In the field of conspiracy theories Prof. Dugin is something like an authority. Not only has he written a book about them—covering Martian invasions, underground temples, and even a caste of ruling reptiles—, but he has also distinguished himself, if not as an inventor, at least as a successful propagandist of one such theory, certainly the most presumptuous of them all.
That theory is presumptuous not only in the reach of its alleged explanatory power, which encompasses nothing less than all human history, but also in the politico-military effects that it aspires to unleash: the alliance of Russia with China and the Islamic countries, as well as with part of Western Europe, in a total war against the United States and Israel, followed by the establishment of a worldwide dictatorship.
Prof. Dugin is not a dreamer, a macabre poet creating imaginary hecatombs in a dark dungeon infested with rats. He is the mentor of the Putin government and the brains behind Russian foreign policy. His ideas have long ceased to be mere speculations. One of their material incarnations is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which gathers together Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and intends to be the center of a restructuring of military power in the world. Another one is the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, which has been the apple of the eye of Russian diplomacy for years.
The “war of the continents” theory was created by the English geographer Halford J. Mackinder at the turn of the twentieth century, under the impact of one of the most interesting episodes of that time: England’s struggle against Germany and Russia for dominion of Central Asia. The “Great Game,” as Rudyard Kipling called it, was an entangled story which involved, besides military personnel and diplomats, a whole cast of spies, bribed politicians, thieves, smugglers, tribe chieftains, secret sects, visionary mystics, sorcerers, corrupt maharajahs, seductive courtesans, and an army of men of science: geographers, linguists, botanists, zoologists, and ethnologists. At the time, what the London government feared the most was that an alliance between Russia and Germany would sink its claws into that area which was so much coveted by its natural wealth and strategic position and thereby put the security of the British Empire at risk. The conflict dragged on for decades, with an advantage now for one side now for the other, ultimately flowing into World War I.
Halford J. Mackinder
In Mackinder’s theory, the following features are visible:
1) He does not propose any general theory of history, except for a methodological rule, quite obvious, by the way, according to which “the actual balance of political power at any given time is, of course, the product, on the one hand, of geographical conditions, both economic and strategic, and, on the other hand, of the relative number, virility, equipment, and organization of the competing peoples.”
2) The generalizations he puts forward are quite prudent and limited to a determined length of time, accessible to historic verification: the period that begins with the first barbarian invasions and culminates in the epoch of the “Great Game”.
3) He does not create any plan for world domination; on the contrary, he insists on the balance among the relative forces of the several powers—the “balance of power”. Describing Russia’s growth potential, he does not, in any moment, suggest it should be obstructed or frustrated, but only that measures should be taken in order to avoid that the incomparable land-power of the Russian Empire might be also transfigured into a dominant sea-power, for if that came to pass, “the world empire would then be at hand.”
Prudent, rational, and balanced at each of its steps, Mackinder’s exposition has become a model of that which could have become a “geopolitics” with a just claim to being a scientific study.
Yet, his successors would transform it into something very different.
Mackinder, of course, described the situation from the point of view of a “sea-power”. His theory, however, was enthusiastically adopted by the adversary power, but with an inverted sign, and soon it became one of the foundations of the new science, or pseudoscience, of “geopolitics”. Its name was coined by Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellén (1864-1922), a disciple of German geographer Friedrich Ratzel, who was a friend of Darwin and Haeckel and who created the racial concept of the state. One of the first to reform Mackinder’s theory according to a “land” perspective, however, was German general Karl Haushofer, who, according to several sources, was a disciple of the Armenian thaumaturge Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and also founded the secret society Vril, which held a belief in a civilization of superior men which existed in the center of the Earth. According to the testimony of the respected physicist Willy Ley, who fled Germany in 1933, Vril, which was founded on the eve of the Nazi’s rise to power, proclaimed to have secret knowledge that would enable the improvement of the German race to the point of making it identical with the underground men. The name of the organization was inspired by Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novel The Coming Race (1871), where the word “vril” meant a subtle energy, distantly analogous to the Chi of the Chinese traditional cosmology and the Hara of the Japanese, and capable of conferring extraordinary powers on those who managed to awaken it through ascetical practices.
When Adolf Hitler was in jail with his collaborator Rudolf Hess, Haushofer, who had been Hess’ professor, visited both of them several times and conveyed to them, if not the teaching of Vril, at least the rudiments of his own geopolitical doctrine, whose influence became quite visible in Mein Kampf.
The origins of this doctrine go back to Haushofer’s sojourn in Japan, where he was able to verify how effective the local government’s international plans were in comparison with the resounding failure of Kaiser William II’s imperialist projects.
At the time, the government of Prime Minister Prince Katsura kept the population in a permanent state of alert by warning it, through vast propaganda campaigns, against the imminent risk the Japanese economy’s destruction should the following two closely linked problems not be vigorously attacked:
1. Surrounded by countries with a much larger population, Japan would soon be out of the game if the number of Japanese did not rise by 40 million, reaching the figure of 100 million.
2. It was impossible to squeeze 100 million people into the exiguous Japanese territory.
The obvious conclusion, soon accepted by all the population, was that the country needed to enlarge its territory through a bold policy of conquest.
Redoing the calculations, Haushofer noted that if the first premise was a reasonable conjecture, the second one was a patent lie: the density of Japan’s population was smaller than that of Germany, and the Japanese territory could house another 40 million people without any inconvenience. The policy proposed by the Katsura government did not stem from any objective need, but from a choice, an act of will. Japan did not need foreign territories: it just really, really wanted to become an imperialistic power.
However, rather than being a disappointment to Haushofer, this policy was received by him with enthusiasm, and gave him the idea of adopting it as a model for German policy-making: if the Japanese government obtained the enthusiastic adherence of its population to its imperialistic projects through a system of lies and half-truths based on demographic data well-arranged for this end, why could the German government not do the same?
Yet, lying to the people should not imply that the government would fool itself. A serious study of political and economic geography, well coordinated with an objective strategic consideration of the possibilities of imperialistic expansion, should lay the groundwork for the unification of the national will through the impact of an intense campaign of propaganda.
It was to this synthesis of geography, strategy, deceit and propaganda that he gave the name of “geopolitics”. However, those three elements have not always remained distinct and rationally coordinated throughout his works and the intense pedagogical action that Haushofer came to exert upon German intellectuals, politicians, and military men .
Karl Haushofer (left) with Rudolf Hess.
The theory of the “war of the continents” was also adopted by Russian nationalists, such as the renowned linguist Nicolay Trubetskoy, and many changes and additions have been made to it over the decades until it has been given its current form by the hands of Prof. Aleksander Dugin.
Dugin gives Mackinder a non-negligible credit for having “understood the precise objective laws of the political, geographic and economic history of mankind,” an honor which had previously been bestowed upon Montesquieu, Hegel, Giambattista Vico, Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer (in partnership with Charles Darwin) and Karl Marx, although each one of them discovered “objective laws” which were quite different from those of the others.
The Mackinder-Dugin Theory certainly enjoys the merit of simplicity: everything in history is reduced to contest for power between world powers that dominate the seas and those that rule over great extensions of land. Cultures, laws, institutions, costumes, values, symbols, and even religions are all born out of that contest. As simple as that. It is indeed the case of asking: “Why hasn’t anyone told me about that before?”
I cannot swear that Mackinder, a simple geographer and strategist with no greater philosophical ambitions, would approve of the transfiguration of the “war of the continents” into that metaphysical duel of titans depicted by Aleksander Dugin. Clarifying this issue would require a time investment which I cannot make now. In any case, I use the expression “Mackinder-Dugin theory” in order to distinguish it from Mackinder’s original theory. Also the Duginian theory could not have gone very far in its generalizing impulse had it started from Mackinder’s ideas alone. In order to formulate it, Dugin had to dig for other sources, especially the teachings of Helena Petrovna Blavatski (1831-1891) and Alice Bailey (1880-1949).
For Dugin, the conflict is not just about a struggle among states. It takes on the proportions of a war between two worldviews, two systems of opposed and irreconcilable values which preserve their respective identities through the ages and go on as if reincarnating, since the remotest times, in successive historical agents—states and nations—, which are not always aware of being moved, as Chinese shadows on a wall, by these invisible and omnipotent super-agents: “Atlantism” and “Eurasianism”:
“In the ancient history the ‘maritime’ powers who became the historical symbol of the ‘maritime civilization’ as a whole were Phoenicia and Carthage. The overland empire opposing Carthage was Rome. The Punic war is the purest image of the opposition of ‘maritime civilization’ and ‘overland civilizations’. In the Modern Age and in the recent history the ‘insular’ and ‘maritime’ pole became England, ‘Mistress of the seas’, and later the giant island-continent America. England, as well as the ancient Phoenicia, mostly employed sea trade and the colonization of the coastal areas as its basic instrument for domination. The Phoenician-Anglo-Saxon geopolitical type generated a special ‘mercantile-capitalist-market’ pattern of civilization founded first of all on economic and material interests and the principles of economic liberalism Therefore, despite all possible historical variations, the most general kind of ‘maritime’ civilization is always linked to the ‘primacy of economics above politics”.
As against the Phoenician pattern, Rome represented a sample of warlike-authoritarian structure based on administrative control and civil religiosity, on the primacy of ‘politics above economics’. Rome is the example of a non-maritime, overland, purely continental type of colonization, with its deep penetration into the continent and assimilation of the submitted peoples, automatically ‘Romanized’ after the conquest. In Modern History incarnations of the ‘overland’ power were the Russian Empire and also Central European imperial Austro-Hungary and Germany. ‘Russia – Germany – Austro-Hungary’ are the essential symbols of ‘geopolitical land’ during Modern History.”
Dugin insists on the essential and millennial unity and continuity of the conflict, as well as of the two adversaries considered separately:
“So generalizing the ideas of Mackinder, it is possible to say that there is an historical ‘conspiracy of the Atlantists’, pursuing through the centuries the same geopolitical purposes oriented to the interest of the ‘maritime civilization’ of neo-Phoenician kind.”
The theory clearly fits into the Kantian tradition of aprioristic determiners, which set boundaries to the field of human perceptions and actions, from above the horizon of individual consciousness, and secretly guide the course of events:
“Therefore, we are dealing with a ‘secret conspiracy’ of the most ancient kind, whose meaning and intrinsic metaphysical cause frequently remain completely obscure to its basic participants and even to its leading characters.”
Mackinder’s ideas, limited as they were to the British outlook, could not reach such a level of generality prior to being complemented by their opposite—“oriental” and “terrestrial”—version. Dugin informs us that this fusion took place during the “frequent meetings of Russian Eurasianists with Karl Haushofer in Prague,” and he also tells us that around 1920 the overall Eurasian strategy, which stressed the need for a geopolitical alliance between Russia, Germany, and Japan, was ready—that very alliance which the cleverness of the British policy had been successful in frustrating since the middle of the preceding century.
In formulating this new strategy, continues Dugin, the Eurasianists and Haushofer “for the first time (…) expressed what stood behind the whole European political history of the last millennium, having traced the path of the ‘Roman imperial idea,’ which from Ancient Rome through Byzantium had passed to Russia, and through the Medieval Holy Empire of the German nations to Austria-Hungary and Germany.”
The millenary opposition between the two blocks was not only geopolitical, but ideological and cultural:
“Against ‘Atlantism’ personifying the primacy of individualism, ‘economic liberalism’ and ‘democracy of a Protestant kind’, stands ‘Eurasianism’, necessarily presupposing authoritarianism, hierarchy and the establishment of ‘communitarian’, national-state principles over the simply human, individualistic and economic concerns.
The struggle between the two blocks crosses the millennia by means of two networks of mysterious agents who invisibly direct the course of events. On the Atlantist side,
We can define . . . the “Atlantic ideology”, the ideology of “New Carthage”- the one that is common to all “influential agents”, to all secret and occultist organizations, to all lodges and semi-closed clubs which served and serve the Anglo-Saxon idea in the 20th century, penetrating the network of all continental “Eurasian” powers. And naturally, in the first place this immediately concerns English and American reconnaissance services (especially the CIA), which are not simply the “sentinels of capitalism” or “Americanism”, but the sentinels of “Atlantism” . . . working not only in the interests of each separate country, but in the interest of a special geopolitical and, in the end, metaphysical doctrine representing an extremely multi-planed, miscellaneous and wide, but nevertheless essentially uniform worldview.
On the Eurasian side,
“All those who restlessly worked for the Eurasian union, those who hindered for centuries the propagation on the continent of individualist, egalitarian and liberal-democratic concepts (reproducing as a whole the typical Phoenician spirit of the ‘primacy of economics above politics’), those who aspired to unite the great Eurasian peoples in the atmosphere of the East, instead of in an atmosphere of the West – be it the East of Genghis Khan, the East of Russia or East of Germany – all of them were ‘Eurasian agents’, bearers of the special geopolitical doctrine, ‘the soldiers of the continent’, ‘the soldiers of Land’. The Eurasian secret society, the Order of the Eurasianists, does not start at all with the authors of the manifest ‘Exodus to the East’ or with Haushofer’s ‘Geopolitical Journal’. This was, briefly speaking, only the revelation, the outcome of a definite knowledge which existed since the beginning of time, together with its relative secret societies and network of ‘influential agents.”
Dugin leaves no room for doubt that all or practically all wars in history are nothing more than chapters of that sole and endless war between Atlantists and Eurasianists, and that such war constitutes therefore the ultimate explanation of all human glories and miseries:
Order of Eurasia against Order of Atlantic (Atlantides). Eternal Rome against Eternal Cartage. Occult Punic war invisibly continuing during millennia. Planetary conspiracy of Land against the Sea, Earth against Water, Authoritarianism and Idea against Democracy and Matter. Does not the endless paradoxes, contradictions, omissions and vagaries of our history become more clear, more logical and more reasonable, if we to look at them from the perspective of an occult geopolitical dualism? 
What is more: geopolitical dualism not only offers a causal explanation for so many evils and sufferings, but also their definitive moral justification:
“Will not in this case the countless victims, by which mankind in our century pays the bill for unclear political projects, receive a deep metaphysical justification?”
The excerpts quoted thus far suffice to uncover an eminent feature of Prof. Dugin’s style, one which, for being purely graphic, is not obscured by translation: I refer to his alternating use of certain expressions which are now written with attenuating quotation marks and now without them, denoting his free transition, or better said, confusion between literal and figurative meaning.
So, for example, the term Eurasian Order sometimes appears as a figure of speech meant to amass into a hypothetical unit “all those who restlessly worked for the Eurasian union” (sic), even though they had no idea that they had been serving some secret organization; and sometimes it designates the organization itself as a concrete historical entity with a date of foundation, hierarchies, rules, oaths, initiation rites, etc.
This introduces into the mind of the reader a twofold confusion. On one hand, it mixes into an indistinct paste both historical research and “conspiracy theory”. On the other, it violates Georg Jellinek’s classic warning, already mentioned in my second message to the debate with Prof. Dugin, that historical processes cannot be explained according to the same criteria when they arise from planned and controlled action and when they result from a purely accidental convergence of actions of several separate and unconnected agents. In the first case, the rational nexus precedes the action; in the second it is projected upon the action, ex post facto, by the imagination of the historian. The degree of certainty in both cases is rather different.
This twofold confusion enables Prof. Dugin to concoct pseudo-historical conceptions which are infected to their marrow with the three typical features of the revolutionary mentality—the inversion of time, the inversion between subject and object, and the inversion of moral responsibility—, which rigorously reduces the scientific value of his speculations to nothing, while at the same time strengthening the force of their appeal to the imagination of the militant masses, over which the confusion itself exerts the fascination of a Sorelian myth.
In order to see this with utmost clarity, one must begin by realizing that “a great war of the continents” has never happened in history. If there were some wars of “sea-powers” against “land-powers,” there also were just as many wars of sea-powers among themselves, and the same being true for the land-powers, and precisely the latter two groups of wars are among the most notable and devastating of all time. The Napoleonic wars and the invasion of Russia by Adolf Hitler are examples that speak for themselves.
Never, at any point in history, do we find a general alliance of “Eurasianists” against a confederation of “Atlantists”. At most, there were localized conflicts between the two blocks, punctuated with equally significant conflicts within each block (supposing, ad argumentandum, that they are blocks). The “great war of the continents” is not a chapter of history: it is a future goal, a plan conceived by Prof. Dugin and his predecessors to be carried out in the subsequent decades, creating a conflict between Russia, China, and the Islamic countries on one side, and America and her allies on the other.
It is by taking this future ideal as a premise for the interpretation of the past that Prof. Dugin performs the magic trick of making a typical and demential “conspiracy theory” look like a respectable historical hypothesis.
To this end, he has to dissolve all borders between well-characterized ideological groups—Nazis and communists, for example—and reassign their members one by one, by forcedly enlisting them in the secret troops of “Atlantism” or “Eurasianism,” often attributing to them unconscious intentions which do not have anything to do with their avowed goals and with the visible course of their actions.
For example: since Germany and Russia are defined beforehand as “land powers,” being therefore natural allies against “Atlantism,” the mortal struggle between the two during World War II has to be attributed to the action of “infiltrated British agents” who manipulated Hitler and Stalin—the poor devils, so naïve!—and induced them into a fratricidal conflict instead of joining them as brothers in the fight against the common enemy. What happened in the first half of the twentieth century is thus explained according to what Prof. Dugin thinks would have been better for the attainment of his plans for the twenty-first century.
Among the British agents in the German High Command, he singles out Admiral Canaris, “betrayer of the Reich,” as being one of those most responsible for turning Germany against Russia instead of uniting them against England. For decades, Hitler had promised to “crush Bolshevism,” making this one of the avowed goals of the Nazi regime. Once in power, he unleashed ferocious persecution against the communists, while at the same time he prepared an attack against the USSR well in advance. But to Prof. Dugin all this does not mean anything. It was all the fault of some “British agent”.
Likewise, World War I—when Russia sided with “Atlantist powers” against its “natural allies,” Germany and Austria-Hungary—resulted from the action of Atlantists infiltrated among Slavophile patriots, who convinced the Tsar that Russian racial identity was more strategically decisive than the territorial unity among different ethnicities (a hypothesis that Dugin imagines would have led to an alliance with Germany).
An identical maneuver would have been carried out by Atlantist agents in the Germany of the 1930s, who deceived the poor Nazis into believing in the identity of “Blood and Soil” when they should have noticed that it was necessary to choose between either one or the other.
Thus, the greatest events of the real history of the twentieth century were nothing more than illusions. The true history is Prof. Dugin’s ideal narrative, which those events have maliciously concealed.
For the hypothesis of a “war of the continents” to enjoy some historical viability it would be necessary to prove, at least, that the wars among land and sea powers were more frequent or had more portentous consequences than other wars, above all the ones fought among land powers or among sea powers themselves. But it will be hard to find in Russian history wars which were vaster and more full of consequence than the invasions of Russia by France and Germany— two land-powers, according to Haushofer and Dugin—or than the war between Russia and Japan, also a land-power according to the same authors.
If the mere existence of a “war of the continents” is a hypothesis that goes up in smoke, even more chimerical would be to try to prove the existence of permanent conspiracies behind those wars, not to mention the existence, over the millennia, of secret organizations—an “Atlantist Order” against a “Eurasian Order”—devoted to their waging. Prof. Dugin sidesteps any confrontation with this question by his alternating use of words written with quotation marks or without them, by sometimes denoting a mere figure of speech and sometimes a presumption of the concrete existence of the organizations in question. In this way he is free to reason as if such organizations really existed, drawing from this the most daring conclusions, as well as to escape from trouble. when pressed against the wall with a demand for concrete evidence, by alleging that the names of the organizations were just figures of speech used to designate the spontaneous and unpremeditated convergence of the actions of “all those who restlessly worked for” the Atlantist or the Eurasian cause, even if they had imagined they had been doing something entirely different (fighting for mere national interests, money, or the propagation of faith, for example). At this point, the confusion between the anticipated unity of a plan and the retroactive unity of a historical account is more than evident.
By reason of its own confusion, the “Eurasian” idea hangs in the air like a chiaroscuro cloud, fascinating the audience with the power of a poetic-rhetorical discourse adorned with false scientific glitter.
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