The Multipolar Revolution: Syncretic Perspectives – Part II

Small Logo By: Jafe Arnold 

Initiatic Geopolitics 

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“Geopolitics”, coined in 1902 by Rudolf Kjellén and informed by Friedrich Ratzel’s 1897 “political geography”, is an esoteric term. Most generically, geopolitics is presented as the science of the relationship between geography and politics in international relations; and for this seemingly materialistic binding of the complexity and passions of human politics to physical earth and resources, geopolitics is often berated as “cynical”, “deterministic”, “reductionist”, or “materialist.” Of course, this misrepresentation is immediately based on an overlooking or misreading of the 19th and early 20th century founders of geopolitics, but the problem runs much deeper: it lies in a loss of the meaning and implications of space as encapsulated in geo- and politics.

The word geopolitics is nominatively composed of Greek (“earth”) and politika (“of, concerning the polis”). The definitions of polis and politika are the subject of immense controversy and are generically translated as “city-state” and “of, by, and for the city-state and/or its citizens”, although it is clear that in both cases we are dealing with the common denominator of a space with superstructural content – a socio-political space. If we trace the etymology of earth back to Proto-Indo-European, we have dheghom and h₁er-, whereby we arrive at a sense of earth as the space of humans, what they inhabit, what they dig in, what they are made out of – indeed, from this sense arises the notion of man as a microcosm of the earth as seen in numerous Indo-European linguistic and cosmological derivations.[1] Here must be added Ancient Greek khôra, which might be from the Proto-Indo-European gher (“to yearn for” as well as “to enclose”) and/or ghoros (ritual surrounding, e.g., with dance, music, etc.), and which nominally refers to “land” or “country”, particularly that surrounding the polis, but whose interpretations generally concern qualitative space. In Plato’s designation, khôra is the dimension of the “country” that shapes Being, the transitional realm between between forms and their realization. [2] In other words, we are dealing not merely with “earth-places” or, in the most scientific sense, “geography”, but space in a dimension that encompasses humans, their polities and politics, and is indivisible from their intimate sense of being part and parcel of the cosmos. At its etymological-cum-conceptual core, geopolitics thus deals with space as something qualitative, as something tied to subjectivity and humans; it deals with man and space as inseparable, not disconnected and not disenchanted.

In his Foundations of Geopolitics, Alexander Dugin summates: “Geopolitics speaks of ‘spatial man’ defined by space, formed by it, and conditioned by its specific quality…This conditioning vividly manifests itself in man’s large-scale social manifestations in states, ethnoi, cultures, civilizations, etc…” The quality and magnitude of these manifestations of space “are only seen at a certain distance from the individual”, as “civilizations” themselves are  “one of the largest concepts that the historical consciousness of mankind is capable of generating…which possess extensive spatial, temporal, and cultural boundaries…[and] possess a considerable volume, i.e., they should last a long time, control significant geographical areas, and produce a special, expressive cultural and religious (and sometimes ideological) style” [3]. We have quoted Dugin’s presentation of geopolitics in his 1997 textbook not only because it has shaped the discourse and heavily influenced major actors of geopolitics in the 21st century, but because its value also lies in Dugin’s cogent argument that the worldview of modernity and the worldview of geopolitics are ultimately opposed. Here should resonate Dugin’s side-by-side theses that “the path is from geopolitics to sacred geography” and that, simultaneously, geopolitics has become the essentially defining barometer of contemporary processes, particularly multipolarity. The resulting deduction is that the geopolitics of the current period are taking us towards the archaic.

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If geopolitics does not agree with modernity’s worldview on the cosmos, earth, man, society, and “universality”, and if geopolitics is yet the defining dimension of contemporary civilizational processes, then it follows that we must seek the archaic elements of geopolitics that are so profoundly relevant in the 21st century.

Down this path, another crucial observation of Dugin’s is that modern Western philosophy largely renounced space in favor of time. Space is treated as dead, corporeal place or in the very most as a “residual principle” or even “accident”, and the absolutization of time as progress puts the West as the “now” which only coincidentally happens to be “here”, in the West.[4] Insofar as modernity purports to be universal, the spatial element is ultimately irrelevant – it is only a matter of time until the “non-West” is “Civilized.” Of additional interest is the fact that one of the characteristic hypotheses of both the Traditionalist and Heideggerian frameworks which Dugin employs is that the origins of the modernist philosophical paradigm’s “inversions” or “perversions” can be traced back to Ancient Greek thought, where space, the “here”, was to a certain extent conceptualized as separated from Being – leaving ambiguity surrounding khôra. Ironically, early Greek thought on space and Being was written down, a fact which Socrates/Plato paradoxically lamented from the conviction that the truth cannot be written – yet, as is known, the dialogues were nonetheless written down (thus giving impetus to the birth of the paradox of the “esoteric”). But what if we were to turn to the ancestral unwritten word, the (empirically and intuitively) reconstructed Proto-Indo-European from which the Greek and others descended?

In the Proto-Indo-European lexicon, we have reuhxes, or “open space”, ghohros, or “gap, empty space, free space, area between, or land”, and telp or “room for something.” [5] All three understand space as an encompassment of or dimension for something, and we have linguistic evidence in Proto-Indo-European spatial terminologies of notions of borders and directions or “orientations.”[6] From this linguistic data, it is clear that space was treated as a quality of and for human identity. Spatiality was a conscious dimension which shapes, includes, and makes room for (B)eings, and notions of position, direction, and time were subordinated to space. The modernist paradigm, partially rooted in the alleged Greek departure, clearly contrasts the Indo-European assignment of a central, qualitative value to space. But beyond linguistic evidence, we can broach the Proto-Indo-European outlook on space, as well as grasp a sense of the Proto-Indo-European politika by critically engaging the “tripartite ideology” of Indo-European society formulated by Georges Dumézil.

Dumézil’s theory of the Indo-European “trifunctional ideology” has been widely misrepresented. First of all, by idéologie Dumézil meant not a political ideology in the modern understanding, but a pattern reflected in Indo-European languages, societies, and mythologies, a general structure with consistent reflections across both time and space. This tripartite observation was meant to be flexible (the contribution of sub-divisions, variations, and even additional functions is provided for), experimental-empirical, and pursued a middle ground between perennialism and historicism, between the “exaggerations of comparative mythology” and the denial of pursuing intuitive connections. By the 1960’s, Dumézil’s model was thus: on the basis of linguistic, literary, sociological, and mythological research, the Proto-Indo-European world was identified as characterized by three central “functions”: (1) sovereignty – “juridical” and “magical/religious” – corresponding to the priestly-ruler caste, (2) the martial sphere of the warrior caste, and (3) the domain of fecundity and sustenance of the producer caste. Each function possessed a corresponding set of divinities and symbols/elements. While the content of these functions and their relations could and did change historically, their general structure could remain in place. Only the destruction of this overarching conceptual and socio-political framework itself could effectively “de-Indo-Europeanize” a culture. The latter is a mythological and historical trope that the Traditionalists tried to address with differing theories of the “degradation of castes”, “caste revolutions” , etc. extrapolated from Indo-European traditions and understood as cyclical narratives. Indeed, the destruction, recession, or inversion of the Indo-Europeans’ trifunctional world by all accounts has some important role in the rise of modernity which we might analyze more concretely on a future occasion.

For now, this trifunctional hypothesis allows us to distinguish not only the typologies of possible Indo-European politika, but also see the centrality of space to Proto-Indo-European society. Space is evidently crucial in all senses: it is the place and embodiment of sovereignty, it is the object of defense or offense of the warriors, and the site of the tillers of life on earth. We thus have legal-sovereign space, sacred space, the space of martial action, and the space of production. Taken together, we have the contours of the Indo-European cosmicization of space and their consciousness of such in its arrangement, whose structure we can grasp and reconstruct. It can hardly be more telling that the Proto- and Indo-Europeans’ pantheons of gods neatly fit the divisions between these spatial dimensions. [7] The Proto-Indo-Europeans’ politika was a geo-politika.

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A Dumezilian table from Encyclopaedia Iranica

Between approximately 4000 and 1000 BCE, waves of the Indo-Europeans gradually migrated out of their native Pontic-Caspian space. This dispersion is enshrined in the linguistic, archaeological, and genetic records. This was not merely a “move” – the Indo-Europeans were venturing into new “spaces,” new matrices, new worlds inhabited by peoples with different languages, social models, and cosmogonies. As a testimony to their spatial consciousness, nearly all of the Indo-Europeans’ descendants maintained the tripartite structure in their socio-political orders in nearly all of their new spaces until the dawn of modernity in Europe. While the old paradigm in scholarship, which saw the Indo-Europeans as glorious warriors galloping out of the steppes and wiping out peoples by fire and sword to impose their regimes, has been deconstructed, and with the help of anthropological studies we have been able to explain part of the archaeological record in terms of more gradual migrations and networks (at least in Europe [8]), at any rate, the Indo-Europeans brought their tripartite system to the spaces they went. Their expansion across the globe was geopolitical, and entailed a consciousness of other spaces.

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On the one hand, the “cosmicization” of space has been demonstrated by Mircea Eliade to be a virtually perennial “religious idea” to which the Indo-Europeans were particularly historically accustomed. On the other hand, the enchantment of space vividly features in the religious currents in Europe that were rejected in Western modernity as the “other” ranging from paganism to Western Esotericism. [9] When later advocates of these “rejected traditions”, such as the Traditionalists, would encounter the seemingly ubiquitous sense of space as sacred, they would formulate such as the tradition of “sacred geography”, and their data was overwhelmingly Indo-European.[10] At the same time that leading American geographers have understood that distinguishing geographical spaces in relation to typological criteria is one of the most impactful ways in which humans order their understanding of the world and is intimately bound to ideological paradigms, so have scholars of esotericism drawn attention to the pervasiveness of “occultist place-making.” [11] 

In the West, as is known, the Indo-Europeans’ descendants ultimately arrived at modernity and rejected space as a quality. Geopolitics arose in the 19th century as a restoration of the quality of space in the larger intellectual context of European and specifically German Romanticism. This “coincidentally” coincided with intellectual excitement over the newfound quest for European peoples’ ancestors – the Indo-Europeans – whose language was now being reconstructed for the first time and accompanied with various historical and political narratives [12]. Geopolitics can therefore be understood in a certain sense as the restoration of space as a factor, as it was in the archaic world(s). It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that both Indo-European studies and geopolitics have for these reasons experienced some of the most ambiguous and double-edged treatment in modern scholarship. On the one hand, both are widely referenced or instrumentalized as extremely useful and interdisciplinary; on the other hand, both are ceaselessly subject to “suspicion” as to their “archaic” and, of course, allegedly “Fascistic” tendencies.

In Dugin’s summation of the first century of geopolitics, he identifies “the main law of geopolitics” as “the affirmation of a fundamental dualism reflected in the geographical arrangement of the planet and in historical typology of civilizations. This dualism is expressed in the contradistinction between ‘tellurocracy’ (land power) and ‘thalassocracy’ (sea power).”[13] However, Dugin has contributed his own revision to this framework by positing a three-dimensional view in which representatives of or tendencies towards “land power” or “sea power” can exist simultaneously as possibilities within different civilizations or geopolitical actors.[14] Land is seen as bearing superstructural manifestations in conservatism, autarchy, hierarchy, collective identity,  connectedness, “holism”, stability, cyclicality, etc., whereas the “ideology of Sea” is identified as historically liberal, individualist, mercantile, “progressive”, fluctuating, restless, fluid, etc. Land is therefore associated with pre-modernity and Sea with modernity and post-modernity. Needless to say, attentive nuance to these qualities’ historical manifestations and variations is crucial to avoid the reification of modern precepts. For instance, the contemporary impression that Marxist themes have come to be appropriated by and intersected with Liberalism does not mean that the Soviet Union was a thalassocracy, nor does the “conservatism” of the American Republicans imply that they represent tellurocratic proclivities. That some Nazi German geopoliticians advocated continental tellurocracy does not annul the Nazi project’s existential violence against whole Indo-European peoples and the Atlanticist gains from the arrangement which the Third Reich’s war left behind. We might also emphasize that reifying the contemporary existential contours of the land-sea antagonism back to antiquity between Indo-European peoples themselves, such as between Sparta and Athens or “Greece and Persia”, is a mistake with dangerous consequences. 

Granted, it is abundantly obvious that the Indo-Europeans were a land people in all senses of the concept. And in Europe and the Middle East their descendants frequently clashed with thalassocratic peoples. In modern geopolitical theories their Russian homeland has been classified as “Heartland”, or the continental center of tellurocracy. Historically as well, the American project of modernity came to represent the center of thalassocracy embodying Liberalism and Atlanticist geopolitics. Geopolitics has in this sense been used to explain and guide the confrontation between the poles of land and sea, but its utility must not yield to obscuring the roots of its precepts.

If geopolitics is rooted in the archaic conceptualizations of space and land originating from the Indo-Europeans’ pre-modern conceptions, and if this pre-modern conception belongs to a broader paradigm of pre-modernity or the archaic which recognized difference in spaces, then we are led to deduce that geopolitics is inseparable from the truth that there are different modes of civilizations, different paradigms, different spaces. Geopolitics therefore logically concerns other civilizations as well, not only the Indo-Europeans, insofar as the common denominator is space and the interaction of spaces. That geopolitics itself emerged as a discipline out of modern Indo-European thought is, as is the case with many other ideologies, indicative of the Indo-Europeans’ historical path and dilemmas, but the essence of geopolitics is relevant to all civilizations’ consciousness of their spaces in general.

Indeed, the Indo-Europeans’ Heartland is not the only land-civilization, as Sinic, Indian, Latin American, Japanese, and “Islamic” civilizations have been situated by their own historical geopolitics and by Atlanticist targeting as land-civilizations as well. Europe, or “Rimland”, has also been deciphered to be fundamentally “continental” or land-based in its pre-modern and pre-Atlanticist identity, i.e., “Europe before the West”.

As Atlanticism and sea-power have been challenged and as their accompanying modernist paradigm’s universalism is rejected by the world’s civilizations in forging a multipolar world system, geopolitics has surfaced as the primary explanatory framework for this process and as the major instrument for forecasting trends. By now it should be clear why we originally posited that geopolitics is one of the main levels of reality on which the anti-modern revolution of multipolarity manifests itself. Indeed, its very relevance is evidence of the return of the archaic, the return of space and, even more so, the imperative of such. Furthermore, geopolitics itself is, in line with forecasted trends, archeofuturistic: it is conducive to the recognition of archaic values in conjunction with the employment of the newest methods and technologies for defining relations and establishing strategic parity between spaces.

Parity will be a challenging task in the 21st century. For example, Sinic civilization anchored around China is rapidly rising to be one of the most powerful poles in the world. The massive Chinese space with its nearly two billion people, thousands of years of acutely peculiar civilizational history, and ambitious project to transcend capitalism and integrate some of the Eurasian supercontinent’s largest spaces, will determine much of 21st century geopolitics. If other civilizations are to cooperate with China on sustainably balanced terms (and not dissipate into an ethno-cultural sphere alien to them), they will have to rely on the deepest identities of their spaces. The prejudices of modernity and the inversions of post-modernity do not allow for any real diversity of humanity or differences between civilizations, much less respect spatial boundaries. Only the truly civilizational, deep level of identity rooted in space and expressed in geopolitics can preserve poles and uphold their affirmable rights to their cultures and spaces. Multipolarity offers the best framework for such parity and dialogue. 

Just what the fundamental differences between civilizations are will also be couched in and derived from geopolitical trends and processes. Will Europe and Russia-Eurasia re-integrate into an Indo-European pole, or will they interact as independent blocs? Will some of Europe, provided the continuation of current trends, demographically and culturally change in the direction of its new populations’ civilizations of origin? Will a sustainably balanced synthesis of civilizations take shape there or elsewhere? Will Indian civilization and Sinic civilizations clash over their spaces? Will Latin America develop into its own pole or will North America’s expulsion from Eurasia lead towards North-South engagement in the Western hemisphere? Will African demographic projection and the overcoming of the colonial legacy translate into an independent African geopolitical project? In geopolitics, sometimes the posing of questions is more important and telling than the potential answers themselves.

There is no determinism in geopolitics. But there is the very prescient fact that the rejection of unipolar hegemony and universalism in civilizations’ interactions – i.e., the bedrock of multipolarity – is likely to reflect itself in the global domination of the land powers which make up most of the earth’s civilizations and have thousands of years of historical sanctioning. And these land powers’ relations will be predicated on mutually-recognized integrity, long-term cooperation, and either strategic parity or varying degrees of integration.

It is in these circumstances that we submit that geopolitics ought to be understood as (1) a foremost dimension of reality in which multipolarity is taking shape, (2) a consciousness of the archaic value of space and its delineation of the world’s civilizations, and (3) finally, an imperative, a subjective volition for which conditions are so objectively ripe that today’s geopolitical actors must seize the discourse and assert their spaces’ right and will to assume faithful form. Otherwise, some existing or potential civilizations will be left objects, not subjects of geopolitics.

Just as Nietzsche in his time addressed “we philologists” over “the disparity between philologists and the ancients”, so must we in the 21st century appeal: “We geopoliticians…”

***

Having established some of the Forms of our investigation – the Indo-European civilizational factor, the significance of geopolitics, the archeofuturistic, revolutionary quality of multipolarity, etc. – we can gradually transition to a more tangible investigation of certain themes. In order to do so, however, we must pass through one more qualitative station. We must turn to assess the relevance of the most rigorous framework of socio-historical analysis which modernity itself ironically produced to understand its own political-economy, and which once shaped a paradoxical experience of modernity and geopolitics for enormous swathes of the worlds’ peoples. This framework also reared its head in the 19th century, also initially sought significance in spatiality, and also addressed the Indo-European equation. This framework, for better or for worse, bears the name “Marxism.” 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Linguistically, this connection between earth and man can be seen in Proto-Indo-European itself – ǵʰmṓ (“earthling”) and dhgmon (“man”) from dheghom (“earth”) – as well as in some of the most relatively archaic Indo-European languages cited in Mallory and Adams’ Indo-European encyclopedia, such as Phrygian zemelo for “man” and “earthly”; Old Irish du or don – “space” – was reflected in duine, “human”; Latin homo comes from humus; Lithuanian žemė “earth” yielded žmuo, “man” etc. As is well known, Indo-Europeans’ words for “earth” usually simultaneously figured as goddesses. Microcosmic associations of humans and the cosmos (and space) have been reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European mythology, and found early historical formulation in Ancient Greek philosophy (Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Platonism, and onwards.) and the Indo-Aryans’ Vedic Upanishads.

[2]  See the discussions of khora in Jean Hite’s “Reflections on Khora” (although with a heavy Protestant bias).

[3] Aleksandr Dugin, Osnovy geopolitiki. Geopoliticheskoe budushchee Rossii. Myslit prostranstvom (Moscow: Arktogeia, 2000), 13. For the quote on “civilization” and Dugin’s conceptualization of “civilization”, see “Paradigm of the End” and the chapter “‘Civilization’ as an Ideological Construct” in Alexander Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory (Arktos, 2012). 

[4] Alexander Dugin, “Deconstructing the ‘Contemporal Moment’: New Horizons in the History of Philosophy”, Eurasianist Internet Archive.

[5]  J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (Fritzroy Dearborn, 1997), 534; The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (Oxford University Press, 2006), 287.

[6] Ibid, Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European, 303-305.

[7] On Dumézil, see Dean Miller, “Georges Dumézil: Theories, Critiques and Theoretical Extensions” (Religion 30, 2000).

[8] David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (Princeton University Press, 2007), 102-117.

[9] Eliade discussed the cosmicization of space in the context of his The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (1955). For the historicist conceptualization of esotericism as “rejected knowledge in the West”, see Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (2012). Antoine Faivre’s second intrinsic characteristic of “esoteric thought”, “Living Nature”, is also relevant to the cosmic quality of space. 

[10] For Traditionalist sacred geography, see: Alexander Dugin,; “From Sacred Geography to Geopolitics”, Mysteries of Eurasia; Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World (Inner Traditions, 1995): René Guénon, Fundamental Symbols:The Universal Language of Sacred Science (Quinta Essentia, 1995); The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times (Sophia Perennis, 1995).

[11] On the first point, see Martin Lewis and Karen Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). On the second point, see Ramaswamy Sumathi, The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2004).

[12] For an overview of the intellectual history of Indo-European studies, see Alain de Benoist, The Indo-Europeans: In Search of the Homeland (Arktos, 2016).

[13] Dugin, Osnovy geopolitiki, 15.

[14] See Alexander Dugin, Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism (Arktos, 2014). In my BA dissertation on Eurasianism, I identified this “three-dimensional” revision of Dugin’s as crucial to contemporary Eurasianist and Continentalist geopolitics and discourse.

 

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About Jafe Arnold

Jafe Arnold is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Eurasianist Internet Archive.
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One Response to The Multipolar Revolution: Syncretic Perspectives – Part II

  1. As a person educated in the Anglo-Saxon West but completely alienated from almost every feature of our “civilization” I find your series very interesting. Your style is quite different from what I have worked in, however I can see that you are working from a totally different moral and intellectual framework. The West has destroyed itself from the inside and I hope to gain from your work a clearer idea of where we have gone wrong. Also with reference to Australia, your emphasis on space brings to mind the conflict between our modern Western ideas and the way the indigenous Aborigines here see their land as sacred and inseparable from themselves. Their culture is over 60,000 years old and clearly predates the Indo-European culture, however I believe that all of the hunter-gatherer societies which gradually spread out of Africa and around the globe had very similar social structures and ideas about how the world worked – including the idea that they could with their ceremonies influence the course of what we call natural events. Thus I would expect the Indo-Europeans might have had traces of this earlier framework. Finally I have a question: In your writing about a multi-polar world with its distinct now capitalist civilisations can you see anything which might hinder the emergence of inter-capitalist military conflict which arose with the emergence of the “new” European nation-states like Spain, Portugal, England, Holland, France etc? Of course this is a scary prospect, but I can’t see how love, sweetness and wisdom will come automatically from the Chinese Belt And Road project. Could this not be another form of neo-colonial control? In my humble view the only answer for Australia and other nation-states is independence from others and socialism. After 300 years of conflicts among capitalist/imperialist countries, I cannot forget that capitalism=war.

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