Fascist Traditionalism And Putin’s Invasion Of Ukraine
Fascist Traditionalism And Putin’s Invasion Of Ukraine
About a half-century ago I was urged by my oldest friend to read a book by Fritjof Schuon (1907-1998) written in 1953, The Transcendental Unity of Religions. The book’s title basically tells its message: that while each religion has its own exoteric forms that differ from those of each other, there is a core to all of them that is the same, a transcendental unity of cosmic truth and fundamental reality. Schuon had links with the Shadhili Sufi order, the Sufis being the branch of Islam open to relations with other relations from a transcendental mystical perspective, somewhat echoing ideas present in the 19th century US transcendentalist movement that was also associated with progressive political ideas.
I found this book most interesting, although I was not moved to get involved with the Sufi group that my friend and a couple of others were drawn to. My old friend and his wife really got into that group for several years, becoming quite conservative on social issues as well as some others. This led to a period of time when we did not have any dealings with each other. Eventually, they became disillusioned with this group and moved on, eventually becoming Romanian Orthodox despite neither having any Romanian ancestry. They remain quite conservative in their views, although fortunately have not been fans of Donald Trump at all. We did renew our friendship and remain in communication. Schuon, originally from Switzerland, eventually moved to the US, dying in Bloomington, IN, not too far from where my friends now live outside Indianapolis.
Schuon was strongly influenced by Frenchman Pierre Guenon (1886-1961), who also would join the Shadhili Sufi sect and would move in 1930 to live in Egypt. He is viewed as the founder of a movement known as Traditionalism, also as the Perennial Philosophy. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Guenon initially was interested in Hinduism as well as Taoism before joining the Sufi sect. But like Schuon he argued that all religions share a common unifying of transcending beliefs. Guenon argued that these ideas and beliefs dated from the pre-modern world and thus are Traditional. He favored ancient and medieval forms of art over those arising in the Renaissance and since. The Enlightenment and science and reason were seen as distracting from and degrading this primordial vision of transcendental unity. Guenon’s ideas were most influentially laid out in several books he wrote in the late 1920s such as The World in Crisis (1927) and Spritual Authority and Temporal Power (1929). Guenon’s work would become highly influential on much of modern academic religious studies.
While Guenon’s work implicitly posed a highly conservative view of the world with its denigration of science and modernity, he avoided specific political movements, as did his follower, Schuon, and some others. But one such follower did not engage in such avoidance, Giulio (Julius) Evola (1898-1974) of Italy. He would shift the religious focus to occultism and adopted an overtly anti-Semitic stance. His most famous books were Revolt Against the Modern World (1934) and Men in the Ruins (1953). Living in Italy under Mussolini he was initially too extreme even for the Fascists, but in the late 1930s after spending time in Germany with Himmler he would help move Mussolini to fully racist position more in line with that of Nazi Germany. He disapproved of the “populism” of both the Fascists and Nazis, arguing for the revival of an ancient caste system. He continued to formulate his philosophy of “radical traditionalism” and “magical idealism” after the war, adding a patriarchal element to his anti-democratic position. He would be arrested in 1951 for active involvement in attempting to revive fascism. He advocated a trans-national “European Imperium.” One of his current followers is sometime Trump adviser, Steve Bannon.
But for our purposes, his most important follower and advocate of this Traditionalism is the Russian Aleksandr Dugin (b. 1962), who would lead the sociology department at Moscow State University for several years prior to 2014, when he was fired. Dugin accepted the authoritarian and anti-Semitic elements of Traditionalism while shifting the religious focus to the Russian Orthodox Church. especially its Old Believer branch. He has developed his own version of the European Imperium as Eurasianism, which sees an even broader entity that rules all of Eurasia that is ruled by Russia. Dugin has laid this out in various works posing his own version of history that glorifies the history of the Kyivan Rus, especially in his most influential book, The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia (1997). This book, now widely read by members of the Russian general staff, has become a major influence on none other than Vladimir V. Putin, with Dugin a major adviser of his. Reportedly it was Dugin who convinced Putin to take over and annex Crimea in 2014 and has long advocated Russia conquering Ukraine as part of a broader campaign to establish his Eurasiatic entity.
We thus have a great irony. On the one hand, V.V. Putin has declared that a major motive for his invasion of Ukraine is that he is supposedly going to “de-Nazify” the nation. But his underlying philosophy reflects a profoundly fascist vision of the world.
Tradionalism, implying hierarchical society, coercion and legalism without justice, is inherently fascistic.
You take intellect to a different dimension and one I am not familiar with as of today. And your explanation took all of the preceding to arrive at this: “On the one hand, V.V. Putin has declared that a major motive for his invasion of Ukraine is that he is supposedly going to “de-Nazify” the nation.
‘But his underlying philosophy reflects a profoundly fascist vision of the world.'”
i was just going to say that.
but i am not sure about someting: the nazis were fascists. but are all fascists nazis?
and how do we get from “all religions share a common unifying of transcending beliefs” to anti semitism?
Indeed it is the case that nazism was an especially virulent subset of the broader category of fascism. While Mussolini’s fascism had a vaguely anti-Semitic element to it prior to 1938, it was rather a sideshow not all that different from the sort of anti-Semitism that was common among strong nationalists in many nations of Europe at the time. Nazism made anti-Semitism into a central focus of its ideology, including the drive to actually extinguish the Jewish people, something Mussolini had never suggested much less pursued prior to 1938.
Regarding your second point, this anti-Semitism was peculiar to Evola and cannot be found particularly in his predecessors in this movement such as Guenon and Schuon, despite both of those two adhering ultimately to a Muslim Sufi sect. The movement involved others who did not do the latter and who also avoided this unfortunate view Evola embraced and which apparently Dugin also has adopted, although it seems that Putin mostly avoids it or at least any extreme version of it and maintains friendly relations with Israel.
First paragraph, I understand. The second is beyond my knowledge base.
you remind me of how little I actually know. And while I occasionally mock those who know a lot, bu tnothing of importance, I have to admit that without them and their fascination with scholarly detail, the rest of us might have nothing to think with, while still having plenty to think about.
I take Fascism to mean something like government by brute force (which some people seem to like), and Nazism as the German face of Fascism. But since the word was invented (?) by the Italians to mean something specific to themselves, I’d have to defer to whatever that meaning was…if it has not transmogrified into something more like what I describe.
I thought the Sufis were more pacifist than Moslem fundamentalists generally, but I really don’t know. Surprised to hear them associated with anti-semitism.
Times have changed, and while Jews were easy to kick around and blame for everything. Israel if is different matter. And WW2 left such a bad taste that anti-smitism is no longer politically correct, though it lurks in the hearts and so-called minds of many many people who have no excuse except perhaps having learned it from their fathers, as no jew in their lifetime has ever done anything bad to them. In other words, “we hate them because our ancestors hated them.”
Israel might be renewing the tradition, but they started out as victims and have become oppressors out of determination not to become victims again.
My grandson once said that communism and fascism were the same. I thought he had heard that from some college professor and it made me kind of mad, as I thought it was “stupid.” Turns out he might have been making a point that I missed and should have agreed with. Both communism and fascism as national policies rely on brute force. I am not sure their economic differences amount to a real difference in how rulers get things done.
One disquieting thing about philosophers is how easily their ideas are adapted by tyrants and conquerors as justifications for atrocities. Machiavelli was servant to the Borgias in his own time, but served to justify betrayals of public trust for centuries beyond that. F Nietzsche was adored by Hitler and many other fascists, ironically given Nietzsche was an atheist rather than a Sufi. Even Emperor Constantine the Great and Charlemagne lead great wars of conquest in the name of the Holy Savior Jesus Christ.
My reading of history and prehistory inform me that the strong man came first, long before the great thinkers. The strong men have always been the shot callers while the great thinkers, if we know of them at all, have somehow served the purposes of strong men. One might posit that Christianity finding its way to Constantinople and Rome was arranged to insure the preservation of Christ’s words, since only by traveling with the strong men of the time might they survive.
A rose is a rose is a rose, but the chicken and the egg are better for dinner and breakfast.
BTW, “strong man” as I use it is a euphemism for power, whether by individual physical strength, the force of arms and armies, wealth, dominant influence (e.g., papacy), or even magic, if such were to exist in reality. It does not matter where it comes from as long as it has the power to control a great many people. OTOH, philosophers and intellectuals more often provide the alibis for evil than they do the inspiration for either good or evil. The good do not need alibis.
arranged by Whom? [or What?]
Paul was not a strong man. neither where the Christian martyrs…whose martyrdom was not required by “god” but did inspire enough Romans that the memory lasted.
I think Constantine may have been the beginning of the corruption of the meaning of Jesus’ words.
The strong man (a character in the NT by the way) always uses the people’s beliefs to confuse them. But people are always superstitious (which JC was most certainly not) and easily led to follow their baser instincts (love of power, not love of sex…though even those can be confused by the chicken and the rooster).
On who or what: Arrangements often come as an aware adaptation to circumstances. Not to go all Dan Brown on you, but the split between the establishment orthodox Church and the Gnostics is real and developed early, possibly from the start by JC himself. My understanding is that Dan Brown’s books do not literally reflect his beliefs, but rather were his attempt to get people interested in this schism that people do not know about which happened a millennia before the orthodox Christian schism that is generally well known.
On Constantine: YES.
Think of it as the sociopolitical equivalent to Einstein’s elusive unified field theory. At its root is the necessity for any useful mystified justification for violent aggression to be sorted out into a narrative of Us and Them. The narrative is wrapped in a purity test that both justifies abhorrent actions and insures social isolation to preserve the separation of narrative from reality. When we ask our fellows to murder Them for US to take their stuff, then we must provide reasons to settle our fellows conscience because the leaders of US have no plan to share the loot that might provide a tangible motive for murder. So, I believe the Vikings were more honest about rape, pillage, and plunder, perhaps because their leaders were less separated from their fellows which kept them more honest about their motives. When thought leaders repurpose religious narratives for the purpose of rationalizing violence, then it provides a twofer that replaces inconvenient morality with opportunistic hate. This corruptible capacity was both the foundation of the divine right of kings and the reason for the separation of church and state.
Among religious devotees that I have known are both the kindest and most compassionate of souls and also the biggest scoundrels.
right on all counts.
what I have read of Icelandic medieval literature suggests to me that the Vikings (relatives of the Icelandic) were more honest with themselves, ruthlessly mocking self deception and pretensions, and that may have kept their leaders honest..undoubtedly the lack of separation by class and castle helped, but it seems to have been a cultural norm. On the other hand, novels by Sigrid Undset (and plays by Shakespeare) suggest there was a great deal of politics as usual going on. nasty politics, at least by the time they got castles.
Scoundrels attach themselves to successful religions. Can’t blame the religious. The mass of them are just human. Not too bright, and easily led. J.C., a very realistic person, predicted that would be the case. He seems to have had a deeper agenda. [one I think that involves the hope and necessity that people will in time overcome their own confusions about “the knowledge of good and evil.”]
Back in the day, some not very nice people said, “they are the ten Commandments, not the ten suggestions.” I think they were wrong. The ten “words” are more like hints. God does not punish, but the choices we make have consequences to us individually, and to our sons, and to the kind of society in which we live.
i don’t know anything about gnosticism. but what i just read in Wiki makes me think gnosticism was an effort by a pre-existing system of beliefs to attach itself to this Jesus fellow who was so much in the gnews.
Or, perhaps more fairly. the then “new age” folk synthesizing free hand what little they know of popular christianity with what little they knew of gnosticism before it was called that.
so, not so much a schism, as a failed synthesis.
other than that I can’t see how anyone could mistake gnosticism for having anything to do with the christianity of the gospels. but “not though eastern windows only comes the light.” I am in no position to talk since my own ideas of christianity would have got be burnt at the stake any time during the last 2000 years by people who thought they were christians.
now, it’s up to the followers of the Enlightenment.
…For centuries, most scholarly knowledge of Gnosticism was limited to the anti-heretical writings of orthodox Christian figures such as Irenaeus of Lyons and Hippolytus of Rome. There was a renewed interest in Gnosticism after the 1945 discovery of Egypt’s Nag Hammadi library, a collection of rare early Christian and Gnostic texts, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Apocryphon of John. A major question in scholarly research is the qualification of Gnosticism as either an interreligious phenomenon or as an independent religion. Scholars have acknowledged the influence of sources such as Hellenistic Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Platonism, and some have noted possible links to Buddhism and Hinduism, though the evidence of direct influence from the latter sources is inconclusive…
[It is not unusual in modern Christianity to conflate the teachings of Rome since Constantine with the teachings of Christ. If the lost years of Jesus Christ were spent in a Tibetan Buddhist temple as some believe, then it may the Gnostics that were the more orthodox Christians. Dan Brown believes that Mary Magdalene headed south to Ethiopia where her followers founded the Gnostic church and that Mary was the closest and dearest disciple of Christ, greater than the twelve apostles whose teachings gave rise to the established Christian church that was absorbed by the Roman Empire and thereby widely promulgated by its authority and power. Maybe Judas Iscariot was not such an outlier among the twelve. Peter denied Christ three times before the rooster crowed. ]
BTW, I am no religious scholar myself and have not begun to do the kind of research that Dan Brown has done. I am not even a devout believer in anything beyond the tangible myself. However, my best friend was a religious scholar, but he died in the summer of 2005. It is because of him that I know anything of this, which he was always trying to teach me back in the 70’s, long before I ever heard of Dan Brown. My late friend was quite convinced and close enough to me that I never just wrote him off.
There is a book which you can read about on Wiki under “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.” I ran across this book in about 2002 at a time when for some reason I can’t remember I was thinking about the holy grail and decided that everybody had it wrong: the “grail” was not a cup, but in fact the “grill” that separates the nuns from their visitors in a convent. Be that as it may, I have always been interested in such things and took the book seriously in the sense that i thought it represented real scholarship about folk beliefs and perhaps some real history. I was not ready to take the story (the folk beliefs) seriously. But when shortly after reading Holy Blood, I ran into Dan Brown, I assumed he was using the folk beliefs (and some real history) as a basis for his story. And I was charmed. Enough to ask a friend of mine who lived in Scotland about the [rose chapel?] He never answered me, and I got the impression he was disappointed in my gullibility.
Well, I treasure my gullibility…it leads me to thoughts i wouldn’t have otherwise. But in the long run I lose track of the charming stories and am left with a “core” belief that fits with my theory of everything..not unlike everybody else who force fit everything into their theory of everything.
I find it very dangerous…socially, since burnings at the stake are no longer fashionable…so, while I like to share some of what i call my insights from time to time, i try to avoid getting into a full fledged debate with someone else’s core beliefs…at least not until we are such friends that we are unlikely to hate each other because of things I know nothing about.
Is Joe Manchin really a Democrat? Democrat ideology or politics (whichever) are liberal. You can state the latter.
In my experience average Russians don’t distinguish between Nazis and fascists, and don’t look too deeply into the meaning of either one.
WW2 was the patriotic war against fascism. That’s more a mantra than anything else. Putin can say Ukranians are Nazis or he can say they are fascists, neither one needs to be true or is intended to be true, they’re just calls to arms using Soviet national character.
sounds likely. i think the same is true for most Americans, if they care at all.
and it is usually true for me…because i think i know what people mean when they say one or the other. i offered a distinction here because one seemed to be called for.
i don’t think anyone objected to the distinction i made…or maybe i wasn’t paying attention.
what is a Democrat? Manchin is a politician, one of the more odious of the breed. He says what he does and does what he does only as it helps him personally financially and politically. Politically because it helps him financially.
Or as Will Rogers said, “I belong to no organized political party; I am a Democrat.”
Democrats generally, as a breed, inherited the good-cop role from FDR and the New Deal. Ike, a Republican…again, by calculation I think, though he seems to have been honest… could have been the civil rights president. He enforced Brown v Board. But those honors fell to LBJ, a Democrat, more successful than JFK, and the Southern Democrats all turned into Republicans. So after a while it becomes hard to tell the players by the color of their hoodies.
Some politicians, despite their trade, are as honest as their constituents will let them be, but they still have to lie to get elected, and they have to moderate their good deeds to the political possibilities of their times.
I think Manchin is a very bad person, but the Dems never really put him to the test: they could have called his bluff on some “moderate” proposals he made…by reducing, not cutting, some of their own proposals, but it seems they would rather lose their program than lose their elections.
To be honest, I really don’t know.
The best scene was Manchin higher up on his houseboat “Almost Heaven” talking down to protesters in their kayaks. They did such as you suggested in private negotiations and the dialogue changed.
can you explain that for me?
if you are talking about calling Manchin’s bluff…i don;t see that working in private. he offered an arguably reasonable compromise. Dems could have accepted that in public and watched Manchin back down in public. Not that the public would have noticed or long remembered.
article somewhere (NYTimes?) suggests Bidens 1.5 Trillion dollar infrastructure program won’t build much infrastructure due to very high costs of infrastructure due to bad planning, bad oversight, and industry overcharging. it always looked like misdirection of resources to me, but in my best mmt “it’s only money” i hoped it would do enough good to make the Dems credible enough to try to do some real good next time around. looks from here like neither the Dems generally, or especially Manchin, wanted to do any real good.
I do not do “somewhere.”
How did you arrive at this when I discussed Manchin talking down to people in kayaks from the deck of his houseboat “Almost Heaven”???
how i arrived: pure guess.
doing “somewhere”: no need. not expected. if i’d remembered, or thought where i read it important i would have looked it up. it only matters that “someone” said it and it might be worth thinking about. don’t trust “authorities.”
Again, “How did you arrive at this when I discussed Manchin talking down to people in kayaks from the deck of his houseboat ‘Almost Heaven’???”
Furthermore, we are both off topic for this post. You wish to take this elsewhere and I am not going to let you. I suggest we conclude this conversation.
you brought up the houseboat with no reference whatsoever. and i guessed at what you meant because we were talking about Manchin and Democrats (which you brought up) and fascism, which Rosser brought up.
The only place I might be trying to lead you is to an answer to those questions.
Sufis are not anti-Semitic, at least not in general, and neither Guenon nor Schuon were, to my knowledge, with both of them joining a Sufi sect. It was their follower,Julius Evola, who took this transcendentalist traditionalism and added an anti-Semitic layer while also taking it off into an emphasis on occult religions, and he did play this crucial and awful role in getting Mussolini to go along with the intense anti-Semitism of Hitler.
Dugin follows Evola, including with the anti-Semitism and admiration for Nazism. He is the influence on Putin, some say his “brain guru,” and apparently advised him specifically at the time of the Crimea takeover. However, there is not much evidence that Putin himself is especially anti-Semitic. He seems to have left that part of the Evola-Dugin version of this stuff on the table.
Oh, Dugin also buys into Evola’s fascination with the occult, although he did not talk about any of that in his especially inluential 1997 book that is apparently required reading at one of the main military academies in Russia. This guy is really very influential there now, especially with Putin, and Putin’s July essay denying the existence of a separate Ukrainian culture and people is straight Dugin.
thanks for the explainer. i did not know anything about this.
Hope all is well.
Have you read Stockman as of late? Pearl Harbor My Eye! – Antiwar.com Original? My comment is not an endorsement of his views, He does take a different perspective of what Zelinsky, Europe, and the US is doing based upon;
Of course, this is not the same Russia of the seventeen hundreds. He also gives Putin a degree of credence which no one else does.
Stockman blames Biden about three-quarters of the way through his dialogue. A completely different viewpoint.
if you show up at my house with an old deed claiming you are the real owners and start shooting and bombing, i am going to shoot back.
before Putin started shooting I thought he might have a case for Ukraine neutrality as buffer. even “disarmament.” seeing what happens to disarmed countries, i don’t think that’s a good, or even moral, idea.
i don’t know about “fascists” running Ukraine, but since we seem to have them running US, I am not sure that is an excuse for shooting and bombing the people who happen to live there.
i amsure there are people in this country with old deeds dating back to the 1700’s. they probably think of all whites as fascists. lucky for us they do not have atomic bombs, though they might think twice before destroying the country they regard as theirs.
i don’t think much of people pointing to old deeds and claiming the land is “theirs.” after WW1 and WW2 and a few dozen other minor skirmishes the land belongs to whoever is currently occupying it, or, i suppose, whoever is strong enough to take it away. but we have had enough of that last interpretation of “the law.”
Well, I read as much of Stockman’s essay as I could stomach. Apparently he wants to stop history at a convenient point in time, convenient for him and Putin, and ignore the point where, given the chance, the people of Ukraine said “no thanks, we don’t want to be ruled from Moscow.”
Putin lost whtever credibility he might have had when he invaded. Threatening to nuke anyone who might want to help Ukraine tells you as much as you need to know about Putin, but to Stockman it is we who are risking nuclear war by opposing him.
it must be hell to expect Barkley and get coberly.
i think some of your lines must be meant ironically, but it’s pretty thin ice.
i have no idea which no such thing i should not do.
i don’t know what i would think about Ukrainians if i knew any. I suspect they are much like the rest of us..that is come in all different stripes.
But I know what I think about people who drop bombs on people.
Putin-Stockman’s theory of ‘oo owns what country was outdated in 1914 if not 1812.