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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.

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