zondag, april 30, 2006

THE NEO-EURASIAN TEMPTATION: Religious Fundamentalism Versus 'Global Conspiracy' door Boris GUBMAN in East Eurpean Perspectives

The Neo-Eurasian vision of world history looks like a battlefield of Manichean struggle between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil. Within this mythology, the forces of Evil are represented by the United States and its Atlantic allies, who allegedly seek to extend their rule over the entire planet. "I understand mondialism," Sergei Baburin wrote, "as an attempt to unify humanity in spite of the national and state traditions of the people. In this sense, it is the enemy of all existing peoples and states" (Baburin, 1992, p. 27). Despite Aleksandr Dugin's latter-day openness to cooperation with the authorities in his recent theoretical publications, he is no less hostile than Baburin to any Western-mondialist political strategy or to Russian leaders willing to accept it:

"Mondialism denies the destiny and eschatological meaning of geopolitical dualism (as well as that dualism itself), whereas the geopolitics affirms it and denies, on the contrary, the idea of a 'unified mankind' and, therefore, of the 'unifying progress'" (Dugin, 1999, p. 710).

Revealing the real essence of his "radical transformation," Dugin concluded his anti-mondialist reflections by condemning to severe punishment intentional and unintentional "traitors" who believe in universal human values because they have fallen under Western influence (Dugin, 1999, p. 719). Dugin, Natalya Melentieva, Leonid Ohotin, Aleksandr Prokhanov, Vadim Stepa, and other Neo-Eurasians paint a picture of a sinister Atlanticist conspiracy against the peoples of the world undertaken by freemasonry. Democratic modernization in Russia, they believe, is the direct outcome of the implementation of the strategy of the Atlanticists, aimed at ruining the national traditions. The Eurasians, clearly, regard a unified global order on the road to modernization and sharing universal human values and civilizational standards as the main danger to Russia and the world.

The Atlanticist and Eurasian projects are two irreconcilable strategies for understanding the world and making history. Describing their eternal confrontation, the Eurasians explain that they are devoted to empire, authoritarian, hierarchical, communal, and anti-individualistic, traditional forms of organization, labeling them "solar" and "Eastern." Atlanticism, by contrast, is viewed as being based on cherishing democracy, egalitarianism, individualism, and liberalism, and as being "lunar" and Western: "The Eurasian project was implemented in Ancient Rome, the Atlantic in Carthage. The first inspired Germany, Russia, and Japan during the last century, the second England and the U.S." (Dugin, 1993, p. 43).

The eternal polarity of the Eurasian movement and Atlanticism, according to Dugin's mythology, is deeper than party, national, religious, or state preferences, and represents a profound metaphysical choice.

The two opposing camps, Dugin claims, trace their rivalry back to Soviet times, when the Atlanticists are said to have gathered in the KGB, while the Eurasians allegedly played the leading role in the GRU-military-intelligence department; the founders of the USSR, according to Dugin, were Eurasian-Communists, whereas Nikita Krushchev and Leonid Brezhnev were Atlanticists in spirit; the coup of 1991 is said to have been a conspiracy of the Atlanticist Vladimir Kruchkov against the Eurasian Anatolii Lukyanov, who was preparing his "authentic coup." While the collapse of the USSR was a victory for the Atlanticists, "the revenge of the Eurasians will come soon," Dugin predicts (Dugin, 1993, p. 43).

This pattern of thought is not too sophisticated, but it appeals to mass consciousness, to communists and national patriots, and to all those dissatisfied with the low standards of living in contemporary Russia. It penetrates easily into the minds of people accustomed to thinking in terms of "us" and "them" and to searching for an enemy. And Dugin gives the reader a lot of intriguing "detail" leading into a dichotomous classification of leaders and institutions.

Those "details" might not be shared by all Eurasians, but his bipolar vision is reproduced even by thinkers who claim their analysis is free of any illusory trace metaphysics. Aleksandr Panarin, for example, is very far from Dugin's extreme conservatism, being closer to moderate patriotism and centrism. But, like Dugin, he sees history as a confrontation between the Atlanticist and Eurasian projects. While not as harsh as Dugin, in his assessment of Atlanticism, his sympathy is clearly with the Eurasians versus the liberal reformers: "Totalitarianism is the other side of the liberal Utopia and its tolerance of chaos" (Panarin, 1993, p. 21). Opposition to Yegor Gaidar's proposal for reforming Russia created the basis for the alliance between centrists and red-brown theoreticians. Their resentment of the outright liberals explains the centrists' acceptance of the Eurasian mythology.

Who are the potential allies the Neo-Eurasians see in the international arena in their struggle against the global conspiracy? We find the answer in the publications of the Center for Special Metastrategic Studies, headed by Dugin himself. First, the Neo-Eurasians think it necessary to obtain some kind of support from Central Europe, represented by Germany. Ignoring the current trend toward integration, the Eurasians hope for a split within Europe and for the victory of extreme nationalist forces in Germany. "Germany was always the opponent of the Anglo-Saxon colonial conquests and was always trying to create a continental, authoritarian civilization based on traditional hierarchical and soil values" ("Geopoliticheskie problemi blijnego zarubejya," 1993, p. 21). A renewed traditionalist Germany, according to the Center for Special Metastrategic Studies, must establish its control over Central Europe in cooperation with Eurasia-Russia and in opposition to Atlanticism. The Neo-Eurasian hopes for an anti-Atlanticist transformation of Central Europe under the leadership of Germany are, to be sure, unlikely to be realized. Germany's current role in the European Union is totally different from the illusory dreams of Neo-Eurasians in search for allies in the anti-Atlanticist struggle.

Prior to NATO's military involvement in the Yugoslav conflict and the fall of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Dugin and his followers believed that Russia should gain a lot by supporting its traditional ally, Serbia. In Dugin's view, Serbia represented Orthodox Russia in the Balkans, while Croatia and Slovenia were associated with Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Prussia, etc.). Albania and Bosnia, on the other hand, were perceived as being the vestiges of a Turkish and Muslim presence on European territory. Macedonia, described as a fusion of Serbian and Bulgarian ethnic elements, was said to be the very symbol of Greater Yugoslavia, which had never been able to fully consolidate itself. "Due to religious and ethnic factors, Serbia is linked directly with Russia as its immediate continuation in the south of Europe" ("Geopolitika Yugoslavskogo koflikta," 1992, p. 22). This meant that Serbia was part and parcel of the stream of common Eurasian interests and was destined to follow the Russian path. Supporting Milosevic, the Neo-Eurasians were persuaded that the Yugoslav crisis was just the rehearsal for a possible scenario in which Russia might become involved in military conflicts with those former Soviet republics in which ethnic Russian populations felt unjustly humiliated and oppressed. They hoped to come to power on a wave of national and religious hatred. Following the fall of Milosevic's regime, the analytical premises of Dugin's Center for Special Metastrategic Studies regarding the future of Serbia could be evaluated as naive and lacking any realistic dimensions.

The anti-Atlanticist forces, according to the Eurasians, are also gaining strength in Asia, which is suffering from U.S. expansion. While Turkey and Saudi Arabia act in accord with the West -- China, India, and Iran are said to be the main allies of the Eurasians on a global stage. Iran is described as "a typical continental state having all the strategic, economic, and ideological potential to become the nucleus of the huge Eurasian bloc" ("Geopoliticheskie problemi blijnego zarubejya," 1993, p. 24). Muslim fundamentalism of the Iranian type is more desirable for Neo-Eurasians as a source of influence on the Asian republics of the CIS than the Turkish road to modernization. At the same time, they do not rule out an alternative Russian-Eurasian alliance with Japan.

In an article published in 2001, Dugin wrote that the Neo-Eurasian movement should belong to the political center supporting President Vladimir Putin (Dugin, 2001, p. 8). However, on closer analysis, his doctrine reveals its lingering, extreme conservative orientation. It was only slightly modified in order to readjust the Neo-Eurasian mythology to a changing political situation, while its core remained wholly unaltered. The most striking example of this rests in the continued Neo-Eurasian appeal to religious fundamentalism as a chief instrument for the desired cultural and political revival of Russia-Eurasia. Failing to find political allies on a purely secular political basis, the Neo-Eurasians turned to religious fundamentalism as an instrument aimed at promoting an anti-Western union. Religion, according to Dugin and his followers, should play a major role in the cultural and political renewal of Russia-Eurasia:

"From our point of view, such sophisticated matters as religion, spirit, metaphysics, which are often neglected while attempting to solve economic and social-political problems, play a major and sometimes a decisive role. The religious factor is not a superstition miraculously preserved since time immemorial. It is an active, deeply-rooted-in-life attitude, forming the foundations of human culture, psychology, and social and even economic subconscious reactions" (Dugin, 2001, p.8).

There is no doubt that Dugin is correct in emphasizing the active role of the religious factor in social and cultural spheres. At the same time, his understanding of the instrumental role of religion is biased and potentially makes it a servant of politics. This becomes clear when Dugin turns to his vision of the role religion should play in the struggle against the alleged global conspiracy.

Neo-Eurasian thought is seemingly based on the idea that the necessary imperial restoration of Russia should have as its foundation the messianic spirit, and that this spirit is inconceivable without a confrontation between Russian Orthodox spirituality and the Catholic-Protestant value system of the West. Dugin believes that "the Russian people (= Russia) are endowed with a specific type of religiosity and culture that differs greatly from the Catholic-Protestant West, as well as from the post-Christian civilization developed there" (Dugin, 1999, p. 190). Unlike Western culture, Russian civilization, according to this theoretical approach, is universalistic and, therefore, by its very nature needs spiritual expansion. Such an expansion is eschatological in its character due to the typical Russian longing for final answers -- a longing deeply imbedded in the national world outlook. Although the task of the "God-bearing" nation is portrayed in purely spiritual terms, it has a certain political significance. The Neo-Eurasian theorist continues:

"Therefore, from a theoretical perspective, there is no people, culture, or territory here on our planet whose destiny or way f life is of no interest to the Russian mind. This is revealed in the unshakable belief of Russians in the final triumph of Truth, Spirituality, and Justice not only within the boundaries of Russian state, but everywhere. To deprive Russians of this eschatological faith would be tantamount to a spiritual castration. The Russians are interested in everything and all, and, therefore, the interests of the Russian people are not limited to the Russian ethnic group, the Russian Empire, or even all of Eurasia. This 'transcendental' aspect of the Russian nation should be taken into account when elaborating any future geopolitical strategy" (Dugin, 1999, p. 191).

Despite the premise that Russian universalistic and eschatological spirituality has nothing to do with expansionist politics, Dugin is thus asserting that this very spirituality forms the cornerstone of a geopolitical strategy bringing final answers to all cultures and nations.

During the period of his opposition to Boris Yeltsin's regime, Dugin's writings were openly anti-Semitic and included resolute support of Islamic fundamentalism as the closest ally of conservative Orthodoxy in its struggle with Western culture, nourished by Catholic and Protestant religious traditions. With the coming of the Putin's era, Dugin decided to modify slightly his attitude to the Jewish question. In his recently published essential book "Foundations of Geopolitics," Dugin wrote about the split of Jewry into two opposing factions: Eastern and Western. While Eastern Jewry always bore within itself the mystical impulse that makes it close to the Eurasian global vision, Western Jewry, with its purported rationalism, greed, and worship of Mammon rooted in the tradition of rabbinic studies of the Talmud, was always at the opposite pole from Eastern non-rationalist attitudes to life (Dugin, 1999, p. 742). During the October Revolution of 1917, for example, this polarization reached its climax in a confrontation between the Eastern-minded Jewish Bolsheviks, whose spiritual roots should be sought in the Cabbalist and the Hassidic traditions, and the Western-minded Jewish bourgeoisie that was nourished by rabbinic rationalism, modernity praxis, and the Enlightenment. Later, the Jewish communists were expelled from the stage of Russian history, and the opposite trend gradually prevailed. Since perestroika, its representatives have begun exploiting the country's natural and human resources in league with mondialist forces, according to Dugin. Using this kind of "differentiated mildly anti-Semitic arguments," Dugin expressed the readiness of the Neo-Eurasians to cooperate with Jewish religious fundamentalists, who were said to be anti-Western in both theory and practice, while resisting Zionism, said to be allied with the mondialist conspiracy.

Throughout his career as a theoretician and a politician, Dugin has displayed deep sympathy with some versions of Islamic fundamentalism as a potential anti-mondialist ally of Neo-Eurasians. The war in Chechnya made him highly critical of Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, and his hopes shifted as a result to a possible partnership with Iranian fundamentalism:

"The objective logic of geopolitics dictates with all clarity and precision the necessity of a quick strategic alliance of all Eurasian forces, irrespective of their confessional, racial, cultural, or ideological color. The door is, for instance, open to forging a Russian-Islamic pact, to a general coordination of Moscow's strategy with Islamic trends that are oriented to Iran, Sufism, fundamentalism of the soil, continental, and anti-Western pattern. This is important for both domestic and foreign policy projects" (Dugin, 1999, p. 821).

Thus for reasons of an anti-mondialist struggle within and outside Russia, the Neo-Eurasians are ready to cooperate with extreme-right Islamic fundamentalism. Such an alliance is only one part of a more global plan that would unify all fundamentalist forces under the banners of the Neo-Eurasian movement.

The true, extremely conservative, nature of Dugin's program for the Neo-Eurasian movement is most clearly revealed in his intention to offer this kind of fundamentalist unification as the panacea for solving internal conflicts in Russia itself and resisting mondialist expansion all over the world. He speaks of a "strategic unity of creative fundamentalists" -- not only in Russia but abroad as well -- as leading to a "symphonic" harmony in the ethnic and political spheres (Dugin, 2001, p. 8). Unlike his earlier declarations, this program is aimed at demonstrating that the Neo-Eurasians are capable of cooperating with the ruling authorities and of acting in line with President Putin's blueprint for blending the country's different social forces to benefit the nation as a whole. But the "tamed" new "centrist" version of Neo-Eurasian ideology soon displayed its unchanged essence in September 2001. Speaking on Russian television, Dugin agreed with Islamic fundamentalist leader Geydar Jemal that mondialist conspirators were behind the terrorist attacks of 11 September, staging the tragedy in order to discredit Islamic fundamentalism, which was resisting their increasing global domination. Dugin's version of the root causes of the 11 September tragedy was consonant with Jamal's, according to whom "American Protestant republican neo-fascism hates any kind of secular or religious globalism able to resist its plans for ruling the whole world, and for this very reason is likewise hostile to efficient international organizations and to the universal aspirations of the Catholic Church or those of Islamic fundamentalism" (Jemal, 2002, p.6).

The Neo-Eurasian reaction to the U.S. tragedy was, in fact, predictable if viewed in the context of the Neo-Eurasian understanding of the phenomenon of religiously inspired international terrorism. In the documents of the Center for Special Metastrategic Studies published in 1996, one can find the following conclusions:

"It is necessary to support the military force of the Orthodox, Islamic, and Confucian states in order to destabilize the Western economy, which should be forced into competing with a number of potential adversaries simultaneously. Russia should sell arms, including nuclear weapons, to Muslim countries -- in particular to Iran, Iraq, and also Libya. Western nuclear atheism should be opposed by a nuclear Orthodoxy and a nuclear Islam" (Tsentr specialnikh metastrategicheskikh issledovanij," 1996, p.42).

In an article published in "Elementii," Dugin wrote that terrorism "became the last refuge of the subject longing for the total vision of the world where this thirst is outlawed" (Dugin, 1996, p.6). By "subject," Dugin means the individual acting on the political scene in a world where his or her longing for wholeness has been forbidden, and the idiom employed is metaphorical and therefore intentionally ambiguous. It is evident that before taking a strategic decision to become a centrist, Dugin was more attracted by the idea of providing a philosophical justification for terrorism, which in his eyes represented a creative act of the "subject" to internalize and act upon the aspiration of a "totality of being" -- thereby also breaking with any kind of oppression. This by-and-large explains how and why religion came to be viewed by Dugin as a tool of the terrorist struggle against oppression by the West.

The well-known Russian thinker Georgii Fedotov, who predicted the fall of the Soviet Empire, once warned that this process would be accompanied by extremist attempts to restore authoritarian rule and by a revival of nationalist ideology. "Bolshevism will die as hard as National Socialism. But nobody knows what forms of Russian fascism or nationalism will be generated in the process" (Fedotov, 1992, p. 325). The rise of the Neo-Eurasian movement confirms that Fedotov was right. Despite efforts by this movement's leaders to appear to be respectable scholars and politicians, the Neo-Eurasian program and activities reveal their true New Right nature. Using religious fundamentalism as a tool of politics, the Neo-Eurasians pursue purely political goals. The attempts by Neo-Eurasians to gain influence on the official political course under President Putin did not meet with success, as is apparent from the government's antiterrorism cooperation with the West and from moves toward integration with the West in other areas. But this should not lead one to overlook the support that the Neo-Eurasians enjoy among some representatives of the establishment, within circles of the Russian Orthodox Church, and in some business structures. Their ideas and ties to religious fundamentalism might gain popularity in the event of further economic and political instability in Russia. To prevent the spread of this dangerous ideology, a flexible strategy to combat the Neo-Eurasian temptation is needed immediately.

(Professor Boris Gubman, PhD, is chairman of the Department of Theory and History of Culture at Tver State University, Russia. [For further reading on the Neo-Eurasians, courtesy of Paul Goble, please see http://petrsu.karelia.ru/psu/Structure/Deps/PreRev/BIBLRUS.rtf])


Baburin, S. 1992, "Mondialism i tayna Rossii" [Mondialism and the Mystery of Russia] in "Elementii," No 2, pp. 26-27.

"Tsentr specialnikh metastrategicheskikh issledovanij. The Rest and the West" [The Center of Special Metastrategic Studies. The Rest and the West], 1996, in "Elementii," No 7, pp. 40-42.

Dugin, A., 1993, "Vozvrashayas k velikoy voine kontinentov" [Coming Back to the Great Intercontinental War], in " Elementii," No. 3, p. 43.

Dugin, A., 1996, "Subject bez graniz," [The Subject Surpassing Boundaries] in "Elementii," No. 7, pp. 3-6.

Dugin, A., 1999, Osnovi geopolitiki [Foundations of Geopolitics], (Moscow: Arktogeja-Tsentr).

Dugin, A., 2001, "Evrasijstvo: ot philosophiji k politike" [The Eurasian Movement: From Philosophy to Politics] in "Nezavisimaya gazeta," No. 95, 30 May.

Fedotov, G., 1992, "Sudba Imperii" [The Empire's Destiny] in Sudba i grekhi Rossii [The Destiny and Sins of Russia], (St. Petersburg: Sofia).

"Geopoliticheskie problemi blijnego zarubejya. Materiali tsentra metastrategitsheskikh issledovanii" [The Geopolitical Problems of the Foreign Surrounding Countries. Publications of the Center for Special Metastrategic Studies], 1993, in " Elementii," No. 3, pp. 18-26.

"Geopolitika Yugoslavskogo koflikta. Materiali tsentra metastrategitsheskikh issledovanii" [The Geopolitics of the Yugoslav Conflict. Publications of the Center for Metastrategic Studies], 1992, in "Elementii," No. 2, pp. 20-25.

Jemal, G., 2002, "Pochva i sud'ba" [The Soil and the Destiny], in "Zavtra," No 24, June.

Panarin, A., 1993, "Medju Atlantizmom i Evrauistvom" [Between the Atlanticist and Eurasian Doctrine] in " Svobodnaya misl," No. 11, pp. 1-15.

Eurasians And Neo-Eurasians: Religion, Culture, And Political Power door Boris Gubman in East European Perspectives

The revival of the Eurasian philosophy in postcommunist Russia is a significant event, illustrating how extreme isolationist and nationalist tendencies can influence the practice of politics. No wonder religion plays a key role in the writings of the Neo-Eurasians, who feel that it has a growing importance in the country's political life. Politics and religion, according to adherents of this doctrine, should be tied firmly together, complementing each other in solving the problem of the new postcommunist Russian identity.

Located on the territory of two continents, Russia belongs to both Europe and Asia. This marginal position has long made the country the focus of debate concerning its destiny. The debate has become quite intense over the course of the past two centuries, beginning with disputes between Westernizers and Slavophiles that continue even today in academic and non-academic circles alike. During the upheavals of the late-Soviet period of perestroika, the slogan "to become Europe" expressed the desire among people of democratic orientation to change the path of Russia's development; but this aspiration was never fulfilled, due to internal factors and to the unwillingness of the West to embrace its Eastern neighbor, doubtful of its ability to abide by civilized standards of behavior. During the same period, a national-patriotic movement emerged -- a movement that rapidly gained strength after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It found an ally in the communist opposition. The ideological vacuum once filled by the communist doctrine -- together with economic disorder, mass deprivation, and political instability -- brought about an atmosphere of nostalgia and collective depression, along with a desire for a universal vision of Russian history that could show some way out of the crisis. The Neo-Eurasian philosophy claims to be just such a vision. Preserving its central feature, entrenched on the blending of conservative-nationalist interpretations of religion and politics, this philosophy nonetheless underwent a considerable evolution -- from a militant opponent of Boris Yeltsin's reforms to support for Vladimir Putin's politics, although its aspiration to influence considerably the current president's politics remains unfulfilled.

Constituting a remarkable part of the Russian intellectual history of the first half of the 20th century, the Eurasian philosophy is often regarded by its students as the only ideological and political doctrine of the post-1917 emigration that was able to create a synthesis of the old messianic-nationalist Russian idea and the experience of Bolshevism. Based on the postrevolutionary experience and the assumption that Bolshevism was merely a transitory stage in the country's development toward national revival, the Eurasian doctrine was focused on the problem of relations between religion, culture, and political power.

Bringing together a group of prominent Russian intellectuals that included Nikolai Alekseev, Petr Bicilli, Nikolai Trubetskoi, Petr Savitskii, Lev Karsavin, the Eurasian movement appeared with its unified ideological program in 1921. In Eurasian thought, Russia was portrayed as a country combining both European and Asian cultural traditions, regardless of whether reference was made to tsarist rule or to the Soviet period. Savitskii wrote that Russia created a highly productive synthesis of the European and Asian cultural legacies -- one that, far from being divided between the two continents, represented a third and independent cultural sphere (Savitskii, 1993, p. 101). This synthesis, it was claimed, had its origins in the legacy of Byzantium and the tradition stemming from the Tartars, both of which had a profound influence on the development of the early Muscovite state, the growth the Russian empire, and the later history of the country under communism.

The Eurasians considered their own doctrine the climax of a powerful national tradition in the philosophy of history that began with the Slavophiles and was further developed by Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Nikolai Danilevskii, and Konstantin Leontiev. Despite the efforts of some Eurasians to show the independence of their ideas from those of German philosopher Oswald Spengler, the philosophical vision of history they developed was strongly influenced by his theory of local cultures. Spengler's militant opposition to the idea of progress and the spirit of the Enlightenment, as well as his political ideas, have much in common with the Eurasian interpretation of history. At the same time, the Eurasians believed that their notion of a uniqueness of each culture was entirely compatible with the Christian vision of history as governed by God's providence.

Opposition to Western civilization and its value system, the Eurasians claimed, was at the very heart of the original character of Russian culture. Whereas the West treasures the value of the individual, the basis of Russian culture lies in the idea of the symphonic personality -- a sort of collective subject (family, estate, class, or nation) that overcomes any and all individual particularity, according to the Eurasians. Karsavin believed that the "symphonic subject is no less a reality than the individual, but something even more important" (Karsavin, 1993a, p. 177). Thus, the individual subject becomes totally immersed in the anonymous choir of the collective body.

Although from a methodological point of view such an interpretation seems justified, and might even be considered to be opening up new horizons for more advanced approaches to collective history, one should not overlook its ideological coloring, its manner of opposing Western individualism with a collective Russian unity with God (Sobornost). Culture, according to the Eurasians, is a unity, a hierarchical body with the church at its center. Among the historically known Christian denominations, the Eurasians believed, only the Russian Orthodox Church was able to bring the highest degree of harmony to the culture of the nation. Karsavin expressed this idea in the following way:

"The acceptance of the limited character of historical Christianity is not tantamount to historical relativism, and, likewise, the recognition of the presence of absolute values in Catholicism and Protestantism is not tantamount to denying that the Russian Orthodox Church is the most complete and perfect expression of the Christian Church" (Karsavin, 1993b, p. 174).

Presenting his arguments against historical relativism, Karsavin claimed that the Russian Orthodox Church should play the role of a spiritual nucleus in the hierarchy of culture and social life. Such an approach became conventional among the Eurasians and led to definite political implications.

In opposition to Western democratic and multiparty ideas, the Eurasians proclaimed the urgent necessity of building a typically Russian ideocracy and of abolishing all partisan political forces for the sake of national unity (Karsavin, 1993a, p. 203). Such a state should be dependent on culture and express its spiritual-religious nucleus. The implementation of the political ideal of an ideocracy providing unity of all citizens in the name of supreme values might well serve as doctrinaire justification for authoritarian and totalitarian practices that suppress individual freedom and human rights, however.

The internal contradictions within the Eurasian movement resulted in a split by the end of the 1920s. This split emerged out of a series of debates concerning the publications of Karsavin, Dmitrii Svyatopolk-Mirskii, Savitskii, and others in the weekly "Eurasia." These authors considered the Soviet state as a prerequisite for the establishment of the national deocracy, and thus viewed the Bolsheviks as being a positive political force. Bicilli and Giorgii Florovskii, the founders of the Eurasian movement, completely disagreed with such conclusions. Florovskii rightly pointed out that the Eurasians want to be the followers of contemporary Bolshevism, sharing with it "a common psychology and basic pattern, a common pathos and inner structure" (Florovskii, 1993, p. 242). His critical assessment of the "Eurasian temptation" was in accord with the opinions of such Christian-socialist analysts as Nikolai Berdyaev and Giorgii Fedotov.

The contemporary resurrection of the Eurasian philosophy reveals that this paradigm of thought corresponds to the aspirations of some theorists and of some politicians to find a justification for an isolationist and at times an extreme nationalist vision of the country's future. In the perestroika and postcommunist periods, the Eurasian vision of history has been enlisting support from such different forces as antiliberal centrists exhibiting their reverence to the traditionally strong Russian state, communists, and national patriots. It has been perceived as a positive alternative to liberalism in the philosophical and political essays of Aleksandr Dugin, Aleksandr Prohanov, Eduard Limonov, and Viktor Stepa, and is positively evaluated by such politicians as Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Sergei Baburin, and "the last colonel of the empire," Viktor Alksnis. In their academic publications, Aleksei Boldyrev, Aleksandr Vodolagin, Aleksandr Panarin, and other scholars of moderate nationalist and statist orientation also praise Eurasian ideas. They are expressed in newspapers like "Den" (The Day), "Zavtra" (Tomorrow), and sometimes even in the respectable "Nezavisimaya gazeta" (Independent Newspaper); in journals such as "Nash Sovremennik" (Our Contemporary) and "Elementii" (Elements); and one can easily find them as well in "Svobodnaya Misl" (The Free Thought) and other periodicals.

The cardinal point of the Neo-Eurasian philosophy is its militant opposition to the Western liberal value system. Appealing to their potential theoretical allies, the Neo-Eurasians reveal the real substance of their thought. This is the reason why some of the Neo-Eurasian theorists are inclined to avoid mentioning their predecessors, vaguely suggesting that they are devoted to the traditional Russian idea. However, those among them who are ready to gain scandalous popularity and mass support are openly admitting their conservative and sometimes even fascist ideational ties to Russian and Western thought. Perhaps the most clear-cut representation of this last trend that one can find is in Dugin's "confessions" from the time of his struggle with Gorbachev's and Yeltsin's regimes prior to becoming a Putin supporter. Examining the list of those mentioned among his theoretical mentors would further the understanding of the roots of the contemporary Eurasian worldview.

Like many supporters of the new Eurasian consciousness, Dugin considers it to be an ideology of a "third way" -- an alternative to both capitalist and communist patterns in the structuring of society. In his article "The Conservative Revolution: A Short History Of The Ideology Of The Third Way," published in "Elementii," Dugin, who is editor in chief of that journal, declared his opposition to the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, as well as his solidarity with Josephe de Maistre, Louis Bonald, Donoso Cortez, and other conservative European thinkers. These names are followed by those of Russian Slavophiles and soil worshipers. But the author is even more interested in the practical attempts of conservative revolutionaries to realize their ideas. His preferences are evident:

"In our century the Third Way...is becoming an important factor determining the political panorama of our civilization. Some elements of the Third Way can be found during the Russian Revolution, when populists and late right socialist-revolutionaries attempted to implement an extreme variant of this doctrine. It sounds like a paradox, but in Russian Bolshevism itself one could easily uncover a lot of ideas which are not at all left-wing, but which have a direct relationship with the conservative revolution (in particular everything that is accepted as Russian 'National Bolshevism' from the Change of Milestones movement to the new Stalinists). Italian fascism during its early period and also under the Italian social republic in the North of Italy (the Republic of Salo) was almost totally based on the principles of the conservative revolution. But the most complete and total (if not the most orthodox) representative of the Third Way was German National Socialism" (Dugin, 1992, p. 16).

Dugin places the Russian Eurasians in the same category as the German and Italian fascists, Spanish Falangists, and Romanian Iron Guardists, viewing all these phenomena as associated with the struggle for a social and cultural renewal in the allegedly traditionalist "Third Way." The history of fascism is interpreted as a struggle of romanticist traditionalists aiming to establish genuine values. Nazi hangmen and perpetrators of crimes against humanity are thus transformed into inspiring models. The head of the Nazi SS, Heinrich Himmler, for example, is depicted as being a leader who cultivated intellectual freedom and pluralism within his organization (Dugin, 1992, p. 53). And while some clement commentators of Dugin's views might object to this interpretation and emphasize that he has changed considerably and become a respectable mainstream politician and scholar, these "confessions" speak volumes on the origin of his philosophical views. Dugin's books are popular, sold by the thousands, and recommended by many political-science professors as required reading for the study of political thought.

The Neo-Eurasian Dugin's group established strong ties with the European "new right" movement headed by Alain de Benoist. Looking for theoretical support for their arguments, the Neo-Eurasians often appeal to the classics of geopolitics and to the legacy of famous traditionalist thinkers like Julius Evola, Rene Ghennon, Claudio Mutti, and others. This set of ideas is still present in recent publications by Dugin and his followers (Dugin, 1999, p. 33-164). At the same time, it is clear that Dugin and representatives of his group have become more moderate and sophisticated in expressing their theoretical position during the period of Putin's presidency. That is explained by Dugin's attempt to move from radical denial of Yeltsin's reforms to moderate support for Putin's course.

The veiled intent of this change was the aspiration to influence the official course, remodeling it in the style of Neo-Eurasian ideology. Dugin became an adviser to State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and participated in the creation of the Yedinstvo (Unity), the predecessor to the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia. However, Dugin and his team proved unable -- as is evident from President Putin's foreign and domestic politics -- to influence the official presidential program in any significant way. It might well be the understanding of this fact that recently led Dugin to more active participation in politics and the creation of his own political movement, Eurasia (Dugin, 2001, p. 8). At Eurasia's first congress, held on 21 April 2001, Dugin was elected to head the movement's political council. On 30 May 2002, he became the leader of the newly formed Eurasia Party.

As a theoretical and political leader of the Neo-Eurasians, Dugin is determined to use religion as an efficient political tool. Despite his friendship with Alain de Benoist, he is not among the supporters of a paganism revival. Even during the creation of the Neo-Eurasian movement, he believed that the fundamentalist forces of the Russian Orthodox Church allied with conservative Islamic clergy should become the main source of the cultural and political revival of Russia-Eurasia. In this respect, Geydar Jemal, Muslim fundamentalist leader in Russia, fully agreed with this understanding of the mission of religion. At the moment, somewhat deviating from the traditional Eurasian doctrine, Dugin and his followers are seeking popularity by embarking on a new strategy of unifying all traditional Russian faiths against the Catholic-Protestant West. This Russian-Eurasian fundamentalism is presented as an effective instrument of resistance to the alleged "global conspiracy" aimed at undermining Russia-Eurasia's power. It should be mentioned that not everyone in the Neo-Eurasianist movement is openly siding with Dugin on this issue; for reasons of academic and political correctness, some prefer to express such views only when they believe themselves to be among "safe" and sympathetic audiences.

Professor Boris Gubman, PhD, is chairman of the Department of Theory and History of Culture at Tver State University, Russia.


Dugin, A., 1992, "Conservativnaya revolutsia: Kratkaya istoria ideologii tretiego puti" [The Conservative Revoution: A Short History of the Third Way Ideology], in "Elementii," No. 1, pp. 15-56.

Dugin, A., 1999, "Osnovi geopolitiki" [Foundations of Geopolitics] (Moscow: Arktogeja-centre).

Dugin, A., 2001, "Evrasijstvo: ot philosophiji k politike" [The Eurasian Movement: From Philosophy to Politics], "Nezavisimaja gazeta," 30 May.

Florovskii, G., 1993, "Evrasiiksi sovlazn" [The Eurasian Temptation], in "Rossiya mejdu Evropoy i Aziey: evraiziisky soblazn" [Russia Between Europe and Asia: The Eurasian Temptation] (Moscow: Nauka), pp. 237-265.

Karsavin, L., 1993a, "Osnovi politiki" [Foundations of Politics], "Rossiya mejdu Evropoy i Aziey: Evraiziisky soblazn" [Russia Between Europe and Asia: The Eurasian Temptation], (Moscow: Nauka), pp. 174-216.

Karsavin, L., 1993b, "Philosophija Istoriji" [The Philosophy of History] (St. Petersburg: Komplekt).

Savitskii, P., 1993, "Evrasiistvo" [The Eurasian Movement], "Rossiya mejdu Evropoy i Aziey: Evraiziisky soblazn" [Russia Between Europe and Asia: The Eurasian Temptation), (Moscow: Nauka), pp. 100-113.

Eurasia Contra America door Justin COWGILL op Eurasia.org, december 2005.

“We have come seriously and for a long time. Nobody and nothing can stop us, because the rhythms of Russia (Eurasia) sovereignly and imperiously beat in our hearts. Eurasianism embodies a new triumphal stage in the development of the national idea, of national history. We are confident of our victory, because for us “Eurasia is above all’”. - Alexander Dugin

The largest landmass in the world, the Eurasian continent, connects East and West via communication, transportation, and trade routes. More importantly, Eurasia has long been considered the geopolitical heartland of the world, one necessary for any future world power. Due to its historical sense of identity, vast amounts of resources, capable population, and location in the heart of Eurasia, Mother Russia is the nation most likely to take its rightful seat at the head of a new Eurasian power structure destined to offset American influence in the world and help derail the New World Order by creating a multipolar world. The Eurasian idea will likely become the official post-Soviet national ideology of Russia and a banner under which the oppressed peoples of the world can fight.

The Eurasians Are Coming

The Eurasian idea is not a new one, even though it might currently be relevant more than ever before. Russia’s Eurasian movement traces its roots back to the 18th century in the historical conflict between pro-Western “reformers,” who wished to modernize Russia by adopting Western political solutions to solve Russian problems, and Slavophiles, who saw Russia as a unique nation set apart from both the West and East, which must find its own path. The question of whether Russia is part of Europe, Asia, or something unique has had a tremendous influence on the Russian national mindset. The Slavophiles did not look kindly on Western materialism and considered the Enlightenment a source of moral decay that was destroying traditional Russian values.

Although the pan-Slavs rejected what they saw as Western influence, many of their ideas were of Western origin. Pan-Slavic ideas were largely created by Russian émigrés in Europe, and nationalism was a European product. With a national idea largely based on Orthodox Christianity, Russia saw itself as the continuation of the Holy Roman Empire, whose torch was passed to Russia after Byzantium fell to Muslim invaders, which is where the supposed Messianic element of the Russian soul derives from. Russia as an empire was created along European lines, with all power centered in the city of Moscow, and then St. Petersburg, with Russian as the official language and dominated by Russians. The great Russians pushed east and south to subdue other nations and incorporate them into the empire. In this respect, the Russian empire wasn’t unlike other European empires.

The Russian people, however, due to their geography have been influenced by the East as well as the West. Although some might not enjoy hearing it, the fact is that Russia was dominated by the Mongol Yoke and its Golden Horde for nearly 300 years, which did leave its marks and helped to create what we now call the “Slavic” mentality, soul, and appearance. The Russian ethnographer and proponent of Eurasian ideas Nikolai Trubetskoi said, “It is usually forgotten that our ‘brothers’ (if not in language or faith, then in blood, character, and culture) are not only the Slavs but the Turanians...,” and that “Turkic blood mingles in Russian veins with that of the Ugro-Finns and the Slavs.”1 The Russians are a unique people. The idea that the Russian people make up a special ethnos situated in the heart of Eurasia is widely held among the Russian population. A recent poll showed that 71% of Russians citizens believe that Russia belongs to a peculiar “Eurasian” or Orthodox civilization, which must follow its own path of development, while 13% consider Russia to be a Western civilization.2

Germany and Russia: Two European Brothers

Russian intellectuals haven’t been alone in advocating Eurasian ideas. During the Conservative Revolution in Germany, some German writers saw Russia as Germany’s natural ally, such as Oswald Spengler, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Ernst Junger. The Russian and German royal families often intermarried. A monument in Leipzig, Germany testifies to the historic battle of 1812 when Prussian and Russian soldiers defeated one of the greatest military leaders of all time, Napoleon. When D.H. Lawrence visited Germany in 1924, he commented that “the great leaning of the Germanic spirit is once again more Eastwards, toward Russia.”3 Among the German National Socialists, their was a wing of the party that advocated friendship with Russia. Joseph Goebbels himself initially favored closer ties with Russia. He praised the Soviet Union as “an ally which nature has given us against the devilish temptation and corruption of the West.”

Under the Versailles-imposed restrictions on Germany, the Prussian military elite concluded that cooperation between capitalist Germany and communist Russia was in the natural interests of both countries, both of which were treated poorly by the victorious Allies. The secret German-Russian partnership was codified in the April 1922 Rapallo Pact. General Hans von Seeckt, chief of the German High Command negotiated a deal for German officers to travel to the Soviet Union to test newly developed weapons and train German soldiers while sharing their expertise with the Red Army. The Soviet Union received military assistance and help rebuilding its post-war economy, while the German military took advantage of Russia’s open spaces, which were used to conduct joint war games. German industrialists stuck deals with the Soviet government to establish factories in Russia to produce poison gas, tanks, airplanes, heavy weapons, and explosives in violation of the Versailles Treaty. One might think that ideological differences would have prevented such cooperation; however, natural geopolitical factors proved more important, which is usually the case in politics.

Post-War Politics and the European New Right

After the defeat of the Axis powers in WWII and the emergence of two superpowers situated on both sides of Europe, Eurasian ideas found a new lease on life due to those who saw “neutralism” as the only way to save Europe and those who considered American cultural domination a much more serious threat than Soviet Russia, which many thought was a much more natural ally. Although relatively unknown to Americans, Alain de Benoist, a French intellectual, did a lot to restructure the European Right and advocated certain Eurasian ideas. At the time, most European nationalists were of the conservative stripe and were hostile towards Soviet Russia. An opponent of liberal democracy, he started out in the nationalist Jeune Nation movement, which was later banned by the French government. He then became the secretary of the editorial board of Europe-Action, the successor movement to Jeune Nation. In the 1960’s, de Benoist supported American intervention in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa. Basically, he was a right-wing conservative nationalist. However, in 1984, de Benoist showed how far he traveled ideologically when he cast his ballot for the French Communist Party in the European parliamentary elections to show his disgust for the entire French political process.

De Benoist made a transformation from a traditional right-wing conservative to one of the leading intellectuals of the so-called “New Right.” His ideological shift was “the beginning of a ‘long march,’ an intellectual evolution.“4 De Benoist and his colleagues held up the importance of waging a war of ideas on the cultural battlefield, which they saw as necessary for any real political change.

De Benoist then opposed the capitalist free-market system, which he criticized as the product of liberalism, an ideology of a consumer society that was totalitarian because of its tendency to reduce everything into the realm of economics and utility. Like many other post-war nationalist leaders de Benoist believed that America was more of a threat to Europe than the Soviet Union due to its cultural imperialism. In 1982, he wrote, “Better to wear the helmet of a Red Army soldier than to live on a diet of hamburgers in Brooklyn.” He went on to say that mass consumer society was a kind of “soft totalitarianism” that “‘air-conditions’ hell and kills the soul.”5

Ideas of the New Right and New Left converged when de Benoist began to advocate a neutralist Europe and opposed U.S. global intervention. When the leftist student-worker Sorbonne uprising took place in 1968, de Benoist was establishing his think-tank.

Although some French conservative nationalists saw him as a turncoat for adopting left-wing ideas, he was ahead of his time. Already in 1986 he was using the very same language that the Eurasianists use today in Russia: “Already on the international level the major contradiction is no longer between right and Left, liberalism and socialism, fascism and communism, ‘totalitarianism’ and ‘democracy.” It is between those who want the world to be one-dimensional and those who support a plural world grounded in the diversity of cultures.” By using the language of ethno-pluralism vs. multiculturalism, de Benoist demonstrated how European and American nationalists can argue that it is they who are fighting for the cultural integrity of each unique ethnos while their enemies are the ones who are truly trying to destroy diversity by blending whole peoples together to work on a global plantation and and destroying the environment. Opposition to globalism goes hand in hand with the fight for cultural preservation and a people’s right to exist.

A Post-Soviet Political Playground

After the fall of the Soviet Union, like many European Nationalists, de Benoist was interested in the political post-Soviet Russian landscape, which seemed to offer many opportunities. In March 1992, he traveled to Russia and participated in several public meetings with Russian politicians. De Benoist’s Russian hosts liked what the French philosopher had to say and enjoyed his criticism of globalism and the idea that the United States was the supreme enemy to Europe and Russia. Other New-Right intellectuals such as Jean-Francois Thiriart paid visits to Russia in the early 1990’s. In August 1992, Thiriart led a delegation of National Communists to Russia, meeting with leading politicians such as Yegor Ligachev, the leading conservative in the soviet Politburo and deputy of the Communist Party until Gorbachev got rid of him in 1990. Thiriart suggested a continental partnership to unite Europe and Russia as a counterweight to the United States. “Eurasia contra America” was the theme of Thiriart’s talks with the Russians, which included a young thirty-year-old journalist named Alexander Dugin, who would later become one of the most influential figures in Russian nationalist politics and the leading proponent of the Eurasian idea in Russia. It is here that the European New Right reached a Russian who understood how take some of their ideas and make them Russian.

Alexander Dugin and the Russian Neo-Eurasian Movement

Alexander Dugin can arguably be called the leading nationalist figure in Russia, although I think he might reject the label “nationalist.” Always ahead of his contemporaries, Dugin is a rising star in Russia. During Perestroika and in the early 1990’s Dugin was involved with the Pamyat (memory) monarchist movement. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Dugin helped write the platform of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and immediately began to inject his Eurasian ideas into Russian politics. Under Dugin’s influence, Communist Party Leader Gennadi Zyuganov spoke of Russia as the “dreamer nation” and said that “we are the last power on this planet that is capable of mounting a challenge to the New World Order--the global cosmopolitan dictatorship.”6 Eduard Limonov, the famous Russian writer, co-founder of the National Bolshevik Party, and one-time associate of Dugin described Dugin as ‘a paradoxical man who can support ten points of view at the same time.7

Dugin is now associated with the Eurasian movement in Russia, which transformed itself into an officially recognized political party: Political Social Movement EURASIA. Sometimes Dugin’s form of Eurasianism is called neo-Eurasianism because it differs from traditional Eurasianism, which is much closer to Slavic nationalism or pan-Slavic, Orthodox ideas. Dugin’s form of Eurasianism is much more of a geopolitical doctrine. Unlike traditional parties, Dugin’s movement does not attempt to win power by participating in the democratic process. Instead, Dugin is leading a school of thought to exert influence over Russian military and political leaders, similar to think tanks in the U.S., and it appears to be somewhat successful. “We do not struggle for power, as for influencing power” is how Dugin stated it.8

Dugin and the Eurasians support Russian President Vladimir Putin as long as he continues to move in a direction they feel is in Russia’s long-term interests. It can be said that they are “fellow travelers.” While Putin might speak about his concern caused by the so-called rogue states before the international media, the Eurasians will keep quiet as long as he continues to strengthen ties with these very same states. According to the Eurasian movement, “In our eyes Putin is a supporter of statist power policy, a patriot strengthening the vertical line of authority, an Orthodox Christian, true to the Russian spiritual roots but loyal to the other Eurasian traditional confessions. Putin is for us the one who saves the country from separatism and disruption, and encourages the integration process within the frameworks of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU and the CIS, one of the pioneers of the creation of the EEU.”9 To Dugin, President Putin is currently traveling the same path as he is.

Whenever one studies politics, Russian politics in particular, it is very important to take into consideration that things are often not what they might first seem. It is rather like a game of chess with people frequently saying and doing completely different things. At first glance, it appears that Alexander Dugin is much less radical than he once was, which could very well be the case; however, it is much more likely that he has chosen long-term influence to achieve strategic goals over the brand of fiery politics that he once embraced. For instance, the Eurasian movement does not use the flamboyant language of parties like the National Bolshevik Party and appears to be geared towards intellectuals. This is one advantage of not having to participate in elections and concentrating efforts on influencing current and future leaders. Instead of proposing a bloody revolution, Dugin favors a gradual transformation of Russia using existing power structures. His supports the Russian government as long as it serves as a “radical center” that seeks the long-term interests of Russia over political convenience. This is somewhat like a revolution from the top down. Most “revolutions” have little to do with the masses, so it makes complete sense to skip the theatrics.

Like his New-Right comrades, Dugin uses a different language when referring to the subjects of race, religion, and ethnicity. He calls for the preservation of “the great Russian people” by restoring traditional family values, which is basically the same as saying that Russians need to be concerned with their shrinking population and have larger families. Dugin has abandoned the Communist Party, but the Eurasian movement advocates a mixed economy with small-scale capitalism and strategic vital sectors under control of the state.

Although the Eurasian movement doesn’t focus strictly on the unity of the Slavic peoples or a greater Russia, it does share aspects with other forms of pan-Europeanism and stresses the importance of ethnic self-determination vs. globalism, another trait shared with the New Right.

While Dugin’s movement can’t be immediately identified as a form of neo- or post-Fascism, judging from the alarmist coverage given to him by certain Jewish political groups, he is considered to be a threat by some.10 This is a good indication that Dugin is on to something and his enemies fear him and his growing influence. Dugin is indeed a player in Russian politics.

Foundations of the Modern Eurasian Movement

Considering recent world events, Eurasianism seems increasingly likely to be the form of nationalism that will prevail in Russia and become Russia’s new national idea. In addition, Eurasianism might be a new banner under which various nations can form alliances to serve their own self interests. Eurasianism could replace communism as an ideology to counter American dominance in the world. Recent American-led wars have caused many to come to the conclusion that the world’s lone superpower, or hyperpower, is out of control and will stop at nothing, regardless of world opinion, which will likely accelerate the creation of shifting political alliances to rival America.

What exactly is the Eurasian movement? The best short description of Eurasianism is a geopolitical movement that has it's roots in the historical question of what Russia's destiny and role in the world are combined with opposition to globalization and American dominance. Russian leaders have always debated whether or not Russia was part of the West, East, or something uniquely Russian. As noted earlier, the Slavophiles vs. reformers was an early example of this. Eurasianists hold the geopolitical viewpoint that Russia's role is that of a integrative core of a continental bloc, the Eurasian heartland.11 The Eurasian goal is to create a Russia-dominated bloc stretching from the Levant to the Asia-Pacific. Reflecting Slavophile ideas, Dugin writes that "the originality of Russia, its difference from both West and East, is a positive value. It must be saved, developed, and taken care of."12

To these geopoliticians, the world is divided into land and sea, with continental and oceanic civilizations. Historic examples are Carthage and Rome, Sparta and Athens, and England and Germany. Traditionally, Russia, Germany, and France have competed for domination of the Eurasian landmass, which benefited England. When British geostrategists looked at their maps in the 18th and 19th centuries, the noticed that Eurasia was by far the world’s largest continent and to establish a globe-spanning empire, they would first have to establish footholds throughout the continent, which resulted in conflict with Russia. Russia controlled Eurasia, and Eurasia was the key to world empire. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, conflicts between Russia and Britain were fought on the Indian frontier, notably in Afghanistan.

If the continental powers were to form a unified bloc, America and England would be drastically reduced in geopolitical significance. This can be seen by the efforts of the American administration to use Russia as a counterbalance against the European Union. Due to its unique geography, the Eurasians envision a Eurasian union situated between the European Union and an East Asian union. Dugin would like to see Japan as the regional power in Asia, but realizes that, strategically, China is much more likely to form an alliance with Russia in the near future and will be in a position to challenge the U.S. militarily before any other Asian nations. Strengthening of military and political ties between Russia and China can now be seen.

One of the key components of the Eurasian movement is mutipolarism, a term heard more frequently used by opponents of American dominance of the world. The goal of this multipolarism is to offset globalism and to replace the US-dominated unipolar world. Multipolarism, according to the Eurasians, will struggle against the New World Order. Dugin argues that "the strategic interests of the Russian people must be oriented in an anti-Western fashion (deriving from the imperative to preserve the identity of Russia's civilization)."13 Whenever one hears a Russian politician use the term “multipolarism,” he is hearing a person who has most likely been influenced by modern Eurasian ideas. Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, himself a former spymaster and defender of Islamic countries in the Middle East, often espoused Eurasian ideas and spoke of “multipolarity” in the world.

Some Western nationalists might be tempted to conclude that the Eurasian movement advocates the mixing of European and Asian races and cultures. I must point out here that Dugin is not advocating the merging of cultures and peoples. He is not an internationalist or a multiculturalist. To be sure, he thinks that ethnic questions are best left in the hands of autonomous ethnic communities;14 however, geopolitical interests should be controlled by geopolitical elites. Each sphere of influence will have its own natural center. From Eurasian writings, it is clear that this school of thought considers globalism and American-exported consumerist culture to be major threats to cultural preservation. These fears are shared by most nationalist groups in Europe and third-world countries. This language allows nationalists to present themselves as liberators and defenders of the oppressed. Dugin recognizes that different regions of the world are made up of distinct, autonomous, and incommensurable civilizations.15 The Eurasian movement claims that every people and ethnic group in the world is valuable in its own way and has the right to self-preservation.16 They consider physical extinction, loss of language, assimilation, and loss of traditional culture to be irreparable losses for mankind. According to Dugin, “Nobody has the right to force any people to lose its uniqueness into the ‘global melting pot.’”17

Eurasianism in Practice

It apears that the Eurasian movement is making significant headway among Russia's political leadership. Dugin serves as an international affairs adviser to several senior Duma leaders, including Communist Deputy speaker Gennady Seleznev; a former foreign affairs adviser to President Yeltsin and current Russian ambassador to Uzbekistan; as well as General Nikolai Klokotov, former head of the General Staff's military training academy, are affiliates of the Eurasian movement. Dugin himself is a professor of strategy at the Russian Military Staff Academy. Experts from the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy officially concluded that, in order to reestablish Russia as a world power, Eurasianism should be adopted.18 His major work, Russia's Geopolitical Future, Thinking According to Space,19 is required reading at Russian military academies.

Dugin's influence can even be seen in some of the foreign policy moves of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unlike former Russian President Yeltsin, who was widely seen as a stooge for American interests and a man who caused so much misery in Russia, from the Eurasian viewpoint, Putin has been making some very intelligent geopolitical moves. Russia has used its supply of natural gas to bring Ukraine back into its sphere of influence and has hinted that it may stop providing inexpensive gas to the Baltic nations if they continue to gravitate towards Western Europe. The Russian government also uses fuel supplies as a weapon when dealing with Georgia and other former Soviet republics. Like it or not, such countries have little choice but to trade with their giant neighbor, because an embargo on any one of these countries would simply destroy its economy. The creation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the strengthening of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are two examples of Russian strengthening its position. Almost as if his statement were written by Dugin himself, Putin stated that "Russia has always seen itself as a Euro-Asiatic nation."20 In Central Asia, Putin's Russia has regained some of its Soviet-era influence by creating a regional rapid reaction force under Russian command, which gives Russia the leading role in forming security policies for the region. The creation of the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) gives Moscow a new sphere of economic influence.

The fall of the Soviet Union has created an ideological crisis in Russia and the rest of the world. Although considered by many to have just been a pipe dream, many oppressed people in third-world countries saw the Soviet Union and communism as their protector and gave them hope for a better future and something to fight for. In Russia, the post-Soviet political scene has lacked a coherent national idea to unify Russians and give them something to believe in other than personal survival. To help pave the path for a new national idea, Russia's recent restoration of the Soviet hymn and the use of the Soviet flag by the Russian Army seem to indicate that Putin is trying to create a new ideology for Russia using some powerful symbols of the Soviet Union, which has delighted the communists. For Russians, they are powerful reminders of what once was, of the power of the Soviet Union. Such symbolic gestures help pave the way for a transitional period and show that the current government is not openly hostile to the ideas that so many people spent their whole lives believing in. It is similar to the way that the Communist Party uses communist language and symbols, but in reality is a Russian nationalist party. Many in the West don’t like the use of Soviet symbols in Russia.The hysterical cries of the Western media brought smiles to the faces of many Russians.

Since Putin became president, relations with China have continued to warm, both militarily and economically. The multi-decade "friendship and cooperation" accord with China demonstrates Russian efforts to create a counter-balance to America. On May 27, 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement to create a $2.5 billion pipeline to carry Russia oil over the Siberian Taiga and into China. The pipeline will stretch 2,400 kilometers to the northern Chinese city of Daqing. To go online by 2005, the pipeline will be able to carry 30 million tons of crude each year. Recently, Putin stated to the media that “Relations between Russia and China have reached their highest level ever.”21 According to the agreement, which is peppered with Eurasian ideas, “Russia and China stand for a multipolar, just and democratic world order on the commonly recognized principles of international law.” Both Russia and China, members of the U.N. Security Council, stood against the recent war on Iraq. Speaking at a news conference with Hu, Putin said that the world “can and should be multipolar.”22 It appears that the Chinese president is willing to embrace aspects of the Eurasian idea, as it gives China the status of regional power in Asia and equal power in the world. The Chinese government often advocates the creation of a multipolar world.

Along the lines of Dugin's geopolitical plan, Moscow has placed much emphasis on strengthening the Russo-Iranian strategic partnership. In March of 2001, Russian President Putin and Mohammed Khatami signed a cooperation agreement worth $7 billion. Dugin would like to see Iran become the regional power in the Middle East, to which other governments in the region gravitate, which obviously pits Russia against Israel and its protector. Dugin's hand can also be seen in the strengthening of ties between Russia and Germany. Himself a former KGB officer stationed in East Germany, Putin is well liked in Germany. After addressing the Bundestag in fluent German, Putin received a standing ovation. Germany is currently the largest investor in Russia. During the recent war against Iraq, Russia joined Germany and France in opposition. While seeking German diplomatic support and trade, Moscow is also promoting European dependence on Russian-controlled Central Asian energy resources.

Russian political leaders are more and more often using Eurasian ideas and words in their speeches. The multipolar idea is especially attractive and is the Eurasian concept most often heard in the Russian media. The multipolar world is to replace the unipolar world under American dominance, which will combat globalism. To do this, Dugin advocates a series of strategic alliances to shift the balance of power away from the United States. He proposes that Russia should no longer seek assistance from the U.S., which was the case under Yeltsin, and should conclude treaties with Western Europe instead. With the recent strengthening of ties between Russia, France, and Germany, this could be exactly what is happening. Comparing Eurasianism to gobalism, Dugin write: “ It might be said that Eurasism is the philosophy of multipolar globalization, calling to the union of all societies and peoples on earth to build an original and authentic world, every component of which organically derives from historical traditions and local cultures.”23

It is important to point out that, although highly critical of America’s foreign policies, the Eurasian movement doesn’t call for the destruction of the United States and sees America as having a future regional role in a multipolar world. According to the Eurasian geopolitical plan, the world will be divided into four geo-economic belts. The Euro-African belt will be a European-dominated sphere of influence including the European Union, Islamic-Arab Africa, and sub-tropical Africa. The Asian-Pacific belt will include the countries of South-eastern Asia, Indochina, Australia, and New Zealand. The Eurasian continental belt will include Russia, the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, some Islamic countries, India, and China. The American belt will include North America, Central America, and South America. Within each of these economic belts, Dugin envisions spheres of influence, or what he calls “great spaces.” For instance, he sees China, India, and Russia as three different “great spaces” with different cultural and historical traditions. Under this new multipolar world, America will play a constructive role in the Western hemisphere and Russia will establish relations with the Euro-African and Asia-Pacific belts.

According to Dugin, one can support the concepts of the Eurasian movement without being Russian or even European. Even Americans who wish to see a multipolar world and agree with the Eurasian vision of self-determination and ethnic pluralism are comrades:

In this highest and widest meaning, Eurasism acquires a new extraordinary significance. Now it is not only the form of the national idea for the post-communist Russia (as it was considered by the founding fathers of the movement and the contermporary neo-Eurasists in the first stage), as a vast program of planetary universal relevance by far exceeding the borders of Russia of the same Eurasian continent in the same way as the concept of “Americanism” today can be applied to geographical regions found beyond the borders of the same American continent. “Eurasism” means a peculiar civilizational, cultural, philosophical, strategical choice, which can be made by any representativee of the human kind, whatever the spot on the planet where he lives, or the national and spiritural culture to which he belongs.

Therefore, the Eurasian idea can be supported by non-Russians, even we Americans, as well as Russians.

One aspect of the Eurasian idea that many nationalists might not like is the acceptance of the end of the modern nation state. I understand that this is very difficult for many; however, in terms of pure survival, it is better to adapt and overcome than to go down fighting to turn the clock back. In this day and age, globalism can only be stopped by an equally powerful movement. Independent nationalist movements can do a lot to upset the current trend towards a New World Order, but very few countries have the resources and power to resist globalization. It is somewhat like the difference between a conservative and a revolutionary. A good example might be the European Union. The reason why many people oppose the European Union is the harmful effects it has on member nations. However, if the European Union were controlled by leaders with the best interests of their people at heart, it isn’t a bad idea at all. The right people could transform the European Union into a pan-European body that thinks of itself as European and conducts itself accordingly. The Eurasians believe that the destruction of the nation state as we know it cannot be prevented under modern conditions and the threat of globalization will not allow simply defending the status quo. They believe that the future will see new political formations combining the strategical unification of spheres of influence with a complex multi-dimensional system of national, cultural, and economic autonomies inside each sphere. Dugin gives the following examples: The Roman empire, the empire of Alexander the Great, the European Union, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In response to the threat of globalization, Dugin believes that nation states have three options to choose from: 1, self-liquidation and integration into globalized New World Order under U.S. domination; 2, to try to oppose globalization and preserve current administrative structures; or 3, creating supra-state formations on the basis of historical civilizational and strategic communities. Dugin believes that the best option for survival is the third.

The Eurasians suggest the following division of powers: local and strategic. At the local level, governments will rule according to autonomies, which will be chosen based on tradition and the will of the “organic collectivities,” societies, ethnic groups, and religious organizations. These local governments will have control over civil and administrative issues, the social sphere, education and medicine, and the local economy. According the the Eurasians, under such local governments, the level of freedom will be very high, and a creative development will be seen like none before. Within each sphere of influence, such as a Eurasian Union, issues of strategic security and international activities, as well as control over strategic resources, will be controlled by a strategic center. One can only guess that Russia will naturally be the strategic center in the Eurasian Union.

It may seem that the Eurasians concentrate on Russian foreign policy and write little about domestic policy. While political parties such as the NBP and the Communist Party are more focussed on domestic problems than the Eurasians, Dugin's movement does offer suggested priorities for Russian domestic policy, a mixed economy being one and maximum cultural autonomy being another.

Is the Eurasian movement simply a geopolitical plan or is it a real ideology under which people can be united? By combining ideas that most people agree with and repackaging older ideas under new names, the Eurasian movement is turning itself into a state ideology under which the majority of Russians can be united and foreign patriots can support. Eurasianism rejects many of the things that the communists and nationalists reject. It upholds the slavophile idea that Russia must follow its own unique destiny. It rejects world-capitalism, consumerism, and liberal democracy. It aims to create a strong, centralized Russian state and increase Moscow's sphere of influence. It seeks to oppose American political dominance. In his essay, "Why We Dislike Them," Dugin notes that "nothing is as popular in Russia today as disliking America." He writes that the Russian right hates the United States for its liberalism and globalist values, while the Russian left hates America for being the bulwark of international capitalism and market economics, which is a result of the reforms imposed on Russia during the 1990s, heavily pushed by the United States. In his essay, Dugin concludes that "anti-Americanism could be a reliable platform for the consolidation of the entire Russian society."

The Eurasian movement also calls for a crackdown on Yeltsin-era oligarchs, something Putin is indeed attempting to do (even after Jewish oligarch Boris Berezovsky helped to finance his first election campaign, Putin had no problem launching criminal proceedings against him). It advocates the right to ethnic self-determination, a trait it shares with the "New Right" in Europe with its "ethnic pluralism." It also seems to place an emphasis on Orthodox Christianity as the traditional Russian religion, which is essential for any mainstream political movement in Russia. Even Communist Party leader Zyuganov claims to be Orthodox.

Towards Eurasia

At present, the Eurasian movement seems to be the most likely nationalist movement to gain power in Russia. Due to the fact that it is short-circuiting the electoral process by influencing the actual people who make foreign policy gives it an advantage over any of the monarchist, communist, or other nationalist movements that seek to gain power through democracy. It does remain to be seen whether this is simply a phase or if Russia will actually attempt to put into place Dugin's geopolitical plan.

If Putin is reelected for a second term, which almost certainly will be the case, he will have a free hand to make bolder decisions and to install more of his own people in the power hierarchy of the Russian government. He will be able to completely deal with the oligarchs without fear, which will make him and his government extremely popular. Since the Russian government is adopting much of the political rhetoric of nationalist groups and addressing many of their concerns, it is not likely that a grass-roots organization will gain enough popular support to win enough seats in the State Duma to make a difference. The Communist Party might become more radical in an attempt to outflank the government, but it has no hope of defeating President Putin, who is extremely popular, in the next election. At present, the Communist Party is simply useful opposition for the Kremlin. It can only hope to force the Russian government to adopt some of its ideas. It will simply serve as a token party.

The recent success of the Rodina (motherland) bloc, led by ex-members of the Communist Party, has demonstrated a shift in the Russian political landscape. Rodina captured 9% of the vote in the 2004 State Duma elections, which is more than the two Western-backed "liberal" political parties, Yabloka and SPS. There is much speculation surrounding this new political force. Some consider Rodina to be a creation of the Kremlin to draw votes from the Communist Party. Others view Rodina as a means to allow the Kremlin to appear "moderate" by having a more extreme voice, although Kremlin-friendly, propose radical measures. Rodina has proposed that the State confiscate property stolen by the oligarchs. Also, after the recent metro bombing, members of Rodina have voiced support for measures to crack down on illegal ethnic minorities. While not much is known about Rodina, it does appear to be a serious political force. In a way, it allows the Russian people to support a party that proposes many of the same things the Communist Party proposes while not being "communist." It also, so far, has a much more serious image than that of Zhirinovsky and his LDPR.

The growing threat of American dominance and aggression in the world will allow Russia to assert itself in world affairs and allow Russia to fulfill its role as the “savior” that Russian nationalists have long believed in. The so-called "old Europe" will be more willing to reach agreements with Moscow in order to counteract the hyperpower. Nations like Iran, Syria, and North Korea will become increasingly concerned with their security and will seek Russian assistance in strengthening their defenses. Now that the American military machine has destroyed Iraq and has bases within striking distance of Iran and Syria, Israel is the dominant power in the Middle East, which will force other regional countries to seek protection and increase defense spending.

It is evident that major geopolitical change will come soon, possibly sooner than expected. American politics might become more isolationist in the coming years once the American people realize how overstreched the American military is and America’s economy continues to worsen, due in part to the billions of dollars that will be needed to rebuild Iraq and continue the current American foreign policy direction in the Middle East. It is highly likely that resentment will grow and more terrorist attacks will be carried out against American targets. American soldiers will continue to die at a steady rate in long wars of attrition in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The United States will be forced to take a step back, and this will allow a new balance of power and a multipolar world, which Russia will help create.

Predicting the future is very difficult. By the next presidential election we in America could be hearing politicians promising to “bring our boys home.” Americans might begin to question why so much money is needed for America’s crusade and whether or not that money might be better used rebuilding America. Turns of events can change the political climate 180 degrees. One thing is certain: a form of Russian nationalism will come to be, and it is likely to officially be called a democracy. To my mind, there is no question that the future Russia will be a strong, autocratic, pro-Russian state and, at least, a regional power. Russia is currently the most resource-rich nation in the world and has the potential to become very wealthy. At this point, it is simply a matter of will.

End of the American Empire = Begining of a New World

For American patriots, the fall of the American empire may or may not be good news. It is natural for a patriot to want to support his government, especially when young men are sent in harm’s way, but ask yourself for whose interests our people are dying. Is it really worth the blood of patriots to protect free markets, a steady supply of oil, multiculturalism, military supremecy, and the pariah state called Israel? Others might like the idea of an American-dominated world, complete with free trade and a cosmopolitan, universal, materialist culture. We must remember that the American empire is far from “American” and our current culture and foreign policies have little to do with what is traditionally thought of as American and actually work against the best interests of the American people. Many so-called “Americans” might like to install Israel-friendly puppet regimes in all of the Middle Eastern states and are perfectly willing to sacrifice your sons and daughters to that end. However, for those Americans who dream of a patriotic America that looks after its own interests first and isn't hated by nearly the entire world, the sooner the American empire ends, the better. A new balance of power would truly be good news.

It could very well come to be that Mother Russia's destiny as the "Third Rome" will indeed save the West and the world will become multipolar. All empires come to an end, and the American empire is simply waiting for its turn. Dollar diplomacy and raw military power might be effective in the short term; however, in the long run, America will overextend itself, and many nations, such as Russia, will be waiting for their chance to reassert themselves in world affairs. Of course, this may all simply be wishful thinking, and the world might go through a period of much more painful and bloody times before the situation takes a turn for the better. For example, certain countries in the world might be willing to use nuclear weapons before allowing the current status quo to be changed. This is something we must take into careful consideration and act accordingly. However, one must hope for the best and believe that there might one day be a better world.

Although the Eurasian idea might be simply another utopian dream, dreams are what motivate people and give them the courage to fight rather than simply commit a slow, comfortable suicide, which is the situation we currently find ourselves in. Because I recognize the Eurasian idea as an alternative to the soulless New World Order where culture is pre-packaged and we are rootless slaves living on the global international capitalist plantation that the enemies of our people dream of, given the choice of adapting and overtaking or simply pretending that things can possibly remain the same, any and all new ideas to combat the current situation and create a different order in the world are welcome. I can only wish the Eurasian movement the best. It appears to be a glimmer of hope in this black, confused, depressing, ever-changing world. If the Russians are able to pull this off, it will most certainly be better than the alternative. The time to fight is long overdue. Eurasia arise!

No one can doubt that the idea of a multi-polar world offers hope for the peoples of the world to escape encroaching globalism, loss of identity and genetic integrity, and domination by the parasitic self-styled Jewish elite which currently dominates the United States. But Dugin's relative dismissal of biological race is troubling, as is his desire to emphasize the minuscule non-European element in one of the greatest White nations on Earth. More disturbing still is his apparent willingness, in 2001, to at least theoretically ally his 'Eurasia' with Israel. Nevertheless, politics is the art of the possible. And for the moment the influence of Dugin's ideas upon the Russian elite seems to be moving them away from absorption into the pathological anti-White power structure that, paradoxically, is still called 'the West' in popular parlance. -- K.A.S.


1. N.S. Trubetzkoy, “The Upper and Lower Stories of Russian Culture,” in his The Legacy of Ghengis Khan and other Essays on Russia’s Identity, pp. 96, 99.
2. Survey by the VCIOM, PanRussian Center for the Study of the Public Opinion, 2-5 November 2001.
3. “The Lure of the East,” Wiener Library Bulletin, April 1962.
4. Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist, Telos, winter 1993-spring 1994, p. 189.
5. Pierre-Andre Taguieff, “The New Right’s View of European Identity,” Telos, winter 1993-spring 1994, p. 108.
6. Zyuganov quoted in Spotlight, May 20 1996.
7. Martin Lee. The Beast Reawakensi, p. 320. I highly recommend this book for those interested in post-WWII nationalist movements in Europe and America. Although written from a very critical point-of-view, this book is a splendid source of information.
8. Alexander Dugin, “The Eurasia Movement at a Difficult Stage.”
9. Alexander Dugin “The outcome of the political conference of the movement EURASIA,” March 1, 2002.
10. http://www.fsumonitor.com/stories/032703Russia.shtml
11. I remember watching an American WWII-era propaganda film that claimed German geopoliticians had a secret plan to dominate the world by first dominating the Eurasian heartland. It appears that America’s post-WWII policy has largely been to divide Europe. Many have said that the real purposeof NATO is to keep America in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. Now, we hear the terms “New” and “Old” Europe used to describe those countries that support or oppose Washington’s policies.
12. Address by Dugin to the Constituent Congress of the Party EURASIA on March 1, 2002.
13. Alexander Dugin, Osnovi Geopolitiki: Geopoliticheskoyo Budushiye Rossii, p. 190.
14. History has proven that, when left alone, most peoples tend to group according to similarity. People naturally identify with larger groups and don’t naturally think of themselves as simply indivdual economic consumers.
15. Alexander Dugin, "Program and Statutes of the Political Party Eurasia."
16. The obvious problem here is when two groups are in conflict over the same resources and geographic area, it is very hard to find a solution that doesn’t involve violence or the assimilation of one of the groups. Still, in theory, this is a very good ideal to strive for and it shows that the Eurasianists at least consider the right to self-determination fundamental.
17. Alexander Dugin, “Basic Principles of the Eurasist Doctrinal Platform” http://www.eurasia.com.ru/eurasist_vision.html
18. RFE/Rl Security Watch, Vol. 2, No. 25, 28 June 2001.
19. As far as I know, this work has not been translated into English; however, this is a project I am currently considering.
20. Clover, Charles, "Dreams of the Eurasian Heartland," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 2, March April 1999, pp. 10-11.
21. Valeria Korchagina and Simon Saradzhyan, “Putin, Hu Sign Off on Oil Pipeline” the Moscow Times, may 28, 2003. China and Russia have had a historically uneasy relationship and have often been opposed to each other. This has been exploited by the United States, i.e., Richard Nixon.
22. Ibid.
23. Alexander Dugin, “Basic Principles of the Eurasist (Eurasianism) Doctrinal Platform” http://www.eurasia.com.ru/eurasist_vision.html

zaterdag, april 29, 2006

The New Geopolitics of Empire door John Bellamy FOSTER in Monthly Review, Januari 2006.

Today’s imperial ideology proclaims that the United States is the new city on the hill, the capital of an empire dominating the globe. Yet the U.S. global empire, we are nonetheless told, is not an empire of capital; it has nothing to do with economic imperialism as classically defined by Marxists and others. The question then arises: How is this new imperial age conceived by those promoting it ?

The answer, I am convinced, is to be found in the dramatic resurrection of geopolitics as an imperial philosophy. What Michael Klare has called in these pages “The New Geopolitics” has become a pragmatic means of integrating U.S. imperial goals in the post-Cold War world while avoiding all direct allusions to the “economic taproot of imperialism.”1

As Franz Neumann indicated in Behemoth, his classic 1942 critique of the Third Reich, “geopolitics is nothing but the ideology of imperialist expansion.”2 More precisely, it represents a specific way of organizing and advancing empire—one that arose with modern imperialism, but that contains its own peculiar history that is reverberating once again in our time.

Geopolitics is concerned with how geographical factors, including territory, population, strategic location, and natural resource endowments, as modified by economics and technology, affect the relations between states and the struggle for world domination. Classical geopolitics was a manifestation of interimperialist rivalry and emerged around the time of the Spanish–American War and the Boer War. It constituted the core ideology of U.S. overseas expansion articulated in Alfred Thayer Mahan’s Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890), Frederick Jackson Turner’s “The Frontier in American History” (1893), and Brooks Adams’s The New Empire (1902)—as well as in Theodore Roosevelt’s “Rough-Rider” policies.3 The term “geopolitics” itself was coined in 1899 by the Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellén, after which it quickly emerged as a systematic area of study. The three foremost geopolitical theorists in the key period from the Treaty of Versailles through the Second World War, were Halford Mackinder in Britain, Karl Haushofer in Germany, and Nicholas John Spykman in the United States.

Classical Geopolitics

Mackinder was a geographer, economist, and politician. He was Director of the London School of Economics from 1903 to 1908 and a Member of Parliament from Glasgow from 1910 to 1922. He began to develop his geopolitical ideas in 1904 with his essay “The Geographical Pivot of History.”4 Mackinder was a strong advocate of British imperialism, arguing that colonies in Africa and Asia constituted a safety valve for European society, and that a closure of the world to European imperialist expansion would lead to the unleashing of uncontrollable class forces within European societies. Central to his analysis was the recognition that the frontiers of the world were closed, resulting in heightened interimperialist rivalry.

“The great wars of history,” Mackinder wrote in Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919), “are the outcome, direct or indirect, of the unequal growth of nations.” Geopolitical reality was such as “to lend itself to the growth of empires, and in the end of a single World-Empire.”5 A primary concern motivating Mackinder’s theoretical contributions was the decline of British economic hegemony, leading him eventually to conclude that British capital needed protectionism and military power to back it up. Britain “no less than Germany,” he claimed, “became ‘market-hungry,’ for nothing smaller than the whole world was market enough for her in her own special lines....Free-trading, peace-loving Lancashire has been supported by the force of the Empire....Both Free Trade of the laissez-faire type and Protection of the predatory type are policies of Empire, and both make for War.”6

Mackinder is best known for his doctrine of the “Heartland.” Geopolitical strategy was about the endgame of controlling the Heartland—or the enormous transcontinental land mass of Eurasia, encompassing Eastern Europe, Russia through Siberia, and Central Asia. The Heartland, together with the remainder of Asia and Africa, made up the World Island. The Heartland itself was defined by its inaccessibility to sea, making it “the greatest natural fortress on earth.”7 The Columbian Age dominated by sea power, Mackinder argued, was coming to an end to be replaced by a new Eurasian age in which land power would be decisive. The development of land transportation and communication meant that land power could finally rival sea power. In the new Eurasian Age whoever ruled the Heartland, if also equipped with a modern navy, would be able to outflank the maritime world—the world controlled by the British and U.S. empires.

In Democratic Ideals and Reality Mackinder designated Eastern Europe as a strategic addition to the Heartland—the key to the command of Eurasia. Thus arose his oft-quoted dictum:

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland:
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island:
Who rules the World-Island commands the World.8

Mackinder insisted that the most immediate foreign policy objective for the British Empire was to prevent any kind of alliance or bloc between Germany and Russia, and to keep either one from dominating Eastern Europe. Hence strong buffer states needed to be formed between these two great powers.

In 1919 the British government appointed Mackinder high commissioner for south Russia to help organize British support for General Denikin and the White Army in the Russian Civil War. Following the Red Army’s defeat of Denikin, Mackinder returned to London and reported to the British government that, although German industrialization was rightly feared by Britain, Germany could not be allowed to collapse economically and militarily since it constituted the chief bulwark against Bolshevik control of Eastern Europe. Mackinder was knighted for his efforts on behalf of the empire.9

Mackinder’s geopolitical analysis was to have an even greater impact on German than on British war planning. The founder of the German school of Geopolitik was Friedrich Ratzel, whose most important works appeared in the 1890s. Ratzel sought to connect the Darwinian struggle for existence with the geopolitical struggle for space through an organic theory of the state. States were not static but naturally growing, borders were simply a skin that could be shed. It was Ratzel who first introduced the term “lebensraum” (or living space) as an imperative for the German polity. “There is in this small planet,” he wrote, “sufficient space for only one great state.”10

The foremost German geopolitical thinker, however, was Karl Haushofer, who drew upon both Ratzel and Mackinder. Haushofer insisted that Germany needed to enlarge its lebensraum, the requirements of which were evident in the disproportion between the German population and the natural geographic space necessary to accommodate it. He regarded the United States, with its ideology of Manifest Destiny, as the country that had most successfully employed geopolitics within its region. In this regard he saw the Monroe Doctrine, which stipulated that the United States had hegemony in the Americas and would not suffer the competition of any foreign power (along with the 1904 Roosevelt Corollary through which the United States claimed “international police power” in the Western Hemisphere) as the greatest practical implementation of geopolitics, pointing to the need for a parallel German Monroe Doctrine. Haushofer and his followers viewed Pan-Americanism as a geopolitical grouping through which the United States exercised its regional hegemony. He argued that similar regional hegemonies could be established around other great powers, notably Pan-Germanism or a Pan-Europe dominated by Germany.11

British imperialism was for Haushofer the greatest threat to German power. One of his books included a world map showing a giant octopus located in the British Isles with its tentacles stretching out into every corner of the globe. The development of German strength to counter the British and American maritime world, he argued, lay in the creation of a great Eurasian intercontinental power bloc with Russia and Japan, in which Germany would be the senior partner. The alliance with Japan would counter British and American naval power in the Pacific. With the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939 he wrote: “Now finally, the collaboration of the Axis powers, and of the Far East, stands distinctly before the German soul. At last, there is the hope of survival against the Anaconda policy [the strangling encirclement] of the Western democracies.” Although relying primarily on geopolitics, Haushofer was to unite his ideas with the Nazi doctrine of “master-races.”12

Haushofer served as a brigade commander in the First World War, with Rudolf Hess as his aide-de-camp. He retired from the military with the rank of major general and took up a position as a lecturer at the University of Munich in 1919, where Hess continued as his student and disciple. Through Hess, Haushofer had direct contact with and served as an adviser to Hitler. After the failure of the Nazi Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 Hitler and later Hess were confined in the Fortress of Landsberg. As Hess’s mentor, Haushofer frequently visited Hitler there while the latter was dictating Mein Kampf to Hess. Many of Haushofer’s ideas, including his treatment of lebensraum, were thus adopted by Hitler and incorporated into Mein Kampf. In 1933 after the Nazi rise to power a professorship of defense geography was created for Haushofer at the University of Munich where he directed his Institute of Geopolitics. In the following year Hitler appointed him president of the German Academy. After Hess’s flight to Britain in 1941 Haushofer’s influence with Hitler waned. He was consigned briefly to the Dachau concentration camp. His son, Albrecht (also a leading Nazi geopolitical analyst) was executed by the SS for involvement in the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. Haushofer committed suicide after being interrogated by the Allies in 1946.13

Nicholas John Spykman was a Dutch-American political scientist, sociologist, and journalist. Spykman wrote two major geopolitical works: America’s Strategy in World Politics (1942), completed just before the U.S. entry in the Second World War, and his posthumous work, The Geography of the Peace (1944). He opposed a “rimland” thesis to Mackinder’s Heartland doctrine, arguing that by controlling the amphibious rimlands of Europe, the Middle East, and the East Asia-Pacific Rim region, the United States could limit the power of the Eurasian Heartland. Spykman insisted that the United States should build North Atlantic and trans-Pacific naval and air bases, encircling Eurasia. Responding to Mackinder, Spykman wrote: “If there is to be a slogan for the power politics of the Old World, it must be ‘Who controls the rimland rules Eurasia; who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world.’”14

In America’s Strategy in World Politics Spykman insisted that U.S. policy must be “directed at the prevention of hegemony,” defined as “a power position which would permit the domination of all within its [the hegemon’s] reach.” But in practice this meant the promotion of U.S.-British dominance.15 By 1942 with the British Empire weakening and the U.S. Empire growing, an “American-British hegemony” of the globe, Spykman contended, was in the offing—provided that the German-Japanese attempt at world hegemony could be defeated. Although the Soviet Union was then an ally of the United States and Britain, Spykman nevertheless suggested in The Geography of the Peace that the primary goal must be to ensure that the Soviet Union not “establish a hegemony over the European rimland.” The Soviet Union’s “own strength, great as it is,” he observed, “would be insufficient to preserve her security against a unified rimland” under U.S. hegemony, the existence of which would give the United States global supremacy.16

Spykman’s views were widely read in U.S. policy circles, but beginning in 1942 the term “geopolitics,” if not the concept itself, was increasingly off limits in the United States due to the alarms that had been raised in the U.S. media about German geopolitical thinking and Haushofer’s influence on Hitler. It would be a quarter-century or more before the term would re-enter public discourse. Although Spykman’s rimland concept is often seen as providing the intellectual background behind George Kennan’s notion of “containment,” explicit references to Spykman’s ideas in this context were notable by their absence.

The Geopolitics of Pax Americana

In 1939 State Department planners in conjunction with the Council on Foreign Relations initiated under conditions of extreme secrecy a high level War and Peace Studies (WPS) program, which continued to meet for the remainder of the war. The Rockefeller Foundation provided $44,500 in funding for its first year of operation. The WPS envisaged a geopolitical region that it designated as the “Grand Area,” and which consisted initially of the British and U.S. empires. “The Geopolitical analysis behind” the Grand Area, Noam Chomsky has explained, “attempted to work out which areas of the world have to be ‘open’—open to investment, open to the repatriation of profits. Open, that is, to domination by the United States.”17

The new Grand Area was thus to constitute an informal empire, modeled after U.S. domination of Latin America, involving the free flow of capital, under the economic, political, and military hegemony of the United States. Since Germany then occupied Europe, the Grand Area was at first conceived as restricted to the U.S. imperial region, the British Empire, and the Far East (assuming the U.S. defeat of Japan in the Pacific). By the end of the war it had expanded to encompass all of Western Europe as well. Isaiah Bowman, a leading U.S. political geographer (sometimes referred to in the press at the time as “the American Haushofer”), and a key figure in the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in 1941: “The measure of our victory will be the measure of our domination after victory.”18

In 1943 Mackinder published an article entitled “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace” in the Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs, which stated that “for our present purpose, it is sufficiently accurate to say that the territory of the USSR is equivalent to the Heartland.”19 For the first time, he argued, the Heartland was fully garrisoned and dangerous. The goal for the United States was therefore to counter the Soviet Heartland power. As Colin Gray observed in his Geopolitics of the Nuclear Era (1977), viewed in geopolitical terms, the Cold War was essentially a contest “between the insular imperium of the United States and the ‘Heartland’ imperium of the Soviet Union....for control/denial of control of the Eurasian-African ‘Rimlands.’”20

Although explicit references to geopolitics were rare from the late 1940s to the 1970s, an exception to this was to be found in the work of James Burnham. Formerly a prominent leftist, Burnham played a major role in developing a geopolitics of anticommunism in the Cold War era. His postwar anticommunist blockbuster, The Struggle for the World (1947), was originally drafted as a secret study for the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA) in 1944, and was intended for use by the U.S. delegation to the Yalta Conference. It was, he insisted, “an axiom of geopolitics that if any one power succeeded in organizing the [Eurasian] Heartland and its outer barriers, that power would be certain to control the world.” Following Mackinder, Burnham claimed that the Soviet Union had emerged as the first great Heartland power, with a large, politically organized population, that was a threat to the World Island and hence the entire world. “Geographically, strategically, Eurasia encircles America, overwhelming it.” The United States was an empire, yet refused to call itself such; therefore various euphemisms needed to be found. “Whatever the words, it is well also to know the reality. The reality is that the only alternative to the communist World Empire is an American Empire, which will be, if not literally world-wide in formal boundaries, capable of exercising decisive world control.” Henry Luce actively promoted The Struggle for the World in Time magazine, and urged President Truman’s political aide, Charles Ross, to get Truman to read it. Ronald Reagan presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Burnham in 1983, declaring that he had “profoundly affected the way America views itself and the world.”21

Geopolitics was to owe its resurrection as an explicit, even official, doctrine of U.S. foreign policy in the 1970s to the influence of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Faced with the debacle in Vietnam and the need to restore U.S. power in the context of a growing imperial crisis, Kissinger and President Nixon reached out to the concept of geopolitics. The thawing of the Cold War relations with China following the Sino-Soviet split and the initiation of détente with the Soviet Union were both presented as “geopolitical necessities.” Kissinger’s references to geopolitics were pervasive throughout his 1979 memoirs, The White House Years.22

The 1970s witnessed along with the Vietnam defeat, economic stagnation and declining U.S. economic hegemony. By 1971 the U.S. empire had created such a huge dollar overhang abroad that Nixon was forced to decouple the dollar from gold, weakening the position of the dollar as the hegemonic currency. The energy crisis associated with the Arab oil boycott in response to the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the rise of the OPEC oil cartel demonstrated the growing dependence of the U.S. automobile-petroleum complex on Persian Gulf oil. The recession of 1974–75 initiated a secular slowdown of the U.S. economy that has continued with minor interruptions for three decades.

With the entire U.S. empire in crisis beginning in the 1970s, and with its war machine effectively immobilized due to what conservatives labeled the “Vietnam Syndrome” (the unwillingness of the U.S. population to support military interventions in the periphery), countries throughout the third world sought to break out of the system. Much of the attention during this period was directed at Washington’s attempts to counter revolutions and revolutionary movements in Central America and the Caribbean, the “backyard” of the U.S. empire. But the biggest defeat experienced by the U.S. empire in the years following the Vietnam War was the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which overthrew the Shah of Iran, hitherto the lynchpin of U.S. strategy in the Persian Gulf. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—against which the CIA immediately launched the greatest covert war in history, recruiting fundamentalist Islamic forces (including Osama Bin Laden) for a modern jihad—only served to reinforce the view within U.S. national security circles that control over the Middle East and its oil was in jeopardy.

A massive attempt was therefore made in the 1980s and ’90s to reconstitute overall U.S. hegemony, especially the position of the United States in the Persian Gulf. The signal event was the Carter Doctrine, issued by President Carter in his State of the Union speech in January 1980, in which he declared that, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” Modeled after the Monroe Doctrine, the Carter Doctrine was meant to extend the umbrella of direct U.S. military hegemony over the Persian Gulf.

All of this was intended to meet the geopolitical imperatives of U.S. multinational corporations. For Business Week in January 28, 1980, it was crucial that the United States develop a “geopolitics of minerals,” in response to the forces challenging U.S. power around the world: “In the 1980s, beset by demands among the post-colonial regimes for a ‘new international economic order’ and a related antagonism toward the multinational resource corporations,” the United States was increasingly “vulnerable” to loss of strategic materials and “world oil and raw material routes.” This, Business Week contended, would “force Washington to make some painful compromises between idealistic foreign policy goals and the revival of geopolitics.”23

In 1983 the Reagan administration responded to such demands by establishing the U.S. Central Command (Centcom). Centcom is one of five regional “unified commands” governing U.S. combat forces around the globe. Its authority covers twenty-five nations in south-central Asia (including the Persian Gulf) and in the Horn of Africa. Its primary responsibility from the start was to keep the oil flowing. In the two decades of its existence, Klare notes, “Centcom forces have fought in four major engagements: the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, the Persian Gulf War of 1991, the Afghanistan War of 2001, and the Iraq War of 2003[—].”24

The New Geopolitics

But it was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that was to constitute the sea change for the U.S. empire. The U.S. assault on Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, was made possible by the erosion of the balance of power in the Middle East in the wake of the weakening of Soviet power. At the same time, the Soviet meltdown and signs of its possible breakup constituted one of the chief reasons why the United States refrained from invading and occupying Iraq during the Gulf War. Geopolitical uncertainties associated with the collapse of the Soviet bloc were such that Washington could not afford to pin down large numbers of troops in the Middle East. Nor could it risk the possibility that an invasion and occupation of Iraq might serve to revive Soviet concerns about U.S. imperialism, and thus delay or reverse the massive changes then occurring in that country. The Soviet Union’s demise came only months later in the summer of 1991.

The “new world order” that followed was soon dubbed a “unipolar world” with the United States as the sole superpower. The Department of Defense lost no time in initiating a strategic review known as the Defense Planning Guidance, directed by Paul Wolfowitz then undersecretary of defense for policy. Parts of this classified report, leaked to the press in 1992, stated in Spykman-like language that “Our strategy [after the fall of the Soviet Union] must refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.” Wolfowitz also took a leaf from the Heartland doctrine, arguing that “Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.”25 The Defense Planning Guidance proposed a global geopolitical goal for the United States of permanent military hegemony through preemptive actions. Yet, strong objections from U.S. allies forced Washington to back off from the draft report’s explicit commitment to unilateral domination of the globe.

Over the following decade an intense debate took place within U.S. national security and foreign policy circles concerning the extent to which the United States should pursue the goal of indefinite planetary hegemony. Eugene Rostow, undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1966 to 1969, responded in 1993 to the collapse of the Soviet Union by pointing out that it was necessary to contain “the [Russian] Heartland area, [which] constitutes an enormous center of power from which military forces have attacked the coastal regions of Asia and Europe (the Rimlands, in Mackinder’s [sic.] terminology).” Similarly, Kissinger wrote in 1994: “Students of geopolitics....argue, however, that Russia regardless of who governs it, sits astride what Halford Mackinder called the geopolitical heartland, and is the heir to one of the most important imperial traditions.”26 The express goal of such leading national security analysts was to secure the rimland as a means to global power. Much of the controversy in this period centered not so much on the endgame itself, but on whether the United States should rule the globe jointly with its junior partners in the triad (Western Europe and Japan) or should unilaterally seek its own empire of the earth.27

In the end the debate on the new world order was made academic by the actual exercise of U.S. military power abroad, as the United States in the George H. W. Bush and Clinton years actively sought to renew and extend its economic hegemony by military means. The immediate goal was clearly one of securing the perimeter to the Eurasian heartland following the Soviet demise. Thus military interventions occurred in the 1990s not only in the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa but in Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe, where NATO under the leadership of the United States bombed for eleven weeks (in the case of Kosovo) and then landed ground troops, leading to the establishment of permanent military bases in an area that had formerly been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. In the Persian Gulf Iraq was faced with an economic embargo and daily bombings by the United States and Britain. Meanwhile, the United States sought military bases in Central Asia in areas surrounding the oil-and-natural-gas-rich Caspian Sea basin, formerly part of the Soviet Union.

In 1999 Mackubin Thomas Owens, Professor of Strategy and Force Planning at the Naval War College, authored a landmark article for the Naval War College Review entitled “In Defense of Classical Geopolitics.” Building on Mackinder and Spykman, while criticizing Haushofer, Owens insisted that the overwhelming geopolitical goal of the United States in the post–Cold War world remained that of preventing “the rise of a hegemon capable of dominating the Eurasian continental realm and of challenging the United States in the maritime realm.”28

Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, emerged in this period as one of the most avid proponents of the geopolitics of U.S. empire. In his Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997) he alluded directly to the Heartland doctrines promoted by Mackinder and Haushofer (and what he called “the much vulgarized echo” of this in “Hitler’s emphasis on the German people’s need for ‘Lebensraum’”). What had changed was that, “geopolitics has moved from the regional to the global dimension, with preponderance over the entire Eurasian continent serving as the central basis for global primacy. The United States...now enjoys international primacy, with its power directly deployed on three peripheries of the Eurasian continent”—in the West (Europe), the South (south-central Eurasia, including the Middle East) and the East (East-Asia Pacific Rim). “America’s global primacy,” Brzezinski argued, “is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.” The goal, he argued, was to create a “hegemony of a new type,” which he called “global supremacy,” establishing the United States indefinitely as “the first and only truly global power.”29

During the Clinton administration both neoliberal globalization and imperial geopolitics governed foreign policy, but the former often took precedence. In the George W. Bush administration the double commitment remained, but the emphasis was reversed from the start, with more direct attention given to strengthening U.S. global primacy through the exercise of geopolitical/military as opposed to economic power. This shift can be seen in two key position statements issued at the time of the 2000 elections. The first was a foreign policy paper entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses released in September 2000, at vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney’s request, by the Project for the New American Century (a strategic policy group that included Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, and George Bush’s younger bother Jeb). This report strongly reasserted the overtly imperialist strategy of the Defense Policy Guidance of 1992. The other was a speech entitled “Imperial America,” delivered on November 11, 2000 by Richard Haass, who was soon to join Colin Powell’s state department as director of policy planning. Haass insisted that the time had come for Americans “to re-conceive their role from a traditional nation-state to an imperial power.” The main danger threatening the U.S. global order was not one of “imperial overstretch” as suggested by Paul Kennedy in The Rise and Fall of Great Powers but “imperial understretch.”30

The immediate response of the Bush administration to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was to declare a universal and protracted global war on terrorism that was to double as a justification for the expansion of U.S. imperial power. The new National Security Strategy of the United States, delivered by the White House to Congress in September 2002, at the very same time that the administration was beating the war drums for an invasion of Iraq, was modeled after Wolfowitz’s earlier Defense Planning Guidance of 1992. It established as official U.S. strategic policy: (1) preventing any state from developing military capabilities equal to or greater than the United States; (2) carrying out “preemptive” strikes against states that were developing new military capabilities that might eventually endanger the United States, its friends or allies—even in advance of any imminent threat; and (3) insisting on the immunity of U.S. officials and military personnel to any international war crime tribunals. Once again the language mirrored Spykman’s declaration that the goal should be “directed at the prevention of hegemony”—though in this case the explicit goal was to prevent any future challenges to U.S. global supremacy.

Domination of Persian Gulf oil, through an invasion and occupation of Iraq, offered the quickest way of enhancing U.S. imperial power, ensuring that it would have a stranglehold over the world’s major petroleum reserves in a time of growing demand and declining supply of oil worldwide. The fact that the preponderance of long-term oil and natural gas supplies are concentrated in the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea basin, and West Africa allows U.S. “vital interests” in this broad region to be dealt with more circumspectly in the language of geopolitics with little mention of the fossil fuels themselves.

In May 2004, Alan Larson, under secretary of state for economic, business, and agricultural affairs, issued a report entitled “Geopolitics of Oil and Natural Gas,” which declared that “it is almost an axiom in the petroleum business that oil and gas are most often found in countries with challenging political regimes or difficult physical geography.” Here the geopolitics of oil and natural gas was seen as creating vital U.S. strategic interests in the Persian Gulf, Russia and the Caspian Sea basin, West Africa, and Venezuela.31

The new geopolitics shares with classical geopolitics the aim of world domination, but entails a strategic shift aimed in particular at south-central Eurasia. “The purpose of the war in Iraq,” according to Michael Klare, “is to redraw the geopolitical map of Eurasia to insure and embed U.S. power and dominance in the region vis-à-vis...other potential competitors” such as Russia, China, the European Community, Japan, and even India. “The U.S. elites have concluded that the European and East Asian rimlands of Eurasia are securely in American hands or [are] less important, or both. The new center of geopolitical competition, as they see it, is south-central Eurasia, encompassing the Persian Gulf area, which possesses two-thirds of the world’s oil, the Caspian Sea basin, which has a large chunk of what’s left, and the surrounding countries of Central Asia. This is the new center of world struggle and conflict, and the Bush administration is determined that the United States shall dominate and control this critical area.”32

In a special July 1999 supplement entitled “The New Geopolitics,” the Economist magazine explicitly adopted Brzezinski’s “grand chessboard” analysis, arguing that the key geopolitical struggle for the “empire of democracy” led by the United States after Kosovo was the control of Eurasia and particularly Central Asia. Both China and Russia were seen as potentially extending their geopolitical influence into the energy rich Caspian Sea basin. U.S. imperial expansion to preempt this was therefore necessary.33

U.S. geopolitical strategy accepts no bounds short of Brzezinski’s “global supremacy.” It thus reflects what Mackinder called the tendency to a “single World-Empire.” So brazen has this new geopolitics now become among today’s empire enthusiasts that Atlantic Monthly correspondent Robert Kaplan began his recent book, Imperial Grunts, by celebrating the Pentagon’s global military map of five “unified commands” in terms of its “uncanny resemblance” to a map “drawn in 1931 for the German military by Professor Karl Haushofer, a leading figure of Geopolitik.” Lest his meaning remain unclear, Kaplan proceeded to refer to Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” as embodying “idealistic” values, and he went on to characterize his own journalistic “odyssey through the barracks and outposts of the American Empire” as a tour of the new “Injun Country.”34

The Failures of Geopolitics

The unpopularity of geopolitical analysis after 1943 is usually attributed to its association with the Nazi strategy of world conquest. Yet the popular rejection of geopolitics in that period may have also arisen from the deeper recognition that classical geopolitics in all of its forms was an inherently imperialist and war-related doctrine. As the critical geopolitical analyst Robert Strausz-Hupé argued in 1942, “In Geopolitik there is no distinction between war and peace. All states have the urge to expand, and the process of expansion is viewed as a perpetual warfare—no matter whether military power is actually applied or is used to implement ‘peaceful’ diplomacy as a suspended threat.”35

U.S. imperial geopolitics is ultimately aimed at creating a global space for capitalist development. It is about forming a world dedicated to capital accumulation on behalf of the U.S. ruling class—and to a lesser extent the interlinked ruling classes of the triad powers as a whole (North America, Europe, and Japan). Despite “the end of colonialism” and the rise of “anti-capitalist new countries,” Business Week pronounced in April 1975, there has always been “the umbrella of American power to contain it....[T]he U.S. was able to fashion increasing prosperity among Western countries, using the tools of more liberal trade, investment, and political power. The rise of the multinational corporation was the economic expression of this political framework.”36

There is no doubt that the U.S. imperium has benefited those at the top of the center-capitalist nations and not just the power elite of the United States. Yet, the drive for global hegemony on the part of particular capitalist nations and their ruling classes, like capital accumulation itself, recognizes no insurmountable barriers. Writing before September 11, 2001, István Mészáros argued in his Socialism or Barbarism that due to unbridled U.S. imperial ambitions the world was entering what was potentially “the most dangerous phase of imperialism in all history”:

For what is at stake today is not the control of a particular part of the planet—no matter how large—putting at a disadvantage but still tolerating the independent actions of some rivals, but the control of its totality by one hegemonic economic and military superpower....This is what the ultimate rationality of globally developed capital requires, in its vain attempt to bring under control its irreconcilable antagonisms. The trouble is, though, that such rationality...is at the same time the most extreme form of irrationality in history, including the Nazi conception of world domination, as far as the conditions required for the survival of humanity are concerned.37

In the present era of naked imperialism, initiated by the sole superpower, the nature of the threat to the entire planet and its people is there for all to see. According to G. John Ikenberry, Professor of Geopolitics and Global Justice at Georgetown University, in his 2002 Foreign Affairs article “America’s Imperial Ambition”: the U.S. “neoimperial vision” is one in which “the United States arrogates to itself the global role of setting standards, determining threats, using force, and meting out justice.” At present the United States currently enjoys both economic (though declining) and military primacy. “The new goal,” he states, “is to make these advantages permanent—a fait accompli that will prompt other states to not even try to catch up. Some thinkers have described the strategy as ‘breakout.’” Yet, such a “hard-line imperial grand strategy,” according to Ikenberry—himself no opponent of imperialism—could backfire.38

From the standpoint of Marxian theory, which emphasizes the economic taproot of imperialism, such a global thrust will be as ineffectual as it is barbaric. Power under capitalism can be imposed episodically through the barrel of a gun. Its real source, however, is relative economic power, which is by its nature fleeting.

The foregoing suggests that interimperialist rivalry did not end as is often thought with the rise of U.S. hegemony. Rather it has persisted in Washington’s drive to unlimited hegemony, which can be traced to the underlying logic of capital in a world divided into competing nation states. The United States as the remaining superpower is today seeking final world dominion. The “Project for the New American Century” stands for an attempt to create a U.S.-led global imperium geared to extracting as much surplus as possible from the countries of the periphery, while achieving a “breakout” strategy with respect to the main rivals (or potential rivals) to U.S. global supremacy. The fact that such a goal is irrational and impossible to sustain constitutes the inevitable failure of geopolitics.

Marxian theories of imperialism have always focused on the importance of geoeconomics even more than the question of geopolitics. From this standpoint, uneven-and-combined capitalist development results in shifts in global productive power that cannot be controlled by geopolitical/military means. Empire under capitalism is inherently unstable, forever devoid of a genuine world state and pointing to greater and potentially more dangerous wars. Its long-term evolution is toward barbarism—armed with ever more fearsome weapons of mass destruction.

What hope remains under these dire circumstances lies in the building of a new world peace movement that recognizes that what ultimately must be overcome is not a particular instance of imperialism and war, but an entire world economic system that feeds on militarism and imperialism. The goal of peace must be seen as involving the creation of a world of substantive equality in which global exploitation and the geopolitics of empire are no longer the principal objects. The age-old name for such a radical egalitarian order is “socialism.”



1. Michael Klare, “The New Geopolitics,” Monthly Review, vol. 55, no. 3 (July–August 2003), 51–56. The phrase “economic taproot of imperialism” is taken from John Hobson’s classic 1902 work Imperialism: A Study (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1965), 71.
2. Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1942), 147.
3. Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, 1890); Brooks Adams, The New Empire (London: Macmillan, 1902); Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in History (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1921). The Turner book contains his original 1893 article and his 1896 Atlantic Monthly analysis in which he extended the argument to encompass the need for U.S. overseas expansion—see The Frontier in History, 219.
4. Halford Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” Geographical Journal, vol. 23, no. 4 (April 1904), 421–44.
5. Halford Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1919), 1–2.
6. Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality, 179–81. For the evolution of Mackinder’s economic views see Bernard Semmel, Imperialism and Social Reform (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1960), 157–68.
7. Halford Mackinder, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 21, no. 4, (July 1943), 601.
8. Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality, 186.
9. Brian W. Blouet, Halford Mackinder (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987), 172–77.
10. Ratzel quoted in Robert Strausz-Hupé, Geopolitics: The Struggle for Space and Power (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1942), 31.
11. Strausz-Hupé, Geopolitics, 66, 227; Neumann, Behemoth, 156–60.
12. Haushofer quoted in Strauz-Hupé, Geopolitics, 152; Neumann, Behemoth, 144.
13. Derwent Whittlesey, “Haushofer: Geopoliticians,” in Edward Mead Earle, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948), 388–411; German Strategy of World Conquest (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1942), 70–78; Andreas Dorpalen, The World of General Haushofer (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1942), 70–78; David Thomas Murphy, The Heroic Earth: Geopolitical Thought in Weimar Germany, 1918–1933 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1997); Saul B. Cohen, Geopolitics in the World System (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), 21–22.
14. Nicholas John Spykman, The Geography of the Peace (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1944), 43.
15. Nicholas John Spykman, America’s Strategy in World Politics (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1942), 19, 458–60.
16. Spykman, Geography of the Peace, 57.
17. Noam Chomsky, “The Cold War and the Superpowers,” Monthly Review, vol. 33, no. 6 (November 1981), 1–10; Neil Smith, American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalizaton (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 325–31.
18. Smith, American Empire, 287, 329.
19. Mackinder, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace,” 598.
20. Colin S. Gray, The Geopolitics of the Nuclear Era (New York: Crane, Russak, and Co., 1977), 14.
21. James Burnham, The Struggle for the World (New York: John Day, 1947), 114–15, 162, 182; Gary Dorrien, Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana (New York: Routledge, 2004), 22–25; Francis P. Sempa, Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2002), 25–63. Like Burnham, Raymond Aron referred to the Soviet Union as a danger to the World Island in his Century of Total War (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), 111.
22. Leslie W. Hepple, “The Revival of Geopolitics,” Political Geography Quarterly, volume 5, no. 4 (October 1986), supplement, S21–S36.
23. “Fresh Fears that the Soviets Will Cut Off Critical Minerals,” Business Week, January 28, 1980, 62–63; Noam Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War (New York: The New Press, 2003), 180–81.
24. Michael Klare, Blood and Oil (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2004), 2.
25. “Excerpts from Pentagon’s Plan: ‘Preventing the Re-Emergence of a New Rival,’” New York Times, March 8, 1992; “Keeping the U.S. First,” Washington Post, March 11, 1992; Dorrien, Imperial Design, 40–41.
26. Eugene V. Rostow, A Breakfast for Bonaparte (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1993), 14; Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), 814.
27. Renewed interest in Mackinder’s work in this context led to the reprinting of Democratic Ideals and Reality by the National Defense University in 1996.
28. Mackubin Thomas Owens, “In Defense of Classical Geopolitics,” Naval War College Review, vol. 52, no. 4 (Autumn 1999), http://www.nwc.navy.mil/press/review/1999/autumn/art3-a99.htm.
29. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 3, 10, 30, 38–39.
30. See John Bellamy Foster “‘Imperial America’ and War,” Monthly Review, vol. 55, no. 1 (May 2003), 1–10.
31. Alan Larson, “Geopolitics of Oil and Natural Gas,” Economic Perspectives, May 2004 http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/ites//0504/ijee/larson.htm.
32. Klare, “The New Geopolitics,” 53–54.
33. “The New Geopolitics,” Economist, July 31, 1999, 13, 15–16.
34. Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts (New York: Random House, 2005), 3–15.
35. Strausz-Hupé, Geopolitics, 101.
36. “The Fearful Drift of Foreign Policy,” Business Week, April 7, 1975, 21.
37. István Mészáros, Socialism or Barbarism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001), 38.
38. G. John Ikenberry, “America’s Imperial Ambition,” Foreign Affairs vol. 81, no. 5 (September–October 2002), 44, 50, 59.