Reflections on My Conversation with Aleksandr Dugin

Justin Carmien
19 min readMay 31, 2023

Reflections in this article follow from a conversation with Aleksandr Dugin, recorded on May 27th, 2023. My ambition going into this conversation was to understand Dugin’s relationship to Fourth Political Theory. I assume the historical importance of the announcement of Fourth Political Theory is unquestionable. Dugin has initiated the announcement. Therefore, Dugin’s relationship to Fourth Political Theory is important. Ultimately, my interrogation of Dugin’s relationship is for the sake of the legacy of Martin Heidegger, the Statesman.

In order to consider Dugin’s relationship to Fourth Political Theory, I assumed it was necessary that we first consider Heidegger’s da sein as both the subject matter of Fourth Political Theory and as subiectum (the ground for the being of the world). Therefore, I prefaced our discussion with a consideration on the distinction between subject and subiectum. However, I also understood that we required an agreement on Heidegger’s eventual abandonment of Being and Time and Heidegger’s failure to answer the question regarding “the sense of being” by way of a description of da sein. After all, and because Heidegger abandoned Being and Time, it may appear as if any political theory which takes da sein as its subject matter may ignore Heidegger’s own biographical moves and Heidegger’s own understanding of Western history. In reflection, it seems that Dugin rejected my second assumption. However, and despite Dugin’s rejection, a brief recapitulation of Heidegger’s abandonment is necessary here, in order to understand the aim of my interrogation into Dugin’s relationship to Fourth Political Theory.

After a brief recapitulation, I will resume my reflections on the important topics and the outstanding questions of our conversation. These reflections can serve as the foundation for a second conversation with Dugin.

Heidegger’s abandonment of Being and Time

In order to consider Heidegger’s abandonment of da sein, we can recall fragments from Heidegger’s compositions following the publication of Being and Time. One passage from his lecture material on Friedrich Nietzsche is of particular importance. This passage comes down to us by way of David Farrell Krell and Frank Capuzzi’s English translation of material presented in 1936 at the University of Freiburg. In this passage, we find Heidegger reflecting on the failure of Being and Time, specifically on account of its “noncomprehension”. While the passage is lengthy, its repetition here is valuable for understanding the aim of my interrogation into Dugin’s relationship to Fourth Political Theory.

Heidegger’s reflection goes like this,

“In Being and Time, on the basis of the question of the truth of being, no longer the question of the truth of entities, an attempt is made to determine the essence of man solely in terms of his relationship to being. That essence was described in a firmly delineated sense as da sein. In spite of a simultaneous development of a more original conception of truth (since that was required by the matter at hand), the past thirteen years have not in the least succeeded in awakening even a preliminary understanding of the question that was posed [i.e., the question of the truth of beings]. On the one hand, the reason for such noncomprehension lies in our habituation, entrenched and ineradicable, to the modern mode of thought: man is thought as a subject, and all reflections on him are understood to be anthropology. On the other hand, however, the reason for such noncomprehension lies in the attempt itself, which, perhaps because it really is something historically organic and not anything ‘contrived’, evolves from what has been heretofore; in struggling loose from it, it necessarily and continually refers back to the course of the past and even calls on it for assistance in the effort to say something entirely different.”

“Above all, however, the path taken terminates abruptly at a decisive point. The reason for the disruption is that the attempt and the path it chose confront the danger of unwillingly becoming merely another entrenchment of subjectivity; that the attempt itself hinders the decisive steps; that is, hinders an adequate exposition of them in their essential execution. Every appeal to “objectivism” and “realism” remains “subjectivism”: the question concerning being as such stands outside the subject-object relation.”

While this passage may be interpreted to suit the many different and likely diverse needs of scholars, it must be clear that Heidegger means to say that in order to ask the question regarding “the truth of beings”, we must turn away from sciences which treat of “the essence of man”. Heidegger understood Being and Time to follow this path. However, to replace subjectivist metaphysics with objectivism or realism will also be unsatisfactory. If Heidegger is correct, then this must be the case, no matter if the human animal is the subject or the object of a transcendental architectonic. It would also be true no matter if the world is defined as ideal or real. I will not consider Heidegger’s conclusion in more detail here. I have given this passage adequate consideration in this Medium article. If you allow me this, then I will assume this testimony reflects Heidegger’s own understanding of his relationship to da sein following the publication of Being and Time.

Now, if we follow Heidegger’s moves faithfully, and if we are weary towards any thoughts which confront the dangers of the subject-object relationship, then the question arises as to what thought would provide for a more appropriate understanding of “the truth of beings”. Importantly, and regarding my conversation with Dugin, we can ask, what does Dugin find appropriate? In reflection, I assume that Dugin understood Heidegger’s phenomenological interpretation of Aristotle as the appropriate point of departure. Dugin offers this point of departure as a response to my introduction regarding the distinction between subject and subiectum and Heidegger’s abandonment of Being and Time. Therefore, we must consider that interpretation next.

The Phenomenological interpretation of Aristotle and “the here” of da sein

First, I can say that Dugin and I seem to agree that “phenomenology” cannot refer to any discipline of phenomenology (φαινομενον λογια), which could be studied in the same way as psychology, sociology, or biology. And even less so could phenomenology refer to some phenomenologic (φαινομενον λογος) — that is, a λογος by which the phenomena come into accord with one another. Rather, for us, phenomenology must refer to a commitment to the phenomena as they appear of themselves. In order to elucidate this commitment, Dugin draws upon the phenomenological interpretation of Aristotle. This interpretation emphasizes Aristotle’s ψυχη (psūkhe, traditionally translated as “mind” or “soul”). This emphasis also faithfully repeats Heidegger. For Heidegger, ψυχη is related to da sein. We may remember that in the first introduction to Being and Time, Heidegger already repeats Aristotle, “μ ψυχη τα οντα πως εσιν” (“Man’s soul is, in a certain way, entities.”) Being and Time was an attempt to describe the being of entities through the priority of “man’s soul”. When an inquirer investigates “man’s soul” — which is “man’s being” — he finds that the transcendental subiectum is mine. Heidegger says “da sein is in each case mine”. Therefore, I can understand why Dugin chose this emphasis. At the same time, to understand the emphasis of ψυχη also requires nuance — so much so, that I argue the emphasis was unhelpful in our conversation and rather encouraged confusion. Even worse, an emphasis on ψυχη obscures the aim of my distinction between subject and subiectum. Apparently, it also neglects Heidegger’s abandonment of Being and Time.

To make my point, I can offer the following example: consider if I were to emphasize ψυχη when speaking to another (as Dugin has done with me). To help explain the emphasis, I might say something to the effect of “da sein is in me” (much like how we speak of the mind or the soul). Of course, when saying this, I assign a location to da sein. However, such a localization positions an I as something distinct from a you. Consequently, such a localization of da sein confronts the dangers of the subject-object relationship. However, we can also try to understand da sein without the assignment of location. To do so, we can call upon the help of Heidegger’s later compositions. We can consider The Thing (1950), as well as Building Dwelling Thinking (1953). In both texts, Heidegger implements the language of a fourfold (earth, heaven, divinities, and mortals — things that are dying) which is mediated by a location (the thing which is “here”) and indicates being in the negation of things, by virtue of the mirroring of the fourfold, joined and gathered by the being itself. Immediately, we notice that in these texts, Heidegger has transported “the here” of da sein out of the ψυχη. We can also notice that this description of “the here” lacks temporal significance. In these texts, “here” is no longer the da sein of Being and Time. Yet, if the “here” is not located internally, then is it an exterior location?

When we follow Heidegger into these later texts, we can say that the presence of the things of the world (including the I, myself and you) indicate a common location which is announced by declarations such as “here!” When we speak colloquially, saying that, “I am here and you are here”, we are also metaphysically correct. “I am [the] here.” “You are [the] here.” We share the location announced by the declaration “here!” (da sein). Yet, this location is not temporal, nor is the location able to be spatially located. Rather, the declaration indicates this location, prior to either temporal or spatial categories. Likewise, it is prior to mental or physical, interior or exterior categories. Because this location indicates a priority, it encourages an investigation into the structure of that priority; in other words, it encourages the description of a transcendental architectonic. One attempt at such a description is Being and Time. Other attempts can be made. However, equating this non-temporal and non-spatial location “here” with Being (capital “B”) seems to be Heidegger’s best attempt at a description of “the truth of beings” following Being and Time. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, neither Heidegger’s The Thing nor Building Dwelling Thinking were considered during my conversation with Dugin. However, I took notice that Dugin directed our conversation towards Heidegger’s interpretation of Aristotle prior to Being and Time. Dugin did not direct us towards the later texts where Heidegger departs from Aristotle. For myself, it would be valuable to consider this choice of direction, together with Dugin, at some point in the future. I am not sure why this is the correct move. As I have now argued, reverting to Aristotle and placing “the here” in the ψυχη is confusing. Because of this, I am forced to consider Dugin wrong if he understands the common “here” as less relevant than ψυχη. It is up to Dugin if he would like to consider this challenge further, together in the future.

Metaphysics as a science

In the previous reflection, I considered the confusion which arises when reverting to ψυχη in order to reflect on subject and subiectum — particularly, once we have already admitted that we are committed to phenomenology, understood as a commitment to the phenomena as they appear of themselves. To be clear, my critique regards the educational value of the emphasis of ψυχη. However, I have also suggested that Dugin’s emphasis of ψυχη is also an obstruction. I will explain that next.

Let me preface this reflection by way of two reminders. First, I suggest the emphasis of ψυχη obscures the purpose or the aim of my distinction between subject and subiectum. Therefore, my critique regards the political value of my distinction. In accordance, the following explanation will lead to an important feature of Dugin’s political activism. Secondly, let me make a claim which I expect to go uncontested: any natural science which relies on empirical evidence (physics, for example) cannot get out of the framework of time, space, and causality. Rather, these are given. In the same way, the metaphysician cannot get out of and behind his own framework. This means that metaphysics cannot surmount the question as to who is making the inquiry. The who falls outside the domain of the question. At the same time, this does not discredit the content of any transcendental architectonic. If we were to assume this to be the case, then we would also have to assume that no science could ever arrive at its objects, and would always remain a “subjective” endeavor discovering objects relative to its questioner. We could never have the composite image of a blackhole, for example, but only that image, as it is experienced and subsequently described by its observer. And while we can talk like this — and understand the composite image of a blackhole as merely a description following the experience of its observer — acknowledging this truth places us outside of the science itself. Of course, standing outside the science (that is, bringing the validity of the science into question) is a fine position to hold within certain projects. However, when standing in such a position, and outside of the science, we cannot use the logic which guides the scientific work to also account for the logic itself. To be sure, making a scientific inquiry means to have taken up a logic in order to explain the phenomenal experience. Therefore, we must make a decision. Either we remain inside the science, asking questions according to the logic which guides that science; or we stand on the outside, and question the logic itself. Therefore, whoever has found himself studying the architecture of “the here”, indicated by the presence of the things of the world, must also treat “the here” as subject matter at a distance from himself. So, while I agree that phenomenology is the method by which to investigate appearance itself, the inquirer himself must remain distinct from the subiectum of the transcendental architectonic.

Note: I understand that I am not alone in this conclusion. I believe Heidegger became aware of this problem as he confronted the “noncomprehension” of Being and Time. Consider that one of Heidegger’s main contributions to the transcendental architecture was to account for the human animal’s πραξις (praxis, “production”). Πραξις grounds the novel descriptions in the first division of Being and Time. Present-at-hand objects are explanatorily dependent on the more primordial ready-to-hand. According to Heidegger’s explanation, the ready-to-hand announce themselves through the human animal’s πραξις. In Kantian terms, objectivity is grounded in subjectivity. Of course, the ready-to-hand is a theoretical (present-at-hand) object which belongs to Heidegger’s transcendental architecture and, as such, to the science of ontology. To suggest that this object is in Heidegger’s ψυχη could also be true, in certain projects. However, in those projects, we are then not considering the ready-to-hand as such, but rather considering it as a presence-at-hand object — one which is communicable as being “in the ψυχη” of Heidegger. Yet, Heidegger is attempting to explain how theoretical (present-at-hand) objects such as the theoretical ready-to-hand are possible “in our ψυχη” by way of modification of the human animal’s πραξις. For me, it only muddles the first project (a description of the transcendental architectonic) to remind ourselves that this architectonic is being described by Heidegger or is in Heidegger’s ψυχη. I did attempt to approach the problem of this muddled project together with Dugin. It is possible that I am confused about the relevance of this muddling to Dugin’s political activism. However, Dugin did not follow my lead. Because of this, the question as to whether or not the muddling is relevant remains outstanding.

Now, if I am correct, then when Dugin confounds the phenomenological inquirer and the transcendental subiectum, he also obscures an identification of the subject matter of Fourth Political Theory. In fact, Dugin’s statements from The Fourth Political Theory (2009) seem to confirm this. Repeating from that book, “Every individual and every culture possesses their own da sein.” However, if this is the case, then I would need to ask about the relationship between these two instances of da sein (the existentiale conditions of possibility). I also wonder which da sein (conditions) is more primordial? If Dugin’s answer is that the cultural da sein is the more primordial, then I am at a loss as to why Dugin refers to Aristotle’s ψυχη when enlightening the subiectum of metaphysics. If Dugin’s answer is that both instances of da sein (conditions) are equiprimordial, then I am still at a loss. For instance, I consider Dugin’s own investigations into da sein. Dugin does not actually prioritize his da sein (his own limiting conditions). Rather, he investigates the supposed various da seins. His investigation is anthropological. In our conversation, Dugin explicitly expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement — specifically, as a way to seek the supposed “African da sein”. Because Dugin investigates as such, his truth relativism becomes an issue. Therefore, we must consider the nature of truth next — and importantly, what political activism follows from Dugin’s truth relativism.

Before moving on to the next reflection, I want to record a tangential thought regarding Dugin’s traditionalism. For myself, following our conversation, I feel vindicated in calling Dugin an identity politics liberal — a critique I first launched in this YouTube video, but which became more refined in the appendix to How to Nurture Truth and Authenticity. In addition, and after witnessing Dugin’s expressed endorsement of Black Lives Matter, I can see that the liberal surely mistakes Dugin when he insists that Dugin is a fascist. It is clear to me that Dugin follows the same moves as the American progressive left. However, in the case of Dugin and the progressive left, both have replaced the subject of liberalism (the “I, myself”) with the identity group or “community” subject — for example, “the Black community” or “the LGBTQ+ community”, just to name a couple of cases. Now, to be clear, the liberal, the progressive left, and Dugin are all in alignment. Each of them champions for rights — specifically, the right for any one group to exist. Rights, whether legislative or social, are the cornerstone of liberal political activity. Liberalism once fought against the English monarchy, now liberalism fights against Western hegemony and a United States-led cultural imperialism — the Black Lives Matter movement fights these opponents from the inside and Dugin fights them from the outside.

Dugin’s relativism

In the previous reflection, I repeated words from Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory — “Every individual and every culture possesses their own da sein.” Dugin is also known for saying that, “We have our own Russian Truth”. Both of these statements make clear that Dugin is a truth relativist. I have contended for some time now that this understanding of the nature of truth is incongruent with Heidegger’s teachings. However, what is now interesting for me is that during the conversation, I heard Dugin acknowledge that his truth relativism is incongruent with Heidegger’s teachings. Yet, even so, Dugin’s deviation from Heidegger on this point appears to hold more weight for me than it does for Dugin — specifically, in regard to what political activity follows from the nature of truth. Therefore, this must be considered more thoroughly.

Firstly, let us consider what political activity follows when understanding truth as relative to da sein (as Dugin suggests). In this case, we have (as a consequence) also established concrete and seemingly impassable barriers. With these impassable barriers in place, Dugin then suggests that the correct political strategy is for each da sein to seek its truth. (In our conversation, Dugin called this truth “the monarchy”.) In response to Dugin, and in an effort to reveal my position, which I understand stands in contradiction to Dugin, I drew our attention to the fact that he (a Russian) and I (an American) have much in common. Possibly, I have more in common with Dugin than I do with many of my fellow Americans. And presumably he, more in common with me than many Russians. To be sure, there are many Russians who find Dugin detestable. My suggestion was to reveal the nature of “the here” of da sein, which cannot be grounded in tradition, but rather by projection. Of course, I can admit that when Dugin and I were in conversation, we did bring a heritage into “the here”, but this was only possible on account that we were commonly projected. Our project was to enlighten Heidegger’s da sein and Dugin’s relationship to Fourth Political Theory. It was this common project which made possible the bringing of a heritage into “the here”. Without that project, no presencing of the heritage could have been possible. Because of this, it should be clear: Dugin and I shared da sein in the ecstatic moment of our conversation. Our shared da sein had less to do with him being Russian and me being American. And this remains the case even when the Russian identity or the American identity was offered up for consideration. (Note: when the Russian or American identity was offered for consideration, this was not da sein itself, but was a present-at-hand object available for our manipulation in our shared da sein). Therefore, Dugin’s claim to a Russian da sein, a “Russian truth”, and a “Russian Monarchy” appears to me narrow, at best.

What is interesting then, and also to my surprise, is that Dugin seems to agree with my critique — namely, that he sits in two chairs. Dugin, the political activist is distinct from Dugin, the metaphysician. These two chairs allow Dugin to be an anthropologist and an identity politics liberal activist on one hand; on the other hand, Dugin, the metaphysician can remain in alignment with Heidegger and maintain a singular truth (for Dugin, that truth is spelled out in Russian Orthodoxy). If Dugin agrees with me on this point, then our outstanding issue regards his preference to animate the quite narrow case of da sein (“the here”) when it manifests in traditional geopolitical areas. (It is likely that Dugin does not consider the possibility of projective [future] geopolitical areas.) For me, Dugin’s animation reveals to me how his political activism guides his metaphysics. And that is the reverse of what I would consider admirable.

Despite my disrespect for Dugin on this point, and even though I feel vindicated in a confirmation of Dugin’s two-chair position, I should admit that I also sympathize with Dugin. I can understand the political strategy which champions for the protection and liberation of non-Western traditions and which might resist Western hegemony and a United States-led economic and cultural imperialism. However, even so, I still question if his political activism is correct. Next, I will argue that a “nay-saying” political activity is inconsistent with Heidegger’s political philosophy. I will argue that Heidegger’s political philosophy is not sociologically critical, but is rather (and as should be expected, following all that has been said) economically projective. To be sure, we can remember that the future has priority in Being and Time.

I will now offer clarity on Heidegger’s political philosophy. Once this is done, I can contrast Heidegger’s political philosophy to Dugin’s political activism. Then, we can consider here which of the two is more favorable in today’s political milieu.

Heidegger’s political philosophy

In order to shed light on Heidegger’s philosophy, we can return to the lecture material about Nietzsche from the 1930s. In this material, Heidegger attempts to defend Nietzsche’s philosophy from moral and biological interpretations by the Nazi ideologue Alfred Baeumler. (We should take notice of the dates of his compositions.) In the defense, we find Heidegger reflecting on δημιουργος (dēmiurgos). Now, Heidegger understands δημιουργος, not in the sense of a god-creator — which Heidegger designates as φυτουργoς (fytourgos) — but as a craftsman who produces the ιδεα (idea) of the δημος (dēmos, “the public, the people”). That is to say, the δημιουργος produces the outward appearance of the world within the commerce of the public usage of things and of communal life. It is on this ground that I have previously argued for Heidegger’s democracy.

Now, in conversation, Dugin seems to have interpreted Heidegger’s political philosophy differently. To be sure, Heidegger endorsed the führerprinzip and supported the führer as a manifestation of δημιουργος. Dugin rejects this support and dismisses it as inconsistent with Heidegger’s philosophy. However, I contend that Dugin has interpreted this support too hastily. He has done so, not on account of Heidegger’s own words, but rather on account of the historical realities of National Socialism, particularly as it manifested in Germany during Heidegger’s time. I will now place Heidegger’s endorsement of the führerprinzip within Heidegger’s democracy.

If we allow ourselves to think of democracy as an economic activity (that is, as the governance of the social commerce of human animals as they create value in their lives), then the production of the δημιουργος is, and can only ever be, a manifestation of ιδεα insofar as the δημιουργος is equal in its being as the δημος. That is to say, the ιδεα essentially belongs to the people. Therefore, if δημιουργος is present in the being of the führer, then it is only so insofar as the führer manifests the people’s ιδεα. The δημιουργος can only ever merely present the ιδεα through the act of producing, being as one such instance of the people. Consequently, if the ιδεα is not of the δημος, then neither is the being of the producer as δημιουργος. Consider that it is not only the führer who manifests the people’s ιδεα, but also successful authors, musicians, artists, legislators, architects, et cetera. Heidegger’s democracy is a true democracy, meaning that the people of various trades and vocations govern themselves. If this is the case, then Heidegger’s conception of democratic activity is not to be found in liberal or social law, but rather in economic creation.

Of course, Dugin’s repudiation of Heidegger’s endorsement of the führerprinzip allows Dugin to stand against Heidegger, the Nazi — a repudiation which reflects well on Dugin’s own reputation. However, once we have understood Heidegger’s political philosophy as what it is, then no repudiation of Heidegger is in order. I do judge Dugin on this point and I understand Heidegger’s endorsement of the führerprinzip as consistent with his philosophy. It should also be noted that during our conversation, I did offer an opportunity where Dugin could have saved his character, thus changing my judgement about him. I had asked if he was actively working to produce the Russian ιδεα (or in Dugin’s language, “seek” the “Russian Monarchy”). He offered no answer.

Unapologetic subjectivity and first economics philosophy

I have now argued that Heidegger’s truth and his political philosophy is projective and creative. Consequently, it is also affirmative. In contrast to this, I find Dugin’s political activism manifesting as an antithesis — as a “nay-saying”. Dugin’s political activism does not follow from Heidegger’s aesthetic of affirmation, but rather from the socially-critical aesthetics characteristic of postmodernist works. I contend that Dugin is a postmodernist. The postmodernist aesthetic is indicative of a profound suffering characterized by inauthenticity, alienation, rootlessness, estrangement, and apathy. It manifests in Dugin, the anthropologist — the rational and impersonal omniscient world observer.

The question then finally arises, if Dugin is not exercising a political activism which coheres with Heidegger’s political philosophy, then is Dugin doing Fourth Political Theory? OR is it the case that he has merely initiated the announcement of this political theory? This question is still outstanding. And yet, I contend that if we remain faithful to Heidegger when doing Fourth Political Theory, then we must adopt a projective, creative, and affirmative political strategy. This also requires us to adhere to the location “here” which is indicated by the things around us — a “here” which is grounded in a common projection. Because “the here” is already grounded in a common projection, any political strategy which follows from Heidegger requires an immersion in our subjectivity, and unapologetically so. Once we stand within our subjectivity, unburdened by concerns of relativism, inclusion (the progressive left), or exclusion (Dugin) — without any need to justify our “being here” — only then can any one self produce authentic and proximal value. However, given Dugin’s critical position, I do believe this need still stands as an obstacle for him. (I noted that he rejected my calls for an unapologetic subjectivity and felt himself virtuous for doing so.)

Finally, I did offer the controversial suggestion that for those of us sitting in America, we are less burdened by this need. I do not know if I am willing to defend that claim. However, if I am correct, then what is required for the United States canvas is not merely the announcement of a political theory which takes Heidegger’s da sein as its subject matter, but a value metaphysics which can support a democratic activity of projection. I have announced first economics philosophy as a value metaphysics which follows from the phenomenological tradition of continental Europe, beginning with Immanuel Kant, progressing through G.W.F. Hegel, and concluding with Martin Heidegger. I understand that first economics presents the only feasible starting point for a progressive political theory and political activity within the United States. The American national identity is unknown today. It is up to those of us that find ourselves here to create it. Of course, much more can be said regarding first economics as a Fourth Political Theory within the United States canvas. I do understand that Dugin may be valuable in that project. However, it is up to Dugin if he would like to consider Fourth Political Theory within the United States together with me.



Justin Carmien

Public speaker on metaphysics, political philosophy, and political metamodernism