Another Russian Philosopher

I’m always grateful to Boris Groys, who has opened so many horizons with his wit and penetration. He has also brought attention to lesser known Russian thinkers, and there are a lot of them worth looking into. One that attracted me was Lev Shestov. What makes so many of them likable is that they are not ruled by any sense of decorum or correctness. In intellectual life today there is always a social pressure to take the whole package. For example, if one has a left position on the economy, then one is expected to be pro-abortion, and of course take it for granted that trans-sexualism is a civil rights issue, although the connection between any of these matters is hard to make, and they all deserve careful and very particular thought. It’s probably because every exponent of a single position knows they need allies, and doubts they’ll get them. The rainbow coalition has an element of coercion, although today, with the widespread opposition to Trump, it appears to be coming together in a different way. The Russians seem like free thinkers in contrast, and pleasantly, perversely unassimilable to our categories. Now along comes Alexander Dugin, called “the most dangerous philosopher in the world.” He is undoubtedly a pig, but still says some things worth hearing:

“What he proposes is that there have been three leading political theories that impacted the world in the relatively recent past – liberal capitalism or ‘liberalism’, communism and fascism. According to Dugin, the United States is the world’s leader of liberalism, which offers individual liberty, a rationalist approach and market competition.

Even though liberalism has been the winning ideology so far, triumphing over fascism in 1945, and communism in 1991 (when the Soviet Union dissolved), Dugin thinks that it is now also experiencing a fatal crisis. He believes liberals themselves would the first to claim that. Dugin regards liberalism nearing a dead end, mired currently in a ‘nihilistic post-modern stage’ because it is trying to liberate itself from rational thought and the oppression of the brain, which to a liberal is ‘something fascist in itself’. Dugin takes this a step further, describing liberalism as now trying to free the organs of the body from the brain’s control, alluding to its acceptance of the LGBT community.”

Liberation from the brain? Wow…besides me, who espouses that? (kidding) He certainly sees something not evident to our political commentators. But further, this time a direct quote from what appears to be his own English:

“The liberalism insists on the freedom and liberation from any form of collective identity. That is the very essence of the liberalism. The liberals have liberated the human being from national identity, religious identity and so on. The last kind of collective identity is gender. So there is time to abolish it making it arbitrary and optional.”

The paradox is that “identity” is collective, as mentioned in an earlier post. Dugin is saying that in the west we are trying to break away from collective identities, the opposite of what identity politics claims. Actually identity politics celebrates a diversity of identities or “communities.” That neo-liberalism is beginning to collapse is clear, and at this moment Dugin’s words remind us of what we haven’t until now dared to say to ourselves—that identity politics will never build a new society. The customized elective identity is a symptom of the dying order.

Alexander Dugin in the Ukraine

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