As tensions continue in Eastern Europe, some are digging deeper into the ideas that are the driving force behind Russian President Vladimir Putin and his colleagues. Recently, Balrus’ President Alexander Lukanshenko commented in an interview with Bloomberg that he was relieved not to be the last European dictator citing Putin as his malignant successor. In recent days, Putin has also been compared to the very controversial Lybian politician, Muammar Gaddafi because of his seemingly unpredictable behavior. It is reasonable to think Russia has an agenda, and it may be found in a supportive academic, Alexander Dugin.
In comparing Putin to Gaddafi, critics may be missing a few aspects of the Russian leader’s global perspectives. It is true that he has taken on the role of a dictator from an outsider’s view. He is one of the few Russian personalities that are seen by international onlookers. However, if investigated a little further, other personalities within Russia’s political and academic circles become visible. One of these personalities is Dugin.
Dugin is one of Russia’s most celebrated contemporary academic political activists and philosophers. He has been quoted saying, “I support Putin because he declares and fulfills the goals and ideals that are essentially mine.” This sentiment may be in contrast to those who feel that Putin struggles to maintain homeostasis between his political elites. Dugin makes for a charismatic Russian personality. He is “prolific, radical, bearded, equally at home in university seminars and posing with tanks in South Ossetia and eastern Ukraine.”
Putin sees Dugin as an asset in Russia because of his place in forming a strong nationalistic sense of pride in Russian while trying to suppress liberal voting. It has been noted that, “[n]o other individual better represents the tactics of the current Russian regime.” He is a strong figure at home and abroad he “is the lynchpin of numerous irregular networks of anti-liberal political resistance and sabotage.”
Dugin’s worldview stems from what is being called Neo-Eurasianism and the Fourth Political Theory. This is a complex belief system that meshes/contradicts Marxism, fascism, and liberalism where it sees fit. Essentially, his view may contend that the current conflict in Ukraine is the result of a clash between land-based societies that emphasis tradition, and those societies of the sea, Atlanticists, who “undermine tradition” through liberalism. He may also argue that Atlanticists go as far to argue any opposition to their ideology is an attack on freedom and thus requires action. He sees this as further evidence of Atlanticists’ pursuit to deteriorate the traditions he sees as the fabric that holds land-based societies together.
Putin at times appears to be confused and disconnected in the media. This is the image people compare with Gaddafi. However, his war of ideas within Russian borders may be much more calculated than his nonchalant demeanor reveals. Whether a significant portion of the population in Russia and/or its bordering nations share the view depicted here has not been determined. It is a new perspective that will surely be considered in the future when engaging in political activity with Russia.
By Joel Wickwire
Photo by Aleksandr Zykov – Flickr License
Photo by Republic of Korea – Flickr License