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Why Philosopher Alexander Dugin Rejects Liberalism and How He Sees the Future of the World

This interview was originally published here.

In the context of global challenges, Russia is finding its unique path and national idea. One of those who is indispensable in understanding Russia’s role and place in the modern world is Alexander Dugin — a political scientist, philosopher, and ideologist of Eurasianism. His ideas have gained recognition not only in Russia but also beyond its borders. Geopolitics, within which he develops his theories, has gained significance not only in academic circles but also among the ruling elite due to him. The new realities require a new ideology, which will be expressed in a new step into the future, believes Alexander Dugin. In response to the hegemony of the Western world, Russia should present its grand idea and become the center of a global alternative to the liberal world order. Alexander Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory is based on concepts such as social justice, diversity, solidarity, national sovereignty, and traditional values., as part of the History of Russian Thought project, spoke with the philosopher about the foundation of his anti-liberal ideology, the current state of the national idea in Russia, and why the Western world is dying.

What is the Fourth Political Theory, and how did you come to create it?

Alexander Dugin: The Fourth Political Theory is the result of reflecting on the experience of Western political philosophy over the last several centuries, i.e., a philosophy that claims universality.

When I was thinking about which political ideology is optimal for Russia, I noticed that all disputes are conducted between nationalism and liberalism, nationalism and communism, and communism and liberalism.

In fact, all possibilities boil down to three huge macro-ideologies: liberalism, socialism, and nationalism with their different versions.

About Socialism, Liberalism, and Nationalism

I noticed that these three political ideologies, beyond which nothing else exists, are actually the product of Western history and Western political culture of the modern era. In principle, they claim that they exhaust all possible choices.

If we distance ourselves a bit from our own views (whatever they may be), we immediately realize that we think within the framework of one of these ideologies if we think politically at all.

Delving into the history of any of these ideologies, we immediately see that we are talking about modern Western history, about the West of the last centuries, where these three ideologies were born. Accordingly, no matter how we act within the framework of this choice, this triad, we still find ourselves under the influence of the West. Each of these ideologies contains the historical experience of the West, Western European development, and Western European modernity.

What Is Modernity?

Accepting liberalism, socialism, or nationalism implicitly means that we consider Russia to be part of Western European civilization — and even more so, in its secular version — and that we accept Western postulates without any criticism and without any distance.

So, are you suggesting that Russia should take the next step in political development after liberalism, socialism, and nationalism?

Reflecting on the political and ideological path Russia should take, I came to the conclusion that within this choice we will always be doomed to copy the West, and the West will always be ahead in all respects.

If we adopt the Western model, sooner or later logic will lead us to choose the ideology that triumphed in the West itself — that is, liberalism. And it means recognizing that liberalism is a kind of summary of the political history of world ideologies and a further search for our own path is unnecessary.

Because if the West has concluded that liberal ideology has triumphed irreversibly and finally, then Russia, as part of the Western world, is doomed to liberalism sooner or later.

Of course, we can still try nationalism (we have already tried communism) — another version of the Western model, but we will still come to liberalism, even if by roundabout ways.

Liberalism is what does not satisfy me (and, I think, most of our people). Thus, the idea of the Fourth Political Theory emerged — the idea that we need to go beyond Western European political thought and take a step forward. We must seek inspiration and a worldview in politics beyond the contemporary West.

Of course, one can turn both to the non-modern and non-Western spectrum of political doctrines. This is the essence of the Fourth Political Theory.

And when I formulated it, I noticed a colossal interest in this problem worldwide.

We must understand that many representatives of Western peoples are not satisfied with either the victory of liberalism or the necessity of choosing between these three political theories. Not to mention other countries and cultures — there, the Fourth Political Theory has become a slogan for the decolonization of political consciousness.

This idea has gained immense popularity, and liberals have begun to fight it with the harshest methods. Because, by proposing to go beyond the Western-centric political thinking of the modern era, I hit the mark, and this is what the ruling liberal elites fear the most. They have learned to deal with communists and nationalists, to neutralize and defeat them, even to use them for their own purposes.

But the Fourth Political Theory is a challenge they have never faced. They even denied its existence. Therefore, the Fourth Political Theory is our destiny.

But all three Western ideologies were a response to the configuration of the world order that existed at the time of their emergence. What does the Fourth Political Theory offer?

It begins with a serious and deep analysis, a deconstruction of the three existing political theories today. Liberalism operates with the individual as the main subject, communism with the class, and nationalism with the nation or race. All these concepts are also part of Western European political philosophy of the modern era. And to build the Fourth Political Theory, one must reject these foundations.

Because, trying to think about politics, we still tend to one of these three options.

We are so hypnotized by the Western European way of thinking that we see no horizons beyond it.

To break free from the spell of Western European thinking, the Fourth Political Theory suggests focusing on the concept of “existence,” or Dasein in philosophical terms. This approach emphasizes the fundamental essence or being of individuals and communities, beyond mere political definitions.

Additionally, I proposes redefining the idea of “the people.” Instead of viewing them simply as citizens of a nation or state, we should consider them a cultural community with a rich, enduring heritage that spans centuries. In this theory, the people are seen as the primary subject and foundational element. They are understood in an existential manner, which means their identity and existence are considered in a deeper, more philosophical context that goes beyond conventional political boundaries.

In this sense, the people exist in the face of destruction; it is always a relationship with war, with the end, with the possibility of not being, as in the doctrine of Moscow as the Third Rome — precisely because there will be no Fourth Rome.

In the people, previous generations, the dead, and the future, i.e., the unborn, are present. Therefore, the people are a category that includes time. It is not something that exists at one particular moment; the people always exist, they existed before and will continue to exist afterwards.

The essence of the people is deeply connected with the act of love, not only towards their country but also in the family, in marriage, because in marriage not just individuals are born, but Russian people are born. The people work through the energy of the power of love and exist on the edge of destruction, so love and war are necessary for the existence of the people.

In other words, the Fourth Political Theory is not a Western European conception of the people?

Yes, the concept of the people is a metaphysical phenomenon. And here we immediately turn to the Russian Slavophiles, the Eurasians, and the Orthodox understanding of the people as bearers of a mission, to whom a high theophoric function in history is revealed.

Who are the Eurasianists?

The people become an absolute category, which, if you like, is absent in other forms of political philosophy.

Next, we build a political system based on this understanding of the people. Namely: we should have a people’s government, a people’s economic system, and our politics should be aimed at preserving and protecting the people.

Even the state itself is not seen as a superstructure above the people, but as a tree that grows from the people’s roots. The conception of the people as the main historical category, as the subject of history, dictates what politics should be.

“Popular” does not mean the absence of hierarchy. Over time, heroes who form the warrior class and intellectuals, i.e., priests, emerge from the people. These are the branches of the people that reach into the sky, and thus the people are stretched into a kind of pyramid.

This popular pyramid effectively allows us to develop the doctrine of the people’s state and the popular functions of this state, which was partially done by the Slavophiles, Eurasianists, and representatives of Russian religious philosophy.

A political philosophy based on the centrality of the concept of “the people” allows us to quickly and independently build a political ideology that will be neither right nor left, but at the same time will explain both the conservative and left stages of our political history.

The Fourth Political Theory not only opens up horizons for future political creativity but also serves as a key to deciphering Russian political history. It is a Russian perspective on ourselves, and on our past, present, and future.

Considering what is happening in the world now, what could be the first step in building a people’s state in contemporary Russia?

If we consistently embark on this path and follow it, we will free ourselves from colonial forms of thinking.

Because to think in terms of the universality of Western criteria, theories, and conceptions of history, politics, society, and philosophy means to remain within the framework of colonization, that is, to think of ourselves not with our own consciousness.

This is characteristic of post-colonial states, a big problem for Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In a mental sense, Russia too was a colony of the West for several centuries. This was well discussed by the Eurasianists, who put forward the thesis of the “Romano-German yoke” — a period when Russia was in a state of intellectual enslavement by Western Europe. This situation needs to be changed and Russian civilization should be asserted from a standpoint of independence.

Eurasianism and the Idea of the “Romano-German Yoke”

To do this, it is necessary to identify traditional values, to form the code of our civilization, the fundamental algorithm of its formation.

It is necessary to understand our people and our civilization as a subject of history, not as a periphery of Europe. This assertion of Russia as a civilization, not a state, is the starting position.

So, the Fourth Political Theory is just the realization of ourselves as the carriers of a unique Russian Logos.

And this Russian Logos allows us to offer our perspective on all world processes: our relationship with the West, with the non-West, our relationship with ourselves, and to provide answers to any philosophical questions. All this should stem from the Russian civilizational Logos, because all the narratives we currently work with are Western-centric. And we find ourselves in the position of a colony.

The Fourth Political Theory implies the beginning of Russia’s national liberation struggle for the status of an independent civilization with its own codes and concepts, and later the application of this tool to absolutely different aspects of our life.

You suggest freeing ourselves from some collective identity of humanity…

In fact, there is no single humanity, as taught by Western liberal globalist ideology.

Humanity consists of civilizations, of cultures, and these cultures are unique and have completely different views on the most basic aspects of being and on being itself. And Russia is one of these civilizations, but not a Western one (though it can understand it); it is independent.

This Russian Logos is in an embryonic state with us, because in place of the intellectual elite, which would be the bearer of this Russian Logos, there exists a colonial administration of representatives of colonial domination, overseers of the Russians, who consider themselves emissaries of Western civilization. They are engaged in our digitalization and modernization; they teach us and say what is progressive and what is not.

This situation arose several centuries ago and continues to this day. Now, in the conditions of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, when we have come face to face with the West, we have a unique historical moment when the Russian Logos can declare itself in full voice.

So, in your opinion, the question before each of us today is: are you for humanity in its cultural diversity or for a universal mechanical civilization?

The fact is that I have been studying Western civilization for many years, even decades. I know it much better than liberals. And I understand the nature of the admiration for the West.

But the West today is not what it used to be. It is a unique civilization that represents the peak of degeneration — aggressive degeneration.

The current Western world has moved away from its traditional values and is turning into a mechanical, lifeless space that destroys all original culture, including its own identity.

Each of us indeed faces the necessity of tremendous work, but freeing oneself from the enchantment of the West can be achieved not only by turning to non-Western cultures (although this is also a path) but also through understanding that the West itself — traditional or critically opposed to the mainstream liberal line — is ready to provide us with arguments, for example, in the form of traditionalists.

What is Traditionalism?

The West has provided a fundamental basis for criticizing itself. The task of liberating ourselves from the influence of the modern West (i.e., globalization and liberalism) has been made easier by Western geniuses themselves.

If we start to carefully examine the Western European heritage, we will see that even in the modern era many of the brightest Western thinkers were opponents of the liberal capitalist course that established itself in the West as a dominant force, for example, Oswald Spengler and Julius Evola. And today, the struggle against this root West is in full force. But we must remember that we have allies in the West; they provide us with arguments that will help us to free ourselves.

At some point, we must understand that no matter how attractive Western European civilization is beyond liberalism, our identity is different. And here we must delve into our own history, the formation of our Russian Logos, which is connected with Orthodoxy and with a deep understanding of the value of justice.

This national, state, and religious beginning in us has unique features from the very source of Russian history.

This does not mean that we should be hostile to the West as such. It is enough to discard the liberal, globalist, technical current Western civilization and deny it the right to claim something universal, general, and to determine the fate of humanity, and we will discover another West, which may be very appealing to us. This is what every Russian person of our era should do. To cope with this work, it will take the efforts of an entire generation or even several.

And what do you see as your task in this work?

My task is only to outline directions, to prepare the intellectual and philosophical ground.

We need to strengthen our own civilization, deeply understand the Western one, and engage in dialogue with other civilizations, helping them to liberate themselves from this occupational, alien globalist self-consciousness.

Hegel has the idea that a slave has no consciousness of his own; he borrows it from his master.

We need to step out of this slave state in relation to the West, take away its right to be our master, gain our own Russian self-consciousness, and triumphantly affirm its own Logos — independent, sovereign, and free.

In the global confrontation with the West, does Russia have allies among other civilizations now?

Russia certainly has allies. If we use the words of Nikolai Trubetzkoy, it is humanity. In his book Europe and Humanity, he says that contemporary Europe, the Romano-German world, represents the usurpation of the status of humanity. And the West asserts that it is humanity. But as soon as we question this claim, we see that there are other segments of humanity that are against the West.

If Russia is now against the West, then humanity is its ally.

First and foremost, these are civilizations that have also realized that Western hegemony is corrupt and unacceptable. For example, China, which is defending its identity and traditional values. A similar perception of the West as evil, a colonial pole, is awakening in India. The perception of India as an independent civilization, not just post-colonial, is becoming more and more distinct. And India is our ally in our strategy of affirming Russia as a civilization.

We should not forget about the Islamic world, which is seething and rejecting Western hegemony. Latin America also does not find understanding with the globalist Anglo-Saxon West, perceiving its policy as colonial. Africa is awakening, entering the third round of decolonization — the decolonization of consciousness.

Russia has led this multipolar uprising.

Our ally becomes also that part of the West which does not agree with the domination of the liberal globalist idea. And this is a significant part of the Western world, at least half of the Americans — not only Republicans, like former President Donald Trump, but also a significant part of left-wing Democrats, as well as right and left populists in Europe. They are already “blowing up” France from within, gradually shaking the grip of the globalist-liberal elite.

Western humanity which rejects globalization in its ultra-liberal form is also our ally.

We are the majority; it’s just that currently, a large part of the elites in the world are agents of influence of liberal hegemony, and this is a problem. The majority is on our side, but our own elite is still largely an agency of our enemy. As soon as Russia can re-educate this globalist pro-Western elite, we will gain colossal resources both within our society and beyond.

Peoples see Russia, its leader Vladimir Putin, at the forefront of the multipolar revolution. Similar positions are held by Xi Jinping in China. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey and Narendra Modi in India are also striving to conduct maximally sovereign policies.

In the fight for a multipolar world, we have far more allies than we can imagine.

But we must complete the Russification of our elites, because our ruling elite is not Russian.

We are fighting against anti-Russia in the form of Ukraine, but there is also an anti-Russia within us.

These are oligarchs, Westernizers, a significant segment of our educational system, which is recruited by grants and networks of influence of the Western world. The fight against this anti-Russia is the way to unlock resources in our society and beyond.

Which philosophers could you consider as your conditional allies?

I consider myself a Eurasianist, but I was more influenced by critics of the West among the traditionalists: René Guénon, Julius Evola, Martin Heidegger, Oswald Spengler. These are anti-liberal and anti-modern Western authors.

In Eurasianism, I found the closest stream to European traditionalists. And since I am a Russian person and a Russian patriot, I started to rely on my own tradition.

But the content of the entire criticism of the modern West’s claims to universalism, I took from Western traditionalists. And only then did I discover very close analogues in Nikolai Trubetzkoy, Pyotr Savitsky, and Lev Gumilev, but unique and independent. They also exist in the Russian Orthodox tradition — for example, in Ioann of Kronstadt and Lev Tikhomirov, and to a significant extent in Ivan Ilyin. Similar ideas are also present among the narodniks (populists). They resonate with the radical criticism of the Western European liberal civilization.

There are things that unite us. We have things to discuss, for example, with Poland — a traditionalist, believing country. We just need to know how to do this, for which we need to be very aware of ourselves and them.

Everyone must rid themselves of the nihilistic Western liberalism that does not allow any culture to realize itself and embark on its own sovereign path. We must fight together against this de-sovereignization.

Poles do not like us; they are practically at war with us, but in essence, they are quite a conservative Slavic people with special traditional values. And if not for their historical animosity towards us, they would be our allies.

Many things, if approached delicately, we could correct. We could resolve very acute and painful conflicts. But for this, we need to believe in ourselves much more and listen to Western voices less.

What is happening now with Russia in terms of breaking ties with the West is a pledge of great revival, purification, a return to our roots, to our identity. This is a unique historical chance to become ourselves again.

Why are Eurasianist ideas relevant for modern Russia?

Firstly, Eurasianism is the same as the concept of empire. In fact, the concept of the imperial identity of Russian civilization and Eurasianism can be considered equivalent. The difference is that Eurasianists, unlike other supporters of the empire, emphasized the positive contribution of other peoples to state-building in the territory of the Russian Empire (and later the Soviet Union).

There is a Russian-centric, nationalist version of the empire. It is not marginal, but Eurasianists corrected the destructive excess of nationalism, namely they acknowledged the role of other, non-East Slavic peoples, in the creation of the empire. Nikolai Trubetzkoy called this “pan-Eurasian nationalism.”

The Pan-Eurasian Nationalism of Nikolai Trubetzkoy

Generally, I don’t like the word “nationalism.” I am against nationalism, because it is a purely Western false theory.

The peoples of Eurasia, the peoples of the empire, created a single civilization, the core of which is the Orthodox Russian people, around which other peoples, no less important for state-building, rallied.

All of them participated in our victories, became a full part of our elite, and we should give them due credit, preserve their identity, cultivate their passionarity and involve them in creative construction for the sake of the common Motherland.

Eurasianism is the value of the empire as a state endowed with a mission, and the value of a society based on the principle of justice. And even if such an empire did not exist, let’s build it.

We understand the value of justice very well. The Soviet period showed us that people crave justice and are ready to go to extreme measures for it.

The reconstruction of our Eurasian, Russian empire must take this factor into account.

Another distinction of the empire from the national state for Eurasianists is the absence of racism and chauvinism.

It is an open system where representatives of any culture and religion, living traditionally on the territory of Eurasia, are given the freedom to choose: to preserve their own identity and live in their society or to become part of the imperial elite and assimilate new codes.

This is freedom for the Russian person as well. It is natural, and it has always been the case — both in the Russian Empire and in the Soviet Union. Now it is necessary to unite the territories of the post-Soviet space, and this will be Eurasianism.

Can Russia follow an alternative path? For example, create a mono-ethnic state.

Russia simply has no alternative path! If we try to build a mono-ethnic state here, we will just destroy ourselves. This would be the fulfillment of the West’s plan to dismember Russia. The ideas of a Russian national state are an absolute provocation. Because the West understood that Russia can overcome liberalism quite easily; we have no prerequisites for the success of liberal ideology; its bearers are either renegades or completely ignorant people, incapable of reading classic texts.

But formulations of nationalism are dangerous precisely because many patriotically minded people can be tempted by them. But this would lead to the demise of our country and our people.

Russia has only one path, and this path is imperial.

You are a prime example of how ideology goes from being unwanted to relevant and even popular. How do you explain this phenomenon?

Russia is more important to me than myself and my society, and society is more important than individuality. Russia is what I want to give a voice to, so that through me, not I myself with my ideas but the Logos of the Russian world would speak.

I try to seek the truth and give it a way.

Many ideas that some people mistakenly believe I have invented or created are actually forgotten truths that have been overlooked by most. In my work, I endeavor to stay close to these essential truths, incorporating only a minimal amount of my personal perspective and uniqueness.

I hope I succeed in speaking not on my behalf but on behalf of my people.

If we are so honest about the world of ideas, understanding their fundamental superiority over the pathetic capabilities of an individual, then I think any researcher will be relevant and will arouse interest. Simply because we will try to create an objective map of reality. My task is to help and contribute to clarifying this map, in which everyone can plot their own trajectories, their own routes. The main thing is that my people, my state, can plot them.

What would you wish for the youth?

To stop being young as quickly as possible. I believe that to be young is to be unprepared. Childhood is a very difficult period because you are treated as an object, even though an immortal soul already lives within you.

I like children who want to grow up quickly; I like young people who don’t want to be young.

When someone is categorized as youth, in my view, it’s an artificial diminishment of a person, treating them like a mental invalid. In my opinion, to be young and acknowledge oneself as young is to be a fool and rejoice in it. Stop being young, become adults. You should spit on this youth.

You can purchase books by Alexander Dugin in English here.

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Translated by Constantin von Hoffmeister


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