I’ve recently read through the Russian philosopher Alexandr Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory, and overall, I must say I am quite impressed. His critique of Enlightenment modernism and its heirs, which he identifies as liberalism, fascism and socialism is quite intriguing and, in many regards, convincing.
Dugin’s critique of Unipolar Globalism is equally compelling as is his advocacy for Multipolarity. He convincingly shows how the neoconservative or liberal idea of a Euro-Atlanticist hegemony over all the earth is based on the conceptualization of “civilization in a singular sense, understanding by it American civilization.” In contradistinction, he advocates (as a fourth political theory) for a multipolar world order, “based on the paradigm of unique civilizations and Great Powers.”
The conservative rejection of rationalist abstractions as the foundation of the social order is rooted precisely in the idea of the universal sovereignty of God.
Dugin’s critique of liberalism – especially when it comes to the liberal notion of negative freedom, i.e. “freedom from”, is quite brilliant. He writes:
‘Freedom from’ is the most disgusting formula of slavery, inasmuch as it tempts man to an insurrection against God, against traditional values, against the moral and spiritual foundations of his people and his culture … the metaphysical meaning of liberalism and its fateful victory becomes known in the right measure and the right proportions. Only tearing it out by its roots can defeat this evil, and I do not exclude that such a victory will necessitate erasing from the face of the Earth those spiritual and physical halos from which arose the global heresy, which insists that ‘man is the measure of all things’.
However, while agreeing with both his criticism of liberalism’s destructive notion of freedom as well as multipolarity’s appreciation of global heterogeneity in terms of ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and even civilizational diversity, it seems as if Dugin remains stuck in a false dichotomy of “One” versus“Many” when he makes claims such as that a diversity of “measures of things” and a lack of a “universal standard” when it comes to things such as truth and morality, should be positively valued. This standard, according to Dugin, will in some cultures “be man, somewhere religion, somewhere ethics, somewhere materialism.”
Thus, in granting the brilliance of Dugin’s critique of liberalism’s idolization of mankind, it has to be said that what he proposes in contradistinction sadly amounts to moral and epistemological anarchy. Whereas Western globalism wrongly absolutizes the universal, Dugin’s political theory of multipolarity wrongly absolutizes the particular. In contradistinction, the twentieth-century Calvinist philosopher R.J. Rushdoony articulated the Biblical answer to the problem of the one and the many as follows:
In the triune God, one God, three persons, there is an equal ultimacy of the one and the many. Unity and particularity are equally important … The Christian doctrine of the Trinity avoids the pitfalls of the abstract universal (or one) and the abstract particulars, in that neither the universals, or oneness of things, is an abstraction from concrete particulars, nor are the particulars merely abstractions from a concrete universal … As a result, the temporal order must see a similar relationship between the one and the many as exists in the Eternal One-and-Many.
Christian social and political theory, therefore, must always emphasize the reality of both universality and particularity, or both unity and diversity, if you will. The conservative rejection of rationalist abstractions as the foundation of the social order is rooted precisely in the idea of the universal sovereignty of God, which entails that humanity cannot remake itself in its own image, but should always, as a creative reflection of both the wisdom and the character of God, reflect the Eternal One-and-Many in both its unity and diversity. Creation, after all, does have both its universals, e.g. one humanity and one church, as well as its particulars, e.g. a multitude of individuals, families, nations, languages and cultures. Neither the universals nor the particulars should ever be overamplified at the cost of the other.
Dugin’s work must be appreciated for its splendid critique of liberalism and globalism, but it falls short in terms of providing genuine answers to the very real problems it identifies.
Furthermore, while Dugin’s critique of evolutionist social and historical theories is spot on, the fact that he remains captive in this aforementioned dichotomy is also evident in his advocacy for the synchronic view of history, in which there is effectively no universal past or future, no single humanity, but a plurality of humanities in which all human past, present and future is never universal but always “remain local”. He also advocates for a form of cultural egalitarianism, in which he, although rightly appreciating the beauty of humanity’s cultural diversity, argues that it is impossible to make a moral judgment regarding any culture that existed at any time in history, including the present. However, Scripture clearly teaches the moral superiority of redeemed Christian cultures to unredeemed non-Christian ones (Deut. 18:9; Rom. 12:2). Therefore, the pluriverse in which Dugin’s theory effectively collapses is not compatible with the universal claims to Lordship and the rule of a single, omnipotent God as Creator and Law-giver, who purposefully controls and directs the past present and future to his own glory. With Dugin there can be no ultimate or universal historical telos, but the reality of creation is as such that, as a whole, it is, has always been and will always be in fact directed towards a single ontological telos: the glorification of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, Dugin’s work must be appreciated for its splendid critique of liberalism and globalism, but it falls short in terms of providing genuine answers to the very real problems it identifies. While expressing a number of intriguing ideas, it misses the mark in terms of providing a viable ontological and epistemological alternative to the heirs of the Enlightenment, because of the fact that it is not rooted in the Biblical doctrines of the Trinity, Creation, Providence and Redemption.
Citations & References
Jan Adriaan SchlebuschSee More Essays
Jan Adriaan Schlebusch is a Christian philosopher and historian. Born in 1989 in Bloemfontein, South Africa, he grew up on a cattle ranch near the city. Between 2008 and 2013, he completed a BA (Theology), a BA Honors (Latin), and an MA (Philosophy) at the University of the Free State. In 2018, he graduated with a PhD from the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. The title of his doctoral dissertation was “Strategic narratives: Groen van Prinsterer as Nineteenth-Century Statesman-Historian.” He has published several peer-reviewed papers in journals such as Trajecta and the Journal for Christian Scholarship among others. He is a senior researcher at the Pactum Institute and a visiting fellow with the Neo-Calvinism Research Institute.