Alexander Dugin: Eurasianism and the Tellurocracy-Thalassocracy Distinction
In the idealistic worldview of the Russian geopolitical theorist and writer Alexander Dugin, there are two main civilizational-imperial entities to couple with: the tellurocracy and the thalassocracy.
Laying the obscure nature of the terms aside, a tellurocracy refers to land-based empires, whereas a thalassocracy is a sea-based empire. A tellurocracy is founded upon continuous continental holdings often along with a coast, but without any overseas territories, typically. Some key traits of a tellurocracy is central authority, conservatism, a strong army, but weak fleet and a meticulous bureaucratic apparatus. Some examples: the Russian Empire pre-Peter the Great, Mughal Empire, Mongol Empire.
Dugin describes most tellurocracies are Eurasian in character. Other states, like the US, are exceptions. They can develop in various directions: some states start off as thalassocracies,like e.g. Great Britain largely was, but later, through inland exploration and settlement of the African inland and the Australian outback, came to resemble tellurocracies to a greater degree. Other empires, like the inland-based Russian Empire, acquired more thalassocratic qualities, like a powerful fleet, under Peter the Great’s (1672–1725) modernization and Westernization reforms.
A thalassocracy is a realm which typically controls coastlines and various overseas territories (islands, colonies near the coast, coastal forts etc.), but rarely the interior of a country. With power and resources necessarily being so widely scattered in a thalassocratic state, power must inevitably be decentralized to a certain degree, and a stupendous navy must serve to protect its trade routes. One could argue that such an empire could be more dynamic and tolerant in certain respects, as being able to work with a huge assortment of people of different ethnicities entails a certain flexibility in legal and sociocultural matters, to create and uphold a unified political equilibrium. Some examples: the Minoan Civilization, the Delian League, the British Empire, Carthage, the Japanese Empire.
Dugin further characterizes the modern dominant thalassocracy as being culturally/ethnically Anglo-Saxon, geographically Atlantic, religiously Protestant and capitalist-materialist in psyche. On the other end of the spectrum, we find the planetary pole of tellurocratic Russia, the Third Rome, defender of the Eurasian sphere, idealism, traditional values and spirituality (Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc.). It’s a landpower imbued with a socialist spirit and formed by both Slavonic and Muslim influences, interestingly enough. In addition, Russia must allegedly seek to form a Turkic-Slavonic alliance, an idea which catched on in certain Turkish intellectual groups. The Russophone sphere is symbolically destined to ascend, as evidenced by the rising sun of the East.
There’s an apocalyptic clash of civilizations, an perennial struggle between the Land and Sea Empires at play here. Dugin replaces mere nationalist and economic concerns as the background for the conflict, with purely ideological objectives. The war is fueled by an élan vital of ideas. Eschatology, in a sense.
Russia follows a vertical trajectory towards a zenith, the classical metaphore of reaching one’s goal by surmounting the crest of the hill. The civilization of the Land is hierarchical and ‘messianic’, somewhat. The heart of the inner continent expanded naturally from Kievan Rus’.
It’s interesting to note that Alexander Dugin, despite his ardent admiration of Evola, doesn’t reject the conventional dualistic, dichotomous, polar opposite-model of representing the world in terms of essentially Communist Russia vs Capitalist America. Evola explicity rejected both of these as strangling his conception of Traditionalist Europe. It wouldn’t fit Dugin’s agenda to reject this binary. However, to be fair, Dugin has been an anti-communist for a long time, and he’s known for his fascist leanings. This is probably due to his wish to construct a hybrid ideology of liberalism, Marxism and fascism, with the best elements of all mixed together… the fourth political theory, explained simplistically.
However, to turn back to the germane distinction, it’s important to discern the heterogenous, transitional nature between them. For instance, the Russian Empire, often serving as a prime example of a tellurocracy, could be considered as having been a thalassocracy in the respect of owning Alaska for a period of time. The USA during its westward expansion was a tellurocracy, but after the advent of American imperialist wars and World War II, it established a naval supremacy to the likes of Britannia Rules the Waves, as did the USSR.
Dugin obviously champions tellurocracy, as that would be affirming the Russian Federation and the reestablishment of Russian hegemony in the Eastern sphere (Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Iran etc.), as a “world-island” in the sense of a Eurasian Land empire. Indeed, it is with his Eurasian Party that Dugin wishes to design a natural transcontinental alliance with an axis through the European capitals of Moscow, Berlin and Paris. With her added affiliates in the Middle East, primarily Iran, Russia has an essentialist conception of entering into a pact with Europe as a whole, to form a front against the Anglo-Saxon seapower of America.
The spiritual successor to Byzantium and Rome would, to Dugin, be the only world state to truly uphold institutions such as the family, tradition, community ethics, peace and stability in the regressive global situation we find ourselves in. The Anglo-Saxon singularity shivers at this prospect, he thinks. The decadent, materialist and individualist West is, in the face of Russia, bound to fail, as a Ragnarok in animo.