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Monday, August 28, 2017

Dugin the puppet-master?

Sometimes it seems that the Western media really loves Alexander Dugin. First we had Dugin as "Putin's brain" (as if Putin didn't have a brain!) and now we have Putin as Dugin's puppet--honestly, and in the Huffington Post, too!
“Okay, so a weird mystical guru is using Vladimir Putin as a puppet to implement his spiritual goal to destroy the West and end the world, in order to bring about the spiritual transformation of society. What can I do about it?”
asks James Carli in "Aleksandr Dugin: The Russian Mystic Behind America’s Weird Far-Right," before suggesting organising against the Right and re-reading Rousseau.

Carli recognises elsewhere in the article that "experts are divided about the extent of Dugin’s influence," but even so he goes on to suggest that Dugin is manipulating Putin. Why is it, one has to ask, that there is this desire to explain the whole of Russian foreign policy in terms of the ideas of one thinker? Is it perhaps to avoid more difficult discussions?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traditionalism in Contemporary Russia

Guest post by Rustem R. Vakhitov

Mark Sedgwick’s Against the Modern World was not published in Russian until ten years after its first publication, by when the picture of Russian Traditionalism, which is depicted in several chapters in the book, had changed a lot. In my review of Sedgwick's book, I wrote that it is necessary for the Russian reader to make some adjustments, which I will try to do here.

During these ten years, many Russian traditionalists of the older generation, some of whom were interviewed by Sedgwick, have passed away: Mamleev, Dzhemal, Karpets, Golovin, Medvedev, and Vanyushkin--Victoria Vanyushkin was the leading representative of Russian Evolianism and the translator of the books of Evola, Eliade, Alain de Benoist and Guido de Giorgio into Russian. Unfortunately, Sedgwick did not mention her in his book. The journal Magic Mountain (Волшебная Гора) comes out much less often (since Medvedev's death, only two issues have been published, in 2012 and 2016), and the journal The Age of Bronze (Бронзовый век, edited by Golovin’s student Oleg Fomin-Shakhov, also not mentioned by Sedgwick) stopped publication in 2003. The journal Empire of the Spirit (Империя духа), which was dedicated to religion and interfaith dialogue and was edited by Sergei Ryabov, a pupil of Mamleev and Golovin, also stopped publication in 2009. Alexander Dugin turned more to academic philosophy and sociology during the 2010s, and his former associates Arkady Mahler and Pavel Zarifullin moved away from his movement. The Guénonian line in the Dugin paradigm is now developed by Natella Speranskaya, the head of the Tradition Center, a part of Dugin’s Center for Conservative Studies at Moscow State University. In October 2011, in the Moscow Region, the Center held a large-scale international conference of researchers and adherents of Traditionalism, in which the majority of representatives of this direction from Russia and CIS countries participated (see Speranskaya’s post).

In 2009, the Intertraditional Movement (движение Интертрадиционал) was established, uniting several Traditionalist groups, mostly from Russia and Ukraine. Its leader was a Russian-speaking Ukrainian poet, musician, philologist and philosopher, Maxim Borozenets, who lives in Denmark. He developed a paradigm of primordial linguistics and semiotics, as well as the ideology of “Enarchism” (from the Greek "en archae," in the beginning), connecting the concept of tradition in the Guénon-Dugin sense with revolution (a synthesis of leftist, and even of some Marxist, ideas, and nationalism). The Intertraditional website was the corresponding internet forum. There were also two issues of an eponymous journal. In 2014, this interesting and promising project broke up due to political differences between Russian and Ukrainian members (see Oleg Gutsulyak’s post).

Two notable figures in contemporary Russian Traditionalism are Traditionalist Orthodox philosophers, Alexander Ivanov, the creator of the "Austrasia" project (austrasia.ru), and Maxim Medovarov, a researcher in nineteenth-century Russian conservative philosophy. Both young authors are developing the ideas of Stefanov, Dugin, Karpets and Fomin-Shakhov.

Contemporary Russian Traditionalism has no major print base like the 1990s publications Elements, Magic Mountain, and The Age of Bronze. Individual Traditionalist authors are published on the website The Russian Idea: Website of Conservative Political Thought, which seeks to unite writers on and researchers into conservatism with conservatives of different directions. There was recently an interesting discussion on this website about the fate of Traditionalism in Russia, during which Maxim Medovarov, in “Guenon's reception in Russia is just beginning,” suggested that the 1990s were the time of Russian first intellectuals’ encounter with the ideas of Traditionalism, and that real Traditionalist studies in Russia are only just beginning.

Rustem R. Vakhitov is a Candidate of Philosophy, a researcher into Eurasianism and Traditionalism, and a political writer in Russia.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Traditionalists blog passes 500,000 page views

Having passed 250,000 page views in April 2015, this blog has now passed 500,000 page views. It took nine years, from 2006 to 2015, for the blog to receive its first 250,000 page views, but only two years for it to receive its second 250,000. Interest in the study of Traditionalism seems to be increasing, then.

Readers come overwhelmingly from the United States, where 59% are based, as the map shows. No other country comes close to that, even though 41% of readers are outside the US. The next two countries after the US each produce no more than 8% of traffic each. One is the United Kingdom, as might be expected for an English-language blog. The other is Russia, not a country where English is widely spoken, but evidently a country with a real interest in the study of Traditionalism. Since 2015, Russia has risen from sixth place to second place as a source of readers. Добро пожаловать!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Anti-modernism in America

Steve Bannon is not America’s only Catholic anti-modernist. In a new article in the Los Angeles Review of Books, “Riding the Tiger, Riding the Wave: Christian Conservatives and Radical Anti-Modernism,” Benjamin R. Teitelbaum discusses the recent work of two other prominent American Christians, Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian and senior editor at The American Conservative. Their anti-modernism does indeed have something in common with the Traditionalism that this blog covers. Teitelbaum himself makes the comparison between their views and Julius Evola’s.

Teitelbaum argues that both Catholics are quite as anti-modernist as Evola, and that both have also adopted Evola's pessimistic “ride the tiger” approach (which he explains nicely in the first part of his article). Both Catholics take the same event—the 2015 court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the US—as representing the irreversible victory of “totalizing liberalism.” Chaput sees this as the triumph of the ideal of the sovereignty of the individual, the idea that our identity should not be constrained by even the most basic fact of birth, our sex. Dreher proposes a radical remedy: that America’s remaining Christians should take inspiration from the separatism of Orthodox Jews.

Teitelbaum does not argue that Chaput or Dreher are actually inspired by Evola (though Dreher’s phrasing at one point does echo Evola's). He argues rather that what he calls “a broad anti-modernism” “poses the most serious threat to global liberalism.” It may indeed be becoming more widespread.

Correction: Rod Dreher was inaccurately described as a Catholic in the original version of this post.