10.2 Moral Tasks

  • ONE
  • TWO
  • FOUR
  • FIVE
  • SIX
  • NINE
  • TEN

SIX – The Emergence of the Social Problem

6.1 Defining the Problem of Historical-Society
6.1.a The First Major Problematic Stage of the Monopoly of Civilization
6.1.b From Rome to Amsterdam
6.1.c Eurocentric Civilization’s Hegemonic Rule
6.2 Social Problems
6.2.a The Problem of Power and the State
6.2.b Society’s Moral and Political Problem
6.2.c Society’s Mentality Problem
6.2.d Society’s Economic Problem
6.2.e Society’s Industrialism Problem
6.2.f Society’s Ecological Problem
6.2.g Social Sexism, the Family, Women, and the Population Problem
6.2.h Society’s Urbanization Problem
6.2.i Society’s Class and Bureaucracy Problem
6.2.j Society’s Education and Health Problems
6.2.k Society’s Militarism Problem
6.2.l Society’s Peace and Democracy Problem

SEVEN – Envisaging the System of Democratic Civilization

7.1 Definition of Democratic Civilization
7.2 The Methodological Approach to Democratic Civilization
7.3 A Draft of the History of Democratic Civilization
7.4 Elements of Democratic Civilization

7.4.a Clans
7.4.b The Family
7.4.c Tribes and Aşirets
7.4.d Peoples and Nations
7.4.e Village and City
7.4.f Mentality and Economy
7.4.g Democratic Politics and Self-Defense

NINE – The Reconstruction Problems of Democratic Modernity
9.1 Civilization, Modernity, and the Problem of Crisis
9.2 The State of Anti-System Forces

9.2.a The Legacy of Real Socialism
9.2.b Reevaluating Anarchism
9.2.c Feminism: Rebellion of the Oldest Colony
9.2.d Ecology: The Rebellion of the Environment
9.2.e Cultural Movements: Tradition’s Revenge on the Nation-State
9.2.f Ethnicity and Movements of the Democratic Nation
9.2.g Religious Cultural Movements: Revival of Religious Tradition
9.2.h Urban, Local, and Regional Movements for Autonomy

Moral Tasks

Despite much discussion, morality is one of the social institutions that cannot really be analyzed. Regardless of the efforts to theorize it as ethics, developments in practice have been quite disappointing. That social existence is becoming increasingly devoid of morality is a common scientific finding. However, the causes and the consequences have not been sufficiently addressed. Morality has become an increasingly discredited institution and subject. But morality, both as an institution and as a subject, is more important than has been recognized. Both the crises experienced throughout history and the present-day global crisis are largely the result of a lack of morality. In history, when social conscience explained that Sodom (a city near the Dead Sea in antiquity) and Pompeii disappeared under the lava of volcanic eruptions because of moral corruption, it was perhaps trying to relay a certain truth! Moral corruption does cause societies to collapse. Indeed, what is called the curse of the gods is in essence nothing other than the way that social conscience (morality) punishes immorality projected into the heavenly realm. If we interpret the concept of God as society’s most supreme and sacred identity, then these curses are the typical act of punishment unique to society.

It is simple to conceptually define morality. Knowing how to live in accordance with social customs, habits, and rules would be a suitable definition. But that does not explain its essence. The analyses of ethics attempted by philosophers, both in antiquity and in modern times (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and others), have generally been contributions to an introduction to state theory. More precisely, these analyses resemble preliminary preparations for severing individuals from society and making them members of the state. They clearly approach the issue as if the task of morality is to groom individuals to best serve their state. In short, their interpretation of morality is pro-civilization.

As with all social issues, it would be more instructive to refer to history in relation to morality. We know that for 98 percent of the longue durée of social ages, it was not laws but moral rules that were valid. That’s why we say moral society. If we do not understand the need this longue durée morality met, our interpretation of morality will remain incomplete. Defining social nature as the nature most charged with flexible intelligence may shed some light on the subject. What we mean by flexible intelligence is the ability to do while thinking. The relationship between thinking and doing will necessarily require rules, because determining how something is to be done is itself a rule. This initial act in relation to something that needs to be done can be considered the initial moral rule. When we talk about doing something, we include all social activity, including eating and sleeping, walking and finding food, being friends with animals or fighting with them, taking care of plants and fishing—each of these acts is work, and this work cannot be successful if there are no rules. Failure, on the other hand, would mean the death of society.

At this point, concepts like economic base and moral superstructure that divide the society seem ridiculous. Morality can be defined as the best way to address the economy, or, more precisely, to meet the basic needs of life. Morality, in terms of customs and procedures, determines the economy, or how the products required to meet basic needs are procured. Therefore, base-superstructure distinctions are far from being concepts that explain what is going on. Morality refers to carrying out all social activity, especially economic efforts, in a good way. Thus, everything that is social is moral, and everything that is moral is social. For example, just as the economy is moral, so too is religion. Politics as direct democracy is effectively morality itself.

Therefore, ever since the beginning, the first rule, the morality, has been a vital issue for the society. The best way to do a job settles in the mind as the best moral rule. Furthermore, it will be perfected over time, taking its place within social memory as a sound tradition. With this, morality takes shape. This is what is called tradition and customs. What we most need to understand here is that morality is related to the affairs of society as much as it is an intellectual act. It requires both an intellectual effort and community activism. Personally, I prefer to call this the original state of democracy. In this situation, original democracy and morality become identical. As society is always chasing after its vital affairs, it is inevitable that society as a whole will think about and discuss work, and it will not be content with this alone. It is an indispensable necessity of life that society will focus a good deal of energy on how to best manage its affairs and how to succeed. Clearly, thinking and discussing, decision-making, and coordinating the implementation of decisions so that the work is successful is direct, participatory democracy, the most face-to-face form of democracy. It is, at the same time, society’s moral governance and way of life. Thus, the source of morality and democracy is one and the same: the collective mind of social practice and its capacity for work. It is not only 98 percent of historical society’s life span that has unfolded in a state of morality and original democracy, both morality and democracy have made their way into the present, even if in social units that are very fragmented and that have been left to themselves, it is overwhelmingly morality not law that is applied. Although morality has greatly deteriorated, we must still understand that without morality there can be no life at any level, ranging from the family to the ethnic group, or even in relation to the work done in many institutional areas, where even the smallest details are determined by law. Law is just a cover. I am quite certain that the force that actually makes things run remains morality.

When we look at the civilization process, the very first thing we note is the consistent attempt to replace morality with state norms. That the first code of law, the Code of Hammurabi, was engraved on a stele clarifies the situation perfectly. It may be said that morality is no longer sufficient, making law necessary, but that is simply wrong. The problem is not the insufficiency of morality but the erosion of moral society. We identified how the erosion of morality took place. This was how the manifold capital and power monopolies first established themselves over society and how social values began to be usurped. Under these conditions, we cannot talk about the insufficiency of morality but about dominating society and subjecting it to oppression and exploitation by the application of the rule of law, the application of the so-called rules of state administration. Therefore, the reach of morality and, in connection with it, direct democracy is increasingly shrinking. In contrast, the reach of state governance and law is expanding. One side’s loss is the other side’s gain. Explicitly stated, morality loses in the face of the force applied by the state. This is achieved by shrinking morality’s reach and making its implementation more difficult. In all the later civilized societies, the reach of morality (as well as of direct democracy) continued to shrink, and the reach of law constantly increased. Indeed, Roman civilization, the end point and the sum of ancient civilizations, was the state administration that applied law most vigorously, confirming what we have been saying. Roman law remains a cornerstone of modern law. Over the course of European civilization, in other words, during modernism, society experienced the invasion of law, so to speak. Indeed, there has been a kind of legal colonialism. While the reach of morality was restricted to the remotest corners, law has been offered a seat of honor at every table.

What does this reality reflect? It shows the increased weight of capital monopoly and power in society. When we look at the modernity of the last four hundred years, what we see is the maximum possible capital accumulation and the proliferation of power, or, more correctly put, the intertwined cumulative accumulation of the two. We cannot say that morality has become dysfunctional, but, rather, that it has been stripped away from society. The society where morality was applied has been torn down and carted away. The claim that there is a need for law because society has become too complicated to be governed by morality is a great lie and, therefore, an immoral conclusion. It truly is not a matter of failure, insufficiency, or an inability to function due to the complexity of society. This is nothing more than a very simple rule of liberal ideological hegemony: the rule that propaganda and attrition easily eliminates opponents. During the era of capitalist modernity, the role of liberalism’s ideological hegemony in shaping a negative approach to morality is completely obvious. Who could fail to see that the law substituted for morality is fraught with the most irrational and unconscionable rules? It is not for nothing that there is a local saying, stating that what happens to you at court is worse than what happens to a boiling hen. The more legal codes in any given place or institution, the more effective the monopoly of oppression and exploitation. The practical reality of even setting foot in any institution confirms this.

Another important related question is: Does morality or law govern better? Although our narrative answers that question, the very fact that law is an enforced governance should be enough to clarify reality. As we all know, law is defined as “the execution and enforcement of rules and regulations by the state.” With morality, there is no forced execution of rules. In fact, a rule that has not been internalized cannot be called a moral rule. If governance based on the enforcement of law and moral governance are compared, it is clear that the good will prevail and the scales will surely tip to morality.

Another important issue that requires analysis is the relationship between morality and religion. Just as it is possible to establish a similitude between morality and direct democracy, for the communities that are outside of civilization or anti-civilization, we can also establish a similitude between religion and morality. In circumstances in which religion had not yet been shaped by civilization, morality, religion, and direct democracy were intertwined. Morality is an institution that predates religion and primarily addresses the aspect of morality that deals with emotions and thoughts around taboos, sacredness, enchantment, things that elude easy definition, and the inability to control the forces of nature. When a society acknowledges and understands how to accept a nature different from its own it creates both fear and a sense of compassion. The idea of avoiding the negative elements of nature and its forces and benefiting from their positive aspects, knowing that human life is very much bound to them, seems to be the source of the original primitive institution and tradition of religion.

It is undisputed that religion is a precivilization institution. It encompasses the elements of morality that are more prohibitive and addresses what needs to be avoided, as well as the need for compassion and forgiveness. With time, it became a much more rigid tradition. In this sense, morality’s most stringent and holy commands and rules of order constitute religion. Despite emerging from morality, of which it was initially a part, religion has been strengthened by changes in time and place, making its institution and rules into laws that are more stringent and compulsory (e.g., Moses’s typical Ten Commandments order), thereby declaring its independence and dominance. It can be compared to law, which emerged in a similar way. As the state arose, rules of law that were initially aspects of morality were transformed into forcibly imposed laws, becoming what we call the law today. Religion went through a further change with the development of the civilization process; it was turned into a divine force that could severely punish society, with its nature being transformed to benefit the forces of exploitation and power. Where law executed monopoly interests through state administration, religion—with the stamp of the new civilization—tried to administer it through god.

Both of these transformations were important. They represent the two most important moments of rupture in history. The fundamental rule of ideological hegemony is that the rising authority of power and the kingdom would strengthen its position by attributing divine terms to itself. When you dig into the concept of god, you find the tyranny and plunder of oppressive and exploitative monopolies and state and power apparatuses, as well as their use of power to impose slavish work on the people. What is most important is to determine that the elements of those parts of religion with democratic social dimension that are identical with morality are gradually turned into units of nature and society. Thus, it is possible to make sense of how, throughout the history of civilization, religion developed an identity, tradition, and culture with two distinct characteristics. While the religion and the god identified with civilization forces is fraught with fear, punishment, the threat of being cast into hell, starvation, destruction, mercilessness, war, domination, dominion, ownership, and worship (concepts primarily related to characteristics of the representatives and forces of civilization), the religion and the god identified with moral and political society is rife with courage, forgiveness, mercifulness, hope, constant nurturing, creation and sustainment of life, compassion, love, peace, dissolution within the self, and rejoining.

Therefore, it is extremely instructive to define religion throughout the history of civilization in terms of these two identities. Abrahamic religions typically carry within them these two tendencies. The more the high-level religious representatives (priests, rabbis, shaykhs al-islam, ayatollahs, etc.) reflect the civilization tendency, the more people of the ummah at the lower levels tend to reflect the democratic civilization tendency. These tendencies may exist in equilibrium, or one of them might be dominant, depending on the time and place. Abrahamic religions, which reflect this equilibrium, remind us of modernity’s social democrats. Just as social democrats represent the reconciliation of differences between the bourgeoisie and the working class (under the hegemony of capital and power monopolies, of course), the Abrahamic religions represent the reconciliation of differences between the forces of capital and power, on one hand, and forces of democratic civilization, on the other hand (once again under the hegemony of ruling powers).

Historically, we find Zoroastrianism to be an exceptional teaching and Zarathustra an exceptional personality in terms of the relationship between religion and morality. Studies define Zarathustra’s teachings as a great moral revolution. Located in the foothills of Zagros Mountains, in a social and cultural setting based on agriculture and animal husbandry (a culture that arose in the wake of the Neolithic Revolution that accompanied the end of the fourth ice age, or perhaps even before that, having potentially existed for as long as twenty thousand years), this moral revolution developed as a tendency that advocated secular and worldly morality rather than holiness and that opposed the mythological and religious hegemony of Sumerian civilization (3000 BCE onward). Although it is called Zoroastrianism in reference to Zarathustra, its roots are much older. It is clear that Zarathustra, with his famous dictum, “Tell me, who are you?” passes judgment on the mythological and religious divinity of Sumerian civilization. This first moral critique of religion and the gods of civilization is of great importance. It wasn’t just happenstance that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche named his famous work, which arrives at judgments similar to those of Zoroastrian morality, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.5 In this regard, he is known as the most powerful interpreter of civilization. It is thought-provoking that he uses the epithets of “disciple of Zarathustra” and “disciple of Dionysus.”

In Zoroastrianism, elements of democratic civilization predominate and relationships between women and men in families are closer to equal. No pain is inflicted on animals; while it is essential to benefit from their produce, they are not generally used for meat. Agriculture is greatly valued. Concepts of good and evil that are free from divinity come to the fore. The dualistic way of thinking (forces of light and darkness) evocative of the very first seeds of dialectical thinking is quite apparent, and there is an attempt to understand the universe dialectically. The use of strong moral principles to govern society is essential. All of this reflects a strong moral revolution against the Sumerians and civilizations with Sumerian roots. It could be argued that the most important result of this revolution, although distorted, was the Median Confederation and the Persian Empire that inherited it (sadly, with numerous contortions). Mani (c. 250 CE) attempted to carry out a second revolution in this moral teaching, but the extremely corrupt Sasanian emperors prevented this, severely punishing him. There was a clash between these two religious and moral identities.

There are still traces (Mazdean, Yazidi) of the Zarathustra-Mani moral tradition present in places ranging from the Middle East to India and into Europe. The word zendik is Zoroastrian.6 I suspect it is also the root for the word science. It is worth noting that the Jewish prophets of the Babylonian exile (600–546 BCE) and Greek-Ionian philosophers during the time of the Median-Persian Empire, as well as European Orientalists, were all directly influenced by the Zoroastrian tradition. Confucius, Socrates, and the Buddha, who are believed to have lived in the same period as Zarathustra (sixth and fifth centuries BCE), based their fundamental teachings on moral society and represented a very strong defense of morality against civilization’s threat to morality. In the Middle Ages, the moral element held a very important place in Islamic and Christian teachings. There has been a great erosion of morality during the period of European civilization, the reasons for which we discussed in detail earlier.

Even these brief historical reminders indicate the great resilience of moral society. As long as morality remained true to itself, it did not capitulate to the forces of civilization. There was never a lack of moral insistence on the part of the demos in the face of civilization’s imposed religion and law. The main questions about and the tasks of morality today are around how it should be positioned. Obviously, the study of ethics (the theory of morality) as a branch of social sciences is a task to be taken up in the intellectual area. The key issue, however, is to determine how ethics will become a united whole with society and how the eroded moral society will more strongly reequip itself with morality. The task of rebuilding morality is not only a question of the sustainability of the century or the current modernity but of society itself. It has become quite clear that the global crisis will not be overcome by the force of law. The return to religiosity is also a lost cause. It is necessary to understand that if the strong moral fabric of social nature is not made to function again, there is no way out of this global crisis for modernity. The crisis we are experiencing was created by all the anti-society forces of five thousand years of civilization to the disadvantage of moral society. Therefore, to find a way out, it is a dialectical necessity to look to both moral society and political society—because morality and direct democracy are identical. If we fail to agree in principal on this assessment, no moral task can be correctly determined. Since morality is democratic modernity’s major weapon for finding a way out of the global crisis of modernity, let us try, in the form of principles, to identify the moral tasks that await in any effort to rebuild morality:

a) The global crisis of modernity (the present-day systemic structural crisis) is the result of the destruction of moral society by the forces of five thousand years of civilization. Dialectically, seeking the way out of the crisis by rebuilding moral society is correct, and, as such, is our main option.

b) Moral and political society, the fundamental unit of democratic modernity, continues to predominantly exist as social nature, despite all of the erosion and deterioration it has suffered at the hands of the forces of civilization and modernity and the attempts to eliminate it altogether. Civilization forces are a limited elite network (perhaps never more than 10 percent the size of moral and political society); the oppressed and exploited nations, peoples, and ethnicities, women, agrarian-village societies, the unemployed, nomads, youth, marginalized groups, etc. still constitute the vast majority.

c) What primarily sustains and maintains society is not the state’s legal system but the moral element, albeit weak and despite efforts to completely cut it off from society. If society is not totally destroyed, morality also cannot be totally destroyed. The depth of a society’s crisis is linked to the degradation of morality in that society. Eventually morality must play its role as the most fundamental social fabric and institution, not only for us to get out of the crisis but so that societies can happily continue to exist.

d) While ethical studies are tasks within the intellectual area, and democratic politics relate to the political area, neither can play its role if it does not become a united whole with moral society. Morality denotes the reality of a society where the tasks related to both of these areas have been implemented. Within its democratic scope, there is an identity between religion and morality. Thus, places of worship must be the institutions where social morality is most thoroughly instilled. Houses of worship, in particular churches and mosques, should be regarded as practical moral institutions, and therefore it would be good to utilize them in building moral society. It is especially important for mosques to regain their role as moral centers, as they widely were during Mohammad’s time, when mosques were more than just sites for extremely simple rituals like prayer but were primarily centers for rebuilding moral and political society. Prayer was conceived as ritual approval of this work. Later, the rituals became essential, and the more fundamental building of moral and political society was forgotten and cast into oblivion.

The program, organization, and mode of operation of democratic modernity, as moral institutions in which moral and political society is rebuilt, should, if necessary, be reformed and restructured. Alevi cemevi,7 which for the most part play the role of moral and political society institutions, also need to be restructured to assume a leading role in the efforts to rebuild. Moral and political society units have the right to engage in sacred and moral resistance to the impositions of power and the state, a right they should exercise, if necessary. Freedom of religion and conscience (morality) also necessitates this.

e) Contrary to popular opinion, laicism with a modern cover and the radical or moderate new religionism that claims to be acting on the basis of tradition are not two opposing tendencies but two eclectic ideological versions of liberalism and, thus, cannot play a moral and political role. To avoid falling into these traps, it is important to develop an approach that integrates the democratic content of religion and the partially free and secular elements of laicism. Both elements can only play a role in rebuilding democratic modernity in this way. We should not be party to centuries-old games and fights between them; instead, we should do what we can to frustrate their efforts to corrupt religion and morality and to reintegrate religion and morality into modernity in a way that serves their interests.

f) We should not be fooled by the terror that law inflicts on society via state violence. Morality is essential; law is secondary. So long as it is just, law is respected. If not, it is essential to insist to the end upon the principles of moral and political society. It should not be forgotten even for a minute that to defend and sustain society we must take a moral stance.

g) Vatican-style Catholic ecumenicalism and institutions of the former caliphate representing the Islamic ummah, along with Judaism, Buddhism, and similar moral and religious traditions, should reinstitutionalize themselves under a common roof to constitute an institution for the global representation of morality. If they were to focus on ethical practices rather than theology, they might well play a major role in rebuilding moral and political society on behalf of humanity. In a way, just as the nation-states are united under the umbrella of UN, to be successful it is necessary that all fundamental moral teachings unite and establish an institution that opposes the attacks of modernity. In keeping with this necessity, the Global Confederation of Sacredness and Moral Studies must be established in opposition to the monstrosities of civilization and modernity that are attempting to engulf all sacredness and all moral teachings.

h) The forces of democratic modernity must understand that if they do not embrace and implement their tasks in the moral area, they cannot successfully defend and sustain democratic society units from the attacks carried out by the forces of civilization and modernity using extensive weapons of ideological and material culture.

These brief assessments in relation to the definition of morality as a subject and an institution are intended as proposals for a solution and will require extensive discussion. Neither moral society nor social nature fit into schemes of superstructure/base. Every social unit, and even each individual, should know full well that living without morality is impossible. The important thing is that society and the individual are equipped with good morality. Whatever the degree of the attack waged by the monstrosities of civilization and modernity, we have no choice but to defend moral society to the same degree. Those who cannot defend their society lose the right to a dignified life. Yet without morality society cannot be defended. In the rebuilding efforts of democratic modernity, the success attained by all the social units in their moral tasks will be the fundamental criterion for victoriously exiting the system’s global crisis.


1 This is likely a reference to the following statement: “After Auschwitz there is no word tinged from on high, not even a theological one, that has any right unless it underwent a transformation.” Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, (London: Routledge, 1973), 367.

2 For a detailed discussion of the will to truth, see Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994 [1887]); “However, the compulsion towards it, that unconditional will to truth, is faith in the ascetic ideal itself, even if, as an unconscious imperative, make no mistake about it, – it is the faith in a metaphysical value, a value as such of truth as vouched for and confirmed by that ideal alone (it stands and falls by that ideal). Strictly speaking, there is no ‘presuppositionless’ knowledge, the thought of such a thing is unthinkable, paralogical: a philosophy, a ‘faith’ always has to be there first, for knowledge to win from it a direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist. (Whoever understands it the other way round and, for example, tries to place philosophy ‘on a strictly scientific foundation,’ must first stand on its head not just philosophy, but also truth itself.)”

Tekkekhanqah, and maqam are the Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic names of buildings used for the gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqaDargah are the shrines of Sufi saints.

Zoroaster is the Grecized version of the name Zarathustra.

5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999 [1883]).

6 In fact, zendik is related to words like gnosisknow, and narrate via the proto-Indo-European root *gno, meaning to know.

Cemevi is house of gathering in Turkish.

8 This probably refers to Zeynep Kınacı (Zîlan) whose political accurate analysis and courageous action made her a role model for the Kurdish women’s movement.

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