Deconstructing Dugin: An Interview with Charles UptonFróði Midjord
“If Guénon exposed the spiritual deceptions of the Theosophists and the Spiritualists, I consider it my duty, if I am serious about following him, to subject [Dugin] to the same treatment.” — Charles Upton
Charles Upton has been called “the pre-eminent, living intellectual heir to the great French metaphysician René Guénon.” As such, he is one of the foremost living representatives of the Traditionalist school of thought, associated with figures such as Julius Evola and Frithjof Schuon in addition to the aforementioned Guénon. In this interview on Guide to Kulchur, Upton joins me to discuss some key problems in Alexander Dugin’s “Fourth Political Theory” — an ideology that has started gaining followers among dissidents in the West.
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Duguin’s theories are a chaotic blend of Traditionalism, postmodernism, poststructuralism and little flirtations with Islam and classic rightwing authors. It has no value beyond intellectual curiosity, and how it has some good rep in our scene is beyond my comprehension.
Yes, I think so. And one might add that for all Dugin’s ‘Platonic’ shtick, his currency with Mr Putin and friends stems from their shared Eurasianism and revanchist geopolitics.
The major problem that I have with the Traditionalists like Upton is what he said his wife did. In an area with Orthodox Christians that make her feel “Traditional” she becomes an Orthodox, when they move to an area where those Orthodox don’t exist, and the more radical Christians are the Sedevacantist Catholics, she becomes a Sedevacantist Catholic. What do you believe about the Filioque, does it result in the heresy of Subordinationism as the Orthodox believe? She does not seem like a person who has integrated ideas and made them into a worldview, it is about being with the “cool kids”.
This actually seems to be a positive of Dugin, I read an article by Jafe Arnold where he talked about an untranslated work of Dugin’s which deals with Traditionalism as a type of metalanguage. I want to integrate the correct “language” that I use to interpret and understand reality. I want the concepts in their purest sense, in the sense of what the Hindus call apauruṣeyā, which means not of human construction, so it is not some social construct that created by someone like a postmodern feminist who takes Buddhist concepts and reads them through her feminist ideology.
The point is that Dugin seems to be giving a philosophy that creates a worldview, whereas Upton just seems content with joining a group that can call itself “Traditional”, and he cares little about the ideas and philosophical content of that Tradition. This seems to be a problem with many Traditionalists, they care little about consistency and coherence, and only care if what they have existed in the past in some form.
What did someone say about consistency and bugbears?
Do you really think Dugin is coherent? Also, Tradition as defined by the likes of Guenon and Evola has nothing to do with things “that have existed in the past”. Sure, the past epochs were more Traditional but antiquity does not confer automatic dharmic compatibility. Neither future is necessarily deemed adharmic.
That Emerson quote is always used by people who wish to explain away their irrational positions. Also, if you read what I typed, I have not stated that Guenon and Evola are just following past structures with no sense of what these structures embody. I am saying that this seems to be what I got from Upton. How does one just change from Orthodoxy to Catholicism like that, with no sense of faith, in the way that Evola defines it, which is “the adhesion of the spirit to intelligible ideas”. Does she believe in the Filioque or not, does she believe it results in subordinationism? This is a major problem I see with many “Traditionalists”, which is little to no philosophical rigor in their “Traditional” worldview. Concepts and ideas seem to be at most obscure vehicles for some “Traditional Energy”, and there is little reason or reflection behind them.
I find Dugin’s linguistic development of Traditionalism to be very interesting, because it seems to support a more “pagan” view of Traditionalism, since we all had these languages before we were Christian, so getting back to the deeper meanings of words would be to understand them when we were “pagan”. Evola has this linguistic focus in his essay, “The Decay of Words”.
Here is a translation of Dugin’s that I find to be an interesting development of Traditionalism. I wonder if it would be a stretch to say that Dugin makes Traditionalism into a form of linguistic idealism.
Traditionalism as a Language – Alexander Dugin
“So what is “Postguenonism”? “Postguenonism” is a term which is a kind of reaction to guenonism. Guenonistry – it’s authors, repeating Guenon, treat him as a guru, engage in repetition of involved guenonist discourse (without mastering his language) with very small deviations and considering this activity as a kind of intellectual hobby. Someone has been collecting stamps, some sadomasochism, and someone who consistently explores the crisis of the modern world, examining the signs of the times: it is a kind of niche for a certain type of European characters who see it as a discourse Guenon. To distinguish traditionalism of Guenon as a meta-language tradition from the reproduction of the discourse of Guenon, from simple repetition with variations of what was being said by Guénon, it is useful to introduce the term “postguenonism”. Is to be understood as an in-depth assimilation of the Traditionalism of Guenon as a fundamental language, really generalizing all other languages. But when guenonism becomes an internalized language, metalanguage, methodological and ontological at the same time paradigmatic structure and not a separate discourse, it can give an unexpected effect.”
I like the idea of integrating this “language” making it part of your worldview. It becomes the way that you structure reality, and not just LARPing.
“Traditionalism (as postguenonism) is in our eschatological conditions something more than just belonging to a particular tradition. A traditionalist, not even practicing any religion (that, however is quite rare, as it is contrary to natural logic of Traditionalism), but having mastered Guenon, the language of Tradition, is closer to it (or, at least, is sharprly and tragically aware of their distance from it) than a person who looks and formally belongs to an authentic tradition (including initiatory or esoteric), but does not make a complex and painful process of uprooting language paradigms of modernity.”
I would like to add something. I hope I am not strawmanning Mr. Upton, but I believe I read something from him a while ago on the Traditional aspect of Islam. In it, I believe he argued that the “apparent hodgepodge” from different systems is just the material in which Islam was formed, and that the form is what makes it Traditional, and that form is from a Transcendent Source. It seemed to have little to do with a philosophical development of the ideas from these different sources, but that a divine presence is now manifested through them. This is the major problem that I have with many forms of Traditionalism, the idea that as I said, something like the Filioque can be believed in or not because of its intelligible content, but because a Tradition both believes in it, and another Tradition does not, and this is okay because these are both “Traditional”.
“The filioque distorts Orthodox Triadology by making the Spirit a subordinate member of the Trinity. Traditional Triadology consists in the notion that for any given trait, it must be either common to all Persons of the Trinity or unique to one of them. Thus, Fatherhood is unique to the Father, while begottenness is unique to the Son, and procession unique to the Spirit. Godhood, however, is common to all, as is eternality, uncreatedness, and so forth. Positing that something can be shared by two Persons (i.e., being the source of the Spirit’s procession) but not the other is to elevate those two Persons at the expense of the other. Thus, the balance of unity and diversity is destroyed.”
I just don’t get it, how do you believe something like this when you are around more anti-modernity Orthodox people, but when you move to a different area where there are little to no anti-modernity Orthodox, but we have the sedevacantist Catholics, we now assert the filioque is true. Personally, I think the Orthodox argument is flawed, but also what about when he discusses with his wife about the nature of God and tawheed, and that there must be both a tawheed of essence, and tawheed of attributes, and that any person to be God, must have all of the divine attributes according to Islam. Is this Christian vs Islamic metaphysical difference just brushed over because they are both “Traditional”? Doing this supports Edward Dutton’s criticism of Traditionalism as just Postmodernism for the Right.
I can see the idea of these different religions as upayas (useful errors), but this would mean that some religions approach the truth in a philosophically superior way compared to others, but only certain people can comprehend or understand through the useful error.
I could see this, you take something like the Vedic Brahman as true, the absolute is pure Being, Consciousness, and Bliss, and that the Christian Trinity is true in so far as it is an upaya for the Brahman. I think this is how David Bentley Hart views the Trinity.
I’ve read Evola’s work over & over & what I found there-in was not as described by many from the dissident right.
Duginism is irrelevant. It is not gaining any influence in the West.
That is true, but it was different a few years ago. From 2013 on wannabe rightoids and critiques of western democracy wouldn’t shut up about Dugins critique of liberalism. And you couldn’t shut these people up because Dugins theories are such a chameleon that they could pick out anything from them. Meaning if they even read him, which most of them didn’t.
“We need to be opposed to zionism but not opposed to jews as jews”
Oh well, these old leftis from yesteryear.
Back in my day a coce cost a nickle, and the nickles had bumble bees on them.
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