(Really quick thoughts on Marcuse in relation to Dugin, based on a conversation between me and esteemed Twitter personality Cocky Doody this morning.)

Alexandr Dugin’s essay Horizon of the Ideal Empire is a (somewhat insane) statement on what Fourth Political Theory offers as a concrete “positive image of the future”. The essay functions as a bizarre formulation of Platonic theopolitics, a delirious materialism that contains a philosopher-king (modeled on Stalin and Mao), glorifications of “sacred labor”, demonic warriors, and most importantly, the presence of angels. While Dugin’s use of the figure of the angel may seem odd, I have been reading Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization lately and believe Dugin has essentially arrived at a Freudian utopia (though curiously, Dugin makes no mention of sex).

In the first full paragraph of Horizon, Dugin makes a key statement: “The dogma should be accepted that people do not live, but rather an Angel lives through us…The Angel and ego are present in a person in inverse proportion: the greater the Angel, the lesser the ego.” For Dugin, the presence of an angel is identifiable in the move away from the “individual, egoistic, and material”—simply put, a spiritual, transcendentalized form of life that falls from above. These angels exist separately from the human in some way as well (he speaks later of the possibility of “a congress of angels”), but also are identified as a way to overcome the material, and specifically material labor: “The King is an Angel…a true person…In his nature, man is homo regius. He is just as much a king and an Angel as he is human.”

This is where Marcuse enters the picture through his reading of Freud. Marcuse identifies in Freud 4 distinct and interlocked dialectical pairs: the ontogenetic/phylogenetic, Eros/Thanatos, the pleasure/reality principles, and finally surplus repression/production principle. For Marcuse (and Freud), civilization is repression: the aegis of the reality principle, the deferral and extension of pleasure as something that is available over a longer term, a delibidinization of pleasure, which is immediate and ever seeking to expand itself. Within advanced civilization (the phylogenetic approach), the reality principle appears as the production principle, wherein pleasure is suspended and the worker disappears into Taylorist machinery necessary to further the development of civilization, and is coerced into doing so through applied surplus repression. Civilizational upkeep becomes imperative on a personal (ontogenetic) level, foreshadowing Reich’s (and later Deleuze and Guattari’s) question: “how can people be made to desire their own oppression?” It’s quite easy, for Marcuse—they couldn’t possibly think otherwise.

Back to Dugin: the Angel, as the enemy of the ego (and thus which produces the desire for repression), represents the pleasure principle in all its unbridled glory. Thus, Dugin’s Ideal Empire is akin to Marcuse’s “civilization without repression”—the world ruled by pleasure, by Eros. Dugin’s statement that “Everyone will smile and laugh at funerals, for since this world is so beautiful…” clearly states that in the Ideal Empire, Thanatos has been subjugated. The original sin of the Primal Father and subsequent ingestion by the sons (the original chiral cycle of revolution and revanchism, that is). The time machine of psychoanalysis is beaten into plowshares.

In doing so, the Ideal Empire is revealed as a cold place to be: it is a place not just without progress, but against progress: a cold society, so to speak. Manuel de Landa uses a materialist metaphor: hot societies expand, and are constituted by freefloating constitutive particles, and end through dissipation and exhaustion. A cold ‘solid state society’ delays progress for the sake of stability. The cybernetic interlock, the constantly shifting mask of Eros/Thanatos that defines life in capitalism, is done away with in favor of a pastoral Empire of learning, peace, and sustainability over long historical cycles. A world of the Angels. Doxiadis here is important too, measuring civilization as energetic output: a cold society outputs what it takes in. Progress is arrested, Thanatos is buried, only left to survive as the grotesque warriors that embody the Ideal Empire’s warmachine and protect its poet-philosopher-priests. The Ideal Empire is not feudalism, as it may initially appear to be, it is castration.

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