Dugin on Ethnicity vs. Race, Part 2
Part 2 of 2
The ethnos continues to exist as the substratum of traditional societies. For example, the pre-Indo-European ethne continue to exist as the third function of Indo-European societies. Dugin explains the emergence of traditional civilizations through the emergence of nomadic pastoralism, that is, the appearance, from out of autochthonous agricultural society, of small, nomadic groups of war-like herdsmen.
By domesticating animals that were larger and stronger than themselves, these herdsmen developed technologies of “pastoral power,” which made it possible for the few to rule the masses. They treated the ethnic groups they conquered “like cattle.” In this way, these warlords and conquerors, when they finally settled in already inhabited conquered territories, became the first political elites. These bands of warriors were the Männerbund, the core of the pre-modern state.
The origin of the state, then, lies in wars of conquest and the appropriation of already inhabited territories. When the ethnos wages war on its neighbors, it either exterminates them or assimilates them (killing and sometimes cannibalizing the men, taking the women as wives, and adopting the children). The warrior-herdsmen, instead, conquer and subjugate the conquered ethnos, ruling, exploiting, but also protecting it (as it would livestock property), while at the same time maintaining a strict racial separation from the conquered group (“the herd”). The elite of this new kind of society is “racist.” As herdsman, they apply pastoral techniques of breeding to human beings. Conquest, for them, means harnessing and “riding” the forces that have been overcome, rather than annihilating them. This also means that historically, class conflict has its origin in ethnic conflict.
The emergence of the state marks the emergence of an ethnically heterogeneous, stratified, non-organic society, radically different in nature from the ethnos. Dugin suggests the Greek word “laos” to distinguish this stage from the “ethnos/” (Although Dugin fails to cite it as a source, his discussion of the “laos” draws heavily on the national socialist ethnologist Wilhelm E. Mühlmann’s brilliant work on the ethnology of war, Krieg und Frieden: Ein Leitfaden der politischen Ethnologie .)
The harmonious, organic unity of the ethnos is now lost. The tension and violence of conquest are inherent in the new social order, which is structured by hierarchy and patriarchy. The relation to “the other” has been introduced into its heart. This means an element of crisis, entropy, and disorder has entered into the core of society, and will from now on constantly threaten its stability and cohesion. The conquered “other” is included in society, but at the same time excluded. It is held at a distance by the ruling class. A stratified society structured by a caste system emerges.
Since the cohesion of the ethnos is maintained through intermarriage between different endogamous clans within a tribe, and based on balance and polarity, it has no need for law or hierarchy. Its cohesion is maintained by normative myths, which are themselves a kind of exegesis of the symbolic space. Justice is conceived as a balance maintained by means of symbolic exchange and kind of “egalitarian” reversibility of social relations. Those who kill must be (symbolically) killed, those who eat must be (symbolically) eaten, returning to the circular economy of the cosmos. This is the reason for initiation, for example — the hunter or warrior must be symbolically killed in order to be able to kill without upsetting the balance. All social obligations are understood as forms of symbolic debt (debts of honor).
The stability and cohesion of traditional civilizations, on the contrary, has to be secured by the law and the authority of the state. Civilizations lack the natural, organic cohesion of the ethnos. This is why the restless, nomadic conqueror-herdsmen are civilizers — founding and building the legal, political and religious institutions of pre-modern, traditional civilization. It is at this point that the hierarchical, tripartite structure of Indo-European societies emerges. It is the beginning of the type of Aryan traditional society described by Evola, and the classical, Western, active, “phallic and masculine logos,” founded on the exclusion of the chaotic, feminine “other.” This masculine logos is preceded by the more primordial, chthonic, feminine, passive and inclusive “chaotic logos” of the ethnos. This chaotic logos is identified with the Eurasian ethne (Russia), characterized by “chaotic” and Dionysian ethnic forces. The involution or entropy of the West is caused by the hardening of the classical logos as it supposedly detaches itself from its native element, the Dionysian, Eurasian, chaotic logos. The more primordial “chaotic logos” transcends and includes the phallic logos within itself, in the same way the Eurasia includes Europe.
With this new relation to an “other” in the form of the subjugated ethnos, a crisis, a rift has been introduced into society. This crisis or rift is expressed in ideological and metaphysical terms as the splitting of the cosmos into a material, temporal, multiple and sensible world on the one hand, and a supra-sensible, eternal, unitary and transcendent world on the other. On the one hand, time and becoming, in which beings arise and decay, are created and destroyed. On the other, a realm beyond time, of permanence, stability, deathlessness and incorruptibility. Instead of the polarity and complementarity of the cosmos of the ethnos, there now arises a sharp metaphysical dualism between transcendent order on the one hand, and immanent disorder, entropy and involution on the other.
The overcoming of this traumatic rift between Being and becoming, time and eternity and the re-integration of the sacred whole now becomes the eschatological horizon, or limit, of history. The laos is not ahistorical like the ethnos, but the horizon of its history is not endless, linear, secular progress and economic growth, but a Messianic myth. The members of the new elites begin to interpret themselves as subjects of history, as having an historical mission and destiny: for example, as the founders and builders of empires. Often they are empires uniting East and West, as in the case of Dugin’s homonym, Alexander the Great. Other examples would presumably be Genghis Khan’s Golden Horde, or Islamic conquest. These imperial ambitions always remain rooted in Messianic projects, in eschatological myths, and the empire itself remains anchored in a sacred center — Rome in the case of the Roman Empire, or in the case of the Islamic conquests, Mecca. The city becomes an imago mundi, a microcosm of the empire, which in its turn, like the ethnos, is identified with the world as such. For the Romans, the empire was the world, and the emperor personified its center, the sacred pole of sovereignty.
The heroic individual becomes the normative subject of the laos. In a sense, this is the emergence of a type of individualism — not the bourgeois individualism of modernity, but an ascetic, heroic, aristocratic individualism of the “differentiated man,” corresponding to a normative, heroic myth. This new elite individual, this new “subject” of history is represented not only by the hero, but also by the king, the philosopher and — in Judaism and Islam — by prophets. They are Plato’s “guardians,” or Heidegger’s “shepherds of Being.” Since the ruling class is made up of formerly nomadic herdsmen rather than farmers, the model of the ruler is the shepherd. He gathers the dispersed and multiple herd of the “laos” around the pole of Being and tradition. The model is pastoral gathering, rather than agrarian harvesting. The shepherds take upon themselves the conservative mission of battling against Diaspora, death, chaos, illusion and the insidious processes of decay and the loss of meaning. They see it as their responsibility to wage war against falsehood, illusion, death, nothingness and the entropy of time, which scatters, dissolves and flows. Time is the river of forgetting, Lethe. The Greek word for truth is a-letheia, “un-forgetting,” This type of heroic individuality is similar to Heidegger’s figure of authentic, resolute Dasein. Its individuality and integrity is based on the open confrontation with death, transforming the limit of death from a passive process of entropy into an active decision, a responsibility, a founding “possible being-as-a-whole.”
On the other hand, the peasantry — the third function of Indo-European society — continues to live its cyclical, a-historical life, rooted in a landscape and centered on fertility and reproduction. It continues to exist as an ethnos, living in a prelapsarian state of innocence, a “golden age.” It views the tributes it pays to its new rulers as sacrifices, and the predatory rulers themselves as sacred figures. The elite, however, in detaching itself from the cosmic and social whole and entering into an asymmetrical, irreversible relation to “the other,” has passed into asymmetrical, irreversible time: history and the eschatological tension of being-towards-death. From the moment this tension begins to relax, disintegration is inevitable.
Since the ethnos is always working to remain identical to itself, it has no relation to the “other.” The ethnos is gathered around its sacred center, and does not define itself in opposition to an “other.” Unlike the Western logos, the logos of the ethnos is not founded on binary oppositions and exclusion, but on inclusion and assimilation (which may take the physical form of a cannibalistic eating of the other). In this sense, ethnic society is both totalitarian and “open,” but in a completely different sense than the Popperian “open society” of modern liberalism. Anyone can become assimilated into the ethnos, and the ethnos solves “the problem of the other” through assimilation — either physically, by wars of annihilation that culminate in the cannibalizing of members of other ethnic groups, or through initiation, that is, the symbolic killing of the individual, so that he or she may be reborn as a member of the tribe. Therefore, belonging to ethnos is in no way a racial, biological fact, but a social, symbolic and cultural phenomenon. Although ethne generally define themselves by the idea of a common origin, this common origin, Dugin is careful to emphasize, is a myth. It is a social construct rather than a biological fact. Not only is Dugin’s notion of ethnocentrism non-racist, non-nationalist and bloodless, his notion of “ethnos” is also cleansed (or we might also say, disembodied, abstracted and emptied) of any racial content. Like the concept of “gender,” it is a purely social, rather than biological concept.
The connection between the ethnos and cannibalism should not be surprising to anyone familiar with Greek myth. The ethnos is living in “the golden age,” and the golden age is the reign of Saturn, Chronos (time), who eats his own children. The cannibalism of the ethnos, in other words, is the cannibalism of cyclical time, which devours everything it engenders. At a certain point, a transition takes place from the reign of Chronos to the reign of Zeus. This transition marks the beginning of traditional, Olympian, heroic civilization. Dugin seems to believe that the circular conception of time in archaic societies is conserved in the religious practices of traditional civilizations. However, it would be more correct to see the heroic, traditional conception of time as the reverse of the temporality of the ethnos. Primitive, tribal societies view the circular structure of time positively, as guaranteeing the homeostasis of the cosmos. Elements that detach themselves from the whole, taking on an independent existence and potentially fragmenting the whole, are constantly re-assimilated by the devouring circle of time. In the heroic world-view, this conception is reversed. Chronos, instead of the ruler and preserver of the paradisiacal golden age, becomes a wholly negative figure, a voracious monster that must be overcome by a celestial, Olympian hero (Zeus). Circular time is no longer seen as the conservation of the cosmos as an immortal, sacred totality. Time, instead, is viewed as a prison, the belly of Chronos. Time is now conditioned existence, the realm in which beings arise and perish, are engendered and destroyed in a circulation without end. The meaning of time is reversed, and it is viewed as entropy, a hungry void, a figure of death and cosmic terror, and the task of the ascetic and the hero is to overcome it, to pass beyond its ring of fire.
Thus, there is a split in the path to immortality. On the one hand, there is the way of the fathers or ancestors (pitryana), the peaceful path of fertility and reproduction, the path of Dugin’s “ethnos,” associated with chthonic religiosity. New generations continue and repeat the life of the ancestors. When the grandson becomes a man, he reincarnates the grandfather. On the other hand, there is the way of the gods (devayana), the way of asceticism and initiation, of warriors and priests. It is the heroic, virile path of action and knowledge (gnosis). It views death on the battlefield as a form of initiation, and the path to knowledge always passes through the confrontation with death. The heroic path is anindividual, aristocratic path to salvation or active self-redemption: liberation from an existence conditioned by time. The freedom of the individual is of course not simply given as a “human right” — freedom, individuation and personality are conquests. They are won through a struggle with death and entropic forces. When the individual triumphs over the forces of death, he is divinized, or even superior to the gods.
The ascetic and the hero both despise that which merely comes and passes away — the body, the physical, sensuous world, appearances and becoming — and struggle to overcome entropic time, reaching the state of deathlessness. In his work on yoga, Mircea Eliade showed that the ascetic individual’s self-liberation from time is achieved by becoming a microcosm. Only by becoming the cosmos and cosmic time can the individual overcome time within himself. This is why the Indian Aghori, adepts of the left-hand path, practice ritual cannibalism — the Aghori identifies himself with the devouring cycle of time itself — he becomes the cosmos. Through the awakening of the kundalini, the spinal column itself becomes the world-pillar, the axis mundi. Thus, the fully realized individual is “cosmic man,” isolated and unconditioned in the same sense that the cosmos itself is isolated and unconditioned. Insofar as the hero achieves self-realization through the path of action, the idea of the empire is born. The empire is a cosmic totality. It establishes a center (a pole) and encompasses the world. The empire overcomes time and brings history to an end. All empires are, in their metapolitical and esoteric dimension, eschatological. For Dugin, the relationship between sacred geography and geopolitics is analogous to the relation between sacred (mythical) time and historical time. The attempt to theologize geopolitics coincides with an attempt to abolish historical time in mythical time. Dugin’s Eurasian “empire of the end” is an eschatological project.
The emergence of heroic individuality coincides with the emergence of political forms of sovereignty. The sovereign is a subject of history and a conservative revolutionary figure. He transcends the normal order of things and in so doing, both suspends and conserves it. This conservation is a re-foundation. The ethnos was already “conservative revolutionary” in its dynamic: the cosmos of the ethnos must periodically be destroyed in a kind of “conservative revolution” (taking the word “revolution” in its etymological sense) in order to be reborn or revitalized, just as the cycle of the year is renewed at its darkest point, the winter solstice, the dark abyss out of which the sun returns. This renewal is effected through sacrificial gift-giving.
The emergence of a stratified society also coincides with the emergence of distinct political and economic spheres. The economic sphere is the household, the oikos, a closed space, protected from the irruption of elemental, chaotic forces. In the ethnos, the shaman is the guardian of the oikos, healing its crises and mediating its relations to the forces of chaos. In the laos, political functions protect the economic sphere, but also limit it and transcend it. They protect it and delimit in the way that shepherds draw the boundaries of a pasture.
The cosmic rift or crisis inherent in the “laos,” however, cannot ultimately be healed. It is progressively deepened, setting off a process of entropy or involution that culminates with modernity. As part of the entropic movement, the figure of the bourgeois emerges, an ambiguous, inauthentic figure, similar to Heidegger’s “das Man.” For Dugin, the bourgeois does not correspond to the third function of Indo-European societies, but is a kind of vacillating, intermediary figure, delegating fighting to the aristocracy on the one hand, and production to the peasantry on the other. The bourgeois is characterized, like das Man, by his avoidance of a decisive confrontation with death – he does not challenge death. Eventually, the bourgeois usurps the position of the aristocrat. However, the relationship between social elites and subjugated groups continues to follow the pattern of aggressive nomads vs. passive peasants. This relationship is not only expressed in the distinction between free men and slaves, the caste structure or class structure of society, but also in the view expressed in the Talmud of gentiles as animals without the same rights as the members of the nomadic tribe of the Jews (not only the Indo-Europeans, but also the Jews are examples of conquering, nomadic herdsmen). In modern capitalist society, the social elites are still predators, the subjugated masses are still a herd of livestock.
Hence, in Dugin’s model, just as there are three political theories, there are three historical types of society: archaic, traditional (pre-modern) and modern — the “ethnos,” the “laos,” and civil society (with the nation as an intermediate, transitional from between the “laos” and post-national, civil society). Each of these three types of society seems to correspond to one of the modern political theories. If archaic society is a kind of primordial communism, traditional society is hierarchical, patriarchal, imperialistic and dominated by the warrior class, and clearly corresponds to fascism. It is dominated by the heroic figure of the “political soldier” rather than the politician. Modern civil society, dominated by the mercantile class, the enlightened, bourgeois individual, corresponds to liberalism. Postmodern society is the transition to a fourth type of society, which perhaps corresponds to the fourth political theory.
The crisis of the organic unity of the “ethnos” lead to the formation of the “laos” and the foundation of the institutions of aristocratic traditional societies. The crisis and disintegration of the laos leads to the emergence of the modern “demos” and bourgeois nationalism. The sacred center of the ethnos is lost, and the sovereign individual becomes the new center, with “sacred” and inalienable “human rights.” Liberalism is also organized by the relationship between a center and a periphery, but at the end of the cycle the structure of the ethnos is fully inverted — the center of modern society is that which previously was profane and negative, and elements of the sacred whole and non-individual forms of existence survive as marginal, residual, spectral or “demonic” elements.
Finally, the crisis and disintegration of the bourgeois individual in the postmodern period leads to a further dissolution of all forms of identity, culminating in the “death of man,” transhumanism, and virtual reality, the liberation of sub-individual forces from individual identity and – through hybrids and cyborgs – from the boundaries of humanity itself. This, presumably, is the ultimate end of the cycle and the culmination of modern nihilism. Humanity, reason, and individual identity, which were originally marked the horizon of the modern project of “emancipation,” ultimately become limits that must be overcome, so as to achieve total, polymorphously perverse, “schizophrenic,” and “acephalous” liberation of desire and “otherness.”
In other words, freedom is a principle of chaos, an entropic, corrosive force that destroys liberalism from within. The moment that liberalism overcomes all of its historical adversaries, it must be protected from the very power it has unleashed. The individual can no longer “master” the destructive forces liberated by modernity. Modernity enters into its critical phase, post-modernity. The place of the individual is evacuated, a new space is cleared, new possibilities are opened up, a new question takes form: the question of the subject of the fourth political theory. The fourth political theory emerges at the point where the “subjects” of the previous three political theories are dissolved. The individual reveals itself to be, in its essence, a central void, a nothingness. The new subject will be the new center that will be capable of functioning as a point of orientation. The subject of the fourth political theory must be able to respond to the challenge of mastering the unrealized creative potentialities that remain in liberalism, but also communism and fascism. The remaining representatives of fascism and communism, Dugin believes, are incapable of doing so, trapped as they are in a reactive attitudes of resentment, backward-looking nostalgia, and inertia.