Matthew Lyons’ Letter to the Editor

Dear Socialism and Democracy,

I was disturbed to read Efe Can Gürcan’s review essay “NATO’s ‘Globalized’ Atlanticism and the Eurasian Alternative” (Socialism and Democracy vol. 27, no. 2). Gürcan details the rise of (neo-)Eurasianism as an ideological challenge to NATO Atlanticism and US imperialism. But he systematically hides key Eurasianists’ neo-fascist and ultranationalist politics, making it impossible for readers to assess the movement in an informed manner.

Gürcan describes the contemporary Eurasianist movement’s founder, Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin, as “an influential Russian thinker and scholar who served as an adviser to Vladimir Putin and numerous parliamentarians.”1 He doesn’t mention that Dugin is also the Russian far right’s leading intellectual and one of the most influential neo-fascist theoreticians in the world today. During the 1990s, Dugin spent several years as chief theoretician for Eduard Limonov’s National Bolshevik Party, which promoted a blend of fascist and Soviet communist ideology. In 1997 Dugin extolled a “clean, ideal fascism” that stands for “a new hierarchy, a new aristocracy…based on natural, organic [and] clear principles — dignity, honor, courage, [and] heroism.” He argued that Mussolini and Hitler were forced to compromise these ideals by allying with conservatives and capitalists.2

Since the 1990s, Dugin has been one of the leading figures in the European New Right, an international project to rework fascist ideology within the framework of “ethno-pluralism.”3 The results are somewhat contradictory. Dugin disavows Nazi racism and any ethnic hierarchies, yet he has declared, “wherever there is a single drop of Aryan (Slavic, Turkic, Caucasian, European) blood, there is a chance for racial awakening, for the rebirth of the primordial Aryan conscience.”4 He rejects vulgar antisemitism yet has warned that “the world of ‘Judaica’ is hostile to us,” and that “the Indo-European elite” needs to understand Jews “not ‘to forgive,’ but ‘to defeat’” them.5

Dugin’s Eurasianism draws on the geopolitical doctrine of Karl Haushofer, who gave Hitler the concept of Lebensraum, as well as other inter-war far right thinkers, such as traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola and conservative revolutionary Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, who coined the slogan “the Third Reich.” Dugin envisions a renewed Eurasian “empire” in which ethnic Russians will hold a privileged position based on their “messianic,” “world-historical mission.”6 He advocates the “Eurasian” values of authoritarianism, hierarchy, religion, communitarianism, and patriarchy, against the “absolute evil” of Atlanticist values including individualism, liberalism, parliamentary democracy, feminism, and homosexuality.7 He has promoted the arch-conservative Russian Orthodox Church as a dominant institution in Russian society, for example condemning the feminist and leftist band Pussy Riot, some of whose members are currently imprisoned for publicly protesting against the church’s power. At the same time, Dugin calls for a “global revolutionary alliance” of rightists and leftists against Atlanticist elites.8

Gürcan completely whitewashes Dugin’s Eurasianism, claiming that Dugin “uphold[s] at once the diversity of value-systems and the need for economic development, the emancipation of labor, and social justice.” His only caveat is that Dugin’s theory is limited by “such values as mysticism, traditionalism and esoterism.”9

Gürcan then turns his attention to Turkish Eurasianism, which compared with Dugin’s version exhibits “a stronger mobilizing capacity” because it “prioritizes rationalistic, secular and realistic values.”10 He rightly notes that Turkey’s main proponent of Eurasianism, the Workers’ Party (WP), is rooted in Maoism. But Gürcan (who has himself been published in the WP’s theoretical journal) doesn’t mention that the WP embraces ultra-nationalism and that many Turkish leftists regard it as left wing in name only. The WP program claims that “The Kurdish Question, in view of democratic rights and freedoms, has been basically solved.”11 (In reality, the Turkish state continues to persecute Kurds who assert their cultural identity, and has arrested over 10,000 Kurdish human rights activists, labor organizers, and political leaders just since 2011.12) The WP refers to the Armenian Genocide during World War I as a “falsification,” and party head Doğu Perinçek has claimed that the mass killings were fabricated by the British secret services.13

The Workers’ Party also has a history of collaborating with the far rightist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), for example in campaigns against the European Union and the proposed reunification of Cyprus. The WP advocates an alliance of Turkish leftists and rightists on the basis of anti-imperialism and Kemalism (secular Turkish nationalism closely associated with the army). WP leaders have met with Aleksandr Dugin in both Turkey and Russia, and Perinçek joined the supreme council of Dugin’s International Eurasian Movement. In keeping with this alliance, the WP head regards Russia as “the critical country of the alignment in Eurasia,” and argues somewhat awkwardly that “Russia has taken up the same positions with the Oppressed World although she is an imperialist-capitalist state.”14

Eurasianism, including Gürcan’s “Eurasian movement from below,” means supporting the ruling classes of Eurasian countries — above all, Russia — in their inter-capitalist rivalry with the US ruling class. While some leftists rationalize this as a united front of democratic, anti-imperialist forces, a closer look shows that the movement is in fact spearheaded by ethnic chauvinists such as the Workers’ Party (Turkey) and neo-fascists such as Aleksandr Dugin. If Gürcan genuinely doesn’t know what these people stand for then he is not competent to write about them. Much more likely is that he knows perfectly well but chose not to tell us.

Matthew Lyons
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Notes

1. Efe Can Gürcan, “NATO’s ‘Globalized’ Atlanticism,” 158.

2. Aleksandr Dugin, “Fascism – borderless and red,” [1997], trans. Andreas Umland, Russian-Studies listserv archives, www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=russian-studies;4a3176b4.0905

3. On Dugin’s neo-fascism and role in the European New Right, see Andreas Umland, “‘Neo-Eurasianism,’ the Issue of Russian Fascism, and Post-Soviet Political Discourse,” OpEdNews, 11 June 2008, www.opednews.com/articles/-Neo-Eurasianism—the-Iss-by-Andreas-Umland-080610-4.html; and Anton Shekhovtsov, “Aleksand Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism: The New Right à la Russe,” Religion Compass 3/4 (2009): 697-716, www.academia.edu/197900/Aleksandr_Dugins_Neo-Eurasianism_The_New_Right_a_la_Russe

4. Dugin, Misterii Evrazii [The Mysteries of Eurasia], quoted in Marlène Laruelle, “Aleksandr Dugin: A Russian Version of the European Radical Right?” (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Kennan Institute Occasional Paper #294, 2006), 14, www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/aleksandr-dugin-russian-version-the-european-radical-right-2006

5. Dugin, “To Understand is To Defeat,” Den [newspaper], 1992, republished on Arctogaia website, http://arctogaia.com/public/eng/defeat.html

6. Laruelle, “Aleksandr Dugin,” 19; Dugin, “Just Bolshevism,” Arctogaia,
http://arctogaia.com/public/eng-bol.htm

7. Dugin, “The Great War of Continents,” 1992, republished on Open Revolt, 3 February 2013, http://openrevolt.info/2013/02/03/alexander-dugin-the-great-war-of-continents/; “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ and other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution,” Open Revolt, 19 May 2013, http://openrevolt.info/2013/05/19/alexander-dugin-on-white-nationalism-and-other-potential-allies-in-the-global-revolution/

8. “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism.’”

9. Gürcan, “NATO’s ‘Globalized’ Atlanticism,” 158-59.

10. Gürcan, “NATO’s ‘Globalized’ Atlanticism,” 159.

11. “The National Government Programme of the Workers’ Party (Turkey),” Workers’ Party (Turkey), December 2006,
http://inter.ip.org.tr/lib/pages/detay.asp?goster=tbelgeler&belgetur=1

12. Conference Report: The Kurdish Question in Turkey (Belfast: Queen’s University Belfast, 2013), 8,
www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/FileStore/Filetoupload,387560,en.pdf

13. “National Government Programme”; “Pour Dogu Perinçek, le génocide arménien est un complot impérialiste contre la Turquie” [For Dogu Perinçek the Armenian genocide is an imperialist conspiracy against Turkey], Conspiracy Watch, 29 December 2007, www.conspiracywatch.info/Pour-Dogu-Perincek-le-genocide-armenien-est-un-complot-imperialiste-contre-la-Turquie_a61.html

14. Dogu Perinçek, “Geography of Revolution: Eurasia,” TEORİ, April 2000,
http://inter.ip.org.tr/lib/pages/detay.asp?goster=tbelgegoster&idbelge=204

 

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