Alexander Dugin – “The New Program of Philosophy”

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Originally published in Literaturnaia gazeta [Literary Newspaper] in 2003, republished in the book The Radical Subject and its Double (Moscow: Eurasian Movement, 2009).

***

The human and the world. It would seem that the posing of such a question is relevant at all times. However, everything is much more complex. “Human” is not an affirmation, but a question mark. Human? Oh, yeah? Really? Would that be ‘the human’ in essence? In fact? Are you so sure about this?

“Human” has been understood as meaning altogether different things in different times, such as the stage of the ascent of the animal, or as the threshold of the descent of the angel…”Human” sounds strange…Human…

The world. This was also once all clear. But then again, what to say, how to say it…Even the word for world – mir in Russian, Welt in German, monde in French, dunya in Arabic, etc. – in different languages refers us to different things. Nevertheless, such has always meant something integral, universal, all-embracing…

The contemporary French philosopher Marcel Conche wrote that today “the world is no longer a world, but an extravagant ensemble.” This means that the obviousness has been blurred…Clearly, we are dealing not with an integral whole, but a mosaic of fragments out of which a complete picture cannot be shaped – there is always something missing or something clearly superfluous…

The eternal topic of “the human and the world” is now formulated differently as “Human? And the world?”, in which two uncertainties – inner and outer – collide.

Altogether recently, the labor of assigning the human and the world a clear identity was undertaken by ideologies. The human of communism was something fairly concrete, described, and established, just as the world of historical materialism and dialectical materialism was thoroughly studied and certified, with freedom of choice being placed within an explicitly outlined framework. Other ideologies – religious, national, and democratic – offered different models with differing proportions and structures, but always and everywhere understood “human” and “the world” to be fairly detailed, attentively conceptualized and defined.

But the time when Western liberalism finally defeated the Soviet camp, when an end was put to the struggle between ideologies, has gone. At first it seemed that the liberal-democratic doctrine of the human and the world had become universal and mandatory on a planetary scale. But something else happened. Left without a global opponent, rival, and adversary, the Western world quickly drowned in its own uncertainty. In the final decades of the “Cold War”, only the geopolitical necessity of ideologically confronting the Marxist USSR and its satellites lent harmony to the bourgeois system. The West was not philosophically ready for victory, it expected a protracted ideological duel, and the rapid disappearance of its enemy caught it by surprise. Being left alone, Western man was confused, taken aback, and drowned by a wave of cognitive hallucinations in which the past and present, the accidental and the paramount, the fundamental and the superficial, male and female, the serious and the sarcastic were irrevocably mixed.

Today the West is imposing not its system, but its systemlessness, not its obviousness, but its doubt, not its assertion, but its deep internal crisis.

When we join the global network, we do not receive a new identity and we do not come into contact with a new world. We simply irrevocably surrender to the storage room with a forgotten entry code those remnants of what made us who we were before and that reality in which we lived before. The act of dropping old certitudes and definitions is quite specific: it is a passport to the “new times”, a credit card for complicity in globalism, a mandatory requirement, and all those who reject this “initiation into globalism” automatically end up on blacklists, henceforth deemed agents of the “axis of evil” – after all, they did not catch the “latest news” that the world and the human are dead (following the death of God).

There is nothing in return. Not that there ever was something. The flickering of flames, of colored fish, half-dressed figures, the foamy opulence of shampoos, and the soft saliva of the ocean…You have been sucked into the ceaseless dreams of post-reality, and your job is only to press the buttons on the remote…

Whole words and phrases disintegrate into so many brilliant fragments, yet we are only interested in interjections and clauses, witty mooing and successful teasers. A world in which the parodying of the parodist delivers mass enjoyment has no right to be called a world. It is something from another system of things.

When we recognize in ourselves increasingly blind disagreement with such a state of affairs, we automatically rush to the past, to that time when the world and the human were fixed and well-defined realities. We become fascinated and inspired by everything: churchliness, monarchy, Sovietism, nationalism, and even democracy in its modestly-realistic and initial (industrial) version, where there were still decision and choice, labor and wages, and risks and laws for forming value. But this is not the way out, because if something – even something very good – has disappeared, this means that there is some kind of higher meaning…

If we can stand and straighten up in the flow of the tender, appetizing, rapid nothingness that is lashing at us from all sides, we will understand that something enormous and great, safely hidden in the most distant holes, is sending us – precisely us – new rays. If the human and the world no longer exist, then they are no longer so significant in the final analysis, and things might go out without them…Go out…

I put forth a new program of life: look at what is around us without squinting, without glancing back. The impending doom from which man has tried to escape has overtaken us in the final moment of history. Alright, we’ve learned our lesson.

Something terrible is revealing itself in our bodies, blossoming like a flower, something black…And out of the final horizons of darkness, the trembling petals of external consciousness – suspicions, guesses, and the lightning flashes of the undoubtable – are reaching out to meet our red heart.

In the heartless, camouflaged cosmos, we must build new dams of life by reaching to grasp the sparks of presence out from underneath the last shells of borrowed insight…

The new program of philosophy consists of persevering forward when there is no path forward and cannot be.

***

[Artwork – Alexey Belyaev-Gintovt, collection “Victory Parade 2937” (2010-2011)]

Dugin’s Guideline: World Philosophy Day

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

Dugin’s Guideline (17/11/2016)

***

Today, the third Thursday of November, on the initiative of UNESCO is World Philosophy Day. This date is rather bureaucratic and its celebration is just a formality. On the whole, World Philosophy Day is something artificial and even foolish which is not worth the attention of a philosopher, not to mention a non-philosopher. But let this be an occasion for reflection: what is philosophy?

There are two erroneous opinions which do not even allow us to approach what philosophy is from a distance. Those who believe that philosophy is only one among many possible human engagements or professions are hopeless. No less hopeless are those who believe that philosophy is a science, or even the most important of the sciences. Such an approach kills philosophy and does not allow one to think about its nature and essence.

Man is thought. All other properties, such as body, mobility, emotions, and sensations, are possessed by other species. What makes a human human is thought. Hence Aristotle’s definition that “Man is a living being possessing Logos.” If you do not possess Logos, you are not a human. A separate discussion would be who you are if you are incapable of thinking. Clearly, not merely an animal. An animal corresponds to its own archetype without thinking, but if a person loses thought, they are sinning against their archetype and find themselves nowhere. They would even still have to try to be a pig or a shark.

Philosophy is the realm of thinking that is so intense that thought turns towards itself and beings to think of thought. Thinking of itself, thought thereby thinks of everything surrounding it in an entirely different manner – in a philosophical manner. Philosophical thinking is the highest of thinking. Therefore, a philosopher is not simply busy with a profession, but penetrates the center of humanness. The philosopher is a human in the full sense of the word. He who is not ultimately a philosopher, or is not a philosopher at all, is not entirely human. Why is man given thought? So that he may think and, in the end, think about thinking. This is the aim of the human being as a species. If a person does not approach philosophy, they abandon their nature and aim, which means that they are on the way to being subhuman. This is what philosophy is: it is that to which all born humans are called. A human is not something given, but a task. And this task consists of the necessity of becoming human, i.e., a philosopher.

Now for the second misconception, which is characteristic of the professional philosophical community. There is nothing more vulgar and repulsive than this professional philosophical community. It is virtually impossible to meet a real philosopher among them. In this milieu, philosophy is regarded as a science, which means almost the same thing as a profession. Yet philosophy is not a science, but that which makes science possible, which lies at its heart, and which endows science with being and reality. Science is the servant of philosophy. As long as the structures of thinking and the standards of knowledge are not set by a philosopher, science simply does not exist. Science comes into play when a philosopher finishes his work. Scientists are migrant workers serving creators and architects – they may be amazing craftsmen or they might be bunglers, but they will always be only and exclusively implementers.

Philosophy lies at the root of science, and when science breaks away from philosophy, it becomes more and more absurd. Science without philosophy is akin to a paranoid disorder, when man fiercely and stubbornly does something, the meaning of which has long since been lost, to the point that all that remains is the irrefutable sense of terror that pushes him towards ever-newer sequences of hysterical reasonings. Philosophy calls this de-ontologization, the loss of the correlation between thinking and being, the oblivion of being. When science ceases to be philosophy, then philosophy becomes science and, as logically follows, both are finished.

The 20th century was the last century of philosophy. It is telling that at the end of the 20th century the historian of science John Horgan declared the end of science. Indeed, this is the case. World Philosophy Day began to be celebrated precisely once not a trace of philosophy was left in humanity. And then all the philosophizing worms, clerks and technologues of all stripes begin to stir. The boss left and the servant arranged the kitchen into what they understood to be the master’s ball.

To paraphrase Hölderlin, Wozu Philosophen in dürftige Zeit? Just like Hölderlin’s poets, the last and true philosophers unbeknownst to the crowds are following the trail of the disappeared solar Logos. And they are deeply hidden in the “sacred night” – in heiliger Nacht.

Alexander Dugin – NOOMAKHIA: Principles for Comprehending Chinese Civilization

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 1 of Noomakhia – The Yellow Dragon: The Civilizations of the Far East (Moscow: Academic Project, 2018)

***

China is recognized to be an independent and unique civilization by virtually everyone, and therefore there is no need to prove this. Rather, we are faced with attempting to reveal the structure of this civilization’s Logos and to determine as much as is possible its geosophical map both within the borders of China and beyond, as well as in its dialogue with neighboring civilizations.

Chinese culture has exercised an enormous and at times decisive influence on neighboring peoples, first and foremost on Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, all of which during certain eras held themselves to be part of Great China – not in the sense of political unity, but as indelible and organic parts of Chinese civilization and the Chinese horizon. This horizon also substantially impacted the peoples of Tibet as well as the nomads of Turan bordering China from the North. Moreover, we can encounter definite influences of the Chinese element among the peoples of Indochina and South-East Asia, such as in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, as well as, although to a lesser extent, Indonesia and the Philippines.

On the other hand, China itself has in some cases re-translated tendencies and influences originating in other civilizations. China was heavily influenced by the peoples of Turan, who often came to form the core of the ruling elites (such as among the Xianbei, the Mongols, the Manchurians, etc).[1] In the most ancient periods of Chinese history, the Indo-European factor was significant, as the Indo-Europeans remained the main force of the Eurasian Steppe up to the first few centuries AD.[2] It is from the Indo-Europeans that the ancient Chinese borrowed the horse, the chariot, and a number of cultural forms, above all the art of war, which the Indo-Europeans of Turan had developed with priority.

Also Indo-European in semantics and origins was Buddhism, which became widespread in China from the first to third centuries AD and came to constitute an important component of the Chinese tradition. Buddhism spread to China directly from India [3], as well as from Central Asia and the Tarim Basin, which were inhabited by Indo-European peoples. A certain role in this process was played by Tibet which, on the one hand, itself experienced Chinese influence while, on the other hand, represented a civilization in which the Indo-European vector was decisive.[4]

In studying China, we can apply our traditionally employed methodologies of civilizational analysis which have helped us to attain the level of ultimate generalizations which we have in the topography of noology.[5] If we succeed in hinting at the priorities in the noological structure of Chinese civilization, if we can approach the revelation of the main characteristics (existentials) of the Chinese Dasein, and if we can reveal just which Logos or Logoi of the three main ones is dominant in China, then we will consider our task to be fulfilled.

The Significance of the Works of Marcel Granet: “We, Chinese”

In unraveling the intricacies of the deeply original, unparalleled, unique Chinese culture, we will be guided by the works of an author who, from our point of view, while himself a European, nevertheless maximally profoundly delved into this culture’s structures and provided a most reliable description of it. We have in mind the French sociologist Marcel Granet (1884-1940), who devoted all of his scholarly life to studying China. Granet built his methodology along the following principles:

  1. Western European authors studying China have all, without exception, proceeded in their interpretations from the Eurocentric positions and paradigms of Modernity, reinterpreting social relations, political ideas, philosophical terms, religious practices, and so on in their own key, and thereby constructing an artificial Chinese historial seen from the position of either a detached observer nevertheless claiming universalism and truth in the final instance, or from direct (even if unconscious) colonial attitudes. Thus, any European interpretations will certainly remain within the paradigmatic treatment of China as a “society of barbarians”, that category into which all developed (“non-savage”) civilizations qualitatively differing in their structures from the European societies of Modernity automatically fall. Thus, Eurocentric Orientalism is one-sided, biased, and unreliable.
  2. Chinese historians themselves, in reflecting on the essence and structures of their civilizations, have erected an historial founded on one or another dynastic, philosophical, ideological, or at times religious preference, which also thereby presents a one-sided and ideologized version that cannot be taken as the final truth, and which must be constantly verified and corrected.
  3. We are left with pursuing a third way, that of immersion into Chinese civilization, its language, history, philosophy, customs, rites, art, politics, and society as a whole, attempting to identify its immanently inherent patterns on the basis of sociological and anthropological methodologies, and trying to adhere as close as possible to how the Chinese understand themselves without losing sight of the distance necessary for correcting social self-consciousness (the collective consciousness a la Durkheim) with regards to the general process of its historical changes and dynastic, religious, and geographical versions and alternatives.

Marcel Granet’s method applied towards China is in many respects similar to that of Henry Corbin (1903-1978) in his deep study of Iranian and Irano-Islamic civilization, a methodology which Corbin himself called the “phenomenology of religion.”[6] It is impossible to correctly describe a society’s self-consciousness if it is deliberately held that everything in which they themselves believe is “ignorant prejudice” or “empty chimeras.” Yet China can be understood only upon taking the position of the Chinese, agreeing to consciously trust how they see the world and just which world they constitute with their view. Just as Corbin said in his study of Iranian Shiism “We, Shiites”, Marcel Granet could well say of himself “We, Chinese” without any intention of irreversible altering his identity from being European to Chinese. In studying Chinese identity, European (or in our case Russian) identity ought, temporarily and in accordance with quite specific anthropological and sociological methodologies, be forgotten, so as to later (insofar as one desires) return to such, being enriched with radically new and previously inconceivable civilizational and even existential experience.

In his approach, Marcel Granet combined the holistic sociology of the Durkheim school and the methodologies of the “annals school”, which resulted in the conceptualization of society as a whole phenomenon and the treatment of the changes in society’s structure over the course of long historical periods not as differing, strictly discontinuous periods, with which conventional historical chronicles usually operate, but as processes of continuous and gradual mutations. The foundations of this methodology were substantiated in detail by Fernand Braudel with his famous concept of the “long durée.”[7] Granet devoted a number of fundamental works to China, namely: The Ancient Festivals and Songs of China, The Religion of the Chinese, The Dances and Legends of Ancient China, Sociological Studies on China, and his two generalizing and most important works, Chinese Civilization and Chinese Thought.[8-13]

Georges-Albert de Pourvourville and the Traditionalists

In addition to Granet, a substantial contribution to the comprehension of Chinese civilization has been supplied by Georges-Albert Puyou de Pourvourville (1862-1939), who wrote under the name Matgioi and studied Chinese civilization from within, spending many years in China. Pourvourville-Matgioi was initiated into the Taoist tradition by a Chinese teacher and passed on his acquired knowledge in his works on Chinese metaphysics, The Rational Way and The Metaphysical Way, in his books The Middle Empire and The China of the Learned, and in his translations of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Quangdzu’s The Spirit of the Yellow Race.[14-19] Another outstanding Traditionalist, Julius Evola (1898-1974), subsequently translated the Tao Te Ching into Italian.[20]

Pourvourville formulated his aim in the following words:

“I shall try to reveal to the Western twentieth century this treasure, hidden for five thousand years and unknown even to some of its keepers. But first I wish to establish the main features of this tradition, by virtue of which it is the first and, as follows, the true Tradition, and to mainly determine, by way of the tangible evidence accessible to man which this tradition’s authors have left us, how the relics of this tradition date back to the era when in the forests covering Europe and even the West of Asia wolves and bears were nearly no different from people who, clothed like them in skins, devoured coarse flesh.”[21]

Matgioi thus emphasized that he believed the Chinese tradition to be the most ancient and primordial (similar to how other Traditionalists, such as Guénon and Coomaraswamy, saw the Primordial Tradition in Hinduism). At the same time, Pourvourville-Matgioi did not simply try to prove that the Chinese tradition is comparable to the European but, as can be seen in the preceding passage, he was convinced that in all of its completeness, depth, and antiquity, it was superior to European culture as a whole, not to mention the European culture of Modernity, which Traditionalists univocally regard as degenerate and in decline. 

Pourvourville was close to René Guénon (1886-1951), the founder of European Traditionalism, and was one of Guenon’s main sources of acquaintance with the Chinese tradition. Guénon himself devoted a fundamental work, The Great Triad, to Chinese metaphysics, and therein largely relied on the ideas of Matgioi.[22] Matgioi and Guénon’s works are important in that they approach Chinese metaphysics from within, accepting the religious point of view of the Taoist tradition to the extent that such is accessible to people of European culture. Further important accounts of the Chinese spiritual tradition are contained in the works of the historian of religions and author close to Traditionalism, Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), particularly his work Asian Alchemy,  a considerable portion of which is devoted to the Chinese tradition.[23]

The Han Horizon: The People of the Milky Way

As is the case with any people, in examining the Chinese it is difficult to definitively determine just which layer of identity, which is necessarily multilayered and dialectically changing in its proportions over time, ought to be taken as our point of reference. Without a doubt, we are dealing with a civilization, and this means with a formalized and reflexive Logos embodied in philosophy, tradition, culture, politics, and art. In antiquity Chinese civilization achieved full disclosure, that is to say the Ausdruck stage in Leo Frobenius’ terminology. We can study this Logos, analyze and comment on it by studying and systematizing its elements and layers. In and of itself, this is already an extremely complex task, as Chinese civilization has gone through multiple principal phases entailing qualitative semantic shifts and, as follows, substantial adjustments have been ingrained into the fundamental paradigm of the Chinese Logos.

As we have shown in the volume of Noomakhia dedicated to Geosophy, the Logos of Civilization represents the highest layer of civilizational formation, from the “sowing” of the principal vertical Logoi (of Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele) to its yields and crops in the form of culture. The Logos is the final stage when the yields of culture are harvested over the final stage of the agrarian cycle. At the base of civilization lies a cultural or existential horizon, or Dasein (in this case the Chinese Dasein). The latter precedes the formation of civilization, but is at the same time its semantic foundation. Dasein, as an existentially understood people, as an existing people (whose existing presupposes history, i.e., time) also presupposes Logological structures on which it is founded. [24-25] Therefore, we must study Chinese civilization by constantly taking into account the existential foundations on which it has been erected.

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Yet in order to correctly examine and interpret the Chinese historial, i.e., the forms of the historical being of this people, it is necessary to discern the main horizon to act as the semantic axis taken as the point of reference. This always requires a choice, insofar as every horizon is complex, composite and is co-participated in simultaneously by multiple sub-horizons or layers with often differing noological orientations and trajectories. Thus, from the very outset, we must make a choice and recognize as the main existential core one Dasein which will be the “subject” of this historial. In the case of the Chinese horizon, the Han should be considered this axis as the people embodying the Chinese Logos that built this civilization, this Empire, and its special Chinese world.

The Han people emerged as a self-designation only with the Han Dynasty from 206-220 BC, which replaced the short-lived Qin Dynasty, when the unification of Chinese territories was accomplished. The name “Han” (Chinese: ) literally means “Milky Way”, which points towards the symbolic connection between Han identity, the sky, and cyclical movement.[26] In the Qin and Han eras, different tribes inhabiting the territory China and belonging predominantly to the Sino-Tibetan language group began to recognize their unity – culturally, historically, religiously, and so on. It is also evident that a certain unity of tradition was necessarily characteristic of even earlier forms of tribal associations, such as in the Zhou and more ancient periods, memory of which was imprinted in myths and legends. In any case, it is the Han people that ought to be taken, in a broad sense, as the foundational pole of the Chinese historial. We can define the earlier stages of the Han historial as proto-Han, after which Han identity later began to spread to neighboring horizons both within China and beyond, thereby including in the composition of its Dasein other ethnic and cultural groups. Yet at all of these stages, we are dealing with a semantic whole that is predominant and dominant in the space of Chinese history and Chinese geography. The Han Chinese are the subject of Chinese civilization, and they can be regarded as the main bearers of the resulting Logos, whose noological nature we are tasked with discerning over the course of our study.

Therefore, the phenomenological formula by which we shall be guided should be clarified: moving from “We, Chinese” to “We, Han” reflects our intention to be in solidarity with the Han Dasein in the reconstruction of the Chinese historial and to look through its eyes at the history, mythology, politics, and religion of China.

 

Footnotes:

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

[2] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia: The Logos of Turan – The Indo-European Ideology of the Verticle (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017)

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

[4] Dugin, Noomakhia: The Horizons and Civilizations of Eurasia

[5] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia: Geosophy – Horizons and Civilizations (Moscow: Academic Project, 2017).

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

[7] Braudel F. Écrits sur l’histoire. Paris: Arthaud, 1990. See also: Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia: Geosophy

[8] Granet М. Fêtes et chansons anciennes de la Chine. Paris: Albin Michel, 1982.

[9] Granet M. La Religion des Chinois. Paris: Albin Michel, 2010.

[10] Granet M. Danses et légendes de la Chine ancienne. Paris: Les Presses universitaires de France, 2010.

[11]Granet M. Études sociologiques sur la Chine. Paris Les Presses universitaires de France, 1953.

[12] Granet M. Китайская цивилизация. Moscow: Algoritm, 2008.

[13] Granet M. Китайская мысль от Конфуция до Лао-цзы. Moscow: Algoritm, 2008.

[14] Matgioi. La Voie Rationnelle. Paris: Les Éditions Traditionnelles, 2003.

[15] Matgioi. La Voie Métaphysique. Paris: Les Éditions Traditionnelles, 1991

[16] Matgioi. L’Empire du Milieu. Paris: Schlercher frère, 1900.

[17] Matgioi. La Chine des Lettrés. Paris: Librairie Hermétique, 1910.

[18] Le Tao de Laotseu, traduit du chinois par Matgioi. Milano: Arché, 2004.

[19] L’esprit des races jaunes. Le Traité des Influences errantes de Quangdzu, traduit du chinois par Matgioi. Paris: Bibliothèque de la Haute Science, 1896.

[20] Evola J. Tao te Ching di Lao-tze. Rome: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1997. Other of Evol’s texts on Taoism are collected in the small brochure: Julius Evola, Taoism (Rome: Fondazione Julius Evola, 1988).

[21] Matgioi. Метафизический путь, p. 41 —42.

[22] Guénon R. La Grande Triade. Paris: Gallimard, 1957.

[23] Eliade М. Азиатская алхимия. М.: Янус-К, 1998.

[24] Dugin, Noomakhia: Geosophy – Horizons and Civilizations 

[25] Dugin А.G. Мартин Хайдеггер. Последний Бог [Martin Heidegger: The Last God]. Мoscow: Academic Project, 2015.

[26] It is also possible that the name of the Han Dynasty was derived from the river Hanshui or Han River which runs through Central China. 

Alexander Dugin: “From Sacred Geography to Geopolitics”

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translators: Jafe Arnold and John Stachelski 

Chapter 7 of Mysteries of Eurasia (Moscow: Arktogeia, 1991) / Chapter 6/Part 6/Book I of Foundations of Geopolitics (Moscow, Arktogeia, 2000). 

 ***

Geopolitics as an “Intermediary” Science

Geopolitical concepts have long been the most important factor in modern politics. These concepts are based on general principles which allow one to readily analyze the situation of any country and any individual region. 

In the form in which it exists today, geopolitics is undoubtedly a worldly, “profane”, secularized science. However, among all other modern sciences, it is geopolitics which has preserved the greatest connection to Tradition and the traditional sciences.  René Guénon said that modern chemistry is the product of the desacralization of the traditional science of alchemy, just as modern physics has its origins in magic. Exactly in the same way, one could say that that modern geopolitics is the product of the secularization and desacralization of another traditional science, that of sacred geography. Since geopolitics occupies a peculiar place among modern sciences and is often ranked as a “pseudo-science”, its profanation is not nearly as complete and irreversible as in the case of chemistry or physics. Geopolitics’ relation to sacred geography is rather distinctly visible in this sense. Therefore, we can say that geopolitics occupies an intermediary place between traditional science (sacred geography) and profane science. 

Land and Sea

The two essential concepts of geopolitics are Land and Sea. It is these two elements  – Land and Water – that lie at the root of humans’ qualitative imagination of earthly space. In experiencing land and sea, earth and water, man enters into contact with the fundamental aspects of his existence. Land is stability, gravity, fixity, space as such. Water is mobility, softness, dynamism and time.

These two elements are, in their essence, the most obvious manifestations of the material nature of the world. They stand outside of man: everything is heavy and fluid. They are also inside him: in the body and blood. The same is the case at the cellular level.

The universality of the experiences of earth and water yields the traditional concept of the Firmament, since the presence of the Higher Waters (the source of rain) in the sky also implies the presence of a symmetric and necessary element – earth, land, the celestial vault. All together, Earth, Sea and Ocean are in essence the major categories of earthly existence, and it is impossible for mankind not to see in them some of the foundational attributes of the universe. As the two basic terms of geopolitics, they preserve their significance for both civilizations of a traditional kind and for exclusively modern states, peoples and ideological blocs. At the level of global geopolitical phenomena, Land and Sea generate the terms Thalassocracy and Tellurocracy, i.e., “power by means of sea” and “ power by means of land” – Sea Power and Land Power. 

The strength of any state or empire is based upon the preferential development of one of these categories. Empires are either thalassocratic, or tellurocratic. The former implies the existence of a mother country and colonies, the latter a capital and provinces on “common land.” In the case of thalassocracy, its territory is not unified into one land space, which creates an element of discontinuity. The sea is both the strength and weakness of thalassocratic power. Tellurocracy, on the contrary, boasts the quality of territorial continuity.

Geographical and cosmological logic at once complicate this seemingly simple model of division: the pair of “land-sea”, by reciprocal superimposition of its elements, gives birth to the ideas of “maritime land” and of “land-water”. The maritime-land is an island, i.e., the base of maritime empire, the pole of thalassocracy. “Land-water” or water within land means rivers, which predetermine the development of overland empires. On the river we find the city, the capital, the pole of tellurocracy. This symmetry is symbolic, economic and geographical all at once. It is important to note that the statuses of Island and Continent are defined not so much on the basis of physical magnitude as by the peculiarities of the consciousness typical of their populations. Thus, the geopolitics of the US is of an island nature despite the dimensions of North America, whereas the island of Japan geopolitically represents the continental mentality, etc.

One more detail is relevant: historically, thalassocracy is linked to the West and the Atlantic Ocean, whereas tellurocracy is associated with the East and the Eurasian continent. The above-mentioned example of Japan is explained, thus, by the stronger “attractive” effect of Eurasia.

Thalassocracy and Atlanticism became synonyms long before the colonial expansion of Great Britain or Portuguese and Spanish conquests. Long before the first sea migration waves, the peoples of the West and their cultures had already begun their shift to the East from their centers located in the Atlantic. The Mediterranean was also mastered from the Gibraltar to the Middle East, and not the other way around. Meanwhile, excavations in Eastern Siberia and Mongolia demonstrate that ancient pockets of civilization once existed there, which means that none other than the central lands of the continent were the cradle of Eurasian mankind. 

The Symbolism of Landscape

Besides these two global categories of Land and Sea, geopolitics also operates with more particular definitions. Maritime and oceanic formations can be differentiated among thalassocratic realities. For instance, the maritime civilizations of the Black Sea or Mediterranean Sea are rather qualitatively different from the civilizations of the oceans, i.e., insular powers and peoples dwelling on the shores of the open ocean. More particular divisions also exist between river and lake civilizations with relation to continents.

Tellurocracy also has its own particular forms. One can distinguish between the civilization of the Steppe and civilization of the Forest, the civilization of the Mountains and the civilization of the Plains, the civilization of the Desert and the civilization of Ice. In sacred geography, diverse varieties of landscapes are understood as symbolic complexes linked to the particularities of the state, religious and ethical ideologies of different peoples. Even in those cases where we are dealing with a universalist, ecumenical religion, the concrete embodiment of such in a given people, race or state will be subject to adaptation to the local sacred-geographical context. Deserts and steppes represent the geopolitical microcosm of the nomads, and it is precisely in the deserts and on the steppes that the tellurocratic tendency reaches its climax, as the “water” factor is minimally present. Desert and Steppe empires should therefore logically be the geopolitical springboards of tellurocracy. As an example of a Steppe empire, one might consider the Empire of Genghis Khan. A typical example of a Desert empire was the Arab Caliphate, which arose under the direct influence of nomads. 

Mountains and mountain civilizations are more often than not archaic and fragmentary. Mountain countries are generally not sources of expansion, in fact, they tend to gather the victims of other tellurocratic forces’ geopolitical expansion. No empire has its center in a mountainous region. Hence the often repeated maxim of sacred geography, “mountains are inhabited by demons.” On the other hand, the idea that mountains can conserve the residual traces of ancient races and civilizations is reflected by the fact that it is precisely in mountains that the sacred centers of Tradition are placed. One could even say that mountains correspond to some kind of spiritual power in tellurocracy. 

The logical combination of both concepts – the mountain as a hieratic model and the desert as a regal one – yields the symbolism of the hill, i.e., a small or average height. The hill is a symbol of imperial might rising above the secular level of the steppe, but it does not reach the limit of supreme power as is the case with mountains. A hill is a dwelling place for a king, a count, an emperor, but not a priest. All large tellurocratic empires’ capitals are placed on a hill or hills (often on seven hills – the number of the planets; or on five – the number of elements, including the ether, and so on).

The forest in sacred geography is similar to the mountains in a definite sense. The symbolism of the tree corresponds to the symbolism of the mountain (both the former and the latter designate the world axis). Therefore, in tellurocracies the forest also plays a peripheral function, as it too is the “place of the priests” (the druids, the magi, the hermits), but also at the same time the “place of demons”, i.e., archaic residuals from a vanished past. Thus, a forest cannot serve as the center of an overland empire.

The tundra represents the Northern analogue to the steppe and the desert, although the cold climate makes it much less significant from a geopolitical point of view. This “peripherality” reaches its apogee with the icebergs which, similarly to mountains, are deeply archaic zones. It is telling that the Eskimo shamanic tradition calls for a future shaman to depart alone on the ice, from where the world beyond will be opened to him. Thus, ice is a hieratic zone, the threshold of another world.

Taking into account these essential and most general characteristics of the geopolitical map, it is possible to define the various regions of the planet according to their sacred qualities. This method can also be applied to the local features of a landscape at the level of individual countries or even of individual localities. It is also possible to trace the convergence of the ideologies and traditions of what are seemingly very diverse peoples. 

East and West in Sacred Geography

In the context of sacred geography, cardinal directions possess a special, qualitative nature. Visions of sacred geography can vary across traditions and periods in accordance with the cyclical phases of a given tradition’s development. Hence why the symbolic functions of cardinal directions often vary. Without diving into the details, it is possible to formulate the most universal law of sacred geography with regards to East and West.

Sacred geography, on the basis of “cosmic symbolism”, traditionally considers the East to be the “land of the Spirit”, the paradisal land, the land of perfection, abundance, the sacred “homeland” in its fullest and most complete form. In particular, this idea is mirrored in the Bible, where Eden has an Eastern position. The exact same understanding is characteristic of other Abrahamic traditions (Islam and Judaism), as well as many non-Abrahamic traditions, such as the Chinese, Hindu and Iranian traditions. “The East is the mansion of the gods”, states the sacred formula of the Ancient Egyptians, and the very word “East”, or neter in Egyptian, simultaneously meant “god.” From the point of view of natural symbolism, the East is the place where the sun, the Light of the World, the material symbol of Divinity and the Spirit, ascends, or vostekeat in Russian, hence the Russian word for “East”, vostok.

The West has the opposite symbolical meaning. It is the “land of death”, the “lifeless world”, the “green country” (as the Ancient Egyptians called it). The West is “the empire of exile” and “the pit of the rejected” in the expressions of Islamic mystics. The West is the “anti-East”, the country of the setting of the sun (zakat in Russian), decay, degradation, and transition from the manifest to the non-manifest, from life to death, from wholeness to need, and so on. The West [zapad in Russian] is the place where the sun descends, where it “sinks down” (zapadaet).

It is in accordance with this logic of natural cosmic symbolism that ancient traditions organized their “sacred space”, founded their cult centers, burial places, temples and edifices, and interpreted the natural and “civilizational” features of the planet’s geographical, cultural and political territories. Thus, the very structure of migrations, wars, campaigns, demographic waves, empire-building, etc. was defined by the primordial, pragmatic logic of sacred geography.

Peoples and civilizations possessing hierarchical characters stretched along the East-West axis – the closer to the East, the closer they were to the Sacred, to Tradition, to spiritual abundance. The closer to the West, the more the Spirit decayed, degraded and died. 

Of course, this logic was not always absolute, but at the same time it was neither minor nor relative as it has so wrongly been considered by many “profane” scholars of ancient religions and traditions today. As a matter of fact, sacred logic and the tracing of cosmic symbolism were much more consciously recognized, understood and practiced by ancient peoples than is acceptably believed today. Even in our anti-sacred world, the archetypes of sacred geography are almost always retained in their integrity on the level of the “unconscious”, and are awoken at the most important and critical moments of social cataclysms. 

Thus, sacred geography univocally affirms the law of “qualitative space”, in which the East represents the symbolic “ontological plus”, and the West the “ontological minus.” According to the Chinese tradition, the East is Yang, or the male, bright, solar principle, and the West is Yin, the female, dark, lunar principle.

East and West in Modern Geopolitics

Now we shall see how this sacred-geographical logic is mirrored in geopolitics, which, in the capacity of the exclusively modern science, merely fixates on the factual arrangement of affairs, leaving sacred principles themselves out of its framework and out of the picture. 

Geopolitics in its original formulation by Ratzel, Kjellén, and Mackinder (and later by Haushofer and the Russian Eurasianists) took as its point of departure the peculiarities of different types of civilizations and states in relation to their dependence on geographical disposition. Geopoliticians established the fact that there is a fundamental difference between “insular” and “continental” powers, between “Western”, “progressive” civilization and “Eastern”, “despotic” and “archaic” cultural forms. Insofar as the question of the Spirit in its metaphysical and sacred understanding is generally never raised in modern science, geopoliticians have also brushed it aside, preferring to evaluate situations in different, more modern terms than those of the “sacred”, “profane”, “traditional”, “anti-traditional”, etc. 

Geopoliticians have identified major differences between the political, cultural and industrial development of Eastern regions and Western ones over the past few centuries. The picture thereby derived is the following: the West is the center of “material” and “technological” development. On the cultural-ideological level, “liberal-democratic” tendencies and individualistic and humanistic worldviews prevail in the West. On the economic level, priority is assigned to trade and technological modernization. The theories of “progress”, “evolution”, and the “progressive development of history”, which are completely alien to the traditional Eastern world (and also to Western history in those periods when a rigorous sacred tradition was still in place there, as was the case in the Middle Ages), appeared for the first time in the West. On the social level, coercion in the West acquired only an economic character, and the Law of Idea and Force was gradually replaced by the Law of Money. A peculiar “Western ideology” was gradually cast in the universal formula of the “ideology of human rights”, which became the dominant principle in the most Western regions of the planet – North America, first and foremost the United States of America. On the industrial level, this ideology has corresponded with the notion of “developed countries”, and on the economic level is related to the concepts of the “free market” and “economic liberalism.” 

The whole aggregate of these features, along with the purely military, strategic integration of different sectors of Western civilization, is defined today by the concept of “Atlanticism.” In the previous century, geopoliticians spoke of “Anglo-Saxon civilization” or “capitalist, bourgeois democracy”, but the “geopolitical West” has since found its most pure embodiment in the “Atlanticist” form. 

The geopolitical East represents the direct opposite of the geopolitical West. Instead of economic modernization, here (in the “less developed countries”) traditional, archaic modes of production of the corporative or shop-manufacturing type prevail. Instead of economic coercion, the state more often employs “moral” or simply physical coercion (the Law of Idea and Law of Force). Instead of “democracy” and “human rights”, the East gravitates around totalitarianism, socialism and authoritarianism, i.e., around various types of social regimes whose only common feature is that the center of their systems is not the “individual” or “man” with his “rights” and his peculiar “individual values”, but something supra-individual, supra-human, be it “society”, “the nation”, “the people”, “the idea”, “the Weltanschauung”, “religion”, “the cult of the leader” etc. The East contradicts Western liberal democracy with a diversity of types of non-liberal, non-individualistic societies ranging from authoritarian monarchies to theocracies or socialism. Moreover, from a pure typological, geopolitical point of view, the political specificity of this or that regime is secondary in comparison to the qualitative division between “Western order” (= “individualist, mercantile”) and “Eastern order” (= “supra-individual – based on force”). The USSR, communist China, Japan until 1945 and Khomeini’s Iran have been representative forms of such an anti-Western civilization. 

It is curious to note that Rudolf Kjellén, the first author to coin the term “geopolitics”, illustrated the differences between West and East in the following example:

“A typical pet phrase of the ordinary American,” Kjellén writes, “is ‘go ahead’, which literally means ‘go forward.’ In this is reflected the internal and intrinsic geopolitical optimism and ‘progressivism’ of American civilization, which is the extreme form of the Western model. The Russians, on the other hand, habitually repeat the word nichego [‘nothing’]. This manifests the ‘pessimism’, ‘contemplation’, ‘fatalism’, and ‘adherence to tradition’ peculiar to the East.” 

If we now return to the paradigm of sacred geography, we see a direct antagonism between the priorities of modern geopolitics (such concepts as “progress”, “liberalism”, “human rights”, and “trade order” etc., are today positive terms for the majority of people), and the priorities of sacred geography, which evaluates different civilizational types from a completely opposite point of view (from the standpoint of such concepts as “spirit”, “contemplation”, “submission to superhuman force or superhuman idea”, “ideocracy”, etc., which in sacred civilizations are exclusively positive, and remain such  to this day for the Eastern peoples on the level of the “collective unconscious”). Modern geopolitics (with the exceptions of the Russian Eurasianists, the German followers of Haushofer, Islamic fundamentalists etc.) analyzes and imagines the world from an opposite perspective than that of traditional sacred geography. But in this, both sciences still converge in their description of the fundamental laws of the geographical picture of civilizations.

Sacred North and Sacred South

In addition to the sacred-geographical determinism along the East-West axis, an extremely relevant problem is posed by another, vertical orientation or axis – that of North-South. Here, as in all other cases, the principles of sacred geography, the symbolism of cardinal points, and the continents related to each, have a direct analogue in the geopolitical picture of the world, which is either naturally built up over the course of the historical process, or is consciously and artificially formed as a result of the purposeful actions of the leaders of this or that geopolitical formation. From the point of view of the Integral Tradition, the difference between “artificial” and “natural” is generally rather relative, since Tradition never knew anything in the likes of  the Cartesian or Kantian dualisms which strictly separate the “subjective” and the “objective” (or the “phenomenal” and “noumenal”). Therefore the sacred determinism of North or South is not only a physical, natural, or terranean-climatic factor (i.e., something “objective”), nor is it merely an “idea” or “concept” generated by the minds of individuals (i.e., something “subjective”). Rather, it is some kind of third form that is superior to both the objective and subjective poles. One might say that the sacred North, or the archetype of the North, was over the course of history split into the natural Northern landscape on the one hand, and the idea of the North, or “Nordicism”, on the other. 

The most ancient and primordial layer of Tradition unequivocally affirms the primacy of North over South. The symbolism of the North corresponds to the Source, to the original Northern paradise from which all human civilization originates. Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian texts speak of the northern country of Airyana Vaeja with its capital of Vara, from which the ancient Aryans were expelled by glaciation sent upon them by Ahriman, the spirit of Evil and opponent of the bright Ormuzd. The ancient Vedas also speak of a Northern land as the ancestral home of the Hindus, the Śveta-dvīpa, the White Land lying in the Far North. The Ancient Greeks spoke of Hyperborea, the Northern island with the capital Thule. This land was considered to be the homeland of the bright god Apollo. In many other traditions, one can detect the most ancient traces, so often forgotten and fragmentary, of this “Nordic” symbolism. 

The fundamental idea traditionally associated with the North is the idea of the Center, the Immobile Pole, the point of Eternity around which revolves not only the cycle of space, but also the cycle of time. The North is the land where the sun never sets even at night, it is the space of eternal light. Every sacred tradition honors the Center, the Middle, the point where contrasts converge, the symbolic place that is not subject to the laws of cosmic entropy. This Center, whose symbol is the Swastika (which stresses both the immobility and constancy of the Center, and the mobility and changeability of the periphery), has acquired different names for each tradition, but it has always been directly or indirectly linked to the symbolism of North. Therefore, we can say that all sacred traditions are, in essence, the projection of the One Northern Primordial Tradition adapted to all different historical conditions. The North is the Cardinal Point chosen by the primeval Logos in order to reveal itself in History, and each of its further manifestations has only re-created this primordial polar-paradisal symbolism.

In sacred geography, the North corresponds to the spirit, light, purity, completeness, unity, and eternity. The South symbolizes something directly opposite – materiality, darkness, mixture, privation, plurality and immersion in the stream of time and becoming. Even from a natural point of view, in polar areas there is one long semi-annual Day and one long semi-annual Night. This is the Day and Night of the gods and heroes, of the angels. Even decayed traditions remember this sacred, spiritual, supernatural Cardinal North, recalling the Northern regions to be the dwelling place of “spirits” and “forces from beyond.” In the South, the Day and Night of the gods are fragmented into human days – here the primordial symbolism of Hyperborea has been lost, and its memories became mere pieces of “culture” or “legend.” The South generally often corresponds to culture, i.e., to that sphere of human activity at which the Invisible and the Purely Spiritual acquire material, hardened, visible outlines. The South is the reign of substance, life, biology and instincts. The South corrupts the Northern purity of Tradition, but preserves its traces in materialized features.

The North-South pair in sacred geography is not reduced to an abstract opposition of Good and Evil. It is rather the opposition of the Spiritual Idea to its coarsened, material embodying. In normal cases, in which the South recognizes the primacy of the North, there exist harmonious relations between these “parties of light”; the North “spiritualizes the South”, the Nordic messengers bring Tradition to the Southerners and lay the foundations of sacred civilizations. If the South fails to recognize the primacy of the North, then thus begins the sacred confrontation, the “war of continents.” In the view of Tradition, the South is responsible for this conflict in breaking sacred rules. In the Ramayana, for instance, the Southern island of Lanka is considered the dwelling place of demons that have stolen Rama’s wife, Sita, and declared war on the continental North with its capital of Ayodhya. 

Thus, it is important to note that in sacred geography, the North-South axis is more important than the East-West axis. But being the more important one, it corresponds to the most ancient stages of cyclical history. The great war of North and South, of Hyperborea and Gondwana (the ancient paleo-continent of the South) belongs to “antediluvian” times. In the last phases of the cycle, it becomes more hidden, more veiled. The paleo-continents of North and South themselves disappear. Thus, the baton of opposition is passed to East and West.

The shift from the vertical North-South axis to the horizontal East-West axis typical of the last stages of the cycle nevertheless saves the logic and symbolic connection between these two sacred-geographical pairs. The North-South pair (i.e., Spirit-Matter, Eternity-Time) is projected on the East-West pair (i.e., Tradition and Profanity, Origin and Decay). The East is the downwards horizontal projection of the North. The West is the upwards horizontal projection of the South. Out of this transition of sacred meanings, one can readily obtain the structure of the continental vision peculiar to Tradition. 

The People of the North

The Sacred North determines a special human type, which can have a biological, racial embodiment, but also might not have such a thing at all. The essence of “Nordicism” consists in the capacity of man to raise each object of the physical, material world to its archetype, to its Idea. This quality is not a simple development of a rational origin. On the contrary, the Cartesian and Kantian “pure intellect” is by its very nature incapable of overcoming the thin border between the “phenomenon” and “noumenon”, whereas it is precisely this ability that lies at the heart of “Nordic” thinking. The man of the North is not simply white, “Aryan” or Indo-European in terms of his blood, language, and culture. The man of the North is a particular kind of being endowed with a direct intuition of the Sacred. To him, the cosmos is a texture of symbols, each of them pointing towards the First Spiritual Principle that is invisible to the eye. The man of the North is the “solar man”, Sonnenmensch, who does not absorb energy, as black holes do, but allots it – the streams of creation, light, strength, and wisdom flow out of his spirit.

Pure Nordic civilization disappeared with the ancient Hyperboreans, but its messengers laid the foundations of all present traditions. This Nordic “race” of Teachers stood at the origins of the religions and cultures of the peoples of all continents and colors of skin. Traces of a Hyperborean cult can be found among the Indians of North America, among the Ancient Slavs, among the founders of the Chinese civilization, and among the natives of the Pacific, among the blonde Germans and black shamans of Western Africa, among the red-skinned Aztecs and among the Mongols with their wide cheek-bones. There is no people on the planet that does not have a myth about the “solar man”, Sonnenmensch. True spirituality, the supra-rational Mind, the divine Logos, and the capacity to see through the world to its secret Soul – these are the defining qualities of the North. Wherever there is Sacred Purity and Wisdom, there, invisibly, is the North – no matter what point in space or time we inhabit. 

The People of the South

The man of the South, the Gondwana type, is directly opposite of the Nordic type. The man of the South lives in a circle of effects, of secondary manifestations; he dwells in the cosmos, which he venerates but does not understand. He worships exteriority, but not interiority. He carefully preserves traces of spirituality, their embodiments in the material environment, but he is not able to proceed from “symbolizing” to “the symbolized.” The man of the South lives by passion and speed, he puts the psychic above the spiritual (which he simply does not know) and worships Life as a higher authority. The cult of the Great Mother, of matter generating the variety of forms, is typical of the man of the South. The civilization of the South is a civilization of the Moon, which only receives light from the Sun (North), and preserves and diffuses it for some time only to periodically lose contact with it (the new moon). The man of the South is a Mondmensch.

When the people of the South stay in harmony with the people of North, i.e. recognize their authority and their typological (not racial!) superiority, harmony reigns among civilizations. When they claim their supremacy because of their archetypical relation to reality, there arises a distorted cultural type, which can be globally defined by adoration of idols, fetishism or paganism (in the negative, pejorative sense of this term).

As is the case with the paleo-continents themselves, purely Northern and Southern types existed only in remote ancient times. The people of the North and the people of the South confronted one another only in the primordial epochs. Later, whole peoples from the North penetrated the Southern lands, sometimes founding bright expressions of Nordic civilization, such as ancient Iran and India. On the other hand, peoples from the South sometimes went far northward, bearing their cultural type, such as Finns, Eskimos, Chukchi etc. The original clearness of the sacred-geographical panorama gradually became muddy. But in spite of all of this, the typological dualism of the “people of North” and the “people of the South” has been preserved in all times and epochs, only not so much in the form of an external conflict between two miscellaneous civilizations, as an internal conflict within the framework of any given civilization.

The type of the North and the type of the South have since some moment in sacred history opposed each other at every turn, irrespective of concrete places on the planet. 

North and South in East and West

The type of the people of North can be projected in the South, East and West. In the South, the Light of North generated great metaphysical civilizations such as the Indian, Iranian or Chinese, which in the situation of the “conservative” South for a long time preserved the Revelation, were entrusted with it. However, the simpleness and clearness of Northern symbolism turned here into complex and miscellaneous tangles of sacred doctrines, sacraments and rites. The further to the South, the feebler are the traces of the North. And among the inhabitants of the Pacific islands and Southern Africa, Nordic motives in mythology and sacraments are preserved only in extremely fragmentary, rudimentary and even distorted form.

In the East, the North manifests itself as classical traditional society founded on the univocal superiority of the supra-individual above the individual, where the “human” and the “rational” are retracted in view of the supra-human and supra-rational Principle. If the South gives civilization “stability”, then the East defines its sacrality and authenticity, the major guarantor of which is the Light of the North.

In the West, the North is manifest in heroic societies, where such a tendency peculiar to the West as fragmentation, individualization and rationalization surpassed itself, and the individual, becoming the Hero, grew out of the narrow framework of the “human, all too human” personality. The North in the West is personified by the symbolic figure of Heracles who, on the one hand, releases Prometheus (the purely Western, titanic, “humanist” tendency), and on the other, helps Zeus and the gods to defeat the rebellion of the giants (i.e. serves for the sake of sacred rules and spiritual Order).

The South, on the contrary, projects itself on all three orientations according to an opposite image. In the North, it gives the effect of “archaism” and cultural stagnation. Even the most Northern, “Nordic” traditions, when under the Southern influence of “Paleo-Asiatic”, “Finnish” or “Eskimo” elements, took on the traits of “idol-worshipping” and “fetishism” (this is characteristic, in particular, of the Germano-Scandinavian civilization in the “epoch of the Skalds”).

In the East, the forces of the South surface in despotic societies, where the normal and just Eastern indifference towards the individual turns into denial of the great Supra-human Subject. All forms of Eastern totalitarianism, both typological and racial, are linked to the South.

Finally, in the West, the South is manifested in the extremely rough, materialistic forms of individualism in which the atomic individual reaches the limit of anti-heroic degeneration, worshipping only the “golden calf” of comfort and egotistical hedonism. That this combination of two sacred-geopolitical tendencies yields the most negative type of civilization is obvious, since it overlaps two orientations which are already in themselves negative – South on the vertical line and West on the horizontal line. 

From Continents to Meta-Continents

If, from the perspective of sacred geography, the symbolic North unambiguously corresponds to positive aspects, and the South to negative, then in the exclusively modern geopolitical picture of the world, everything is much more complex – and to some extent even upside down. Modern geopolitics understands the terms “North” and “South” as wholly different categories than sacred geography does.

First of all, the paleo-continent of the North, Hyperborea, has not existed for many millennia on a physical level, but remains a spiritual reality towards which the spiritual gaze of the initiated yearning for primordial Tradition has been directed .

Secondly, the ancient Nordic race, the race of the “white teachers” who descended from the pole in the primordial era, does not at all coincide with what is today commonly called “white race” based only on physical characteristics, skin color, etc. The Northern Tradition and its original population, the “Nordic autochthones”, have not existed for quite some time as a historical-geographical reality. Judging by things as they stand at present, even the last remnants of this primordial culture disappeared from physical reality some millennia ago.

Thus, ‘the North’, looked at in terms of Tradition, is a meta-historical and meta-geographical reality. The same can be said about the “Hyperborean race” – it is not a ‘race’ in the biological, but rather, in a purely spiritual, metaphysical sense. The topic of “metaphysical races” was developed in detail in Julius Evola’s work.

The continent of the South, ‘the South’ as it exists in Traditionalist terms, and its most ancient population have not existed for quite some time. In a certain sense, the “South” at a certain  moment came to make up practically the entire planet, as the influence of the original polar initiatic center and its messengers dissipated across the entire world. The modern races of the South represent a product of multiple mixtures with the races of North, and skin color in general long ago ceased to be a distinctive sign of belonging to one or another “metaphysical race.”

In other words, the modern geopolitical picture of the world has very little in common with the fundamentally supra-historical and meta-temporal view of the world. The continents and populations of our epoch are extremely far removed from those archetypes to which they corresponded in primordial times. Therefore, today there exists not merely a discrepancy, but an almost inverse correspondence between actual continents and actual races (the realities of modern geopolitics) on the one hand, and meta-continents or meta-races (the realities of traditional sacred geography) on the other.

The Illusion of the “Rich North”

Modern geopolitics refers to the concept of the “North” most frequently alongside the adjective “rich”  – the “rich North,” the “advanced North”. This term refers to an aggregate of Western civilization which attaches fundamental attention to the development of the material and economic side of life. The “rich North ” is rich not because it is more clever, more intellectual, or more spiritual than the “South”, but because it has built its social system on the principle of maximizing the material that can be extracted from social and natural potential, from the exploitation of humans and natural resources. The racial image of the “rich North” is linked to people with white skin, a feature which is central to various versions, whether explicit or implicit, of “Western racism” (in particular Anglo-Saxon racism). The success of the “rich North” in the material sphere was raised to a political and even “racial” principle in those countries which became the vanguard of industrial, technical and economic development, i.e., England, Holland, and later Germany and the US. In this case, material and quantitative welfare amounted to a qualitative criterion, and it is on this basis that the most ridiculous prejudices about the “barbarism”, “primitiveness”, “underdevelopment” and “untermenschlichkeit” of the Southern peoples (i.e., those not belonging to “rich North”) came about. Such “economic racism” was clearly manifested in Anglo-Saxon colonial conquest. Later, an embellished version was introduced in the most coarse and contradictory aspects of National-Socialist ideology. Nazi ideologists often blended vague guesses about pure “spiritual Nordism” and the “spiritual Aryan race” with the vulgar, mercantilistic, biological racism of the English variety. This substitution of sacred-geographical categories with categories of material and technical development was the most absolutely negative aspect of National-Socialism, and the element which led to its political, theoretical and military collapse. Yet, even after the defeat of the Third Reich, this kind of “rich North” racism has not disappeared from political life. Now, the US and its Atlanticist partners in Western Europe have become its primary bearers. In the most recent globalist doctrines of the “rich North”, questions of biological and racial purity are not stressed; nevertheless, in practice, the rich North’s relations with undeveloped and less developed countries of the Third World still advance the “racist” haughtiness typical of both English colonialists and the German National-Socialists’ orthodox Rosenberg line. 

In fact, the “rich North”, in geopolitical terms, refers to those countries where forces directly opposed to Tradition have won out – the forces of quantity, materialism, atheism, spiritual degradation and emotional degeneration. The “rich North” is radically distinct from “spiritual Nordism” and the “Hyperborean spirit.” The substance of the North in sacred geography is the primacy of spirit over matter, the definitive and total victory of Light, Justice and Purity over the darkness of animal life, the arrogance of individual passions and the mud of base egoism. The globalist geopolitics of the “rich North”, on the contrary, means exclusively material welfare, hedonism, the consumer society, the “problem-free” and artificial pseudo-paradise of those whom Nietzsche called “the last men.” The material progress of technological civilization has been accompanied by the monstrous spiritual regress of all truly sacred culture. From the point of view of Tradition, the “wealth” of the modern, “advanced” North cannot serve as genuine criteria of any real superiority over the material “poverty” and technological backwardness of the modern “primitive South.”

Moreover, the material “poverty” of the South is quite often conversely linked tied to Southern regions’ conservation of genuinely sacred forms of civilization. Spiritual wealth is sometimes disguised behind ostensible “poverty.” At least two such sacred civilizations still exist in the Southern space today despite all the attempts by the “rich (and aggressive!) North” to impose its own measures and path of development on the whole world: Hindu India and the Islamic world. In terms of Far Eastern traditions, there are various points of view: some see certain traditional principles that have always been definitive for Chinese civilization, even beneath the “Marxist” and “Maoist” rhetoric. These Southern regions are inhabited by peoples who have maintained their devotion to very ancient, nearly forgotten sacred traditions. Compared to the atheist and utterly materialistic “rich North”, these peoples are “spiritual”, “whole” and “normal”, while the “rich North” itself is “abnormal” and “pathological” from a spiritual point of view.

The Paradox of the “Third World ”

In terms of globalist projects, the “poor South” is de facto a synonym for the “Third World.” This part of the world was referred to as the “third” during the Cold War, a notion which presupposed that the other two “worlds” – the advanced capitalist and less-advanced Soviet – were more relevant and significant to geopolitics than all other regions. The expression “Third World” has a pejorative connotation: according to the utilitarian logic of the ”rich North”, such a definition renders Third World countries tantamount to a “no man’s land”, to little more than human resource reservoirs slated for subservience, exploitation and manipulation. In so doing, the “rich North” has skillfully played on the traditional political-ideological and religious characteristics of the “poor South” by subjugating it to its exclusively materialist and economic interests and structures which are, in terms of spiritual potential, far superior to the “rich North” itself. The “rich North” has almost always succeeded in this subjugation, since the very cyclical moment of our civilization is conducive to perverted, abnormal and unnatural tendencies. This is due to the fact that, according to Tradition, we are now in the latest period of the dark age, the ‘Kali Yuga.’ Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam and the indigenous traditions of the “non-white” peoples are but an impediment to the material conquests and aims of the “rich North”; yet, at the same time, certain aspects of Tradition are often appropriated to achieve their mercantile goals by manipulating contradictions, religious peculiarities or national problems. Such utilitarian appropriations of various aspects of Tradition for exclusively anti-traditional aims have been an even greater evil than the outright denial of all Traditional values, since the highest perversion is for the great to be made subservient to the “nothing.”

In reality, the so-called “poor South ” is only “poor” on a material level precisely because of its spiritual attitudes, having always reserved only a minor and unimportant place for the material aspects of existence. The geopolitical South in our time has preserved a uniquely traditionalist attitude towards the objects of the external world, a calm, detached, and even indifferent attitude which starkly contrasts the obsessions of the “rich North” with materialist and hedonistic paranoia. The people of the “poor South”, by virtue of living in Tradition, to this day have fuller, more profound and even more magnificent existences. Participation in sacred Tradition bestows upon all aspects of their personal lives’ a meaning, an intensity and a saturation, of which the “rich North” has long been deprived. The latter is left hysterical with neuroses, material fears, inner desolation and a completely pointless existence. It is little more than a languid kaleidoscope with pictures as vivid as they are empty. 

It could be said that the correlation between North and South in primordial times has a directly inverse correlation in our present epoch, as it is the South which today still preserves some links with Tradition, whereas the North has definitively lost them. Nevertheless, this statement does not cover the whole picture of reality, since true Tradition cannot abide such humiliating treatment as that practiced by the aggressively atheistic “rich North” against the “Third world.” The fact of the matter is that Tradition has been preserved in the South only in an inertial, fragmentary, partial form. It holds a passive position and can only resist, it is permanently on the defensive. Thus, the spiritual North has not fully transferred itself to the South in the End Times – the South only accumulates and preserves spiritual impulses that once came from the sacred North. No active traditional initiative can come from the South in principle. Meanwhile, the globalist “rich North” has managed to harden its pernicious grasp on the planet due to the specificity of the Northern regions that are conducive to activity. The North was and remains by its very nature the chosen place of power. Thus, truly effective geopolitical initiatives come from the North.

The “poor South” today has a spiritual advantage over the “rich North”, but it cannot serve as a serious alternative to the profane aggression of the “rich North”, nor can it offer the radical geopolitical project capable of subverting the pathological vision of the modern world. 

The Role of the “ Second World”

In the bipolar geopolitical picture of “rich North” vs. “poor South”, there has always existed an additional component of self-sufficient and critical significance. This is the so-called “Second World”, which is conventionally understood to mean the socialist camp that was integrated into the Soviet system. This “Second World” was not quite the “rich North”, since it had definite spiritual motives that secretly influenced the nominally materialistic ideology of Soviet socialism, nor was it really the “Third world”, since overall an orientation towards material development, “progress” and other exclusively profane principles were at the heart of the Soviet system. The geopolitically Eurasian USSR was located both in “poor Asia” and “civilized” Europe. During the socialist period, the planetary belt of the “rich North” was broken in Eastern Eurasia, thus complicating the clarity of geopolitical relations on the North-South axis.

The end of the “Second World” as a special civilization left the former USSR’s Eurasian space with two alternatives: either integration into the “rich North” (that is, the West and the US), or being thrown down to the “poor South”, i.e., to turn into a “Third world country.” One possible compromise would be the separation of some of the regions to the “North” and some to the “South.” As has often been the case over the last few centuries, the initiative of redistributing geopolitical spaces was the prerogative of the “rich North”, which cynically used the paradoxes of the “second world” itself to fix new geopolitical borders and break up zones of influence. 

National, economic and religious factors are regularly instrumentalized by the globalists as tools in their cynical and deeply materialist-motivated operations. It is therefore no surprise that, in addition to false “humanist” rhetoric, almost blatantly “racist” pretexts are now increasingly invoked to incite Russians to demonstrate a “white superiority complex” towards Asian and Caucasian Southerners. This correlates with the inverse process of the former “Second World” being driven finally towards the “poor South” which has been accompanied by manipulations of fundamentalist tendencies, of the peoples’ inclination towards Tradition and of the revival of religion. 

The disintegrating “Second World” is being broken apart along the lines of “traditionalism” (the southern, inertial, conservative kind) and “anti-traditionalism” (the actively Northern, modernist and materialist kind). This dualism, which is only being strategized today but will become the predominant phenomenon in Eurasian geopolitics in  the near future, is predetermined by the spread of the globalist understanding of the world in terms of “rich North” and the “poor South.” Any attempt to save the former Soviet Great Space, and any attempt to save the “Second World” as something self-sufficient and balancing halfway between North and South (in their exclusively modern meaning), cannot be successful without altogether questioning the fundamentally polar conception of modern geopolitics as understood and realized in its actual form, brushing aside deceitful humanitarian and economic proclamations. 

The “Second World” is disappearing. There is no more place for it on the modern geopolitical map. At the same time, the pressure of the “rich North” on the “poor South” is increasing, with the latter left to fend against the aggressive materialistic technocratic society of the “North” in the absence of an intermediate power, such as the Second World was. Any other possible destiny for the “Second World” will only be possible if accompanied by a radical rejection of the planetary logic of the North-South dichotomy in its globalist vein. 

The Project for the “Resurrection of the North”

The rich globalist North is spreading its domination across the planet through the partition and destruction of the “Second World.” In modern geopolitics, this has also been called the project of the “New World Order.” The active forces of anti-tradition are consolidating their victory over the passive recalcitrance of the Southern regions which continue to preserve their economic backwardness and defend their residual forms of Tradition. The inner geopolitical energies of the “Second World” face a choice – either be annexed into the “civilized Northern belt” and decisively lose any connection with sacred history (which is the project of leftist globalism), or become an occupied territory allowed to partially restore some aspects of tradition (the project of right-wing globalism). Events are developing in precisely this direction today and they will continue to in the near future. 

As for an alternative, it is theoretically possible to formulate a different path for geopolitical transformation based on rejecting the North-South globalist logic and on returning to the spirit of genuine sacred geography – to the extent that such is possible now, at the end of the dark age. This is the project of the “Great Return” or, in other terms, the “Great War of Continents.” In its most general features, the essence of this project is as follows:

(1) The rich North will be opposed, not by the “poor South”, but by the “poor North.” The poor North is the sacred ideal of returning to the Nordic sources of civilization. Such a North is “poor” because it is based on total asceticism, on radical devotion to the highest values of Tradition, on utter hatred of the material for the sake of the spiritual. The “poor North” exists (in a geographical sense) in Russia, which, essentially being the “Second World”, has socio-politically resisted the adoption of globalist civilization in its most “progressive” forms to the present moment. The North Eurasian lands of Russia are the only territories on earth which have not been completely mastered by the “rich North.” They are inhabited by traditional peoples and are terra incognita in the modern world. The “path of the poor North” for Russia means refusing to be annexed by the globalist belt and refusing to have its traditions archaized, reduced to the folkloric level of an ethno-religious reservoir. The “poor North” must be spiritual, intellectual, active and aggressive. Potential opposition by the “poor North” to the “rich North” is possible in other regions as well, perhaps manifesting itself in part of the Western intellectual elite radically sabotaging the course of mercantile civilization and rebelling against the modern world of finance for the sake of the ancient, eternal values of the Spirit, Justice and Self-Sacrifice. The “poor North” could thus launch a geopolitical and ideological battle against the “rich North”, rejecting its projects, destroying its plans from the inside and out, combating its stainless efficiency and thwarting its social and political manipulations.

(2) The “poor South”, incapable of independently opposing the rich North, will enter a radical alliance with the poor Eurasian North and begin a liberation war against the Northern dictatorship. It is especially important to strike at representatives of the ideology of the “rich South ”, i.e., those forces which, working for the “rich North”, stand for the “development”, “progress” and “modernization” of traditional countries, which will otherwise lead to a further departure from what remains of sacred Tradition.

(3) The “poor North” of the Eurasian East, together with the “poor South”, will surround the entire planet, concentrating their forces against the “rich North” of the Atlanticist West. These efforts will put an end to the ideologically vulgar versions of Anglo-Saxon racism and praise of the “technological civilization of the white peoples” along with its accompaniment globalist propaganda. Alain de Benoist expressed this idea in the title of his famous book  Europe, Tiers Monde – même combat [“Europe and the Third World: The Same Fight”], which argues for a “spiritual Europe”, a “Europe of peoples and traditions” instead of the “Maastricht Europe of commodities.” The intellectualism, activism and spiritual profile of the genuine, sacred North will return the South’s traditions to their Nordic Source, and raise the Southerners in a planetary uprising against the common geopolitical enemy. In so doing, the passive resistance of the South will form a beachhead in the planetary messianism of the “Nordicists” who radically reject the degenerated and anti-sacred branch of white peoples who have followed the path of technological progress and material development. This could spark a planetary, supra-racial and supra-national Geopolitical Revolution based on the fundamental solidarity of the “Third World” with that part of the “Second World” which rejects the project of the “rich North”.

Over the course of this struggle, the flame of the “resurrection of the spiritual North”, the flame of Hyperborea, will transform geopolitical reality. The new global ideology will be that of Final Restoration, putting a final end to the geopolitical history of civilizations – but this will not be the end which the globalist spokesmen of the End of History have theorized. The materialistic, atheistic, anti-sacred, technocratic, Atlanticist version of the End will give way to a different epilogue – the final Victory of the sacred Avatar, the coming of the Great Judgement, which will grant those who chose voluntary poverty the kingdom of spiritual abundance, while those who preferred wealth founded on the assassination of the Spirit will be condemned to eternal damnation and torment in hell.

Lost continents will arise out of the abysses of the past. Invisible meta-continents will appear in reality. A New Earth and a New Heaven will arise.

Thus, the path is not from sacred geography to geopolitics but, on the contrary, from geopolitics to sacred geography.

 

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).

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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.

NOOMAKHIA: GEOSOPHY – The Horizons of Cultures: The Geography of Logoi

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Chapter 1 of Noomakhia: Wars of the Mind – Geosophy: Horizons and Civilizations
(Moscow: Academic Project, 2017)

***

The Horizons of Cultures: The Geography of Logoi

Virtually all of the books of the Noomakhia series are dedicated to what might be called “Geosophy” or “plural anthropology.”

In the first volume of Noomakhia, The Three Logoi [1], we offered a most general representation of the Three Logoi as three basic paradigms within the framework of which one can interpret the semantic structures of any culture and civilization. In the very least, we have proceed from precisely such a possibility as our initial position, allowing for the possibility of this tripartite reading in each and every society with numerous overlaps and combinations. As we proceed to examine different civilizations, we are faced with either accepting the conviction that such an approach, upon which all of Noomakhia is based, is indeed competent or, upon encountering insurmountable obstacles, recognizing the limited applicability of this noological methodology. The triplicity of the fundamental Logoi constitutes the essence of Noomakhia, and we will pursue this in the most diverse historical, religious, and social contexts. The main substance  which we understand by the “Three Logoi” described in the first volume will be further refined as we examine the most diverse civilizations and cultures, first and foremost the Hellenic and Byzantine, where the corresponding figures of Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele attained their clearest and most generalized expression. We have taken the latter to be a universal structural template, a paradigm. Thus, the two volumes of Noomakhia dedicated to the Greeks are of great importance to any correct and complete understanding of the foundational paradigms on which our study is based.

In the present work, we will examine yet another aspect of the plurality of Logoi. In the first book, we described – in the most general contours and primarily based on the example of the Hellenic cultural circle which determined the destiny of Western Europe for the last two and a half millennia – the structure of the three fundamental paradigms of thinking corresponding to three types of philosophy, religion, mythology, ritual, symbolism, gnoseology, ontology, and anthropology. The three paradigms which we distinguished – those of Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele – can be considered the main constituent moments of the vertical topography. In our point of view, these three paradigms comprehensively exhaust all the possible variations of the concretization of the Mind (Νοῦς) in the Logos and logological structures. Although we limited ourselves to the Hellenic zone, it is theoretically possible to arrive at an analogous model on the basis of other cultural templates, be they developed and detailed like Indian and Chinese philosophy, or altogether archaic, such as in the case of shamanic complexes or the most elementary mythological systems.

This vertical topography of the Three Logoi can be envisioned as a perpendicular angle constructed upon and penetrating each geographical (or, more precisely, geocultural and geosophical) zone of the world. Every cultural space (cultural-historical type, civilization) by definition can possess Apollonian, Dionysian, or Cybelean dimensions as three dimensions of  its (cultural) space, i.e., height (the Light Logos), breadth (the Dark Logos) and depth (the Black Logos). We say “can”, for this does not mean that each of these Logoi will necessarily be present, much less predominate. The diversity of cultures and societies on earth lies in that every culture and every society presents its own kind of projection of the three vertical Logoi in different proportions and different relations. One of the Logoi might dominate in one place while the others remain in a virtual state; elsewhere, the picture can be more complex. The Three Empires of the Logoi are projected onto each culture not only in terms of this geometrical schema, but always also from different angles, just as one and the same projected image can, taking into consideration different folds, curvatures, breaks, dips, etc., yield different shapes on different surfaces. When reflected upon the sea, the sun’s rays are transformed from straight lines into curved lines, and their constancy gives way to a rhythmically repetitive sinusoid. Light disappears on a dark surface; it is reflected in a mirror, and so on. If we add to this understanding the fact that cultural fields are not strictly horizontal with relation to noetic topography, but are reflected at certain angles which differ from culture to culture, then we can appreciate and estimate just how diverse and multidimensional cultural geography can be, just how multifaceted the field of geosophy is, and, as follows, we can appreciate the richness of anthropological pluralism. The very identification of the presence of three Logoi and the discernment of the dramatic war between their Empires fundamentally enriches our understanding of the structures of the Mind, imparting vital and intense volume. Taking into account the diversity of the projections onto the horizontal plane of human cultures which these Logoi and Noomakhia can yield, turns the whole picture into a grand panorama of qualitative intellectual plurality, a fertile and substantive pluriversum.

In the first book of Noomakhia, we primarily busied ourselves with the vertical symmetries and oppositions of noology, as well as the philosophies and mythologies which express such. Now we shall transition to horizontal symmetries and approach the study of the diversity of the Logoi among civilizations and cultures. In the following books of Noomakhia, we intend to present a number of developed illustrations of how the Logoi independently and distinctly manifest themselves in the most different civilizations, both those close to Europe and those distant. This qualitatively complicates the overall picture of noology. We will see how, in addition to or beyond the war between the Three Empires, the oppositions and conflicts between these Empires are projected onto the horizontal plane, as well as the internal polycentrism and historical dynamics inherent to these projections. This will explain many aspects of inter-civilizational relations and inter-cultural ties, but still the resultant field of geosophy will present itself as an extremely complex model, even in its mere static structure, without taking into account temporal (whether cyclical or unilinear) dynamics. Taking into consideration the dynamic changes in cultural systems which are organized along primordially different lines and represent a field of intense battle between the Three Noetic Empires, promises to transform history, philosophy, religious studies, anthropology and cultural studies into such a complex picture, simultaneously containing such a multiplicity of layers and levels, that it should come as no surprise why no one has undertaken such before. After all, the hands of the most courageous and resolute scholar can waiver in the face of such an abundance of materials and the sheer quantity of relevant factors. Thus, all previous undertakings which, no matter what, pursued something similar, will be made all the more valuable to us.

Yet the horizontality discussed in this volume of Noomakhia is such only in correlation with the verticality of the model of the Three Logoi. Horizontality in itself is multidimensional and polycentric. It harbors not only the static layers of culture that are discernible independently of time and which constitute the structure of permanent identity, but also historical dynamics, over the course of which the very proportions of relations between these layers dialectically change. Thus, in each and every civilization (culture), we must inscribe history into the unchanging synchronic model of identity, as well as situate space in the structure of civilizational time. On this matter, Martin Heidegger posed the followed fundamental question in his Ponderings (The Black Notebooks):

Не является ли пространство временем народа?

Ist das auch der Raum als die Zeit für ein «Volk»?

Is that also space as time for a “people”?

Пространство и время не нечто рядоположенное, что было бы «дано», но прорыв и начало бытия, которое должно быть отвоёвано.

Raum und Zeit nicht das Nebeneinander, das es so «gibt», sondern Ausbruch und Anbruch des Seins, das ersrtitten warden muss.

Space and time not the juxtaposed, which is simply “given,” but instead the opening and upsurge of being, which must be striven for. [2]

Heidegger’s use of the two words Ausbruch and Anbruch is important as a formula for expressing being in both space and time. Both are formed by the common root brechen, that is “to smash”, “to sever”, “to break through”, “to split.” Space corresponds to the Ausbruch of being (Sein or Seyn), and time is the Anbruch of being (Sein or Seyn). Ausbruch can be interpreted as an “invasion”, “breakthrough”, “acute unfolding”, or “upsurge.” Being unfolds as space (living space, the space of the people) and thereby “surges” into existence, making it present. Time begins the being of Anbruch, that is “opening”, “revelation”, “discovery.” Space and time therefore form a common, but differentiated horizon of ontology based on a fundamental trauma – that of the “breaking”, “splitting”, the “glaringness of the abyss”, of the “primordial differential.” The Romanian philosopher Lucian Blaga called this the “divine differential” that lies at the heart of the cosmogonic act [3]. It is on these grounds that Blaga based his analysis of cultural and epistemological forms which he interpreted through the analysis of spatial and temporal horizons.[4]

Time and space, that is to say the dynamism and stasis and of every culture, together compose the intertwined edges of a common semantic horizon which we conceptualize as a horizon only by force of the fact that we are examining it in light of the noological vertical of the Three Logoi. In and of itself, a “horizon” is not flat, but simultaneously contains several dimensions – both spatial and temporal.

Therefore, we can envision the structure of this horizontal topography which is of priority interest to us in this work as a spatial-temporal whole. If we evaluate it from the synchronic perspective, then it can be seen as qualitative space or “living space” (Lebensraum a la Friedrich Ratzel [5]), i.e., a field which harbors events and meanings (Raumsinn or “spatial meaning” [6]) The discipline of Geopolitics as it developed over the 19th and 20th centuries was founded on this principle, yet this view can also be detected – indeed, like virtually everything else – in ancient Hellenistic culture, especially in the Neoplatonists and above all in Proclus.

If we approach this horizon from a diachronic point of view, then we will have to deal with the phenomenon of “history” in the form of a chronological sequence strung out along a semantic axis. History here opens up as a semantic sequence. Heidegger called this understanding of history “onto-history”, Seynsgeschichte.[7] Proceeding from this Hedeiggerian methodology, a closely related concept was proposed by the French philosopher and historian of religions Henry Corbin, who coined the notion of l’historial, or “existential-semantic time”.[8] Insofar as here we are dealing with a semantic chain, the diachronic order of unfolding cannot be free from the structure predetermining it, which in a religious context is usually referred to as “Providence” or “Predestination.” In the historial, everything is determined by the structure, which dictates not so much events themselves as the uniqueness of their interpretation (and, further, their tripartite significance, if we evoke the Three Logoi). The present volume of Noomakhia is devoted to substantiating this methodology. In this study, the phenomenon of culture or civilization is put at the center of attention as the most precise expression of a horizon. The highest form of this refinement is what we call a “Logos of Civilization”, or “Horizontal Logos” (insofar as such represents a shaped and reflected expression of the horizon itself).

The plurality of Daseins

The boundaries and characteristic signposts of different cultural spaces or civilizations can be defined in terms of the most diverse criteria which ultimately yield different results. We should clarify that we do not draw a terminological distinction between “culture” and “civilization”, unless otherwise specifically stipulated, in the spirit of that proposed by Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) [9]. Insofar as there exist many definitions of culture and civilization and many authors who study such, we cannot rely on any established unambiguity in definitions, interpretations, and theoretical generalizations. Therefore, we shall explain right away just which rules we intend to be guided by in the composition of our geosophical map.

First of all, we naturally do not claim to present any complete and detailed description of the Logoi of all different cultures, which is even theoretically impossible. The examples which we have taken for examination are rather arbitrary and are evoked only to illustrate the general approach to the plurality of Logoi which we have developed over the course of Noomakhia. For this reason in some cultures and societies we have chosen only that which interests us as a priority and that which most explicitly resonates with the three Logoi that we have distinguished. We consider the very notion of a “cultural Logos” or “Logos of a given culture”, i.e., the Logos of a people, religion, society, or civilization, to be a projection of the three universal (vertical) Logoi onto a given horizon (whose complex nature we have hitherto emphasized). Thus, the Horizontal Logos (the Logos of Civilization) is unpacked into three vertical, noological vectors. In other words, every concrete culture is a most complex code consisting of three fundamental elements.

Secondly, between all the different criteria for “culture” and intellectual expression, we primarily aspire to emphasize and take into consideration the existential dimension. Such a conceptualization is founded on the theory of the plurality of Daseins which we have outlined in our other works, first and foremost those dealing with Martin Heidegger [10]. This means that we believe that the basic, phenomenological level of the “thinking presence” of man in the world differs in its deepest roots, and this difference is the foundation upon which the structures of culture, society, philosophy, politics, knowledge, science, and art are built. We consider the Dasein of each civilization, in its approach to death, to be unique, and it is this existential plurality that determines differences in secondary significations and configurations.

Dasein is the root structure of man’s presence in the world, the fundamental backdrop of his existence. Although Heidegger himself, as befits a true European, was ethnocentric and believed the fate of Western European civilization to be the fate of all of humanity and the European Logos to be the universal Logos, we can nevertheless attempt to isolate Heidegger’s deep insight into the essence of the existential roots of man, taken as “thinking presence” (Dasein), from such claims to universality. In such a case, we acquire the concept of the plurality of Daseins as several existential poles corresponding to the nomenclature of civilizations. Consequently, we have the following picture:

I. At the heart of every civilization lies a special “thinking presence”, Dasein.

II. This “thinking presence”, Dasein, determines the structure of a given civilization’s Logos, that is to say it lies at the basis of the metaphysics which can subsequently be built upon the root structure of the Dasein.

III. The “thinking presence” of Dasein is responsible for both the basic structure of the Logos that is a result of its unfolding as well as this Logos’ transformation over the course of the whole cycle of a civilization’s historical being. We can see this in Heidegger’s analysis of the onto-history, Seynsgeschichte, of Western civilization, as well as in Henry Corbin’s concept of the historial [11].

IV. The plurality of “thinking presences” can be postulated both outside of a concrete civilization (as an other Dasein), as well as, with certain nuances, within it. Accordingly, in Mediterranean civilization, Hellenic, Roman, as well as Egyptian, Semitic, Chaldean, and Anatolian poles were all present, as are Germanic, Celtic, Latin, and other poles present within European civilization. Each of these poles can be analyzed on the basis of its existentials.

V. From the point of view of Noomakhia, the Logos of a given civilization (even in the form of its own inter-civilizational versions) can be subjected to spectral analysis with the aim of identifying the proportions between the three fundamental types of noology – the Logos of Apollo, the Logos of Dionysus, and the Logos of Cybele – the proportions of which can, theoretically, differ in any possible manner within any given civilization.

VI. Hypothesis: The differences in the concrete spectral structure of the Logoi of civilizations must be rooted in the differences of their root foundations, the “thinking presence” of their Daseins.

VII. Thus, on the basis of an Heideggerianism that has been expanded in all directions, and on the basis of Hedeiggerianism’s experience of the “destruction” of Western European metaphysics and the Western European historial, we can develop a methodological foundation for building a plural anthropology and a geosophical map of civilizations, where the Logos of each civilization corresponds to a special Dasein.

On these grounds, we can correlate the model of Heidegger’s existential analysis of the history of the Western Logos with those of other philosophies and civilizations – not to accept such as universal, but with the aim of seeking those possible homologies or, on the contrary, differences which, by virtue of the developed state of studies on European civilization and the relatively underdeveloped state of other civilizational studies, might turn out to be extremely useful and substantive. We have already accomplished something of this sort in the book The Possibility of Russian Philosophy [12] where, in trying to apply the Dasein’s existentials to the Russian “thinking presence”, we developed an extremely substantive and impressive framework qualitatively differing from the one which Heidegger cited as the quality of the existentials of Dasein in Sein und Zeit [13].

martin_haydegger_vozmozhnost_russkoy_filosofii

Thus, it has been revealed in practice that, when speaking of Dasein, Heidegger was in fact dealing with the European, Indo-European, Hellenic, Apollonian, and Germanic Dasein. The Russian Dasein looks significantly different, and it is completely obvious that the Russian Logos, when we try to reconstruct its main features, should also look completely different, for such explains to us the differences between civilizations and, indeed, justifies those intuitions as to the uniqueness and originality of Russian civilization advanced by the Slavophiles, Danilevsky, the Eurasianists, Spengler, and many other authors. It is only obvious that such differences should also be found in the existential structure of the “thinking presences” of other civilizations as well. Accordingly, the Heideggerian methodology for studying Dasein, ingeniously applied by Heidegger himself to his own civilization, can, given appropriate corrections and generalizations, be successfully applied to others (as the first approximation of the Russian Dasein has shown [14]).

The observant reader who has attentively read the first book of Noomakhia, The Three Logoi, could remark at this point: If we have correlated the philosophical phenomenology upon which Heidegger based his views of Dasein with the Logos of Dionysus, then would it really be justified for us to take precisely this Logos – as one of the vectors of the common noological map, as the intellectual jurisdiction of only one of the three Empires of the Mind) – to be the main quality of a cultural unit? This objection is well founded, but we would like respond to it thusly: The Logos of Dionysus to which phenomenology indeed corresponds, is in a certain sense intermediary between the two other poles of Noomakhia; therefore, we can correlate this Logos with the “middle world”, that is the horizontal section located strictly between the Logos of Apollo and the Logos of Cybele, between Heaven and Hell. Thus, we very well can begin precisely with this Logos as the phenomenological fixation of civilization (cultural space). This does not mean that, upon defining (however roughly) the zone of a concrete Dasein, we must stop there. On the contrary, we are faced with discerning the very structure of the correlation between the Three Logoi projected upon a given area, their balances and proportions. In other words, proceeding from an existential analysis, we will try to reconstruct both the Uranic (the Apollonian, the celestial) and the Chthonic (the maternal, the subterranean) dimensions of the cultures under examination. Of course, in some cases we will have to deviate from this application, such as if the Apollonian element or Cybelean Logos clearly predominate and clearly define the morphology of the Dasein. One example of this is the strictly Apollonian Iranian logos [15] or, conversely, the titanic Logos of the Semites [16], in which the intermediary, Dionysian dimension is weak, secondary, or derivative.

Thirdly, we do not wish to pass any final judgements regarding the scale which we have employed. We know some civilizations, such as the European and Russian, much better for a number of quite understandable reasons, hence logically follows our more detailed description of their particular points, such as our discernment in the field of European civilization multiple versions of this Dasein and their pronouncements in particular dimensions of the Dasein of the cultures of North and South America. We know much less about Asian and African cultures and the cultural circle of Oceania, so in examining them we have restricted ourselves to rather approximate generalizations, a point which concerns our own cultural limitations and does not reflect any simplicity or schematics of the cultural worlds under examination. In all of their regions, Asia, Africa, and Oceania present an astonishing ethnic, cultural, intellectual, and existential originality and a most wealthy plurality not only of shades, but also of colors, figures, thoughts, and theories.

The ensuing compilation of this map of geosophy can be continued in this direction to any and all points of the Earth’s space inhabited by people – among technologically developed cultures as well as among the archipelagoes of archaic societies, ethnoi, and tribes whose wealth, diversity, and originality were discerned by the new anthropology of the “cultural school” of Franz Boas, the “social school” of Bronisław Malinowski , and the “structural school” of Claude Lévi-Strauss.[17] 

Ethnocentra and Ethnocentrism

The notion of a connection between thinking and geography can be found among different peoples in Antiquity. Various ethnoi explained the extraordinary qualities of (as a rule, their own) cultures in terms of special geographical conditions. This is the subject of what in the 20th century came to be defined as the field of “sacred geography” and, in its more pragmatic application, Geopolitics [18]. The Ancient Chinese, for instance, were convinced that their country lies in the center of the world, and it is precisely on these grounds that the Chinese called their state the Middle Empire or Middle Kingdom. In the view of the Ancient Jews, Israel, the “promised land” is also to be found at the center of the world, with its center in Jerusalem. It is telling that, according to Judaism, Jerusalem is home to the gates leading both down below the earth, to Sheol, to hell, as well as up to Heaven, are located. The Greeks also placed the region of their Mediterranean resettlement at the center of the Earth, and Proclus argued that the people of Attica were, unlike the populations of the hotter and colder countries, predisposed towards philosophy by virtue of the influence of this temperate climate. The Ancient Persians were convinced that the territory of Iran (Iranshahr) stood at the center of the Earth. The name of the city Babylon meant “Gate of God” and thereby implied a chosen point in space through which the gods enter and exit, i.e., the middle place between the sky and the underworld. In the Temple of Apollo in Delphi to this day rests the Omphalos, the sacred stone whose location was held to determine the center of the world. In the Christian era, the Byzantines believed the center of the ecumene to be Constantinople, the New Rome with its spiritual center in the Hagia Sophia. In the Scandinavian Eddas we find the term Midgard, or “Middle Earth.” We also find such views among the Ancient Slavs, the Irish (who saw Ireland as the island at the center of Earth), the Japanese, and so on. These perspectives are religious reflections of what we propose to represent as the projection of the vertical noetic topography onto the horizontal. Every culture (civilization) conceives itself as being the middle plane in the vertical model of the three worlds. But this vertical centrality is valid for all points on Earth and, as follows, for all ethnoi and cultural zones and, according to the logic of the ethnocentrum, is affirmed along the horizontal plane in contrast to other surrounding, differing cultures and peoples (hence the phenomenon of “ethnocentrism”). This is in line with the stable mythological practice of placing the dwelling place of a people in the center of the horizontal space of Earth, a theme which we invariably encounter in the views expressed by both great civilizations as well as small and archaic tribes.

If in the vertical sense this topography can be recognized as justified, with the nuance that different cultural spaces (in different periods), while existing on one “physical” plane, can find themselves under the preeminent influence of one or another Logos which renders their common vertical “centrality” more differentiated (some contemporary civilizations may be located closer to the subterranean zones of the Great Mother, while others closer to the celestial worlds of the Apollonian Logos), then in the horizontal sense this gives rise to the problem of situational relativity. The center is defined as a special space endowed with special and unique characteristics in comparison (contrast) with those of surrounding territories. Thus, the question of the plurality of horizontal centers raises the problem of “cultural relativity”, or the plurality of ethnocentra. Every culture proceeds from the fact that it itself is in the center of the intellectual universe. Consequently, every culture is built upon the presumption of its own uniqueness, universality, and “singularity.” Its Logos and the less obvious Dasein at its heart are taken as a point of reference and paradigm. This is how the ethnocentrum is formed. Man believes the Logos of the ethnocentrum to which he relates (which is almost always his own ethnocentrum or, in some cases, the ethnocentrum which he believes to be normative, e.g. the “Europe” of Russian “Westernizers” or the “Europe” of Asian “globalists”) to be “universal”, “obvious,” “self-evident”, and the “best.”

Here we arrive at the main methodological quality of geosophy. In order to correctly interpret the structures of a given civilization (culture), we must deliberately, consciously refrain from projecting our own ethnocentric views. Here we should turn to the phenomenology of philosophy, deconstruction, and apperception to bracket our own “ethnocentrism” which leads us to believe that the methods and criteria for evaluating our own civilization are a universal scale for interpreting all other cultures. In contrast to the semantic structure of the ethnocentrum which structures space, and departing from its exceptionalism and implicit superiority, we must consciously allow for the plurality and qualitative equality of ethnocentra, we must recognize every ethnocentrum to have the right to its own cultural topography, and we must share this topography to the extent that we wish to conceptualize the roots of its existential structure.

One advocate of the phenomenological method in the history of religions, Henry Corbin, who devoted many years to the study of Shiism and its philosophy, in some of his texts arrived at a complete identification with the society he studied, even using the phrase “We, Shiites.” While himself a Protestant Christian by confession and a phenomenologist in the field of the comparative study of religions, Corbin recognized that studying another religion is fully possible only if one abstracts himself over the course of study from his own established dogmatic and confessional positions – otherwise, we will be left with a variety of apologetics and insistences on the universality of our ethnocentrum. However, this need not entail an irreversible change of confession and cultural code. Corbin himself remained a Christian even though in his studies of Shiism he adopted the positions of another ethnocentrum for the sake of fuller understanding, and as a result of which his works were rendered more weighty, authoritative, and foundational. The point is not to leave the zone of one ethnocentrum only to enter another, but to accomplish the process of transparent philosophical apperception, to conceptualize one’s “natural”, “historical” position as ethnocentric and, without departing from one’s loyalty to such, to recognize that other studied cultures are just as ethnocentric and just as well claim “universality”, “exclusivism”, and “obviousness” as our own.

We cannot abolish the ethnocentrum, for in such a case we would be left without any philosophical territory, without any place for situating ourselves and our study; we would be left outside of the phenomenon we are examining. The only solution is to consciously accept the plurality of ethnocentra as founded on the plurality of Daseins, to accept that each and every one is built on the implicit recognition of its own (and not someone else’s or any outsider’s) centrality and exclusivity. In order to break through to cultural codes, we must recognize their existential rules. If not, we will remain within the confines of our own ethnocentrum and will not be able to travel beyond it. Even if we decide to act strictly impartially, still the Dasein embedded deep inside us will make itself known, albeit indirectly. And if we attempt to uproot it without accepting a new one, then we will simply disappear as a “thinking presence.” All that remains is to enter ethnocentra by accepting their structures, while also preserving consciousness of the fact that we are dealing not with anything “universal”, but with “relative universality” – not with a universum, but a pluriversum, in which any “exclusivity” and “self-evidence” are in essence no more than established protocol necessitated for the sake of free intellectual movement throughout a given cultural zone.

***

Footnotes: 

[1] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia: Wars of the Mind – The Three Logoi: Apollo, Dionysus, and Cybele (Moscow: Academic Project, 2014)

[2] Martin Heidegger, Überlegungen II-VI (Schwarze Hefte 1931-1938) (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2014), p. 18. English translation from Martin Heidegger, Ponderings II-VI (Black Notebooks 1931-1938), translated by Richard Rojcewicz, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016), p. 14.

[3] Lucian Blaga, Les differentielles divines (Paris: Librairie du savoir, 1990).

[4] Lucian Blaga, Trilogie de la culture (Paris: Librairie du savoir, 1995); Ibidem, Trilogie de la connaissance (Paris: Libraire du savoir, 1992).

[5] Friedrich Ratzel, Anthropogeographie, Bd. 1-2 (Stuttgart: J. Engelhorn, 1882-1891).

[6] Friedrich Ratzel, Politische Geographie (Munich/Leipzig: R. Oldenbourg, 1897).

[7] Martin Heidegger, Geschichte des Seyns (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2012).

[8] Corbin employed the archaic French term historial in 1938 in his French translation of the fifth chapter of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit to convey the difference between the German words historische (in French historique) and geschichtliche (historial). The first – historische or das Historische – denotes the totality of historical facts and their correlations, while the second – geschichtliche or das Geschichtliche (l’historial being the French substantive) bears the meanings of existence, fate, and predestination.

[9] Oswald Spengler, Zakat Evropy. Obraz i deistvitel’nost’ (Moscow: Nauka, 1993).

[10] Alexander Dugin, Martin HeideggerVozmozhnost’ russkoi filosofii [“The Possibility of Russian Philosophy”] (Moscow: Academic Project, 2012).

[11] Alexander Dugin, Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (Moscow: Academic Project, 2010)/ (Arlington: Radix/Washington Summit Publishers, 2014).

[12] See footnote 10.

[13] Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1972).

[14] See footnote 10.

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

[16] Alexander Dugin, Noomakhia – The Semites: The Monotheism of the Moon and the Gestalt of Baal (Moscow: Academic Project, 2016).

[17] Alexander Dugin, Etnosotsiologiia [“Ethnosociology”] (Moscow: Academic Project, 2011). Partially in English: Ethnos and Society (translated by Michael Millerman, London: Arktos, 2018). 

[18] Alexander Dugin, Geopolitika (Moscow: Academic Project, 2011).

 

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NOOMAKHIA: Wars of the Mind

“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-forsaken “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.

The Metaphysical Factor in Paganism

Author: Alexander Dugin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

 

Appendix to Ways of the Absolute (2nd ed., Moscow: Arktogeia, 1999). Text originally written in 1990. 

 

Those traditions which it is customary to call “pagan” are characterized not so much by an actual polytheism as by an immanentism which permeates all of their aspects. In the opinion of the monotheistic religions, the theological sinfulness of “paganism” is obvious: it ignores (whether consciously or inertially) the one transcendent and apophatic (i.e., formulated in negative terms) principle, the recognition and unconditional worship of which constitutes the sine qua non of monotheism. Among the three monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam hold to this line altogether consistently, whereas Christianity alone takes significant steps in the other direction by asserting the central figure of its cult and dogma to be the immanent hypostasis of the Divine, God the Son. At the same time, Christians have also inherited the Abrahamic argumentation of the other branches of monotheism against “pagans.”

Yet, in our opinion, it would be wrong to reduce all of the differences between monotheism and non-monotheism to the recognition of the supremacy of the transcendent principle, since within the monotheistic traditions themselves there have unceasingly appeared currents which, while unconditionally recognizing the justness of transcendentalism, confer a special metaphysical value to immanent realities, thus being de facto in solidarity with the “pagan” position. We have in mind first and foremost the esoteric dimensions of the Abrahamic religions (Sufism and extreme Shi’ism in Islam, Kabbalah in Judaism, and Hesychasm in Christianity), where the accent invariably falls on the immanence of the Divine Presence. Thus, without ignoring the transcendence of the transcendent, the immanent can be metaphysically accented.

What are the deep reasons which condition this?

An answer to this crucial question would not only rehabilitate paganism, but would also illuminate the most mysterious and secret sides of the “non-pagan” traditions. In one of his public lectures, Geydar Dzhemal precisely defined this problem when he noted that there is a profound opposition, one which has determined the dialectics of sacred history over the last millennia, between the Abrahamic concept of faith as a super-ethical volitional act turned “from here to there”, and the “pagan” concept of the Empire as an expression of the immanent divine force running “from there to here.” The monotheistic inspiration undermines the immanent grounds of the Empire, while the “pagan” force of immanent sacrality in turn deprives monotheism of its uniqueness and uncompromising nature. If the metaphysical truth of transcendentalism is obvious, then where do pagans find justification for their doctrines? What is the secret of the immanent Empire?

Without claiming to offer a complete (much less exhaustive) exposition of this most complex problem, we shall express a few considerations which might help somewhat clarify the essence of the matter. The sphere of the immanent is always de facto a sphere of multiplicity regardless of whether the question at hand concerns the real multiplicity of the manifest or merely the primordial duality of being and non-being inherent to the highest region of ontology, where pure being confronts the transcendent and the non-being encompassing it. This whole sphere is subject to the law of “metaphysical entropy”, according to which every logically ensuing metaphysical modality must obviously be lower in quality than the previous, that is to say inferior on the level of “metaphysical energy.” Monotheism begins with this statement and affirms the principle of transcendent unity, which confronts the whole volume of immanent multiplicity. This principle is organically connected to non-being, since transcendentalism inversely correlates to the sphere of the immanent, which means on the higher plane pure being that encompasses and synthesizes everything immanent. This apophatic, negative unity of non-being is the most logical, metaphysical response to the fact of “entropy.” Remaining within the framework of this picture of metaphysics, asserting anything else as a higher reality is simply absurd, since such would be tantamount to denying the finiteness of being and denying death which, in reality, exists as a quality dominating all metaphysical levels with the exception of non-being itself, which corresponds to the deepest essence of death itself. The most vulnerable point of transcendentalism is the very foundational picture of metaphysics and its basic postulate, the fact of entropy.

Many “pagan” traditions, especially the most metaphysically developed of them – Hinduism – are perfectly aware of the impeccable logic of monotheistic metaphysics, yet still carefully avoid the use of the term “monotheism” with regards to themselves. But by abandoning the upper pole of monotheism, they also renounce its lower immanent component, namely, the understanding of being as multiplicity, as a sphere of entropy. Both poles are thus denied with the same persistence. On the doctrinal level, this can be seen most easily of all in the relationship of both doctrines to the emergence of being. Monotheism in all of its variants is inevitably associated with “creationism”, i.e., the conceptualization of creation as alienation. Paganism in turn invariably insists on “manifestationism”, i.e., on the concept of manifestation and the self-discovery of the principle in being. The essence of the difference between these two traditions lies in the determination of the relationship between being and its hidden source in non-being. Creationism argues that being (and in rarer cases, the cosmos or even the visible universe) arose as a result of the separation of “part” of non-being, a part doomed from the first moment of creation to relate to its source as towards something different from itself. Creationism thus postulates a fundamental and “naturally irremovable”, radical Otherness of creation from its transcendent creator.

Manifestationism, on the other hand, denies this radical Otherness, instead asserting the oneness and substantiveness of the manifest and its unmanifest source. Being here is understood not as part of metaphysically preceding non-being, but as its being-other, as its means of “existing” (naturally, the word existing here is used here as a not too appropriate metaphor).

Thus, if in the first case the very unknowable essence of the Creator is the absolute answer and absolute completion of metaphysics, then in the second case the supremacy of the source of manifestation over itself is relativized, and the problem of being as a fact is not annulled, but rather remains a constantly open question (as in Parmenides’ thesis “Being cannot not be”). In this pagan perspective, there is no horizon of death, since death decides nothing, but only postpones or transfers the same question to a new level. Pagan traditions emphasize the consequence of this inner logic to be an aspect of the transmigration of beings that is conditioned by the fatal inevitability of the problem of being, which is not annulled by returning to the source.

This non-monotheistic approach does not place the manifest above the un-manifest, but merely radicalizes the question of the aim of manifestation, its mission, and the message it contains. It takes this question to its final limits. The finiteness of being is not assigned any decisive importance here, since the non-absoluteness of this finiteness is fixed and does not give any satisfactory answer to the reason and meaning of its emergence. In this perspective, being itself ceases to be the reign of descent and entropy and becomes the expression of some kind of special, metaphysically un-obvious truth. It is precisely for this reason that the principle of oneness thus loses all of its significance and, from a redeeming transcendent horizon, turns into some kind of self-evident statement, a statement of the obvious, the true, but the insufficient. On the other hand, multiplicity itself acquires a purely qualitative character: it is no longer a diluted and “entroping” unity, but the fabric of the gnostic message, in which every detail and every symbol is important and irreplaceable. Thus arise the “gods”, “angels”, and “messengers”, the spokesmen of the special gospel, the sender and addressee of which remain metaphysically unknown within both being and non-being. Thus arises as the crown of pagan metaphysics the notion of “Atman”, the subject, the living, immanent “god”, the qualitative which cannot be exhausted by the determining of being or non-being, that which participates in both but is not identical to one or the other. The subject is the special figure of the non-monotheistic tradition; it is the center of the imperial worldview, the concentration of its essence.

Thus, the subject is the summative, synthesized term of paganism without which the pagan perspective simply loses its raison d’etre. This subject coincides in essence with the two other emphatically immanent modalities of Tradition defined by the terms “spirit” and “light.” It is no coincidence that where traditional doctrines emphasize the terms “light”, “spirit,” and “I”, we are dealing with what monotheism frequently defines as “pagan heresy” or the “heresy of paganism.” This can be seen in the names of various gnostic groups, such as the Brotherhood of the Free Spirit, the Children of Light, etc. In addition, the very Sanskrit term Atman means both “spirit”, “I”, and “self.” It is also curious that, beyond Abrahamic, creationist monotheism’s cursing of “pagans and gnostics”, even the Zoroastrians found their “light gnosis” of Mani to be “heretical.”

However, the “light of the subject” is not an analogue or even a synonym of the “light of being.” It is a completely different light of an absolutely different quality. It is the “light of the problem” born out of the fact of the co-existence of being and non-being regardless of whether this existence is real (i.e., when being de facto is) or potential (i.e., when being is de facto “already not” or “not yet”). Hinduism specifies that alongside the Atman (the subject in being) there is the Paramatman (the subject in non-being). Thus, gnostic-“pagan” immanentism is an immanentism of an altogether different nature, one which is irreducible to any one of the modalities allocated by monotheism.

But does this immanentism remain really immanent? After all, in contrast to the strictly monotheistic optic, this immanentism cannot be satisfied by the transcendent member of the monotheistic dyad (the creator) as the metaphysical final and supreme. However, it does not follow that creation is not a final and exhaustive answer for immanentism. The immanentism of the “problem of light” can be explained by the need to merely fix the very fact of being, thereby not allowing it to disappear in the inexorable logic of monotheistic “ethics.” Here being serves as none other than “proof” of the non-absoluteness of being, and both being and non-being are no longer divorced (as in monotheism), but are fused together, thus becoming one and the same pole of the problem facing a complete Other, without which and outside of which this great problem would not exist. If this is so, then immanentism becomes in fact an expression of the highest and most convincing metaphysical transcendentalism, in which the transcendent quality is borne not out of the monotheistic Creator (who is metaphysically identical to non-being), but something beyond him himself, something so distant and great that it assigns to cause and effect equal metaphysical rights, thereby by making both into but a lower pole of the problem that is turned into the absolute and unattainable top.

In this perspective, the whole “pagan” (or more precisely, immanentist) complex acquires an altogether special meaning. Manifestation and its structure, which are accentuated and thoroughly deciphered by “paganism”, cease to be a not so important consequence of the Creator, who is valuable only relatively and with certain reservations. Rather, these questions become the text of the problem that is of equal significance to both creation and the Creator himself. Hence logically arises the goal of manifestation which, by the very fact of its presence (or the possibility of its presence), testifies (with the means of qualitatively lower principles compared to the principle of non-being) to something that is incomparable and eternal and which is superior to this non-being.

It is precisely in this sense that the “pagan” universe is theomorphic or, even more precisely, “angelomorphic.” Its elements are essentially revelations of the “world of light” beyond non-being, beyond the Creator. If we attentively examine the quality of this angelomorphic, “pagan” universe, we see that there is no opposition between the gnostic “anti-demiurgic” pathos and the immanentist accents of “paganism.” The “anti-demiurgism” of the gnostics can be explained by the rejection of the understanding of the actuality of the Creator as a single answer to the question of the purpose of creation. Such “anti-demiurgism” is polemical and takes aim first and foremost at monotheistic metaphysics, at the very founding logic of this metaphysics. From this perspective, the gnostics were essentially extreme transcendentalists. But the negative nature of the demiurge – or, more precisely, his complete dissatisfaction with the quality of the universal answer – does not diminish anything in the mission of manifestation, which in and of itself is the gnostic attack against its creator, its author. The sign that is encrypted in the cosmos and worshipped in “paganism” is immanent and visualized only as immanent. But this “pagan” immanentism is actually equivalent in its conclusions and in its very logic and source of impulse to gnostic transcendentalism. After all, there can be no suggestion that non-being is insufficient within its own pure self-identity. Such an argument could be drawn up only out of the deep deciphering of its antithesis (being), which reveals its dissatisfaction on the one hand (as the Creator of something imperfect) and on the other reveals certain transcendent potentials which remain problematic and hidden under the metaphysical status quo, but which could also awaken in the form of the light dimension of the universe, as the resurrecting immortal spirit, the eternal “I” of the Savior.

The gods of “paganism” are the subjective parameters of manifestation. They are not so much self-sufficient and self-satisfying principles in the likes of the God of monotheism as much as they are angels in the etymological sense, i.e., “messengers”, “spirits.” In accordance with this logic, John the Theologian, in his most esoteric gospel, utters a phrase which is completely alien to orthodox creationist monotheism: “God is spirit.” Within the framework of pure monotheism, such a downgrading of the principle, the source of all things spiritual and material, to merely one modality, to the spirit, sounds akin to blasphemy. In the pagan perspective, on the other hand, it is difficult to say anything more true and more just. It is no coincidence that it was John the Theologian who became the patron of European Christian esotericism.

In the Christian perspective, the Holy Spirit is the Consoler, the Paraclete, the main deputy in being of other hypostases which are absent in a given moment. For example, before the coming of the Son Christ, he “speaks through prophets”. After Christ’s Ascension, he “consoles and instructs” the once again orphaned world. Only thanks to him are the mysteries of the Church realized. The Holy Spirit of Christianity is the most immanent hypostasis of the Divine, and it is the identification of this hypostasis with the essence of the Divine that is beckoned by John the Theologian’s formula.

Finally, there is one final metaphysical aspect of paganism which ought to be emphasized. Every paganism is necessarily eschatological. This statement may surprise some, given that it outwardly contradicts the above. After all, the “pagan” approach to metaphysics is not obliged to especially accentuate the problem of the end of the world, the end of being, insofar as the absorption of manifestation by the principle not only says nothing to “metaphysical paganism”, but only “annoyingly” postpones the resolution of the great problem without adding anything substantive to it.

However, there is one fundamental consideration which makes eschatologism a necessary and extremely important component of immanentist tradition as a whole, which indeed has a place in the majority of historical “pagan” traditions, especially Aryan paganism. The eschatologism of immanentist doctrines is radically different from the monotheistic positive appraisal of the end of being to be the end of illusion and, as follows, an element of the absolute, unbroken fullness in the bosom of the principle of non-being.

Paganism envisions for the end times not a return to a unity lost in manifestation, but a return to primordial duality. It is no accident that Zoroastrian cyclology calls the final stage of sacred history vicharishn, literally “separation.” Only at the moment of contact between being and non-being is the pagan revealed the whole depth of his doctrine, with all the paradoxical implications. This border realized at the final point of manifestation is the point of departure for the questioning of the subject, who here can only view both metaphysical realities (both exhaustive being and incumbent non-being) as something that does not principally satisfy him, hence his turn to the source which might be beyond both being and non-being.

On the pragmatic level, eschatologism is an essential feature of metaphysically fully-fledged paganism, since the true immanentism of authentic tradition cannot and should not be a doctrine of absoluteness and the non-transcendence of “this world”, which would render it an anti-tradition and anti-nomist materialism. For the subject of pagan immanentism, being is not the final sought-after shore or “paradise.” Rather, it is a symbol of the fact that non-being itself is not this “paradise.”

Thus, pagan tradition has no illusions as to the finiteness of being. On the contrary, this finiteness and non-absoluteness, taken and recognized as such, is attractive to this tradition in being. Hence, eschatology naturally becomes the center of the pagan worldview, guarding pagan metaphysics from fetishism and the inertial worship of being.

The true “pagan” Empire, as well as the true ‘pagan’ subject, are necessarily eschatological. The power which emanates “from there”, on which every true Empire rests, is not a banal affirmation of the identity of being with itself. The “pagan” component in metaphysics is charged with a paradoxical and truly transcendent “energy” which leads much further than the impeccable and unique, yet limited power of faith. This is made especially clear in the critical moments of the unfolding of being, in radical eschatological moments – only then can pagan metaphysics fully demonstrate its deepest foundations.