Putin, Dugin and the Coming Wild Ride on Leviathan

It does not strain the imagination to snare drum tautness to imagine Vladimir Putin, bare chested in his best rodeo persona, bronco-busting Leviathan. However, the imagination does balk at him placing Alexander Dugin in the saddle behind him. Unfortunately, this could be more than just a Boris Vallejo rendition of a Hunter S. Thompson inspired movie poster; it is a real Eurasia vs. the West possibility and perhaps even be the basis to the trailer for the coming release of a sequel entitled, Cold War II.

Thomas Hobbes used biblical imagery of Leviathan the Sea Monster in his description of a powerful state able to keep peace and provide its citizens with security across the spectrum from personal to national. Hobbes was fain to envision the population of Leviathan the State contracting away most or all power to a single authority be it a single person or a relatively small authoritative council able to enforce the law and relieve the security concerns of the masses.

Alexander Dugin, the contemporary Russian geopolitical philosopher, is a strong advocate of a multipolar world where a strong Eurasia is the major land power that checks the unipolar, globalist ambitions of the Atlanticist ocean-based power of the West. Dugin has endorsed a Eurasian power, centered in Moscow (the Third Rome in his eschatological theology) stretching from Dublin to Vladivostok. Dugin was an early supporter of Putin’s Crimean adventure, nullification of Ukraine’s Westward leaning, and Russian reassertion in the Middle East.

Dugin is a Russian traditionalist, a man who seems to yearn for a Russian inspired Eurasia with very conservative even Czarist Orthodoxy, but with even greater than Czarist geographical proportions and possessing the military might of the Soviet Union at its height. He is also a Russian Traditionalist claiming close kinship with René Guénon the French Metaphysician – a religious philosopher believing in the esoteric and revealed perennial Truth handed down through gnostic initiation from the days of God’s initial revelation to man.

It is no coincidence that the acclaimed film by Andrey Zvyagintsev is titled Leviathan. Zvyagintsev portrays a powerful but corrupt state and the abuse of its power at the personal and community level. Although Zvyagintsev is attempting to show the dark flip-side of Leviathan’s security powers, the Hobbesian association is unmistakeable.

“Realism in international relations,” Dugin has written, is based on the premise that human nature is imperfect, that humans are prone to sin and weakness, and that there is permanent discord between people (Hobbes’ thesis Homo homini lupus est: “man is wolf to man”). The state and society exist precisely for the purpose of maintaining the individual in a neutral state, or at least try to prevent him from total disintegration, if not improve him.

While Dugin views Putin as a political realist, he views Russia as having a higher purpose, “a specific Russian purpose which sets it apart” from other governments. Dugin’s higher purpose ascribes to Russia a messianic and apocalyptic future. Placing inheritance of the Roman mantel on Russia’s shoulders, Dugin tends to divide Russian history, hence a very significant chunk of world history, into three rather distinct periods: Pre-Constantinian, Constantinian (later Byzantine, and post-1660 Muscovite; the ages of the First Rome, The Second Rome (Byzantine Constantinople), and Third Rome (Moscow). Ominously, The Third Roman period contains the Age of Antichrist.

Dugin has expressed that Russia’s messianic role – a role that may involve hastening the end of the age associated with the defeat of Antichrist – is also Russia’s eschatological purpose. Dugin’s support for Russian expansion eastward, westward, and southward are very much in keeping with his vision of a Eurasia, guided by Russia, and involved in directly checking the might and expansion of the Atlanticists.

The easy thing to do is to write off Dugin as Putin’s Rasputin reincarnation. Certainly in an oh-so-secular-and-proud-of-it West Dugin seems to be a fringe Evangelical touting a strange and nonconsequensial occultic ecumentical brew. But, caution should be taken here. Alexander Dugin is not mad. Theology is not relegated to the lunatic fringe in Orthodox Russia, nor in the eastern areas of a possible future Eurasia where much value is placed on both Muslim tradition and and theology.

If Alexander Dugin’s influence gains additional traction in the halls of Russian power, the West can expect continued and persistent pressure for westward expansion; first of Russian influence and next of Russian de facto control. Expect Russian pivots off of the Syrian adventure against and into Turkey and southward into Libya. Expect renewal and expansion of economic and military agreements eastward. Expect Russian and Shia Muslim cooperation overtures, and mutual diplomatic, perhaps even military, support for Shia controlled areas and states.

Putin is already riding Hobbes’ Leviathan; if and when he pulls Dugin into the saddle behind him it may be too late to take notice. Dugin has already stated that a second Cold War could become very hot very quickly.