By Charles Upton
Crescent International (March 1, 2019)
This article is based on excerpts from Dugin against Dugin: A Traditionalist Critique of the Fourth Political Theory by Charles Upton (published December 2018).
The Fourth Political Theory and Eurasian Mission were published before the game-changing Grozny Declaration appeared. In August 2016, at a conference in Chechnya sponsored by Russia, a group fatwa was issued by a number of grand muftis, including the Grand Shaykh of al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, explicitly declaring the “Salafi-takfiris, Da‘ish [so-called ‘Islamic State’]” and similar outfits to be “not Muslim.” The Declaration was accompanied by a fatwa to the same effect from the Russian Council of Muftis (the full text of the Grozny Declaration appears here).
Given this development, Aleksandr Dugin may find himself forced to recant his willingness to work with the salafi-takfiris. As of 2017, however, his position had not changed. In The Rise of the Fourth Political Theory he says,
In the confrontation between the US and “al-Qaeda,” however strange and disproportionate such a duel of the leading world state with extraterritorial “international terrorism” may seem, we are dealing with a clash of equally great ideological projects… The declaration by Islamic radicals that their major adversary is the US is sufficient proof that we are dealing with a serious and important project: the project of an alternative world empire.
Perhaps Dugin still hopes to lure the takfiri Jihadists away from the circle of US influence by portraying himself and his Russian backers as stupid enough to take them at their word. The image of an enemy that one wishes to damage and exploit inexplicably leaving himself open by demonstrating an astounding degree of foolishness is a temptation very difficult to resist. But whether it is a case of Russia and America bidding against each other for the services of the takfiris, or the takfiris playing Russia and America off against each other, or both, whatever “empire” the likes of al-Qaeda or ISIS might some day be able to come up with, no matter how unlikely such an outcome may be, would by no stretch of the imagination be “Islamic.”
Dugin is correct, however, in his recognition that religion — or at least religious ideology — has gone a long way toward replacing secular modernism as the geopolitical keynote of our time. In The Fourth Political Theory he says,
It is now safe to institute a political program that was once outlawed by modernity. It no longer appears as foolish and doomed for failure as before. The fairness of this assertion is not only proven by the significant achievements of Islamic fundamentalism… This marks the return of theology, and becomes an essential element of the Fourth Political Theory. When it returns, post-modernity (globalisation, post-liberalism, and the post-industrial society) is easily recognized as “the kingdom of the Anti-christ”… Dajjal.
Among my difficulties with Dugin’s approach in this passage is his simplistic one-on-one identification of modernity — more specifically, the globalizing postmodern liberalism of the West — with the regime of Antichrist. In 2001, in The System of Antichrist, I identified Postmodernism as one-half of the Globalist/Anti-Globalist or Universalist/ Tribalist dialectic — identifiable, I believe, with the Qur’anic Ya’juj and Ma’juj (18:94) — which would ultimately produce that System. This prediction was fully vindicated by the birth of ISIS, a movement of counter-Islamic satanist mercenaries initially sponsored by the United States and other Western and regional players. What Dugin calls “the significant achievements of Islamic fundamentalism” thus represent nothing less than the widespread destruction of the Islamic tradition and the wholesale opening of Dar al-Islam to “Atlanticist” insurgence and control.
For all his willingness to posit the extreme Islamicists as universally significant, Dugin’s picture of them is far from accurate. In The Fourth Political Theory he writes,
Those Muslims who lead the battle against the contemporary world… must believe in the letter of every word of the Qur‘an, ignoring any attacks from the proponents of tolerance, who censure their opinions, finding them cruel and out of date. If a fundamentalist comes across such a commentator on television, he comes to a simple conclusion: he must throw out the television, together with the commentator.
Wrong. The takfiri terrorists whom Dugin apparently sees as the vanguard of the “Islamic project” love television and the internet; without them where could they post their snuff films? They are in no way traditional Muslims, but modernist reactionaries against any modernism they can’t control. They may believe they are dedicated to returning Islam to its original purity, but the fact is that, since they violate both the Qur’an and the Sunnah, they represent the worst form of bid‘ah (innovation). Nor could the takfiris by any stretch of the imagination believe every word of the Qur’an, given that their ideology is based on a sacrilegious abridgement of the majestic Book — one nearly identical, ironically, to that of the reactionary Christian Islamophobes of the West. They are particularly careful to draw a veil of darkness over the tolerance and pluralism of the Qur’an itself, doing all in their power to prevent their young dupes from stumbling across such shocking ayat as these,
He has revealed to you [Muhammad] the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was [revealed] before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel (3:03);
Say [O Muhammad], “O people of scripture! Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we conform to none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah” (3:64);
And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit” (29:46);
Verily! Those who have made a faith-commitment to Allah and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (2:62).
In The Rise of the Fourth Political Theory (2017), Dugin cites a re-establishment of the dhimmi system of protected peoples of the book paying the poll-tax to the Islamic authorities as one goal of the Islamicist campaign to re-establish a global caliphate. By the time that book was published, however, the actions of ISIS had already given the lie to that version of the takfiri Jihadist agenda. Da‘ish may have misused the rhetoric of dhimmitude by misapplying it to the terroristic extortion they imposed on their conquered peoples; it is clear that their true agenda was and is nothing less than outright genocide of all non-Islamic peoples — Christians, Yazidis — and all Muslims who did not subscribe to the takfiri ideology, including Shi‘is and Sufis.
Takfiris are pseudo-Muslims who hold to the principle that all non-takfiris, Muslim or non-Muslim, can be legally killed, simply on the basis of belief. The dhimmi system, on the other hand, was based on the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad, which concur with the Qur’an in expressly forbidding the slaughter or oppression of anyone based on religious belief alone; Muslims are commanded to take up arms only against those who have attacked them first. As for peaceful Christians, Muslims are commanded to actively defend them against their enemies until the end of time.
The dhimmi system was sometimes misapplied and perverted after the death of the Prophet (pbuh), yet his Covenants were always there to recall Muslim leaders to the duties he had laid upon them, and very often they heeded that call. Thus, the notion of associating a re-establishment of traditional dhimmitude with the “Islamic State” of ISIS and other takfiri groups can only be a case of abysmal ignorance, or else a deliberate lie.
Since 2013, John Andrew Morrow and I, via the Covenants Initiative, have been disseminating the newly rediscovered and re-translated Prophetic Covenants throughout the world, specifically as an ideological campaign against ISIS — a campaign that was made increasingly urgent by the practice of ISIS and other takfiri terrorists of seeking and destroying every Prophetic Covenant they could get their hands on.
How could Dugin have missed such glaring and obvious historical developments? How could he have gotten it so wrong? Was he simply not paying attention? Is he a kind of absent-minded professor, so immersed in his books that he fails to read the newspapers, watch TV, or patronize the internet? He certainly doesn’t give that impression. Is he being careful not to alienate the takfiri Jihadists in case they decide to go over to Russia, looking for a better deal from Putin than they got from the United States — the United States that always betrays its puppets? This seems a much more likely explanation. In The Fourth Political Theory, Dugin says,
The figure of [Osama] bin Laden, independent of whether he is real or whether he was thought up in Hollywood, has a fundamental philosophical significance. This is a formulated caricature of the transition within the framework of postmodernity to the pre-modern. It is an ominous warning that the premodern (tradition), meaning a belief in those values that were gathered into a heap and taken to the junkyard at the very start of modernity, can still arise.
I can assure Dugin that Osama bin Laden was not thought up in Hollywood, though they might have had something to do with his makeup and costume. In the highly revealing book The War on Truth, author Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed recounts how bin Laden, his financial base in Saudi Arabia and his power base in Pakistan, as well as other known terrorists, were protected by official (if largely clandestine) US and British policy from apprehension by the CIA and the FBI, and from attack by the US military, both before and after 9/11; offers to extradite him, and copious amounts of highly relevant intelligence relating to his activities and his connections, some of it from Russia, were rebuffed and/or ignored. In other words, he gave every indication of being an agent of the West — which, if true, satisfactorily explains why bin Laden’s body, after his supposed assassination by US special forces, was neither photographed nor put on display, but (as the story goes) discretely disposed of at sea.
And I must emphasize again that many of the vanguard of what Dugin calls “the Islamic project” are not acting as Muslims but as mercenaries in the pay of the United States, and as such are undoubtedly happy to don any ethnic or religious costume that will make their employers happy. As for those who actually are committed Muslims, how can Dugin possibly believe that they are engaged in a simplistic insurgency against the modern West when the takfiris continue to kill many more Muslims than Christians — Shi‘is and Sufis especially, as well as traditional Sunnis? Certainly, the takfiri terrorists are exercising a destructive effect on Western civilization, but they are doing so partly with the help, and sometimes even under the direction, of those elements of the globalist elites who apparently believe that Western civilization has outlived its usefulness — at least to them.
As for Dugin’s overtures to Sufis and Shi‘is, in Eurasian Mission he presents Sufism, due in part to its “folk” aspects as well as to its expression as many independent tariqahs, as a representative of “diversity,” the principle supposedly behind Eurasianism, rather than the “universalism” he attributes to the Atlantean Globalists. He says,
The Arab world, stretching from Muslim North Africa to the countries of the Maghreb and the Middle East… falls within the historical boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. These territories must be integrated into one geopolitical structure… The fact that these territories are under the domination of Islamic traditions may be an additional factor in integration. There are some forms of Islamic radicalism — those that pretend to be universal — that oppose the basic Eurasian principles of cultural diversity and a system of autonomies… Thus, the main Eurasian allies in the Arab world who adhere to Islam and also respect local traditions are the Sufi tariqas, Shi’ites, and those ethnic groups in the region who promulgate spiritual and cultural diversity.
So apparently the plan is to appeal to the Muslim dream of a resurrection of the Ottoman Sultanate with its autonomous regions and its ethnic/religious millets, not necessarily or entirely in the name of Islam but nonetheless “integrated into one geopolitical structure” — though we should not expect this dream to have much appeal for the Iranians, especially since Dugin has unthinkingly included them as part of the “Arab world.” Moreover, this kind of regional universalism is in fact the main agenda of the “Islamic radicalism” that Dugin says he feels so uncomfortable with, apparently leading him to opt instead for the “diversity” represented by, among other sectors, the Sufi tariqahs. But if this Neo-Ottoman Region — which also bears a certain structural resemblance to the Soviet Union — is to be peopled by a “system of autonomies” based on “cultural diversity,” where is that principle of integration going to come from? Where else but from Russia? The quasi-Islamic sub-sector of the Eurasian Hegemony is consequently envisioned as an artificial unity imposed by an outside force.