The country of Russia is in a very peculiar state today. It is like hovering between a past that has already ended and a future that has not yet begun; or rather, has begun, but has not yet been realized or accepted. It is about the most fundamental questions—about Russia’s relation to global processes and, above all, to the collective West.
After the collapse of the USSR, we went through two phases:
- In the 1990s, we tried desperately to integrate into the Western world on any terms; but this was not very successful, and an external control system was established in the country;
- After Putin came to power, we also tried to integrate into the Western world, but only under the conditions of Russia’s sovereignty. We never succeeded, but we strengthened our sovereignty, which led to February 24, 2022.
Why did we start special military operation (SMO)? Trump did not pay much attention to the growth of Russian sovereignty; he was not a convinced Atlanticist, and he judged by the modest performance of the Russian economy, which, from his perspective, was not a serious threat to the United States. He did not care about Crimea. He was far more concerned about China.
Biden, on the other hand, is a staunch Atlanticist and globalist, and he is well aware that any success of Russia in expanding its influence challenges globalization, the unipolar world and American hegemony. That is why he, having set aside the Islamic world for later, shifted his attention to confronting Russia, not forgetting, of course, about China.
By the summer of 2021, the U.S. and NATO began to prepare a military operation to seize the Donbass and attack Crimea. That is why Donbass was turned into a powerful center of future military aggression against Russia—including foreign instructors and mercenaries.
Putin did not wait until early March, when the operation was planned, and struck first. Hence the initial preponderance in the first phase of the operation, which predetermined the outcome in our favor.
But let’s leave the military aspect of the special SMO aside. After it began, the second phase of Russia’s relations with the West in the post-Soviet period came to an end. The very idea of integrating into the Western world fell away for objective reasons. Russia was left only with its own sovereignty, the protection, preservation and strengthening of which proved to be generally incompatible with Russia’s participation in global processes on Western terms.
We have irrevocably and radically broken with the West. But this has not yet been comprehended. The second phase is over, the third has not yet begun.
What is this third phase that the eyes and ears of the Russian elite categorically do not want to perceive? It represents an indefinitely long period of Russia’s existence in isolation from the West and under its rigid and purely negative pressure. If we accept as a fait accompli that this direction is forever cut off for us, the horizons of the future become quite clear. But in order to move into this future, an effort must be made. In the same way, Soviet people could not believe that the USSR and communism collapsed, and the liberals of the 1990s believed that Putin was temporary, not serious, and that everything will go back. It’s hard to believe in the new. Always. Including now.
To be without the West, and, moreover, in a sharp almost military confrontation with it, means to simultaneously implement two vectors:
- Russian and
- Russian and Eurasian.
They do not contradict each other; there is no need to choose between them. But they are still different.
The first one means a rapid and drastic strengthening of Russia’s sovereignty, ensuring the possibility of relying only on one’s own capabilities, if necessary. Moreover, the point is not about a limited understanding of sovereignty, which is already recognized, however nominally, for each independent state, but about integral sovereignty, which includes
- the political system
- and, most importantly, ideology
So far, apart from political and military sovereignty, all our other spheres are either partially Western or completely Western. And there is no ideology. Accordingly, the construction of a truly sovereign Russia, an integrally sovereign Russia, requires profound transformations of all these spheres; their liberation from the liberal globalist paradigms deeply embedded in our society and establishment during the first and second phases of post-Soviet history.
This will require an institutionalization of Putin’s course, not just loyalty to him personally. This will require the establishment of a new ideology, a kind of “Putinism,” in which the basic principles of integral sovereignty will be enshrined. And then other political-administrative mechanisms will have to be fitted under them as well.
Russia is inevitably passing on to the ideological stage. Without a full-fledged ideology of our own, we will not withstand a confrontation with the West. This is an absolutely objective fact, regardless of whether it makes us ecstatic or furious. The ideologization of Russia is inevitable; it is impossible to prevent it.
Russia must strengthen its identity many times over in order to survive not just without the West, but also in spite of the West. Twenty-two years ago, when Putin made a bet on sovereignty, he already predetermined the inevitability of this moment. Today it is here. And no longer halfway, but all in all.
It is either sovereignty or the West. And this is irreversible.
In this case it is not at all about the isolation of Russia from the world, as the West would like. The West, despite its claims to hegemony and universalism, is not the whole world. Therefore, Russia will have to look for new partners and friends outside the West. This should be called a Eurasian policy, a turn to the East.
Discovering the global non-West, Russia will discover that it is dealing with completely different civilizations—Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Latin American, African. And each of them is different from ourselves, from each other, and from the West. Once we were interested in it; we studied the East, and the great Russian poet Nikolai Gumilev composed inspired hymns to the glory of Africa. But then the West captured our consciousness. It is a Westernist intoxication, an addiction to the West. The Iranian Heideggerian philosopher Ahmad Fardid gave this a special name: gharbzadegi, “westoxification.”
Russian Eurasians were the first to rebel against this Westernizing turn of Russian culture, demanding, like the Slavophiles, to turn to their own Russian identity as well as to non-Western cultures and civilizations. This is now the only way out for Russia. Only BRICS+, the SCO, the development of relations with the new poles of the world, with civilizations that seem long forgotten, but today are returning to history.
Where the West ends, the world and humanity do not end. On the contrary, it is a new beginning. And Russia’s place is in Eurasia, not in the West. It used to be a matter of choice. Today it is simply unavoidable. Everything depends today on how we build relations with China, India, Turkey, Iran, the Arab states, the states of Africa or Latin America.
This is the coming/not coming future. It already exists, but the elite refuse to accept it. And the elite have no way out and no choice. Even betrayal, which is unlikely, will not change anything. What’s more, they would rather ruin Russia once and for all. Even this option no longer exists—the place of traitors and liberals is predetermined by the laws of wartime and emergency. The inevitable and absolutely necessary purges of the elite, which, incidentally, have not yet begun, but will definitely begin, is not the main thing or even secondary. In vain, our elite are worried about resignations and arrests. Anyone who does not agree with sovereignty and Eurasianism is already finished. This is no longer the question.
But the question is different—how can we defend and rebuild the new Russia, the third-phase Russia? Life dictates what we should do. But what to do, how to do it, what to start with, and what to choose as a priority are open questions. And here everything is more complicated.
I think that we need to start with the main thing. With ideology. Everything else is secondary. Something tells me that those in power who are truly responsible for the fate of the country and the people feel exactly the same way.
Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.
Featured: “A Bright Future, by Anastasiya Sadofeva; painted in 2021.