Meet the Russian Political Scientist Who Wants to Restore Proto-Indo-European Social Castes and Is a Darling of the Alt-Right
In a case of some fake chickens coming home to roost, the author of the 1980 book The Demonologist, a supposedly true-life account of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s paranormal investigations, is suing Warner Bros. for almost $1 billion, claiming that the Warrens had signed over their rights to the author in 1978 and Warner did not have legal permission to use their tales in The Conjuring and its sequels. Attorneys for the author, Gerald Brittle, further claim that Warner is wrong to alleged that the movies are exempt from copyright infringement because they are based on true events rather than the book about them since the Warrens made up their stories, which Brittle claims to have added to and embellished for the book. In short, the court case will include efforts to expose yet another long-running set of fringe claims as a big scam designed to fool audiences. There are no winners here. Brittle was, by his own account, complicit in what he admits to be the promotion of false claims (which he continues to advertise as real for profit), and his moral problem is that he wasn’t paid enough for lying.
I read a rather grim article this week about Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political scientist whose views mix fascism, Orthodox Christianity, Russian nationalism, and occultism in an odd concoction. Many Western observers had suggested that Dugin is a close advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but observers within Russia have denied the claim. What we do know is that Dugin was a key advisor to high officials in Putin’s ruling United Russia party, and he is a supporter of Donald Trump, whom he calls the “anointed” king of America. In what I am sure must be a coincidence, the English editions of Dugin’s many political books are published by none other than Arktos, the same company headed by rightwing ancient astronaut believer Jason Reza Jorjani, who is business partners with white nationalist Richard Spencer. Both of them, of course, are outspoken supporters of Donald Trump, whose campaign is currently under FBI and Congressional investigation for its ties to Russia.
It truly strains credibility that all of these connections are simply the result of chance. Dugin’s philosophy and view of history have a shocking echo with many of the claims we’ve seen put forward time and again in Western versions of fringe history, and I am starting to think that this is not a coincidence.
Like most rightwing extremists, Dugin is most concerned combatting globalization, homosexuality, and uppity women. These three forces are, for him, the biggest threats facing the power of old white men to control those who are not old, white, or male. Patriarchal and hierarchical dominance, he believes, should be the governing principle of all “Indo-European” societies, and to that end he openly advocates a restoration of the “caste system.”
What? The caste system? Dugin dresses it up in fancy claims, but the bottom line is that he believes in Aryan supremacy, and in so doing adopts the hypothesized social order of Bronze Age Proto-Indo-European (PIE) society as the “natural” and most beneficial form of social organization. In the twentieth century, scholars studying Indo-European languages, specifically Georges Dumézil, suggested that PIE culture was composed of castes based on the terminology for specific jobs that carried over into the daughter languages. These three castes are the warriors, priests, and husbandmen. This proposed division of society, which pointedly excludes consideration for women’s roles, echoes the perceived ideal society of twentieth century fascists. It should surprise no one that scholars like Bruce Lincoln, Arnaldo Amigliano, and Carlo Ginzburg have accused Dumézil of fascist sympathies, arguing that his reconstruction of Indo-European culture was influenced by and designed to support French or Italian style fascist ideals. Dumézil was a supporter of Mussolini, later in life worked closely with ex-Nazis (including one from the Ahnenerbe), and supported the political party of Charles Maurras, the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and convicted Vichy collaborator whom you will remember Trump advisor Steve Bannon praised for his insight into the importance of promoting the ethno-nation over the legalities of government. Dumézil denied having fascist or Nazi sympathies, but nevertheless he is, of course, another darling of the alt-right for all the reasons that everyone else finds his politics problematic. As Lincoln wrote almost twenty (!) years ago in Theorizing Myth:
…the New Right, like Alain de Benoist, Jean Haudry, or Roger Pearson, cite Dumézil's writings in support of their positions—their fondness for hierarchy and authority, for example, their antipathy toward egalitarianism and the ideals of the Enlightenment, or their triumphal view of “Indo-Europeans” as superior to all other peoples—we may suspect them of appropriating nothing other than positions of the Old Right that have been brilliantly recoded and misrepresented first as ancient wisdom, and second as scholarly discourse.
Again, it’s hard to see this web of connections as the product of random chance, but Lincoln’s point is especially potent, coming as it does so long before the claim became commonplace: Pseudohistory serves to encrust modern political ideology with the patina of ancient wisdom, to make the unacceptable seem inevitable, sanctioned by the ancients, the gods, or History itself. It is an appeal to tradition and to authority in a way designed to restore them when they have already failed.
To that end, Dugin purposely distorts the history of the medieval period in order to promote a fictionalized version of the past that is more closely aligned with the political theories of late imperial Russia and fascist Europe, namely the principles of immovable hierarchy and absolute obedience to God above and his Czar or Führer or Duce on Earth:
European modernity, which abolished religion, faith in the King and the Heavenly Father, the castes, the sacred understanding of the world, and essentially patriarchy, was the beginning of the fall of Indo-European civilization. Capitalism, materialism, egalitarianism, and economism are all the revenge of those societies against which the Indo-Europeans waged war, subjugated, and strove to remedy, which composed the essence of all Indo-European peoples’ history…. No compromises will help us. Either we will disappear and be dissolved, or we must restore our Indo-European civilization in its entirety, with all of its values, ways, and metaphysics.
It should take but a moment to remember that the Proto-Indo-Europeans and their descendants were pagans, some as late as the very medieval period he praises. The descendants of Indo-European culture also include, well, Indians, who are majority Hindu and had a very different experience than Europeans. How do they fit into his world view? But it is most interesting to see Dugin chooses to read history as a series of wars for cultural domination, in which the masculine principle must, by right, predominate. This is not an argument from history but one of social ideology.
Oh, and like Jason Reza Jorjani, Miguel Serrano, and so many others with sympathies for fascism, Dugin flirts with Esoteric Nazism, praising fascist movements for their “spiritual” side. He frames this in terms of the lost continent of Atlantis, which he sees as the eternal enemy of the Indo-European peoples. Arguably, this is more of a specifically Russian ideology (the Nazis, for example, considered Atlantis to by Aryan) because Dugin is actually trying to contrast the culture of the “steppe” (i.e., Russia) with that of the “aquatic” nations, a particularly Russian way of expressing a distrust of international trade. He frames this in spiritual terms, however, contrasting the steppe’s “male,” “sun,” and “paradise” with the seacoast’s “female,” “lunar,” and “pit of exile” aspects. In short, East good, West bad, so Russia good, America bad. You can guess form this what he thinks of women. Granted, Dugin admits that “is impossible, strictly speaking, to affirm that Eurasia is good and Atlantic is bad,” but he then says Russia is Apollo and the West is Python, so his qualifier doesn’t really carry a lot of weight.
The article about Dugin that I read came from Gods and Radicals, an anti-capitalist and pro-pagan publication. The author of the article claims to be a communist practitioner of Hoodoo and to believe in the power of “magick” and therefore sees Dugin as actually changing the world through occult power. It takes no magic, though, to seduce through appeals to tradition, prejudice, and the imagined sanctity of powerful and revered ancestors. There is no reason to attribute to magic what is better explained by the darkness within the human condition.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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