The controversial Russian philosopher Alenksander Dugin, whose views are reportedly influential in Russian official circles, wrote an article, titled "Russians On The Verge Of Losing Their Identity," where he argued that while Russia's sovereignty is on the rise, Russian identity is in a sickly state.
Dugin explains that sovereignty is a state-related concept, adding that a sovereign state does "whatever it wants". Hence, the idea of sovereignty nullifies the idea of international law. According to the Russian philosopher, only liberals who deny sovereignty can support international law.
Commenting on Russia, Dugin stresses that sovereignty is on the rise, thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies. "Putin made it his policy to strengthen the sovereignty that was lost in the 1990s, and is staying on track. This is his wonderful trait," asserts Dugin.
However, while sovereignty is ascending, Russian identity (the national spirit, which carries the values of tradition) is eroding. According to Dugin, Russia's identity is being "dispersed in the marshy horizon of lost meanings". The philosopher explains: "We have lost the Soviet meanings, the monarchic model looks like a caricature today (there are very few balanced people in the conservative-Orthodox circles), nationalism is crippled and run-down."
Dugin stresses that the rise of sovereignty and the erosion of identity is a paradox of our era. The philosopher concludes by exhorting a Russia that has regained its sovereignty, to meet the next challenge of recovering its identity.
In his November 2017 interview with the Economist, where he elaborated on the differences between Russian identity and European identity Dugin signaled his proposed direction, Dugin argued that under the liberal agenda, European identity postulated the denial of any kind of identity, whereas Russian identity denies this denial. He explained:
"First of all, in order to understand what the difference is between Russian and European identity, we need to understand what European identity is, because it is not so easy to understand. There are two reasons for that. First of all, now, European identity consists, as far as I understand, of ultimate destruction. So the concept of identity is judged by the liberal or progressive agenda as something which we should overcome. Liberal European identity consists of denying any identity, as some kind of transgression. To be European today means not to be European, but to be on the side of immigrants, Muslims, and everybody except Europeans. When or if you affirm yourself as an English man rooted in English culture or a Frenchman, 'Français de souche', it is almost or it sounds like you are not only a conservative, but a Nazi. You are something completely labeled as extremist, marginal. Today, European identity is negation, denial of any kind of identity. This was obviously not always so, but that is the liberal agenda.
"Precisely the difference with Russian identity is that we deny this denial. With Russian identity, we have no shame in being Russian. We have no guilt for being Russian. We have no remorse for being Russian. That is the difference, because, precisely to be German, that is to be ashamed of what Germany did. To be a Britain today is to have remorse for everything the British Empire did in the past. To be American is to be ashamed of the Southern part of history, of the slave trade.
"We have no remorse, so we are judged immediately for having an identity - that is a crime compared to the liberal agenda. That was not always the case. Before, the West blamed the East or Catholics blamed the Orthodox for different reasons. The same geopolitical tensions existed before, but were formulated in other terms. Today it is clear that we defend our identity as something that has value."
Below are excerpts from Dugin's article:
'Only Liberals Who Deny Sovereignty… Can Trust In International Law'
"Let’s talk about sovereignty and identity.
"Sovereignty is a state-related concept, very clear and definite: it’s when there is no other authority above the state whose decrees would be subject to compulsory implementation. The ruler may be collective (Council, Parliament, Duma) or individual (President, Czar). A sovereign state does as it pleases.
"Other sovereign states may also do whatever they please. They can be coerced by force, but not by law.
"The idea of sovereignty nullifies the idea of international law. International law is a system of agreements, constantly changing, between sovereign entities. Several sovereign states can make another sovereign state do or refrain from doing something. But this decision is based on force, and not legality. By law, everyone is free, but nobody is free of certain circumstances in which we find ourselves in. Accordingly, the sovereignty of one state ends where the sovereignty of another begins.
"The world model results from these balances. Only liberals who deny sovereignty, or at least aspire to minimize it, can rely upon international law.
"In the context of sovereignty, the situation in Russia is quite good. Putin made it his policy to strengthen the sovereignty that was lost in the 1990s, and stuck to it. This is his wonderful trait.
"In the periods when our rulers strengthened our sovereignty, they covered themselves with glory, when they lost it – with shame. Such a measure of sovereignty remains valid for Russia.
"But everything changes if you apply the principle of identity. Identity is the condition of the people, the national spirit, [and] of society, which disseminates Tradition, and preserves former practices. We are Russians and Orthodox Christians. Our culture is in the language, in the faith, in the multiple of small elements that make us Russian. On the one hand, this identity is transmitted (it is connected to the past, it is historical), and on the other, it is connected to the future.
"Identity is at least three persons: father, man and son. Identity is equated to– what is passed from father to son.
"We currently have problems with identity. Identity in our society is sick, and we are on the verge of losing it. Our sovereignty is getting stronger, but identity is becoming eroded. For example, under Peter the Great [who sought to learn from the West] we strengthened our sovereignty but lost our identity; during the rule of Nikolai, we had substantial sovereignty and began to rebuild our identity. The renaissance process of Russian philosophy, the Silver Age – all these were elements of identity revival. But something snapped , and we lost both identity and sovereignty. Then the Bolsheviks slowly restored the sovereignty and completely altered the identity – and later it sprouted anyway. It is here somewhere, for we would not exist as Russians without it.
"Now our sovereignty is on the rise. We are fighting back, and this is good – but at the same time, we are decaying. Our identity is sickly – it is deteriorating. It is not rooted, but dissipates itself in the marshy horizon of lost meanings. We have lost the Soviet meanings, the monarchic model looks like a caricature today (there are very few balanced people in the conservative-Orthodox circles), nationalism is crippled and run-down.
"This paradox determines the time we live in. Let’s confide in the Russian people's incredible internal strength, which under the most difficult situations can not only survive but can also preserve its immortal Russian soul. We have regained our sovereignty – that is great. Now we must do something about our identity."