“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”
― René Guénon
A Traditionalist an Perennialist
For many years, maybe 44 years to date, I have been aware of Rene, Jean, Marie, Joseph Guenon, also later known as Abd al –Wahid Yahya (al-Maliki, al-Hamidi ash-Shadhili ) a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the domain of metaphysics, having written on topics ranging from metaphysics, “sacred science” and traditional studies to symbolism and initiation.
In 1921, Guénon published an Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines. His goal, as he writes it, is an attempt at presenting to westerners eastern metaphysics and spirituality as they are understood and thought by easterners themselves, while pointing at what René Guénon describes as all the erroneous interpretations and misunderstandings of western orientalism and “neospiritualism” (for the latter, notably the proponents of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophism). Right from that time, he presents a rigorous understanding, not only of Hindu doctrines, but also of eastern metaphysics in general. He managed to expose these doctrines to a western public viewed by him as quite unprepared and unreceptive as a whole. He departed from standard scholarship (orientalist) terminology and methods and preferred to expose the doctrines as a simple “easterner”, devoid of what he called “western prejudices”. For one of the most famous aspects of René Guénon’s work is the irreducible difference he describes between the East and the West. René Guénon defines eastern metaphysics and intellectualism as of “universal nature”, that “opens possibilities of conception which are truly beyond any limitation”.
His work comprises:
An exposition of fundamental metaphysical principles: Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines which contains the general definition of the term “tradition” as Guénon defines it, Man and His Becoming according to the Vedânta, The Symbolism of the Cross, The Multiple States of Being,The Metaphysical Principles of the Infinitesimal Calculus, Oriental Metaphysics.
Studies in symbolism (comprising many articles he wrote for the journal Le Voile d’Isis which became later known under the name Etudes Traditionnelles). These studies in symbolism were later compiled by Michel Valsan in the posthumous book Symbols of Sacred Science. The studies The Great Triad,Traditional Forms & Cosmic Cycles, Insights into Islamic Esoterism & Taoism and The King of the World (alternately translated as Lord of the World) are also mostly about symbolism.
Fundamental studies related to Initiation, a subject completely re-exposited by Guénon from the traditional perspective: Perspectives on Initiation, Initiation and Spiritual Realization, The Esoterism of Dante.
Criticism of the modern world and of “neospiritualism”: East and West, The Crisis of the Modern World, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion, The Spiritist Fallacy and The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times, the latter book being often considered as his masterpiece as an explanation of the modern world from the traditional perspective.
Various studies in esoterism: Saint Bernard, Insights into Christian Esoterism, Studies in Freemasonry and Compagnonnage, Studies in Hinduism, &c.
Imagine my surprise of the likes of Alexander Dugin, the so named Putin’s Rasputin claiming ideas derived from Rene Guenon!
In all honesty I had read some time ago a little about Dugin, mainly on the Western media, not an unbiased source for news, and filtered through the lens of what it’s considered a politically, Liberal, and correct attitude, then the shock of recently reading a extract from his Fourth Political Theory book, and when he claims allegiance to the Traditionalist.
Dugin’s Fourth Political Power:
“Modernity and its ideological basis (individualism, liberal democracy, capitalism, consumerism, and so on) are the cause of the future catastrophe of humanity, and the global domination of the Western lifestyle is the reason for the final degradation of the Earth. The West is approaching its terminus, and we should not let it drag the rest of us down into the abyss with it.
Tradition (religion, hierarchy, and family) and its values were overthrown at the dawn of modernity. All three political theories were conceived as artificial ideological constructions by people who comprehended, in various ways, ‘the death of God’ (Nietzsche), the ‘disenchantment of the world’ (Weber), and the ‘end of the sacred.’ This was the core of the New Era of modernity: man came to replace God, philosophy and science replaced religion, and the rational, forceful, and technological constructs took the place of revelation.
When we use the term ‘modernization’, we mean progress, linear accumulation, and a certain continuous process. When we speak of ‘modernization’, we presuppose development, growth, and evolution. It is the same semantic system. Thus, when we speak of the ‘unconditionally positive achievements of modernization: we agree with a very important basic paradigm – we agree with the idea that ‘human society is developing, progressing, evolving, growing, and getting better and better: that is to say, we share a particular vision of historical optimism.
This historical optimism pertains to the three classical political ideologies (liberalism, Communism, and fascism). It is rooted in the scientific, societal, political, and social worldview in the humanities and natural sciences of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, when the ideas of progress, development, and growth were taken as axioms that could not be doubted. In other words, this entire set of axioms, as well as the whole historiography and predictive analytics of the Nineteenth century in the humanities and the natural sciences, were built upon the idea of progress.
The Socialist Herbert Spencer claimed that the development of human society that the development of human society was the next stage of evolution in the animal species, and that there was a connection, and a continuity between the animal world and social development.
And, therefore, all the laws of the animal world leading to the development, improvement, and evolution on the animal world, within Darwin’s framework, can be projected onto society, This is the basis of the famous theory, ‘Social Darwinism’, of which Spencer was a classic representative. If, according to Darwin, the driving force behind the evolution of the animal kingdom its the struggle for survival and natural selection, then the same process must take place in society, argued Spencer. And the more perfect the struggle is for survival (Inter-species, intrs-species, the struggle of the strong against the weak, the competition for resources, pleasure), the more perfect our society becomes, The question is how to aid this process of selection. According to Spencer, this is the theme of the liberal model, and is the meaning of social progress.
Therefore, if we are liberals, in one way or the other we inherited this ‘zoological’ approach to social development based on the struggle against the destruction of the weak by the strong.
Spencer’s theory contains an important point that must be elaborated upon. He argues that there are two phases of social development. The first phase occurs when the struggle for survival is conducted crudely, by force; this is characteristic of the ancient world. The second occurs when the struggle is carried out more subtly through economic means. Once the bourgeois revolution takes place, the struggle for survival doesn’t stop. According to Spencer, it acquires new, more advanced, and more efficient forms; it relocates into the sphere of the market. Here the strongest survive-that is the richest. Instead of the most powerful feudal lord, a hero, a strong person, or a leader, who simply sizes all that there is for grabs around his community, taking away what all that belongs to other nations and races and sharing it with the ruling ethnicity or cast, now come the capitalist, who bring the same aggressive principle to the market, the corporation, or the trading company. The transition from the order of power to the order of money, according to Spencer, does not mean the humanization of the process, but only underscores greater effectiveness. That is to say, the struggle in the market sphere between the strong (meaning the rich) and the weak (meaning the poor) becomes more efficient and leads to higher levels of development until super-rich, super-strong, and super developed countries emerge. Progress, according to Spencer, and, more broadly speaking, according to liberalism is always the growth of economic power, since this continues to refine the struggle for survival of the animal species, the warfare methods of strong nations, and the castes within the framework of pre-capitalistic states.
Thus, an animalistic form of aggression is embedded in the liberal idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions.
In such a system, the ‘more advanced’ law or the more advanced, ‘more modern’ methods of production do not mean that they are more humane; what it means that they allow more opportunities for the strong to more effectively realize their power, while the weak can only admit defeat, or, if they have any strength left, fight on. In this meaner, the modern idea of economic growth, as we see in liberals such as Alan Greenspan, and Ben Bernake, has its foundations and origins in the idea of the struggle between species, that is, the feral destruction of the weak by the strong, or the validation of the strong at the expense of the weak. Only instead of the conflict between predators and herbivores, we have the golden billion, and in that golden billion, their own ‘kings of beasts’ ( the New York Stock Exchange and the World Bank bankers) who devour all that there is up for grabs and, at the same time, turn the forest of the World into ‘social infrastructures’.
Therefore, when we speak of ‘modernization’ into the liberal vein, of necesity we mean the enhancement of the social, political, cultural, spiritual, and informational scenario within which the absolute aggression of the strong against the weak can be implemented.
There is only one way out-to reject the classical political theories, both winners and losers, strain our imaginations, seize the reality of a new world, correctly decipher the challenges of post-modernity, and create something new-something beyond the political battles of Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries. Such an approach is an invitation to the development of the Fourth Political Theory-beyond Communism, Fascism, and Liberalism.”
“Dugin charges that Liberalism in the end contributes to decline and does not achieve the progress it claims. “Communism and Fascism have collapsed,” Peter J. Leithart asserts, then he assigns the belief that “liberalism, the final twentieth-century ideology, turned into libertine postmodernism as soon as it triumphed,” to Dugin’s mindset. Dugin believes that “the idea of modernization is based on the idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions. Liberal discourse, meaning the analysis of the liberal ideologist, is a completely animal discourse.”
Branko Malic’s, Dugin’s questionable Traditionalism
“Alexander Dugin’s influence on Russian foreign policy is an object of speculation, mostly on the level of gossip. In the West he is often times dubbed new Rasputin, probably because mainstream opinion maker’s intelligence doesn’t seem to reach further of pattern recognition (clue: the beard). While it’s hard to believe that esteemed professor sees himself as “Russia’s greatest love machine”, it is impossible to overlook that some of the moves Russian foreign policy makes are fairly concordant to his opinions and affirm much of what he is saying. Diplomatic victory over the West during the first phase of Syria crisis cannot be denied, and it is hard to escape the fact that Reagan’s term “Evil empire” is coming dangerously close to denote the USA itself. However, there is a great danger in idealizing the Eurasian project spearheaded by Russian Federation. Uncritical glorification of the rising might of Russia, although understandable, shouldn’t lead to forgetting the famous saying about “enigma wrapped in secret”. In other words, Westerner must never forget that he doesn’t know and – as is implied in Dugin’s logic – maybe even cannot know, what goes on behind Putin’s stone face. Further, it is questionable how really can one reconcile militant Evolian mysticism with ascetic wisdom of Guenon, which Dugin apparently tries to do. It is a pity that West is more or less ignorant of Guenon’s consequent spiritual descendant, Hungarian Bela Hamvas, man far more experienced in enduring than exercising the violent force, but who nevertheless almost single handed kept the flame of Tradition alive for all Eastern Europe. What he and Guenon were able to do is to point the finger and say: this is Corruption. Nothing more, nothing less. And that in itself made them revolutionaries. Resistance of the sort Alexander Dugin advocates could prove no less immoral than the aggression of the West and in fact can hardly be reconciled with the religious attitude of Traditionalism.
We must conclude that Alexander Dugin is relevant thinker and his work is a point of reference for everybody who sees, or at least hears, something creeping in the bushes near his front door. Dugin says it clearly: in the plastic flowers of Globalization, there is a serpent hiding. But if we observe how he, as well as the European alternative right in general, splices the Traditionalism and realpolitik, the unavoidable question arises: do you really cure the viper’s bite with another batch of poison? No doubt, ever more people are becoming aware that history of 20th century was not what they were told it was. The values of the West more and more prove to be a threat not only to political, economical and biological, but also the very logical foundation of human being as such. Nihilism is all out of masks. However, to align with thinkers like Alexander Dugin solely because they see the shortcomings of the West so clearly is very unreasonable. For although his cards are not marked, don’t be so sure you know what card game he is really playing.”
My View of the Matter
I can’t deny to agree with the above words expressed by Dugin, but I would be the first to recognize at my lack of knowledge about Dugin’s political intentions, and his dealings with Putin, and as to what extent Putin himself take Dugin’s advise in his political dealings, or it’s just a ‘spiritual’ ideological adviser of a philosophical nature, rather than a de facto policy maker? Do not know, it’s said he doesn’t even hold a job at the Kremlin, journalist Alexander Nevzorov: “if we had had Sergey Kurginyan and Dugin instead of Putin, there would have been hell for all of us to pay, they would have unleashed a European and World War without a shadow of a doubt, without considering consequences at all.” But “Dugin and Kurginyan do not have the slightest impact on what is going on in the Kremlin and do not even get coaching there”.
My only interest on him, it’s in relation to Rene Guenon’s Traditionalist ideas. And in all this I suspect a little of an idealism, on his part, based on isolated, and disconnected readings on Guenon’s books, than a serious, more direct relationship, with Guenon’s school of Traditionalist heirs.
The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th and 21st century thinkers concerned with what they considered to be the demise of traditional forms of knowledge, both aesthetic and spiritual, within Western society. The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon. Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Bela Hamvas, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, Julius Evola and William Chittick. A central belief of this school is the existence of a perennial wisdom, or perennial philosophy, which says that there are primordial and universal truths which form the source for, and are shared by all the major world religions.
A group of mainly Western idealists, mystics, religious scholars, seeking the Wisdom of the East, known only to the few who care what they have to say, certainly a small minority, who also have ideological detractors, but hardly a nest for political activism, upheaval, and controversial ideas regarding a ‘New World Order’. Now thrown into the searchlights, by Dugin’s pronouncements. And consequently my surprise of Dugin’s allegiance to the Traditionalist or Perennial school, despite my sympathy for the ideas he express above, and by my long acquaintance with the Traditionalist writings who seem to have little in common with Dugin’s public persona, by their disregard for the limelight of politics. However we know ideas move mountains, and that a seed on fertile soil, under the right conditions grows, as for what kind of seed may be, only the future will tell.