1997 was a fateful year for Alexander Dugin. It was the year in which he made his name with a book that would become a strategic primer for Russia’s military cadres, Foundations of Geopolitics [Основы геополитики]. On the Moscow-based station Radio 101, he had recently finished broadcasting a series of lectures-cum-initiations entitled Finis Mundi, in which he staged aural mystery-plays concerning such epochal figures as René Guénon, Jean Parvulesco, and Lautreamont; and he was just on the verge of breaking away from the unclassifiable avant-garde project of which he had been a founder in 1993, the National Bolshevik Party (NBP).
In the midst of this kaleidoscopic ordo ab chao, he had begun a new publishing venture called Arktogaia [Арктогея] – a center for those forces emerging from Russia which sought to synthesize ideologies, doctrines, and practices that were seemingly mutually exclusive. In his “Arktogaia Manifesto,” he evokes the “Land of the North,” that “mythical continent once situated at the North Pole, [which] long ago vanished from physical reality, just as it has from paltry human memory.” For Dugin, Arktogaia was the symbol of everything heterogeneous to the vulgar, profane, globalized world of the 1990s (and now), a yawning portal in the terrestrial sphere from which a black, dissolving vomit had suddenly erupted to synthesize the unsynthesizable. His formulae for revolting against the modern world include the following:
“Orthodoxy (Revolutionary + Hesychastic)
Islam (Iranian, Shiite, Revolutionary + Sufism)
The Third Way
Eurasianism (+ Neo-Eurasianism)
Anarchism from the Right (and the Left)
Continentalism (in geopolitics)
Revolutionary Kabbalah (= Sabbatism)
The New Right (the “Nouvelle Droite” in its Franco-Italian form, as opposed to the “New Right” in its Anglo-Saxon understanding)
The New Left
The Final Empire
The New Æon
The Last Judgment”
It was from this crucible that he produced a doctrinal text, outlining the full esoteric scope of his ideas – Templars of the Proletariat. In itself, this book is an alloy, forged from editorials, propaganda pieces, apocryphal legends from the “schizoid” underground of Soviet Moscow, gnostic parables, and hyperstitional portraits from a gallery of most untimely men. Many of its chapters are reworked articles which first appeared on the pages of such underground periodicals as Elements [Элементы], Tender Angel [Милый ангел], and Limonka [Лимонка].1 And yet, taken as a whole, this book is more than a mere “reader.” Templars is, rather, a kind of map, whose coordinates can technically be found on any Mercator projection of mainstream intellectual history, but which are only intelligible when revealed to the reader in light of Dugin’s new correspondences. This is an ideological user’s manual, a grimoire of operative magic, and a disturbing rebus which flaunts its occasional lapses into mystical obscurantism and angelic ecstasy.
In addition to these things, Templars of the Proletariat is perhaps Dugin’s most explicit formulation of National Bolshevik ideology (conceived both as a historical current and as his own radical program). As Dugin has it, National Bolshevism is a phenomenon that belongs to a particular mythical age. In Works and Days (c. 700 BC), Hesiod recounts the five mythical ages of man in an order of descending quality: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age, and the Iron Age. In the Russian literary tradition, there is also a “Golden Age” (spanning most of the nineteenth century and encompassing the “Great Russian Writers,” beginning with Pushkin and ending with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy), followed by a “Silver Age” (beginning with the various Symbolist authors of the fin-de-siècle, such as Andrei Bely or Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, and ending with the Russian avant-garde and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, though persisting covertly and in exile well into the 1930s). In Templars, Dugin proposes a coming Bronze Age, presumably beginning with his mentors in the Yuzhinskii Circle (in 1960s Soviet Moscow – Yuri Mamleev, Evgenii Golovin, and Geidar Dzhemal’) and having the potential for realization in a future traditionalist, conservative-revolutionary state – a Eurasian continental empire with Russia at its center. Dugin’s “Bronze Age” is an eclectic and fallen one, bearing direct spiritual ties to the Russian Silver Age (which, in turn, was contemporary with the historical movements of National Bolshevism, Eurasianism, and the Conservative Revolution); but it is the age in which heroes, revolting against the profanities of the modern world, may resurrect the ideals of the Golden Age in a unique configuration that responds to the inverted values of the Kali Yuga.
Dugin tells us that this Bronze Age may or may not come to pass:
[These are not] heroes assigned to any mission, chosen and prepared, but willful characters who have risen up against Fate without any pretense for doing so […]. The paradigm of a potential Bronze Age is nonetheless plain to see already today: this is a new version of the very same National Bolshevism which served as the seed for both the Golden and Silver Ages. This is a necessary condition – sine qua non. But the arrival of heroes is not written in the spirals of history. It is only a possibility, a free choice, a potential uprising, the freedom to love one’s land and one’s people in extremity, madly, excessively, passionately.
For Dugin, National Bolshevism is not strictly an ideology. It is a metaphysical doctrine: the black, invisible sun whose gravity pulls on everything that recognizes the Absolute and rejects the logic of Karl Popper’s “Open Society.” It is the spirit which fuses the sacred to the seemingly profane conceits of politics – that which caused the Old-Believer folk poet Nikolai Kliuev to write of the Bolshevik Commissars as spiritual descendants of the Tsars and to praise the Red Terror.
Drawing from Mikhail Agurskii’s landmark study The Third Rome: National Bolshevism in the USSR, Dugin speaks of a “living core of Revolution” embedded in the very fate of the Russian people. He ascribes every downfall of the Russian state to an imbalance between the principles of Order and Revolt, and every consolidation of imperial power as a restoration of Russia’s conservative-revolutionary essence. When these two principles achieve harmony, Russia realizes its Golden Age, in which a characteristic “Russian type” receives its expression:
The Russian type, predating National Bolshevism proper, is a person (a folk, a commune, a church) in search of lost sacrality. The sharp pain of this loss forms the backbone of this type’s whole psychology and ideology. It is precisely for this reason that what would, at first glance, appear to be a strange transition on the part of the Russian intelligentsia from Marxism to Orthodoxy and back was so easy to justify. This was analyzed and experienced not as a change from black to white, but as a search within the framework of a single, intuitively grasped (but inexpressibly national-revolutionary) position which desperately wanted to appear from the depths of the national unconscious into the daylight of concrete social reality.
Though the Golden Age seems a remote fantasy, it is in the impure moment of the Kali Yuga that a new kind of heroism is becoming possible. This is the heroism that comes with existing in (and resisting) the blackest metaphysical night, in which “the usual spiritual roads are no longer effective” and the utter fallenness of the times “discounts any metaphysical guarantees.” The familiar refuges of exoteric religion or one-sided political solidarity are now closed to us:
[T]he dangerous, precarious, and paradoxical path of the ‘left hand,’ the ‘path of blood,’ is the only hope that remains for a cherished union with the Absolute. Orthodox traditions are degenerating in conformity with the petrified world, becoming a hollow moralism, a ‘warm disintegration’ that perverts that original fiery truth on which they are based. Standing against these bloodless vampires of orthodoxy are the blood-drenched vampires of heresy. Against the fictive electric light of a flat verbal demagoguery – a living, passionate, fanatic, and frantic Flame of perilous spiritual insurrection.
This perilous moment is a last chance which, according to the Vedas, precedes the “Night of Brahma” or the reabsorption of all manifested reality into the source from which it emerged – not only a Bronze Age, but a “Mordoré” Age. In Templars of the Proletariat, there is a chapter titled “‘L’Age d’argent ou l’age mordoré’: The Red-Brown Shade of the Silver Age.” The francophone portion of this title functions as a double-entendre, since the word argent can mean either “silver” or “money”; the phrase can be variously translated as “The Silver Age or the Red-Brown Age” and “The Money Age or the Red-Brown Age.” The French term mordoré, describing a color for which there is no direct translation in English, is of extreme symbolic importance to Dugin’s National Bolshevism. Taking inspiration from Jean Parvulesco’s novel The Order of the Red-Brown Unicorn [L’Ordre de Licorne Mordoré], Dugin evokes this shade as the symbolic color of his Bronze Age. Mordoré refers to a specific color associated with the French royal court that possesses a ruddy golden hue (comparable to bronze) which is the perfect synthesis of the colors red and brown, but adds a third, synthesizing shade to them. As he writes in Templars,
In one of our shared conversations, in which I was explaining the meaning of the term nashi (ours)’ in Russian political culture, Jean Parvulesco grew very animated and showed me a place in one of his early novels (from the mid-1970s) where, through providence, he had employed the same term, and in a strikingly similar sense. For him, nashi referred to members of the ‘conspiracy of Being,’ a secret network of influencing agents who were united by a common occult task which lay beyond political differences; these agents resisted profane, cosmopolitan civilization that had been established across the planet. Moreover, my Italian friends sent me a copy of one of Parvulesco’s essays from the end of the 1960s in which he wrote of ‘Eurasianism’ – the geopolitical project of creating a Continental Bloc; he wrote about the necessity of a Russian-German union (a renewal of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) and even the necessity of reconciling the red and brown forces into a unified, revolutionary, anti-globalist front. How strange were the texts of this shocking man which found their popularity only in their capacity as literary works and which provoked a condescending smile from the ‘academic’ Traditionalists. His books, with an almost prophetic clairvoyance, describe over the course of several years that which has become a political fact only in the most recent days, even in remote Russia…
This all leads to rather troubling thoughts regarding this ingenious author’s true nature. Who are you, after all, Mr. Parvulesco? Is he the commander of Altavilla?
No matter who he is, he is undoubtedly ‘red and brown,’ if only because all of his sympathies fall on the side of a mysterious feminine figure who, in certain actually extant initiatic societies, is known as the ‘Red-Brown Unicorn,’ the Licorne Mordoré. But here we should note that the French word mordoré more precisely refers to ‘red-and-brown-with-gold’ or ‘with golden accents.’ Besides the squeamish and disparaging term ‘red-brown,’ which has long been used as a label to describe the most interesting political forces in Russia, there is also a regal, tsarist inflection to this color – as the final eschatological coronation of the great continental Eurasian Revolution with Alchemical Gold; it is nashi [ours], the clear yet secret ‘agents of Being,’ who are today preparing and manifesting this revolution.
In the words of Evgenii Golovin (Dugin’s initiator and mystical mentor), the heroes of this age must “Learn to Swim.” Subtending Dugin’s concept of National Bolshevism is a magical practice, and the practitioner may no longer depend on a solid firmament or an immobile earth. All categories, boundaries, and forms have been violated, dissolved in the course of the alchemical phase of Nigredo. Dugin, following Golovin, refers to this magical state as the “Aquatic Regime”:
[T]he ‘physical world,’ with which man concerned himself in the beginning, having turned onto the path of magical realization, is now something ‘wicked’ and ‘inimical’ that calls for a radical transformation. The structures and laws of this world, fixed within principles of nature and social codices (if they should soon confirm the status quo in which the mage’s position is decentered), belong to the logic of destruction, dissolution, erasure. This is all so that, later, beyond the point of ‘false crystalization,’ the mage-subject can create a different world, a different Earth, structured on the principle of the centrality of the initiate. It is precisely in pursuit of this task – the dissolution of the ‘false crystalization’ – that the Aquatic Regime serves its solvent purpose. It is obvious that the average beginning practitioner of magic has no means by which to act directly on the material world which surrounds him; he has none of the instruments required to ‘become a king,’ to trample the laws of nature and reorganize sociopolitical reality according to his own prerogatives. Attempts to find a material ‘universal solvent’ through material means – even though such searches have been attempted in the past and will evidently be attempted in the future (such as the search for the ‘universal weapon’) – will, in an overwhelming majority of cases, yield no serious effect. What’s more, such a dependence on the material world can only distance the mage from his realization. This is to say that, on his path to ‘dissolution,’ the mage must look for other, immaterial means.
Ultimately, Alexander Dugin would lay down his National Bolshevist banner, dissociating himself from the NBP in 1998 and going on to found the Eurasianist Movement. But this underlying “Aquatic Regime” has remained an active part of his political philosophy. Templars of the Proletariat reveals a dimension – perhaps the most significant and profound dimension – of Dugin’s system which, in later works, is often more latent and implied. The thought in this book constitutes the groundwork for his Fourth Political Theory and is refined in his current writings on civilizational Logoi and multipolarity. It is a catalogue of Dugin’s esoteric sources – his genealogy and pedigree.
But, more than anything else, it is an initiation.
1With regard to those texts which were incorporated into Templars from elsewhere, they were written between 1994 and 1997, and initially appeared in the following periodicals: Elements [Элементы], Tender Angel [Милый ангел], Tomorrow [Завтра], Limonka [Лимонка], Om [Ом], The Independent Gazette [Независимая газета], and Moscow Pravda [Московская Правда]. Almost all of these inclusions were rewritten and heavily edited. Other sections of Templars are original compositions intended for the book’s 1997 publication by Arctogaia. In my Arktos translation, excisions from the 1997 book have been reinserted as footnotes, making this the most authoritative critical edition of Templars in any language to date.