Heideggerian and apocalyptical thinker
Which period of Heidegger’s thought do you find most relevant politically, and why?
The middle period of his life: the thirties and early forties. Before and after, he was less engaged in political philosophy. The reason for that is the following. Heidegger was an opponent of communism and liberalism. His attitude toward fascism was nevertheless very special. He rejected some crucial points of Nazi ideology: racism, materialism, modernism and technology (Machenschaft). So, we can deduce from his writings an implicit political ideology, a kind of meta-political draft that could be developed (which Heidegger himself did not do) into a sort of Fourth Political Theory. He touched on most explicit aspects of this meta-political draft in the thirties and forties, but on the margin of his work – in sketches for lectures, diaries and so on. He affirmed that any philosophy bears political philosophy in itself, as in the case of Plato. So, he mentioned some political ideas and concepts during Hitler’s regime but didn’t develop them. After 1945, there was a total destruction of Third Way politics, but Heidegger saw the Fourth Political Theory as an anti-liberal and anti-communist position that was critical vis-à-vis Nazism from the inside and not from the outside. Such criticism was possible only when Nazism was present. After its end he kept a silence that was very logical. He could not accept the critique of Nazism from the outside, from a liberal or communist point of view, so he stopped to express any political remarks.
Are there political lessons to be learned from Being and Time? Or from Heidegger’s later thought on technology and Gelassenheit?
Any philosophy is pregnant with political philosophy. The politics is implicit in the philosophy. So I argue that it is quite legitimate to propose a political reading of Sein und Zeit, as well as of any other work by Heidegger. But in order to do that we need to understand sufficiently all his philosophy, including his less political first period. The question of technology (Machenschaft) is a continuation of the middle period concerns that were much more openly political. I would like to point out that Gelassenheit is a term that played an essential role in German mediaeval mysticism (Meister Eckhart and so on) up to Münzers Anabaptism. But I haven’t done sufficient research concerning the possible political application of this idea.
Have you had the opportunity to read the Black Notebooks that have been published so far? If so, what did you find most interesting in these texts?
I have attentively read all three volumes of the Black Notebooks. The texts are very exciting, as are all lines belonging to Heidegger. I consider him the best philosopher of the West, so any word uttered by him is precious and demands careful meditation. But almost all the ideas formulated there I have met already in other writings. There is nothing special – it is Heidegger immersed in his thought. For the specialist in Heidegger there are many new interpretations of main topics and some brilliant aphorisms, but Beiträge zur Philosophie and Geschichte des Seyns as well as other writing of the thirties are more or less centered on the same problems. One theme in the Black Notebooks is Heidegger’s critique of the metaphysical presuppositions of mainstream National Socialism, presuppositions that he thinks Nazism shares with communism and liberalism. Is it possible to develop a political movement that is not based on metaphysics, but instead is open to the question of being? In the Black Notebooks Heidegger has said nothing new concerning National Socialism that we wouldn't know or that wouldn’t be a part of National Socialist doctrine. We should not forget that up to the 1945 Heidegger was a member of the party, so being honest he should share the main points of the party doctrine. The inner criticism of National Socialism is effectively present in the Black Notebooks but it is not the main or central theme. In all three big volumes the space dedicated to the political topic is less than ten pages in whole. Not much. But in effect there are some important remarks in the Black Notebooks that show inner criticisms of the Third Political Theory in the sense of the Fourth Political Theory, which we need to examine with great attention. National Socialism is one of three political ideologies rooted in Modernity. Its totalitarianism is absolutely modern (Hannah Arendt has shown that). Heidegger was the most radical critic of Modernity as the oblivion of Being. He denounces the modern aspects of National Socialism, including racism. That is quite logical. And I share these criticisms.
In “The Age of the World Picture,” at least in the form of the text that was published after the war, Heidegger rejects both nationalism and internationalism. Is there a third alternative, in your view?
He rejected nationalism not after the war but always, because he was a European thinker and continued the mission of the Western Logos. But the destiny of Logos was Greek in the Beginning and German in the end. That is an absolute fact – it doesn’t depend on whether are we Germans or not. I accept this evident truth, being Russian. So the real Fatherland for Heidegger was philosophy and Germany as the nation of philosophers and poets – Hölderlin, Rilke, Schelling, Hegel, and Nietzsche. Nationalism is a modern, artificial concept, as is internationalism, which is its correlate. I am against nationalism and against all creations of modernity. I am deeply persuaded that Modernity is absolutely wrong in every respect. I agree with Heidegger that the Earth [Erde] in the Geviert [the Fourfold] is a philosophical idea, as is world [Welt] (or heaven [Himmel]). So Germany is an idea, as is Russia. Earth is dialectically linked with the Sky. And their battle (Streit) forms the Dasein of a concrete people (Volk). So Heidegger founded an existential understanding of people (Dasein exiestiert völkisch, he used to say) that is neither nationalist, nor internationalist. This point is the basis of the Fourth Political Theory.
How would you describe Heidegger’s relationship to the Greeks? How did his relation to the Greek beginning of philosophy affect his stance toward the contemporary world? Do you consider it politically important to reflect on this Greek beginning?
We cannot understand the meaning of the End (where we live) without understanding the meaning of the beginning. All Greece – philosophy, language, culture – is of absolute importance. We are living on the margins of Ancient Greece. Everything was discovered and lived there already. European history is a weak and increasingly decadent repetition of Greek patterns. Political philosophy as philosophy in general was the creation of the Greek genius. The Greeks are our destiny, our identity. The Beginning is more important than the End, because the End is contained in the Beginning – not vice versa. So contemporary Europe is the End of the Greek in many senses.
In his writings of the 1930s, Heidegger attacks “liberalism” in a very expansive sense as a mode of thinking as part of the history of being, with roots in Platonism and endpoints in the western European Enlightenment, including modern science as well as socialism and liberalism as ordinarily understood. He describes this larger liberalism as grounded on a notion of being that is eternal, universal, and without a fixed place in historical community. In your work, you advocate a “fourth” political theory that goes beyond liberalism, communism, and fascism. Do you agree with his being-historical understanding of liberalism, and if so, what, if anything, do you think he got right or wrong in the actual politics he engaged in during the 1930s? How would you correct or expand upon his ideas?
Being an admirer of Heidegger, I nevertheless have a personal vision of Platonism and Christianity that doesn’t quite coincide with Heidegger’s. But his criticism of liberalism is quite correct, because liberalism is the very essence of Modernity. The individual taken for the central point in this political ideology is the utmost interpretation of the Cartesian abstract (i.e. un-rooted) subject, brought to the last consequences. Communism and fascism as well have their ground in the Modern subject – collectivistic in communism and nationalist in fascism (racist in Nazism). I accept the existential and Seynsgeschichtliche criticism of liberalism proposed by Heidegger. The human being should be relocated historically and spatially, because the Da of Da-sein indicates a concrete phenomenological realm – a landscape, a language, a history. National socialism was wrong to accept modern concepts – of the individual, the race, the nation, the modern interpretation of the State, technology, progress, and so on. So there is no need to make appeal to it [National Socialism] in order to combat Modernity or liberalism. We need not imitate the contingent circumstances of the twentieth century, but try to found the Fourth Political Theory based on the pure intuitions of Heideggerian philosophy. Heidegger’s criticism of liberalism is absolutely authentic and relevant, and we need to explore further the philosophical foundations of such criticisms, setting aside his political commitments.
A profound feature of Russia’s own historicity is Christianity, specifically in the form of the Orthodox Church. But did Heidegger come to see all Christianity as a feature of the nihilistic history of being, a form of Platonism that calls to what is supposedly universal in human beings? Is Christianity compatible with your understanding of a politics grounded in Heidegger? Does the Russian Orthodox Church present an alternative to the western conception of a liberal Christianity, and how so?
That is a difficult question. I rather disagree with Heidegger’s understanding of Platonism and Christianity. But I think nevertheless that we can propose a reading of Heidegger that wouldn’t be incompatible with open Platonism (with the stress on Dionysian side of it – especially of Neo-Platonism) and with existentially interpreted Christianity. Heidegger’s friend and discipline von Hermann thinks that Heidegger’s thought can be applied to Lutheranism. I have developed this difficult question in some of my works on Heidegger, such as Martin Heidegger: The Possibility of Russian Philosophy and Martin Heidegger: The Last God. In the Contributions, Heidegger writes that philosophy is always the philosophy of a people, and that a people is a people not on biological or racial grounds, but as a result of its own unique approach to the question of the meaning of being.
You seem to share a view of peoplehood as rooted in fundamental questioning, but in your other writings, such as Etnosotsiologia, you discuss what a people is in culturalanthropological, rather than ontological terms. Did Heidegger overstate things when he rooted peoplehood in inceptual thinking? Is a people bound together primarily by the fundamental questions they ask, rather than by diet, dress (costume-custom), political friend-enemy divisions, access to land and resources?
The ethnosociological approach is different from purely philosophical Heideggerianism. They don’t coincide, but they don’t exclude each other. I agree fully with Heidegger’s interpretation of “peoplehood” in political philosophy and in his philosophy as such. But in the field of ethnosociology we are obliged to deal with concepts of a different nature. Ethnosociologically, the people (Greek λαώς, German Volk) is the ethnos with a historical consciousness. There are ethnoses without it and artificial societies that have broken ties with their ethnic base. Heidegger is interested exclusively in the people defined by the possession of a philosophic Logos, who can therefore exist historically. Ethnosociology deals with different types of societies, where to be a people is but one of numerous possible kinds. So there is no contradiction, but rather a difference of theoretical standpoint.
Is history is really the history of metaphysics? Why should we privilege a philosophical account of history (that history is the history of being) over, say, an economic one, or one that focuses on minor incidents, accident, and chance?
History is a semantic sequence. Philosophy is concerned with the realm of meanings; so only philosophy deals directly with history, with its essence. All other approaches to history are mediated. We can suggest an economic explication of history, but to do that we first need a firm philosophical explanation of the economy. Accident or chance does not exist. Such names designate only the phenomenological fact that we don’t know or don’t want to seek the reasons, the meanings, and the ends of events.
What most distinguishes your reception of Heidegger from other receptions better known in the West, like Jacques Derrida’s and Richard Rorty’s, for instance?
Derrida put Heidegger in a New Left context and explains him in a postmodern way, thus perverting the main structure of his thought. As a liberal, Rorty is absolutely inadequate to deal with Heidegger, because their basic ideological situations are opposed and his interpretation of Heidegger is a caricature. In order to understand Heidegger correctly, we need to share the basic anti-modern position that explains the main direction of his thought. He cannot be understood by liberals or communists (new leftists). They will criticize him or pervert his thought.
What is the main thing that Heidegger scholarship or post-Heideggerian political thought has failed to grasp in Heidegger? And why has it failed?
First of all, it is almost impossible to understand Heidegger from a position fully exterior to his own, from the outside. After the end of WWII, in the West the liberal approach became the normative ideology and in the communist East obviously the communist one did. So an objective understanding or, better, empathic comprehension of Heidegger’s (always implicit) political philosophy was excluded from very beginning. Liberals and communists (or their various mixtures) could criticize Heidegger or denounce him. Or else they could recuperate fragments of his philosophy, perverting the whole in a liberal or Marxist context. But acceptance of some aspects of Heidegger by Sartre, the French New Left, or postmodernists can be valid in nothing if we really want to understand his own thought. The same thing usually happens in liberal readings: severe criticism or rare efforts of recuperation. We understand nothing in Heideggerian political thought. Moreover, we have no means to understand it, or even to start trying, under the condition of the dominant post-WWII ideological landscape. It is not a failure; it is the result of historic paradigmatic conditions. We could start to understand Heidegger only after liberation from the hypnosis of all three forms of political Modernity – liberalism, communism and fascism. It is a challenge for the future.
The American pragmatist Richard Rorty read Heidegger as a resource for social democratic politics. He rejected Heidegger’s being-historical story as antidemocratic, dangerous, and authoritarian, but drew on his destruction of the tradition of metaphysics as something that could help teach us that our vocabularies are contingent, that there is no final or total vocabulary, that there is neither God nor any substitute for God, like Reason, Essence, and so on. In short: Rorty used Heidegger in the service of political positions he already held. To what extent is your reading of Heidegger, which Rorty and those like him would regard as too far “to the right,” in the service of previous political convictions, and to what extent has reading Heidegger transformed your previous political convictions and given rise to a new conception of what politics is and what it makes possible?
This is a complex question. About Rorty I have explained earlier. His pragmatist liberal American reading is very superficial, indeed. Heidegger rejected liberalism and mocked pragmatism, calling them Planetär-idiotismus. Planetary-idiot Rorty’s reading of Heidegger is quite idiotic, as is fitting. It has no value at all in understanding deep Heideggerian thought. It is ridiculous. As for myself, I am not to the right or to the left. My standpoint is against Modernity, which I reject as antithetic to the truth, but whose dialectic I consider not as something casual but as the dialectical moment of the destiny of Logos. Left and right are essentially modern. So they have nothing to do with my comprehension of being in its political dimension. But my anti-modernism had two periods: early Apollonian (traditionalism) and later Dionysian. The latter corresponds to the discovery of Heidegger’s political philosophy. This discovery has led me to the development of a Fourth Political Theory, based on an existential interpretation of the essence of “das Politische” [the Political], (using Carl Schmitt’s term).
A Canadian political theorist has written the following about you: “Dugin’s ‘politics’ are bathed in the swampy waters of mystical esotericism and occultism, and his root-and-branch rejection of liberal democracy likely owes far more to his spiritualist and theological or pseudo-theological commitments than to anything we would customarily understand as political or philosophical.” What has been a bigger influence on your “politics,” Heidegger (philosophy/political philosophy more generally), or traditionalism, theology, and the like?
The example of the Canadian political theorist you have mentioned is a clear sign of hysterical ideological propaganda based on low rhetoric suitable for television debates where everybody shouts, but quite inappropriate for academic discussion. “Swampy” liberal idiots behave themselves in pseudo-academic ways, attacking those whom they consider to be their ideological enemy. Liberty and democracy end where full loyalty to liberalism and democracy end. That is what I call the third totalitarianism. If you are not a liberal democrat, we will liberally and democratically annihilate you. OK. That is logical. Concerning the balance of traditionalism and Heidegger in my political views, I have explained in the previous answer.
In one of your books on Heidegger [Vol. 3], you raise the possibility that there are a multiplicity of Daseins, and postulate that Eurasia is ontologically the place where and the question in which they can “congregate in one special, central point that should unite East and West, Heaven and Earth, the depths and the heights, South and North.” At other times, you give the impression of being less concerned with congregation than with elimination, at least as concerns Atlanticism and liberalism. To what extent do you wish to see the actors and ideas you oppose (US liberalism, especially) destroyed, and to what extent do you want to let them be, so long as they let others be?
Liberalism is not an ideology that can let the other be. It can propose to the other to live only if it is a liberal other or at least the other that is going (may be in distant future) to become liberal. The limit case is when the other, being not liberal at all, agrees in essential cases to follow the will of liberals. Otherwise, it is finished. Liberalism is part of exclusivist Modernity and Modernity is essentially totalitarian. There is open totalitarianism in Nazism. It is more open and radical in communism. The totalitarian (Modern) nature of liberalism, which was hidden and implicit during the periods of confrontation with two other more openly totalitarian Modern regimes, is now increasingly transparent and apparent. So we have no chances to create Eurasia, based on non-liberal and non-Modern tradition on the basis of Fourth Political Theory, peacefully with the cold indifference of the liberal Americano-centric globalist West. The West will immediately intervene and it intervenes now. So war is imminent. Concerning the Eurasian dialogue between the East and the West in Eurasian… You have opportunely mentioned the multiplicity of Daseins – Western and Eastern (in reality the nomenclature is much subtler). The liberals’ version of the present-day West with American hegemony and left-liberal culture as “adogmatic dogma” is the most extreme form of inauthentic existence. So the West today lives on the other side of its own Dasein, in the most concentrated point of inauthenticity, in the full oblivion of its identity. Eurasia and Russia awakening will awaken the real Western Dasein from sleep and the loss of Self. With Eastern Dasein or better eastern Daseins, the situation is quite different. They are also seriously damaged by Modernity and have sometimes turned into simulacra, but they are much more alive than Western Dasein, which is dying. So the Eurasia I dream of could one day turn into the existential ground for the meeting of these two families of Daseins – Western and Eastern. But what is important is not the fact of meeting but the event of awakening, and mutual help in the awakening.
In one of your Heidegger books [Vol. 3], you write: “What is the Angel of Eurasia? It is a certain topos (place - τόπος), the topos of the Angelic Council, of the dialogue of awakened Daseins. It is the center of humanity, the pole of a new anthropology, the anthropology of the New Beginning.” What are the prospects for this vision ofEurasia today? Are the Daseins of the peoples of the world awakening? Which ones? How would we know? What would that look like?
It is very pertinent question, resounding with my previous answer well. Eurasia is a philosophical topos, exactly. It is first of all a Seynsgeschichtliche reality and only then a geopolitical, political or economical one. So it is for me the land of New Beginning, nowhere land, the na-koja-abad of Persian thinker Suhrawardi. It is the territory for awakening an Ereignis. That is the core of my own Seynsgeschichtliche vision of the historic moment. The rebirth of Eurasia is an eschatological and spiritual event. Today, Eurasian people are in a profound existential sleep. But the logic of history put them in front of the dilemma either to awaken or die. That doesn’t depend on will: the will is orientated toward self-destruction. But the turn (Kehre) is always possible. Where there is risk there is salvation as well, as Hölderlin used to say. So I defend the choice of salvation. It is my choice and I hope Russia’s choice. We see signs of possible awakening in Russia through intermediary forms, such as the rejection of liberalism and American hegemony, and the search for identity. The same is true on a lesser scale for other Eurasian peoples. But I am sure the awakening will come all of a sudden. Being prepared by all human history, it will arrive quite unexpectedly. Such is Ereignis. It can last. It is the rift in the texture of the sleep-time of inauthentic existence.
In the Contributions, Heidegger distinguishes between philosophy and worldview. It seems clear that what he is doing or trying to do belongs first and foremost to philosophy, not worldview. You sometimes write and speak as a philosopher concerned with the kinds of questions that concerned Heidegger. But you also produce works of political theory, geopolitics, international relations, and so on, and you seem to be promoting not only a way of questioning, but a system, an “episteme,” a movement – albeit an open-ended one. How do you see the relation between philosophy, theory, and ideology or worldview in Heidegger and in your own work? (Do you object to the claim that you both a philosopher and an ideologue?)
Ideology and Weltanschauung, or worldview, belong to the realm of doxa (δόξα). They are sub-philosophical, because philosophy deals with the truth that is far above doxa. The main concern of philosophy is to understand the truth and to be in the truth or near the truth. The philosopher is the guardian of the truth of being, Heidegger used to say. So between ideology and philosophy there is not exclusion, but hierarchy. Philosophy first, ideology later. Doxa can never be really true. In the best case, it can be approximation of truth; in the worst case – farthest withdrawal from the truth. The first is orthodoxy, the second allodoxy, or the act of intellection corresponding to the other-than-truth, oriented wrongly. The Fourth Political Theory and Eurasianism, or Dasein-politics, or existential politics, are the names for philosophical orthodoxy. Modernity and its three political ideologies are allodoxy. They are wrong not in the sense that they are not true (all ideologies are not true), but in the sense that they point in the direction that has nothing to do with the truth, in other direction, not the right one.
Would you accept the designation of being a Right-Heideggerian? Why or why not?
Absolutely not. I am simply Heideggerian, trying to be as close as possible to this greatest thinker in order to understand him better. I am neither right nor left.
In a chapter of this book, you say that the Eurasian episteme consists principally of theology, ethnosociology, and geopolitics, corresponding to spirit, soul, and body. Where does Heidegger fit in to this picture?
Heidegger is here the heart, the existential core, the relation to death of all these three levels of analysis. You are sometimes regarded as an apocalyptic thinker. But apocalypse and the end of times can mean different things depending on whether they are interpreted within religious traditions or in terms of the history of being, with Heidegger.
Are you an apocalyptic thinker? In what sense?
Yes, I am apocalyptical thinker, because I see time as Revelation and the Endtime as the integrity of the Revelation. The beginning of time is already the end, because it installs finitude and limit in life, with life and as life. So time is apocalyptic in itself. Not only because it flows in the direction of death, but also because the end and Revelation are the real and only nature of time. Time reveals being, hiding it. When time reveals more than it hides, it ends. If it hides more than it reveals, it lasts. Religion is orthodoxy in the sense I have explained before. I am with Heidegger in the truth and in seeking the truth. I am a religious man in definition of the directions that should lead to the truth. Christianity (at least Orthodox Christianity) and Heidegger in my personal existence and thought are fully compatible.
You have written four books on Heidegger now. Are you planning more? What’s next for you in your exploration of the possibility of Dasein-politics and the Seyn-Politische [Seyn-Political]?
I have added to these four books some important and relatively big chapters (overall more that three hundred pages) concerning early Heidegger, his transition to Sein und Zeit from Husserlian phenomenology, his interpretation of Aristotle (which impressed me so much), his reading of Leibniz and so on. Some of these new developments are dedicated to the political side of Heideggerian thought – for example, the existential ground of the State, the three Indo-European functions in society, gnoseological levels in the Heideggerian interpretation of Aristotle’s rhetoric, and so on. Now I am working on the biggest work, Noomachy, dedicated to exploring the existential identities of different civilizations. This project is inspired by the idea of the multiplicity of Daseins (the Heideggerian influence is obvious). I have already published nine volumes. Now I am working on the tenth (dedicated to the Greek Logos). There should be four volumes more. Maybe I will resume a detailed exploration of Heidegger’s works after Noomachy, or maybe it will be in parallel. Presently, there is a kind of international philosophical movement around the Fourth Political Theory. I am participating in it actively. The work on existential politics, Dasein-politics, is obtaining a collective dimension. Not only in Russia, where there is an established nucleus of Eurasian intellectuals exploring Heidegger with myself. There are groups in France (where most important Fourth Political Theorist Alain de Benoist lives), Italy, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, Poland, Portugal – even the USA. Existential America is a very important place in the philosophical map of the apocalyptical world.
 These are not yet available in English. The Russian editions can be purchased at http://www.evrazia-books.ru. Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning , is published in English by Radix.