslim. Some say his last word was “Allah” before he died in 1951. Although inspired by Guénon, Alexander Dugin never turned to Islam. Instead he belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. This is no inconsistency in Dugin’s thinking, for Guénon’s writings also taught him about the Ur-religion. For Guénon the Ur-religion was the source of all religions at the dawn of mankind. This explains why Jews, Christians and Muslims will be equally welcome in the Eurasian bloc of Dugin’s dreams. For these religions are mere branches of the same ancient source in his view. And it is the source of religion that matters for Dugin, as it did for Guénon.

As the word already suggests, Traditionalism rejects any form of modernism. The emphasis of modernism on technique, science and rational thinking, as well as the concept of progress, contradicted Guénon’s esoteric scheme. Dugin used to translate anti-modernism as an aversion to communism and the Soviet Union, although on occasion he has also defended both – however, usually for nationalistic reasons. Nowadays anti-modernism following from Traditionalist thinking is recognizable in Dugin’s critique against the West.

Guénon probably didn’t have any bad intentions although his esoteric ideas were often wrongly interpreted, as is often the case with occult concepts. Julius Evola (1898-1974) was another metaphysicist who became closely associated with the cult of Traditionalism. Evola is even more important for Alexander Dugin than Guénon. As for Guénon, esotericism was also Evola’s starting point. Many books were published under his name about Tantra, Buddhism and Taoism. The difference was that Evola interpreted Guénon’s basic ideas in a political way and extended them with a racial aspect. Traditionalist thinking caused Evola to be against equality, liberalism, democracy and other Western principles. Instead he maintained that mankind was going through a process of degeneration. This had everything to do for him with the Kali Yuga era of human degeneration, a long-term time structure derived from Hinduism. For Evola only traditional values could turn the human faith away from degeneration. This would lead to the emergence of a super race for him.

Evola welcomed Mussolini’s fascism in Italy. He saw it as a way to get rid of Judeo-Christian values and the re-establishment of paganism. Later he criticized fascism but remained associated with it over the years, anyway. Evola also felt moved by national socialism. The SS, with its ritual initiations and ethical system, particularly impressed him. After the invasion of Italy by allied forces, Evola spend the rest of World War II in Germany. There he worked for Ahnenerbe, the scientific institute of the SS. This explains why Alexander Dugin speaks of Ahnenerbe as an “intellectual oasis.”

In the post-war years Julius Evola became influential in neo-fascist circles in Italy. One of his most convinced followers was Stefano Della Chiaie, the mastermind of many bomb attacks in Italy during the 1970s and 1980s. Della Chiaie was involved with the stay-behind network Gladio and its “strategy of tension.” Through false flag operations, Gladio attributed terrorism to the left in order to manipulate public opinion to the advantage of right-wing parties. Della Chiaie was an acquaintance of the Turkish far-right criminal Abdullah Çatli, who died in the infamous Susurluk incident in 1996, which exposed the entanglement between politics, organized crime and government organizations in Turkey. Before his death Çatli was taken to South America by Della Chiaie. There, the Italian terrorist introduced his Turkish colleague to the military junta’s fascist leaders.

If only because of Evola’s influence on the far right, Alexander Dugin’s traditionalism seems highly incompatible with the socialist ideology of Doğu Perinçek. At the same time Perinçek’s Marxism and Kemalism must be among the modernist ideologies rejected by Dugin. However, both respect each other; did come to an agreement; and even share a political program. The magic word is (neo) nationalism, for this ideology is known for its power to build bridges between the most opposed ways of thinking. Even between the far right and the radical left.