Politics, World Affairs

The Dangers of Dugin’s Particularism

Followers of US metapolitics were shocked by the appearance of Aleksander Dugin on a recent Youtube video hosted by Lauren Southern. In the video, Southern interviews Dugin, asking him questions about the difficulties millennials may face in the future and where conservatism must go next. Dugin’s responses largely came across as incoherent—his answers are disorganised and encompass transhumanism, the singularity on the horizon, conservatism’s dedication to the defence of “yesterday in front of today,” ‘standpoint feminism,’ and the spiritual patriarchy of the nobles.

Dugin is a complicated character, and difficult to define. Some observers, even in Russia, have argued that he is a relatively unimportant figure in Russian politics. Others have asserted that he plays a critical role in Russia’s international politics, which included helping to repair Russian-Turkish relations in 2015. In any event, his name and voice are now familiar to many. His 1997 book, The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia, proposed a grand strategy and was popular among Kremlin officials for many years. His YouTube series, Dugin’s Guideline, was presented in English so it might propagandize to American voters prior to the 2016 election. Despite losing his professorship at the University of Moscow in 2014 and being banned from entering the United States in June of 2015, he delivered a lecture (via videoconference) to an audience at Texas A&M University entitled, “American Liberalism Must be Destroyed.”

What can at least be determined about Dugin is that his ideas are dangerous. In his public appearances, Dugin has spoken of the presence of ‘separate truths’ for the world, specifically that Russia and the United States have their own respective truths. On these grounds, one can conclude that Dugin is some kind of postmodernist, or at least a cultural relativist. In his interview with Southern, he speaks about standpoint feminism which holds that male and female viewpoints exist as discrete structures which clash as they vie for their own interests. This is not unlike the principles of cultural practice theory advocated in today’s cultural anthropology.

Dugin’s references to cultural anthropology are not simply passing—he explicitly supports some of its central tenets. Three minutes into his Texas A&M lecture (and two minutes after denying that he called for the genocide of Ukrainians in 2014), Dugin expands upon his concept of separate truths, stating, “In this sense, I am a partisan and follower of the ideal of cultural anthropology created in the United States, precisely by Boas and developed by structural anthropology in Europe…the leading figure, Levi-Strauss.” One can argue that Dugin’s arguments are rarely if ever consistent, but this was not the first time he had invoked Boas by name. In a separate interview, Dugin states, “I strongly believe in the multitudes of civilizations…I am a follower Boas…Franz Boas’s anthropological concept.”

Listeners unfamiliar with anthropology may not know that Franz Boas is the founding father of American anthropology. A German migrant to the United States, Boas founded the first Department of Anthropology in the US at Columbia University and established what was to become the dominant school of thought now called historical particularism. This perspective, in stark contrast to some of the universal-evolutionist theories which preceded it, emphasized that each society can only be viewed through the lens of its own historical development. Attempts to otherwise generalize cultures were ascientific, as comparisons and generalizations of cultures are impossible. His students and disciples would later expand on these ideas, and they included Edward Sapir who created the Sapir-Worf hypothesis of linguistic relativism whereby individual languages determine one’s view of reality. Ruth Benedict, who some have called a radical Boasian, would later famously state, “We do not see the lens through which we look,” emphasizing that we can only apprehend our constructed views of other cultures through the lens of our own.

These ideas would have a profound impact on the field and they continue to exert their influence to this day, although this form of relativism would later fall out of favor in anthropology for the neo-evolutionist ideas of Leslie White in the 1940s and the cultural materialist perspective offered by Marvin Harris in the 1970s. White would at one point attempt to reclassify anthropology as the ascientific branch of cataloguing cultural knowledge and his own approach of culturology as the attempt to explain patterns of culture more generally. Much of the distinction between these two approaches was based on their preference for either an inductive (anthropological) or deductive (culturological) approach. Although his attempt to professionally divide anthropology failed, deductive, less particularist approaches to anthropology which saw culture, and not necessarily people, as its subject would remain a dominant paradigm in anthropology for a number of decades.

Relativism would later be reintroduced by the postmodern literary critics of the late twentieth century and Michael Foucault’s concept of reflexivity during the mid-1980s. There was a weaker reintroduction by symbolic anthropologists in the 1970s, but it lacked the vigor of this new wave. In the new wave, anthropology’s classic ethnographies were attacked by those turning the focus back onto the writer and his particularist lens, much as Benedict and Boas had instructed years before. Perhaps the reason why the wave of postmodernism hit anthropology much harder than any other field save literary criticism itself was that anthropologists could legitimately make the claim that they were relativists from the beginning. A handful of them, such as Marcus, Fisher, Geertz, and Clifford, had been awaiting a climate conducive to their ideas and grasped the opportunity.

The arguments employed by Dugin are the same as those used by postmodern anthropologists in their own academic explorations of postcolonialism. Often his language is indistinguishable from theirs. In his Texas A&M address, he outlined a lucid postcolonial narrative stating, “I consider liberalism to be a kind of universalist, racist, and hegemonical doctrine that tries to impose the type of values, the ideas, the principles created by the West and Western Europe and the United States of America over all of mankind. And I think this is precisely [an] imperialistic and colonialist adventure.”

Cultural relativism is helpful to anyone wishing to legitimize their culture’s particular preferences and it may be invoked by those with no voice and by those seeking to justify and defend a position of power used to oppress others. Giving any culture a pass to write its own truths means that ‘alternative facts’ are thereby validated, reality at the frontier of two groups is negotiated, and universal norms of rights and morality are completely delegitimized. This form of relativism is not the same as the one we saw with Boas and Benedict, and it is far more dangerous than its predecessors. Unlike the Boasians, who at least used what they believed to be scientific inductive methods to justify their positions and make claims about the world, many of his followers reject method entirely—how information is acquired, interpreted, or created is considered irrelevant. If Dugin’s ideas are realized, not just by his tiny sect of Russian nationalism, but by waves of emergent nationalism elsewhere, what will be our moral defense?

Of course, Dugin’s vehement attacks on ‘American liberalism’ expose his dishonesty and the incoherence of his selectively relativist philosophy. If a culture can only be legitimately judged through its own lens, then by what right does Dugin attack American liberalism to begin with? Surely his attacks on liberalism are as worthless as liberal attacks on Russian illiberalism. Dugin’s 1997 book, which contains a detailed account of what Russian global domination might look like, certainly involves the imposition of a Russian system on the rest of mankind, and to the benefit of no one but Russia. Assuming the Boasian Dugin of today and the Geopolitical Dugin of 1997 hold similar beliefs, then it becomes apparent they both wish to see the replacement of one global hegemon (the US) with another (Russia).

Anthropological relativists and full-blown postmodernists ought to reconsider their positions and what they mean on a larger scale. Treating an academic field as a bargaining table, a world of negotiation, makes me wonder if this battleground is anthropology at all. Even now, anthropological attempts to study the mechanics of cultural transmission outside of advocacy are sometimes accused of endorsing society’s status quo.

An alternative to cultural relativism needs to be revisited and not reflexively catalogued as completely ethnocentric. If moral and cultural universalism are too much for anthropologists to swallow, then a more consistent version of relativism might go something like this: “All cultures are equally capable of wrongdoing.” We could rein in our current perspective on cultural anthropology and return to a form of relativism not too dissimilar to that proposed by Ruth Benedict when she said, “All cultures have alike grown up blindly, the useful and cumbersome together, and not one of them is so good that it needs no revision, and not one is so bad that it cannot serve, just as ours can, the ideal ends of society and of the individual.” Adopting such an approach allows us to keep our reflexive values in mind while we accept a multiplicity of alternatives. We can return to White’s system of distinguishing anthropologists from ‘culturologists’ so that lines are clearly drawn between our scholarly expectations. Alternatively, of course, we can continue creating alternative truths for the benefit of people like Aleksander Dugin.

 

The author is a 3rd year anthropology graduate student interested in human perception, cultural evolution, and metabolic laws of scaling. ‘Robert James’ is a pseudonym.

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30 Comments

  1. Mark says

    I don’t agree with Southern on a number of things, but I follow her YouTube videos. Her looks probably have something to do with why I follow her…

    I watched the interview with Dugin. It was short (the version I saw, at least), disjointed, and he hardly seemed dangerous (in isolation) to me. However, I guess you can file him under “anti-West”, along with the SJWs and others.

    • dirk says

      For a Russian nationalist, anti-western means something totally different as for a Western SJW in the US or Western Europe Mark. For the first one it is oiko-phily, for the last one oiko-phobia. So, I wouldn’t categorize him as an SJW. See my later comments.

  2. Andrew Roddy says

    My God, such a lot of words! They seem to be arranged according to a very esoteric aesthetic. At least I hope its esoteric. Some of them present as challenging and visceral. These are my favourites:
    ‘I consider liberalism to be a kind of universalist, racist, and hegemonical doctrine that tries to impose the type of values, the ideas, the principles created by the West and Western Europe and the United States of America over all of mankind. And I think this is precisely [an] imperialistic and colonialist adventure’

    • Daco says

      That’s how “I consider liberalism…” Brilliant minds think alike. LOL.

  3. Ruslan says

    The phenomen of Dugin presents some sort of mystery. While having relatively little clout on social media and among ordinary Russians, he may indeed exercise some influence among the top brass of Russian politics. It’s for the latter reason that he should not be dismissed as just an incoherent wackaloon he appears to be.

    Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that such a popular person as L. Southern decided to share her platform with Dugin, thereby amplifying his message and popularizing his persona. The dangerous part of it is that it serves to bridge the gap in his popularity among heavy-hitters and ordinary people. While this gap exists, the number of people who may wish to be cannon fodder for aggressive military interventions is limited. By keeping such voices as that of Dugin on the small fringe of public opinion, we would ensure that this number remains low.

    I agree that we should point out the danger of listening to such people as Dugin. At the same time, a bit of satire might help in exposing their set of ideas for the nonsense that it is. I think the following sentence by the writer of this article is a good encapsulation of Dugin’s ideas, which shows that his thoughts are worthy of satire.
    “…his answers are disorganised and encompass transhumanism, the singularity on the horizon, conservatism’s dedication to the defence of “yesterday in front of today,” ‘standpoint feminism,’ and the spiritual patriarchy of the nobles.”

  4. Hans Dampf says

    Unlike many others, Dugin at least has read and extensively studied the scholars he’s citing and referring to – and this in their original (German, English, Latin, Greek; sic!) and not in the translated form. You don’t need to find his thoughts to be organised or coherent to appreciate someone knowing what he’s talking about. I prefer that to the coherence and organisation of thought presented by other “intellectuals” and “philosophers” who at the end only reiterate the gist of a gist they haven’t even read not to speak understood.

    • Steve says

      Having read primary sources widely in the original secures no guarantee of even rudimentary intellectual coherence. Dugin is a clear example of this, as are all who espouse such inanity.

      We have drunk deeply from the well of idiocy these past few centuries. The typical “intellectual” today believes that which is strictly impossible.

      “All truth is relative (except this statement)”.

      Most 12 year-olds immediately understand the absurdity of postmodern “thought”. That is, until the academic monstrosity gloms onto them, whence they are immunized against plain logic.

      • dirk says

        Don’t make a mistake here Steve, Dugin definitely does not belong to the western post modernist school, nohow! And is not even a relativist, he thinks that muslims in Russia should stick to their belief and have the freedom to practice and live it, but, he himself , with his fellow russians, sticks to the orthodox christian church, which is another thing as the western forms. We in the NL donot know how to live together with muslims, because, it seems, they do not seem to want to belong to our way of life (put even after 3 generations their daughters at ever younger age, now at 7 or 8 already, under a head-scuff), but in case we would follow Dugin, there would be no problem at all,- we ours, they theirs-. Dugin is, together with Peterson, the new enlightening prophets I came to hear about, in the last 3 months.

  5. Ruth Benedict says

    Former anthro grad student here. Was enticed into the field through reading Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. Dropped out when I realised the field had been taken over by the postmodernists and postcolonialists.

    Totally agree with this:

    “We could rein in our current perspective on cultural anthropology and return to a form of relativism not too dissimilar to that proposed by Ruth Benedict when she said, “All cultures have alike grown up blindly, the useful and cumbersome together, and not one of them is so good that it needs no revision, and not one is so bad that it cannot serve, just as ours can, the ideal ends of society and of the individual.”

  6. ga gamba says

    Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that such a popular person as L. Southern decided to share her platform with Dugin, thereby amplifying his message and popularizing his persona.

    But this is only half of the picture, isn’t it? There are those who will hear his message and reject it. Look, you viewed Dugin’s videos and somehow you resisted his powers of mind control. What makes you so unique? Of course, without a pre- and post-interview survey of those who viewed the talk it’s impossible to quantify and qualify either. Perhaps Dugin is amazingly persuasive, or maybe he isn’t. But this idea that he ought to be suppressed because something dangerous may happen is your pleading for too great an indulgence. Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe you’re the dangerous chap who should be denied the platform? I’d wager you haven’t.

    I’m actually very weary of this “giving a platform to,” I presume, “someone I dislike” plea. Ms Southern interviews people. It’s how she built “her platform”. Many of our current political problems exist because this deny-my-enemy-a-platform mindset has taken deep hold in the centres of cultural capital and sense making and from there it’s spread. I surmise it’s now the default.

    • Ruslan says

      I knew that some parallels could be drawn that would paint my position as being censorious. Still, there’s a major difference between mine and that of SJWs types.

      While condemning Southern’s decision, I did not call for censorship. Nor did I demand that the video be taken down. I have no intentions to harass Southern for inviting Dugin on her channel. I’m critiquing from the sidelines. What I’m saying is that Dugin belongs on the fringe of public opinion. And he’s better left there. High-profile people, even so controversial as Lauren, would do well to ignore him.

      My dislike towards the guy stems from the fact that he’s advocated violence on multiple occasions. I don’t keep a dossier on the guy, but that does not present any problem for proving my point. I took me no more than 10 minutes to find an interview in which he implicitly advocated bloodshed. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDV57Mwsayk) depicts him saying that it would be a good idea for Russia to conquer Europe. Unfortunately, this interview is in Russian. He literally said “My idea is that we need to conquer Europe”, starting from 1.08.

      It’s up to any journalist to decide whether people who advocate violence should be ignored or not. I’d argue that they should be ignored, or, if invited, taken to task. And I do think that Dugin is dangerous. Not in the “J. Peterson is dangerous” kind of dangerous. But literally and murderously dangerous.

      • ga gamba says

        While condemning Southern’s decision, I did not call for censorship.

        Actually your call to no platform him is censorious. I understand some people riddle themselves into thinking such an act isn’t, but they’re simply fooling themselves.

        I made no claim of you calling for the video being yanked or harassing Southern, so these are your own contrivances.

        In your first comment you mentioned Southern is a “popular person”, which I understand you attach significance. Would a person who has fewer youtube subscribers be allowed to interview Dugin? If so, what is the number of subscribers that crosses the line? Should CNN interview him? You know it already has. I haven’t conducted a poll of popularity of either Southern or CNN, but I’d wager more people get their info from CNN than her.

        I challenged you about this conclusion: “amplifying his message and popularizing his persona.” I stated it’s not the only conclusion that a viewer may reach. I’m going to play armchair psychologist for a moment. Why was your sole outcome people will find him appealing? Is it possible you actually find his message seductive and this abhors you? I haven’t earned my degree in armchair psychology (but I see there’s a fella writing papers at $20 a page, so there’s hope for me still), so I concede I may be out on limb here.

        What I’m saying is that Dugin belongs on the fringe of public opinion. And he’s better left there.

        OK, yet if he’s left on the fringe how will people know about him and reach the same conclusion you have that he’s dangerous? What you advocate strikes me as counter productive to your purpose of warning people. If the tornado is coming, I want to hear that siren. Early. How do you square this circle?

        My dislike towards the guy stems from the fact that he’s advocated violence on multiple occasions.

        OK, I can see why this is a cause for concern. Yet, I can’t help but observe a few things. Firstly, many people call for violence and nothing comes of it. Unless it’s genuine threat of immediate violence such words are even Constitutionally protected in the US. I can’t help but observe that wise jurists, or at least seasoned and knowledgable ones if you doubt their wisdom, find little danger in words. Secondly, plenty of world leaders leaders make the same menacing statements. Turning Seoul into a “Sea of Fire” has been threatened so many times it’s become cliche. The leaders of Iran keep threatening violence against Israel (I recall theirs is to drive the Israelis into the sea) yet I see they have all kinds of support (not for destroying Israel but for normalising relations and expanding trade and investment) from countries that ought to know better, such as Germany and France. Both the leaders of North Korea and Iran actually command militaries. One of them has nuclear weapons. I would not be surprised if the leaders of Israel have made similar threats. Further, I’m certain that if any of these world leaders invited a member of the legacy media to conduct an interview, all would jump at the chance. I guarantee that whoever was selected would repeatedly and loudly trumpet its “exclusive”. As for Dugin, I don’t see him commanding an army. Or even a tank. Therefore I place the credibility of his threat, distasteful that it is, much lower than that of Kim et al.

        Personally I find Xi in Beijing more dangerous than anyone else, and he hasn’t said anything.

        I don’t know if you’re a social justice militiaman or not, but I think it’s prudent to observe it’s like a virus. Some display full blown symptoms, others have the sniffles, and many are infected carriers who have accepted, unwittingly or not, the normalisation of social justice concepts such as words being “literally and murderously dangerous” and no-platforming is not censorship. Have you considered taking a remedy for this? Do so and you may find you don’t talk yourself into knots.

        • Ruslan says

          Thank you for your detailed response. While on the surface it may seem that you’ve challenged my points, your counter-arguments, nonetheless, rely on a number of fallacies.

          1) Ignoring a person is not censorship unless he is invited and then his invitation is cancelled. Other than that, to argue that it is censorious is to bend the definition of “censorship” so that it would suit your rhetorical position. I never posited that Dugin should not be allowed to build his own platform and spew his ideas of the Russian peace and conquering Europe. If I had done so, that would have been censorious. I merely voiced my disapproval of Lauren’s decision to invite a man who has no qualms about advocating violence and war. In the same vein, I would not advise the editors of Quillette to share their platform with people who hold such views. If they didn’t heed my advice, I would simply vote with my feet, as many readers would. I think that if any outlet is to build and maintain credibility, it should steer clear of the likes of Dugin.

          Your mentioning CNN’s interview with Dugin does not draw parallels with Lauren’s interview. CNN’s interview was not a pleasant fireside chat between Dugin and the interviewer who had flown many miles on her supporters’ dime. Even considering this fact, I still call into question the rationale for inviting Dugin on CNN . Such invitations may grant Dugin a veneer of credibility and serve to increase his followership.

          You also wrote “Would a person who has fewer Youtube subscribers be allowed to interview Dugin? ”. To which I already replied by saying “if any outlet is to build and maintain credibility, it should steer clear of the likes of Dugin. ” It’s not an issue of being allowed – it’s an issue of wise choice.

          2) As for your argument that many people may disagree with him, I will say that you are right. But it does not matter since even a small number of radicals inspired by Dugin’s ideas of the Russian Peace can cause big trouble in Ukraine by fighting as mercenaries. If Dugin were to become an important spiritual figurehead invited to join fireside chats on big platforms, his followers would not even have to feel shame about supporting his message and it might attract more impressionable people or people who simply seek justification for their hatred.

          3) Odious people can remain on the fringe and be quite well-known as advocates of violence. Journalists and Youtube pundits can challenge them indirectly or go head to head with them during interviews. It’s not by indulging in nice chit-chats with radicals that we condemn their views.

          4) No wonder big outlets interview politicians who threaten to start military operations. News corporations have no choice but to give their platform to people who have already come to power and command armies. Journalists cannot allow themselves the luxury of turning away and ignoring them. To equate the movers and shakers with spirituals figureheads like Dugin is to commit the false equivalence fallacy. The power of the former is immediate, often by means of direct orders, and cannot be ignored, while the latter have power, albeit on a much smaller scale, only if their ideas are transformed into real action by their followers, which is much easier to prevent and control by depriving them of favorable environment and additional nutrition.

          In conclusion, I’m going to come clean and say that I’m not an SJW, as it should be obvious. It’s sad that by mistakenly espying some resemblance between my ideas and those of SJWs you’ve argued for the position according to which we could feel comfortable not condemning people like Dugin and their benighted enablers. If you think that advocating violence and war is part of legitimate political discourse in a civilized society or at least something that should not be openly denounced, then our ideas may occupy completely different spaces with little overlap. Nonetheless, I found your comments interesting and very well-written. We’d be better off agreeing to disagree.

          • ga gamba says

            We’d be better off agreeing to disagree.

            Yes, it appears we’re at an impasse. We certainly differ on the use of military force. I would have sent the army into Germany when Hitler broke the Versailles Treaty by remilitarising the Rhineland, and I would have launched an all-out attack on Pyongyang to decapitate the leadership during Kim Il-Sung’s funeral. Force used early prevents much more serious problems later. Some problems can’t be resolved until the opponent’s leaders are eliminated, which the Sri Lankan government learnt after fighting the Tamil Tigers off and on for more than two decades.

            Ignoring a person is not censorship unless he is invited and then his invitation is cancelled.

            Frankly, I found this gambit an interesting and amusing wiggle. Remember, communication is the interaction of speaking and listening. You pivot from calling on Southern to not allow him to use her platform, i.e. his speaking, to calling on Southern to deny herself the opportunity to hear his speech, i.e. her listening. As I see it, you want Lauren to censor herself – I don’t know whether this is deliberate or accidental. The broken speak-listen handshake is still censorship. I presume she wanted to interview him because she travelled to do so, thus your call that she ignore him instead fits your purpose but doesn’t suit hers.

            What throws me for a loop is that you want people to ignore Dugin, yet you participate in a conversation about the man and even included a link to another of his videos. I still find this counter productive to your goal, if your goal is Dugin be ignored and marginalised. Rest easy, though I viewed the parts you mentioned he still hasn’t won my heart and mind.

            Reading your last comment it’s clear to me Southern’s popularity isn’t the genuine problem. You don’t want anyone talking to Dugin. But if a journalist does so, you want the interview to be adversarial. Keep in mind this tactic may backfire, as Cathy Newman learnt to her humiliation.

            One of the finest documentaries I ever watched is Polish director Andrzej Fidyk’s Defilada (The Parade). Shot in 1988 when Poland was still a Socialist brother, Fidyk was allowed to interview many North Koreans – more freedom given then than is common today. What’s remarkable about the film was none of the interviewer’s question is heard by the viewer. We just witness declarative statements by the Koreans, many of them so bizarre and absurd it becomes evident the director is lampooning the regime using its own words and actions against it. The give-’em-enough-rope trick. The North Koreans didn’t catch on and praised the film when it was released, but once they read the Western reviews they realised they’d been had. My take away: there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

            I’m heartened to read you’re not a SJW. Your use of SJW tactics
            left me wondering.

            I too enjoyed our conversation. Thanks. Now, off to watch Denmark thrash Australia.

  7. dirk says

    It is not correct to categorise Dugin among SJW, Pomo or cultural relativism, and it quite futile to describe him without the context of the so called Panslavism, a romantic movement among 19th century writers (Gogol, Dostojevski, Tolstoy) where intellectuals sought the truth of life and community (the MIR) not within western minded elites (especially the French snobs) but in the simple countryside peasants, having cabbage soup, borstsj, and kvas (breadbeer), so, no whiskey and certainly no wine. The real panslavist was (is) of the opinion that the Slavic archetypic soul was (is) superior to the Western soul, and that’s exactly what Dugin thinks, and with reason, at least, considering his land of birth and his culture. Logically, for a melting pot like the US it is rather difficult to comprehend such tendencies, let alone feel sympathy for it.

    • Roger says

      You could, quite literally, watch his videos and see what he categorizes himself as.

      • dirk says

        I saw a few of them, where he emphatically stressed not to belong to categories like alt-right, old left,neofascist,liberal (especially that not). What he mentioned: holistic, a-universal ( so, particular, yes), not individualistic, often he mentioned the name of Louis Dumont. I was spell bond. “Leave minorities alone, don’t try to normalize” ( see my former comment).

  8. Tom says

    Dugin’s antipathy toward western liberalism can be explained by findings of research using the Moral Foundations Theory of naturally evolved moral intuitions: People shaped by WEIRD societies, i.e., Westernized, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic cultures, tend to elevate *individualizing* moral dimensions of (1) care/harm-prevention and (2) fairness over other, *group-binding* dimensions that are also found everywhere but which remain vital in non-WEIRD cultures, including among poor, low-education groups within the United States: (3) loyalty/in-group/betrayal, (4) authority/subversion, and (5) sanctity/degradation. Dugin is partly right that WEIRD culture tends to be blind to its own particularity when projecting the *prescriptive* universality of its own utilitarian moral minimalism, which is not empirically supported by any *descriptive* account of how moral values actually function to bind groups throughout the world.

  9. dirk says

    3), 4) and 5) all are high on the banner of Dugin Tom ( so, not the 1) and 2) of the SJW), but not in the secular form as known to us westerners, but much more in the spiritual, orthodox one (the traditional orthodox one I mean, not the modern one). To mention just one thing: authority is for him, even now, embodied in the czar (Putin now??), but it is much above the personal or the political. What especially struck me, he considered it a mistake of the Russian government to accept the U.N. Declaration of International Human Rights. Much too individualistic and too secular. Just think a little bit longer about it, maybe he has a point there.

  10. Carl Eric Scott says

    Interesting piece–you do your dreary duty to discuss Dugin, but the material on Anthropology is what’s really interesting. Do you know of any good discussions of whether or to what degree Boas’s cultural relativism influenced his most famous student, Zora Neale Hurston, who went more down the literary path than the academic anthropology one? And what are your favorite surveys and histories of the field?

  11. dirk says

    @Carl: sorry, you made a mistake here, it isn’t- but the material on Anthropology is what’s really interesting- , but:
    -but the material on Anthropology I find really interesting-.

  12. Joel says

    I agree his solutions, if he really has any concrete solutions, seem irrational and at times incoherent, but are you sure you’re not just angry that he made the very compelling argument that “Cultural Marxism” is nothing more than Liberalism?

    • Joel says

      I feel like you literally are only attacking him when you make the claim that he has no right to attack American Liberalism. He literally says in the very video you like that he doesn’t care if Americans were to claim that they simply preferred their form of LIberalism. What he cares about is that American Liberalism claims to be Universal, which does not contradict anything he says.

      This, coupled with the fact that you refused to deal with his claim that “Cultural Marxism” is nothing more than Liberalism’s focus on the individual, which is very compelling, as I’ve said, leads to be believe this is a weirdly biased take. Such bias will only help his point, which I agree have many problems, and are as I’ve seen somewhat incoherent.

  13. Another Robert James (really) says

    Rubbish! This is plainly incompetent intellectual history, which makes many quite dubious inferences, in service of ideological banality. The idea of cultural pluralism was well established already during the Enlightenment. Herder held that each culture must flourish according to its own specific conditions. Theories of climatological determination— from Montesquieu to Mill — likewise imply that distinct modes of social organization fit different climates. (A well ordered Republic was highly valued as the product of moderate climates, neither too plentiful nor too desolate).

    There’s also seemingly some confusion here between facts and values. Doogin uses “truth” in a way that means “good” or “right” more than “accurate.” He’s arguing the importance of historical specificity and the multiplicity of values — not denying the more limited notion of truth as correspondence, i.e. implying a faithful match between the case and its representation. Values can only be “true” in a loose, Darwinian sense: i.e. as what is good and conducive to the survival and flourishing of the species. (Jordan Peterson’s way of using the word, rather than Sam Harris’s). And as in physiological evolution, so in politics and social organization, different adaptations will work depending on the specifics of the milieu.

    Far from being “post-modernist,” Doogin’s rejection of the imperialist universality of “Americanist” globalization is in the best Enlightenment tradition. As described here (as a disclaimer I should mention that I am not familiar with Doogin’s work, and am only responding to the claims of this article) is consistent with the views of such brilliant modern conservatives as Leo Strauss and Michael Oakeshott — neither of whom was a radical deconstructionist. In his anti-relativist struggle against Nietzsche, Natural Right and History, Strauss redeemed universalism only by settling on tautology: it’s universally true that justice is the greatest good, he argued, while acknowledging that what this may amount to in any specific case depends on the circumstances. Oakeshott expresses the same idea aphoristically, commenting that one should not make politics “as the crow flies.” There are always particular obstacles blocking one’s path on the ground, which the bird’s eye view fails to see.

    Surely these principles are consistent with the best kind of empirical methodology, insisting on historical specificity as the grounds of ultimate evaluation. The vehemence with which this article condemns such respect for the particulars of history only goes to suggest Doogin is fully justified to criticize an attitude as imperial as it is ignorant — so ignorant that it has no sense at all of the values it destroys.

  14. “What can at least be determined about Dugin is that his ideas are dangerous.”

    I don’t know anything more about this Dugin character than what you’ve written here. I’d never heard of him until just now, but you lost me with the above line before you even really got started. Hopefully, you’ll consider ga gamba’s thoughtful critique of your essay, because he’s done a pretty good job of taking it apart.

    • dirk says

      It makes me think K, the idea of somebody (philosopher, author, politician) being “dangerous”. Is that a reason to listen or to stop listening? If it is nonsense, then better negate, but if dangerous? For me?For some? For minorities? The national cohesion?? It’s clear that all major new ideas were dangerous, and many even lost their lives for proclaming what was, in their eyes,the truth. Sometimes, I try to imagine that I myself was in that situation, to tell what was the truth, or valuable, but not generally believed. I know for sure, I would not be very courageous, and immediately say what was expected of my torturors, just to avoid further troubles, if not my life.

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  16. Cloveoil says

    “On these grounds, one can conclude that Dugin is some kind of postmodernist, or at least a cultural relativist.”… but postmodernism =/= cultural relativism.

    Cultural relativism is the idea that a person’s values and practices should be understood based on that person’s own culture, rather than be judged against the criteria of another; is this so incorrect? Suppose a Moslem refuted cultural relativism, by claiming the Quran a universal truth – would that be better? I mean, he would believe in universal truth, correct?

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