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So the Katechon defends what is solid and bounded - Empire, land, traditional morality, 'freedom for …' - from what is nebulous and limitless - Romanticism, the sea, LGBTQ+ rights, 'freedom from …'

In another article in the 'Empire' section of the Katehon website - Neutralisation and its limits: the political system of modern Russia, published in March 2021, Dugin gives a fairly coherent account of the practical political aims of the project. He begins with a positive assessment of the current political arrangements:

'From the point of view of formal logic, in the current situation, the configuration of power in Russia as a whole is quite good. There is a strong leader, there is a well-functioning centralized management structure that resists entropy, separatism and decay. There is complete control established by Putin over the main strategically important industries, formalized either legally or on the basis of internal system agreements that are strictly observed. It would never occur to anyone today - unlike in the 90s - to question this and challenge the system itself.

'From the standpoint of statehood at the current historical stage, such a power structure is optimal. The level of centralization and concentration of power in the hands of the ruler is sufficient to maintain sovereignty, and this is already a lot.'

Russia, in other words, has, at least temporarily, the character of a monarchy:

'We know how the State Duma depends on Putin, how all parties depend on Putin. They exist only because of his consent that they exist. They exist, they are present in parliament and they are headed by those who are headed, only because Putin agrees with this or even wants this. Even when criticizing Putin, they do it in strict agreement with him. Therefore, of course, subjectivity here is minimal. And it is in the current conditions, in my opinion, fine. This contributes to risk neutralization.

'As for the government, here again a transcendental power is at work, turning the entire government, including the prime minister, into purely technical executors. Putin personally directs strategic issues, international politics, defense, and in many respects the economy. And the people who are responsible for this in the government, only carry out his instructions.'

Referring to the three powers that are normally talked about in Western constitutional theory - legal, executive and juridicial: 

'Therefore, in the Russian Leviathan there are simply no three powers that could build a model of interaction with each other. There is one power, spreading into three channels. And for the current Russian reality, this is optimal.'

But this concentration of power is only the first stage of what Dugin believes should be a two stage process. Putin's achievement has been remarkable but his success is entirely dependent on his own personality. He has not established an order that could succeed him. His system lacks a solid intellectual and moral foundation.


Vladislav Surkov

Following the murder of Dugin's daughter, an article in Russia Today ('Western media's favorite Russian philosopher: Who is Aleksandr Dugin, whose daughter was killed in a Moscow car bombing?' 21st August 2022) complained that:

'Dugin has been dubbed ‘Putin’s brain’ and ‘Putin’s Rasputin’ by the anglophone press for his supposed influence on the worldview of President Vladimir Putin and the country’s ruling elite. Foreign Policy magazine included him in its 2014 ‘Global Thinkers’ list “for masterminding Russia’s expansionist ideology.”

'However, the reality is that he's not influential in the Kremlin. Nor is he even a mainstream figure in Moscow. Instead, he's become a totem for ultra-nationalist campaigners, most of whom believe President Vladimir Putin is too moderate in his foreign policy.

'Thus, Dugin has become a curious anomaly: famous in the West, but a fringe figure at home.'

This is probably more or less right. But on the Katehon website Dugin finds himself in quite distinguished and influential company. And he writes better than any of the others (with the possible exception of Glazyev). His particular eccentricity, apart from his interest in esoteric 'traditionalist' philosophy, is that his sphere of intellectual influences is largely Western orientated - René Guénon, Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, but also the contemporary 'new right' philosophers, Alain de Benoist and Claudio Mutti. He has a most unconventional, from a Russian Conservative point of view, interest in 'post-modernist' thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Toni Negri, seeing them as usefully pushing liberalism to the point of a total collapse of western society.

He doesn't claim any particular influence on Putin but in this article he does refer to conversations he had with Vladislav Surkov, one of Putin's closest advisers in the early years of the century, apparently responsible for the 'macho' image Putin adopted at that time. In 2019 Surkov published an essay ('Putin's long state', Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 02/11/2019) in which he argued that Russia now had, in 'Putinism', 'an organically formed model of the political system that will be an effective means of survival and exaltation of the Russian nation for the next few years, but also decades, and most likely for the entire coming century.'

In part, the essay resembles what we have just read from Dugin, praising Putin for reversing the process of disintegration which had occurred in the 1990s: 'Having collapsed from the level of the USSR to the level of the Russian Federation, Russia stopped collapsing, began to recover and returned to its natural and only possible state of a great, growing and gathering land of a community of peoples.' He argues that one of the distinguishing marks of the Russian system is its 'honesty'. The pattern in the West is a liberal facade covering over a 'deep state' - 'The term means a rigid, absolutely undemocratic network organization of the real power of law enforcement agencies, hidden behind external, flaunted democratic institutions. A mechanism that in practice operates through violence, bribery and manipulation and hidden deep under the surface of civil society, in words (hypocritically or innocently) condemning manipulation, bribery and violence.' In Russia however the functions fulfilled by the deep state operate quite openly:

'Our state is not divided into deep and external, it is built as a whole, with all its parts and manifestations outward. The most brutal constructions of its power frame go straight along the facade, not covered by any architectural excesses. The bureaucracy, even when it is cunning, does not do it too carefully, as if proceeding from the fact that "everyone understands everything anyway."

'The high internal tension associated with the retention of vast heterogeneous spaces, and the constant presence in the thick of the geopolitical struggle make the military-police functions of the state the most important and decisive. They are traditionally not hidden, but on the contrary, they are shown, since Russia has never been ruled by merchants (almost never, the exceptions are a few months in 1917 and a few years in the 1990s), who consider military affairs to be lower than trade, and the liberals accompanying the merchants, whose doctrine is being built on the denial of everything at least a little "police". There was no one to drape the truth with illusions, bashfully pushing into the background and hiding deeper the immanent property of any state - to be an instrument of defense and attack. 

'There is no deep state in Russia, it is all in sight, but there is a deep people.'

It is the 'deep people' that constitutes an obstacle to the machinations of the elite - 'With its gigantic supermass, the deep people create an irresistible force of cultural gravity, which connects the nation and pulls (presses down) to the earth (to the native land) the elite, from time to time trying to soar cosmopolitanly.' The essence of 'Putinism' is its capacity to hear the people:

'In the new system, all institutions are subordinated to the main task - confidential communication and interaction between the supreme ruler and citizens. Various branches of power converge to the personality of the leader, being considered a value not in themselves, but only to the extent that they provide a connection with him. In addition to them, informal methods of communication work bypassing formal structures and elite groups. And when stupidity, backwardness or corruption interfere with the lines of communication with the people, vigorous measures are taken to restore hearing.'

How does Dugin disagree with this? In his reply: 'It's time for a Super-Putin' (, 16th Feb, 2019) he agrees that 'Putin saved Russia, hovering over the abyss, returned it to history. It is excellent.' but continues: 'none of his successes have reached the point of irreversibility.'

'The modern political regime in Russia that has developed under Putin is a compromise. Compromise between all poles and the forces of the state and society. It is stable only because of Putin himself, who is a compromise – between patriotism and liberalism in the economy, between Eurasianism and Europeanism in international politics, between conservatism and progressism in the sphere of ideas and values, between people and elites, between sovereignty and globalization, between 90s and non-90s (that is, “something else”). But this compromise is valid while Putin is there. It is intuitive and authoritarian, based on the manual control and constant adjustment of the course by Putin himself. It is not reflected in either the strategy or a project, it does not rely either on society as a whole or on the elites.'

Indeed 'with all the criticism of the 90s, Putin left the main elements of the existing system intact. Constitution, elites, parliamentary parties, government structure, education and information system. On the whole, they remained the same, only by swearing to another ruler. They adjusted to Putin’s personal patriotism, to his style, but were not systematically transformed into some intelligible and clearly stated idea.'

As for listening to the 'deep people':

'The people, society in a broad sense, is a generally organic carrier of two main values: patriotism + social justice. The elite is on the exact opposite position: cosmopolitanism (Westernism) + freedom of large private capital. In the 90s, power as a whole was anti-people. Putin changed this formula somewhat by adopting patriotism, which the masses liked, but retaining liberalism in the economy, which was acceptable to the elites. Therefore, the people accepted Putin for patriotism, which was in short supply in the 90s, but retained their dislike for the elites and clearly regretted more and more about the complete absence of social justice in Putin’s regime.'

In the essay on 'Neutralisation' Dugin asks of Putin:

'can he move on? After all, this requires a completely different strategy, a different style of power and, finally, a different political system. The compromise of implicit monarchism behind the façade of simulation democracy with many liberal compromises and combined with an unprincipled, immoral elite and a complete lack of social justice in society has been exhausted …

'Maybe this is not Putin's task. But since in modern conditions he - and only he - possesses all the complete - transcendent! - power, then who, besides him? The rest were successfully neutralized.

'This is a very subtle point. And God forbid that we [fail to? - PB] survive this most difficult and turning point in our history.

'We need a new beginning of Russian statehood. Leviathan must be enlightened by the idea, must acquire a new ruling one - this time a moral one, that is, a truly aristocratic one! - the elite must become not a despotic mechanism of coercion and enslavement, but an instrument of the people themselves, freely and sovereignly making their dramatic and heroic path through history.'

Incidentally it shows a rather surprising insensitivity to biblical symbolism to call Russia, as the great land power, by the name of the great sea beast, 'Leviathan'. Doubtless he has in mind Hobbes's Leviathan but Hobbes of course was English … Maybe he has in mind Andrey Zvyagintsev's film of the same name in which the enormous rotting body of a whale serves as a symbol for the director's view of Putin's Russia..