There is quite a bit of commotion these days over the state of the world, including the state of our State. We are witness to dramatic shifts in geopolitics, as well as social and economic relations among peoples, as trailing indicators of shrinking resources in a heating planet. We see more ‘terrorism,’ more protest, more conflict, more retribution, more genocide, more war, more mischief, more propaganda, more disinformation, more maneuvering for position, and much less understanding, giving, or sharing in the world today… but quite a lot more taking.
The cult of the Individual, of accumulation and privatization, has taken on global proportions. While the cults of Nationalism and Statism are also ascendant in various quarters, taking for granted their own priority and significance, along with the necessary and concomitant reduction-via-objectification of the ‘Other’.
We can trace such modern political and social behavior back to the Greeks, and to some extent long before that to the emergence of cities and nation-states in the ancient Middle East, the early instantiations of hierarchy and what would finally emerge as Western Civilization, in the area of the Fertile Crescent.
Seeking to get beneath this propensity of the Western Curriculum to articulate and highlight alterity, and thus, towards generating ongoing conflict and manipulation, Martin Heidegger (a German philosopher of the mid to late 20th Century) re-described human existence on the far-side of objectification and the politics of control. Heidegger saw in our modern (technologized) temperament, beginning with the Greeks, a tendency to interact with the world from two common perspectives: the world as “present-to-hand” (objects to be observed, spectacles to be seen), and the world as “ready-to-hand” (objects to be used, manipulated for our projects or purposes). These perspectives, while pre-thematically given, are not strictly foundational. They presuppose our own “thrownness,” our own being-there-in-the-world, embodied, engaged, and part of the world in which we find ourselves surrounded. There is, in addition, a certain ‘Care’ structure to human existence (Dasein or Being-there), a relational structure prior to objectification, manipulation and control. ‘Being-with’ is how Heidegger describes this Care structure in terms of our interaction with ‘others’. It defines Dasein’s relations to other humans with whom one always, already finds oneself thrown (even when one is ostensibly alone). Our very being-there presumes being-with. Being-with-the-other thus underpins our natural concern for other people, our ability to share, prior to any project of objectification, manipulation, or control. It implies a fundamental condition of openness (Gelassenheit) or availability to the other, and to the mystery of our mutuality… equal epicenters of meaningfulness, and not as simply objects present or ready to hand. In my reading, it thus implicates us in a profound circle of reciprocity with the other, as a given of being-human.
These are some of the concepts that inform the philosophic backdrop to the work of Aleksandr Dugin, Russian sociologist, philosopher, and founder of neo-Eurasianism. These neologisms underlay much of his new politics – The Fourth Political Theory. In this regard he intends that his politics addresses neither the individual (apparent democracy), the collective (communism) nor the State (fascism); for, each of these in their own right objectify the Other. Rather, Dugin wants to find a way that addresses the person as Dasein, recognizing its essential care structure. This, I assume, would provide the moral foundation guiding human (social) relations among a body-politic, overcoming the neoliberal relativism of the Western Curriculum on the one hand, and the absolutism of a radicalized Islam in the rising East, on the other.
There are, in my view, at least two conclusions to be drawn from Dugin’s reliance upon Heidegger. Real community (a genuine body-politic) must be egalitarian in form (much like the tribes of pre-civilized hunter/gatherers, I presume). Hierarchy of any kind — apparent democracy, communism, or fascism — must be seen as contradictory to our feral core. All three systems are grounded in structural hierarchies, and militate against Dasein’s foundational Care structure, our availability to the other and our natural tendency to share. Second, our rootedness is being squandered in an ever-expanding panoply of spectacle and technology, dissipating our essential humanity, and virtualizing our contacts and our commitments to one another as well as to the earth. As Dugin says, we are at risk of losing the last vestiges of what makes us human, our embeddedness, our facticity, our embodied being with the other and our openness to the mystery of our own thrownness.
Some are fearful that Dugin’s philosophical assumptions may lead to a new type of fascism (much as Heidegger’s thinking apparently led him to National Socialism); however, of that I am still uncertain. Yet, not withstanding any reservations about the political direction in such thought, his view of Western society at the precipice, his concern over the loss of our basic humanity, his openness to the mystery of our very being, and his concern for the central role of technology in destroying what is fundamentally human… this for me seems a brave new starting point, perhaps providing an avenue for retrieving what had been lost — opening us to an authentic act of “recollective resolve,” not anticipating what newness the future might hold, but rather forcing the rediscovery of a foundational past that lies hidden perpetually within us. But, after many millennia of hierarchy, such a return seems highly dubious and unlikely in our current frame of reference. Perhaps, the only stage upon which such an approach might find a foothold, would be the post-apocalyptic stage that seems to lie just ahead of us on this road to perdition.