Alexander Dugin: NOOMAKHIA – The Noology of the Ancient Chinese Tradition

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 4 of Noomakhia – The Yellow Dragon: The Civilizations of the Far East (Moscow: Academic Project, 2018)

***

The Ontology of Breaths: The Yellow Dionysus

The Yin-Yang formula, its dimension given in the Tao, and its dispensation in the calendar and map of the five elements, taken together, describes the structure of the specifically Chinese ontology which fundamentally differs from all other ontologies. Chinese ontology is based on elements and approaches which correspond to a special noological model. The essence of this model lies in that it is not merely dominated by the Logos of Dionysus, but the Logos of Dionysus is the only known and accepted element within it, while all the other noological zones “undergo” this Chinese “Dionysianism” without ever acquiring autonomous fixation. Here, in the Ancient Chinese tradition, the Logos of Dionysus is complete, and the balance which constitutes its essence is unmoved in any direction of the other Logoi – neither towards Apollo, as is the case in the majority of Indo-European forms of Dionysianism [1] , nor in the direction of Cybele, as in many cultures of a chthonic and titanic orientation.[2] Yin-Yang and Tao cannot be correlated with the Platonic model of the Apollonian Logos, in which the center is eternal heaven and the middle level is the realm of living temporal phenomena, nor with the materialist doctrines of the Great Mother and Titanism, which fasten phenomena and things to the harsh sect of space and time or the figure of the material demiurge, i.e., the Black Logos of Cybele.

The Chinese Logos unfolds exclusively and absolutely in the middle sphere, in the intermediary world which is conceived as the main and only one. Neither Heaven and Yang nor Water and Yin, that is to say neither the Apollonian heights nor the Cybelean depths acquire autonomous ontologies or a particular Logos. There are no extremes, there is only the center between, which constitutes them over the course of a subtle dialectical game. The gods, people, the elements, Empires, rites, animals, luminaries, cycles, and lands all represent the unfolding of the middle Logos and are but traces of the dynamic, rhythmic pulsation of the Center always situated equally in the middle between two poles which are void of autonomous being and which intersect one another by virtue of great harmony. This middle world unfolding around the absolute center can be imagined as a ship which has raised the anchors tying it to Heaven and the Underworld. The phenomenal world of Yin-Yang ontology has no archetypal ideas and paradigms, nor does it hold material presence as a necessary condition for manifestation. Chinese ontology is principally and fundamentally light, as indicated by Marcel Granet in his term “the magic of breath.” We can thus speak of an “ontology of breaths” moving in a rich rhythm away from Heaven and the earthly Base in a free soaring. Heaven and the Underworld are contained within the Center and represent its projections, never completely detached from its viviparous matrix.

In its essence, this structure is remarkably reminiscent of Heidegger’s fundamental ontology which, as has been noted by numerous scholars, is either indicative of a similarity of approaches or the possibility that Heidegger himself borrowed a number of central motifs from Chinese philosophy (perhaps by way of Japanese culture in its Zen Buddhist version).[3] The Chinese Center, being neither above the world nor below the world, corresponds as accurately as is possible to the Heideggerian Dasein and its specific phenomenology which we have previously identified unequivocally as the Logos of Dionysus. Moreover, the Chinese tradition presents this point in a pure and extremely structured form which propels us to search for that Other Beginning of philosophy of which Heidegger spoke, and to turn to the “ontology of breathing” of Chinese culture.[4] Something similar as to the fundamental importance of Chinese philosophy to the reconstruction of the Primordial Tradition was expressed by René Guénon.[5]

If we correlate the peculiarity of the ontological zone of Dionysus in the Chinese tradition with the three states of consciousness of Indian philosophy, we can note that the intermediary, middle world corresponds to the realm of dreams. Above this world Hinduism places the world of the pure spirit (Svarga, Heaven, and kāraṇa-śarira, the “causal body”) and below it the images of corporeal forms (Bhur, Earth, and shthūla-śarira, the “gross body”).[6] On the basis of this model, the proposition can be made with regards to the existential peculiarity acting as the dominant of Chinese culture that Chinese culture is the culture of dreams, the field of the middle world in which Dasein resides in a state of intense rhythmic uncertainty or “subtle suspension” whose structure is organized along the rhythm of Yin-Yang. The “Yellow Dasein” is not merely sleeping, but excludes the very possibility of awakening. Awakening is conceived not as an alternative to sleep, but as a transition to another dream, just as winter transitions into spring.

Chinese thought rejects any exclusivity: slumber is not abolished by reality, but reality is included in slumber on equal grounds. Zhuangzi’s butterfly metaphor dreamed by Zhou thus acquires further meaning. If earlier we used the metaphor of sleep to describe transformation, then now this metaphor of transformation can be employed to describe the ontology of the dream. Transformation is a synonym for dreaming, and the dream is the common denominator of both sleeping consciousness and waking consciousness. The structures of many other cultures, particularly those of the monotheistic religions and the civilization of European Modernity, are based on the conviction that waking consciousness is the common denominator, that which exists always and “objectively” and whose conditions are merely cognized differently depending on whether a person is asleep or awake; if he is awake, then he perceives this “objective reality” in terms of contrast; if he is asleep, then he merely ceases to feel such, but this does not change “objective reality” itself. In this view, we are convinced that the only right judgement is one made by an awake person over a sleeping one, and by no means by a sleeping person over a wakened one. Hence why wakefulness is taken to be the common denominator of “reality.” But this is merely a property of the philosophy of the Great Mother and a form of her cultural domination which imposes its perception of things from precisely this angle. The Apollonian Logos (as in Platonism, the Avesta, and the Upanishads) sees the common denominator as the inner contemplation of ideas by consciousness, which can be clear in sleep but vague in waking and vice versa. The latter is of secondary importance, insofar as the most important of all is transcending sleep and and wakefulness to where resides being and that which resembles “reality” most of all (corresponding to the world of ideas or the enneads in Neoplatonism). The Chinese tradition, as the culture of the Yellow Dionysus, takes as its fulcrum not wakefulness and the worlds of eternal paradigms, but dreaming, which is “change” or “alteration”, in Chinese “i” . This “alteration” is the essence of Chinese existence. Yet this “change” is not “becoming” insofar as there is no goal, no accumulation or loss which would be asymmetric. Hence the idea that in each dynasty only one of five virtues could dominate – associated, once again, as always, with the five elements. The remaining four were always sent into exile into the periphery of China, where they remained until the dynasty exhausted its virtues and began to degenerate. Afterwards, a new virtue would be asserted in the Center along with a new dynasty, with the former sent into exile. Virtues, peoples, and elements – none of these and nothing whatsoever disappears; rather, everything is transformed, put to sleep, and awakened all in the structure of the multileveled, non-integrable equation of slumber and dreaming.

Hence the lightness of Chinese style in music, painting, language, and architecture. This is the lightness of transformations and dreams bearing their own precise order yet remaining fundamentally open to the infinite sets of saturated and unexpected variations. This is not the eternal return of the same (a la Nietzsche [7]), but the eternal return of something different every time and for all time.

The Experience of the Dragon

In the Chinese tradition, the figure of the Dragon (Lun ) plays a major metaphysical role. The Chinese theory of the five elements professes strictly correspondences to two types of animals: ordinary (the pig, dog, sheep, chicken, and cow) and sacred-mythological (the Black Turtle or Snake, the Yellow Dragon, the Red Phoenix, the Yellow Unicorn, and the White Tiger). If the ordinary animals are situated on the external border of the circle or square of the calendar-map, then the sacred animals belong to the realm beyond this border. Insofar as Chinese metaphysics does not allow transcendence in any form, this “beyondness” of the sacred animals is nevertheless included within the system of the Chinese worldview on the grounds that, while being outside the world, dragons and phoenixes are maximally distant from the Center, but still within the border. As a rule, the structure of the sacred combines within itself both the extremely distant and the extremely close, the extremely big and the extremely small.[8] Therefore, what is furthest from the Center still reveals its presence in the Center itself, albeit in its hidden dimension. This is what makes the Center sacred.

The circle of sacred animals is apportioned according to the logic of the five elements: the Black Turtle or Snake is associated with Water and the Underworld (the land of the Yellow Springs); the Yellow Dragon with Wood, the East, and the Spring Equinox; the Red Phoenix with the South and the Summer Solstice; the White Tiger with Metal, the West, and the Autumnal Equinox; and the Yellow Unicorn (qilin) with Earth and the Center. All of these sacred beings, however, are described as having a whole complex set of properties, such as horns, the tails of snakes or fish, wings, paws, scales, etc. In other words, all of them are pantheria, or “all-beasts” featuring elements of other animals. They are proto-animals, spirits, and sacred symbols containing the powers of the fivefold rhythm of the dispensation of Yin-Yang. In some sense, they might be called “gods” or “onto-logoi” insofar as they exhibit the most general synthetic powers conjugated with each of the elements; but as living and personified beings, they embody these powers in a concentrated form drawn towards a single pole. Appealing to the pantheria is a kind of spell of the elements which, in order for it to be possible to be evoked, must have personal traits.

In a narrow sense and in its most archaic roots, the Dragon represents the pantherion associated with the element of Water, i.e., it is an entity bearing the traits of both the snake, the fish, and the turtle. In this understanding, the Dragon was one of the pantheria or spirit-gods of Water, the Underworld, and the element of Yin symmetrically opposite to that of the Red Phoenix, i.e., the pantherion or spirit/god of Fire, Heaven, and Yang. However, this strict opposition, as reflected in the myth of the battle between the spirit of fire, Zhurong, and the spirit of water, Gong-Gong, was resolved in the deep dimension of the Chinese tradition in a Dionysian spirit, as the rhythmic circulation of the elements – Yin, Yang, and Tao – presupposes constant transformations. Thus, the sacred snake grew wings and gained the ability to soar to the Heavens, and the sacred bird acquired bestial paws and a fish tail as well as the ability to dive into rivers and seas. Thus was born the figure of Lun, the Dragon in the broadest sense so fundamental to China, as being able to be black (in the element of Water), green (in the element of Wood and Spring), red (in the element of Fire), white (in the element of Metal and Autumn) and, finally, yellow (in the element of Earth). The Yellow Dragon is situated in the Center: it makes the Center the Center. Thereby its primary image becomes the Yellow Unicorn, which bears all the characteristics of the Dragon. As follows, the Dragon Lun can be interpreted as the universal Chinese pantherion, the all-animal combining the characteristics of Yin-Yang, the five elements, as well as the extreme periphery and the most secret Center itself. The Dragon is a “god” in the Chinese context: it expresses the pure element of sacrality. The sacrality of the Yellow Dragon Lun lies at the heart of the cult of the Sacred Emperor, the worship of China as a special, sacralized territory, as the pole of the power of all the local cults of sacred mountains, rivers, and woods in which the Chinese fulfilled rites and ceremonies of the most different shades. Hence why the Emperor was believed to be the embodiment of the Dragon or the Son of the Dragon, and why legends frequently attribute the Emperors with being born from the Dragon, its traces, seeing it in dreams, contemplating it from a distance, and so on. China was conceived to be the Land of the Dragon, and the Chinese themselves as embodiments of the Dragon, the people of the Yellow Dragon. Although the connection between the Dragon and water, rain, floods, and riverbeds constituted one of its most stable traits, no less attention was paid to the Dragons’ flight, dances, battles, and invasions of human and political life. Some of the sacred Emperors of Ancient China bred Dragons, others ate dragon meat, still others tamed them. In any case, the Dragon Lun was the fundamental factor in the structure of the ontology of breaths.

If we turn to the ontology of dreams discussed above, we can determine the status of the Dragon in the Chinese picture of being. This status is supreme in all senses. The Dragon Lun is supremely “real”: it is a reliable, necessary, and evidential being and existence precisely by virtue of its embodiment of the quintessence of dreams: it is because it is a dream, and insofar as it is the most pure and full dream, it stands closest of all to the Tao, to the secret code of the ontological rhythm of Yin-Yang.

To understand China means to experience the Dragon and to become acquainted in practice with the structures of its oneiric presence.

It should be noted that in this context the Gestalt of the Dragon is fundamentally different from its interpretations in the structures of the Logos of Apollo and the Logos of Cybele. For Apollonian culture, the Dragon is always the enemy, the titan, a chthonic force of the Great Mother against which the solar god or hero wages an irreconcilable struggle. Here the Dragon is subject to radical exclusion and in this capacity is endowed with exclusively chthonic features embodying aggressive emancipated femininity and the Underworld rising up against Heaven. For the civilization of Cybele, the Dragon is accepted as a matriarchal figure, a consort of the Great Mother, as her offspring and partner. In the latter, the Dragon is associated with the generative function of Earth, water, and chthonic forces. Hence the legend of the Nagi princess who becomes the wife of the hero and the first king.

In the Chinese horizon, this connection between the Dragon and the chthonic layers of ontology radically changes. The Chinese Dragon is just as much Yin as it is Yang, just as chthonic as it is celestial; it is a Snake just as it is a Bird, and both of these sides are not merely assembled together, but rather precede any division. The Dragon is primordial to the serpent, the eagle, man, and spirit. The Dragon embodies the thinking, living being par excellence, at once phenomenal and ideal. In this lies the essence of the Yellow Dragon’s being fully identical to the Yellow Unicorn or Yellow Emperor, i.e., the figure of the Absolute Center.

***

Footnotes:

[1] Hence why, in speaking of Indo-European cultures, religions, and philosophies, we have frequently used the expression “Apollo-Dionysian structure.”

[2] When it comes to the drift of the center towards Cybele, we are speaking of the “black double of Dionysus”, Adionysus and the Gestalt of the Titan.

[3] Ma Lin, Heidegger on East-West Dialogue: Anticipating the Event (London/New York: Routledge, 1996); May R., Heidegger’s Hidden Sources: East Asian Influences on His Work (London/New York: Routledge, 1996). That Heidegger was indebted to Japanese ideas was insisted upon by the Japanese philosopher and Sinologist Tomonubu Imamichi (1922-2012), who argued that Heidegger borrowed the notion of “being-in-the-world”, In-der Welt-Sein, from the Book of Tea of Okakura Kakudzō, in which he interpreted the ideas of the Taoist sage Zhuang. See: Tomonubu Imamichi, In Search of Wisdom: One Philosopher’s Journey (Tokyo: International House of Japan, 2004).

[4] See: Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele (Moscow: Academic Project, 2014).

[5] Another example of the Other Beginning of philosophy outside of the context of the Western European tradition might be the thought of Nagarjuna, who committed to the radical pivot (Kehre) of the Buddhist tradition which, originally nihilistic, in Mahayana was raised to a non-dualist (Advaita) synthesis. See: Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – Great India: Civilization of the Absolute (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017).

[6] See: R. Guénon, The Great Triad.

[7] In German: Die Ewige Wiederkunft des Gleichen.

[8] See: Alexander Dugin, Sociology of the Imagination: An Introduction to Structural Sociology (Moscow: Academic Project, 2010). 

Eurasia and Eurasianism in the 21st Century: Security, Identity, and Alliance Culture

Authors: Konstantin Kurylev, Sergey Bazavluk, Leonid Savin, Vladimir Yurtaev

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Originally published in the journal Informatsionnye voyny [Information Wars] 3:51 (2019), pp. 47-51.

***

The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has a history going back much further than that of the Customs Union and Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), and bears potential exceeding the geographical boundaries of the union itself. The EAEU is indirectly connected to the history of Eurasianism and, since the joint Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS summit held in Ufa in 2015, has gained additional vectors, such as linking up with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative as well as the activities of the SCO encompassing countries of both Central and South Asia. This points to three interrelated factors: the role of alliances, their identities, and security regimes in the broadest sense of the term. In this article, the authors attempt to analyze these factors concerning the EAEU and, more broadly, the SCO as a similar structure operating in Eurasia. A descriptive methodology and interdisciplinary approach are employed, and an attempt is made to yield geopolitical foresight (forecast) with regards to several scenarios.

The process of integration within the Eurasian Economic Union, besides questions of trade regulation, the adaptation of national legislations, and the forging of favorable conditions for the development and growth of participating countries’ economies, inevitably involves questions of ideology and security. The EAEU project itself implies a supra-state identity which is in need of ideological conceptualization and substance. Insofar as, since the collapse of the USSR, all of its former republics have to one degree or another begun to engage in the development of their own national ideologies and politics of identity, any supra-state superstructure will need, in the very least, to re-conceptualize national projects and include them into a broader agenda. A more detailed and systematic approach necessitates the construction of a complex, adaptive architecture linking ethno-national factors, regional security, geo-economic challenges, and inclusive political methods. In technical terms (and in line with one of the principles of the integration strategy of the European Union towards new members) we can speak of the presence of multiple referential layers of integration and of the possibility of enacting varying paces.

The scope of such an investigation inevitably points towards the geopolitical context and geopolitical dynamics of regional processes. If from the standpoint of classical geopolitics the EAEU embodies the Heartland of Eurasia, which implies adhering to the strategy of land power and, as follows, confronting the challenge of sea power, then through the prism of critical geopolitics this binary opposition is rendered secondary, and instruments of power transcend borders. Unlike classical geopolitics, critical geopolitics pays greater attention to the “lower” levels of power rather than macro- or global economic processes. Critical geopolitics emphasizes not so much the sources and structures of power as the everyday practices of realizing power relations and the mental models which ensure them. Alongside political geography, critical geopolitics posits that spatiality is not limited to territoriality. State power is not wielded only within the territory of a state.[1] 

Such a posing of the question allows for a more flexible approach to projecting inter-state and supra-state projects without depreciating the significance of national sovereignties. In the post-Soviet space, there are two interconnected functioning projects, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the first of which emphasizes economic development, while the second is associated with questions of regional security. However, upon more detailed consideration, the development of the Eurasian integration project – even if exclusively of an economic trajectory – cannot be realized in isolation from security issues.

As pointed out by Professor A.D. Ursul, “security, in its most general form, is a means of preserving a given object in the face of different types of internal and external negative influences…The point of ensuring security lies in preserving an object in a form in which it can continue to exist and develop.”[2]  In previous time, security has been discerned according to rather limited criteria, in which the emphasis was put on the political, social, or ideological dimensions. A certain trend also focused on security in the face of man-made catastrophes and the surrounding environment. Only later did it become clear that, alongside ecological security, it is important to include other characteristics of the real process of development, such as the economic, political, legal, demographic, and informational dimensions, etc.[3] These postulates are also appropriate for the EAEU. Yet disputes are arising over what should be of priority: the economic aspects of integration, or political structure. Nominally, given the name of the union, economics should predominate. However, economics is an instrument for the pursuance of the economy (khoziaistva) of society. In a state, politics is primary before economics, insofar as the very existence of the state depends on such. Certain economic criteria can be set as goals of the state and reflect the ethical code of the people. From Russia’s position, the economic aspect will always be a secondary element.

It has been noted that “Russia’s strategic goal should be the economic and military-political integration of the post-Soviet space.”[4] The EAEU has a special function to fulfill to this end: “Eurasian integration presents Russia with the opportunity to return to ‘superpower status’, one which will not belong to Russia single-handedly, but as one (albeit the largest) element within the construction of the Eurasian space.”[5]

Insofar as the EAEU is an open project, the question of the interests of potential new members is fully, naturally logical. In the opinion of Professor A.I. Smirnov, interest in joining the EAEU will be tied to geopolitical expediency, while economic components will only be secondary.[6] The experience of the European Union and its inclusion of new members from among the countries of Eastern Europe confirms the geopolitical and not economic character of integration within this union. Moreover, the reluctance of multiple countries to abandon their national currencies and switch to the Euro is demonstrative of political priorities. The neutrality of multiple EU members towards NATO as well as, conversely, the active engagement of other members in the North Atlantic Alliance, and the creation of the Visegrad Group out of Eastern European countries – which became possible only after their joining the EU and NATO – must be taken note of. The situation with Brexit is also a reflection of geopolitical contradictions within the EU, not economic instability.

At the same time, the creation of a new geopolitical construct with corresponding security components – even if the role of all participants is agreed upon in technical order – inevitably raises the topic of ideology. When connected to the projection of power, ideology has several dimensions. As pointed out by Franklin Ankersmit, “ideology is always metaphorical. Ideology defines a point of view from which we are invited to see social and political reality.”[7] In Ankersmit’s opinion, “if metaphor defines a certain political ‘point of view’ from which social reality is conceptualized, it is the state onto which this point of view can be projected. The state enables us to translate ideological, metaphorical insight into concrete political action. Without a state, ideology is helpless, without ideology the state has no program for political action.” [7] As follows, there should be some kind of interface or connection where philosophical, cultural, and religious aspects can feed political decisions. Ankersmit also holds that “the nonideological state is a stupid and ineffective state, and its capacity to learn will decrease accordingly.”[8] The absence of ideology automatically means losing one’s position within alliances as well as a decrease in one’s ability to respond to external challenges, insofar as ideology is also directly tied to the foreign policy vectors of a state, whether concerning neighboring or distant countries, partners or opponents.

Independent of whatever school of International Relations, there exists the opinion that “ideologies, or actors’ foundational principles of domestic political legitimacy, are likely to impact leaders’ foreign policies by affecting their perceptions of the threats that others pose to their central domestic and international interests. The greater the ideological differences dividing decision makers from different states, the more likely they are to view one another as substantial dangers to both their domestic power and the security of their respective countries.” [9]

Among such external challenges, “the expansion of NATO and its advance up to the borders of our country has become one of the key geopolitical problems of the present.”[10] In 2014, the contradictions which had accumulated in dialogue between Russia and Western countries reached a critical point and caused an unprecedented aggravation of relations.[11]

Insofar as the space of the former USSR has seen the evolution of so-called “geopolitical pluralism”, it is very difficult to count on the development of deep integration. The good neighbor belt which has been one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities has been fractured, and the West has successfully formed part of an anti-Russian buffer zone.[12] This creates risks for further integration processes in general, and for Russia’s role in the Eurasian space in general. Under the pressure of the West, it is necessary to more articulately substantiate decisions and alternative scenarios for both EAEU partners and other alliances.

A more flexible mechanism for responsive measures and planning can be achieved through the synchronization of key elements of the strategic cultures and national interests of EAEU countries (and more broadly those of the SCO). Firstly, insofar as the main tendencies in international relations are tied to the school of political realism in its different variations, the role of strategic culture and the interests of states will remain rather high. Secondly, the interconnection of strategic culture and national interests will directly shape an ideology on the basis of which a political agenda can be formed. Thirdly, allied partners’ perceptions of their national interests as their own can best be achieved given common value-based motives in cultural and political tradition(s).

Russian military experts have repeatedly noted the need for such a mechanism of a systemic nature, even if such has not been characterized as an ideology per se, but expressed in other terms. Such is often raised in the shape of the notion of a development strategy. “The will to wage war is, in essence, when considered in terms of prospects, the will to rule after war. Therefore, the aim of each side’s army is to develop and choose a strategy for victory for its side. The winning strategy will thereby, for some time, become the strategy of the whole global community.”[13]

Taking into account the ongoing confrontation and potential for conflict, measures for deterring rivals should also take into consideration a detailed analysis of strategic culture, since “Deterrence…as a typical strategic concept, is concerned with influencing the choices that another party will make, and doing it by influencing his expectations of how we will behave.”[14]

Insofar as strategic culture directly reflects collective identity, this latter concept is also in need of clarification. Identification is a complex phenomenon encompassing self-understanding, community, and connectedness. Rogers Brubaker discerns the existence of relational and categorical forms of identification. The first assumes the existence of some kind of network of connections, whereas the second points towards belonging to a class or group having common attributes, such as nationality, race, language, etc. A state can be a powerful “identifier” insofar as it “has the material and symbolic resources to impose the categories, classificatory schemes, and modes of social counting and accounting.”[15] The optimal scenario is seen as the combination of both forms, in which clusters with clear identities are immeshed in deep and inextricable relationships. This ideal type for the state is somewhat more difficult to realize in systems of associations, unions, and alliances. No single recipe exists. In the West, the emphasis is on Transatlantic values and traditions; in Muslim countries the appeal is made to religious identity (e.g, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and in ASEAN countries the accent is on poly-cultural dialogue and the need for regional cooperation. At the present moment, the main emphasis within the EAEU is on the common historical past and geographical proximity. Another pivotal (albeit not accentuated) element within the EAEU is the course towards establishing a multipolar world. This provision has been enshrined in the foreign policy strategy of the Russian Federation.

As noted by A.Ya. Shcherbakova: “The Russian Federation is the most active state, after the US, on questions of the formation of a new world order, and it meets the following principles: Russia is a member of the UN Security Council, it is increasing its political and military prestige, using the diplomatic experience which it has obtained in resolving the conflict in Syria, it is defending its own sovereignty, strengthening national security, and actively fighting terrorism on a global level.”[16] It has also been pointed out that “our country wields all that is necessary to take a leading position in both the economic and cultural spheres in the new multipolar world.”[17]

However, in strategic documents, multipolarity has been primarily of a declarative character. There has been no precise definition of multipolarity nor – and this is important – has Russia expressed a vision of how a multipolar architecture ought to be built beyond its criticism of the US’ unipolarity and besides its statements on the need to participate in various associations.

Considering Eurasian integration, it has also been noted that “the implementation of a set of measures for strengthening the framework of the EAEU and its consolidation on the current integration track demands the development of an ideology of Eurasian integration.”[18] This testifies to the vacuum of ideas in the current political process. It is obvious that the process of Eurasian integration is rising to a new level, and with time will lead to the formation of a new geopolitical center of world politics.[19] A targeted ideology aimed at developing the EAEU might potentially represent one version of a strategy for multipolarity.

Yet another serious question is the practical realization of potential theoretical models. Specialists have noted that old methods and tool kits are no longer effective, in connection with which there is heightened interest in an “exit strategy”, in the rethinking of traditional views of strategic planning mechanisms, and in continuing work on integrating the priorities of national security policy into Russia’s macro-strategy.[20] 

Without a doubt, it must be agreed that “it is necessary to intensify the work of the EAEU scientific community on formulating an ideology of Eurasian integration.”[21] Russian international affairs experts frequently suggest the use of “soft power” methods for the attainment of set goals. On the one hand, “part of soft power is the potential of partnership, flexibility, negotiability, and the ability to transform – all of these factors determine soft power as a key instrument of integration processes.”[22] On the other hand, however, soft power cannot be used as a “one-for-all.” This is merely a general description of the phenomenon which demands authentic content. Yet there is another side, and “cultural-civilizational differences determine the development of societies to a greater extent than other factors. The transplanting of institutions, methods, practices, and technologies into a different culturo-historical system is not only ineffective but is, quite frankly, often harmful.”[22]

Therefore, it is necessary to prepare multiple development scenarios which have the same priorities and target groups. In the case of a positive development in the situation, several scenarios can be combined to impart overall strategy with a synergetic effect and translate such into a field of integrated complexity.

One such scenario would be an integrated-adaptive approach. In accordance with this option, the EAEU should develop a sufficiently clear ideology to be applied as an umbrella model for members of the union. Such should be flexible, and its main postulates should correspond to the national interests of all the states belonging to the EAEU. To some extent, this also applies to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but then there arises the question of correctly understanding the Chinese perception of world order and Beijing’s long-term strategy.

A second scenario would entail a normative approach. This case envisions the gradual amendment of the Constitutions of the states belonging to the EAEU, as well as the adjustment of the organization’s Charter. This seems unlikely in the short term.

A third approach would be a multilateral mode of interaction. According to this scenario, the EAEU, CSTO, and SCO, as well as other initiatives such as the Belt and Road, would develop autonomously, without visible integration with one another, but within the context of the common interests of all these structures. This is the most likely development scenario. At the same time, it should be taken into consideration that the activeness of all organizations will differ in terms of the scales of tasks and responsibilities. In one way or another, Russia and China will play the role of the two motors, insofar as they are “regional powers belonging to the same subsystem of international relations, as well as great powers which have interests in practically all corners of the world.”[23] The application of the umbrella ideology of Eurasianism in its various versions would be expedient in this scenario.

As for a fourth approach, insofar as the post-Soviet space has already experienced unsuccessful projects, such as the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development and the Commonwealth of Independent States, it cannot be ruled out that the EAEU’s activities might freeze, or even that a member-country may leave for one reason or another. Without a doubt, such would be the most negative turn of events, but such also demands analysis in order to foresee and provide for the timely blocking of such processes. The first three scenarios, including their synthesis in various formats, are therefore the most desirable.

Footnotes: 

[1] Maruev, A.Yu., Medvedev, D.А., Gulina Е.V. Теоретические аспекты проектирования геополитического пространства в арктическом регионе [“Theoretical Aspects of Projecting the Geopolitical Space in the Arctic Region”],  Стратегическая стабильность [Strategic Stability] No 2 (83), 2018, p. 9.

[2] Ursul А.D. Безопасность в контексте глобальной устойчивости [“Security in the Context of Global Stability”] // Информационные войны [Information Wars] No 2 (46) 2018. p.64 – 65.

[3] Ibid., 66.

[4] Глобальная безопасность: инновационные методы анализа конфликтов [Global Security: Innovation Methods for Conflict Analysis]. Edited by A.I. Smirnov. Мoscow: Obshchestvo “Znanie” Rossii, 2011. p. 159.

[5] Ibid., 164.

[6] Ibid., 167.

[7] F.R. Ankersmit, Aesthetic Politics: Political Philosophy Beyond Fact and Value. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. p. 357.

[8] Ibid., 358. 

[9] Mark L. Haas, The Ideological Origins of Great Power Politics, 1789-1989. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005. P. 1.

[10] K.P. Kurylev. Украинский кризис и международная безопасность [The Ukrainian Crisis and International Security]. Мoscow: LENAND, 2018. p. 171.

[11] Ibid., 173.

[12] Ibid., 198.

[13] Yuri Matvienko, Военный аспект Четвёртой политической теории [“The Military Aspect of the Fourth Political Theory”] // Geopolitica.ru, 06.08.2012 [https://www.geopolitica.ru/article/voennyy-aspekt-chetvyortoy-politicheskoy-teorii%5D

[14] Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict. Harvard University Press, 1980. p. 

[15] Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity Without Groups. Harvard University Press, 2004. p. 43. 

[16] Shcherbakova А.Ya. Место России на геополитической карте современного мира [“Russia’s Place on the Geopolitical Map of the Contemporary World”] // Информационные войны [Information Wars] No 1 (45) 2018. p. 24.

[17] S. Baykov. Россия и новый миропорядок XXI века [“Russia and the New World Order in the 21st Century] // Постсоветский материк [Post-Soviet Continent] No 1 (13), 2017. p. 11.

[18] Tkachuk, S.P., Mityaev, D.А. “Мягкая сила” науки и образования в развитии евразийской экономической интеграции [“The ‘Soft Power’ of Science and Education in the Development of Eurasian Economic Integration”] // Экономические стратегии [Economic Strategies] No 2 (152), 2018. p. 182.

[19] Iskakov I.Zh. Политические институты России и Казахстана в процессе евразийской интеграции [“Political Institutions in Russia and Kazakhstan in the Process of Eurasian Integration”], Глобальные тенденции развития мира. Материалы Всероссийской научной конференции [“Global Trends in World Development: Materials of the All-Russian Scientific Conference”] (Moscow, 14 June 2012, INION RAN) Мoscow: Nauchny ekspert, 2013. p. 306.

[20] A.G. Makushkin. Обеспечение стратегического контроля в области планирования безопасности социально-экономического развития [“Ensuring Strategic Control in the Field of Planning the Security of Socio-Economic Development”],  Экономика обороны и безопасности и аналитика [The Economics of Defense, Security, and Analysis]. Edited by A.N. Kanshin. Мoscow: Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, 2013. p. 82-87.

[21] Tkachuk, S.P., Mityaev, D.А. “Мягкая сила” науки и образования в развитии евразийской экономической интеграции [“The ‘Soft Power’ of Science and Education in the Development of Eurasian Economic Integration”] // Экономические стратегии [Economic Strategies] No 2 (152), 2018. p. 188.

[22] Kazarinova D.B. Политический краудсорсинг, социальные медиа и фабрики мысли как новые акторы глобальной политики: факторы мягкой силы [“Political Crowdsourcing, Social Media, and Think Tanks as the New Actors of Global Politics: Factors of Soft Power”] // [“Global Trends in World Development: Materials of the All-Russian Scientific Conference”] (Moscow, 14 June 2012, INION RAN) Мoscow: Nauchny ekspert, 2013. p. 533.

[23] D. А. Degterev. Прикладной количественный анализ и моделирование международных отношений [Applied Quantitative Analysis and Modeling in International Relations]. Мoscow: RUDN, 2016. p. 415.

Valery Korovin – “Eurasianism Then and Now, Russia and Beyond”

Author: Valery Korovin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Originally published as “The Eurasian Constants of Russian Consciousness”, Izborsky Club (15 September 2019). 

***

The Russian dream is not a dream of Europe, nor a dream about Asia. The Russian dream is the dream of a special Eurasian civilization.

The notion of Eurasianism has acquired such wide circulation that it has long since seemed to have become something self-evident, that is to say obvious and intelligible. Moreover, the broad circulation of this concept has opened up an equally wide breadth of interpretations, frequently entailing the full freedom to understand Eurasianism to be whatever one pleases. In the same vein, this has allowed those who consider themselves opponents of Eurasianist doctrine to attribute to Eurasianism any and all sorts of negative features.

Eurasianism itself is at once both a fairly strict notion and capacious one, as Eurasianism is a concrete worldview which demands continuous clarifications in order to avoid too broad of interpretations on the part of its supporters which yields, at the same time, equally extensive ground for criticism from opponents.

Eurasianism consists of several basic, constant characteristics whose systematic affirmation is simply impossible to avoid.

Against the Universality of the West

In fact, the point of departure for the very emergence of Eurasianist initiatives was reacting to the West’s (at the time Europe’s) arrogant assertion of the universality of its historical path and the achievements of its own European and, overall, Western civilization. It reached the point that the West appropriated for itself the very notions of “development”, “progress”, and “advancement”, and the very word “civilization” was equated with the phenomenon of Western civilization.

Taking its own experience of development as a foundation, the West simply proclaimed that only its development is really development. Whoever does not repeat the Western path is not developing. Whoever does not follow the West in everything is not on the path of progress and, as follows, is overboard the ship of civilization, for civilization is the West – while all others are either savages catching up with the West or barbarians void of the will to become the West.

At the time, humanity was mesmerized by the steam engine, the first rudiments of the scientific-technological revolution, and the unprecedented wonders created by Western engineers. Taking advantage of this confusion influenced by such fascination with these unprecedented inventions, the West (at the time Europe) proclaimed itself – in a not so ceremonial fashion – to be the ultimate standard of human development, period. By and large, Europe thereby isolated itself from the rest of humanity, at once placing itself at the center. This is precisely what yielded the reactive response of those who refused to recognize arrogant European universality. Nikolay Trubetzkoy’s Europe and Mankind thus became a kind of manifesto which laid the foundation for the development of Eurasianist thought.

Thus follows the main principle of Eurasianism: the rejection of the universality of the West and its historical experience. Eurasianism is not Westernism taken as universality. The West denies other, non-Western civilization their own paths, whereas Eurasianism refuses to recognize the West’s path as being universal for all.

Humanity is diverse and consists of a whole range of, as Danilevsky called them, culturo-historical types, and the West is only one of them – it is neither the only nor the best one, nor universal. This is the main principle at the heart of Eurasianism. Here we could add that the East is also not a source of universality and, even more so, cannot claim supremacy.

Russia as a Civilizational Subject

Of course, it cannot be denied that some peoples and states have genuinely followed the West, been seduced by its achievements, uncritically accepted its cultural codes, and imitated Europe in its way of life, parodying and blindly imitating the logic of actions and the type of thinking of Westerners. There are states which have consistently tried to reproduce the Western culturo-historical type.

Russia has not escaped this fate either, as under the influence of its elites Russia has from time to time plunged into the abyss of frenzied Westernism, virtually dissolving therein and, as a consequence, decomposing, losing fragments of itself, only to recoil and gather new forces. If we examine Russian history in terms of conditional stages, then we will see a history consisting of an internal struggle between Eurasianism and Westernism. Periods of Westernism have meant the surrender of positions, defeat, and decay; periods of Eurasianism mean triumph over the West, conceptualizing ourselves as something special – as neither Western nor Eastern civilization, but as a new reassembly.

Speaking of Russia itself, we can turn to the second postulate of Eurasianism: Russia is a self-sufficient, independent civilization, a special culturo-historical type, a unique, original culture which has synthesized (and not merely mixed or blindly taken over) some of the best manifestations of European and Asian cultures. In this synthesis, which cannot be reduced to a mere blending or imitation, lies the secret of our uniqueness. The particular type of Russian statehood is the synthesis of the political vertical and rigid centralization of the Empire of Genghis Khan with the faith, culture, and flexibility of the Byzantine Empire which, if we look at such from Russia, laid to the West.

The Russian person is a representative of a people which has absorbed the best of the cultures of East and West without merging with them in blind imitation. The Russian, as part of a united, organic community, is whole and subjective, sovereign, and independently determines their fate. This is their Eurasianist essence – which is neither European, in the sense of imitating Europe, nor essentially parodying the European, nor Asian, which is a bit too remote, foreign, terse, and not corresponding to the subtle chords of the Russian soul, which are instead rather consonant with Greek civilization. This essence is independent and Eurasian.

A Russian can love Europe, but at the same time remain himself – for in thoughtlessly accepting European cultural codes, he ceases to be Russian – just as he can love Asia and the peoples of the East and borrow the best from them. In this sense, the Russian is open to cultural exchange, but closes whenever West or East attempt to remake him in their own image. The Russian, as Dostoyevsky wrote, is the “all-person”, by which was meant that the Russian has empathy for the peoples of the East and the peoples of the West. But in order to preserve himself, the Russian must always remain himself – the Russian people, Russian culture, Russian civilization with its own integral, inseparable Russian history spanning centuries.

To be a Eurasian[ist] means to be part of a special, unique civilization, but this concerns more than Russians alone. To be oneself – to be a people, a culture, an organic community – is the right of any people, any culturo-historical type, any civilization, whether in Europe or in Asia. Whoever recognizes this right is a Eurasianist. Whoever does not is most likely an arrogant civilizer of the West, an oppressor of peoples, a colonialist, an arrogant Anglo-Saxon, a hegemon claiming global dominance by virtue of “exceptionality”, i.e., this person is not a Eurasianist but his opponent – ontologically, existentially, and indelibly such.

The Empire of Peoples

The Russian loves his people. Because the Eurasianist loves his people, he understands how a people can be loved, and insists on its organic integrity, its unique identity, its Tradition, and unique selfhood. Thus, the Russian Eurasianist accepts all the diversity of ethnoi, peoples, and political nations as a given, recognizing and accepting their unique identities. In this lies yet another thesis of Eurasianism: the acceptance of the diversity of communities, which is very Russian, open, and broad in essence.

This openness and breadth of acceptance of all other identities, this “all-humanity” of Russians is taken by many to be a mistake, as some call for mixing with others (which is refuted by the Eurasianist thesis on the preservation of one’s unique identity), while others call for absorbing others as if, as others say, Russians are omnivorous and voracious in their imperial manners. Both of these are wrong, naive, or deliberately misleading.

Mixing is an absolutely liberal, post-human principle implanted, like many other things, by the West and its civilizers driving humanity into a global melting pot. This is an anti-Eurasianist approach, as it destroys organic community, cultural identity, and the selfhood of peoples, grinding them into atoms of individuals. The absorbing of other peoples as well, the imposition of one’s cultural codes onto them, is just as absolutely a non-Eurasianist approach, but rather resembles the Westernist, colonial, exploitative one which considers other, non-Western peoples to be aboriginal savages, who are more often than not equated with wildlife.

Yet it is precisely the contributions by many dozens and hundreds of different peoples to our history that gave rise to unique Russian civilization as Eurasian and diverse, not mixed but ordered, in which the subject is not the atomic individual, as in the West, but the organic community, the ethnos or people.

One can become Russian by accepting Russian identity, taking the Russian culturo-historical code to be their foundation, accepting the Russian language as their own, and merging with the organic community of the Russian people. But this can only be done voluntarily. A Russian, especially a Eurasianist, will never force others into the Russian World, for such excesses mean either assimilating to the West’s arrogance and imposition of its own experience, or assimilation to the East, with its crudeness and voluntarism. The Eurasianist approach is open to diversity on the condition that one can preserve their own subjectivity. The Eurasian Empire does not exploit, but equips others, accepting peoples as they are into a common, Eurasian, strategic unity, not a “prison of peoples” or the melting pot of Western colonizers.

The Eurasian Codes of Russian History

During periods of Eurasian enlightenment, Russians have rallied the peoples of Eurasia and beyond to revolt against the West. During moments of blur and madness, they, or more precisely the Russian elites, and following them the pliable masses (such is a sociological law), have followed the West, thus committing to self-liquidation as a large state, shattering into a small one, and abandoning this great project, losing almost everything only to once again re-awaken and re-gather for new, great fulfillments – such is the genuinely Russian, Eurasian scale – in pursuit of the inextinguishable Russian dream.

These constants of the Eurasian-Russian being will never disappear, not even in the darkest midnights of our history. They simply become momentarily invisible, we lose them from view. But sooner or later our Tsars, our leaders, and our General Secretaries rediscover them, reawaken, and are moved by these codes. Russia once again turns into the Eurasian subject, i.e., that which knows, thinks, and acts in contrast to the object of extinction [to which Russia is reduced] during moments of retreat from the Eurasian mission in favor of the West, towards which Western thoughts and deeds are aimed.

Over the past few centuries, we have had too much of the West. The Westernist elites of late Romanov Russia ceased to understand, much less feel their people. Then the Marxist ideological experiments of the Bolsheviks were taken from the West, and only later adapted to the Russian way and the Eurasian civilizational constants during Stalin’s imperial enlightenment. Then once again we fell into the liberal experiment of the “Khrushchev thaw”, then Brezhnev’s slightly frostbitten conservative stagnation, then into final collapse and defeat amidst Gorbachev’s “Perestroika”, and then to the very extreme edge, to nearly ceasing to exist under Yeltsin’s bloody oligarchical rule which nearly killed Russia entirely.

But then the Eurasian constants were once again rediscovered – Russia was reassembled, the regional Fronde of “national republics” was suppressed, and now Eurasian integration has risen with the construction of the Eurasian geopolitical axes of Moscow-Beijing and Moscow-Delhi, and the nearly materialized axis of Paris-Berlin-Moscow, which could destroy Western hegemony, and which almost appeared at the start of the destruction of Iraq.

Yet liberalism has not let go of us. The West is swarming through its networks and color revolutions, continuing to encircle Russia from all sides, all with its own liberal wing within the Russian government, monetary privileges, the liberalization of the economy, pension reform, VAT hikes, and other liberal experiments on this completely non-liberal country and its peoples. There is too much of the West. A new Eurasian breath, broad and large in scale, is needed. It is time to turn our back to the West and turn towards the East.

Applied Russian Eurasianism: Towards the East

Having suffocated in the stifling corner of the moldy ideological closet of Europe, we are now turning towards the East, where wide expanses open up before us, giving us a breath of fresh air and presenting us with what is a truly Eurasian scope. The new course of Russian Eurasianism is the Far East.

In the Far East, Russia can open a new chapter of cooperation with the civilizations of the East, with China, Japan, and Korea, thereby stretching the Russian look all the way to Oceania, to Indonesia and Australia. “There a synthesis is created in which Russia is combined with the great civilizations of the Pacific Ocean”, emphasizes the Russian writer Alexander Prokhanov. But this must now be on our own, Eurasian conditions, without the annoying West and its “exceptionalism”, and accomplished while preserving our uniqueness and respecting the civilizational and cultural specificities of others for the sake of mutual understanding and cooperation within the multipolar world that is taking shape before our very eyes. This is the project of the new Eurasianism of the 21st century.

Without liberalism and nationalism – these chimeras of the West – and without “mandatory” Western interference, control and surveillance, we can initiate a new stage in the development of the world in which the West will be merely one civilization – not the only one – in the new, Eurasian world of equal cooperation between civilizations. This will be a world not of nations, not of liberal, atomic, mercantile individuals in the Brownian motion of the post-human cauldron, but a new world of civilizations uniting culturally close peoples into large strategic blocs. Such are the principles of Russian Eurasianism, of Chinese, Indian, and Arab Eurasianism, of the Eurasianisms of Ibero-America and Africa liberated from Western domination.

We are now forced to think in terms of the interests of the West, to proceed from its premises and criteria, but our Eastern, Eurasian project has its own, non-Western constants which ought to be remembered.

Russian interests in this Eastern-oriented Eurasian project lie in the need to ensure Russia’s strategic security on the entire Pacific coast, and in the Russian Far East in particular. This necessitates pushing American presence as far away from us as possible – indeed, out of sight.

Japan or China, or Japan and China?

The Eurasian[ist] geopolitical imperative lies in liberating the Far East from American military bases, first and foremost Japan, which was subjugated and humiliated by the barbaric bombings of 1945. This is how the West promotes its values: on the wings of strategic bombers inflicting atomic death upon hundreds of thousands of completely innocent civilians. This is how the West has captured its bridgeheads, by setting up military bases outside of local jurisdictions, dictating their own will, and continuing to not only militarily, but also economically and culturally rape Japan and rigidly impose their surrogates.

Russia’s Eastern, Eurasian vector entails direct and open dialogue with Japan – but not merely about the islands known in Japan as the “Northern territories”, as such is a false object to which our attention is being diverted by the current American overlords of the once great Japanese people. Washington whispers into the ears of Japanese authorities about how the Russian took four rocks from them all the while as America itself took all of Japan from the Japanese. Dialogue between Moscow and Tokyo must be address the liberation of all of Japan, rising up against American occupation, dumping American military bases into the ocean, and building a new Eurasian geopolitical axis between Moscow and Tokyo.

At the same time, Russia’s Eurasian geopolitical vector must develop in the direction of China. And once again: it is none other than Western strategists, such as Brzezinski, who is currently burning in hell, and others of his ilk, who claim that it is impossible to have equally developed, balanced strategic relations with both Japan and China at the same time. This is impossible only for the US, because it only plays on contradictions and pitting one against the other, whether Japan and China, Japan and Russia, or Russia and China, in the end of which the US claims all for itself.

Eurasianist geopolitics annuls this false confrontation by opening up the possibility for building a Moscow-Beijing axis. But here dialogue should address another matter. If Japan is weary of American military presence, then sovereign China, possessing its own nuclear triad for deterring any American military encroachment, is weary of American economic oppression. The noose thrown by the US in its attempt to control all the world’s commodity flows, dollar accounting, the endless trillions of loans in American government bonds served as great blessings, and protective tariffs and trade wars – all of this keeps China on a short American leash. ‘Step to the right or step to the left and that will mean the end of your economy’, Uncle Sam laughs.

The New Liberation of the Far East

Russia’s Eurasian strategy in the Far East means restoring relations with North Korea, which liberals have become so accustomed to scaring us with. North Korea is an island of Russian Stalinism which we ourselves created and then, because of our own illness, dropped and abandoned to become a frozen museum of the era of Stalin’s great experiment. But the North Koreans are a hardworking people with powerful economic potential, and this country presents access to the East China Sea, for which our pilots and military instructors have already fought in the past. All of this must be restored to our common, new Eurasian project.

But here [on the Korean peninsula] we are faced with a conflict artificially created by the Americans, one which cannot be healed by their efforts, and one which has remained an unhealed, bleeding wound for decades. Occupied to this day since the freezing of the Korean War, South Korea cannot even conceive of independent policy, much less about reconciliation with the North as long as the latter refuses to surrender to the mercy of the Americans. But they will not surrender, because Koreans, like Russians, do not surrender, but defend their sovereignty to the very end. This means that Korea will not be unified until, following Japan – but perhaps before – it rises up against American military oppression and sends American bases into the ocean.

The fully-fledged unfolding of the Eurasian project in the Far East as a whole lies in the liberation of Japan, China, and Korea. For Korea in particular, this means liberation from intrusive US guardianship and the unification of the two Koreas for the sake of common development as a single state and as one people – under guarantees of nuclear cover from Russia. Only then can our common ocean – the ocean of Russia, Japan, China, and Korea – perturbed by American presence, once again become Pacific and safe.

Returning the Ocean

India lacks our military potential, our arms, and our air defense systems. But most importantly, India does not control its ocean. The Eurasianist strategy for India is a joint Russian-Indian presence in the Indian Ocean which, as in the Pacific Ocean, is currently indelibly ruled by the American 7th fleet, monopolistically and unilaterally determining the fate of all the states of the region regardless of these countries’ interests. As is the American custom, they see only their own interests.

A Russian-Indian maritime base, with its center on the island of Diego Garcia, from which it is high time to get rid of the English and their American allies, and a fleet of Russian and Indian aircraft carriers – this is the Eurasianist strategy for India, and it shall be realized not through a mere truncated economic format, but in the form of a fully-fledged geopolitical axis between Moscow and Delhi.

The Eurasianist strategy in the Far East also entails returning to Vietnam and fully restoring the previously dismantled Russian base in Cam Ranh, which we ourselves closed in hope of reciprocal peaceful steps from the US. Twenty years have passed and these expectations have not been fulfilled, which means that it is once again time to open the Cam Ranh base not only for repairing warships, but for deterring US military presence. With the very same goal, it is also once again time to open up to Vietnam as a military-strategic partner, not merely a trade partner, to guarantee its security, and to cover it with our nuclear umbrella from any repeated incursion by the annoying, ubiquitous Yankees. The same can be said for Laos.

Eurasian Demography

However, the internal dimensions of the realization of this Far Eastern Eurasianist strategy cannot be forgotten. The Russian Far East is an island of European civilization surrounded by non-European peoples. It is a landmark of the ability to remain Russians even where a culturally foreign majority of completely mentally distant civilizations hangs over us. To preserve ourselves, to remain Russians, and to take the best from the cultures of neighboring peoples – this is our advantage, and this is the essence of Russian Eurasianism, the vivid manifestation of the Eurasian civilizational synthesis. And this means that this island must be not only preserved, but transformed into a fully-fledged Russian sea, which means posing the question of demography of the Far East in the first place.

The Russian Far East should be genuinely Russian – not Chinese, and not artificially populated by migrant workers from Central Asia or the Caucasus. Russian culture is a necessary and most important component of our presence in the Far East. Without Russian cultural expansion, without full civilizational representation, we cannot preserve the Far East. Thus, our main priority should be not only extremely attentive treatment of such questions of demography, but also of migration, especially from neighboring, friendly China.

The Eurasianist approach lies in the preservation, not erosion of identity. This means China for the Chinese and the Far East for Russians and the traditional peoples of the Pan-Russian (Rossiiskii) Far East. In this regard, the border with China should be translucent, strict, and attentive if it is to be a Eurasian border, and not merely an administrative line for exploitation for profit. Without a doubt, China will have the right to expansion, but Eurasian, friendly China will realize this expansion to the South. Such is the law of Eurasianism.

Eurasian Russia is a unified power which unites under its wings numerous ethno-cultural units, languages, peoples, faiths, and religions – but without blurring, crushing, and mixing them into a melting plot as is the Western manner. The Eurasian power is not a nation and not a liberal, post-human garbage dump.

Eurasian Russia is an empire of peoples preserving their collective identity and representing the entirety of our Eurasian civilizational diversity, in the center of which stands the great Russian people, the gatherers of lands and the builders of the endless, continental Eurasian state – the ark of salvation for all of these diverse peoples.

However, the primacy of Russians does not mean that they must be at the top of a hierarchy of peoples, as is customarily thought in the West and as has been imposed upon our peoples by Western whisperers rousing them against Russians and blaming Russians for their own Western sins of colonialism, exploitation, and violence against other peoples. Russians have never allowed themselves to do such and they never will, for the Russian dream is one of just unity. Russian primacy is none other than the primacy of the highest responsibility for those whom our continental empire saves from erosion, exploitation, and “civilizing” by the West. Life without the West in harmony, common development, and mutual understanding – this is the Russian, Eurasian dream of the future.

Alexander Dugin – NOOMAKHIA: The Logos of Turan – “Turan as an Idea”

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Introduction to Noomakhia – The Logos of Turan: The Indo-European Ideology of the Verticle (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017)

***

Turan and Eurasia: Similarities and Differences between Concepts

The space of North-Eastern Eurasia upon which Russia has established itself as a state and civilization over the past 500 years represents a special existential horizon. We can call this the Eurasian Horizon and speak of a specific Eurasian Dasein. This territory acquired the name Turan in Iranian sacred geography, and this name can by all means be seen as an analogue to the notion of “Eurasia.”[1] Insofar as we will examine Russian civilization and its Logos in a separate volume, and given that in Russian civilization the Eurasian element is largely predominant, it is natural to apply the notion of Eurasia to the study of the Russian Logos, as did the Eurasianist philosophers, such as N.S. Trubetzkoy [2], P.N. Savitsky [3], G.V. Vernadsky [4], N.N. Alekseev [5], L.N. Gumilev [6], etc. In this case, the civilizations of Eurasia, united by a common horizon preceding the emergence of Russia as an historico-cultural axis, can be integrated into the concept of Turan.

In Noomakhia, by Turan we mean the civilizations and cultures which took shape on the territory of North-Eastern Eurasia (with the exception of Russian civilization which is examined in a separate study). This, of course, is a rather conditional division, as Russian civilization itself can be studied from different angles of view, whether as part of the Slavic world, as a most important component of the Byzantine Orthodox space, as something self-sufficient and unique (samobytnoe, in the likes of “Continent Russia” [7]), or as one historical expression of the existential horizon of Turan. In the present volume of Noomakhia, we will focus on those peoples who took shape on the territory of Turan before and/or parallel to the Russians. In this case, establishing a correspondence between the Logos of Turan and the Russian Logos might be the next important step allowing for a better understanding of both.

Yet another important consideration to be taken into account is that, originally, we planned for this volume of Noomakhia to examine all the civilizations either belonging to the Eurasian group or figuring under Eurasian influence. Thus, as we have just said, for us Turan and Eurasia were to function as synonyms. However, over the course of working on this subject, we have found that such might be divided into two components: firstly, we can speak of the Indo-European (and only Indo-European!) nomadic cultures that formed on the territory of Eurasia, more precisely in the space of the Great Steppe, in the period from the fifth millennium BC to the first millennium AD; secondly, we can consider those non-Indo-European peoples, on whom the influence of the nomadic Indo-European societies of the Great Steppe was decisive and fundamental, and who subsequently inherited the Indo-Europeans’ mission starting in the first centuries AD, with the invasion of the Huns, and continuing up to the 19th century.

Thus, we have divided our study into two volumes. In the first, present book, The Logos of Turan, we focus exclusively on the Indo-European peoples who arose in the Great Steppe and spread their influence across virtually the whole territory of the Eurasian continent. In the second volume, The Horizons and Civilizations of Eurasia: The Indo-European Legacy and the Traces of the Great Mother, we follow the transfer of this steppic, nomadic, martial tradition to other, non-Indo-European peoples, first and foremost of the Altaic family, and we study the influence of Indo-European culture on other neighboring civilizations, such as the Siberian (and Paleo-Asiatic), the Tibetan, the Finno-Ugric, and the Caucasian.[8] For the sake of clarity of exposition, we have thus had to divide our preliminary conceptualization of the shared identity of the notions of Turan and Eurasia into two postulates: we understand “Turan” to be the civilization created in the space of the Great Eurasian Steppe by the Indo-European peoples and then transmitted directly to other nomadic peoples (first and foremost the Altaic); by “Eurasia”, we mean the much wider spectrum of existential horizons, including Turan – as the core of the Eurasian continent, both Indo-European as well as post-Indo-European (Turko-Mongolian) – and the totality of civilizations and cultures that formed around the periphery of the Great Steppe which were influenced (both directly and indirectly) by Turan and the Indo-Europeans.

Thus, Turan should be considered the core, center, and heart of Eurasia, and Eurasia itself as the broader geosophical context including both Turanian and non-Turanian elements, both Indo-European and non-Indo-European cultures. This situation is further complicated by the fact that, moving throughout the space of Eurasia, some Indo-European cultures lost their primordial, axial identity (for example, the ancient Lydians and Phrygians in Anatolia, or the peoples of Western Europe in Modernity), while at the same time some non-Indo-European peoples (above all the Altaic peoples, as well as the Tibetans, the Uralic peoples, the peoples of the Caucasus, and even some Paleo-Asiatics, such as the Kets) adopted and laid such at the foundation of their cultures.

It is precisely with regards to this dialectic that the title of the second volume of Noomakhia dedicated to the question of Turan and Eurasia features an appeal to the gestalt of the Great Mother. If the Logos of Turan is at the center of the Eurasian continent and represents pure Apollonianism, then on the (noologically) opposite pole is the Logos of Cybele.[9] In the projection of this noological structure onto the geographical map we can see that the Logos of Cybele exerts decisive influence around the periphery of the Eurasian continent, i.e., it is built into the geosophical structure of Eurasia. If the Logos of Apollo dominates in Turan (the Great Steppe), then in the periphery traces of another civilization can be noted, one in which chthonic motives, Titanism, and matriarchy predominate. Turan (Apollonianism) exerted its influence, embodied first and foremost and most lucidly of all in the Indo-European nomadic, warrior cultures, on all the peoples and cultures of Eurasia, but its strength diminished insofar as it neared the coastal zones of the Eurasian continent where, on the contrary, the Logos of Cybele has been proportionally strong. This constitutes the main geosophical map of Eurasia and the dialectical essence of the Eurasian horizons. But in order to be convinced of this thesis, we need to study and dissect first the structures of the Indo-European civilizations and cultures of Turan, in order to determine their noological nature, and then, with the achieved results, turn to surveying other peoples and societies. The conceptual difference between Turan and Eurasia will be fully clear upon acquaintance with these two volumes of Noomakhia, which represent a whole, or two parts of one and the same study.

As follows, it bears recalling that the methodological foundation of Noomakhia was expounded in the first two volumes, The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele and Geosophy: Horizons and Civilizations,[10] and the examination of individual societies and cultures belonging to the circle of the Indo-European horizon has already been undertaken in the individual Noomakhia volumes dedicated to the study of the Germanic, French, Latin, and Greek Logoi, to the civilization of Great Britain, the Semitic world, and the Indian and Iranian cultures.[11-18] All of the latter volumes of Greater Noomakhia are of principal importance to adequately understanding the Logos of Turan just as, in turn, this volume and its closely adjoined companion, Horizons and Civilizations of Eurasia,[19] can be considered key to the above-cited. Taken together, all of these works constitute a most important cornerstone of the Geosophy of Eurasia.

The Turanian Proto-Culture á la Oswald Spengler

As the special space of a self-sufficient civilization, Turan has only rarely been the subject of what have been rather narrowly specialized and thematic studies. One exception to this is the work of Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), who discerned Turan to be a particular civilizational field of principle significance to mankind as a whole. Spengler developed his theory of Turan in his unfinished work under the working title The Epic of Man, fragments of which have been published and made accessible to scholars only recently.[20-21] In this work, Spengler describes the voluminous field of history as consisting of four main stages or phases: A, B, C, and D.

Phase A lasted from the undetermined time of the first signs of Homo sapiens to the Upper Paleolithic. Spengler generally adheres to the concept of evolution, but he imparts such with a particular cyclical dimension. For our part, we categorically reject this theory and appeal to such exclusively from the standpoint of describing cultures while discarding any genetic continuity, much less hierarchy between societies built on notions of “more ancient vs. more modern”, where “more modern” is seen as more developed, perfect, and differentiated than “ancient.” The first signs of reasoning man might appear in one or another epoch only to disappear in another. Everything depends on how we understand “reason”, a question which is in itself conditioned by a specific culture and mythology. Therefore, no universal criteria can be accepted here, and all the more insufficient are any attempts at building a progressive sequence from “less rational” types of society and man towards “more rational.” If we engage in such, we are simply projecting the criteria of our own society (e.g., modern Western or Western-centric) onto all types of society in general, which is in itself illegitimate and incorrect ethnocentrism. Therefore, for Spengler, Phase A is purely a conditionality meant to inform us that we know nothing for sure of this epoch and can advance no hypotheses on this matter.

Phase B, according to Spengler, is situated in the interim from 20,000 to 6,000 BC and is characterized by man’s discovery of the “inner world”, the soul, and the phenomenon of death. Spengler metaphorically likens this period to his beloved crystals and minerals. Phase B, according to Spengler, means the presence of self-consciousness, distinguishable by the modern scholar, and identifiable in the traces of ancient cultures. Although Spengler and many of our contemporaries in general conceive of such “self-consciousness” as “simpler”, this does not mean that it really was such.

Spengler calls both Phase A and Phase B “non-organic”, and the two following, C and D, “organic.” Spengler compares the third phase, C, to the slowly but autonomously moving simplest animal, the amoeba.[22] In this phase, proto-cultures are formed which will later, in Phase D lasting up to the present day, lie at the heart of all the historically known historico-cultural types. Spengler enumerates three “proto-cultures”, three “civilizational amoebas” at stage C: (1) the Atlantic, (2) the Kushite, and (3) the Turanian.

The Atlantic culture, in Spengler’s view, claimed the Western parts of Europe and Africa, and was distinguished by a heightened concern with the post-mortem worlds. In classical archaeology, the pre-Indo-European population of Europe, to which belonged the Minoans, the Pelasgians, the Basques, the Sicels, the Iberians, and the Leleges (to which some would also add the Picts, and so on), is generally considered to be the bearer of this Atlantic culture. This is the “culture of the otherworld.” Hence the immense monuments erected for the deceased, the cult of the “otherworld” and its divinities, and the cyclopean constructions typical of this culture, such as the megaliths. This culture was preoccupied with questions of genetic identity, blood, which connects the living to the world of the dead. Hence the beginning of mummification, embalmment, and luxuriant burial rituals. The Atlantic culture was the culture of “living death.”[23]

The second proto-culture of epoch C was the Kushite culture, whose center Spengler situates in the South of Eurasia between India and the Red Sea. This proto-culture was typified by a preoccupation with the of idea of “fate”, as if such were a mathematical law of the world embodied in the Sky to which all processes on Earth are subject. The Kushite culture was indifferent towards death and life, instead concentrating all of its attention on the study of the mathematical patterns of the world. In Phase D, the Kushite style would be most fully of all expressed in Assyrio-Babylonian civilization.

The third type of proto-culture is that of Turan, and it is here that we arrive at ideas which resonate with both Noomakhia and some of the philosophical and historical intuitions of the Russian Eurasianist thinkers. The proto-culture of Turan, according to Spengler, represents a pure “heroic style.” At its center stands the battle of the hero against the forces of death and fate. The hero and his “I” are put in the forefront and recognized to be a divine element. The world is full of the forces of life and is the field of endless battle. Neither fate (of the Kushite style) nor death (in the Atlantic style) are higher values for the man of Turan. Immortality is achieved only through battle, and a dignified life was believed to be one lived with a high-raised head. The gods of the martial civilizations of Turan embody this archetype: they are warriors, fearless, and indomitable. Spengler considers the chariot to be the most important symbol of the Turanian style. The identification of the chariot with the Indo-Europeans is not only Spengler’s hypothesis, but is the common ground of archaeology. Indeed, the most ancient traces of chariots are to be found in Eurasia, in the South Urals around 2000 BC, and the first whole chariots were found in the Sintashta cultural circle dated to the end of the 21st century BC. Around 2700 BC, the first  traces of carts, which preceded the first war chariots (the Maikop culture), are also to be found in Turan. It is from the South Urals that chariots began to disperse throughout the surrounding regions, including all the way up to the Caspian and Aral Sea, and across Eurasia in both directions – to Western Europe, all the way up to the Atlantic, and to the Far East.

Around 1200 BC, waves of warlike peoples on chariots descended towards the Mediterranean and founded new types of cultures. The Achaeans flooded Greece and settled in Mycenae. The Hyksos invaded Egypt, and the Kassites seized Babylon. In the very same period, Indo-European warriors on chariots advanced into Hindustan and built the Vedic culture of India on top of the remains of the ancient Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan cultures (which, in Spengler’s view, belonged to the Kushite type). In China, the bearers of the Zhou civilization also arrived on chariots and conquered China. Thus, almost simultaneously, the bearers of the Turanian element (the “civilization of amoeba C”) founded the three “high cultures” of Phase D: the Chinese, the Indian, and the Hellenic (in parallel with the Turanian invasions of the Babylonian and Egyptian civilizational zones). Thus, according to Spengler, the Indo-European peoples of Turan and their heroic style exerted decisive influence on the birth of the majority of the classical civilizations of the Old World, in whose shadow we continue to live to this day.

Lev Gumilev and the Study of Eurasia and the Nomadic Empires of Turan

The study of the nomadic civilizations of Eurasia, less known to European scholarship, constituted the core of the historical works of the Russian historian Lev Gumilev (1912-1992). Developing the particular approach of the Eurasianist philosophers, Gumilev devoted increased attention to the nomadic empires and ethnoi of Turan, demonstrating their fundamental influence on both the formation of Russian statehood and the histories of other civilizations. In his works on the Huns, the Ancient Turks, the Mongols, the Sarmatians, and other ancient nomadic peoples, Gumilev showed that the latter were not “barbarian tribes”, but rather the bearers of a special cultural code associated with a particular value system, worldview, and ethics peculiar to the inhabitants of the steppes and the warrior nomads of Eurasia.[24-26] This ethical model was established in the Great Yasa Code of Genghis Khan and was addressed towards a particular type of people: “the people of long will.”[27]

According to Gumilev, Eurocentric perspectives hinder full appreciation of the dignity of the civilization of Turan: for the historical Europeans, such was seen as the territory of “barbarians”, from which the danger of attacks and invasions emanated from time to time. Perceiving the space of North-Eastern Eurasia in such a manner, Europe thus considered this land to be the “periphery of civilization”, where one could find only scattered and incoherent relics taken from more developed cultures of the Mediterranean or India. But Gumilev demonstrated that if we look at the surrounding peoples and civilizations from the standpoint of Turanian man, through his own eyes, then we are revealed an entirely different picture, one saturated with nuances and hints, with a fully-fledged and complex historial, and with a special identity and numerous overlapping cultural circles in need of attentive and scrupulous study.

The civilizations of Turan were predominantly nomadic, and this is their distinctive trait. In the eyes of the sedentary civilizations, the culture of the nomadic peoples was constantly perceived to be hostile and alien. Moreover, nomadic conditions were not conducive to the development of literary and architectural objects, which necessarily poses difficulty to any study of this culture’s content. Gumilev nevertheless called for overcoming both Eurocentrism and the cliches of the settled civilizations, and urged us to attempt to reconstruct, on the basis of the data we have in myths, chronicles, legends, travelers’ accounts, etc., the structure of Turanian identity as it remained unchanged at its core, independent of the numerous peoples who subsequently or simultaneously became its bearers.

Leo Frobenius: Telluric Culture and the Feminine Sun

The theories of the German historian and anthropologist Leo Frobenius (1873-1938) might also be of use for identifying the typology of the civilization of Turan. Frobenius associates every culture (in his terminology: paideuma) with earth, land and the organization of landscape.[28] Relations with and approaches to land therefore determine the essence of a given human culture. Thus, Frobenius proposed the following formula:

Культура есть земля, ставшая организмом через посредство человека.

Kultur ist durch den Menschen organisch gewordene Erde

Culture is earth that has become organic by means of man. [29]

On these grounds, Frobenius constructed a dual topography of culture using the metaphor of plants. According to Frobenius, the paideuma can be seen as a plant, having roots and a stem with branches and leaves. Such is the composition of the two halves of one organism: one part moves into and under the earth, which Frobenius called the “chthonic element”, while the other draws upwards from the earth – this is the “telluric element.” Both are tied to earth, to land, but in different ways: the chthonic is drawn to that from which it came, while the telluric strives towards the other, away from the soil from which it emerged. Both trajectories constitute the life of a culture.

Thus, according to Frobenius, cultures (paideuma) can be divided into two types or poles. One pole, the chthonic, is tied to the matriarchal element and exhibits centripetal tendencies, being drawn towards contraction, being closed or self-absorbed. The second, telluric pole is associated with the patriarchal element, with centrifugal motion, the feeling of expansion, overcoming limits, dynamism, and striving to break away from roots. Turan, in Frobenius’ account, is the principal space of telluric culture.

While matriarchal cultures are inclined towards creating dwellings in caves, pits, and in dugouts, then patriarchal cultures erect homes and, at times, “great homes”, which reflect the aspiration to create something large and gigantic. Such “great homes” served religious aims, initiations, and ceremonies among archaic peoples. Patriarchal societies are also constructed along a vertical geometry: the child reaches upwards from the earth, and society and social institutions are conceived as the branches of a tree, the point of a spear or an arrow, and become symbols of the axis around which hunting, war, and rituals are organized. Patriarchal cultures appreciate that which strives upward, especially fire. Hence the rites of cremating bodies. Death is understood as a prelude to new birth, like the seeding of plants. Matriarchal, chthonic cultures, on the other hand, value above all the material, the corporeal, and the maternal, and all that is associated with the lower levels of the universe, with that which is hidden within earth. Hence the social practices of gathering roots, berries, and mushrooms.

Both poles of culture envision space differently, on which point Frobenius emphasizes:

Теллурическим является покой неограниченного простора; хтоническим – тесное место, исполненное беспокойством.

Tellurisch ist Ruhe im unbegrenzten Raum. Chthonisch Unruhe im begrenzten Raum.

The telluric is the peace of unlimited space; the chthonic is the unrest of confined space. [30]

In Frobenius’ view, it is the polarization of these two types of culture and their subsequent impositions upon one another that established the social architecture of civilizations with which we have to deal up to the present day. The territory of Turan, and more specifically the steppe zones of Eurasia, the Great Steppe, were the primordial hearth of the centrifugal cultures of the telluric (patriarchal) type, while the coasts of the Mediterranean and South Asia represent the zones of centripetal matriarchal cultures. The expansion of mobile, masculine cultures into the territories of the chthonic zones led to the emergence of the “great cultures” of India, West Asia, the Aegean zone, Rome, France, and England. Moreover, in Frobenius’ view, these patriarchal cultures carry strength and vital life forces, while the matriarchal element imparted them with plastic forms. It is in this synthesis, in this dialectic between the telluric and chthonic that Frobenius sees all of world history. The telluric impulse, according to Frobenius, ceaselessly emanated from the territories of Turan.

Also of extreme importance to discerning the civilizations of Turan is Frobenius’ study of various symbols, which he proposed to differentiate between types of society. Alongside the chthonic and telluric, Frobenius drew attention to another detail: the gender of the two celestial luminaries, the Sun and the Moon, across the languages and mythologies of all the world’s peoples. Working through an enormous mass of linguistic and mythological material, Frobenius discerned an extremely interesting pattern, according to which all cultures can be distinguished as belonging to one of three basic groups with relation to the following symbols:

  1. The masculine sun and feminine moon, envisioned in the form of man and wife or as brother and sister (joined in incestuous, but not explicitly censured marital bond).
  2. The feminine sun and masculine moon, or Lunus, envisioned only as brother and sister, whose incestuous relationship is explicitly taboo. The violation of this taboo (generally by the moon) is understood to be a catastrophe and drama.
  3. The masculine sun and masculine moon as two brothers.

The systematization of such an enormous mass of materials on the basis of all the sources available to him led Frobenius to construct a series of maps designating the zones dominated by each of these three forms. One is immediately struck by the fact that these zones represent stable poles which remain uninterrupted by the borders running between ethnoi, cultures, peoples, and civilizations. Moreover, the commonality of this symbol can even be found among cultures which otherwise lack anything similar and are even to be found on different civilizational levels.

The map of the distribution of the masculine sun and feminine moon looks thusly: we can clearly follow an uninterrupted strip running from England in Northern Europe through the Northern Mediterranean, Anatolia and the Middle East to India, South China, Polynesia, and up to Central America and the North-Eastern coast of South America. All of the indigenous cultures of these regions exhibit stable attributions of the male gender to the sun.  According to Frobenius, cultures of this type are of a matriarchal orientation and cultivate everything associated with space.[31] To a significant extent, sacrality is derived from the number 4 (as in the four directions/orientations of space).[32]

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 7.40.48 PM.png
Map of distribution of the languages and myths of the masculine sun and masculine moon

The following map delineates the distribution zone of cultures in which the sun is depicted as female and the moon as of male gender[33]: 

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 7.40.57 PM.png
Map of distribution of the languages and myths of the feminine sun and masculine moon

Here we can see that the territory of Turan is the core of the cultural space of the male moon and female sun. This space is distinguished by its patriarchal orientation, and at the center of its attention are time and symbolic and religious systems in which the number 3 occupies the central place. Thus, the telluric character of Turan is confirmed in its distribution of the pair of the male moon and female moon as well as by the predominance of the symbolism of time and the number 3.[34]

René Guénon: The Culture of Abel and the Civilization of Mantras

Insofar as Turan is principally the zone of nomadic civilizations, the symbolism of nomadic societies is crucial to the study of Turanian identity. The French Traditionalist philosopher René Guénon (1887-1953) drew attention to the symbolic peculiarities between the structures of nomadic societies (nomadism) and settled peoples (sedentarism). According to Guénon, in the Biblical context the figure who most generally represents nomads and pastoralists is Abel.[35] Guénon writes: “They [Cain and Abel] are the types of the two sorts of peoples who have existed since the origins of the present humanity, or at least since the earliest differentiation took place, namely that between the sedentary peoples, devoted to the cultivation of the soil, and the nomads, devoted to the raising of flocks and herds.”[36]

According to Guénon, the notions of Iran and Turan also reflect this dualism, even etymologically: in Guénon view, the term arya, from which is derived the word Iran or Aryana, the “land of the Aryans”, originally referred to someone engaged in agriculture – in this case from the Indo-European root *ar-, hence the Latin arare (“to plow”), arator (“plowman”), and arvum (“field”).[37] The Ancient Jews were nomads and shepherds, and therefore their sacred texts unequivocally take the side of Abel as the victim of Cain. Abel is considered to be the righteous, while Cain is the brother-killer and cursed.

Guénon believed that pastoralists and nomads conceptualized the principle of time as unfolding in front of them, as their priority object, their element, all the while as they enjoyed the quality of unending space. Settled peoples, who conversely embody the permanence (or synchronism) of space, have time as their main object.  Settled societies live in a fixed place, and therefore time is “closed” and constant. Living long cycles in the same place, settled cultures begin to attentively observe time, study its structures, and investigate its patterns. They thereby conceive themselves to be the historial and an historical phenomenon, i.e., something “lasting”, uniting past and future.

Nomadic peoples, for their part, do not create anything “solid” or “long-term.” They live in open space, which is their existential element. They unfold their potential in space, while time remains a secondary matter. They do not devote extensive attention to time or the method of its dimension. In Guénon’s view, settled cultures therefore embody the principle of “compression” or “squeezing”, while nomadic ones exhibit “stretching” and “expansion.” The fact that nomads are primarily engaged in the herding of cattle symbolically corresponds to their mobility. Cereal and plant cultivation, conversely, are peculiar to settled cultures which, like plants, are immobile and tied to one place. Thus, settled cultures assign priority to the development of visual forms of sacred art, such as paintings, sculptures, architecture, etc. In Hinduism, such sacred images are called yantra. For nomadic peoples, meanwhile, visual depictions are often taboo, whereas the symbolism of sound is considerably more developed, as is the case with the Hindu mantras. In Guénon’s analysis, vision is related to space, while hearing is tied to time. As follows, settled cultures develop “plastic” forms of art, while nomadic peoples tend to develop sonorous forms, such as music, poetry, etc.

As a concept, Turan is undoubtedly the field of nomadic civilization, the civilization of Abel. This does not exclude the presence in Eurasia of significant enclaves of settled societies, but the dominant identity of Turan is none other than nomadism. Hence the dominating factor of space, the scarcity of visual monuments, the absence of developed writing, and many other traits specific to Turanian culture. Turan, for Guénon, is the civilization of mantras.

The Turanian Factor: The Vertical Diurne

By correlating these introductory considerations, we can obtain a preliminary picture of the object of our study. Turan is the horizon of North-Eastern Eurasia coinciding with the Great Steppe, stretching from Transylvania in the West to Manchuria in the East. In terms of culture, this horizon is primarily the zone of inhabitance of nomadic peoples. We are dealing with a nomadic civilization dominated by the militaristic and patriarchal element, i.e., a culture of the telluric type. The influence of Turan is associated with expansion (as in accordance with Guénon); indeed, historically, Turanian expansion to the South and West repeatedly led to the establishment of new states, cultures, and developed civilizations, in which the peoples of Turan became the ruling class, the legislators of patriarchal style and, quite frequently, the bearers of the dominant language. The civilizations and polities of Rome, Greece, Anatolia (the Hittite kingdom, the Mitanni state, Urartu, etc.), Iran and India, Western Europe, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and others were created under the direct cultural and linguistic dominance of the Indo-European peoples of Turan as they expanded beyond the Great Steppe.

The role of this Turanian factor in the origins of historically known states is veritable with numerous historical examples, in which nomadic peoples subjugated settled populations and only jointly thereafter established political structures resembling or being states in the full sense of the word. The nomadic peoples assembled city-fortresses as centers for the storage and the protection of tribute exacted from the conquered farmers. They also became the core of the military aristocracy of socially differentiated societies. In this sense, the Turanian factor is a state-forming factor. On this note, it is telling that neither nomads nor farmers create states on their own, and any forms of intertribal associations among themselves are short-term and unstable.[38] This principle was first conceptualized by the Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), and in the 19th century this theory was developed in detail by the Polish-Austrian philosopher and sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz (1838-1909).[39-40]

The civilization of Turan is founded on the basic envisioning of open space and, in accordance with Frobenius, Turanian civilization cultivates the symbolism of the number 3. Moreover, in many of the myths and languages of the peoples of Turan, we theoretically ceaselessly encounter a male gender for the moon and a female gender for the sun.[41] The telluric character of the Logos of Turan is expressed in its foremost and rigidly, emphatically vertical orientation. The horizon of Turan structures the world along a vertical axis. This is expressed in the religion, cosmology, socio-political hierarchy, and psychological mode of Turanian societies. In the terminology of the sociology of the imagination [42] as developed by the French sociologist Gilbert Durand (1921-2012), this type of society corresponds to the psychic regime of the diurne. This regime is typified by:

  • A high degree of strict divisions
  • An attraction towards light and crystal clarity
  • An aspiration towards cleansing itself from materiality and corporeality
  • The sacralization of the Sky, luminaries, and elements of flight
  • High speed, rapidity
  • Militancy and heroism
  • Challenging death
  • Masculinity (virility)
  • Cutting and piercing weapons
  • Dualism, pairs of opposites
  • Hierarchies founded on subjugation and force

All of these considerations allow us to suggest from the very onset that, in the horizon of Turan, we are dealing with the predominance of the Logos of Apollo. This follows from everything that we know about the roots of European civilization and from theories on the Indo-European languages and cultures. We are tasked with determining to what extent this equivalence is convincing, justified, and legitimate, whether or not there are exceptions among the Indo-European cultures and, if there are, what has conditioned them.

***

Footnotes:

[1] See: Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Iranian Logos: The War of Light and the Culture of Awaiting (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016).

[2] N.S. Trubetzkoy, Nasledie Chingiskhana (Moscow: Agraf, 1999). In English: The Legacy of Genghis Khan and Other Essays on Russian Identity (Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1991).

[3] P.N. Savitsky, Kontinent Evraziia [Continent Eurasia] (Moscow: Agraf, 1997).

[4] G.V. Vernadsky, Nachertanie russkoi istorii (Moscow: Algoritm, 2008).

[5] N.N. Alekseev, Russkii narod i Gosudarstvo [The Russian People and the State] (Moscow: Agraf, 1998).

[6] L.N. Gumilev, Ot Rusi do Rossii [From Rus to Russia] (Moscow: Ayris-press, 2008); Ibidem, Drevniaia Rus’ i Velikaia Step’ [Ancient Rus and the Great Steppe] (Moscow: Mysl, 1989); Ibidem., Tysiacheletie vokrug Kaspiia [The Millennium around the Caspian] (Moscow: AST, 2002).

[7] See: Alexander Dugin, “Continent Russia” in Absolutnaia Rodina (Moscow: Arktogeia, 2000).

[8] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Horizons and Civilizations of Eurasia: The Indo-European Legacy and the Traces of the Great Mother (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017).

[9] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, Cybele (Moscow: Academic Project, 2014).

[10] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – Geosophy: Horizons and Civilizations (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016).

[11] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Germanic Logos: Apophatic Man (Moscow: Academic Project, 2015)

[12]  Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The French Logos: Orpheus and Melusine (Moscow: Academic Project, 2015)

[13] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Latin Logos: The Sun and the Cross (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016)

[14] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Hellenic Logos: The Valley of Truth (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016); Ibidem, Noomakhia – The Byzantine Logos: Hellenism and Empire (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016)

[15] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – England or Britain? The Maritime Mission and the Positive Subject (Moscow: Academic Project, 2015).

[16] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Semites: Monotheism of the Moon and the Gestalt of Ba’al (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017)

[17] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – Great India: Civilization of the Absolute (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017)

[18] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Iranian Logos: The War of Light and the Culture of Awaiting (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016)

[19] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Horizons and Civilizations of Eurasia: The Indo-European Legacy and the Traces of the Great Mother (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017)

[20] Domenico Conte, Catene di cività: Studi su Spengler (Napoli: Ed. Scientifiche Italiane, 1994).

[21] Anton Mirko Koktanek, Oswald Spengler in seiner Zeit (Munich: 1968).

[22] Heidegger devoted heightened attention to amoebas, the very existence of which he tried to conceive in philosophical terms in his cycle of lectures on boredom. See: Martin Heidegger, Die Grundbegriffe Der Metaphysik (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1983). It is suggestive that Heidegger spoke of amoebas with a certain “tenderness”, as when he called amoebas “little animals” or Tierchen.

[23] The Lithuanian scholar of Ancient Europe, Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) believed this culture to be matriarchal and bearing the cult of the “Great Goddess.” Gimbutas called the cultures belonging to this type “Old Europe.” See: Marija Gimbutas, Tsivilizatsia Velikoi Bogini [The Civilization of the Great Goddess] (Moscow: Rosspen, 2005).

[24] L. Gumilev, Hunnu [Xiongnu] (Moscow: Izd. Vostochnoi literatury, 1960).

[25] L. Gumilev, Drevnie tiurki [The Ancient Turks](Moscow: Nauka, 1967).

[26] L. Gumilev, Tysiacheletie vokrug Kaspiia [The Millennium around the Caspian] (Moscow: Harvest, 2008); Ibidem., Otkrytie Khazarii [Discovering Khazaria] (M. Di-dik, 1996); Ibidem., Drevniaia Rus’ I Velikaia Step’ [Ancient Rus and the Great Steppe] (Moscow: Mysl, 1992).

[27] L. Gumilev, Chernaia legenda [Black Legend] (Moscow: Ayris-press, 2008).

[28] See the discussion of Frobenius in: Dugin, Noomakhia – Geosophy: Horizons and Civilizations.

[29] Leo Frobenius, Das unbekkante Afrika: Aufhellung der Schicksale eines Erdteils (Munich: C.H. Becksche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1923), 67. Frobenius is also responsible for the following formula: “Human culture should be seen as an independent organic being.” [Menschliche Kultur ein selbständiges organisches Wesen sei] – L. Frobenius, Paideuma: Umrisse einer Kultur- und Seelenlehre (Munich: Beck, 1921), 39.

[30] Frobenius, Das unbekkante Afrika, 75.

[31] Leo Frobenius, Von Kulturreich des Festlandes (Berlin: Wegweiserverlag, 1932), 53.

[32] If in Eurasia and the Pacific this model of Frobenius’ overall coincides with the geosophical map which we have constructed in Noomakhia, then with regards to Central America and South America we have arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions. See: Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Civilizations of the New World: Pragmatic Dreams and Split Horizons (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017).

[33] Frobenius, Von Kulturreich des Festlandes, 55.

[34] Once again, with regards to Eurasia, the Geosophy of Noomakhia coincides with Frobenius’ theses, while contradicting them entirely when it comes to North America. See: Noomakhia – The Horizons and Civilizations of Eurasia: The Indo-European Legacy and the Traces of the Great Mother.

[35]  René Guénon, Le règne de la quantité et les signes des temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1945), 295; René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (Hillsdale: Sophia Perennis, 2004).

[36] Ibid., 145.

[37] Ibid., 146.

[38] See: Alexander Dugin, Etnosotsiologiia [Ethnosociology] (Moscow: Academic Project, 2014). In English as: Alexander Dugin, Ethnos and Society (translated by Michael Millerman, London: Arktos, 2018); Ibidem., Ethnosociology: The Foundations (London: Arktos, 2019).

[39] Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, 3 vol. (New York: Princeton University Press, 1958).

[40] L. Gumplowicz, Die soziologische Staatsidee (Graz: Leuschner & Lubensky, 1892); Ibidem., Der Rassenkampf: Soziologische Untersuchungen (Innsbruck: Wagner, 1928).

[41] This is explored in: Alexander Dugin, “Russia and Virgo Solar” in Mysteries of Eurasia.

[42] Alexander Dugin, Voobrazhenie: Filosofiia, sotsiologiia, struktury [The Imagination: Philosophy, Sociology, and Structures] (Moscow: Academic Project, 2015)

[43] G. Durand, Les Structures anthropologiques de l’imaginaire (Paris: Borda, 1969).

Alexander Dugin & Sergey Kuryokhin – Manifesto of the New Magi

Authors: Alexander Dugin and Sergey Kuryokhin

Source: Open Revolt , Arktogeia (1996) 

***

1. We are facing a crisis of art, a lack of vitality, and the domination of pure mechanicism. Post-Modernism – the very syndrome of degeneration – is itself deformed. Interest in art today is either tackiness (in theatre, cinemas, and rock concerts), or das provozierte Leben (“the provoked life” in Gottfried Benn’s words), that is the occupation of a narrow and closed circle of “vampiric intellectuals” who have completely lost all orientations, but have not lost the need for food, social status, and vanity.

2. We are facing a crisis of politics, a lack of thought and fresh ideology, and the degeneration of politics since the splash of Perestroika. Politics has totally lost all logic and life. Politics today is either a pathological conjunction (in the center) or a pathological caricature (in the periphery). Politics is always and everywhere equally uninteresting.

3. The critical low points in the degeneration of art and politics have now been reached simultaneously, all at once. This is not always how things go, but it is none other than the case now. The lowest points of the two sinusoids have coincided.

4. In such moments in the cycle of decline, a new impulse must be acquired for development, one which lies generally outside of the sphere of the process itself. Sometimes politics spurs art, and sometimes vice versa. But now both spheres are in decline. Impulse must be sought elsewhere.

5. This new realm is MAGIC. Magic studies not events, things, and objects, but their causes, which magic does not simply describe but actively operates. Magic precedes art and politics. Art and politics became autonomous only upon being detached from their magical source. This source has not disappeared, but has merely slipped away to the periphery from where it exerts indirect influence. Secret societies, lodges, and orders have governed history and inspired artists.

6. Yet indirect influence has not been enough, as politics and art have forgotten the necessity of constantly appealing to magic. Only the direct, total replacement of art and politics with MAGIC can save this situation.

7. Today’s politicians and artists have outlived themselves. Nothing can save them. They are incapable of nourishing themselves with magic and alivening. They ought to be written off and discarded. They are totally uninteresting. A new type should replace them.

8. This new type is not a politician or artist dealing with magic, but the NEW MAGUS engaged in politics and art.

9. All forms of art and all political ideologies have their occult parallels in operative magic. Paintings emerged as worldly depictions of the gods and symbolic signs. Political ideologies are secular expressions of metaphysical and religious doctrines, e.g.: capitalism is, according to Max Weber, secularized Protestantism, while socialism and fascism are variations of Indo-European, Aryan traditions in which, according to Georges Dumézil, there is no caste of merchants. The source has gradually been lost sight of. In modern politicians and artists, we are dealing with incurable, inveterate idiots. Degree of talent and ideological success now directly depend on degree of acquaintance with occult doctrines.

10. This fact must be recognized and accepted as an inevitability.

11. Instead of a separate art, separate politics, and separate magic, a new synthetic discipline should be introduced, that of MAGIC, which directly establishes its own politics and its own art. The new hermeneutics is that historical context and aesthetic peculiarity should be discarded: it all comes down to occult paradigms. Goethe and Breton, Lenin and Churchill can all be boiled down to the magical paradigms (of the Masonic-Occultist and Hermetic-Rosicrucian bent) which they represented. All the rest can be discarded. Along with the new art and new politics will come a new approach to the study of art and a new political science.

12. The new scholars of art and the new political scientists will not be separate people from the new artists and new politicians. They will be one and the same figure. And this figure will be none other than that of the NEW MAGI.

13. Art thus becomes not the imitation of ritual or the imitation of the manufacture of fetishes, amulets, and idols, but the ritual itself, the manufacturing of amulets, fetishes, and idols.

14. Politics thus becomes not the captured “remake” of collective orgies or the realization of vaguely, indirectly perceived metaphysical projects, but the direct myth-making and occult architecture of the masses.

15. All of this is being carried out and conceptualized by the NEW MAGI.

16. Magic is an operative science. It demands real results, real metamorphoses – of objects, phenomena, and the operator himself. MAGIC is an experimental science that does not allow “obscurantism” and demagogy. The result, not the project, is the assessment. Without concrete “eidetic realization”, there is no magical act. If everything remains essentially as it was before the magical act, then we are dealing with either failure or charlatanism. Idiots and intellectuals shall not pass.

17. The NEW MAGI affirm their art and carry out social coups. They specialize in geopolitics, large-scale science, and they subjugate the elements; they tame the Atlantic Leviathan and feed the continental Behemoth. The minimum social scale of the NEW MAGIC is a country, people, state, or legions of human masses. Ascetics and marching bands of degenerate sects are of no interest to anyone. The NEW MAGIC deals with the phenomenon of the GIGANTIC, the GIGANTIC-NEW (a la Martin Heidegger).

18. Our aims will become clear only when people begin to participate in our practice, whether actively or passively, as subjects or objects. Magic solves all gnoseological problems through Praxis (like Marxism).   

19. From the outside, the crisis of art and politics may seem to be something objective. But do not build illusions, for it was organized by US, in order to clear the path for the NEW RACE, the race of magic kings.

20. We operate with abysses. For us, the invisible has its own geography. Black is not simply the absence of light, but a huge gamut of shades which earthly optometry has not even dreamed of.

21. Abyssus abyssum invocat –

22. In voce cataractarum.

Alexander Dugin – The Three Logoi: An Introduction to the Triadic Methodology of NOOMAKHIA

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

Chapter 2 of Noomakhia – The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele (Moscow: Academic Project, 2014).

***

Noomakhia and the Three Philosophical Countries

In the book In Search of the Dark Logos [1], we approached the existence of the Logoi as three views of the world or three fundamental paradigms of philosophy. We defined them as such:

  1. The Light Logos = the Logos of Apollo
  2. The Dark Logos = the Logos of Dionysus
  3. The Black Logos = the Logos of Cybele

These three paradigms can be provisionally placed along a vertical axis between the “here” (ενταύθα) and the “there” (εκείνα), between Earth and Heaven, between cause and effect, between the yield and the source, and so on. Each Logos builds its own universe and presents itself as the master and “demiurge.” Therefore, from a noological point of view, we are dealing not with one world but three whose paradigms conflict with one another and each encompass an infinite number of cosmic layers, hierarchies, and life cycles. It might be said that the Noomachy unfolds between these three Logoi in their vying for domination, and the reverberations of this primordial struggle are projected within these three noological universes, thus giving rise to internal battles, conflicts, splits, and oppositions. By virtue of implosion, this paradigmatic “three-way war” collapses each of the Logoi, immersing their content, structures, and “populations” into a funnel of fundamental catastrophes. Studying Noomakhia therefore demands a more careful dissection of these three Logoi. Each of them can be presented as a philosophical country, organized in accordance with certain rules with their own extended geography and topology of central and peripheral zones, and with a number of internal levels and both common and local hierarchies. These three noological countries are the country of Apollo, the country of Dionysus, and the country of Cybele (the Great Mother).

Gilbert Durand’s Three Regimes of the Imagination: The Diurne

The Three Logoi under discussion can be visually correlated with the three regimes of the imagination described in the theory of the French sociologist and culturologist Gilbert Durand [2]. We devoted a separate work to Durand and his ideas, Sociology of the Imagination: An Introduction to Structural Sociology [3], in which we rather thoroughly examined these three regimes: the diurne, the dramatic nocturne, and the mystical nocturne. Developing Henry Corbin’s central philosophical focus on the “imaginal” – that is the world of active imagination, the intermediate world between the corporeal and the spiritual, or the alam al-mithal of the Islamic tradition – Durand proposed the theory of the imaginaire, that is the “anthropological trajectory” of the structures located between the subject and object and organized in accordance with the prevalence of one or another dominant reflex. The imaginaire is structured in early childhood and later on determines the fundamental points of personality formation. Although the imaginaire necessarily encompasses all three regimes, one of them is always dominant and represses the others, thereby erecting the structure of consciousness in accordance with its own geometry and topology.

The domination of the postural reflex (which pushes the child up into the upright, vertical stance) organizes consciousness in accordance with the diurnal regime. This regime is dominated by diaeretic operations, such as division, dismemberment, the establishment of clear limits, contemplation, vertical hierarchy, severe logical laws, and is characterized by the concentration of identity towards one end (i.e., the construction of a consolidated subject) in parallel to the dissection (down to miasma) of the subject of perception at the opposite end (e.g., analyzing an object, dismembering a sacrificial animal, etc.). In the diurnal regime, the subject recognizes itself as a hero confronting time and death, with which it wages endless war. Vertical symmetries, images of flight (and fall), and masculine symbols such as the straight line, the sword, the scepter, the axis, arrows, light, the sun, and the sky are predominant in this mode. The diurnal regime fully corresponds to what we call the Logos of Apollo. This is the solar, masculine, heroic, noetic universe.

The Mystical Nocturne

The second mode of imagination, according to Durand, is completely opposite to that of the first. Durand calls this the mystical nocturne, and associates it with the nurturing reflex, with memories of the intrauterine state. When the imaginaire is captured by the structures of this mode, it perceives the world under the sign of the Night and the Mother. This regime is marked by the absence of clarity, as consciousness enjoys the continuous and unlimited tissue of hardly distinguishable things. Sensations of digestion, saturation, napping, comfort, stillness, gliding, and slight immersion are dominant. The prevailing elements are water, earth, and warmth. The relevant symbols are the cup, the Mother, twilight, reduced objects, centripetal symmetries, the infant, the blanket, the bed, and the womb. This is the feminine, maternal regime. The mystical nocturne is based on radical feminization and is an antiphrasis. In this mode, dangerous and ominous phenomena (death, time, evil, threats, enemies, and misfortune, etc.) are given softer or contradictory names:

Death = dormition (literally falling asleep) or even birth (resurrection);

Time = progress, becoming, improving;

Threat = a game resolved in peace and bliss;

The enemy = a friend who is not dangerous, and to whose side one must necessarily cross as soon as possible (Stockholm syndrome)

Misfortune = happiness (a temporary challenge designed for something good), etc.

A person with a dominant mystical nocturne is prone to seek compromise, is distinguished by conformism and hyper-conformism, is peace-loving, easily adapts to any conditions, is feminine, is drawn towards serenity, and sets comfort, satiety, safety, and harmony above all else, believing that the best is guaranteed to come naturally. Here we can unmistakably recognize the structures of the Black Logos, the noetic world of Cybele, the Great Mother, and the chthonic worlds of the womb.

The Dramatic Nocturne

The third regime of the imaginaire is also nocturnal, but is dramatic, dynamic, and active. It can be placed between the diurne and the mystical nocturne. It is built on a copulative dominant, on rhythm, movement, and dual symmetries. Its symbol is the bisexual being, the Androgyne, a pair of lovers, choreia, the circle, dance, rotation, repetition, the cycle, motion returning to its origin.

The dramatic nocturne does not struggle with time and death like the diurne, and does not cross over to the side of time and death as the mystical nocturne does. It closes time in a cycle and keeps death in a chain of births and deaths regularly replacing one another (reincarnation). In this regime, the subject is reflected in the object and vice versa, and this game of reflections is reproduced in an infinite sequence. If the diurne is the masculine regime, the realm of the day, and if the mystical nocturne is the maternal realm of the night, then the dramatic nocturne correlates with twilight (dusk and dawn) and the male/female pair (sometimes united into one). While the diurne rigidly divides one from another (diaeresis) and the mystical nocturne unites everything (synthesis), the dramatic nocturne unites the divided and divides the united – never entirely, but retaining differences in their merger and sameness in division.

Those who have a dominant dramatic nocturne exhibit developed artistic abilities, psychological flexibility, eroticism, lightness, mobility, the ability to maintain balance in motion and to perceive events in the external world as a never-ending, shifting alternation of dark and light moments (the ancient Romans’ dies fastus/dies nefastus).

Durand’s dramatic nocturne perfectly fits the description of the Dark Logos, the noetic universe of Dionysus, the god who fuses opposites in himself – suffering and dispassion, death and resurrection, male and female, high and low, and so on. Hence precisely why the “search for the Dark Logos” led us to Dionysus and the broad complex of his situation.

The Three Worlds in Mythology

Mythology, in particular Greek mythology, provides us with abundant material for composing the three noetic spaces. The realm of the Light Logos corresponds to Olympus, the heavenly world, and the king of the gods, the thunder-god Zeus, his wife, Hera of the air, the solar Apollo, the warrior Athena, the goddess of justice Dike, and other analogous figures. This is the highest horizon of the celestial Olympian gods in the maximal purity in which the Greeks tried to imagine the gods free from chthonic or archaic elements. This series of gods can be called the diurnic series, for their primary realm of rule is the that of the day, wakefulness, the clear mind, the vertical symmetries of power, and purification.

The second realm of myth, corresponding to the mystical nocturne, is that of the chthonic deities associated with Gaia, the Great Mother. This includes the “Urania” of Rhea, the deputies of the titan Cronus and the mother of Zeus, all the generations of the Titans overthrown by the gods, as well as other creatures of the Earth, such as the Hundred-Handed Ones (Hecatoncheires), the giants, and other chthonic monsters. To this category also belong some of the gods for one reason or another expelled from Olympus, such as Hephaestus. In this zone are situated the underworlds of Hades, and below it Tartarus. Here we should pay particular attention to the Titans, whose very nature reflects the characteristic attributes of the mystical nocturne. Moreover, the Titanomachy (like the Gigantomachy) can be seen as a mythological analogue of the “wars of the mind” by which we understand Noomachy. This Kingdom of Night also has its own philosophical geometry and is fundamentally opposed to that of the Day.[4] In Plato’s dialogue The Sophist, the philosophical aspect of the Gigantomachy is described in extraordinarily expressive terms:

Stranger: We are far from having exhausted the more exact thinkers who treat of being and not-being. But let us be content to leave them, and proceed to view those who speak less precisely; and we shall find as the result of all, that the nature of being is quite as difficult to comprehend as that of not-being.

Theaetetus: Then now we will go to the others.

Stranger: There appears to be a sort of war of Giants and Gods going on amongst them; they are fighting with one another about the nature of essence.

Theaetetus: How is that?

Stranger: Some of them are dragging down all things from heaven and from the unseen to earth, and they literally grasp in their hands rocks and oaks; of these they lay hold, and obstinately maintain, that the things only which can be touched or handled have being or essence, because they define being and body as one, and if any one else says that what is not a body exists they altogether despise him, and will hear of nothing but body.

Theaetetus: I have often met with such men, and terrible fellows they are.

Stranger: And that is the reason why their opponents cautiously defend themselves from above, out of an unseen world, mightily contending that true essence consists of certain intelligible and incorporeal ideas; the bodies of the materialists, which by them are maintained to be the very truth, they break up into little bits by their arguments, and affirm them to be, not essence, but generation and motion. Between the two armies, Theaetetus, there is always an endless conflict raging concerning these matters. [5]

The third kingdom, situated between Olympus and Hades (Tartarus), is the domain of the intermediate gods. The undisputed king of this mythical realm is Dionysus, who descends into Hades as Zagreus and rises to Olympus as the resurrected Iacchus of the Eleusinian mysteries and Orphic hymns. Here should also be included the psychopomp god Hermes, the goddess of harvest and fertility Demeter, as well as the countless series of lesser gods and daimons – the nymphs, satyrs, dryads, silens, etc. Some of the Olympic gods, such as Ares and Aphrodite, also gravitate towards this intermediary zone. It is also here that the titans (such as Prometheus) break through in certain situations and strive upwards. Yet the most important aspect for our sake is that it is in this mythological kingdom that we find those people whom the Orphics believed to have emerged from the ashes, or from among the titans struck down by Zeus for dismembering and eating the infant Dionysus. The nature of people is therefore simultaneously titanic and divine, Dionysian. On the upper horizon, this nature touches the realm of the daytime gods of Olympus. On the lower horizon, it descends into the underworld, the nocturnal region of the titans.

Thus, we have acquired a mythological map of the three noetic worlds of interest to us. On the basis of carefully interpreting different tropes, histories, traditions, and legends, we can glean a vast amount of data relevant to our study of Noomakhia.

Philo-Mythia and Philo-Sophia

Insofar as from the very onset we have substantiated the necessity of distance from the “contemporal moment”, we can consider the zone of myth wholly and without any reservations as a reliable basis for our quest. We can treat philo-mythia (a term coined by the Brazilian philosopher Vicente Ferreira da Silva [6]) as a parallel scholarly field alongside philo-sophia. Nothing hinders us from reversing the progression from Mythos to Logos and studying the chain from Logos to Mythos. Moreover, it would be even more productive to consider the logological and the mythological as two equal types of narratives, especially since in Ancient Greece both terms, λέγω и μυθέω, meant discourses of different semantic shades. On the level of the paradigm of thinking, as considered outside of the classical version of the historial, the equal consideration of all types of discourses is wholly legitimate. In fact, this is precisely what we see in the works of Plato and the Neoplatonists, who easily transitioned from one method to another in order to be most understandable and convincing. The “contemporal moment” demands that we approach the logological side of Plato seriously (even descending to the level of his “naive” idealism) and that we leave the mythological dimension aside, insofar as such simply reflects the “remnants and superstitions of the era.” But upon establishing distance from the contemporal moment, this whole interpretive system collapses, and we can and should turn to the Mythos and Logos simultaneously, on common grounds, in search of what really interests us.

Moreover, on the basis of the Neoplatonic language systematically developed by Plotinus, we can propose the following terminological model. The basic paradigms of thinking (and that means the sources of philosophy) are to be placed not in the realm of the Logos, but in the realm of the Nous (νοῦς) which can be seen as the common source of both Logos and Mythos. The noetic precedes the logological as well as the mythical. The Nous contains the Logos, but is not identical to it. The Logos is one specific manifestations of the Nous. The Mythos can also be considered another specific manifestation of the Nous. Therefore, they are parallel to one other on the one hand, and have a common source on the other. We are interested in precisely the noetic section, those layers of thinking and being where this divergence has not yet established. Therefore, the parallelism between philo-mythia and philo-sophia is fully justified. Noomakhia can be described and cognized both as portrayed in the picture of Titanomakhia as well as in terms of the rational polemics of philosophical schools.

With regards to the interpretation of myths and describing the relationship between the “new gods” and “ancient titans”, it is also necessary to assume a correct position from the outset. Based on the fact of the eternity of the Mind, the νοῦς (or its analogue, the spirit, the Source, etc.) as the grounds upon which all non-modern (=traditional) and non-Western (=Eastern) doctrines and religious systems are built, the diachronic structure of myth can be considered a symbolic conventionality. We ought to understand the indication that the “Titans” existed (and reigned) before the gods, sub specie aeternitatis, either as a logical continuity, or as an indication of their place in the structure of the synchronic topology of the noetic cosmos. The Titans always existed, just as the Black Logos of Cybele or the regime of the mystical nocturne. “Before” means either “higher” or “lower” depending on the viewpoint of the zone of the noetic Universe where we stand. For Mother Earth, with respect to the Titans, “before” means “better.” For the Olympians, the converse is true, since they think of themselves as the “new gods” who have won eternity in contrast to the endless cycles of the Titans’ self-closing duration. From the standpoint of the Logos of Apollo, the Titans are “ancient” because they did “not yet” know eternity, and they dwell below because they will never know it. The discrepancy between the interpretation of the “before” and “after” is not simply the consequence of relative positioning, but an episode – and a fundamental one – of the Titanomachy, which is an expression of nothing more nor less than the choice of side in the never-ending battle of eternity against time. The war of the gods and titans is a war for the position of the “observatory point”, a war to control it. Those who determine the paradigm, the grille de la lecture, will rule. We thereby find ourselves in the very epicenter of the wars of the mind. The titans seek to overthrow the gods of Olympus in order to assert their Logos as the exemplary and normative one, while the gods insist on the triumph of the diurne. Therefore, the nature of any mythical figure or account depends on from what sector of the noetic cosmos we view such, and to which army we ourselves belong. And it is this belonging to an order of one or another divine leader that Plato lays out in his Phaedrus, where Socrates explains to Phaedrus that in the person we love, we see the figure of the divine leader which our soul follows in its heavenly hypostasis. In the one we love, we love God and at the same time, in God, our higher “I.”

It would be highly naive to suppose that all people choose the camp of the gods, the Logos of Apollo and the solar regime of the heroic diurne. If this was the case, the Earth would be Heaven. Some tend towards the chthonic forces of the Earth, in solidarity with the worlds of the Great Mother. Some intuitively or consciously see themselves as warriors of the army of Dionysus. As follows, we have the right to expect from such different treatments of myths, philosophical notions, and corresponding figures of Love between the three human types.

The Geometry of the Logoi

Let us imagine this picture as a whole in a diagram.

This mythological snapshot of the world can be interpreted in the most diverse ways. From a synchronic point of view, it is a map of three simultaneous regions of the world, each corresponding to the model of one of the three fundamental zones and three modes of the imagination. In this case, the Three Logoi represent three primordial positions of viewing the map of the Universe: from above (by Apollo and Olympus), from below (by Gaia, Cybele, and Tartarus), and from an intermediate position (that of Dionysus, Demeter, and humanity).

At the same time, it can be said that the basic figure of the Universe will change depending on the arrangement of this or that “observatory point.” The Logos of Apollo believes itself to be the center, the foundation, the top of the triangle or the peak of Mount Olympus (Parnassus). The view from here is a view looking down upon the base of the triangle. The descending vertical of the solar Logos sets at the opposite end of itself its opposition – the flat, horizontal Earth. Hence the Delphic formula “thou art” and “Know thyself”.  The “I” is the “I” of Apollo, the peak of Olympus. And just as is the case with the path from the “I” to the “not-I”, so should the path from the “not-I” (the earthly surface, the horizontal, and expanse) to the “I” be strictly vertical (the path of the hero up Olympus). The highest point in this logological and mythological geometry is deliberately given: all the rest is positioned as away from itself, and the solar rays it emits fall to rest upon the plane of Earth. In this picture, the Earth is necessarily flat, as it is seen from the peak of the world mountain.

The intermediary world of Dionysus is structured differently. Its height rises up to the heavens and its depth reaches down to the center of hell. Dionysus’ center is in himself, while the above and below are the limits of his divine path – formed not by themselves, but over the course of the dramatic mysteries of his tragic, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. The Logos of Dionysus is dynamic; it embodies the abundance and tragedy of life. Dionysus’ universe differs radically from the Universe of Apollo, insofar as their different views yield different worlds. The Logos of Dionysus is a phenomenon, a mutable structure of his epiphany. It is far from chaos, but it is not the fixed order of Apollo. It is a kind of playful combination of both, a sacred flickering of meanings and minds constantly threatening to plunge into madness – a madness which is healed by the impulse towards the higher Mind. It is not the fixed triangle of the mountain, but the pulsating, living heart that composes the paradigmatic canvas of thinking.

The geometry of Cybele’s Universe is completely different. On the one hand, in her we can see the inverted image of the Universal Mountain turned upside down into a sort of cosmic funnel. The symmetry between hell and heaven was vividly described by Dante. The Ancient Greeks believed that there is a black sky in Tartarus with its own (suffocating) air, its own (fiery) rivers and (foul) land. Yet this symmetry should be not merely visual, but also ontological and noological. The world of the titans consists of the refusal of the order of the diurne. The horizontal thus acquires the dimension of a downwards vertical, a horizontal of the depths. Differences fuse while identities are split asunder. Light is black, and darkness blazes and burns. If in the world of Apollo there is only the eternal “now”, then Cybele’s world is reigned by time (Kronos – Chronos), where there is everything but the “now”, and instead only the “before” and “too late”, where the main moment is always missed. The torture of Tantalus, Sisyphus, and the Danaids reflects the essence of the temporality of hell: everything is repeated to no end. The inverted triangle, as applied to the worlds of Cybele, is most akin to an inverse “Apollonian hypothesis” – and thus indeed Apollo understands this opposite to himself. Mother Earth thinks otherwise: she has no straight lines, no clear orientations. Attempts to separate one from the other cause her unbearable pain. Her thinking is muffled, gloomy, and inconsistent. She cannot break away from the mass which de-figures and repeatedly dissolves all forms, decomposes them into atoms and recreates them again at random. This is how monsters are born.

Therefore, the three views of the universe from these three positions represent three conflicting worlds, and it is this conflict of interpretations which constitutes the essence of the war of the minds.

The Philosophical Season

Looking at this model in static terms, we can also propose a kinetic interpretation. It is easily noticeable that the three synchronic worlds of this model can be taken to represent the calendric cycle: the upper half (the kingdom of Apollo) corresponds to summer, the lower world of Cybele to winter, and the intermediary worlds of Dionysus to autumn and spring. The latter can be interpreted as the cardinal points of the drama of Dionysus, his sacrificial killing, dismemberment, resurrection, and awakening. The fixed positional zones of the tripartite cosmos thus come to life and motion. The changing of the seasons becomes a philosophical process of intense thinking, a manifestation of cosmic war, in which the Logoi attack their opponents’ positions. In winter, the earth strives to swallow light, to capture the sun, and to turn flowing waters into blocks of ice. In summer comes the celebration of order, fertility, creation, and life. The cycles of the Dionysian festivities mark the key moments in this drama: the withering and the new flourishing.

The Logoi thus enter into a dialectical confrontation, the spatial topography of which is embodied in a temporal sequence. Thus, the changing of seasons is revealed to be a process of philosophizing. The natural cycle is habitually considered to be the direct opposite of history, which consists of momentary, non-repeating events. The historial manifests itself where the cycle opens – this is the axiom of “axial time.” Therefore, the symbolism of the season is seen by “school philosophy” as the direct antithesis of philosophy as such. But this axiom is valid only and exclusively from the standpoint of the “contemporal point”, a view which is only possible if we recognize historicism as a dogmatic truth. By overturning this construct in the spirit of the revolution proposed by the Traditionalists, we can propose an alternative interpretive model: history can be seen as a great seasonal cycle with its own winters and springs, and as follows, its own intersections of the ontological territories of hell and heaven. There are epochs of Apollo, Dionysus, or the Great Mother which replace one another with a certain continuity, in each of which dominates one or another paradigm, one or another Logos, one or another “philosophical season.” The eras of Apollonian rule wield an orientation towards eternity and being, towards sacred tradition and the heroic architecture of life and consciousness. These are vertical epochs, in which the cosmic fire kindles itself (Heraclitus). There is no history in these eras, there is only the event – the epiphany of constant heavenly eternity.

The era of Dionysus balances between eternity and time. It celebrates sacred time in festivals, mysteries, initiations, and ecstatic rapture. This is open time – time from which one can step into eternity. But here there is already a notable dualism between periods of joy and periods of grief (the Triterica). Half of time passes amidst the “concealment” of god, his apophenia. God dies in order to be resurrected in the Great Dionysia. He is resurrected again and resides among people (epiphany), bestowing upon them the horror and dizziness of sacred being.

The epoch of Cybele knows neither Apollonian eternity nor the ecstatic enthusiasm of the dying and resurrecting god. It is monotone and solid. It contributes to all that is gigantic and super-dimensional in a material sense but which is deprived of flight and free movement. It is in precisely this era of winter that lasting, “dragging” time is born, that which is incapable of transcendence. Here begins the reign of temporality.

Applying this theory of the philosophy of seasons to the foundational historial of modern Western philosophy, we reach an interesting conclusion. Is this “Western culture”, built on the very principle of temporo-centrism, not a sign of precisely this titanic earthly cycle? If we take into account the materialism and heightened and clearly unhealthy fixation of modern people on things and atomic (and ever more microscopic) phenomenon, the reign of quantity over quality, earthly over heavenly, and mechanical over organic, the preponderance of individualist fragmentation, including the aesthetic norms of contemporary art, then the notion that we find ourselves under the rule of the Black Logos seems to be a wholly probable supposition.

In this case, philosophy is revealed to be not a radical rupture with nature and its repetitive cycles (as the evidencia of the contemporal moment suggests), but the common, fundamental, and ontological matrix of the seasons themselves. Nature and its universal laws are thus but one form of the manifestation of the Nous and its conflicting Logoi – alongside geometry, philosophy, mythology, religion, culture, and “history.” The Nous organizes everything – both the structures of eternity and the structures of time, both natural transformations and human thinking, the trajectories of the flights of the gods and the counter-attacks of the titans. Thus, the calendar and its symbolism can by all means offer a philosophical reading. If this is a correct reading, then calendric symbolism can serve as a hermeneutic key to the comprehension of history, as has been nobly substantiated by the Traditionalist school. Guénon, Evola, and other representatives of Traditionalism univocally identified our epoch as that of the “Kingdom of Night”, the Kali-Yuga, the final age which corresponds on the synchronic, ontological map of the states of being to hell and its population. Something similar with respect to the meaning of modernity is affirmed by virtually all sacred traditions and religions. As soon as one refrains from interpreting Tradition and religion from the standpoint of the “contemporal moment”, and instead strives to determine the “contemporal moment” from the position of Tradition and religion, then everything immediately falls into place, and the anomalousness of our epoch is revealed in all of its volume. We live in the center of winter, at the bottom point of the Untergang, of descent. In this situation, it is easy to guess which Logos dominates over us, what “deities” are ruling us, and which mythological creatures and religious figures are leading today on a global scale in Noomakhia, in the wars of the mind.

The Philosophy of the First Logos: Platonism

Now we are left with pursuing the parallels between philo-mythia and philo-sophia to their logical end and proposing a systematization of the types of philosophy in terms of the mythological and seasonal maps of their paradigmatic universes. The choice of temporal sectors is more than broad enough to render this possible. However, we ought to act conventionally and therefore take as our point of departure that period which Heidegger called the “First Beginning of Philosophy”, that of classical Greece. On the basis of the synchronism of our reconstruction of the Three Logoi, we should attempt to identify three philosophical schools which to one degree or another resonate with these three corresponding paradigms.

The philosophy of the diurne, of Apollonianism, and the heroic, light ascent is, without a doubt, to be found in Plato and Platonism. Here we have the highest form of this approach, the axiomatic formulas of the vividly expressed Light Logos. Plato’s philosophy is built on the Apollonian triangle, from top to bottom, and represents the most perfect model of the embodiment of diurnic thinking. Plato himself was associated with the figure of Apollo (as was the founder of Neoplatonism, Plotinus, several centuries later). Plato was born on the day of Apollo’s festival (May 21 / Targelion 7, 428 B.C.E.) and died on the very same day in 348 at a wedding feast.[7] To this Apollonian line should be also added the ontological philosophy of the Eleatics (Xenophanes of Colophon, Parmenides, and his student Zeno), as well as Pythagoras and his school.

The structure of Plato’s philosophy meets all the requirements of the Apollonian Logos. At the top of his theory is the One, surrounded by eternal ideas. This is the peak of the divine, celestial world, illuminated by timeless light. The highest principle is the Good, which exudes its abundance firstly upon the world of ideas (paradigms) and then, through the good Creator-Demiurge, on the created cosmos. Plato described all three of these world zones in his Timaeus, in particular distinguishing the realm of paradigms (the observatory point of the gods, the Father), the realm of models, or “copies” and “icons” (the Son), and the mysterious khora (χώρα), the space or country which Plato likened to the Nurse or Mother. In describing the khora (which was later identified by the Neoplatonists with the mother), Plato’s dialogue loses its crystal clarity, thus lending towards the strange assumption that this element can be comprehended only by means of a “special Logos”, which Plato called “bastard” or “illegitimate” (νόθος λόγος) [8]. The vision of the celestial god thus reaches the surface of the earth, the lower limits of the world of copies, but here is confronted with its limits, as it can no longer see anything amenable to clear Apollonian discernment. At the border of the day, the realm of night-dreaming flickers. Timaeus (Plato) restricts himself to only a few suggestions and postulates the khora (space) to be a flat intermediary, beyond which there is nothing, and which is impossible to understand, insofar as there is nothing to properly understand in it. This khora is the view of the back of the Great Mother, a limit unreachable by the Apollonian, where hell begins. Alexander the Great, the disciple of Plato’s disciple, Aristotle, repeated the same gesture when he erected at the Caspian Gates a copper wall which symbolically closed the gateway of the cosmos (=the ecumene) to the wild hordes of North Eurasia, e.g., Scythia, which in Greek sacred geography was considered to be under the control of the titans, hence the legend that the titan Prometheus was the king of the Scythians.

The Neoplatonists extracted all possible gnoseological, ontological, and theological consequences from Plato, thus crowning the nearly millennial existence of Plato’s Academy with a complete and unique monument to Olympic, divine, heavenly thought. In a certain sense, Platonism is eternal, and has continued in both Christian theology by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, John of Damascus, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Michael Psellos, John Italus, and Gemistus Plethon in the East, and by Boethius and John Scotus Eriugena in the West), as well as in the Renaissance and even amidst modern philosophy.

Aristotle: The Teacher of the “New Dionysus”

The second Logos, the philosophy of Dionysus, can be discerned in Orphism, in the teachings of the Greek mysteries (especially the Eleusinian), and manifests itself most fully in Aristotle. If hardly any doubts arise with respect to the Apollonian qualification of Plato’s philosophy, then the convergence between Aristotelianism and Dionysianism might seem, in the very least, strange and unwarranted. This is so only because Dionysus and Dionysianism are currently treated predominately through poetic, artistic, and aesthetic lenses or only with regards to the Bacchic orgies and ecstatic processes. If anything at all is established as corresponding to Dionysus, it is likely either the “philosophy of life”, biologism, or, in the worst cases, hylozoism. This means that we are not at all ready to take Dionysius seriously as a philosopher and we do not accord full consideration to his structural function in the philosophy of the world. The point is that Dionysus, on the philosophical map of the Three Logoi, belongs to the middle world below the higher paradigms, models, and ideas and above the dubious and difficult to ascertain (for the Apollonian Logos) worlds of the Great Mother. This means that Dionysus rules the world of phenomena. In this case, his philosophy should be a phenomenological philosophy. We are dealing with the notion of “phenomenon” as from φαίνω, whose root can be traced back to the meanings “light” and “reality.” The very same root is used to form aπόφασις (“concealment”), επιφάνια (“revelation”, “epiphany”), as well as λόγος αποφαντικός, which Aristotle employed to express the “declaratory expression”, the fundamental element of his logic. Dionysus is also closely associated with the cycles of “phenomena” and concealments, the rhythms of changes which compose the structure of religious life and, accordingly, the paradigm of sacred time of his adepts. But the main point is that Aristotle’s philosophy, which rethought Plato’s doctrine of ideas, discarded it, and began to construct its theories on the basis of none other than the “phenomenon” located on the border between form and matter, between μορφή and ύλη. On one side, the phenomenon rises up the divine vertical of the eidos (είδος), but unlike the Platonic idea, the eidos here is conceptualized as being closely linked to its material foundation and not outside of it. Thus, we are dealing with a genuinely “intermediary philosophy” situated strictly between the Logos of Apollo and the Logos of Cybele, one which unfolds in the zone now relinquished to the mythology (philo-mythia) of Dionysus, and which claims to have a completely autonomous structure capable of making judgements on what is higher and what is below it on the basis of its own criteria. Heidegger’s great interest in a deep, fresh reading of Aristotle was most likely inspired by precisely this clear consciousness of the fact that besides Aristotle the Logician, beyond the creator of the first ontology (metaphysics) as is customary to qualify him in the theories of the Western European historial, there is another Aristotle: Aristotle the Phenomenologist. This Aristotle tries to overcome something similar to the initiatives of Husserl and Heidegger with regrds to Plato – only not two and a half millennia after Plato, but immediately. We will attempt to illustrate this in greater detail in a separate chapter.

For now we can point out the close association between Aristotle and his royal student, Alexander the Great. According to the beliefs of devout Greeks, Alexander’s father was Zeus himself, who laid with his mother Olympia, a priestess of the cult of Dionysus, in the form of a snake (as with Persephone, the mother of Zagreus) during the Bacchic orgies, as a result of which Alexander was venerated as the “New Dionysus.” It cannot be ruled out that Alexander’s march to India was the product of his own personal faith in this astonishing tale. It is no less surprising that such an initiative – extremely difficult and dangerous in military terms – was ultimately crowned with unprecedented success, as Alexander the Great, the New Dionysus, indeed succeeded in establishing a colossal Empire which united East and West into a single cultural and civilizational space.

Another, somewhat later model of Dionysian philosophy can be discerned in the Hermetism of Late Antiquity, which represented its own kind of synthesis of fragments of Egyptian, Chaldean, Iranian, and Greek cultures with a whole number of ideas and models borrowed from Orphism and the arsenal of mysteries. Hermes, like Dionysus, was a god, but unlike many other gods was distinguished by an ontological mobility, polyformity, and the ability to rapidly and dynamically move throughout all levels of the world – from the heights of Olympus to the depths of Tartarus. The Greeks believed Hermes to be a psychopomp, the “driver of souls”, the one who drove the dead into hell and the heroes up Olympus. The philosophy that was angled around Hermes’ element was also distinct for its hybrid diversity, dynamism, and dialectical poly-semantism characteristic of the middle world. Hermetism can be seen as a shadow of Aristotelian logical phenomenology: here philo-mythia, paradigmatic qualities, the figures of the mystery cycle, and the mysterious metaphors of the planetary-mineral cycle are all employed more eagerly than the procedures of conscious reason which Aristotle and his followers would employ with such priority. The substantive difference in stylistics, however, should not hide from us the commonalities of the fundamental, paradigmatic approach of these two types of philosophizing: they belong to one and the same noological level, like two brigades of one and the same army, acting in solidarity over the course of Noomakhia. We can see this tendency towards synthesis on the part of the Hermetic spirit and Aristotelianism in the Stoa and later in the Middle Ages in Scholastic Aristotelianism (that of Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and Thomas Aquinas) and in the shadow duplicated by the alchemical treatises (whether correctly or not, nevertheless tellingly) attributed to the classics of rationalist scholasticism.

The Philosophy of the Castrates

What, then, will be the third philosophy corresponding to the Black Logos of Cybele? In the solar Platonic vision, we can obtain only an external, “celestial” view, which sees as its bottom the khora (Χώρα), the space of the subtle film of the chaotic movement of scattered particles not yet formed by the ordering demiurge. Χώρα comes from the same root as mythological “chaos”, χάος, meaning “yawning”, or literally “opening the jaws”, “freeing the empty space.” Instead of the voluminous “chaos” that creates the three-dimensionality of unordered void, Timaeus sees a film that resists comprehension by the classical Apollonian logos and whose comprehension demands falling into slumber, losing clarity and rigor, and degeneration.

Aristotle paid much more attention to “matter”, ύλη. The latter becomes a necessary component of being, without which, as without the “subject” (ὑποκείμενον), there can be no being (unlike Platonic ideas, which are that which is: το ὄν). Accordingly, matter acquires a certain positive ontological dimension that is fundamentally superior to its status in Platonism. The thing as phenomenon stands in the forefront of Aristotle’s system, and all of its traits are conceived as appendices to its actual presence, the essential role in which is played by matter. As follows, in the spirit of the Logos of Dionysus we have drawn substantially nearer to the zone of matter and the Mother. It is this particular, implicit materialism in Aristotle that was taken up by the Stoics who, combining this doctrine with those of the Pre-Socratics, constructed a developed model of rationalist materialism in which even the Logos is assigned the status of a material element. The early and late Stoa (with the exception of the middle, specifically Panaetius and Posidonius, who sought to combine Stoicism with Platonism, thereby departing from the main system of this philosophy) can be considered the borderline scenario of Aristotelian philosophy, in which the center of attention is shifted to matter as its lower limit. Yet still the form, the eidos, remains the fundamental pole of the phenomenon and, as follows, therefore cannot claim the role of being the philosophy of Cybele. Instead, the latter corresponds to a different philosophical tradition, one born in the Thracian city of Abdera and transmitted from Leucippus through Democritus to Epicurus and the Epicureans, up to the Roman philosopher Lucretius Carus. This constellation of thinkers stands closest of all to the structures of the Black Logos.

Democritus built his doctrines on the complete negation of the Apollonian vertical order, thus moving not from top to bottom (as the Platonists), but from bottom to top. Democritus’ philosophy was based on two notions: the minimally indivisible particle (the atom), and emptiness, or the “Great Void.” Such is the pillar of being underlying all phenomena formed out of the interplay of atoms moving chaotically according to the laws of isonomy, i.e., in any possible direction and in any possible combination. The blind rampage of sputtered particles turns into vortices which constitute organizational ensembles, but order itself, including the eidoi, figures, bodies, and processes, is shaped by the aleatoric laws of random combinations.

Thus, Democritus argued that the gods are essentially a hallucinatory cluster of atoms and, as such, are not eternal, but are capable of appearing in dreams to inform a sleeping person of minor events or simply to frighten them. There is no harmony or immanent logic in the world, everything is utterly meaningless. Seeing the world as an insignificant accident, Democritus laughed at anyone who treated being seriously and solemnly, thus earning himself the epithet “the laughing philosopher.” Here we can see the typical depiction of the birth of Gaia as a grimacing, worm-like monster imitative of the human consciousness of a condensed phantom (εἴδωλον). The inhabitants of Abder considered Democritus to be insane. Democritus spent all of his free time – and all of his time was free, as he was a parasite living off of his inheritance – at the cemetery or in city garbage dumps. In the spirit of his general system, Democritus did not believe in eternity, the soul, or immortality, but solely in accident and the Great Void of the dead and alienated Universe.

Here we can see a vivid example of the mystical nocturne, the shift of consciousness towards the opposite side, towards identification with the blind, unseen, or ghostly forces of matter, disorder, and chaos, i.e., the philosophy of Night. Plato was completely right to see in Democritus and his atomists existential enemies, the bearers of the chthonic, titanic element. It is telling that Plotinus directly compared the atomists to the castrated priests of the Great Mother (the Galli) and emphasized that the eunuch is the only truly sterile: while woman can serve as the habitat of the ripening of a fetus, the castrate embodies ultimate vanity and absolute impotence. 

Similar ideas were developed in Epicurus’ philosophy, which reduced all of reality to the sensual world and recognized the doctrine of atoms, thereby rejecting not only the being of Platonic ideas, but also the forms/eidoi of Aristotle. For Epicurus, who believed in many worlds, the gods are like perfect cohesions of atoms in complete isolation from people (between worlds) which have no influence on anything. Epicurus believed happiness to be complete indifference (ἀταραξία). Insofar as the gods are happy, they must be indifferent towards everything and, as follows, they do not participate in the life of the universe, nor the being of peoples, and therefore their presence, completely unmanifest, is essentially identical to their absence – hence the notion of deus otiosus, or the “lazy, idle god” attested in different religious and mythological systems. People are usually inclined to quickly forget such gods.

In this case, man’s soul is as mortal as his body. Epicurus believed in the evolution of species, postulating that material forces develop from the simplest forms towards the emergence of more organized beings. Moreover, Epicurus considered the goal of life to be pleasure. A full exposition of Epicurean views was presented in the poem of Lucretius Carus, who synthesized the philosophical aspects of the Black Logos with a number of chthonic myths concerned with the origins of people, the less perfect yields of the Earth which preceded them, and the forms which have not yet evolved within the span of the animal and plant world known to us.

In Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius Carus, we have a developed panorama of the philosophy of the Titans which shaped the Logos of the Great Mother and systematized its procedures and basic concepts. This is the intellectual headquarters of the Titanomachy active on the philosophical, religious, and cultural levels. This is one of the three main poles of the war of the minds, the Noomakhia. In this army of thinkers of the mystical nocturne, we can also see that this is not even what Gaia herself thinks, but rather the products of her parthenogenetic self-fertilization, products of her creation, mobilized into her army, generated by privation, poverty, and deficiency, i.e., the basic qualities of the material element.

The Neoplatonists saw the castrate philosophy of materialism to be a gross violation of healthy sense and related its main principles to the final four hypotheses of Plato’s Parmenides pertaining to the denial of the existence of the One. Thus, we are dealing here with a philosophy of the universe which, from an Apollonian point of view, simply cannot exist – cannot and should not.

The Relevance of the Three Philosophies

Having examined the vertical, synchronic view of the philosophical schools of classical Greece, we have divided such into three types and poles corresponding to the Three Logoi. The main figures of these three headquarters of Noomakhia are represented by Plato (and the Platonists), Aristotle, and Democritus (and Epicurus).

Platonists stand for the verticle when it exists, and they struggle for its restoration when it has been shaken. Their philosophy can change its superstructure depending on the state of the world in which the Platonist finds himself, and depending on the nature of the philosophical season. If Apollo, Zeus, and the Olympian gods hold firmly to power over the city, the people, the country, and the civilization, then Platonists act as conservatives. If Platonists are put in the context of the shifty, flickering, dramatic Logos of Dionysus or Hermes, they will be inclined towards restoration, towards raising Dionysus and preventing him from descending again. Finally, under the reality of hell, under the control of the Black Logos of the Great Mother, Platonists will fulfill the role of radical revolutionaries, philosophical extremists who challenge the suggestive magic of material lies.

Aristotelians, meanwhile, can theoretically harmoniously exist in idealist systems or accept certain positions of materialism. The Stoa demonstrates to us the limits of what is achievable.

Finally, the sensualist atomists will play the role of revolutionary nihilists in a Platonic order, and they will gravitate towards materialist interpretations of intermediary “Dionysian” systems (emphasizing the similarities between Dionysus and Hades in Heraclitus in accordance with the logic of “he went down to hell and staid there”). In the zone of chthonic culture, on the contrary, they will find themselves with the status of apologists, defenders, and guardians of the order of things.

The general system of the culture of classical Greece was built on the implicit recognition of the Olympian element and, accordingly, Apollonian philosophy (including Platonism, the Eleatics, the Pythagoreans, etc.). However, even then this trend, beyond its conservative features, bore restorationist and even partially revolutionary elements, such as in the political ideas of the Pythagorean union or the reforms which Plato proposed to the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysus (as well as his son). To a considerable extent, they represented vanguard revolutionary projects aimed at returning full power to the solar gods who had somewhat drifted towards more mundane and less perfect powers.

After Aristotle, philosophy came to be dominated by the Stoics with their phenomenological approach and significant share of materiality (insofar as matter was considered to be the vital substance of “pneuma” and even the Logos itself). The Stoics were the first to clearly articulate the philosophy of the Empire of Alexander and then of Rome. Although atomism and Epicureanism were never dominant tendencies in classical Greece, they developed freely and drew a significant number of nocturnal minds in search of pleasure to the “philosophy of the garden.” 

The Middle Ages saw Aristotelianism prevail, with both Platonism and materialism, sensualism, and atomism displaced to the periphery. In this sense, the debate on universals in Catholic Scholasticism reflected the essential sense of the Medieval balance of forces of Noomakhia: Aristotelian Thomism/Realism prevailed over the Idealism/Platonism of Scotus Erigena on the one hand and the Nominalism/Materialism of the Franciscans (Johannes Roscelin and William of Ockham) on the other.

Modernity was distinguished by the gradual rise of the Logos of Cybele. Galileo and Gassendi revived atomism, and nominalism became the basis of the scientific method. Materialism thus gradually became the criterion of scienticity. Eternity was rejected and replaced by the absolutization of time, historicism and, finally, the idea of progress. As in Epicurus’ philosophy, god first becomes “idle” (Deism) and “logical” (the “god of the philosophers”), and then yields to pure atheism (Nietzsche’s “God is dead”). The human soul is thought to be mortal and then comes to be regarded as the “psyche”, that is the sublimated continuation of the physical organism. The doctrine of the atomic structure of matter came to be laid at the foundation of the physical map of the world of Modernity, and the opening of this vacuum brings us back to the Great Void of Democritus. Space becomes isotropic and Democritus’ principle of isonymy thereby becomes dogma.

Modernity, thus, is the onset of the philosophical winter, marked by the domination of the Great Mother of Matter. The Titans storm the abode of the gods. Night triumphs over day. The mystical nocturne subjugates the ranks of the heroic diurne. Thus arises the era of the masses, of gravity (Isaac Newton’s universal gravitation) and – in René Guénon words – the “reign of quantity.” In the context of Noomakhia, this is the shift of the center of attention from the paradisal mountain to hell’s funnel, from the peak and the top to the bottom of the cosmic well. In such a situation, Platonism and its echoes, i.e., the remnants of the army of the gods, the partisans of Olympus, go underground, into the realm of peripheral mysticism, of “secret societies”, “Conservative Revolutionaries”, and “conspirators conspiring to restore the Golden Age.” In the 20th century, their programmatic manifesto was articulated in René Guénon’s books, first and foremost The Crisis of the Modern World and The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (as well as other of Guénon’s works) [9], and Julius Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World, The Mystery of the Grail, and Ride the Tiger (as well as the rest of Evola’s oeuvre) [10].

We find the Dionysian Logos in Modernity in Hermeticism and European Romanticism, such as in Schelling’s Dionysiology or Hölderlin’s Christian Dionysianism, as well as in the many mystical circles and secret organizations which became closely interconnected in the circumstances of existence within a common underground in the face of the domination of a common enemy – the Titans. In the 20th century, this was most clearly manifested in such a phenomenon as “soft Traditionalism” (Mark Sedgwick’s term), which seeks not so much to oppose as to reconcile earthly reality with the heavenly Logos. A paradigmatic prototype of this approach can be said to be represented by the group of thinkers associated in one way or another with the Eranos seminars formed around Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin, Gershom Scholem, T. Suzuki, Karl Kerényi, and later Gilbert Durand and others. Russian religious philosophy, and primarily Sophiology, belongs to this type. In European philosophy, this current includes phenomenology, and especially Martin Heidegger. Nietzsche’s call to appeal to the figure of Dionysus was thus heard by representatives of different currents in philosophy.

Under the dictatorship of the Titans, the Logos of Apollo and the more flexible and subtle Logos of Dionysus (the Dark Logos) find themselves in a subordinate position. The main blows are dealt to direct opponents, such as Platonists, but also to representatives of the Dionysian element which, having a natural share in the Divine, are also subjected to the aggression of the sons of Earth. After all, Dionysus-Zagreus was dismembered by the Titans, and they continue to tear him apart to this day.

The synchronism and cyclical diachronism of this noological map and calendar thus allow us to discern Tradition and Modernity both as coexisting spatial zones of ontology and as successive, agonal types of domination of one or another paradigm. In the Noomachy, there are starting positions, base areas, and theaters of military operations where control over one or another height changes hands over the course of dramatic and dynamic battles. Insofar as, according to Plato, “time is the image of eternity”, time consists of both eternity’s likeness and its unlikeness. The latter consists of the diachronicity of the order of the unfolding of the philosophical seasons, of the concrete dynamics of military operations, and of the shifts in the episodes of Titanomachy (as well as the Gigantomachy and, more generally, the Noomachy). Eternity’s likeness is at its maximum at the height of Olympus, where time merges with eternity, and is at its minimal at the Great Midnight, where there is only time. This point of the Great Midnight is the culmination of Noomakhia, the moment of the Endkampf, Ragnarök, the final battle, the place and time of the Decision (Entscheidung). It is here, in the zone furthest removed from the kingdom of Zeus, in the period of the abandonment by Being (Seinsverlassenheit), during the Night of the Gods (Gottesnacht), when the gods have fled (der Flucht der Götter) and when Olympus, according to the final Oracle, has fallen, that the final mystery of Dionysus is revealed – the mystery of the only god capable of penetrating to the very bottom of hell. Heidegger spoke of the Untergehende, the one who descends into hell without being hell himself, who enters into time and is torn by it but remains, in essence, a drop of eternity. This is the heart of Dionysus saved by Athena – it is all that is left in the wake of the successful realization of the diabolical plan of the Titans.

Time prevails over eternity completely, purging it, becoming only its unlikeness, its simulacrum, a copy without an original – but only for a moment. It ceases to last once it loses its resemblance to eternity whose image it is. Of course, time denies this and tries to portray its privative being as self-sufficient. Such is the essence of the uprising of the Earth and its monsters against the dwellers of the Sky, of Heaven. The semantics of the End Times and the battle for the End Times, i.e., the battle for the “end of time”, is constituted by this proportion between autonomy and dependency.

And here it is time to remember Dionysus’ name: “The Midnight Sun.” Such is a paradox, for Night is Night because there is no sun. But where is the sun at night? Where are warmth and life during the season of philosophical winter? Where is the sky when Earth wins? Where do the gods flee? This is the question of Dionysus, his concealment, his epiphany, his essence, and his heart. This is the main question of Noomakhia.

***

Footnotes:

[1] Alexander Dugin, In Search of the Dark Logos: Philosophico-Theological Outlines (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2012).

[2] Gilbert Durand, Les Structures anthropologiques de l’imaginaire (Paris: Borda, 1969).

[3] Alexander Dugin, Sotsiologiia voobrazheniia. Vvedenie v strukturnuyu sotsiologiiu (Moscow: Akademicheskii Proekt, 2010).

[4] Alexander Dugin, “Noch’ i ee luchi”, in Radikalnyi Sub’ekt i ego dubl’ (Moscow: Eurasian Movement, 2009).

[5] Plato, The Dialogues of Plato. Translated by B. Jowett (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1892). Russian edition: Platon, “Sofist” in Fedon, Pir, Fedr, Parmenid (Moscow: Mysl’, 1999).

[6] Vicente Ferreira Da Silva, Transcendencia do mundo (Sao Paulo: E Realizacoes, 2010).

[7] According to legend, Plato’s tomb in the Academy bore the inscription: “Apollo begat two sons, Asclepius and Plato, the one to save the body and the other the soul.”

[8] See: Alexander Dugin, Martin Heidegger: Vozmozhnost’ russkoi filosofii (Moscow: Academic Project, 2011).

[9] See: René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World; Ibidem, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times

[10] See: Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World; Ibidem, The Mystery of the Grail; Ibidem, Ride the Tiger.

 

Petr Savitsky – “Eurasianism” (1925)

Author: Petr Savitsky

Translator: Jafe Arnold

First published in the journal Evraziiskii vremennik [The Eurasian Chronicle] in 1925, abridged version re-published in and translated from: Alexander Dugin (ed.) et al., Osnovy Evraziistva [The Foundations of Eurasianism] (Moscow: Arktogeia, 2002). 

***

I.

The Eurasianists are representatives of a new element in thinking and life; they are a group of figures actively working to radically transform hitherto predominant worldviews and life-systems, and to do so on the basis of a new approach to the root questions that define life, an approach which has arisen out of everything that has been endured over the past decade. At the same time, the Eurasianists have proposed a new geographical and historical understanding of Russia, as well as that whole world which they call Russian or “Eurasian.”

The Eurasianists’ name is of geographical provenance. The point is that they, the Eurasianists, have – where previous geography has counted two continents, “Europe” and “Asia” – discerned a third, middle continent on the mainland of the Old World, that of “Eurasia”, from which they derive their name…

In the opinion of the Eurasianists, the notion of “Europe” as a totality of Western and Eastern Europe is, in a purely geographical sense, inane and farcical. In the West, in terms of geographical outlines, one finds the richest development of coasts, the thinning of the continent into a peninsula, an island; whereas in the East there is a solid, continental mass whose only disconnect is to be found towards the sea coasts. Orographically, the West is constituted by a most complex arrangement of mountains, hills, and lowlands; whereas the East is home to the enormous plains whose outskirts alone are edged by mountains. Climatically, the West is of a seaside climate with a relatively small difference between winter and summer. In the East, this difference is sharply pronounced with hot summers, harsh winters, and so on and so forth. It could be rightfully said that the Eastern European, or as the Eurasianists call it, the “White Sea-Caucasian” plain is in its geographical nature much closer to the West-Siberian and Turkestan plains lying to the East than it is to Western Europe. These three plains, together with the elevations separating them from one another (the Ural Mountains and the so-called “Aralo-Irtysh” watershed) and bordering them from the East, South-East, and South (the mountains of the Russian Far East, Eastern Siberia, Central Asia, Persia, the Caucasus, Asia Minor), represent a special world, one which is united in and of itself and geographically distinct from the countries lying both to the West, East, and South of it. If you apply the name “Europe” to the first and the name “Asia” to the second, then the world just named, as the middling and mediating world, will bear the name “Eurasia.”

The necessity of distinguishing on the mainland mass of the Old World not two, as hitherto done, but three continents is not some mere “discovery” by the Eurasianists. Rather, this discernment also arose out of views previously expressed by geographers, especially Russians (for example, Prof. V.I. Lamansky in his work of 1892). The Eurasianists sharpened this formula and once again gave to this “seen” continent the name that was once attached to the whole landmass of the Old World, to both old “Europe” and “Asia” in their totality.

Russia occupies the main space of the land of Eurasia. The conclusion that Russia’s lands are not split by two continents, but rather together constitute a certain third, independent continent, is not only of geographical significance. Insofar as we also ascribe to the notions of “Europe” and “Asia” some kind of culturo-historical content, and as we think of “European” and “Asian” or “Asiatic” cultural circles as something concrete, then the designation of “Eurasia” also acquires the meaning of a compressed culturo-historical character.[1] This designation indicates that Russia’s cultural being, in its internally comparable proportions, has come to include elements from the most diverse variety of cultures. The alternating influences of the South, the East, and the West, have consistently prevailed in the world of Russian culture. The South manifested itself in these processes mainly in the paradigm of Byzantine culture, whose influence on Russia was long and fundamental. The special intensity of this influence can be seen in the era from approximately the 10th to the 13th centuries AD. The East, in turn, acted mainly in the form of “steppic” civilization, which is conventionally considered to be characteristically “Asian” (“Asiatic” in the above sense). The example of Mongol-Tatar statehood (Genghis Khan and his successors), which managed to master and govern an enormous portion of the Old World for a definite historical period, undoubtedly played a positive role in the creation of Great Russian statehood. The lifestyle of the steppes of the East also exerted broad influence on Russia. This influence was particularly strong from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Starting with the end of the latter century, the influence of European culture prospered and reached its height by the 18th century. Among the categories which, while not always precise, nevertheless highlight the real essence of the division of the Old World’s cultures into “European” and “Asiatic-Asian”, Russian culture belongs to neither one nor the other. Russian culture combines elements of both and converges them towards a certain unity. Therefore, from the point of view of specifying distinctions between cultures, the qualification that Russian culture is “Eurasian” expresses the essence of the phenomenon more than any other…Of all the cultures of the past, two of the greatest and most versatile cultures known to us were genuinely “Eurasian”: (1) Hellenistic culture, which combined elements of the Hellenic “West” and ancient “East”, and its continuation, (2) Byzantine culture in the broader Eastern Mediterranean cultural world of late antiquity and the middle ages (these prosperous realms both lie exactly South of the main historical core of the Russian regions). The historical connection between Russian and Byzantine culture is highly noteworthy. The third great “Eurasian” culture was to a certain extent born out of the historical succession of the two preceding ones.

The “Eurasian”, Russian cultural environment, in terms of the geographical, spatial terms of its existence, received its grounds from and, as it were, strengthened the skeleton of historical culture from another “Eurasian culture.” With the subsequent, successive superposition of Asiatic-Asian (the influence of the East) and European (the influence of the West) layers on Russian soil, this quality of Russian culture was strengthened and affirmed.

By defining Russian culture as “Eurasian”, the Eurasianists act as the conscious bearers of Russian cultural identity. On this matter, they boast even more precedents and predecessors beyond purely geographical definitions. All those thinkers of a Slavophile orientation, including Gogol and Dostoevsky (as philosophers and authors), ought to be recognized as such. The Eurasianists, in the chain of ideas, are the heirs to the powerful tradition of Russian philosophical and historiosophical thinking. This tradition most immediately traces back to the ‘30s’ and ‘40s of the 19th century, when the Slavophiles began their activities.[2] In a broader sense, a number of works of Old Russian literature, the oldest of which date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, should be counted as part of this tradition as well.

When the fall of Tsargrad [Constantinople] in 1453 sharpened Russians’ consciousness of their role as the defenders of Orthodoxy and the heirs to Byzantine cultural succession, Russia gave birth to ideas which, in a certain sense, can be considered the precedents for later Slavophile and Eurasianist ideas. Such “pioneers” of Eurasianism as Gogol or Dostoyevsky, as well as other Slavophiles and associated thinkers like Khomiakov, Leontyev, and others, surpass the contemporary “Eurasianists” in terms of the sheer scale of their historical figures. But this does not annul the condition that they and the Eurasianists share the same thoughts on a number of questions, and that the Eurasianists’ formulation of these thoughts has been more accurate than their predecessors. Insofar as the Slavophiles relied on “Slavdom” as the element that defines the culturo-historical uniqueness of Russia, they took up positions which are difficult to defend. Without a doubt, there is a culturo-historical and, above all, linguistic connection between Slavic peoples. But as an element of cultural uniqueness, the notion of Slavdom, in its empirical content as it has developed up to the present time, has little to offer.

The creative revelation of the cultural identity of the Bulgarians and Serbo-Croat-Slovenians belongs to the future. In a cultural sense, the Poles and Czechs belong to the Western “European” world and represent one of the latter’s cultural regions. Russia’s historical uniqueness clearly cannot be defined as exclusively, or even predominantly, belonging to the “Slavic” world. Intuiting this, the Slavophiles appealed in thought to Byzantium. But while emphasizing the importance of Russia’s ties with Byzantium, Slavophilia did not and could not offer a formula that fully and proportionately expresses the character of the Russian culturo-historical tradition and which captures the “oneness of nature” of Russia and its Byzantine cultural continuity. “Eurasianism” expresses both to a certain extent. The formula “Eurasianism” takes into account the impossibility of explaining and defining the past, present, and future cultural uniqueness of Russia in terms of any preferential appeal to the notion of “Slavdom”; it also points to the source of this uniqueness in Russian culture’s combination of “European” and “Asiatic-Asian” elements. Since this formula affirms the presence of the latter in Russian culture, it establishes the connection between Russian culture and the broader creative world of “Asiatic-Asian” cultures in their historic role, and this connection is exhibited as one of the strong sides of Russian culture, and it compares Russia with Byzantium, which in this very sense also wielded a “Eurasian” culture…[3]

II.

Such, in brief, is the place of the Eurasianists as conscious expounders of Russia’s culturo-historical uniqueness. But the Eurasianists’ doctrine is not limited to this recognition. Rather, with this recognition they substantiate a common concept of culture and derive from this concept concrete conclusions for interpreting what is happening in the present. First we shall present this concept, and then move on to conclusions concerning the present time. In both cases, the Eurasianists feel themselves to be the successors of the ideological cause of the above-named Russian thinkers (the Slavophiles and adjacent thinkers).

Independently of the views expressed in Germany (by Spengler), but approximately simultaneously with the appearance of the latter, the Eurasianists put forth the thesis of denying the “absoluteness” of modern “European” (i.e., in common terminology, Western European) culture, of denying the claim that the latter’s qualities constitute the “perfection” of the whole hitherto process of the cultural evolution of the world. Until altogether recently, the affirmation of such “absoluteness” and such a quality of “European” culture was firmly insisted upon, and today persists in the brain of “Europeans”; moreover, this assertion has been blindly accepted in the form of a faith by the higher circles of “Europeanizing” societies and peoples, particularly by the greater part of the Russian intelligentsia. The Eurasianists have challenged this situation with the recognition that many of the achievements and structures of “European” consciousness, especially those of an ideological and moral nature, are relative. The Eurasianists have noted how the European has time and again called “savage” and “backwards” everything which can by no means be objectively seen as standing below its own achievements, and everything which is simply not similar to the European’s own manner of seeing and acting. Even if it were possible to objectively show the superiority of the latest science and technology in some fields over all the other achievements of this type accomplished over the course of observable world history, it is still essentially impossible to offer any such proof when it comes to matters of ideology and morality. In light of the internal sense of morality and freedom of philosophical conviction which, for the “Eurasian” concept, are the only criteria for evaluating the ideological and moral fields, the much younger and more modern Western European turns out to be not only not superior but, on the contrary, inferior in comparison with the corresponding achievements of various “ancient”, “savage”, and “backwards” peoples. [4] The Eurasianist concept signifies a decisive rejection of culturo-historical “Eurocentrism”, and this rejection stems not from some emotional worries, but from certain scientific and philosophical preconditions…One of the latter is the rejection of the universalist perception of culture which reigns among modern “European” notions. This universalist view encourages Europeans to indiscriminately qualify certain peoples as “cultured” and others as “un-cultured.” It bears recognition that in the cultural evolution of the world we encounter “cultural environments” and “cultures”, some of which have achieved a great deal, while other less. Yet determining precisely what a given cultural environment has achieved is only possible upon distinguishing between branches of culture.

A cultural environment which is low in some sectors of culture might time and again prove to be higher in others. There can be no doubt that the ancient inhabitants of Easter Island in the Great [Pacific] Ocean “lagged behind” the modern English in very many branches of empirical knowledge and technology, but this did not prevent their culture from manifesting a measure of originality and creativity against which the sculpturing of modern England can lay no claims. Similarly, Muscovite Rus of the 16th-17th centuries was behind Western Europe in many industries, but this did not hinder it from creating a “self-initiating” epoch of artistic creativity, from developing its own unique and remarkable types of “towered” and “patterned” churches which cannot but force one to admit that, in terms of artistic creation, Muscovite Rus stood above the majority of Western European countries of its time. The same is the case in other eras of the existence of this very same “cultural environment.” Muscovite Rus of the 16th-17th centuries gave birth, as previously said, to a “self-initiating” era of church building, but its developments in iconography marked a clear decline in comparison to the achievements of Novgorod and Suzdal in the 14th and 15th centuries. We have cited such examples from the sphere of fine arts as the most visual. But also in the case of knowledge of an external nature, if we distinguish between the fields of “theoretical knowledge” and “living vision”, then it would turn out that the “cultural environment” of modern Europe, while attaining success in the field of “theoretical knowledge” has, in comparison with many other cultures, seen decline in the field of “living vision.” The “savage” and “black man” perceives a number of natural phenomena more subtly and precisely than the most learned modern “naturalist.” Examples of this could be multiplied to infinity; let us say further that the whole sum of “facts of culture” is but one continuous example of the fact that only upon examining culture with a view to deconstructing and differentiating between fields can we arrive at any complete knowledge of its evolution and character. This examination can be accomplished with three basic concepts: “cultural environment”, the “eras” of the latter’s existence, and “cultural fields.” Any analysis is duly confined to a certain “cultural environment” and a certain “era.” Where we draw the borders of these depends on the point of view and purpose of study. The character and degree of division of “culture” into “fields” depends on these factors. It is important to emphasize the fundamental necessity of division, as it eliminates the uncritical examination of a culture as an undifferentiated totality…A differentiated consideration of culture shows that there are no indiscriminate “cultured” and “un-cultured” peoples, and that the most diverse peoples whom “Europeans” call “savages” by all means wield “culture” in their customs, traditions, and knowledge and in some fields and from some points of view stand high.

III.

The Eurasianists are drawn to those thinkers who deny the existence of any universal “progress” which is, at any rate, determined by the above-presented concept of “culture.” If the evolutionary line moves differently in different fields, then this means that there is not and cannot be any common upward movement, any gradual, steady, common “perfection”, insofar as one or another cultural environment, or a whole number of cultural environments, while “improving” from one or another point of view, might often be declining in another. This postulate is applicable to the ‘European’ cultural environment in particular: its scientific and technological “perfection” has been bought, from the point of view of the Eurasianists, at the price of ideological and most of all religious impoverishment. This dual nature of its achievements is clearly expressed in its approach to the economy. For many long centuries in the history of the Old World, there existed a certain common relationship between the ideological-moral-religious element on the one hand and the economic on the other. More precisely, there existed a certain ideological subordination of the economy, and it is precisely this permeation of the whole approach to economic matters by the religio-moral element that allowed historians of economic doctrines (for example, the old 19th century German-Hungarian historian Kautz, whose works retain a certain significance to this day) to unite into one group, in terms of their approaches to economic matters, such diversely ranging landmarks as the literature of China, the Iranian laws of the Vendidad, Mosaic law, and the works of Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, and Western medieval theologians. The economic philosophy of these milestones is, in a definite sense, a philosophy of “subordinated economy.” These doctrines emphasize, as something necessary and due, the link between the satisfaction of our economic needs and the common elements of morality and religion. The economic philosophy of the European “new ages” is the opposite of this view. Although not always in direct words, but often enough in the foundations of its worldview, the new European economic philosophy asserts the circle of economic phenomena to be something self-sufficient, a value in itself which encompasses and manifestly exhausts all the ends of human existence…It would be a sign of spiritual blindness to deny the enormity of those purely cognitive achievements and successes in understanding and envisioning the economic phenomena which the new political economy has realized and amassed. But in acting as an empirical science, and being to a certain and large extent none other than such, the new political economy, in a number of its postulates, imposes itself upon minds and eras as a metaphysics…Similar to how the economic ideas of ancient legislators, philosophers, and theologians were associated with certain metaphysical views,  so are the economic ideas of modern economists tied to such values. If the metaphysics of the former was the philosophy of “subordinated economics”, then the metaphysics of the latter is the philosophy of “militant economism.” The latter is, in a certain sense, an ideological price which the new Europe has paid for the quantitatively enormous economic rise that it has experienced in the modern age, especially over the past century. There is something instructive to be found in this picture: at the end of the Middle Ages and in the early modern centuries, the ancient wisdom of the primordial moral covenant which restrained man’s selfish instincts with words of exhortations and denunciations – in a word,  the philosophy of “subordinated economics” – collapsed under the pressure of the new ideas of modern times which presumptuously asserted the theories and practices of “militant economism.” [5] Historical materialism is the most complete and acute expression of the latter.

Thus, the link between the philosophy of “subordinated economics” on the one hand, and “militant economism” on the other, in terms of a certain approach to matters of religion is observable in empirical ideological reality. If the philosophy of “subordinated economics” is and has always been an appendage to one or another theistic worldview, then historical materialism is ideologically tied to atheism. Hence the atheistic essence concealed within historical materialism which, like the wolf of a fairy tale, conceals itself from time to time with the mask of the sheep’s clothing – that of empirical science. In Russia, the atheistic worldview has accomplished an historic triumph, as state power is in the hands of atheists and has become an instrument of atheistic preaching. Without going into the question of the “historical responsibility” for what is happening in Russia, but while also not wishing to annul anyone’s responsibility, the Eurasianists understand that the essence which has been received and subsequently introduced into life by Russia – by virtue of the receptivity and excitement of its spiritual being – is, in its source, in its spiritual origin, not the Russian essence. The Communist sabbat has dawned in Russia as a perfection of more than two centuries of “Europeanization.” Recognizing that the spiritual essence of the Communism of the ruling state in Russia is, in a special way, the reflected ideological essence of European modernity (the “new ages”) is a postulation which is empirically grounded to a high degree. Here one should also consider the origins of Russian atheism in the ideas of the European “Enlightenment”, the introduction of socialist ideas into Russia from the West, the link between Russian Communist “methods” and the ideas of the French Syndicalists, as well as the significance and “cult” of Marx in Communist Russia. In seeing the ideological essence of the European “new ages” in such a way, taken to its logical conclusion, the Russians who have not accepted Communism and, at the same time, have not lost their abilities to think consistently, understand that they cannot return to the foundations of modern “European” ideology. The experience of the Communist revolution implies for the Eurasianists’ consciousness a kind of truth, both old and new. Healthy social housing can only be built on an inseparable connection between man and God, man and religion. Non-religious housing and a non-religious state must be rejected. This rejection harbors no preconceived claims regarding specific constitutional-legal forms. Such a form, in the Eurasianists’ view, could exist harmlessly under certain conditions, such as in the “separation of Church and state.” But in essence, it is yet highly significant that what is perhaps the first government in world history to be consistently atheist and which has turned the profession of atheism into the official confession of the Communist government, has turned out to be, as in the prophetic words of the most profound Russian philosopher of the late 19th century, Leontiev, “organized flour” – that is to it say it has become a system of shocking and destroying the “common blessing” or “common good” (supposedly in whose name the Communist authorities have installed themselves), of such abuse of the human personality that all images fade and all words are powerless in describing the terrible, unprecedented, blasphemous atrociousness of this reality. We shall repeat: the circumstance that the domination of the first consistently atheistic government has turned out to be the domination of all that is beast-like is not a coincidence. Historical materialism and its complementing atheism unveil and unleash all those primordial, creatural instincts, including those primordially economic ones which, in the final analysis, amount to extortion. The main determining force of social being under the conditions of the ideological reign of materialism and atheism is hate, and its worthy fruit is the torment of all which, sooner or later, cannot but lead to the final fruit: the torment of the tormentors.

Russia has seen through the triumph of historical materialism and atheism, but the laws which have manifested themselves over the course of its revolution far from concern Russia alone. The cult of primordial economic interest and  animalistic primordiality has, by virtue of abundant germination, sprouted in the consciousness of peoples beyond Russia. Yet this cult cannot form the basis for long and prosperous community outside of Russia. The destructive forces that have accumulated under these conditions will sooner or later exhaust the forces of social creation. This problem must be beheld in all its depth and breadth. The pressure of materialist and atheist views must be opposed with an ideological essence whose content must be  precious and voluminous. There can be no hesitation.

With hitherto unprecedented directness and uncompromising determination, and on the broadest possible front – everywhere – it is necessary to initiate and lead a struggle against all that is to even the slightest degree related to materialism and atheism. The evil must be traced back to its roots, it is necessary to literally eradicate it. It would be superficial and impotent to attempt to combat only the most acute manifestations of historical materialism and atheism and one communism. The problem is posed much deeper and more substantially. We must declare war on “militant economism” wherever it manifests itself. In the name of a religious worldview, we must gather forces to fight with passionate feeling, clear thoughts, and full understanding against the specific spirit of the new Europe.

Insofar as the latter has reached its historical and ideological limits, at which it finds itself presently, it can be said with great certainty that at some point in the future one of the two following scenarios will happen: either the cultural environment of the new Europe will perish and dissipate like smoke in torturous, tragic shock, or the “critical epoch”, as the Simonists term it, which began in Western Europe with the end of the Middle Ages, will come to its end and be replaced by an “organic epoch”, an “epoch of faith.”

Ancient wisdom cannot be flouted with impunity beyond well known limits for sake of the fact that it is truth. It is not on the basis of erecting a higher principle out of primordial, selfish human instincts as taught by the philosophy of “militant economism”, but on the basis of curbing and restraining these instincts with an enlightened religious pulse that the highest measure of the “common good” possible on earth can be achieved.

A society which succumbs to an exceptional concern with its earthly goods will sooner or later be deprived of them – such is the terrible lesson that is translucent in the experience of the Russian Revolution. The Eurasianists have attempted to fully and entirely understand and consciously grasp this experience, to derive all the lessons that stem from it, and to be fearless on this matter unlike those who, reeling in turmoil and timidity from the bestial image of Communism, cannot refuse themselves that which constitutes the basis or root of Communism – those who, holding the plow, look backwards; those who try to pour new wine into old furs; and those who, upon seeing the new truth of the abomination of Communism, are incapable of renouncing the old filth of “militant economism” in any and all of its forms…

Personal faith is insufficient. A faithful person must be part of the greater spiritual community. The Eurasianists are Orthodox. The Orthodox Church is that light that illuminates the path ahead of them. The Eurasianists call upon their countrymen to strive towards Her, towards Her Gifts, and towards Her Grace. The Eurasianists are not disconcerted by the terrible distemper that has been instigated by the atheists and theomachists that are rising in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Eurasianists believe that there is enough spiritual strength, and that struggle leads to enlightenment. The Orthodox Church is the realization of higher freedom. Its primordial element is that of conciliation, unlike that of the element of power which prevails in the breakaway Roman Church. It seems to the Eurasianists that in harsh worldly affairs one cannot do without harsh authority, but in spiritual and Church affairs, only graceful freedom and conciliation compose the essence of good leaders. “Europe”, meanwhile, in some of its parts, is destroying the effectiveness of government and is introducing tyrannical power into Church affairs.

The Orthodox Church has for many centuries only shined upon those peoples who have remained faithful to Her; she has shed light through the truths of her creed and the feats of heir ascetics. Perhaps new periods are dawning now, as the modern Orthodox Church, continuing the line of succession of the Ancient Eastern Church, has received to be the main principle of its existence a complete lack of bias towards approaches to forms of economic life (as opposed to the methods of the Western Church, which for many centuries fought against charging loans with interest), and towards the achievements of human thought. Perhaps it is for this reason that none other than the Orthodox Church has been called upon, to the greatest extent and as part of the new religious epoch, to cover the achievements of the latest economic technology and science, to cleanse them of the ideological superstructures of “militant economism”, materialism, and atheism, just as in the times of Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian, the Ancient Eastern Church succeeded in encompassing, in the genuine and inspired “era of faith”, an altogether complex and developed economic life as well as significant freedom in theological-philosophical thinking.

In modern economic technology and empirical science, regardless of their hitherto development, there is nothing that would exclude the possibility of their existence and prosperity in the bosom of a new era of faith. The combination of modern technology and science with the ideology of “militant economism” and atheism is by no means necessary and inevitable. From a religious point of view, economic technology is, regardless of the limits of its abilities, a means to realize the Covenant bestowed by the Creator upon the creation of the human race: “They may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen 1:26). Empirical science is, from a religious point of view, the revelation of a picture of the Divine world that, as knowledge progresses, more perfectly, fully, and evermore clearly reveals the Wisdom of the Creator.

IV.

Eurasianism is not only a system of historiosophical or theoretical doctrines. It strives to combine thought and deed and to ultimately lead to the affirmation of a certain methodology of action alongside this system of theoretical views. The main problem which stands before Eurasianism in this regard is the problem of synthesizing a religious view of life and the world with the greatest empirically founded practicality. The posing of this problem is substantiated by the whole character of Eurasianism. The Eurasianists are essentially and at once advocates of religious principles as well as consistent empiricists. Their ideology is born out of facts. In their characterization of the Russian world as “Eurasian”, it is as if their bodies are adjoined to each expanse of their native land, to each section of this world’s history.

Understanding facts is insufficient. Facts need to be governed in the plastic process of history. As people who perceive and feel the world religiously arrive at this task, they find themselves faced with the problem of evil in all of its nakedly glaring and mystically shocking reality. The Eurasianists feel the reality of evil in the world to the utmost extent – in themselves, in others, and in private and social life. They are the least utopian of all. In their consciousness of the damage of sin and the empirical imperfection of human nature arising out of such, they in no way agree to build their calculations on the premise of the “goodness” of human nature. Insofar as this is the case, the task of acting “in the world” arises to be a tragic task, for the “world lies in evil.” The tragedy of this task is inescapable. The one thing towards which the Eurasianists strive is to be in harmony in their thoughts and deeds at the very height of this tragedy. Firm philosophical conviction and, we would say, the very nature of the Russian historical and national character in which the Eurasianists participate, exclude the possibility of sentimentally approaching this task. Consciousness of the sinfulness of this world does not exclude but, on the contrary, demands courage in empirical decisions. No ends justify the means. Sin always remains sin. But while acting “in the world”, sin must not be feared. There are situations in which one must take burden upon himself, for idle “holiness” would be an even greater sin. In the practical sphere, for the Eurasianists, the problem of “right” versus “left” political and social solutions has been annulled. This subdivision is irresistibly important to those who, in their ultimate ends, cling solely to the limited realities of human existence, and have lost their minds amidst the notions and facts of political and economic application. Whoever relates to these questions in this manner has no other values beyond concrete political and social resolutions of “left” or “right”; and for every such resolution, every such person is supposed to stand steadily and “with frenzy”, for beyond such resolutions and himself, like of the spiritual heights, nothing remains. If a political or economic direction which has been adopted turns out to be unsuitable to the demands of life and impractical, then any consistent person must nevertheless cling to it, for the direction is he himself. This is not the approach to practical solutions of a Eurasianist. For the Eurasianist, religious reliance is essential, and it is acquired beyond the sphere of political and economic empiricism. Insofar as decisions in the latter sphere allow for religious appraisals, a “right” or “left” decision may be good in different situations, just as one or the other may be bad in others. The greatness of number of practical resolutions is seen indifferently from a religious point of view. While understanding all the whole importance of political and economic applications, and while simultaneously not attributing supreme values to them, the Eurasianists can bring to the religiously-indifferent spheres applications with an open-mindedness and freedom inaccessible to people of other worldviews. In all practical decisions, the demands of life are, beyond any prejudice, the guiding principle of the Eurasianist. Hence in some decision the Eurasianist may be more radical than the most radical, while in other cases more conservative than conservatives. Historical perception is organically inherent to a Eurasianist, and the sense of continuing historical tradition is an integral part of his worldview. But this feeling is not regenerated in a pattern. The Eurasianist is bound to no patterns whatsoever – only the subject of the matter, with the full understanding of the nature of phenomena, shines through to him from the depths of every problem.

The present Russian reality more than any other demands precisely such an approach “to the essence.” The Eurasianists’ approach to the spiritual element of the revolution has been expressed previously, but in its material-empirical guise, in the ratio of political power between separate groups which it has created, and in the new distribution of property, the revolution should in large part be seen as an unavoidable “geological” fact. A sense of reality and elementary state-feel compels this recognition. Out of all the acting groups of a “non-revolutionary” spirit, the Eurasianists might be the ones who can go further along the path of the radical and encompassing recognition of this fact. Facts of political influence and the distribution of property, which in this case the matter concerns, are not of primary, self-evident importance to the Eurasianists, but are only secondary values. This eases the task of recognizing fact for the Eurasianists. But the fact in many cases is the product of abomination and crime. In this lies the severity of the problem. But since abomination and crime have been allowed by the Will of God to become an objective historical fact, it must be considered that the recognition of this fact does not contradict the Will of God. Whatever be the extent of the direct worship of fact lies in the empirical necessities of the era which must find a way out of the revolution. In religious terms, this necessity of fact-worship can be equated to temptation through which one must pass: to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (that is, to take into account all the empirical political-economic demands of the era), without surrendering and harming God. From the point of view of the Eurasianists, the task at hand is to redeem and to transform this abomination and crime with the establishment of a new religious era that will shine its radiant light upon all that is sinful, dark, and terrible. This is possible not in the order of the dialectical disclosure of history, which mechanically and “Marxistly” turns all “evil” into “good”, but in the process of the internal accumulation of moral force, in the face of which even the necessity of fact-worship would pose no overwhelming temptation. 

***

Footnotes:

[1] In Russian and some Romano-Germanic languages, two adjectives for “Asia” have been produced: “Asian” and “Asiatic.” The first, in its historical meaning, referred primarily to the Roman province encompassing the Western part of Asia Minor, and then to the diocese, whenceforth the mainland continent of the Old World acquired this name. “Asia”, “Asian”, and “Asians” were employed in the original, narrower sense in Acts of the Apostles 19:20. The adjective “Asiatic” concerns the whole continent. The root of the words “Eurasia”, “Eurasian”, and “Eurasians” is the first, more ancient designation, yet not because “Asianness” was constructed exclusively for the Roman province and diocese, but rather because the Eurasianists appeal to a much wider historical and geographical world. Due to a number of misconceptions, the word “Asiatic” has on the tongue of Europeans acquired an odious connotation. This odious seal, which testifies only to ignorance, can be removed by way of appealing to the more ancient name, as is accomplished in the designation of “Eurasianism.” In this term, “Asian” refers to the cultural circle not only of Asia Minor, but of “Greater” Asia. In particular, the Eurasianists highly appreciate the cultures that inhabited Asia in the apostolic and subsequent centuries, i.e., Hellenic and Byzantine culture, and the Eurasianists by all means seek paradigms for modern spiritual and cultural creativity in some branches of this culture.

[2] From the point of view of historiosophical concepts, Eurasianism as a matter of course lies in the same sphere as the Slavophiles. However, the problem of the relationship between these currents cannot be reduced to that of a simple succession. The prospects opening up before Eurasianism are conditioned, on the one hand, by the scale of the ongoing catastrophe and, on the other, by the emergence and manifestation of completely new culturo-historical and social factors which, naturally, did not play a role in the construction of the Slavophile worldview. Moreover, much of what the Slavophiles considered to be foundational and indisputable has since become obsolete over the past several decades or has been exposed to be essentially inconsistent. In some sense, Slavophilia was a provincial and “domestic” current. Now, in connection with the real opportunities opening up before Russia to become the center of a new European-Asiatic (Eurasian) culture of the greatest historical significance, any conceptualization and realization of a holistic, creatively conservative worldview (as Eurasianism considers itself to be) must determine its appropriate, unparalleled paradigms and scales.

[3] The latter definition can claim substantial historical accuracy. The essence of Byzantine culture was determined by a combination of the most diverse elements. Currents of religious, artistic, and other impulses which flowed from the East – from Palestine, Syria, Armenia, Persia, and Asia Minor, as well as some parts of Africa – mixed with perceptions of the Western state and legal tradition (as in the existence and development of Roman law in Byzantium). Moreover, the contact with steppe cultures that was so definitive to the forming of Russian culture did not fail to leave its traces in Byzantium as well. Much in Byzantine fashions and mores can be traced back to being borrowed from the steppe “barbarians” who in successive waves closed in on the borders of the empire.

[4] The same situation applies to the field of art, and in particular to some branches of fine art (artistic architecture, sculpting, painting), where the inadequacy of the latest “European” creations is especially evident in comparison with that achieved in more ancient epochs and by other peoples.

[5] Militant economism, as an element in the sprit of the human being, has existed and exists everywhere. Yet it is significant that it is in the new Europe that this principle has been elevated to be an ideological principle.

[6] The Eastern Church, in rejecting the proposal of a ban on borrowed interest at the Council of Nicaea in 325, thereby recognized authoritative interference into economic life to be unbefitting  of the Church. The Eastern Church stood on this position in all subsequent centuries and continues to stand on it today. The practice of the Western Church has been different: the ban on the charging interest on loans was maintained for a millennium and still in the 18th century Turgot was forced to reckon with such as a reality of life.

Leonid Savin – “The Multipolar Moment”

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Journal of Eurasian Affairs 5:1 (2018) / Excerpt from a forthcoming book…

***

In his article, “The Unipolar Moment”, which was based on a series of lectures delivered in Washington, D.C. in September 1990, Charles Krauthammer wrote that a new world order was emerging in which the United States would be the only superpower.[1] In the second paragraph of the article, Krauthammer introduced three main theses being discussed in the US political science community at the time: (1) the rise of multipolarity (interestingly enough, he suggests a “diminished Soviet Union/Russia” as one future pole, thus anticipating the collapse of the Soviet Union), (2) weakened consensus on foreign policy within the US, and (3) a diminishing of the threat of war in the post-Soviet era. Krauthammer promptly dismissed these arguments as erroneous, and instead spoke of the coming triumph of a unipolar world under the undisputed dominance of the US and its Western allies. Krauthammer did, however, immediately make one reservation: “No doubt, multipolarity will come in time. In perhaps another generation or so there will be great powers coequal with the United States and the world will, in structure, resemble the pre-World War I era.”

It seems that this moment has come. But for now let us refrain from making hasty statements, and first analyze on what grounds Krauthammer based his conclusions, where he was right, and on what he was mistaken. Such an excursion into the history of geopolitical thought will refresh our memory as to the methods by which Washington operates.

Krauthammer presents the Persian Gulf crisis and Washington’s reaction as an example of unwavering US might: “In the gulf, without the United States leading and prodding, bribing and blackmailing, no one would have stirred. Nothing would have been done: no embargo, no ‘Desert Shield,’ no threat of force.” In other words, this was not a multilateral action as it might have seemed, but the exclusive concoction of the US. As Krauthammer writes further on: “It is largely for domestic reasons, therefore, that American political leaders make sure to dress unilateral action in multilateral clothing.” This is done, evidently, because American citizens need legitimacy for the sake of their faith in democracy.

Yet here Krauthammer immediately follows up with a question: How long can America maintain its unipolar preeminence? To this end, light must be shed on theories of decline and imperial overstrain. Here Krauthammer introduces some figures – the United States was then spending 5.4% of GDP on defense, whereas earlier it spent nearly twice as much, and was now planning a reduction to 4% by 1995. However, Krauthammer adds that “American collapse to second-rank status will be not for foreign but for domestic reasons.” Let us take note of this.

Considering the balance between US domestic and foreign policy, Krauthammer suggests that it is “a mistake to view America’s exertions abroad as nothing but a drain on its economy…America’s involvement abroad is in many ways an essential pillar of the American economy. The United States is, like Britain before it, a commercial, maritime, trading nation that needs an open, stable world environment in which to thrive.” Later on, he adds that America is interested in maintaining its unipolar status, but questions whether Americans support such.

Here we can see mention of a dichotomy between the interests of the political elite and ordinary American taxpayers. Krauthammer himself notes that American isolationism “seems the logical, God-given foreign policy for the United States” by virtue of geography and the history of America’s founding, which is said to be have been motivated by the desire to distance itself from the intrigues and conflicts of the Old World.

Krauthammer also mentions another option, which he calls a far more “sophisticated” and “serious” school of international relations which insists on national interests – realism. In this context, he argues: “International stability is never a given. It is never the norm. When achieved, it is the product of self-conscious action by the great powers, and most particularly of the greatest power, which now and for the foreseeable future is the United States. If America wants stability, it will have to create it. Communism…is quite dead. But there will constantly be new threats disturbing our peace.” First and foremost among these threats is posited to be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Also notable are such concepts as “rogue states” and “failed states,” although Krauthammer speaks of only one type – “The Weapon State,” under which he mentions Iraq, North Korea, and Libya. In his opinion, in order to become a Weapon State, a country only needs to develop its own industry, and then additional interests will arise which might conflict with the interests of other countries. This point is not discussed directly, but it is clear based on the context. Krauthammer writes:

With the rise of the Weapon State, there is no alternative to confronting, deterring and, if necessary, disarming states that brandish and use weapons of mass destruction. And there is no one to do that but the United States, backed by as many allies as will join the endeavor. The alternative to such robust and difficult interventionism – the alternative to unipolarity – is not a stable, static multipolar world. It is not an eighteenth-century world in which mature powers like Europe, Russia, China, America, and Japan jockey for position in the game of nations. the alternative to unipolarity is chaos.

Thus, Krauthammer recognizes that multipolarity is not only possible, but has historical precedent and, moreover, can help establish static stability (although the role of Japan in the 18th century, and indeed that of America, is up for debate).

Krauthammer’s next article on the same topic appeared twelve years later under the title “The Unipolar Moment Revisited.”[2] He begins with the same thesis as earlier, asking whether the US will face decline. Krauthammer argues that the third episode of American unipolarity has arrived with the threat of war posed by rogue states acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It is worth noting that this article happened to be released a year after the terrorist attack in New York and just before the invasion of Iraq (which was launched without UN sanction or the support of the US’ European partners). Krauthammer writes: “American dominance has not gone unnoticed. During the 1990s, it was mainly China and Russia that denounced unipolarity in their occasional joint communiqués. As the new century dawned it was on everyone’s lips. A French foreign minister dubbed the United States not a superpower but a hyperpower.” In other words, many countries did not take a liking to American dominance, and this was manifested against the backdrop of the bombing of Serbia and the occupation of Afghanistan, which were something like demonstrative wars at a distance that showed the whole world the new forms of US power.

If before the 9/11 terrorist attack many were pondering the possibility of an anti-hegemonic alliance, then afterwards many began offering the US their support, which “accentuated” the “historical anomaly of American unipolarity.” This happened by virtue of the “American anti-terrorism ultimatum”, which was essentially a mandate for the widespread use of military force by the US. Preventative operations violated traditional doctrines of just war, which led to a crisis of unipolarity. According to Krauthammer, this unipolarity found definitive formulation in the words of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld on Afghanistan and the “War on Terror”: “the mission determines the coalition.” The mission is determined by the US.

Important here is Krauthammer’s admission that so-called multilateralism was merely a means of “liberal internationalism” to keep the US from falling into embarrassing situations in which other countries in disagreement with Washington’s position could “isolate” the US and make decisions themselves. If we soberly analyze both the “multilateral” approach of Madeleine Albright during the Bill Clinton administration, as well as the same rhetoric employed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with her “reset”, then it is obvious that the “openness” and “interestedness” of the US has been but a cover for imposing its agenda. All of this was pursued, in Krauthammer’s words “in service to a larger vision: remaking the international system in the image of domestic civil society”, i.e., the American model.

From this standpoint, the nation-state is seen as an anarchic legacy of the past. Thus, Krauthammer explains, it is important for liberals to accelerate the erosion of sovereignty by means of new technologies and the unhindered movement of capital across borders. But America, as the great sovereign, must be “domesticated” by and for liberals who feel “discomfort” with US dominance. This in turn becomes a challenge to unipolarity, as the dominant pole inevitably comes to be diluted through international agreements, interdependences, and new norms.

At this point, Krauthammer briefly summarizes the contention between two schools of international relations – liberalism and realism – with regards to “paper or power”, i.e., agreements or threats and the use of force. In passing, Krauthammer reminds the reader of the question of multipolarity and actually contradicts himself. If in his previous article he spoke rather positively of multipolarity as once incarnated and possibly on the rise again, then this time his tone has changed dramatically. He writes: “Multipolarity is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Europe practiced multipolarity for centuries and found it so unstable and bloody, culminating in 1914 in the catastrophic collapse of delicately balanced alliance systems, that Europe sought its permanent abolition in political and economic union. Having abjured multipolarity for the region, it is odd in the extreme to then prefer multipolarity for the world.”

Prototypes of multipolarity actually existed in more places than just Europe by the 20th century. Before the arrival of European colonizers in Asia, Africa, and both Americas, similar systems existed which used special mechanisms of checks and balances that differed from European norms. Moreover, European countries developed within the paradigm of rationalism and the Enlightenment, which leaves Krauthammer’s argument unconvincing. Krauthammer can be understood, however, if we recognize the author’s Western-centric mindset and American political scientists’ propensity to justify double standards. Moreover, the nature of this shift can be explained as in the interests of many countries to develop multipolarity during this period (including not only China and Russia, but also the “left pivot” in Latin America, and the founding of the African Union in July 2002).

Further on, Krauthammer unveils his message: “[the] principal aim is to maintain the stability and relative tranquility of the current international system by enforcing, maintaining and extending the current peace. The form of realism that I am arguing for—call it the new unilateralism—is clear in its determination to self-consciously and confidently deploy American power in pursuit of those global ends.” Thus, in contrast to isolationist realism, this approach proposes that the US pursue none other than global objectives in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the world ocean.

But let us recall what actually happened in 2002-2003. NATO officially invited Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to join its alliance; the state of Yugoslavia ceased to exist with its partition into Serbia and Montenegro; American troops occupied Afghanistan and Iraq; Israel carried out punitive operations against Palestinians; numerous terrorist attacks took place on Russian and Turkish soil; and a series of color revolutions began in the post-Soviet space following the effective testing of this new type of coup d’etat in Yugoslavia. For Krauthammer, this must all be “stability and relative tranquility.” Ironically, this actually might be such for the US, since all of these events took place with direct or disguised encouragement from Washington and outside of the borders of the United States (except for the terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001, which to this day remains the subject of serious debates). The maintenance of this unipolarity also means the preservation of the post-colonial legacy with its artificial division of the globe into first, second, and third worlds, entailing the merciless exploitation of the natural resources of countries incapable of effectively defending their sovereignty from transnational corporations, predatory policies of the IMF and World Bank and, of course, the US’ right to military intervention in other countries under false pretexts. As is well known, the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” was tested in Haiti in 1994 and in Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s and in 1999 to detach Kosovo and Metohija.

According to Krauthammer, the US should be “advancing democracy and preserving the peace by acting as balancer of last resort”, and “countries will cooperate with us, first, out of their own self-interest and, second, out of the need and desire to cultivate good relations with the world’s superpower.” In other words, other countries are presented with no real choice.

Although Washington uses both unilateral and multilateral approaches in similar fashion to advance its interests, there is one principal difference between the two which Krauthammer discerns in the form of a question: “What do you do if, at the end of the day, the Security Council refuses to back you?” As we very well know, even after the UN Security Council blocked its resolution on Iraq, the US acted as it saw fit. Even before this entered into force (let us recall that Krauthammer’s second article was released several months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003), Krauthammer believed that the unipolar moment had already become the unipolar era.

Thus, the article concludes with the following:

The new unilateralism argues explicitly and unashamedly for maintaining unipolarity, for sustaining America’s unrivaled dominance for the foreseeable future. The future of the unipolar era hinges on whether America is governed by those who wish to retain, augment and use unipolarity to advance not just American but global ends, or whether America is governed by those who wish to give it up—either by allowing unipolarity to decay as they retreat to Fortress America, or by passing on the burden by gradually transferring power to multilateral institutions as heirs to American hegemony.

Krauthammer therefore reiterates that unipolarity will be challenged not from without, but from within.

Now let us turn to summation. Krauthammer is partially correct that the unipolar regime depended on the US political elite. The lack of clear consensus therein and the ever-increasing gap between the aspirations of the American people and the corporate interests of the establishment which incessantly leans towards globalism, all yielded the phenomenon of populism and helped Donald Trump win elections with partially isolationist slogans.

Krauthammer was incorrect in his panicking over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In the nearly 20 years since, the real balance in this sphere has remained virtually unchanged. Only the DPRK has increased its military-technological capabilities to a level causing panic reactions among US military and political circles. Without a doubt, another important landmark to be distinguished on this note is the decision by Russia’s leadership to deploy troops to Syria to help in the fight against terrorism.

The unipolar era never arrived. The unipolar moment lasted unfortunately long – for nearly two decades. But it was not an era. Krauthammer was right in his first article when he argued that multipolarity would arrive after one generation. Indeed, if we follow the criteria set for challenges facing the US, then according to such documents as the US National Security Strategy [3] and National Defense Strategy [4], the US now faces competitors in the face of certain powers familiar to us in the multipolar declarations of Russia and China. Iran and the DPRK have also openly challenged unipolarity and been assigned by Washington to the club of “rogue states.” Over the past few years, additional studies have increasingly suggested that America is losing its status as the global center of power in the face of emerging multipolarity.[5]

Therefore, we can say that Krauthammer was mistaken in saying that unipolarity would be threatened from within the United States. Threats have always come from the outside and, in different conditions, whether embryonic or frozen, have anticipated appropriate opportunities to change national strategies. As a matter of course, a number of countries have seized the first opportunity to escape Washington’s control. These cases can be called different things –  whether “opportunism”, “transitioning to an active anti-colonial stage”, “searching for new solutions”, or “reactions to the US’ actions” – depending on the ideological framework and school of international relations employed.

What is important to understand is that unipolarity is disappearing forever. Even if globalists from the Democratic Party come to replace Trump, they will strategize how to erode sovereignty as such, including American sovereignty, and they will have to deal, first and foremost, with their taxpayers, who clearly showed their preferences by electing Trump. Moreover, given the heightened capabilities of other countries, the globalists will have to concede serious concessions and are unlikely to be able to achieve the same results that they did during the rise of the unipolar moment under Clinton or in the Obama administration’s later attempts to instate multilateralism. In one way or another, by this time faith in the US will have already been completely undermined – especially as newly declassified documents once again demonstrate to the whole world the dirty methods of the State Department and form a powerful argument in favor of severing relations with Washington – and, as former allies come to prefer new alliances, the balance of forces will change significantly in all regions across the board.

We now find ourselves in the multipolar moment. Our task is to transform this multipolar moment into a multipolar era.

Footnotes: 

[1] Charles Krauthammer// Foreign Affairs, Vol. 70, No. 1, America and the World 1990/91 (1990/1991), pp. 23-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20044692

[2] Charles Krauthammer. The Unipolar Moment Revisited// The National Interest—Winter 2002/03. рр. 5-17

[3] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017 https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905-1.pdf

[4] Summary of the National Defense Strategy. Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge. https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf

[5] See:  C. Richard Neu, Zhimin Mao, Ian P. Cook. Fiscal Performance and U.S. International Influence, RAND Corporation, 2013; Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, a publication of the National Intelligence Council, december 2012 http://worldview.unc.edu/files/2013/10/Global-Trends-2030-Executive-Summary.pdf; Global Trends to 2035 Geo-politics and international power. European Parliament, September,2017 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/603263/EPRS_STU(2017)603263_EN.pdfhttps://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends-home. 

 

“Traditionalism as a Theory: Sophia, Plato and the Event” – Alexander Dugin (2013)

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 8 of In Search of the Dark Logos: Philosophico-Theological Outlines

(Moscow: Academic Project/Department of the Sociology of International Relations, Faculty of Sociology, Moscow State University, 2013).

***

 

Mark Sedgwick and his hypothesis on Sophia Perennis

In his book, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century [1], the contemporary scholar and historian of Traditionalism, Mark Sedgwick, based on research into the philosophical sources of the worldview of the founder of Traditionalism, René Guénon, advanced the hypothesis that the Traditionalist movement, in its assertion of Sophia Perennis (Philosophia Perennis) and the “Primordial Tradition” as its foundational theory, is based not on some “mythical”, exotic, “Eastern” sources, but on none other than the Western philosophical tradition, whose roots can be traced back to the Renaissance Platonism of Gemistus Plethon, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Agostino Steuco, etc. The current which took shape in this circle elevated the figure of Sophia and the corresponding notion of “Primordial Theology” (as in Steuco’s Prisca theologia), and the content of this “primordial theology” boiled down to Platonism, Neoplatonism, and Hermeticism, which were rediscovered in Western Europe thanks to translations from Greek of a broad spectrum of these currents, whose texts were brought by the Greek Gemistus Plethon from Byzantium in the final period before its final fall. Although Sedgwick’s thesis has seemed to many Traditionalists to be “disrobing”, overall this analysis of the intellectual circles of the Renaissance Neoplatonists and their ideas demonstrates a considerable convergence with Guénon’s views and those of his followers. 

In turn, the works of the English Dame Frances Yates dedicated to these very same intellectual currents of the European Renaissance and Modernity [2] have shown just how enormous of an influence Platonism exerted on the formation of the philosophical, scientific, and political views of this transitional epoch. Both Sedgwick and Yates show how a significant number of the founding fathers of the modern scientific view of the world were in fact largely inspired by mystical-religious ideas and Neoplatonic theories, even though only one side of their works – that tied to empiricism, rationalism, mechanism, etc. – would make it into the scientific canons of Modernity, while the mysticism and “Perennialism” of the Renaissance would be left “behind the scenes” or alternatively interpreted in naturalistic, pantheistic, or deist directions. A prominent example of this is Issac Newton, who was both an alchemist and a Kabbalist on the one hand and, on the other, the founding father of mechanistic physics and rationalist, empiricist natural science. The historian of religions Mircea Eliade, who in his youth participated in the Traditionalist movement, developed this perspective with the proposal that we view the rational-scientific and progressist topography of the philosophy of Modernity as a product of the secularization of European Hermeticism. 

These considerations led Sedgwick to reconsider the influence of Traditionalism on philosophy, science, and to a certain extent politics in the 20th century. This movement, lying at the heart of Modernity and appearing in new form as the philosophy developed by René Guénon, Julius Evola, and a broad circle of thinkers on which the former had decisive impact, was much more significant and important than can be judged on the basis of mere superficial familiarity with the subject. At the same time, they appear to be somewhat more modest and even, to a certain extent, marginal. At the source of Modernity lies Platonic universalism, which became the ideological grounds for proclaiming the universalism of the rational philosophy of post-Medieval Europe. Gradually, the bulk of attention came to be drawn towards the technological side of this movement, towards pure empiricism and rationalism, while the metaphysical dimension was neglected and written off as one of the costs and remnants of “Medieval irrationalism.” However, following this scheme, it turns out that with the exhaustion of the technocratic, rationalist philosophy, Baconist scientism, and Cartesian dualism of the epoch of Modernity, this second side, which had long since receded to the periphery, began to make itself known again. Guénon’s Traditionalism became its developed manifesto. Hence the growth of Traditionalism’s significance in correlation with the ever broader and deeper consciousness of the “crisis of the modern world.” Thus, in the transition to Post-Modernity, Modernity has once again remembered its “occult roots.” The Enlightenment, now called into question, has turned towards its “Rosicrucian” beginning. 

This hypothesis of Sedgwick and Yates, shared by a number of other authors, is productive. In the very least, it raises the status of Traditionalism to that of one of the most important philosophical currents to emerge in the critical moment of the exhaustion of the agenda of the classical scientific rationality of Modernity and with the formation of the first Post-Modern theories subjecting Modernity to deconstruction. If we recognize that at the very heart of Modernity, which claimed rationalism and the theory of progress to be the foundations of its universalism, there lies a set of irrational views that appeal to deep antiquity for substantiation, i.e., the Platonic-mystical and Hermetic universalism of the Perennialist and Sophiological shade, then Modernity itself appears under a completely different light, and Post-Modern critics thereby acquire yet another argument, namely, that Modernity was not at all what it claimed to be, but was merely a poorly disguised, masked version of the traditional society which Modernity sought to overcome, annul, and dismantle. 

On the other hand, Traditionalism itself thereby appears to be a phenomenon that is critical of, but nonetheless related to Modernity. It is not simply the “continuation of Tradition” by inertia, but an altogether specific and original critical philosophy which refutes Modernity and subjects the latter to merciless critique on the basis of a special, complex set of ideas and theories which, taken together in their sum, constitute a “Perennialism” or “universal esotericism” which, it ought to be noted, does not coincide with any one single really existing historical tradition. Thus, we are only one step away from recognizing Traditionalism to be a “construct.” The revolutionary, critical, and modern potential of Guénon’s philosophy was rightfully noticed by the Traditionalist René Alleau, who proposed to consider Guénon alongside Marx as one among the constellation of radical revolutionaries and critics of modern civilization.[3] 

From Prisca theologia to René Guénon

A number of various, altogether interesting conclusions can be extracted from Sedgwick’s analysis.[4] Here we will fixate on merely one point, that of the conceptual unity of 20th century Traditionalism (Guénon, Evola, etc.) and Renaissance Platonism (Plethon, Ficino, Steuco, etc.). Both of these philosophical currents can be generalized with the notion of “Perennialism.”

If we can historically trace Guénon’s philosophical inspirations back to the Renaissance, which Guénon himself harshly criticized for misunderstanding the sacred civilization of the Middle Ages, and if we can find there the first formulations of Sophia Perennis or the Prisca theologia which compose the foundation of Traditionalist philosophy, then in it becomes completely obvious that these currents came to Western Europe in the Renaissance from the much deeper past and, to a certain extent, from a different cultural context (more specifically, the Byzantine-Greek). Of course, Platonism was well known in Medieval European Scholasticism, but it had long since yielded to Averroism and Aristotelianism enshrined virtually dogmatically in the realism of Thomas Aquinas. Hermeticism had existed in the form of alchemical currents and esoteric fraternities, but in the Renaissance these tendencies surfaced in rather vivid and magistral form, such as in the forms of open Neoplatonism and philosophically-formulated Hermeticism (with numerous direct or indirect polytheistic elements), which claimed to be not merely a secret tradition parallel to the dominant Scholasticism, but a foundational, universal worldview. Renaissance Platonism and Hermeticism directly opposed Catholic Tomism and formulated the agenda of Renaissance Humanism. This humanism was magical and sacred: man was understood to be the “perfect man”, the Platonic philosopher, the Angel-Initiator. 

The Renaissance Platonists appealed directly to the works of Plato, Plotinus, Hermes Trismegistus, and the broader corpus of Neoplatonic and Hermetic theories, many of which were freshly translated from Greek. Platonic humanism was reformed into a conceptual, theoretical bloc and began its offensive against previous philosophical and theological constructs. The Neoplatonists justified their claims to truth by emphasizing the antiquity of their sources and by claiming to propose a philosophical paradigm which could generalize different religious confessions, and as such was more universal and more profound than the Catholic religion of Europe. This synthesis came to include, in the very least, Byzantine Orthodoxy, but the reform program of Gemistus Plethon was even broader, proposing a restoration of “Platonic theology” as a whole and a return to certain aspects of polytheism. Platonism, like Hermeticism, was seen not simply as one philosophical or religious tendency among many others, but as “universal wisdom” capable of serving as a key to the most diverse philosophies and religions, as a common denominator. This idea of a meta-religious generalization became the most important notion of the Rosicrucian movement and, later, European Masonry (as shown by Yates). 

This universalism was substantiated by references to “Perennialism”, to the existence of some kind of exclusive instance in which all of world wisdom, independently of historical peripeteia, is present and preserved in its “paradisal”, primordial state. This “perennial wisdom”, Sophia, was the point of departure that allowed one to examine specific religions and philosophies as individual and historically conditioned constructs, thus laying claims to a universality transcending any and all individualities. This Sophia was knowable and, as follows, he who participated in her, loved her, and identified with her received access to “absolute knowledge.” Renaissance Humanism was therefore Sophiological. Sophia was treated as the Angel of humanity, the latter’s living and eternally present, eternally youthful archetype or eidos. 

It is by all means possible that European Modernity’s claims to the universalism of its values are to be sought in precisely this source. As Catholic ecumenism was abandoned, the cultural messianism of the West demanded new substantiation, and such was found in “Perennialism”: the new Europe, post-Medieval Europe, conceived itself to be the privileged region of the revealed, eternal Sophia, and on these grounds the Europeans of Modernity acquired their mandate to newly master and conquer the world, seeing themselves as not merely raptorial colonizers, but as the bearers of higher universal knowledge. This explains the special incandescence of the era of geographical discoveries and (Francis Bacon’s) call to discover Atlantis not only in the new colonies, but in the Old World itself. Thus, Renaissance Platonism and its corresponding Perennialism ought to be considered a most important factor in the formation of the structure of Modernity as a whole. The profane universalism of progressist and rationalist Europe has its roots in the sacred super-rationalism of the Renaissance Platonists oriented towards eternity and deep antiquity. 

The construct of Sophia 

The “constructivist” character of Renaissance Neoplatonism is obvious to us. We can easily trace how and on what sources it was constructed. The Hermetic Poimandres and Asclepius attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, as well as the cosmological and anthropological dialogues of Plato (the Timaeus, the Republic, the Laws, the Symposium, etc.) were taken to be universal and interpreted in the spirit of the Neoplatonic systematizations of Plotinus and his followers. Neoplatonism situated Sophia as its main content, its systematized philosophical hologram. And it is through this prism that other religions and philosophical systems were interpreted as individual cases of a generalized perennial(ist) paradigm. René Guénon acted in approximately the same manner as he employed a system of definite metaphysical, cosmological, and anthropological views to examine various traditions, religions, and the modern world itself as a denial of these views and, in its final phase (the opening of the egg from below) a parody of them. Not a single religion, theology, or philosophical system contains the paradigmatic matrix with which Guénon operated. But it is with the aid of this matrix, taken from somewhere else, that historical religions, theologies, and philosophers were altogether successfully treated and interpreted by him. Guénon based himself on the “Primordial Tradition”, sanātana dharma, or Sophia Perennis, and he drew his knowledge directly thither. The Renaissance Platonists acted in precisely the same way. 

With Sophia, both the Renaissance Platonists and Guénon in the 20th century deconstructed everything else. The very algorithm of their deconstructions was, in turn, represented by a construct: the construct of Sophia.

The “Dark Logos” of Neoplatonism

The artificial character of Renaissance Perennialism is rather transparent. But here the question should be posed: how does this Renaissance Platonism, which lies at the origins of 20th century Traditionalism, relate to the Platonism on which it was constructed? In other words, was this constructivist nature a quality of the Renaissance anticipating Modernity, or did the very material upon which Renaissance Sophiology was constructed lend any definite grounds to this approach and display any convergent qualities?

With regards to Neoplatonism (from Plotinus and Porphyry through Iamblichus to Proclus and Damascius), this is nearly obvious: Neoplatonism presented a construct developed on the basis of the main ideas of Plato, but in synthesis with other Hellenistic and Middle Eastern philosophical, religious, and mystical systems. This Neoplatonism was distinguished by its extraordinary inclusivity: it selectively incorporated Platonic re-interpretations of Aristotle (and accordingly, a re-thinking of the Stoa), Orphism, Pythagoreanism, Egyptian Hermetism, cults from Syria and Asia Minor (theurgy, the Chaldean Oracles), and Iranian dualist doctrines and Chaldean astrology. On the basis of Plato’s Parmenides and his main hypotheses, Proclus constructed an elaborate “Platonic theology” which was carried on and substantially re-interpreted by Damascius. The latter’s commentaries on the Timaeus thoroughly and in great detail described a synthetic cosmology built on the principle of noocentrism. 

The system that the late Neoplatonists of the Hellenistic era built with their open metaphysics and apophatic, dialectical Logos can, without a doubt, be fully considered to be an earlier version of the “Perennialism” which we encounter in the Renaissance. In Proclus’ works, particularly his exegeses, we can see the skeleton of all the later derivations of Neoplatonism, both religious and philosophical. His theories and methods can unmistakably be sensed in the Areopagites and, further, in the whole tradition of “mystical theology” which became so widespread in the West (from Scotus Eriugena to Meister Eckhart, Henry Suso, and Jakob Böhme) as well as in the East. We can find the dialectic of the uncreated One developed by Proclus in the works of the Islamic thinkers of Al-Falasifa, in Ibn Arabi and the Ishraq school, whereby it defined the dramatic picture of Ishmailite theology and eschatology. Moreover, the classical method of Kabbalistic interpretations of the Zohar and early Kabbalah fully reproduced Proclus’ fixation on certain words and phrases (and their numerological equivalents) in Plato’s dialogues which at other times seemed only secondary. Henry Corbin rightly noted that the Parmenides was for Proclus the Theogony, on the basis of which he would later develop his Platonic Theology. Plato’s Parmenides was a kind of Bible or Sacred Scripture for negative, Neoplatonic, apophatic theology.[5] Every word of Plato’s was subjected to detailed and comprehensive hermeneutics. The idea that Plato was the “sail” of the Divine became a Neoplatonic dogma in its own right.

Neoplatonism conceived itself to be a universal tradition on the basis of which one could interpret all existing religions and philosophical systems. It was the religion of the Logos, a noocentric cosmology and apophatic metaphysics claiming the ability to interpret any and all forms of polytheism, symbolism, and theurgic rites. Following the Greek Neoplatonists, this idea penetrated other religious environments as well, such as in the works of al-Farabi and Ibin Sina, the Sufis, the philosophers of the Ishraq school, the initiatic verses of Rumi and the diaries of Ruzbehan Baqli, to the synthetic doctrines of Haydar Amoli or Mulla Sadra. Something analogous can also be encountered in Kabbalah, as well as in Christian mysticism (with some reservations). Everywhere we look, we encounter the idea of Sophia Perennis and spiritual universalism, reproducing in one form or another the noocentric, and at times paradoxical and dialectical, “Dark Logos” of the Neoplatonists. This Logos is “dark” because it postulates the pre-existential nature of the Principial (the One), the vertical of the Logos is opened upwards, and because it constantly and repeatedly upturns the strict laws of Aristotelian reason with its foundational principles of triumph, denial, excluding the third. Instead of logical clarity, we are dealing here with a paradox, an aporia, or a super-rational ambiguity (amphibole) which is evasive, demanding of the high art of dialectics, and which leads the “philosopher” (whether the Sufi, the adept, or the initiate) through the dizzying chain of insights and initiations, upon each new link of which consciousness collapses and is recreated anew. 

Having established this state of affairs, we can easily extend the history of Renaissance Platonism and its Perennialist construct of Sophia even further back than a millennium. Gemistus Plethon and his Neoplatonic reform in Mystras on the eve of the fall of the Byzantine Empire can be seen as a link in the direct transmission of this tradition from the last Diadochi of the Athenian Academy expelled by Justinian, to Michael Psellos, to the unsuccessful Neoplatonist deemed heretic John Italus, and to the Florentine circle established by Marsilio Ficino around Prince Cosimo Medici. In addition to the Greek branch, we can also consider the “Islamic trace”, where the Dark Logos of apophatic “Platonic theology” became the common denominator of a wide range of different currents representing the heights of Muslim philosophy, theology, and culture. Another route ran through Jewish Kabbalah, which was structured according to the very same algorithm. Finally, in the Latin world, we can see the numerous streams of Hermeticism, alchemy, mysticism, as well as all Gnostic sects and millenarian currents (in the spirit of the doctrine of the Three Kingdoms of the Calabrian Joachim de Flore) which flowed into the revolutionary ocean of the Reanissance. Still further from the Renaissance, following Sedgwick and Yates and numerous other authors studying modern mystical and occult orders, lodges, and sects, we can trace the line of the dark Logos through even more reliable and well-researched material, from Giordano Bruno to the Rosicrucians, Masons, mystics, and the representatives of “occultism” among whom Guénon discovered it and laid it at the heart of his completely original and extremely influential Traditionalist philosophy. 

Thus, tracing the genesis of this construct of Sophia leads us to the history of the Logos  as it has unfolded in the periphery of Western European culture and, as Corbin has shown, in the center of the Islamic spiritual tradition (where the “Dark Logos” was not exclusive and one, but was adjacent to and sometimes sharply rivaled rationalist kalam, Asharite atomism, Fiqr, and Salafist purism). The difficult reception of Kabbalah in the Jewish world and its nearly full and final acceptance as a flawless orthodoxy make up yet another page in this history. Jewish Kabbalah fell into the sphere of interests of the Renaissance Neoplatonists, and in the works of Pico della Mirandola and Reuchlin (and later of Knorr von Rosenroth) we can detect the outlines of a project to establish a “Christian Kabbalah.” Further, once again through Masonry and Hermeticism, Kabbalah reached Fabre d’Olivet, Eliphas Lévi, Papus, Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, and Guénon himself. In Guénon and in his “revolutionary” Perennialism, all of these numerous streams come together to compose the most modern, capacious, and systematized worldview. 

Theory as Homeland

Now we are left with posing a final question, namely: To what extent did the Neoplatonists of the first centuries of our era create something completely unique and original out of the texts, ideas, and traditions associated with the name of Plato, and to what extent can we find something similar in the works of Plato himself? Here the works of the great scholar of Plato, Neoplatonism, and Hermeticism, the French curé André-Jean Festiègere, come to our aid.[6] Festiègere draws our attention to the meaning imbued in the notion of “Theory” (θεορία) in Plato’s era and in his own philosophy. Originally, this notion meant an “inspection”, “survey”, “contemplation”, “meditation”, or “observation.” In Ancient Greece, in philosophical milieus, it bore two subtle terminological nuances: 

  1. A “theory” was a survey of the cultures and societies of different peoples, among whom the philosopher should travel and dwell as part of his preparation for a new life (hence why we constantly read of the travels of philosophers to other countries: “traveling” is a purely philosophical occupation). 
  2. By analogy with the survey of different nations, societies, and their religious and ritual systems, a “theory” was a survey of different systems and ideological connections leading to a higher principle.

This connection between traveling and theoretical contemplation is extremely important. Theory is the contemplation of that which is different, taken to culminate in a common, universal model. Plato’s doctrine of ideas itself is directly associated with contemplation. The contemplation of ideas is active “theorizing”, or the distinguishing of common and unchanging paradigms as well as constantly changing phenomena. Just as the Hellenic philosophical traveler studies the religions and customs of different Mediterranean societies, seeks correspondences with the Greek religion and Greek traditions, establishes analogies and, when necessary, replenishes his own religious views and his language, so does the Hellenic philosopher contemplate ideas, the universals of the infinite order of things and phenomena. There are many societies, religions, and cults, and the contemplative traveler strives to deduce from his survey that which is common, that which he has already identified in the places he has been and in the new, still unknown countries and lands in which he finds himself. The case is strictly the same with immersion into the world of ideas and in the process of comparing them with the world of phenomena. Contemplation and theory are the construction of the common, the culmination of a model. 

In Plato, this acquires a distinct and salient character. Theory as construction is simultaneously illumination, enlightenment, and absorbing the rays of the Good. Ideas are indifferent to things, but they are not indifferent to those who strive to theorize, whom they passionately rush to meet, in excelsis. The field of theory thus transforms into the space of epiphany, where ideas are not only reflected, but acquire a specific being and are embodied in the theoretical existence of the philosopher. By traveling to temples and shrines to various gods and by being present at different rituals, the theoretician (the one who contemplates) prepares to meet with the real God for whom all the different gods of different cults serve as masks, names, and messengers (angels). In different rites and sacred ceremonies, the philosopher rushes to the main philosophical rite, the rite of rites, where the main realization to be accomplished is the discerned merger of the noetic cosmos with the aesthetic cosmos, the “fulfillment of all fulfillments”, the magical meeting of God with the raging sea of multiplicity. Later, this ritual of all rituals would be conceptualized by the Neoplatonists as theurgy. 

Plato’s Theory is therefore not simply a preparation for something – for political activism or sacred rites – but is a higher form of reality, the ultimate expression of concentrated praxis. Contemplation is thus the work of the gods, and is their blissful rest and the source of higher pleasure. Theory is the place where being, dispersed into multitude and elusive in difference, is tied together into the knot of intense concentration, finding in itself elastic unity and bright clarity. The contemplative philosopher stands above the priest and the king, for he rises to the zone of pure divinity, un-diluted by any additional functional burdens and completely free from multiplicity, both temporal (the change of moments) and spatial (the change of places). The culmination of this journey is the return to the philosophical Homeland, where there is no more time or relative forms. Theory is the Homeland. None other than nostalgia for it pushes the philosopher to travel through both countries and the networks of light-like ideas in search of the point of Sophia, whom the philosopher loves with all his being. 

This understanding of Theory illustrates how Plato’s philosophy was that very synthetic universalism which generalizes different philosophical systems and knowledge just as the traveler generalizes the experience of the societies he witnesses. Plato’s works therefore present not one point of view to one or another question, but always several; they become material for contemplation and, like steps, they lead to a higher synthesis. At the peak of this synthesis, ideas begin to live beyond the discursive Platonic text and reveal themselves directly to those who have followed Plato and the personages of his dialogues to the very end, where the stairs leading to the sky end. There dialogue ends, but theory does not. Now the philosopher must take one more step, this time without Plato and texts – this is the step of thought, the step of illumination, the step of contemplation. The step into the sky. Only there does real Platonism – the “secret doctrine” – begin. It has not been transmitted to anyone; it can only be discovered independently, through the sacred experience of theory.

Open Philosophy 

As the formulator of theory, as the guide to the geography of ideas, Plato created a consciously open philosophy, in which the main point is not uttered, but must be sought and experienced independently. Hence the term “philo-soph”, or “lover of Sophia”, of Wisdom. If the question at hand was simply who bears this Wisdom, we would be dealing with a closed system, that is, something individual. Wisdom cannot be learned, it is not a given. One can only break through to it upon enormous labor and at the cost of incredible efforts. Philosophy is the realm where minds and hearts gather together in passionately thirsting for Wisdom, whey they are fallen in love with Sophia and are excited contenders for her hand. No one has any guarantees. There is only Love. Led by Her, they embark on their journey, towards contemplation, towards theory. They settle in the vicinity of Sophia and inch ever closer to her. They seek the universal, and thereby themselves become more and more generalized, eidetic, and less and less individual. Philosophers construct themselves in the vicinity of Wisdom. Purifying themselves in Her rays, they reveal evermore distinct contours. 

In the case of Plato, this means that we are dealing with the Logos as such, for the Logos is in its nearly original form, is still undefined, and is open to being opened or closed, understood in one way or another, or conceived and outlined in one or another vector. In Plato, philosophy is the sharp impulse of nearing Sophia Perennis, the leap into the ocean of eternal light, it is contemplative and divine praxis. In this sense, philosophy is higher than religion and myth, insofar as religions and myths are but testimonies to the main actor – Saint Sophia. Therefore, Plato himself can be called a “Perennialist” and, correspondingly, a Traditionalist. It does not matter whether Plato adhered to Greek civil piety and offered sacrifices to the gods and heroes of his polis. Such was part of a much more important and significant philosophical cult: the cult of Sophia, the cult of the pure Logos. 

Plato as an Event

Let us pose the final question. Did “Perennialism”, Traditionalism, universalism, and the philosophical cult of Sophia all begin with Plato’s Theory? With his doctrine of ideas? With his Timaean cosmology? 

For Guénon and Traditionalists, such a personification would be a scandal. But upon fully recognizing Plato’s direct connection to the “Primordial Tradition”, Traditionalists would undoubtedly begin to see Plato as a link in the golden chain of initiates which stretches back to the dawn of creation, to the earthly paradise, and which has become increasingly difficult to access, closed, and exclusive in our time, the Kali Yuga, the “end times”, the era of the “great parody.” Traditionalists understand “perennialism” literally and even somewhat naively. Such can by all means be seen as a symmetrical response to the just as literal and even more naive historicism which predominates in Modernity. Yet in the vicinity of eternity, “before” and “after”, “now” and “then” are not so important. Indeed, they have no meaning. What is important is what. Plato, like Zarathustra in Iran, might have been both an historical figure and a sacred personage, like al-Khidr or the Angel-Initiator. Perhaps there are multiple Platos. And this means that Plato’s spirit can be called upon (as Plotinus did in the temple of Isis); he can be appealed to. His return can be awaited, for there is no irreversibility in eternity. In eternity, everything is reversible – everything has even already been reversed. In the most rationalized form, one could accept that Plato merely transmitted knowledge that he had acquired along the chain of initiation, and in this sense was their ordinary re-translator who became world famous only by virtue of the importance of the truths he voiced, as a kind of philosophical prophet. 

Yet Plato can be approached in other ways as well, for example, as an Event in the spirit of the Heideggerian Ereignis. This would distance us from both the “Perennialists” and the “historicists.” Plato happened and philosophy happened. Sophia was designated and the philosophical geography was marked. If this was supposed to have happened, then it would have happened no matter what – whether by way of Plato or someone else, should we be reproached on this matter. But perhaps it would be better to think differently: if Plato did not exist, there would be nothing else. In particular, there would be no notes in the margins of his texts. There would be no philosophy. If Plato was in fact divine, then he cannot be subordinated to any mechanical necessity. Nothing can oblige him to be. Further, if he had not risked everything to become Plato, his philosophy would have been negligible. Thus, Sophia might not have been. Or in other words: instead of Sophia, instead of the secret bride of the order of lovers, something else could have been revealed to Plato.

Plato’s exceptionality (although perhaps this is just as wrong and does not correspond to the truth) is more existentially attractive and productive than his link in the chain, even if it is the golden one. Plato’s divinity lies in that he was human.

Modern Traditionalism is, of course, more adequate than profane academic philosophy and is more prosperous than Post-Modernity. But all the signs of Traditionalism’s transformation into a convention, a routine, into a “scholasticism”, of its conscious quenching of any living movement of the soul or heart, are glaring. Here it is discovered that “Perennialism” is a construct and always was such from the very beginning. The appeal of a Traditionalist towards really existing tradition decides nothing, just as Plato’s reverence for his paternal gods did not exhaust his philosophy. 

Traditionalism is something other than tradition. It is a breakthrough to that which is the tradition of traditions, the secret grain, the theory. But being a theory, a construct, it needs to be continuously recreated. A construct is not so bad if the matter at hand is something rooted in the light nature of man himself. By creating, man creates himself. Therefore, Traditionalism must either happen or disappear. Its claims are too enormous and its bar has been set too high by Guénon and the Sophiologists on whom he constructed his doctrine. “Perennialism” means that Sophia is Perennis: she is here and now. But how can we relate the fact of the Kali Yuga, our God-abandoned “now” and the dustbin of the modern Western-centric global world, our vile, desolate “here”, with the rays of the Angel-Initiator, the light of Great Love, and the nature of man as a winged divine being? The Gnostics offered a dualist answer which often seems to be the only one acceptable and applicable to us. But is this not simply a recognition of our own weakness, of our own personal inability to transform the “Cover” into the “Mirror”, Absence into Presence, apophany into epiphany, and occultation into revelation? Is this not the signature on the warrant for the death of the Logos, the insuperability of Western nihilism, or the recognition of the closed, self-referential world to be the only possible and real? 

Traditionalists frequently speak of the “great parody” that is the modern world. This is true, but are they themselves not a parody? After all, not only Guénon, but the Neoplatonists, and Plato himself can all be parodied. 

The discrepancies between Traditionalism and Heidegger did not hinder Henry Corbin from engaging Neoplatonism in Islam with love and delicate refinement over the course of his life. Such is the behavior of a living person who responds to Sophia’s whisper no matter where it resounds.

Today this whisper is more silent than ever. But it cannot be so quiet as to be indistinguishable at all. We must learn to listen to silence, for silence sometimes conveys extremely meaningful things. 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[2] Frances Yates, The Art of Memory (Saint Petersburg: 1997); Ibidem., The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (Moscow: Aleteia, Enigma, 1999); Ibidem., Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2000). 

[3] Réné Alleau, De Marx à Guénon: d’une critique ‘radicale’ à une critique ‘principielle’ des societés modernes (Paris, Les dossiers H., 1984).

[4] Some aspects of this question have already been treated in Alexander Dugin, Postfilosofiia (Moscow: Eurasian Movement, 2009).

[5] Henry Corbin, Le paradoxe du monothéisme (Paris, 1981).

[6] André-Jean Festugière, Contemplation et vie contemplative selon Platon (Saint Petersburg: Nauka, 2009).

Alexander Dugin – “Counter-Initiation: Critical Remarks on Some Aspects of the Doctrine of René Guénon” (1998)

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translated by Eurasianist Internet Archive

Originally published in the journal Mily Angel #3 – Konets Sveta (‘Sweet Angel: The End of the World’, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1998). Subsequently republished as an appendix to the second edition of the book Puti Absoliuta (“The Ways of the Absolute”) in the Absoliutnaia Rodina trilogy (“Absolute Homeland”, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1999).

***

Preliminary remarks: the necessity of correcting Traditionalism

The question of “counter-initiation” is the most shrouded and ambiguous in all of Traditionalist thought. Perhaps this is a consequence of the very reality which Traditionalists, following Guénon, denote with the term “counter-initiation.”

The meaning of counter-initiation is set out by René Guénon in his book The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times. In brief, we can say that Guénon understands counter-initiation to be the sum of secret organizations which, although in possession of initiatic and esoteric data, nonetheless direct their activities and efforts towards a goal which is the direct opposite of normal initiation. In other words, instead of striving towards the absolute, they head towards fatal disappearance and dissolution amidst the “reign of quantity” in its external twilight. In line with Islamic esotericism, Guénon called the hierarchs of counter-initiation Awliya es-Shaytan, that is to say the “saints of Satan.” In Guénon’s point of view, representatives of counter- initiation stand behind all the negative tendencies of modern civilization and are secretly administering the course of affairs down the path of degradation, materialization, and spiritual perversion.

According to Tradition, the logic of the cyclical process inevitably boils down to a trajectory of degradation, from the Golden Age to the Iron Age. As follows, there should be various conscious forces contributing to this process just as, conversely, the forces of true initiation and genuine esotericism try to impede this fatal decline by all means. This historical dualism of Guénon’s in no way affects the metaphysical unity of the Principle, insofar as it belongs to the sphere of manifestation, where the main law is that of duality. This duality at the very heart of manifestation is overcome only upon going beyond the manifest into the sphere of the transcendental. We cannot discard the dualism within the world. Thus, the role of counter- initiation is partly justified insofar as it is rooted not in arbitrariness, but in the very providential necessity tied to the laws of the universe.

 

This purely theoretical aspect of the doctrine of counter-initiation is completely flawless from a logical point of view and is confirmed by all the various doctrines of sacred traditions dealing with “demons”, “the devil”, “evil spirits”, the “Antichrist”, etc. But everything becomes much more complicated when we attempt to move from theory to practice and name specific organizations or secret societies as examples of counter-initiation. This is only part of the problem. Before we can clarify this subtle question, it is necessary to attentively examine what René Guénon meant by “initiation” and “esotericism.”

According to Guénon, the historical variance of sacred forms – religions, traditions, etc. – is a consequence of the differing qualities of the human and historical environments into which the rays of the One Non-Human Truth are projected. In other words, for Guénon, all traditions, as one approaches their center, transcend confessional differences and almost always merge into something unified. Guénon called this the “Primordial Tradition” (la Tradition Primordiale). It is this Tradition, according to Guénon, that constitutes the secret essence of all religions. In a certain sense, this is true. Any careful study of the symbolism of Tradition, its rituals and doctrines, leads one to the idea that all sacred teachings have some kind of common element or paradigm which is somewhat lost sight of when one arrives at more narrow dogmatic aspects and matters of detail. The thesis of the “unity of Tradition” is particularly convincing in current circumstances, as the modern world has built a civilization whose basis strikingly contrasts everything that might be called Tradition(al). In other words, Integral Traditionalism and the appeal to the One Tradition are reliable to the extent to that they contrast the modern world to all those civilizational forms that are founded on sacred elements. Indeed, there are many more similarities than differences between the various traditions and religions when compared to the contrasting backdrop of modern, completely de-sacralized civilization. This postulate is obvious. The question is: to what extent is this convergence in the face of a common enemy a consequence of esoteric unity?

In other words, is the difference between the most sacred traditions merely the result of faults in the cosmic environment at certain moments in the cycle? Are there not some deeper reasons behind this?

One glaring example of the relevance of such doubt can be seen in Guénon’s hesitation as to whether Buddhism should be counted an authentic tradition or not. Guénon initially relegated Buddhism to the category of antinomian heresies, but later recognized it to be a genuine tradition. The question at hand is not even that of Buddhism, but the fact that Guénon’s very own uncertainty exhibits a certain conditionality of his method whenever the matter at hand concerns concrete historical traditions and their dogmatic principles. If even Guénon could be mistaken on the question of Buddhism – which remained for him largely an abstraction, for the analysis of which Guénon relied on the opinions of his Hindu informants who, like all Hindu Traditionalists, are distinguished by their acutely anti-Buddhist orientations – then it cannot be excluded that such errors may occur in the case of other religions as well.

 

Our own studies have led us to the conclusion that Guénon was not quite right in his analysis in two other cases. Firstly, when Guénon denied the Christian Church an initiatic dimension – and he dated the loss of this dimension, present in early Christianity, to the era of the first Ecumenical Councils – he was clearly relying exclusively on the history and historiosophy of the Catholic branch (with the later deviation of Protestantism). Guénon clearly ignored the metaphysical and initiatic reality of Orthodoxy, which differs from Western Christianity sharply and on the most fundamental positions. Guénon equated Christianity with Catholicism and inappropriately projected the proportions of the Catholic organization, including the mystical nature of its rituals and theological specifics, onto Christianity as a whole. This rendered his views on the matter completely incorrect. [1]

Secondly, Guénon was quick to recognize Jewish Kabbalah to bear the quality of genuine esotericism which, in his opinion, is distinguished by universalism and is beyond any particularisms. But in fact, Kabbalah insists on the ethnic specialness of Jews, the uniqueness of their fate, and their metaphysical opposition to all other peoples and religions no less (if not more) than the Talmud and exoteric Judaism. This clearly contradicts Guénon’s definition of esotericism, according to which principles of universal unity and the merging of all spiritual and religious forms into a common concept should predominate. Even in its most transcendental aspects, Kabbalah affirms not unity, but a radical and indelible metaphysical-ethnic dualism.

Moreover, on a more general plane, Guénon’s assessments of certain peoples – such as the Ancient Greeks, the Japanese, the Germans, Anglo-Saxons, and Slavs – were at times so subjective and arbitrary that Guénon’s striving to base some of his conclusions as to the orthodoxy or non-orthodoxy of various traditional forms on these appraisals calls into question everything in Traditionalism related to the application of theoretical considerations to the practical sphere.

The absence of universal counter-initiation

The differences between religious forms can constitute far more of a profound factor than the conditions of exotericism, and can be rooted in metaphysics itself. If, by virtue of the specificity of their traditions, synthesis can be accomplished rather easily with Hinduism and Islamic esotericism (while all other traditions are interpreted in terms exclusively peculiar to them), then the matter stands somewhat differently with other religions. Hinduism and Islam allowed Guénon to construct a logical and non-contradictory picture, but one which becomes less apparent when we try to apply it to different religions and their specific approaches to metaphysics.

For Guénon and the Traditionalists who follow him, the situation is thus: the One Metaphysical Tradition, which constitutes the essence of universal esotericism, is the inner kernel of all orthodox traditions. Dogmatic religions and other forms of exoteric traditions are external shells covering in diverse ways this unity of content (esotericism and initiation). On the pole opposite of universal esotericism is “counter-initiation”, which entails not simply the rejection of this or that religious or exoteric form, but universalism itself. Thus, the very notion of “counter- initiation” is inseparable from the postulation of the esoteric unity of all traditions.

 

However, outside of esoteric Islamic and Hindu contexts, such logic cannot be accepted unequivocally, as the metaphysics of other traditions do not recognize any esoteric solidarity with other religious forms. In fact, the universalism of Sufism and Hinduism is not so obvious as it may seem at first glance. The price of recognizing the orthodoxy of other religious forms is affirming that they are “distorted”, and treating their dogma in the spirit and letter of the specific esotericism peculiar to Hinduism and Sufism. For example, the Hindu approach to Christology practically equates Christ with an avatar, which, in a purely Christian dogmatic framework, is equivalent to the “monophysite” view. Islam, on the contrary, proceeding from a strict monotheism, adheres to a “Nestorian” (“Arian”) Christological scheme. In both cases, the Orthodox Christian formula which ultimately leads to its own, altogether different metaphysical perspective is denied [2]. Thus, the universalism proclaimed by Traditionalists turns out to be not so total and unambiguous as one would like.

Furthermore, Hinduism bases its tradition on a formula that is inverse to that of the Iranian tradition, despite deriving from the same source. As is well known, even in the very names for gods and demons, there is an inverse analogy between Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. Moreover, Hinduism considers Buddhism to be a heterodoxy (a view to which Guénon himself adhered for quite a long time). As follows, these three Eastern Indo-European traditions cannot reach agreement with one another and seamlessly establish esoteric unity. Indeed, it is quite difficult to recognize any “esoteric rightness” on the part of those who call one’s gods “demons” and vice versa (the Devas and Asura in Hinduism and Zoroastrianism are of directly contradictory elements), or who radically deny the authority of the main sacred source (as Buddhists reject the Vedas, castes, and all the foundational doctrines of Hinduism).

The situation is even more severe in the Abrahamic context. If Islam recognizes some kind of legitimacy among the traditions of the “peoples of the Book” (Judaism and Christianity) and believes Muhammad’s mission to be the last word of “Abrahamism” which corrected all previous errors, then neither Christians nor Jews recognize even the slightest authenticity of other versions of Abrahamism, which are considered heresies, lies, and evil.[3] The example of the Zohar, the highest authority of Kabbalah, easily lends towards the conviction that hostility towards Islam and Christianity is not only the case on the metaphysical and esoteric level, but here it attains the highest metaphysical tension. Accordingly, Orthodox esotericism relates to Judaism (both exoteric and esoteric) just as harshly, seeing it not only as an Otherness of external religious form, but as the embodiment of metaphysical evil and the “tradition” of the Antichrist.

Thus, beyond Sufism and Hinduism (whose universalism is also not unlimited), there is no common esotericism. This means that traditions understand “counter-initiation” to be those sacred forms which openly contradict their own metaphysics. If the exoteric evil in this case is represented by the negative points stemming from the ethical-dogmatic specifics of a given religion, then the esoteric evil (counter-initiation) would be the metaphysics of a tradition that contradicts such. All of this incredibly complicates the question of counter-initiation, which ceases to be so obvious and transparent, and in fact becomes extremely confusing.

 

From the point of view of Orthodox esotericism, Judaism and Kabbalah are undoubtedly counter-initiatic.[4] From the Zohar’s point of view, the esotericism of the Goyim, especially the “descendants of Ishmael and Esau” (Muslims and Christians), is “the false teaching of the demon Samael” who “leaps on the serpent Lilith.” From the point of view of Hindu esotericism, Iranian dualism is rooted in the fact that Zoroastrians worship demons, the Asura, (Iranian Ahura), whom they (Hindus) call “gods.” Buddhist esotericists, meanwhile, are convinced that the initiatic doctrines of Hinduism are the ultimate evil, insofar as they only increase the attachment of beings to Samsara – after all, the higher divine worlds are distinguished in the Buddhist perspective by an even greater illusory quality than the worlds of humans, as the absence of suffering only alienates the prospect of achieving Nirvana. In Islamic civilization, the most radical representatives of manifestationist esotericism – such as al-Hallaj, Suhrawardi, etc. – were executed as malicious heretics.

How, in such a situation, can one discern any universal counter-initiation, trace its origins, and recognize the forces and organizations serving as its cover? If the universality of esotericism (in the very least, in our cyclical situation) is not obvious and proven, then how can we speak of any universality of “counter-initiation” being the inverse projection of such?

Inter- and intra-religious contradictions

On the one hand, there exist deep contradictions between traditional religious systems which pertain to the higher realms of metaphysics. On the other hand, these traditional forms are not immutable, but are subject to cyclical laws. Traditions pass through difficult periods of historical embodiment, among which, besides the natural stages of rise and fall, there exist even more paradoxical moments entailing the amendment of internal nature, alienation, and transformation into something essentially different while maintaining external attributes.

More often than not, these disturbing moments cannot be reduced to some “triumph of negative tendencies” as seen by the exoteric tradition and morality derived from the letter of sacred forms. For example, the Islamic tradition can degenerate without its authorities publicly denying the principle of monotheism or the mission of Muhammad, and Christians by no means need to worship other gods (or Satan) in order to break with the source and spirit of the Church. If everything were so simple, history would be an elementary, mechanical device with predictable functioning and an easily foreseen future. In fact, this is how many things are seen by those people distinguished by a naive (if not to say idiotic) view of the world, no matter whether they are “conservatives” or “progressives.” Only a deep understanding of the internal kernel of tradition, the real realization of its higher levels, allows us to isolate and grasp what is foremost and most essential, and that means accurately discriminating between the true axis of orthodoxy and alienation, deviation, simulation, and degeneration. There are no purely external criteria to this question. One should not overestimate the “devil” – if he were as simple as moralists think, he would hardly have been able to participate in human history so actively, for so long, and, most importantly, so unrecognizably.

For example, the schism of the Christian world into the Eastern and Western Churches was far from a purely exoteric event. Behind the schism lurk the most profound metaphysical reasons. The same is true for the Islamic world and the division into Shiites and Sunnis. The Sunni tradition (especially Wahhabism) believes in the high authority of Sultan Yazid, who killed Ali, i.e., Muhammad’s cousin who is the spiritual pole (qutb) for Shiites, the first Imam. Behind this contradiction lie much deeper discrepancies of a purely metaphysical nature. [5]

In a certain sense, things are no smoother in the case of Hinduism, in which Vishnuism and Shaivism are not so harmonious with relation to one another as might appear to be the case at first glance. For example, the traces of such a dualism can be seen in the Mahabharata, whose editing was, without a doubt, the work of Vishnuist circles. The Kauravas, the enemies of the Pandavas and the inveterate villains, are portrayed as inspired by Shiva and his retinue to the point that Shiva is considered to be a “subtle essence” in contrast to the metaphysical and purely spiritual nature of Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu. The parallel with the “devil” begs itself in this case, especially if we take into consideration Guénon’s indication that the “devil” belongs to the “subtle plane.”[6]

 

If we apply the Traditionalist approach to other sacred forms beyond Hinduism and Sufism, we find ourselves in a situation in which it becomes impossible to speak of counter-initiation as something universal and opposed to universal esotericism without falling into mythomania or moralistic dualism which, theoretically, should have been overcome insofar as we are considering the sphere of esotericism. In other words, every sacred form endowed with metaphysical uniqueness formulates in its own way its own theory of what “counter-initiation” is for it (and not only for it). At the same time, the positions of different traditions can coincide in some aspects, while in others they may diverge. Thus, we arrive at the affirmation of an absence of any one counter-initiatic doctrine or organization. Everything that is habitually included in the notion of “counter-initiation” turns out to be a plural, complex, and multipolar reality. The definition of the nature and form of a counter-initiatic doctrine thus derives from the metaphysical particularity of each concrete tradition.

There is no denying the fact that, in recent centuries, there has been a glaringly overarching, broad process which undoubtedly represents a clearly pronounced tendency towards the construction of an anti-traditional society based on principles which are radically opposed to the sum of those which constitute the basis of any tradition.

But there is one exception here: Judaism. In the religious and metaphysical perspective of Judaism, the last centuries, starting in 1240 and especially since 1300, are seen as the prelude to messianic triumph. The fall of Christian civilization and the political liberation of Jewry (not to mention the contemporary successes of political Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel) are seen as none other than the greatest metaphysical progress. Thus, on a matter over which the majority of traditions fully concur with one another, there is the exception of Judaism.

The external revival of confessional religions in recent years, following several centuries of active processes of de-sacralization and secularization, also fits poorly into Traditionalist logic. Although this [renewed] interest in religion is not as easily exposable of a parody as Neo- spiritualism and “New Age”, it is clearly not a true spiritual rebirth.

 

In short, the problem of the “deviation of esotericism”, or counter-initiation, is complicated not only by inter-confessional contradictions, whose origins can be traced back to metaphysics, but also internal transformations within these traditions relative to the stages of their history.

On top of all of this, there exist anomalous cases (Judaism, the new interest in religions in the West, etc.) which seemingly contradict the quite obvious tendency of progressive secularization on the basis of which Guénon attempted to substantiate his theory of counter-initiation and the latter’s planetary plan to prepare the “reign of the Antichrist.”

Counter-initiation and initiation are in solidarity with one another up to a certain point

Guénon’s concept of counter-initiation is based on a scheme to which he adhered in relation to more general questions pertaining to the structure of Tradition. Guénon constantly bore in mind the following tripartite model:

[Принцип-Периферия]

 

1. Principle

2. Intermediary space

3. Periphery

In the center of the circle (or at the top of the anthropological and cosmic hierarchy, the vertical) is initiation, authentic esotericism, the Primordial Tradition, the one metaphysics. This is the inner sphere, the sphere of the initiated beyond confessional differences – the sphere of those who are to be found beyond the threshold of genuine esoteric organizations.

On the periphery (the horizontal plane) are the profane and the un-initiated. For them, the oneness of truth is hidden behind a variety of forms and labyrinths of moral and ethical standards. These are ordinary people who are not conscious of the true nature of things and events.

Finally, lying beyond the periphery, at the lower point of the vertical axis, is a kind of “anti-center.” This is counter-initiation, the place of the “saints of Satan.” Counter-initiation unites various tendencies not in a light synthesis, but in a dark mixture of infernal parody.

This model is obviously transparent and convincing. But the first difficulties with it arise when we attempt to explain the historical and geographical localization of counter-initiatic centers. At this point, it turns out, it is quite difficult to distinguish such centers from properly initiatic societies and orders. Determining on which side of the periphery – the inner or outer, the upper or lower – can be found this or that initiatic organization reveals itself to be extremely difficult (if not altogether impossible), and all external criteria can easily be simulated. Guénon specified that true esotericism is always metaphysically oriented, while counter-initiation remains on the level of cosmology or the “subtle world.” However, an enormous distance separates the profane world and the world of metaphysical principles. In the early stages, it is absolutely impossible to predict for sure whether an initiate will reach the end of this path to the actual metaphysical levels, or whether they will get stuck in the intermediary spheres. And if they “get stuck”, then how do they then differ from those who represent “counter-initiation”?

In other words, up to a certain point, and rather far from the sphere of the competence of the profane, the paths of initiation and counter-initiation are not only parallel, but essentially one. With respect to the orientations of “above” and “below” (which at first might seem to be convincing criteria) it should be noted that they are not indicative in direct initiatic experience, since ascent in the borderline sphere between the worldly and otherworldly is often accomplished by means of descent, a departure which leads straight into the abyss.[7]

If one makes it to the end of this path, the adept attains effective metaphysical realization. If one goes astray, all the attributes of counter-initiation will be glaring.

 

In other words, out of this simple tripartite scheme arises a more complex and less edifying picture, in which the main emphasis is put not on the orientation of movement, but on the reality of the achieved result. Thus, the problem of counter-initiation boils down to an incomplete and imperfect esoteric realization, not some kind of primordially and strictly “Satanic-oriented” secret society aiming to create and strengthen an anti-sacral civilization. The anti-sacral civilization which indeed has been built and is being built today, should be seen as the result of the overlapping of many incomplete realizations, first and foremost of an esoteric nature, the solidarity of which is obvious to all those who have been left half-satisfied with incomplete tendencies in their own sacred form.

The preponderance of profanism, fed by overall degeneration, is only a consequence of the degeneration of initiatic organizations themselves which, contradicting their primordial orientation, are now content with intermediate surrogates and unrealized potencies instead of unceasingly and heroically striving towards the center of metaphysics. At the same time, that very “demonizing” force commonly referred to as “devilish” and “satanic” can hardly be held responsible for participating in this entire process. In fact, the most terrible and formidable results of perversion and de-sacralization are those achieved by people who have the best intentions and are convinced that they are orthodox bearers of the most obvious good. Every initiate who treats their spiritual path with affection, every cleric who considers his tradition and its dogma to be an ethical or moral convention, and every Traditionalist who settles down with reciting the phrases of their master, which are in appearance correct but rendered meaningless by the mental laziness of their followers – all of these types little by little build the structures of counter-initiation and sever the metaphysical apex from the pyramid of initiatic realization.

Those whom it is easiest to single-out as being “representatives of counter-initiation” on the basis of purely external criteria – e.g., open “Luciferians” or “Satanists” – sometimes exhibit tragedy, pain, non-conformism, and the ability to stare the terrible truth of apocalyptic reality straight in the eyes. Hence why they cannot fulfill the role of the main “scapegoats” for Traditionalists. Of course, some of them may be in solidarity with processes of de-sacralization, but this is more of an exception. More often than not, at least among those who take the matter seriously, the point is that, on the contrary, these types are still about rising up against de- sacralization; they stand against conformism with the degenerate world – a world to which many representatives of “orthodox” traditions, oddly enough, easily adapt and in which they manage to perfectly comfortably arrange themselves. More often than not, religious non-conformists (“heretics”, “Satanists”, etc.) are seeking the totality of sacral experience which the representatives of orthodoxy cannot offer them. This is not their fault, but their misfortune, and the true fault lies with those who have allowed authentic tradition to be turned into a flat facade behind which there is simply nothing. Perhaps it is none other than these “dubious” forces and groups who are grimly, desperately, perplexedly, stubbornly, yet heroically pursuing esotericism and initiation deep within reality, while the profane and the moralizing conformists who remain on the periphery of initiation are the ones hindering this path by all means.

 

If initiation and counter-initiation can be distinguished only in terms of the concrete experience of spiritual realization, then no external criteria can help on this matter. This conclusion begs itself especially if we recognize the universality of esotericism, a point on which Guénon insisted. This conclusion remains valid when we apply it to the esotericism of one sacred form taken individually. When we take into consideration the metaphysical contradictions which exist between different forms, then the matter becomes even more complicated.

From the Red Donkey to the Roman Pope

The main examples of counter-initiation to which Guénon pointed included the cult of the Egyptian god Set, whose remnants have survived since the most ancient times along with multiple snake cults in the Middle East. In Guénon’s perspective, the mysterious brotherhood of the Red Donkey (or Red Dragon) exists to this day and is secretly directing the main processes of civilization in an infernal vein. If we digress from the “detective” flavor of this conceptualization, another consideration presents itself: How could an esoteric group of people engaged in the sacred – albeit in such an infernal, serpentine, and possibly fragmentary dimension – have provoked the modern world’s complete ignorance of the sacred, and contributed to the widespread assertion of the primacy of quantity and the radically anti-initiatic approach characteristic of the modern way of life?

Compared to the maniacal system of global lies which we see in the modern mass media, secular utilitarian culture, and everyday lifestyles, any “snake-worshippers” would be an exotic and quite sympathetic group of romantic marginals. There must be a reality behind the anti-sacral aggression of the modern world which is much more formidable and much more thorough than the machinations of some exotic “black magicians.” It is hardly likely that the scraps of ancient cults, even the most sinister ones, could be responsible for the anti-sacral collapse of the modern world. It is hardly likely that a dark and obviously minute sect wields such universality to the point that, in theory, it is capable of effectively influencing the most important events of world history and, most importantly, shaping the prevailing intellectual climate. If something of this sort really has taken place, then such an organization could not possibly have remained unnoticed, and there would be in circulation certain information about it which, although distorted, approximate, and amiss, would nonetheless be extensive.

It is still another matter if we take the bearers of some kind of metaphysical tradition that is radically opposite to the dominant religious culture to claim the role of counter-initiation. For example, an altogether respectable and pious Pars (Zoroastrian) could end up in India and, in one way or another, gain access to influence over the most important spheres.[8] In the context of Hinduism, he would fulfill an openly counter-initiatic function, insofar as Zoroastrian metaphysics is founded on the principle of Dvaita, whereas the metaphysical axis of Hinduism is Advaita. Such metaphysical subversion would be much more destructive than, say, the antinomies posed by radical Shaivist sects who, while being ethically questionable for their ritual devouring of people, sinister necromantic practices in wastelands and cemeteries, their Tantric orgies, etc., do not call into doubt the main metaphysical line of Advaita-Vedanta – on the contrary, they strengthen, affirm, and defend it.

The activities of a Kabbalist Jew within, say, the Islamic tradition or a Christian country, would bear the same counter-initiatic character, and the (negative) efficiency of such would be higher in relation to the depth and sophistication with which the Kabbalist understands the metaphysics of his own tradition (and vice versa).[9] Strictly speaking, an Orthodox metaphysician who is perfectly conscious of all the metaphysical implications of the dogma of the Trinity and who understands the whole depth of the contradictions between the Christian Gospel and the alienated creationism of Judaism and Islam, would by the will of fate become involved in the most important cultural-religious questions in the countries and cultures associated with the strict Abrahamic tradition, and could all together deal irreparable damage to their official ideology (and its limits in culture and politics) – naturally, this would be “damage” from the point of view of the stability and preservation of Abrahamic creativity in its older form. In practice, the presence of such overt or covert religious (and esoteric) groups in different states is an obvious fact, while the “snake-worshipers” are either completely unknown or are extravagant marginal oddities.

Now let us turn to Western civilization, which is the cradle of anti-sacral tendencies. In the West, the counter-initiatic tendencies which produced the monstrous result that we see today developed in several stages. The first stage, associated with Orthodox eschatology, was neglected by Guénon, who had a clearly inadequate opinion of the Christian tradition. This first stage consisted of the fall of Rome from Orthodoxy, the changing of the Symbol of Faith by Charlemagne, and the transition from the Orthodox and eschatological concept of the “symphony of powers” (associated with the metaphysics of the “withholder”, the Katechon) to the Papist (Guelphian) model, against which stood the Ghibelline Emperors of the Hohenstaufen who were just as dear to Guénon as they are to us. [10] Thus, the main sources of counter-initiation in the West should be sought in Catholic Scholasticism and the Vatican.

 

Unlike Orthodoxy, Catholicism lost its esoteric component, and this unleashed a whole spectrum of initiatic organizations of various stripes (Hermetic, proto-Masonic, etc.). Given that these initiatic organizations stemmed from an extra-Christian context (from pre-Christian cults and the Islamic and Jewish traditions), any alliance with the exoteric church was founded not on synthesis and organic unity, but on conformism and conventions. This Catholic civilization was so inorganic and unstable that even in its better periods (such as the Middle Ages), it harbored a number of dubious and at times openly counter-initiatic elements.

This unsustainable compromise was ultimately shaken, and both components of the Western tradition came into open contradiction. Catholicism rejected non-Christian esotericism and finally descended to the level of contradictory, secularized Judeo-Christian morality. Autonomous esotericism, in the form of Freemasonry, became a destructive, rationalistic apparatus in essence anti-Christian and anti-esoteric. These halves of the disintegrating ensemble were marked by counter-initiatic features: in the very least, in the majority of cases the spiritual path towards metaphysical realization could not be stopped at the first stages, but it was simulated, forged, alienated, and turned into its opposite. The very first and most significant chord of such degeneration was the rejection of the completeness of Orthodox metaphysics. This was the most decisive step in the direction of counter-initiation within the Christian world.

 

After having remained for quite some time within the realm of fully-fledged, unified (at once Orthodox and Catholic) Christianity, which had preserved the fullness of its authentic metaphysics and initiation, the peoples and states of the West eventually, in one catastrophic moment, severed this chain. This was enshrined in the introduction of the dogma of the Filioque and in the sacredly-unauthorized conferment of the status of “Emperor” to the Frankish kings before their kind – this destroyed the symphony of powers in the West. Catholic (and later altogether secularized-Protestant) moralism, plus the anti-clerical, bureaucratic, philanthrophic- demagogic rationalism of Masonry – all of this was much more counter-initiatic from the standpoint of fully-fledged Orthodox metaphysics than any splashes of anti-Church, pagan, or even “Luciferian” cults in the West, which perhaps represented but paroxysms of nostalgia for the complete and total Tradition, not even a hint of which had remained in the West since time immemorial.

This combination of Western anti-metaphysical Christianity (Catholicism and especially Anglo-Saxon Protestantism) with rationalistic Masonry (with the active participation of the Jewish factor, which played a significant conceptual role in the degradation of the West – after all, the fall of Edom, the “Christian world”, is the condition of the triumph of Judaic messianism [11]) is what lies at the heart of the poisonous paradigm of the modern world. The role of “Satanists” or “representatives of the Order of Set” in all of this is not only negligible, but generally naught, especially since the very fact of such an order’s existence is presumptive and based on extremely dubious evidence. Guénon cited the illustration of an artist from Cairo depicting a strange monster, the statue of which he allegedly saw in a secret sanctuary.[12] What would Guénon have said about the paintings of Dali, Ernst, or thousands of other avant-garde artists who depicted monstrous creatures on their canvases and told thousands of hallucinatory and narcotic tales?

Very telling in this regard is the story of Léo Taxil, the scandalous author of the late 19th century who was behind the forged revelations of the machinations of “Satanists.” For the Catholics, Leo Taxil described the secrets of “Satanic Freemasonry”, while for Masons he exposed the “perversions” and “black book magic” of the Catholic clergy. In fact, beyond his clearly adventurous personal aims, Taxil quite cleverly showed how representatives of both Western organizations (one embodying exotericism, the other esotericism) were not so much “devil- worshipers” as gullible fools. This grotesque idiocy on the part of both conservatives and progressives is perhaps the most expressive sign of the parody which Guénon himself called the easily recognizable “seal of the devil.”

In fact, Traditionalists and Guénon’s followers have not been able to avoid the same fate, as they uncritically repeat various (and often frankly disputable) maxims of the master and have reached the very same “scholastic parody”, the signs of which were clearly noticed by the much wiser and non-conformist, although no less controversial Baron Julius Evola.

 

The absence of counter-initiatic symbolism in the Primordial Tradition

Now a few words about the Primordial Tradition. From our point of view, the contours of this Tradition were outlined with amazing clarity in the works of the German Professor Herman Wirth, a review of whose book Guénon published in Études traditionnelles.[13] According to Wirth, all existing mythological plots, symbols, religious dogma and rituals, and moreover all human languages and alphabets, evolved from a single calendric proto-form: the Sacred Circle, accompanied by an arrangement of proto-runic signs.[14] This proto-form was a description of the natural phenomena observed by humanity at the North Pole on the ancient disappeared continent of Hyperborea (or Arktogaa). Thus, out of an abstract concept, the Primordial Tradition became a tangible and concrete reality of a paradigm whose main contours were extremely convincingly and voluminously revealed by Herman Wirth.[15]

What interests us in the Hyperborean calendric proto-form is that realm which is associated with the dark, nocturnal sectors, corresponding to the Polar Night and its related symbolism. This is the period of the winter solstice, or Great Yule, the main festival, symbolic and ritual center of the whole structure of the Primordial Tradition. Counter-initiation, according to Guénon’s definition, is related to the negative aspects of universal symbolism and, as follows, in the Hyperborean complex corresponds to those realities describing the state of the Polar Night, the decline of the sun, and other symbolic analogues of this event. The snake and wolf often function as such symbols, frequently imagined as swallowing the sun in the polar winter. This darkness is also identifiable with Mother Earth, from which all living beings come and whither all return to be reborn again.

This primordial picture, which is strictly cyclical and harmonious, preceded the division of this symbolic complex into positive and negative elements. The snake, the wolf, darkness, the underground realms (where the sun descends), death, and night do not have strictly negative significations. All aspects of the cycle are equally important and necessary – the sunset is just as sacred as the sunrise, and without the sun’s “dying” there can be no spring, no rebirth in the New Year. Therefore, the same symbols have both negative and positive aspects. This is an essential point: at hand is not an artificial theological concept seeking to consciously identify positive in negative and negative in positive (like the famous Chinese symbol of Yin-Yang), but rather a special state of consciousness which, in principle, does not know the very idea of negative.[16] It is precisely by virtue of this state that Tradition is indeed Primordial and Integral, that is, preceding any particular interpretation. The possibility for different interpretations of this primordial symbolism is embedded in the overall picture, and such interpretations are what constitute the content (and background) of historical religions and mythologies which evolved into stable symbolical and doctrinal complexes at the cost of metaphysically and ethically emphasizing only certain aspects of the one Hyperborean proto-form to the detriment of others.

 

It can be said that the “Hyperborean Tradition” was simultaneously dual and non-dual, trinitarian and unitary, monotheistic and polytheistic, matriarchal and patriarchal, sedentary and nomadic. Only later did it split into several branches separated from and opposed to one another.

The Primordial Tradition does not annul the metaphysical differences between traditions, since it is in this regard strictly neutral. It provides a general context; it employs a system of correspondences and symbolic series which allow one to explain the most mysterious and darkest aspects of symbolism, mythologies, religious doctrines, and sacred tropes. With regards to metaphysics, this Primordial Tradition is limited to being a mere statement of fact. The metaphysical question attains its real intensity in completely different conditions, those removed as far as possible from the Golden Age of the polar civilization. This, in fact, is why it is impossible to agree with Guénon on the esoteric unity of traditions, since they are not unified on a metaphysical level, but rather unified in the sense of descending from a single sacred cult-symbological complex, a universal language, the basic element at the origins of all the varieties of human culture and human religion. The use of this language can serve to express the most diverse theological and metaphysical constructs, but they all concern one and the same archetypal structure, which they merely interpret and whose metaphysical accents they re- arrange in different ways.

As follows, the symbolic complex which would be associated with counter-initiation, in its most universal aspect, should be that relating to the Hyperborean mystery of Yule. Strictly negatively interpreting this complex might lead to grotesque distortions, to the point that the most important and sacred aspects are treated as “counter-initiatic.” This, according to Herman Wirth, is what happened with the Christian tradition when it equated various “solar-thresholding” Hyperborean tropes with demonic realities, even though their symbolisms are strikingly reminiscent of the calendric history of the birth of the Son of God (the winter solstice). For instance, the demon’s tail was a vestige of the solar-solstice rune connoting the lower part of the polar year and the roots of the world tree. The cauldrons in which the demons cooked sinners were derived from the trope of the winter cauldron (or vessel) of the gods – the cauldron of the Celtic god Dagda which never runs empty. This is a typical winter-solstice motif (and the New Year rune itself was still called Dagda in the Normans’ time, and was depicted as a bowl or cauldron). The horns of the “devil” are a symbol of the spring Resurrection of the sun, as they are the symbolic analogue of the two raised hands – the spring rune “Ka.”[17] And so on.

These considerations show that it is impossible to judge the counter-initiatic character of one or another symbol or symbological complex on purely formal grounds, since in Hyperborean symbolism, which lies at the heart of all sacred symbolism, there are no such symbols.

Conclusion

Summating our brief analysis, it should be clear that it is necessary to radically reconsider Guénon’s theory of counter-initiation and carefully consider the various standpoints involved in this matter. This problem is closely connected to other theses of Guénon’s which, upon attentive study and application to concrete historical religions and initiatic schools, turn out to be too rough, inaccurate, or frankly erroneous. At the same time, this revision in no way tarnishes the high authority of René Guénon. Without his works and most important theses and interpretive models, the whole picture of esotericism and metaphysics would be hopelessly confused today. The point is not to debunk the master, as some of his ungrateful students, such as Frithjof Schuon, have sought to do. On the contrary, it is necessary to refine and hone the great intuitions of this genius human being in order to cleanse his teachings of all that has turned out wrong, and in order to make shine with new strength and freshness those aspects which are expressions of the purest truth. Guénon bequeathed to us an invaluable tool, an excellent methodology for studying Tradition. Thanks to him, we can determine the common denominators of the enormous materials of theology, the history of religions, initiation, etc., with which we have to deal, and which would otherwise remain hopelessly contradictory fragments defying any systematization (not to mention neo-Spiritualist reconstructions or the theories of profane historians and ethnologists).

 

Guénon remains the main and key author. But if, following serious reflections and the results of careful research, we arrive at conclusions which do not concur with his views but correct them, then it is pointless to try to hide and pretend that everything remains unchanged. The question of counter-initiation is highly important and extremely relevant. So is the question of the existence (or non-existence) of a real metaphysical unity of traditions. This text is merely an introduction to this problem, but as an outline for further research it is of colossal significance. We hope to develop this topic in subsequent works.

In the meanwhile, let us remark that an adequate view of counter-initiation, a clarification of its nature, essence, and “localization”, will lead us to the most horrifying secrets which, while hidden behind the dubious myth of the modern world, are ready to find their nightmarish, chilling incarnation in front of a hopelessly slumbering humanity drowsily wandering towards slaughter. Contrary to the naive stories of the “Order of the Red Donkey” and exotic and relatively harmless “Luciferians”, the true mission of counter-initiation is dizzyingly large-scale, effective, and ubiquitous. It is preparing a terrible fate for all peoples and civilizations. But in order to recognize this approaching catastrophe, it is necessary to look at things soberly and intently beyond the romantic haze of residual occultism and the “detective plot” of cheap horror novels.

Nothing rejoices the “enemy of humankind” more than the deafening stupidity of those who hastily decide to embark on the path of struggle against him without seriously weighing all the circumstances and assessing the whole volume of that unfathomable and terrible problem which St. Paul the Apostle called the “mystery of iniquity.”

 

Footnotes:

[1] We addressed this topic in detail in: Alexander Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti. Pravoslavny ezoterizm (The Metaphysics of the Gospel: Orthodox Esotericism, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1996). This work contains a detailed scrutiny of Guénon’s Christological views arising from his confessional belonging to Islam, not from any correspondences between their “univocal esoteric truth.” Generally speaking, despite the fact that Guénon wrote very little about the Islamic tradition, the majority of his theses on the esoteric question arose precisely out of his Islamic views on things. Hindu Advaita-Vedanta and Sufi Islam were most dear to Guénon. The specific approaches to esotericism proper to these two traditions considerably shaped Guénon’s preferences and analyses in the sphere of historical religions and their dogmas. Regardless of how logical or harmonic these two systems might be, they still far from exhaust all the possible variations of esoteric and initiatic doctrines.

 

[2] See: Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti.

[3] Christianity is counted among the Abrahamic traditions only in the Islamic perspective and some Judeo-Christian currents. Orthodoxy cannot recognize such a title insofar as it is clearly conscious of its internal spiritual nature as a Melchizedekian, pre-Abrahamic, and supra- Abrahamic tradition.

[4] Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti, chapter 41. [5] Ibid. `

[6] Is this too really the case? The logic of our analysis suggests that the matter is somewhat more complex.

[7] We can recall the case of Dante’s initiatic journey where, at the very bottom of the crater of hell, he began to descend down Satan’s body even lower, ultimately reaching not the center of the abyss, but the surface of the earth near Purgatory and the hill of earthly paradise. This category also contains a number of symbols which situate paradise under the earth, demons at the tops of the mountains, etc.

[8] For example, the husband of Indira Gandhi was a Pars (Zoroastrian).

[9] This is the case with the Dönmeh, the followers of the Jewish pseudo-messiah Sabbatai Zevi, who outwardly followed their leader in adopting Islam, but who, when heading the Turkish state in the 20th century, immediately abolished Islam as the state religion and proclaimed the creation of a “civilization of the Western type” in Turkey. Even though they were absolutely traditional with regards to their esoteric Kabbalist community and loyal to the general context of the Jewish Diaspora, the Dönmeh carried out what is from a purely Islamic perspective an anti-Islamic, profane mission.

[10] See Dugin, Metafizika Blagoi Vesti.

 

[11] See the article “The Messianism of Kabbalah: The Metaphysics of the Nation, the Messiah, and the End Times in the Zohar” in Mily Angel 3 (1998).

[12] Here is a fragment from Guénon’s letter to a certain Hillel in 1930 which describes this history: “Here behind al-Azhar (a university in Cairo) there is an old gentleman who strikingly resembles the portraits of Ancient Greek philosophers and produces strange paintings. He once showed us a drawing of a dragon with the head of a bearded man in a 16th century hat with six small heads from various animals protruding from his beard. It is especially curious that this figure clearly resembles an image found in Revue internationale des sociétés secrètes as an illustration of the book L’élue du dragon. This illustration is supposed to have been taken from some ancient book…But the real gem is that this gentleman claims to have seen this head elsewhere and painted it exactly like the original!”

[13] See: Mily Angel 1 (1991).

[14] See: Herman Wirth, “Das Heilige Jahr” in Der Aufgang der Menschheit (Jena: Eugen Diedrichs, 1928). Translated into Russian by Alexander Dugin as “Sviashchennyi God” and published in Mily Angel 3 (1998). See also Alexander Dugin, “Kosmicheskii Spasitel’” (“The Cosmic Savior”) in the same number.

[15] See Alexander Dugin, Giperboreiskaiia teoriia (“The Hyperborean Theory”, Moscow: Arktogeia, 1993).

[16] Contemporary linguistics divides types of thinking into two main varieties – “digital” and “analog.” “Digital” thinking precisely corresponds to profanism and materialism, operates with the abstract categories of “there is” and “there is not”, and functions according to the laws of formal logic (the law of the excluded third, the law of identity, etc.). Philosophers call this “classical rationality.” Analog thinking became a scientific category over the course of the study of archaic “primitive” peoples, cultures, and mythologies. Analog thinking corresponds to the world of Tradition and retains connection with traces of the Hyperborean tradition. It knows no “pure negation.” “Not” therefore means “another yes.” Pure absence is unimaginable, as the very concept of “absence” immediately evokes the image of “another presence.” Analog thinking first affirms the whole image, and only then deconstructs it into categories of “presence”, “absence”, “positive”, “negative”, and even “male”, “female”, “big”, and “small.” In analog thinking, there is no strict distinction between the subject of action and the object of action, between the substance and the attribute, the action and the substantive. Thus, in our example, the sun, its disappearance, and its absence act as something whole and integral. The affirmation of the sun already contains its negation (setting in winter), and the negation of the sun (winter darkness) is an affirmation which testifies to the meaning of the sun. On the basis of this logic, the primordial symbolism in principle was not subject to moral interpretation. It was a system of interrelated, integral, sacred elements, none of which is endowed with a value-priority. Everything in it was an expression of the one sacred Being, the Light of the World, at different stages of its cyclical pulse.

 

[17] See Dugin, “Kosmicheskii Spasitel’”, op cit.