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
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.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
EIGHT – Democratic Modernity versus Capitalist Modernity
8.1 Deconstructing Capitalism and Modernity
8.2 The Industrialism Dimension of Modernity and Democratic Modernity
8.3 The Nation-State, Modernity, and Democratic Confederalism
8.4 Jewish Ideology, Capitalism, and Modernity
8.5 The Dimensions of Democratic Modernity
8.5.a The Dimension of Moral and Political Society (Democratic Society)
8.5.b The Dimension of Eco-Industrial Society
8.5.c The Dimension of Democratic Confederalist Society
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
Politics, like morality, is a word surrounded by a swirl of conceptual confusion and chaos. The word’s meaning is simple: it has roots in Ancient Greek, and the art of city governance is what it should be understood to mean. But the search for truth in words is a fairly limited method that will prove disappointing. Terms regarding social nature are in general quite ambiguous. They may point to reality, but they cannot constitute it. We should look a bit beyond the terms to find reality. Unfortunately, this can only be possible with terms, in which case, what becomes important is our capacity to interpret. Thus, the intention might be better expressed if we specify the core meaning of politics to be the art of freedom. Freedom evokes a proximity to truth. Of course, when we use terms like politics, freedom, and truth, our fundamental research unit is yet again moral and political society. Frankly, I steer clear of assessments based on individuals or other basic research units that distance themselves from the social. My uneasiness increases when I think of terms like war, conflict, and exploitation, which have become almost identical with the term politics. It further increases my pessimism if politics and polis (the state) are considered identical.
It is not as easy as it looks to make a successful breakthrough with something as challenging as the political task. Rather than not try at all, it is important to engage in a modest attempt to at least encourage discussion and, as a result, research. Above all, I think it is necessary to determine what is not politics. First, it is important to understand that state affairs are not political but administrative affairs. Based on the state, one cannot engage in politics, but can only administer. Second, affairs that do not concern the vital interests of the society do not constitute essential politics. They are at the same level as the routine work that is performed by other social institutions. Third, things that are not related to freedom, equality, and democracy are fundamentally of no concern to politics. The opposite of all these affairs fundamentally concerns politics; the vital interests of society are its well-being, security, nourishment, along with the freedom, equality, and democracy, which power and the state prevent. As we can see, political affairs and state affairs are not one and the same; to the contrary, they are in open contradiction. This means that the more the state expands and concentrates, the narrower and more stagnant politics become. The state means rules, whereas politics means creativity. The state administers what is readily there, whereas politics governs as it constitutes. The state is a craft, whereas politics is an art.
The relationship between power and politics is a lot more ambiguous. It may be that, even more than the state, power is the negation of politics. Power is a lot more entrenched in society than the state. This indicates how difficult it is to engage in politics in society and how restricted the options to do so are. Ultimately, the relationship between politics and power is always tense, with lots of action.
We have no choice but to approach the subject more concretely, because politics without a practice is meaningless. We have tried to analyze many related areas of moral and political society. The reader will forgive some necessary repetition here. Society is not only a moral but also a political fact or nature. Society is political, not in terms of official state work as believed but in terms of social nature. If the function of morality is to conduct matters pertaining to life in the best possible way, the function of politics is to find what these good matters are. It should be noted that politics has a moral dimension but entails more than that. It is not that easy to find what these good matters are. It requires a reasonable overview of the matters that need to be addressed, knowledge and science, and research. When the concept good is added, it also requires moral knowledge. As can be seen, politics is a very difficult art. It is a major misconception to think of politics as intertwined with bulky terms like the state, empire, dynasty, nation, corporation, class, and so on. It might diminish the significance of politics if it is thought of as intertwined with these and similar facts and terms. Genuine politics is hidden in its definition: the only terms that can explain the vital interests of society are freedom, equality, and democracy, which means that politics is essentially the acts of freedom, equality, and democratization needed for moral and political society to sustain its nature or existence under any and all circumstances.
When we talk about moral and political society, we are not talking about prehistoric times. We are talking about the natural state of social nature that is constantly lived and will continue to exist so long as the society’s existence does not end. No matter how much moral and political society is corroded, decayed, and fragmented, it will always exist. So long as social nature exists so will moral and political society. The role of politics is to make this existence free, equal, and democratic, in order to further develop it without further erosion, decay, and fragmentation. Any moral and political society that lives such a situation is the best possible society; it is the realization of the society we aim for.
For a better understanding of the essence of this term, we must yet again turn to history, with civilization once again being the prevailing term, not only because it embodies power and the state, but also in terms of its relationship to class division and urbanism. The role of politics shrinks as the ideological and material networks of civilization continuously expand and concentrate, encapsulating moral and political society and resulting in the decline or negation of social freedom, equality, and democratization. The history of civilization is full of such developments. The further enslavement, serfdom, and proletarianization of those societies already under civilization’s domination will continue by becoming a process of oppression and colonization of outside societies that are freer, more equal, and more democratic. The law of maximum profit of the capital and power monopolies necessitates this. In this situation, politics becomes meaningful as the resistance of democratic civilization units. In the absence of resistance, none of the steps taken for freedom, equality, and democratization can succeed nor can the erosion, decay, fragmentation, and colonization of the existing level of morality and politics be prevented or the exploitation of the monopolies be stopped. Politics is defined as the art of freedom, because it has played this role throughout history. Every class, city, community, tribe, religious community, and people-nation that has been unable to or has been prevented from engaging in politics has had a huge blow delivered to its voice and willpower. When a society has no collective voice or willpower, there is only deadly silence.
In ancient times, Athens and Rome gained a reputation as a result of their political power. If Rome’s republic and Athens’s democracy are still remembered with awe, despite their limited implementation, it is primarily because they were proficient at urban politics. While Athens effectively used its urban politics to ward off the gigantic Persian Empire, it simultaneously laid the groundwork for its own defeat. On the other hand, Rome, with its republican politics, would become the center of the world. Be that as it may, at the end of the day, the politics of these two cities played a decisive role in the development of Greco-Roman culture.
The Babylonian example is even more striking. We could perhaps present Babylonia as the first major example of the independence or autonomy of a city. To avoid falling under the yoke of the greater powers and state forces surrounding them, Babylonia pursued a politics of independence and autonomy with great skill and mastery. Facing all the famous empires of history, from the Assyrians to the Hittites, from the Kassites to the Mitannis, from the Persians to Alexander’s Macedonian Empire, this city was able to stand on its two feet as a result of its masterful policies. With the science, arts, and industry it developed, it became a civilization that proved to be a long-lasting center of attraction (until around 2000 BCE). The urban policy it pursued played an evident role in this. Clearly, this is one of the most striking examples proving that politics is freedom and creativity.
We could possibly point to Carthage and Palmyra as similar examples. With its resistance politics, Carthage held out against Roman hegemony for a long time and continued its creative development. It was only when Carthage fell into the trap of wanting to become an empire like Rome that it could no longer escape defeat. Becoming an empire runs contrary to resistance politics; it is, in fact, the negation of politics. The result was a tragic loss. The process in Palmyra was similar. The famous Palmyra, perhaps the most developed city after Babylonia that was able to stay autonomous and independent for a very long time (300 BCE–270 CE), created a paradise in the desert, but when it deserted its politics of equilibrium and autonomy with the Roman and Persian-Sasanian Empires and tried to become an empire in its own right (during the time of its famous Queen Zenobia, 270 CE), it could not escape its tragic end. The tragedy of Palmyra presents another striking example that illustrates resistance for freedom leads to victory, whereas the struggle for power leads to disaster.
During the Middle Ages, similar autonomous urban politics were more widely practiced. Cities resisting the large empires were like a constellation of stars. In the name of autonomy, thousands of cities, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and even to the American continent, from the Great Sahara to Siberia, resisted the Islamic empires (Umayyad, Abbasid, Seljuk, Timurid, Babur, Ottoman), Genghis Khan’s Mongol empire, the Christian empires (Byzantium, Spain, Austria, Tsarist Russia, Britain), and the Chinese empires, even at the cost of being wiped out and disappearing from history. Like Carthage, the city of Otrar (Farab) resisted Genghis Khan and was totally destroyed. There were hundreds of examples of European cities resisting both the imperial forces and nation-state centralism for centuries. Until mid-nineteenth century, Italian and German cities in particular exhibited substantial resistance to protect their autonomous structures. Venice and Amsterdam are the two most famous examples.
The victory of nation-states everywhere in the nineteenth century was a major blow to the autonomy of cities that had existed for thousands of years. But with postmodernity, the autonomy of cities is again becoming widespread, with urban politics coming to the forefront.
Historically, there were numerous examples of autonomous political forces resisting civilization forces in order to remain autonomous. This resistance came not only from politicized cities but perhaps even more so from the tribes, aşirets, religious communities, philosophical schools, and certain social groups. Perhaps the story of the 3,500-year-old (1600 BCE to the present) Hebrew tribe’s autonomy is the most famous example. The politics of autonomy implemented by the Hebrew tribe have been the decisive factor in Jewish people being rich and creative, not only historically but even more so today. Many great denominations that displayed great resistance emerged against the conversion of Islam into an instrument of power and empire. Denominations like the Alevi and the Kharijite reflect the policy of autonomous living adhered to by the tribes and aşirets. The widespread oppositional denominations resisting Sunni sovereignty and the sultanate tradition found within the fabric of every people are in essence the result of the resistance and libertarian policies of tribal and aşiret peoples. In a way, these are the first people’s liberation and independence movements against Sunni Islamic colonialism. There are many similar resistance denominations in Christianity and Judaism. The Middle Ages were overrun with local, urban, tribal, and religious communities struggling for freedom and autonomy. The three hundred years of semisecret insurgent monastery life of the first Christian communities played a leading role in laying the groundwork for contemporary civilization. The autonomous policies of the ancient Greek philosophical schools were the fundamental force that laid the base for science. Peoples and nations that have survived to date owe this to their tribal and aşiret ancestors, who resisted for hundreds and thousands of years on mountaintops and in deserts.
The national liberation struggles of the modern era are the continuation of this tradition. Their pursuit, even though it may have been distorted to seeking an independent state, was political independence. Although liberalism transformed political independence into nation-state independence and, thus, deflected politics from its true function, national liberation struggles are, nonetheless, the continuation of a very important tradition of political resistance.
Local and regional autonomy policies have always existed in history and played an important role in the survival of moral and political society. In a very widespread geography in our world, especially in the mountainous, desert, and forested areas, peoples and nations living in tribal, aşiret, village, and urban societies have continuously resisted civilization forces with the politics of autonomy and independence. This is why we emphasize that the democratic confederal tradition is a predominant tradition in history. Throughout the history of civilization, the dominant tendency has been resistance not submission. If that were not the case, the whole world would be like the Egypt of the pharaohs. We cannot adequately interpret history if we are not aware that there was not a single locality or region without resistance and politics. If peoples in South America, Africa, and Asia, in all their colors and with all their diverse cultures, continue to resist, it is because their history is one of resistance, and because history is “now.”
Humanity has not only developed political resistance at the social or regional level to protect its existence and dignity, history offers numerous examples of insurgent individuals who have played a significant role akin to that of a nation. From Adam and Noah to Job (Ayyub), from Abraham to Moses, from Jesus to Mohammad, it is said that there are 124,000 prophets in the Holy Scripture, as well as many individuals and countless sages, ranging from the goddess Inanna to Aisha, from Zenobia to Hypatia, from Cybele to Mary, from the Buddha to Socrates, from Zarathustra to Confucius, from witches to Zeynep8 to Rosa, from Bruno to Erasmus, all of whom resisted to the death to maintain their freedom and dignity. If society remains moral and political, it owes much to these individuals. Without their contributions, we would not be able to distinguish societies from herds of slaves.
Undoubtedly, it is currently even more important that we are able to interpret politics. But we cannot do so without stating that history overwhelmingly carries on today. Regarding the shrinking area of politics, we continue to emphasize that “capitalist modernity is a thousand times worse than civilization in general.” Recalling our analysis of the nation-state, we indicated that society was not only subjected to state domination from above, but that it was opened up to influence, invasion, and colonization by the power apparatus in all of its most hidden nooks and crannies. Grasping how this reality has besieged, conquered, and colonized society on a global scale is important. Let me just remind you how the networks of ideological and material culture spread. This is a new situation. It does not matter what we call it, a global super hegemony, an empire, or the UN order, because its essence remains the same. In addition, we emphasized that while financial capital has left its mark on the global hegemony, there is also a global, systemic, and structural crisis that has become permanent.
Under these circumstances, as we try to determine what is left of moral and political society, we must also question whether politics is still capable of playing a role. Looking at the present picture, we see many falling into pessimism and hopelessness. It is precisely at this point that we can deduce from a profound political examination of the situation that this pessimism and hopelessness is not only unfounded but is meaningless. Every trend has a maximum and a minimum (that’s a universal truth). All indications are that at present the rule of civilization and modernity has begun its descent. Power, which has been dispersed throughout society, is losing its strength, much in the way a wave weakens. Just like a big stone that falls from a peak breaks into smaller, lighter pieces when it hits the ground, power that penetrates all of society’s pores breaks into smaller pieces in much the same way.
It is possible to determine the sociological significance of this reality. The more power spreads to all of society’s units and individuals, the greater the resistance against it by the individual and the units. Power creates resistance to itself in every individual and unit it extends into. It would be against the universal flow of nature if power did not run into resistance, as it encounters every individual and unit laden with oppression, exploitation, and torture. The modern reality of power differs quite a bit from the reality of power in any other historical age. Capitalism, in the form of capital monopolies that wrap a web around the world’s economy, has completed its expansion in search of maximum profit, and now there is nowhere else for it to go. Moreover, if we consider the crisis in the area of ecology, there isn’t a single family or clan that has not been touched in profound ways. The consequences of industrialism’s capitalistic laws have taken the destruction it has caused in the internal structures of the society and in the environment to catastrophic levels. The nation-state, as the most powerful divinity in history, has penetrated every citizen and established its hegemony. At no previous point in history has there been a period like this. The “discontinuities” mentioned by Anthony Giddens apply precisely to these matters.
Faced with this reality of power (capitalism, industrialism, and the nation-state), politics, as its opposite pole, must also undergo an unprecedented change. Since we are not in a period that can be characterized as either pre- or post-civilization, the structure of politics that is specific to modernity must necessarily be different. Briefly formulated: since the web of power is everywhere, politics must also be everywhere, and since power rests on every individual and social unit, politics must also rest on every individual and social unit.
It is obvious why we need to develop and extend the webs of politics to meet and oppose the webs of power wrapped around society, and it is clear that this cannot be achieved using former organizational models. The former organizational models were state-centered. First and foremost, politics must begin as a form of resistance to power. Since power tries to conquer and colonize every individual and social unit, politics must try to win over and liberate every individual and social unit that it rests upon. Since every relationship, whether that of an individual or a unit, is related to power, it is also political in the opposite sense. Since power breeds liberal ideology, industrialism, capitalism, and the nation-state, politics must produce and build an ideology of freedom, eco-industry, communal society, and democratic confederalism. Since power is organized in every individual and unit, every city and village, at local, regional, national, continental, and global levels, politics must respond in kind. Since power enforces numerous forms of action at all these levels, including propaganda and war, politics must counter at every level with the appropriate propaganda and different forms of action.
If we fail to grasp the reality of power in modernity, which we have attempted to outline here, we will be unable to correctly approach any political task. Let’s keep in mind the Soviet experience, as well as the earlier stages of real socialism: capitalism versus workers’ syndicalism (wage beggary), industrialism versus even more developed industry, and centralized nation-statism versus an even more centralized nation-statism. In short, there was an internal collapse under the unendurable weight of the gigantic power apparatus that can be described as power versus power, fire versus fire, dictatorship versus dictatorship, and state capitalism versus private capitalism. In this way, the real socialist denomination (left-wing capitalism) not only engaged in politics against power but also exercised power against politics. Reading the history of real socialist parties is enough to make this perfectly obvious. The social democratic denomination (centrist capitalism) made power more permanent by reforming it, as the history of these parties in Europe makes entirely clear. The national liberation movement denomination (right-wing capitalism), on the other hand, became the leading force in the spread of capitalism around the world by immediately becoming nation-states when successful. I addressed other opponents of the system, outside of these three denominations, earlier. Their most serious shortcomings and failures were that even in opposition to power they either tried to hang on to a part of that power (through the nation-state) or, like the anarchists, created a total power vacuum or fiddled around with civil society organizations. None of them had a systematic understanding of power or the ability to generate politics as an alternative nor did they feel the need to do so. While they left politics in the hands of all sorts of power subcontractors, they were not even aware that they were hoping for the impossible. What remains, as a result, is to be the middleman who announces the crisis of capitalism—i.e., globalism—which has not and never can remedy any of our problems.
The language of democratic modernity is political. It envisages and builds its systematic structure using the art of politics. The moral and political society aspect of the fundamental sciences evokes politics not power. Moral and political society’s primary problem today is beyond that of freedom, equality, and democracy, it is existential; its very existence is in danger. The multidimensional attacks of modernity make moral and political society’s priority defending its very existence. The response of democratic modernity to these attacks is resistance in the form of self-defense. If society is not defended, there can be no politics. Let me be perfectly clear, there is only one society, and that is moral and political society. The problem is to rebuild society under the more developed conditions of modernity, which has been highly eroded by civilization and, has been subjected to invasion and colonization by power and the state. Along with self-defense, democratic politics is the essence of politics in the present period. While democratic politics develop moral and political society, self-defense protects it from the attacks of power on its very existence, its freedom, and its egalitarian and democratic structure. We are not talking about a new kind of national liberation struggle or a social war. We are talking about defending our identity, freedom, equality in diversity, and democratization. If there are no attacks, there will be no need for self-defense.
The political way of life—which is the main tendency in history—of the anti-civilization forces is confederal. All social units accept loose interdependence on the condition that respect is shown for their autonomy. They consent to the existence of civilization’s ruling and statist forces only on that condition. When there is no consent, there is a state of permanent war. When there is consent, the result is peace. The principle of social governance that can counter the phenomena of power and the nation-state structures, which have encapsulated all of society in the modern era, is politics and democratic confederalism. When politics is exercised as democratic politics, all social units participate in the confederal process as federate forces. This system is a new political world. While civilization and modernity always administer through a command structure, democratic civilization and democratic modernity govern through discussion and consensus, i.e., through genuine politics. No matter how badly the historical and present facts have been distorted and obscured, the essential social developments have been achieved under the leadership of the art of politics. As capitalism struggles to protect its power in conditions of global crisis and on the basis of the reconstruction of its nation-state, the fundamental task of all forces of democratic modernity is to build a democratic confederal system that aims to defend and develop moral and political society, thereby responding to the crisis.
In the light of these comments, it is possible to summarize the general principles related to the political tasks facing the forces of democratic modernity:
a) Social nature is essentially a moral and political formation, a way of existence. As long as societies continue to exist, their moral and political qualities will also continue. Societies that lose their moral and political quality are doomed to erode, decay, and perish.
b) Envisaging societies as forms that continuously progress in a linear way—e.g., from primitive to slave-owning to feudal to capitalist to socialist—only serves to distort and obscure their truths rather than contributing to understanding them. Such explanations are primarily laden with propaganda. The moral and political quality is the main characteristic of society, and thus it is best to characterize societies by its degree of existence. Both the qualities of class and the state and the level of industrial and agricultural development are transient phenomena that do not constitute the essential character of society.
c) The social problem arises in connection with the domination and exploitation exercised by power. As power and exploitation develop, so do social problems. Class-based states imposed as instruments for a solution may generate some limited solutions, but they essentially transform into a source of new problems.
d) Politics is not only a fundamental tool for the solution of social problems but also for determining, protecting, and sustaining all the vital interests of society. Self-defense, for its part, is necessary to protect society and is merely the continuation of politics by military means.
e) Throughout history, as civilizations tried to rule society with a state administration, the role of politics in the society has continuously shrunk. As long as they exist, societies respond with resistance to the shrinking role of politics. The interaction of these two factors means that history has neither seen a complete administration of civilization nor complete democratic political governance. Historical conflicts stem from the contradictory characteristics of these two main factors.
f) Times of peace in history have occurred when civilization forces and democratic forces reciprocally recognized each other and respected one another’s identities and interests. Neither conflicts nor cease-fires as maneuvers to attain power have anything to do with peace.
g) During capitalist modernity, power besieges society both internally and externally and turns it into a kind of internal colony. The nation-state, as power and the fundamental state form, are in constant war with the society. This reality is the source of resistance politics.
h) Capitalist modernity’s all-out war makes the democratic modernity alternative more urgent and necessary. Democratic modernity, as the present actuality of the forces of democratic civilization, is neither the memory of a past golden age nor a future utopia. It is the existence of and stance adopted by all individuals and social units whose interests and existence contradict the capitalist system.
i) The struggle of the anti-system forces over the last two hundred years has failed and is at an impasse due to their perspective to come to power or the error of leaving the political area empty. Although these forces bring with them a precious legacy, they cannot offer an alternative to either modernity or the systemic crises because of the old mentality and structures.
j) Becoming an alternative requires developing a system against the three pillars of modernity: capitalism, industrialism, and the nation-state. The opposing system can be called democratic modernity, with democratic society, eco-industry, and democratic confederalism as its three pillars. The legacy of democratic civilization and the system’s opponents convening within the new system increase the likelihood of success.
k) Democratic confederalism is the fundamental political form of democratic modernity and will play a vital role in the work of rebuilding. Against the nation-state, the fundamental state form that continuously breeds problems, democratic confederalism, the fundamental political option of democratic modernity, is the most appropriate means for democratic politics to arrive at solutions to problems.
l) In moral and political societies, where democratic politics are in effect, freedom, equality in diversity, and democratic development are achieved in the healthiest possible way. Freedom, equality, and democracy are only possible through the discussion, decision-making, and action of a society with its own conscience and intellectual power and cannot be achieved through any form of social engineering.
m) Democratic confederalism offers the option of the democratic nation as the fundamental means for solving the ethnic, religious, urban, local, regional, and national problems that arise from modernity’s monolithic, homogeneous, and monochrome fascist society model implemented by the nation-state. All ethnicities, religious views, urban, local, regional, and national realities have the right to take part in the democratic nation with their own identity and democratic federate structure.
n) The global union of democratic nations, the World Confederation of Democratic Nations, would be an alternative to the United Nations. Continental areas and broad cultural spaces could form their own Confederation of Democratic Nations at the local level. Were the EU not to act hegemonically, its initiatives could be considered a first step in this direction. Objections to global and regional hegemonic power should be understood in this context.
o) Capitalist modernity forces and democratic modernity forces can coexist peacefully by acknowledging each other’s existence and identity and recognizing each other’s autonomous democratic governance, as has often occurred between civilization forces and democratic forces throughout history. Within this scope and under these conditions, democratic confederal political formations and nation-state formations can coexist peacefully, both within and outside of nation-state borders.
The principles established above in relation to the tasks in democratic modernity’s political area could either be reduced or added to. The important thing is to determine the necessary scope and the principles of implementation. I think the principles outlined above serve that purpose. Discussion and the reality of freedom in life will determine the outcome.
The same is true for the principles I attempted to identify in relation to the three main areas of democratic modernity. I cannot too strongly emphasize that the democratic modernity that will be rebuilt will neither be a new republican project like that discussed during the French Revolution nor a Soviet-style state like that of the Russian Revolution, either in its principles or its implementation. Nor will it be like Mohammad’s Medina social project. The only thing I am concerned about and that I wish to make crystal clear is that my analysis of the truth of social nature and the methods and principles to be applied to solve the problem of social freedom must not lead to profound misconceptions, as has been experienced many times in history, or to mistakes and results that serve to obscure it.
The goal of our rebuilding efforts, while neither denying the historical legacy of forces that do or, given their interests, should oppose the system nor falling into the trap of liberalism, is to approach all individuals and social units with a systematic understanding (a paradigm) and practice and to organize them and launch them into action. In these rebuilding efforts there can be both those who choose a revolutionary approach and those who pursue reform. It is all valuable work. Capitalist modernity represents the civilized system’s most crisis-ridden period. It is also the age when financial capital has furthest extended its global hegemony and its structural systemic period, during which the crisis has become permanent. The capitalist system searches daily for theoretical and practical ways to exit this crisis without suffering any systemic losses. It acts in the context of a comprehensive and eclectic liberal ideology with a well-established historical legacy. Moreover, the well-developed and sprawling electronic organizational networks allow it to immediately implement its chosen tactics. It has even grown critical of the nation-state, its strategic administrative tool, and is attempting to restructure it in a number of areas. Corporate power exceeds the power of nation-states at this point and manipulates the increasingly fashionable civil society organizations at will.
Under these circumstances, those opposing the system have no other choice but to develop their own system of understanding and practice. The French and Russian Revolutions (and numerous other revolutions and movements that followed them) were not entirely within the scope and objectives of capitalist modernity. In fact, they had substantial contradictions with capitalist modernity and claimed to represent a new system. They experienced many different periods—including some extraordinary ones—of implementation of these aspirations, but in the end, capitalism, whether in the short- or long-term, was able to dissolve these revolutions into its modern intellectual framework and course of action. Undoubtedly, as with all historical legacies, especially these great revolutions, it is our primary task to defend the freedom, equality, and democratic legacy of contemporary revolutions. However, it is also clear that we must learn the lessons of the errors made. In this study, I’ve been at pains to emphasize that. Learning the lessons of these experiences is an essential task for individuals and organizations that share the same ideals.
Whether the crisis continues or not, our main tasks will remain the same. Intellectual, moral, and political tasks will always need to be carried out. Of course, different periods will require different strategies and tactics, but the essential nature of the tasks will remain unchanged. I believe that the explanations I’ve offered and principles I’ve developed regarding the tasks in all three areas are important. That said, they are also an expression of both criticism and self-criticism of every event, relationship, personality, and institution that I have been responsible for. As I am aware that an individual criticism and self-criticism is of little value without a comprehensive analysis and critique of our age, and even of civilization, I have tried to approach things accordingly.
At the risk of repetition, I must stress that the work that needs to be done regarding the intellectual, moral, and political tasks is essentially intertwined. No matter how independently the three areas work within themselves, they must complement each other’s services with the products they produce. Without intellectual enlightenment, not only can morality not improve the good, it cannot avoid causing evil. Whenever and wherever there is a lack of good morality, there will be bad morality. The political area refers to the application of the present enlightenment and morality. In this sense, politics is where social enlightenment and moral activity play out on a daily basis—in short, politics is enlightenment and morality itself. In addition, without politics and morality we cannot seriously talk of enlightenment, and without enlightenment no real intellectual work is possible. Intellectual knowledge that has lost its connection to politics and morality can only become intellectual capital or something of the sort, and, lacking a moral and political foundation, cannot be considered an intellectual task.
When and only when intellectual, moral, and political tasks are fulfilled in the intertwined way that moral and political society requires can we hope to attain maximal freedom, equality, and democracy. Therefore, the measure of success of anti-system individuals and organizations is related to their ability to cohesively and effectively address the tasks they face in these three areas.
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 ); “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.)”
3 Tekke, khanqah, and maqam are the Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic names of buildings used for the gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa. Dargah are the shrines of Sufi saints.
5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999 ).
6 In fact, zendik is related to words like gnosis, know, and narrate via the proto-Indo-European root *gno, meaning to know.
7 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.