Aleksandr Dugin’s ‘Last War Of The World Island’

Perhaps nobody who could be considered part of the new ‘Right Renaissance‘ is as controversial and fascinating to hear from as Russia’s Aleksandr Dugin. Born in Moscow, 1962, to a military family, he took a particular interest in history and philosophy, even going so far as to translate the works of authors such as René Guénon and Julius Evola intro Russian for the first time. He holds degrees in economics, sociology and philosophy, has worked as an advisor to State Duma members Gennadiy Seleznyov and Sergei Naryshkin, as well as President Vladimir Putin. He also held a post as head of sociology at Moscow State University between 2008 and 2014. In addition, his book ‘The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia‘ was used as a textbook in the General Staff Academy of Russian military.

His history in politics is, put simply, confusing. He was for example one of the founding members of the ‘National Bolshevik Party‘, whose name to outsiders can be rather misleading. From the start of his time in politics, Dugin gravitated towards what can accurately be deemed Reactionary groups, i.e – the neo-tsarist organization Pamyat. The NBP was, in the wake of the disastrous wounds ripped open in Russia by the collapse of the Soviet Union, oriented mainly towards both a rightist, anti-capitalist program and a defense of Russia’s history, including the Stalinist period. This is hard to comprehend outside of the given context, but does make sense once we understand his view of geopolitics (which is his primary interest).

giving Glenn Beck waking nightmares since at least 2014!

This leads us to the book in question, published in 2012, and translated to English in 2015. By this time, Dugin’s politics had taken a more overtly rightist position, but of course antithetical to what we might call the ‘Americanized right’ of free marketeer, invite everyone/invade everyone normalcy, which of course has come to dominate the European political landscape. The rightism of Dugin transcends the contemporary political field in more ways than one, while also still entertaining certain aspects of avant-garde philosophy that some have criticized as too accommodating of paradigms based in critical theory for their own good. This book however, is not primarily concerned with theory, but instead history and geopolitics, so if you have been put off the author by ideological idiosyncrasies, you need not worry about such things as they pertain to Last War.

The book begins with the essential foundation of Dugin’s geopolitical thought, that in history there exists an eternal conflict between the civilization of the land (tellurocracy), and the civilization of the sea (thalassocracy). The greatest example of this in the ancient world is the war between Rome and Carthage, illustrated eloquently with a long form quote from G.K. Chesterton on the Punic Wars. As well as geopolitical significance, the land/sea dichotomy has a metaphysical character as well. As Christ was born in the land empire, the antichrist was destined to be born in the sea empire. The values of the land empire are naturally conservative, sacrificial, faithful, and holistic. On the flipside then, the values of the sea civilization will be decadence and materialism. The traits of the land civilization are, for Dugin, not rooted in the Russian people themselves, but were adopted over time, largely due to Mongol occupation and Orthodoxy’s spread (the concept of the Third Rome comes from here). Not only this, but Russia is the heartland of this type of civilization, and as such…

“Geopolitically, the fact that Russia is the Heartland makes its sovereignty a planetary problem. All the powers and states in the world that possess tellurocratic properties depend on whether Russia will cope with this historic challenge and be able to preserve its sovereignty.”

The challenge, in the form of thallasocratic or Atlanticist expansion has gone through many phases, the last one before our contemporary era being the dominance of the mercantile British Empire. Today however, the pole of the sea is grounded entirely in the United States, Western Europe reduced to vassal status.

On the Bolshevik Revolution, Dugin argues that beyond the various historical factors which played into the tsar’s overthrow, there was a strong current of geopolitical destiny at work beneath the surface. By the outbreak of WWI, a bourgeois class had emerged fully in Russian society and in fact gained powers from the tsar. Influenced in large part by French ideas which had been at play in Russia for well over a century, he had accepted these developments and thus oriented the nation around St. Petersburg, an atlanticist orientation. This went against the very essence of Russia, and thus the tsarist regime and the provisional government which replaced it were overthrown by the Bolsheviks.

Incredible history is gone into here, and it should be mentioned, because Dugin goes into a point that is usually missed, that Lenin willingly ceded huge territory to Germany likely because he was counting on a burgeoning communist revolution to overthrow the kaiser (it never came). The early Leninists seemed disinterested in promoting Russian territorial integrity as nationalism flared in various regions (think; Finland). It took the death of Lenin, and Stalin’s directional change to ensure Russia lost no more territory.

Foreign ministers Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop
of Russia and Germany respectively

WWII brought on a very strange geopolitical situation. Dugin outlines the reasons that in fact, the axis should have won the war because they should have remained allied to the Soviet Union throughout. This would be the natural flow of events from a geopolitical standpoint, as both were land-oriented, both were anti-capitalist and anti-bourgeois, and both stood to gain from the allied powers loss. And yet, it ended up that the capitalist west and the communist east became allies against the continental center. A reminder perhaps that personality and subterfuge can have massive impacts on great power politics.

“This alignment of forces entirely contradicts the context and regularities of objective geopolitics. So it shows the powerful influence of the subjective factor: Hitler’s adventurism and the effective work of anti-German agents in the USSR and anti-Soviet agents in Germany.”

One of the senses you get from the book is that at least after Stalin, Russia had a Spartan character, even within an avowedly atheistic, leftist institution such as the USSR. We might say; as much as the Lenin era Communized Russia, the Stalin era Russified Communism. This is why the most insidious left wing thought (which would be adopted by Liberalism in its great 1960s tactical shift) did not emerge from Russia, but rather from Italy and Germany, from anti-Stalinist Marxists like Antonio Gramsci. However, one could see going forward that what contradictions there were between the Russian (and indeed on a broader note, the human) nature of Russians themselves and the Marxist foundations of their society would eventually weaken the state, with help of course from the West.

The book goes into the Cold War, though Dugin doesn’t seem to ascribe much significance to the post-Stalin Soviet leaders. Khrushchev is painted as a modernizer, Brezhnev as a conservative, which is probably accurate. The collapse of the Soviet Union, due to the method via which it occurred which was effectively a surrender, threatened the existence of Russia itself as a viable entity. The entire world shifted from a bipolar model of two competing powers to a center-periphery or unipolar model, essentially recognizing the United States as the sole superpower, with all other countries arranged in concentric circles around it, their success limited depending on how far away from this center they were.

The Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras mark for Dugin perhaps the bleakest moment in Russian history. At this time, Russia is flooded with Atlanticist agents who he proceeds to name; advisors, deputies, diplomats and so forth. These always inhibited Russia’s response to losses (the First Chechen War), and were even capable of recruiting Russia to aid the sea civilization at its own expense (support for the Iraq War). Influenced by Halford Mackinder (by then a long dead English geostrategist), the plan was to eventually break Russia up into a swath of nugatory republics that could never threaten the United States’ preeminence again. This plan however, failed.

a turning point or a temporary outlier?

Dugin spends the last portion of the book discussing Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev, lauding the accomplishments of the former while chastising the latter for his willingness to compromise with the West, while at the same time speculating on the true motives of these men, which to this day he seems to be unsure about. This uncertainty is well justified, and it leads to some ambiguity regarding the future.

“We cannot rule out the disappearance of our country from the map; after all, the great war of continents is the genuine form of war, in which the price of defeat is disappearance.”

It’s one of the more surprising elements of Dugin’s book, the precariousness of the Russian position which he does not attempt to paper over in any way. There is a compelling frankness, even through the highly academic veneer. One comes away with the sense that Dugin himself suffers no delusions about the asymmetric state of any conflict with the United States, and as such cannot be accused of expediency at least with regards to the geopolitical situation: Russia is valuable, its value is misunderstood, it bears the brunt of Atlanticist aggression, it must survive.

I was amazed at how flawless the book actually is, not noticing a single typo error in the entire thing (which is abnormal for translated works). The footnotes barely miss a beat, and no parts of it confused me due to unknown terminology or references. At 145 pages, it is by no means a long read, however this does not negatively affect the core message of the book regarding the history of Russian geopolitics. I have a feeling that finding a book that was as well-written and to-the-point on the given subject as this would be a struggle. As such, I would highly recommend picking this one up. There is likely more necessity in understanding Russia than a Reactionary outsider might at first suspect. A final victory of Liberalism would only be possible by seizing the heartland, as to quote Dugin quoting the aforementioned Mackinder, who informs globalist policies even to this day:

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island commands the world.”


11 thoughts on “Aleksandr Dugin’s ‘Last War Of The World Island’

  1. It's interesting how Dugin subverts (intentionally or not) the traditional Western and Sacrétemporal understanding not only of geopolitics, but in some sense eschatology. It has been foretold often in the past that the Restorer-Emperor will come from the South (primarily) and the West by ships upon the Sea, and that his enemies will be “Lords in the East” and in some sources “Lords of the North”. To paraphrase the prophet Johannes von Oschenforð; 'Mīmarōn af mäner ðē hopeninge wāri in ðē westra ligið enði fana ðē sēo kumið' “Remember, of men the true hope in the west lieth and from the sea cometh.”
    This seems to have been strongly influence by the Eastering invasions of the Hunnlings and the Abaroi over the great defenseless Eastern plains into the Heartland of the more civilized Foederati (i.e. the Rheinlant). It was only the Sea-Kings (Kening fon Sêlant) that survived these onslaughts originating probably in the Turkic East, but more immediately in what is now Russia; landraiders of such destruction that could only be escaped by ship. According to this tradition the restoring “Keisar” will also be a true “Sêkening” of the old style, which blends naturally with the later traditions, having continuous basis historically.
    (A side note unconnected to the main point, Dugin's views on the Third War of Austrian Succession, and the supposed “anti-liberal 'Stalinization' that saved Russia from liberalism” are questionable at best from a truly historical standpoint.)


  2. I would say the harsh realities of the present state of affairs (and indeed the state of affairs extending now explicitly for almost 300 years) subvert such understandings. The forces of Liberalism have moved decisively west over time, away from the heartland.
    Germany (Protestant Reformation) – France (French Revolution) – Britain (Mercantile Empire) – United States (Unipolar Liberal Hegemony).

    The Stalinization period could most certainly be called anti-liberal, in context. Just for an example, Lenin repealed the Tsarist laws against sodomy. Stalin re-instated them, even though there were not immediate and compelling reasons to do so. This isn't to say Stalin was in any way 'Traditional', but was anti-liberal in many of the ways that Adolf Hitler could be described as anti-Liberal. Dugin's main point here however is not that Stalin saved Russia from Liberalism, but in fact saved Russia from disintegrating altogether, which in the time of Lenin seemed to be a distinct possibility.


  3. Interesting article ! I really should read some books from Dugin.
    His remarks about the fall of the Russian empire and the monarchy seem to me doubtful. If I understand you (and Dugin) correctly Nicholas II was influenced by French ideals and oriented Russia around St Petersburg? No doubt Dugin is correct as he sees the rise of the bourgeois class in Russia and it's liberalism that infected many spheres of the society as one of the reasons for the fall of the empire. But to say that Nichocholas II was influenced by it seems wrong. His relation and that of his wife with the society of St Petersburg was not good, because they deemed it as too decadent and superficial. The Tsar was not a big fan of his forebearer Peter the Great and his reforms and was like his father Alexander III much more fan of Muscovite Russia and oriented towards Moscow. An little example of this attitutde can be seen that he called his son Alexis/Alexei , in honor of his favorite Romanov Tsar : Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, the last great Muscovite Tsar and father of Peter the Great.


  4. Even though the tsar was an absolute ruler, his power was always only absolute in theory, and so changes in Russia can never solely be put down to the action of any given tsar, be it Peter the Great or Nicholas II. What we do see as time goes on, Russia's aristocracy becomes more sympathetic to France, though this oscillates. Remember at one time Russia was French ideology's sworn enemy in the Holy Alliance under Alexander I. We see a succession of relatively conservative and then relatively liberal rulers of Russia, back and forth.

    Over time, Russia did begin to feel the beginnings of Enlightenment ideology. It could not escape the collapse of the serf system. It could not escape urbanization and the resulting problems. The 1905 Revolution was the beginning of the end. Once the tsar accepted this uprising and accepted even the principle of a duma, it was essentially over, just as when the King of France had accepted the first of the Revolutionary accommodations.

    The last tsar was undoubtedly weak as a leader, noble in his morality as he may have been. The malign influence of Rasputin discredited him among those who would have defended him most vehemently. Even Purishkevich could not ignore this, for while he adored the monarchy, he hated Rasputin to the point of attacking the tsar's wife.

    Konstantin Pobedonostsev represented the last tangible barrier to revolution in my opinion. After him, the atlanticist direction was assured. The tsar could not change this. Either he did not have the power, or he did not have the will. It's probably a combination of both, and the bourgeois, maritime element became the real power. This bourgeois leadership could not stand. This is what sealed the fate of the holy martyrs.

    I do not want it to sound as if this was entirely a choice on the tsar's part however. I at least see a pattern of fate to such things, and events in Russia particularly after 1900 are like a rube goldberg machine in their stunning complexity.


  5. One of the criticisms leveled at Dugin is that his assertion Russian identity was primarily formed from Asian influences rested on faulty (soviet) anthropology.


  6. I wouldn't call it 'primary' myself, but this view predates the Soviet era, and goes back to the original slavophiles, who were trying to figure out a way to respond to the encroaching arm of Modernity which was sweeping its way eastward. 'European' became synonymous with 'Modern', and so Russian thinkers wanted to distinguish Russians from this. Some of it is likely true, other parts more expedient for the time (would have been late 1800s). I see Russians as a frontier people. We are the mirror of the English in many ways.They are Europe's west frontier, we are Europe's east frontier.


  7. Civilization of the land vs. civilizaton of the sea. I wonder if this explains the rift in American politics. The heartland natuarally leans towards a land civilization, isolation, and protectionism while the coasts lean towards the sea empire, decadence and interventionism. The bi-coastal elite(clinton) vs. the heartland(Trump).


  8. Phenomenal analysis, Mark.

    I purchased this book from Arktos but I haven't got to it yet, as I have a couple others in line. Your read of it makes me want to change the order. Dugin's Land/Sea understanding was interesting because I started applying it everywhere. The US is clearly a land/sea divide. South Africa. China. Those coastal regions seem to give birth to liberal materialist societies. If only we could have a Land Empire for once in the USA.


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