According to Putin confidant Aleksandr Dugin, there are four political ideologies: (1) liberalism, (2) communism, (3) fascism, and (4) nationalism, as a form of existentialism. This philosophy of nationalism underpins the view of Russia as a unique civilization and, moreover, justifies Russian expansionism. The death of Dugin’s daughter, Darya, via a car bomb, brings him and his philosophy to the fore.
Liberalism, Dugin says, atomizes society. A liberal society is selfish, lazy, spendthrift, secularized, hedonistic, and perverted. It is only superficially a society. It is essentially individuals who find it advantageous for the moment to trade and otherwise associate with each other.
This is not the way classical liberals see society. Classical liberals such as Adam Smith and F.A. Hayek see society as consisting of individuals who are in free association with each other. Both parts – the individual as an autonomous moral agent and the social institutions of a free society – are necessary.
Depending on where a person places the emphasis, he is either a “liberal conservative” or a “conservative liberal.” Families, fraternities, churches, businesses and even governments are animated by the decisions of individuals to join them. Law, morality, property, language, money and other social institutions arise, as these are conducive to human happiness. These things are the result of human action. But – and this is very important – they are not the result of human design. These things are discovered in the ceaseless effort of individuals to improve their lots.
Psychologist Carl Jung describes the emergence of a shared unconsciousness among the members of society. This shared unconsciousness involves the most basic values of right and wrong. Often, these most basic values are expressed in religious metaphors. These most basic values govern our understanding of the long-run. The indirect effects of our action impart a sense of individual and social morality. The strong (but not perfect) correlation of these most basic values across disparate societies is a proof of their efficacy.
Notice how very different this liberal order is from what Dugin defines as liberalism. Dugin’s liberalism is not classical liberalism. What Dugin describes as liberalism is the welfare state. In the welfare state, people are freed from the consequences of their action, and thus pursue selfish, short-sighted and ultimately wicked ends. The collapse of society that we see about us is the result of the welfare state, not of classical liberalism. I used to say that the collapse of society was an unintended consequence of the welfare state. But with the growth of a pro-death culture in the world, I suspect this collapse is intended.
Dugin mangles communism and fascism, but I’ll not bother with those things. Instead, I will address his promotion of nationalism as a form of existentialism. Dugin argues that the state must form the conscious and even the unconscious personality of the masses of people. The state is to impose this personality through schooling and state control of the media, through an established church (or, a state-church), and possibly also through hardship. Dugin describes his proposal as timeless.
If by “timeless” Dugin refers to the incessant struggle of the masses of people to be free, he is correct. From time immemorial, the masses of people have been oppressed by the few who have gained power. Wars have almost all been about who will oppress whom. Raping, pillaging and burning have been the norm. Taking away the defeated into slavery, is the common heritage of mankind. Reducing once free people to serfdom, subjecting them to the increasingly heavy burden of taxation, the stealing of wealth through inflation and regulatory takings, massive surveillance, process crimes, and cruel and unusual punishment have been part of the incessant struggle of mankind.
Dugin sees this history, and embraces it. Lord Acton taught us, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Dugin says, absolute power is wonderful.