The Strange Alliance between Ukrainian “Progressive Socialism” and Russian “Neo-Eurasianism”

News Abroad

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Lecturer, National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyïv.

One of the worrying results of the March 2006 elections to the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, was that the so-called “Popular Opposition” bloc led by the head of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Natal’ya Mikhailovna Vitrenko (b. 1951), managed to come close to passing the 3% barrier (with 2.93% of the official turnout) and thus almost entered the Rada. Vitrenko is the premier representative of radical anti-Westernism in Ukraine; she has also made herself known with her frequent invectives against Ukrainian politicians whom she does not hesitate to call “natsisty” (Nazis). Both of these circumstances are ironic in as far as Vitrenko has been for some time officially allied to a well-known Russian propagator of the West’s worst invention: fascism.

Vitrenko, along with former UNA-UNSO and current “Bratstvo” leader Dmitro Korchinski, entered in 2004, and is now listed in the directory of members of, the Highest Council of the International Eurasian Movement (see here, 31st March 2006). There was also an announcement in 2005 that Vitrenko and Korchinski were going to enter the Highest Council of the Eurasian Youth Movement (here, 31st March 2006), the International Eurasian Movement’s youth section with branches in, among other countries, Ukraine. Both of these organizations, the International Eurasian Movement and Eurasian Youth Movement, have been created by, and are entirely devoted to the ideas of, a certain Aleksandr Gel'evich Dugin (b. 1962). Dugin has become famous in Russia during the last years and is more and more present in Russian mass media, but has not (yet) been broadly noted in Ukraine. He has, in Putin’s Russia, made himself known as a “neo-Eurasianist” and fanatic anti-American. Dugin also occasionally describes himself as a “national bolshevist,” “traditionalist,” “conservative revolutionary” or “Guenonist” (with reference to the founder of West European “Traditionalism,” Rene Guenon). As the latter terms indicate, Dugin’s world-view is not only determined by indigenous Eastern Slavic ideas. Rather his ideology is, to a large degree, a variation of a number of ideas that had their origins in pre-war Western Europe. While Dugin poses as a radical anti-Westerner, his major concepts, in fact, are derived from Western theories. That Vitrenko has entered the ruling body of an organization fundamentally inspired by non-Slavic (and, sometimes, even anti-Slavic) Western sources might make Slavic anti-Westerners think.

There is more. In spite of his dubious sources, Dugin finds himself today in the company of a whole number of highly placed Russian political and social figures such as Minister of Culture Sokolov, Federation Council Deputy Speaker Torshin or Presidential Aide Aslakhanov who, like Vitrenko, Korchinskii and other post-Soviet figures, have entered the International Eurasian Movement’s Highest Council. This circumstance makes it even more intriguing that, in the past, Dugin has made many, to say the least, unorthodox statements on world history. In particular, Dugin gave some unusual assessments of West European fascism. To be sure, Dugin has harshly criticized German, Italian and other fascisms, for instance, in his article “Fascism — red and borderless” which is a chapter of his book Tampliery Proletariata (The Knight Templars of the Proletariat, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1997). Yet, what Dugin blamed the fascist regimes and parties of inter-war Europe for was that they were too moderate, too incoherent, too soft, and not truly revolutionary. Fascism, such seems Dugin’s view, is, in principle, an excellent idea. Unfortunately, in Dugin’s opinion, it has, however, never been consistently implemented. That shall be different after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In Russia today, finally, there will emerge a truly “fascist fascism.” (For further amplification of this thesis, see the appendix below.) In previous books published in the early 1990s, Dugin had already elaborated why exactly he thinks fascism is a good idea, the SS was an organization with positive characteristics, the break-up of the 1939 alliance between Hitler and Stalin constituted an unfortunate event, etc. See for instance his essay collections Konspirologiya (Conspirology, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1992) and Konservativnaya revolyutsiya (The Conservative Revolution, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1994).

That Vitrenko has used terms like “Nazi” or “fascist” with a seemingly negative connotation is only to be welcomed. However, Vitrenko might, perhaps, before using liberally these for labeling her political opponents, first check whether her own close political allies fall under these categories. As far as Dugin is concerned, Vitrenko has, by entering the International Eurasian Movement’s Highest Council, it appears, officially accepted intellectual leadership from somebody who has not hesitated to formulate repeatedly and explicitly a deep attraction to fascism.

A final note on Dugin might be worth adding in view of Vitrenko’s recent frequent posing as a Ukrainian patriot. Dugin is not only notorious for his debt to Western radical anti-democratic ideas. He has, furthermore, made himself known by statements on the future of Ukraine not less extravagant than his statements on fascism. In his major book Osnovy geopolitiki (Foundations of Geopolitics, 4th edn. Moscow: Arktogeya, 2000), Dugin, for instance, writes that “[t]he sovereignty of Ukraine represents such a negative phenomenon for Russian geopolitics that it can, in principle, easily provoke a military conflict.” (p. 348). Apart from a other similar statements about Ukraine as a whole (Malorossiya and Okraina, p. 799), he, in “Osnovy geopolitiki,” noted, with reference to Southern Ukraine, that “[a]n absolute imperative of Russian geopolitics on the Black Sea shores is the total and unlimited control by Moscow of [these shores] over their whole stretch – from the Ukrainian to the Abkhaz territory” (p. 349). Similar sentences can be found in “Osnovy geopolitiki and other publications by Dugin.

In view of the above and many comparable statements, it is bizarre that Dugin has managed to link himself institutionally to a whole number of top actors of the government, parliament, mass media, and civil society of Russia – a country that defines itself, even more than Ukraine, by its victory over fascism, is proud of its anti-fascist credentials, and claims to have brotherly feelings for Ukraine. What would be equally ironic is that, if Vitrenko is successful in her plan to force herself into the Verkhovna Rada through a re-count, a Russian imperialist grouping, the International Eurasian Movement, led by a sworn enemy of Ukrainian independence and fanatic apologist of fascism would acquire an official representative in the Ukrainian parliament.

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Arnold Shcherban - 5/1/2006

I repeat, it depends on what one means
by progress...
If it is the progress in the domain of human rights and democratic freedoms, then you're quite right:
the communist (not socialist, though) regimes, especially over the periods of dictatorships, such as Stalin's in
the Soviet Union, and Mao's in China
were vastly regressive.
However, already at the beginning of
70s large shifts for the better (in the domain in question) occured in those countries, as well.
However, as it was obvious from my first response, I've never argued those regimes haven't been regressive in the domain of human rights and personal freedoms.
What I did object and having been objecting for long time is the total
absense of any progress ascribed to
the former or current communist and socialist regimes, the dominating
trend among the majority of American
historians, political economists and sociologists, despite of the overwhelming evidence against such a conclusion in the cultural, economic/industrial, educational, and
health care domains.
And for publicly declaring such a conclusion it is required (at the minimum) one to be: first, unbiased, second intimately familiar with the countries in hand.
What you sir is evidently coming from is nothing more nothing less than the one-sided ideas and one-dimensional pictures related to the extremely complex historic phenomena borrowed
from the sourses, of primarily American, mass propaganda.
If you're not dogmatic and open to fresh ideas and views I can refer you to some verifiable sourses for real, versus ideological, facts, figures,
and comparisons which might correct your apparently near-sighted vision in the discussed regard.

Jason KEuter - 4/30/2006

the totalitarianism, mass repressions (replete with mass graves that aren't mentioned in the Pravda reports on the miracles of Soviet Health Care you mention) and anti-humanism notwithstanding...... very progressive indeed, especially if the end of history is hell.

Immiseratingly progressive.

Arnold Shcherban - 4/29/2006

In Ukraine, the majority is already
(being just a year under the new "pro-Western" and so-called democracy-oriented goverment) fed up with the overall corruption and arrogant, criminal negligence to its needs of that imposed by the Western pressure goverment and wants radical changes.
You're right about that CIA-authored blowback theory of the US geopolitical strategy... The tragical
part (for the world at large) is, in my opinion, that the strategy has not been and still is not pursued by mistake, but the blowback has been and still is actually essential to the next phase of the gorilla's long-term strategy, as the justification for the perpertual state of War (of World Hegemony) even during peaceful time.

Arnold Shcherban - 4/29/2006

<...socialism and communism have proven to be regressive everywhere they have come to power>

Regressive? Really?

"Lapotnaya" Tzar's Russia has been transformed in the second economic, scientific, intellectual, cultural, and military power in the world with the pace unmatched until then by any country in the world history.
Colonial, practically medieval up to the mid of 20th century China is now
on the way to becoming the world's
second superpower economically, intelectually, and militarily.
The socialist parties successfully
ruled Western European goverments
for many decades in the 20th century
and in some countries, considered by this country 'democratic', are still in political power.
The majority of the so-called "regressed" emigrants from the former and current communist countries
(like Soviet Union, China, Hungary, Chechoslovakia, etc.) and former
socialist countries (like India)
beat their American counterparts hands down in practically all fields
of knowledge and skills, except the knowledge of English, not mentioning
their total supremacy over their counterparts in capitalist countries of the Third World.
The totalitarism, mass repressions, and anti-humanism of the communist regimes (especially against their own people) notwithstanding, the objective historian cannot help acknowledging the tremendous success of say, Soviet communist regime in
mass cultural and scientific free education, in universal and free health care, in universal employment,
to mention just the major achievements
everyone one of which is ALLEGEDLY impossible in this richest country on the face of Earth.
The Asian Soviet Republics has made
a breathtaking jump from the societies with medieval culture, economy, and essentially barbaric laws and traditions to the 20th century Asian states with developed
industries, agriculture, and level of overall wellbeing that left their Asian capitalist neighbors of comparable population and territory far behind.
All mentioned above is well documented
and soundly supported by hundreds of facts and figures, the evidence untouchable to any ideological or political considerations or doctrines.(It is ridiculous and purely idelogically motivated to even make an attempt to compare the economic power or basically power in any other field of those formerly backward countries to the most developed Western countries or Japan, as it is
traditionally done by the biased observers/historians).

Mr. KEuter is obviously not only one of the US-US-uber-alles ultra-patriots, preaching anti-historian approach to history, but one of those
anti-intellectual, duped by the "Faith" religious zealots who
naturally feel threatened by the "excess of college students" (read: mass, not elitarian, education
and scientific method in cognitive
journey of mankind, in general).
Therefore any comments on his "intellectual cults" remark will
be redundant.

Jason KEuter - 4/28/2006

Since socialism and communism have proven to be regressive everywhere they have come to power, why is this alliance "strange"? It is time to put commmunism and socialism in their proper historical context : namely, counter-revolutionary movements against democracy that thrive best in societies with little experience of democracy and those with an excess of college students, who have mercifully taken to more overtly recognizable intellectual cults that are too diffuse to ever congeal into anything except a bad acid party.

Randll Reese Besch - 4/21/2006

Little chance there when the 8 million pound nuclear gorilla is in the room killing and pillaging others with impunity brought about by shear power. No wonder Saddam couldn't refuse when the gorilla,USA,made an offer he couldn't refuse back in 1980 after the blowback from Iran.
Who knows where the USA will be with the Ukrain?

Arnold Shcherban - 4/18/2006

It's highly hypocritical, if not tragic, when historians express their alleged concern with the quite vague possibility of neo-fascist type socialism in the remote countries, when in their own one, and superpowerful at that, the
neo-conservative fascist type imperialism is in full power control
and destroying whatever stability and peace world had before right now.