Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Alexander Dugan — What is wrong with Europe?

Alexander Dugin is one of the foremost philosophers and political thinkers of Russia today. He is a "conservative" in the sense of conserving tradition, in this case the traditional Russkiy mir (Russian World). He views contemporary Western culture as decadent. Dugin has been sanctioned but the West.
Liberalism is a nihilistic ideology. It insists on liberty from any kind of collective identity, but never suggests anything positive. When in competition with the totalitarian ideologies of the past, communism and fascism, liberalism appeared to be concrete and attractive because it negated such totalitarianism while positing itself as a real alternative. But when the totalitarian competition was overcome, the nihilistic nature of liberalism came to be fully revealed. It can only negate things, and cannot affirm anything constructive. It is not the ideology of positive freedom, but of negative liberty. Although yesterday this might not have been so explicit, today it is clear.…
Liberalism has turned totalitarian. There is no liberty to not be a liberal. One must be a liberal. You can choose to be a left liberal, a right liberal, or a center liberal and, in the extreme case, you can be a far left or far right liberal, but you must always be a liberal. 
If you are judged to be illiberal by liberals, then you are finished, labelled as an extremist, terrorist, and so on. The liberals can only tolerate liberally tolerant people. If you are not tolerant in the liberal sense, you are intolerable.…
This is central to the paradoxes of liberalism. Anything that arises from the strict application of liberalism as negative freedom (freedom from external constraint) is regarded as being "natural."

Can this be corrected with the addition of positive freedom (freedom for actualizing potential)? This depends on agreement over human nature, which is disputed.

See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Positive and Negative Liberty, introduction:
Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities. 
The idea of distinguishing between a negative and a positive sense of the term ‘liberty’ goes back at least to Kant, and was examined and defended in depth by Isaiah Berlin in the 1950s and ’60s. Discussions about positive and negative liberty normally take place within the context of political and social philosophy. They are distinct from, though sometimes related to, philosophical discussions about free will. Work on the nature of positive liberty often overlaps, however, with work on the nature of autonomy.
As Berlin showed, negative and positive liberty are not merely two distinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal. Since few people claim to be against liberty, the way this term is interpreted and defined can have important political implications. Political liberalism tends to presuppose a negative definition of liberty: liberals generally claim that if one favors individual liberty one should place strong limitations on the activities of the state. Critics of liberalism often contest this implication by contesting the negative definition of liberty: they argue that the pursuit of liberty understood as self-realization or as self-determination (whether of the individual or of the collectivity) can require state intervention of a kind not normally allowed by liberals.
Many authors prefer to talk of positive and negative freedom. This is only a difference of style, and the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ are normally used interchangeably by political and social philosophers. Although some attempts have been made to distinguish between liberty and freedom (Pitkin 1988; Williams 2001; Dworkin 2011), generally speaking these have not caught on. Neither can they be translated into other European languages, which contain only the one term, of either Latin or Germanic origin (e.g. liberté, Freiheit), where English contains both.
Liberalism is at the front of cultural change in the world today. I regard myself as a libertarian of the left who views negative liberty as a necessary condition for mature liberalism and positive liberty also as necessary. A concept of liberalism that is both necessary and sufficient must include the individual, social and spiritual aspects of freedom and its purpose.

Alexander Dugin puts forward a point of view different from my own, but one to which he is entitled.  The contribution he makes is several fold. First, he brings in a view of liberalism from outside liberalism. Secondly, he presents a powerful strain of thought in the Russian world today. These are the most important. There are others. Regardless of one's opinion of his views, his views are important as cultural force to be reckoned with. sanctioning Alexander Dugin is not going to make his ideas go away. If fact, doing so is illiberal.

Fort Russ
Dugin: What is wrong with Europe?
Alexander Dugin, Katehon
Edited by J. Arnoldski


Bob said...

Liberals interpret democracy as the rule of minorities. We need to restore the original meaning of the term in which democracy is the rule of the majority, the organic majority, the majority sharing a common identity, that is, the rule of the historically and culturally united people.

Gee, what a novel idea ;)

Tom Hickey said...

We are in the process of fighting this out politically in the US right now.

Matt Franko said...

" I regard myself as a libertarian"

Give up on it already Tom....

Tom Hickey said...

As I have explained, my libertarianism is nuanced. The driving force of evolution is development of greater and greater freedom until true freedom is realized.

National, economic, religious and cultural freedoms are the reflections of the duality of existence. They exist only in varying degrees, subject to constant discordant adjustment. Even when won through persistent effort, they cannot be permanently maintained because the external conditions upon which they have been constructed are themselves subject to deterioration.

Only spiritual freedom is absolute and unlimited; when it is won through persistent effort, it is won forever. For, although spiritual freedom can and does express itself in the duality of existence, it is grounded in and sustained by the realization of the inviolable unity of all life....

One important condition of spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. It is wanting itself which chains life by attaching it to the conditions in environment which would fulfil that want. If there is no wanting, there is no dependence, and therefore no limitation.

The individual never achieves true freedom until he is no longer pushed or pulled by any inner compulsion. When he has worked through all the desires and worn them so threadbare that he can be, or not be — have, or have not — then he is free.

When the individualized soul breaks through the encasing steel armour of wanting, it emancipates itself from its illusory bondage to bodies, mind and ego. This is the spiritual freedom which brings with it the final realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries....

It is only in spiritual freedom that one can have enduring happiness and unhampered self-knowledge. It is only in spiritual freedom that one finds the supreme certainty of truth-realization. It is only in spiritual freedom that there is a final end to sorrow and limitation. It is only in spiritual freedom that one can live for all, and yet remain detached in the midst of all activity.

Any other lesser type of freedom is like a house built on sand, and any lesser attainment is fraught with fear of decay. There is no gift greater than that of spiritual freedom, and no task more important than helping others to find spiritual freedom.

Meher Baba in THE NARROW LANE, pp. 133-134, ed. William Le Page

John said...

Tom has it about right. I think most people are instinctively libertarian, but either get lost in the details or can't free their minds from the social and national propaganda that they have been subject. And here we're talking about libertarianism in the original sense of the term, not the loony Rothbardian and anarcho-capitalist American fringe. It isn't quite a utopian vision of society and it is workable, as proven by the various anarchist movements and especially the Spanish anarchists.

True libertarians would presumably be open to the fact that money is a creature of the state, and that the state is the fundamental actor in a sovereign monetary economy. They should open themselves up to using the powers of the state to make a better society and push towards a more libertarian society, rather than decrying everything that the state does. They should rethink this attitude. After all, what is the state? Is it not merely the ability to violently enforce its will? Why shouldn't money be an "institution" that can be used for public purpose in a libertarian society, like say a national health system or public libraries, that can be kept, not something to be compared to, say the military?

Bob said...

I'm not a Liberal or a Libertarian - these ideals are not part of my identity.