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
A Draft of the History of Democratic Civilization
The most basic feature of free human nature is that each person can choose their own history and know how to live by history. History is the interpretation of existence—the process that has been realized to date. The more diverse the forms of existence considered, the more histories we will have. But diverse histories do not mean that there is no historical unity. In the absence of unity, diversity is meaningless. Diversity exists only in connection with unity. The important issue is to determine what will represent this unity. In the case of the human species, intelligence and the ability to use tools provide a possible basis for unity. Without these abilities, there is no difference between them and other living species. There can, of course, be different bases for unity, including the state at times, and at other times democracy, the moral and political dimension of society, mentality, and the state of the economy. The important thing is to determine what sort of diversity can be developed on the basis of the unifying factor chosen.
We consider moral and political society to be the fundamental basis of unity in a democratic civilization. To clarify what we mean, we have defined it and tried to determine its methodology. Now, I would like to draw a brief outline of its historical development:
a) We know that close to 98 percent of social nature’s life occurred in units of twenty-five to thirty people—what we call clan society. The clan can be defined as the stem cell of society. Clan society has carried on within all societies that have formed throughout time, including the family, the tribe, the aşiret, the peoples, and the nations, in a manner similar to cell differentiation. According to our basic definition of social nature, clan society is a moral and political society; whether they use sign or symbolic language is not so important. Of course, the morality and politics that exist within a clan are very simple, but the important thing is that they exist. Just because it is at a simple level does not diminish its importance. On the contrary, it proves its importance. It may even be said that the strongest expression of morality is seen within clan society. It seems almost instinctual. Living according to morals is the sine qua non of existence. A clan that has lost its morality is a clan that has been dispersed, dismantled, or destroyed. That morality can be expressed in simple rules indicates its vitality. In comparison, today we can see that the impact on society of the frequent violations of the rule of law is negligible. Given conservative nature of law, such violations may even play a more positive role. The deterioration of rules within the clan, however, means the end of the community.
It is much the same for politics. A clan has two very simple jobs; hunting and gathering. Hunting and gathering are vitally important to all clan members. Surely, they would have many times over discussed, consulted, shared experiments, and appointed members to form and implement the best and most efficient policies for hunting and gathering, otherwise life would not have been possible. The most fundamental political issue was what to gather and eat, and this was collective work. Politics is defined as collective work, which means that clan society was a very simple but vital political community. If a clan society ignored politics even for a day, it would have died. Politics are, as a result, of great structural importance. In most other ways the human clan might have resembled other primates. The only significant difference between them was that the clan developed a simple moral and political social fabric. In this sense, even the development of tools come into play when there is a political dimension. Likewise, the development of language requires morality and politics. We should never forget that the discussion and decision-making to get any job done accelerated the need for the ability to speak. I find it pointless to argue that the nutritional needs of the clans gave rise to morality and politics. Surely an amoeba—a single-cell living entity—also has nutritional requirements, but we cannot speak of the morality and politics of amoebas. What makes a human being distinct from an amoeba is that morality and politics enter into the way humanity meets its nutritional requirements. In this sense, the Marxist statement “economy determines all” doesn’t explain much. The important thing is, in fact, how the economy is determined. For humans to resolve this, society requires a moral and political fabric and, thus, a social sphere.
It is this feature that places clan society at the origin of the history of democratic civilization. In this respect, the history of democratic civilization is the history of 98 percent of humanity. In addition, as we mentioned, the clan continues to exist as the mother cell of the family, the tribe, the aşiret, the peoples, and national and international society, as well as of transnational communities.
Around twenty thousand years ago, as a result of glaciers melting in the fourth glacial period, Mesolithic (c. 15,000 to 12,000 years ago) and Neolithic (c. 12,000 years ago to date) societies formed, most spectacularly in the Taurus-Zagros ecosystem.
These societies were substantially more advanced than clan society. They had advanced tools and settlement arrangements. Indeed, the first agrarian-village revolution occurred during this period. While the Taurus-Zagros social system was predominant, similar formations started to appear wherever human communities lived at the time in Africa and Eurasia. I believe that this development was the result of the spread of Neolithic society of Taurus-Zagros region. This is a great epoch in the history of social nature. Many developments, such as the symbolic language that is still used, the agricultural revolution (conscious cultivation and harvesting and the domestication of animals), the formation of villages, the origin of trade, the transition from a mother-based family to tribal and aşiret organizations, occurred during this historical stage. No doubt the fact that this period was called the New Stone Age refers to the appearance of sophisticated stone tools. There was also a remarkable evolution of human intelligence. All tools and equipment that have left their mark to date—including principles of their usage—seem to have been invented back then. It is the second extended period of history. One percent of the remaining 2 percent reflect this period. Society was still essentially a moral and political society. There was still no law and no state. Power had not yet arisen. The mother was seen as sacred, and the goddess image was elevated. The transition to the period of sacred temples and mausoleums also occurred during this period. Life was lived in such direct contact with history that the living shared their space with their dead. The ruins of temples and mausoleums are a glaring example of this. We are faced with real and genuine people not primitives.
The second main period in the history of democratic civilization can be described as expressing the pure values of democratic civilization. As symbolic language and intelligence developed, moral and political society experienced democracy in the most spectacular manner in the villages and tribes. This may seem odd, but it is the truth. This was the period when morality and politics were the purest democracy. The gradually increasing surplus product led to systematic oppression and exploitation by the hierarchical powers and later city-based civilization forces that existed above society.
b) Civilization narratives called written history (all types of mythological, religious, and scientific discourse) begin history with the command of the creator. The history we are talking about is that of the last five thousand years. With my sociological analysis as a starting point, I can say that such historical narratives are ideologically bent upon sanctifying oppression and exploitation. What all of the scientific schools, including so-called political economy, do, is develop an ideology based on surplus value—even on all values of life—of the society that has experienced a qualitative development in the productivity of its labor practices. Hiding the truth required an enormous ideological effort and a lot of force. Construction of the city, the class, and the state occurred at the same time as the major ideological constructs arose. The main function of these ideologies was to depict creation and formation in a different way, project it as the successful work of the priest, the strongman, or the ruler wrapped in divine imagery.
Democratic civilization must first sweep aside these ideological veils and barriers. Only then can we better understand not only the family, agrarian-village society, and tribal and aşiret structures, but also the class nature of the city-based state, the ongoing established hierarchical power, and the original colonization of women. Such a paradigm shift would greatly improve our understanding.
There is no doubt that aside from the triad of city, class, and state—the monopolist capital groups that are effectively the criminal gangs of civilization—there is also the democratic civilization that continues in a new phase even though it has profound contradictions with this civilization.
While contradiction arose between rural and urban areas, the tendency for the rural and urban areas to complement one another outweighed the tensions. Just as democratic civilization had its urban extensions (slaves, craftspeople, women), the cities also had their rural extensions. In particular, hierarchical structures that grew strong in rural society became the collaborators of the city-state rulers. Nonetheless, the contradictions and conflicts took place between these two social blocks, whose material interests differed. Intense ideological, military, and administrative conflicts between democratic civilization—representing the communal, moral, and political society’s forces—and the civilization based on capital and state monopoly—establishing itself above the city’s slave labor, plundering the tribes and villages in the rural areas, and looting—did occur. There was also warfare among city rulers, as they sought to increase their shares. The lamenting and melodies that can be found in Sumerian epics in relation to the city make the intensity and severity of these conflicts apparent. It is possible to deduce that to a large degree the tribal and aşiret structures arose in response the attacks of city-based civilization. The ethnic structures we begin to see around 4000–3000 BCE must also have been a product of this period. We know that it was the Sumerians and Egyptians who named the varying ethnicities. The Sumerians called those to the north and northeast the Aryans (descendants of hill and mountain farming people). Those to the west were called the Amorites (people with Semitic roots, proto-Arabs who had not become Sumerian), the Gutians, and the Kassites. The Egyptians called those who came from the deserts of the Sinai Peninsula the Apiru (the dust-covered men and tribes from the east). It is generally accepted that Hebrew is derived from Apiru (or Habiru). The ramparts erected around the cities and towers provide the best evidence of the existence of an opposing society.
The intensity of the clashes makes it clear that society did not easily accept class-based civilization. Archeological records prove that numerous villages and even some centers of civilization were burned to the ground. Mesopotamia is full of multilayered mounds that were settlement areas that were burned down numerous times. Mythology and literature from this period also reflect this. Homer’s Iliad is a thirdhand version that reflects the epic tradition with Mesopotamian origins. Hesiod created a similar version that transformed the pantheon of Sumerian gods into the Olympus pantheon. That wars were the wars of gods personified by kings is a factor in all of the epic traditions of that period. It is quite clear that kings were identified with gods. The titles of Nimrod and the pharaohs are striking examples of that identification. While economic plunder and the enslavement of village societies were the anticipated result of war, there were also similar expeditions against the tribes to loot and take captives. Civilizations also considered plundering one another and taking slaves a significant source of wealth. Material interest continues to be a basis for conflict and reconciliation to this day. Everything was based on a calculation of “who is stronger.” The unity of the celestial gods is clearly understood as the symbolic state of the largest kingdom on earth. That the Ottoman sultans called themselves Zillullah proves this.9
It would be a major shortcoming to present narrow class contradiction as fundamental during this historical period. Evidence suggests that the slaves at that time were entirely obedient servants of both their masters and the temple. They essentially acted as extensions of their masters’ bodies. It was the villagers and the tribal and aşiret communities that resisted and refused to be enslaved. There were also frequent battles among the monopolies as each attempted to increase its share. Around 1500 BCE a struggle for hegemony began, with the Hittites and the Hurrians and Mitannis on one side and Egyptian civilization on the other. In the Middle East, the central civilization first formed around 1500 BCE, with significant evidence of competition and the ultimate rise to hegemony of the history’s first magnificent cities from 1500 to 1200 BCE. This is considered a very vibrant and glorious period in history. Tribal, aşiret, and village communities continued to develop. Trade became so important that for the first time empires began to be built around it. Assyria and Phoenicia essentially gained power through their trade monopolies. Around 1500 BCE, when Chinese and Indian civilizations were taking their first steps, Europe, other parts of Asia, Africa, and America were beginning to enter the Neolithic Age. My greatest interest lies with two historical periods: 6000–4000 BCE and the rise of Neolithic agrarian-village society and the city life of urban society from 1500 to 1200 BCE. The originality, creativity, and rate of development and the epic narratives of these periods are most interesting. I believe that epic heroism and ideas about divinity primarily arose during these periods.
In outline, my analysis of the temporal and spatial spread and development of civilization is as follows:
1) Agrarian-village society began right after the magnificent hunter and gatherer society (the Göbekli Tepe temple in Urfa is illustrative of the process) around 15,000–12,000 BCE in the area where the Tigris and the Euphrates are fed by the Taurus-Zagros Mountain system that converges with the lowlands, where there was an abundance of plant and animal species and a climate that provided natural irrigation. This agrarian-village society was in its infancy, its transformation to sedentary life only occurring around 6000 BCE. From 6000 to 4000 BCE agrarian-society experienced its most creative period. From 5000 BCE on, it began to spread everywhere. There was little emigration, the spread primarily took the form of cultural export. The Ubaid culture, which began its ascent with irrigated farming in Lower Mesopotamia around 5000–4000 BCE grew strong enough to start colonizing parts of Northern Mesopotamia. Archeological remains attest to this culture’s colonial spread in Upper Mesopotamia around 4000 BCE.10 But at the same time, that region predominantly maintained its own culture. The Uruk period emerged between 4000 and 3000 BCE. It represents the birth of the city. The subject matter of the Epic of Gilgamesh is this magical development. A similar northward expansion occurred during the Uruk period. Both periods of colonial expansion were likely the result of growing efficiency in weaving, pottery making, and agricultural production. The period from 3000 to 2000 BCE is the period of the classic Ur Dynasties. Its distinctive feature is an increase in the number of cities and the intense and continuous conflicts among them, each hoping to increase its share. We can also call these wars for parceling out domination among early monopolists.
2) The Neolithic Revolution, with its center in Mesopotamia, can be thought to have spread to China, India, all of Europe, and the north and east of Africa around 4000 BCE, settling in these areas between from 4000 and 2000 BCE. The Neolithic societies with European and Caucasian roots grew stronger and reversed the flow after 2000 BCE. This wave of onslaughts of the first large tribes from the north, who were on the offensive, which stretched from Anatolia to India and reached the civilizational centers of Mesopotamia and Egypt, led to an important historical upheaval. In addition, around 4000–2000 BCE, both the Arab tribes with Semitic roots and the mountainous Aryan tribes also attacked these civilizational centers in waves.
Both types of civilization were observed to have developed within these initial expansionist colonial and anti-colonial movements. While the upper tribal strata began the process of transformation into a state, many of the other tribe members were incorporated into the slave class. There is dissociation within the ranks of the tribe and the aşiret. While, on the one hand, new city civilizations were springing up, on the other hand, tribal and aşiret organization was increasing and solidarity among them was growing.
3) The period from 2000 to 1500 BCE marked the end of the Sumerian and Egyptian classical periods, with relations with Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni, the Hittites, and the new Kingdom in Egypt deteriorating and conflicts becoming more intense. The era of the central hegemonic civilization had begun, a particular period of globalization was occurring. The northern tribes were using civilization’s technical knowledge and practices against the centers of civilization, and the mountainous and desert tribes of the Middle East were continuing their uninterrupted attacks. It is also important to note that iron replacing bronze led to many new developments in arms technology. This is also the period when mineral exploration and trade became of central importance for the first time, with trade rising to previously unseen levels. The breathtaking rise of Assyria and Phoenicia was the product of commercial monopolies. In this context, there was a huge increase in construction of castles and ramparts. In the end, however, between 1500 and 1200 BCE, civilization was dealt a major blow by the attacks of the Scythians and Dorians from the north and Aramaic warrior tribes from the south, resulting in a period of decline from 1200 to 800 BCE, with the Assyrian Empire the only power to survive.
4) It is as if Greco-Roman civilization—the last great civilization of the classical era of antiquity—absorbed the legacy of the two previous civilization systems (Mesopotamia and Egypt). This civilizational process lasting from 1000 BCE to 500 CE continued to expand across Asia, Africa, and Europe, giving rise to an additional classical era, thereby effectively contributing to the civilization. As the mythological era faded in importance, a new and original religious, philosophical, and even scientific development began. The Roman Empire constituted the summit of capital and power monopolies. However, in good time, under the blows of democratic civilization forces—Christianity, as the party of the poor within the empire, and the resistance and attacks of the tribes and peoples on its borders—brought the empire, and with it antiquity, to a close.
c) The Abrahamic religious tradition is the most difficult to place in the historical civilizational process. The nature of the civilization these three major religions belonged to remains a controversial issue.
After much thought and on the basis of my analysis of civilization, I define the Abrahamic traditions as eclectic and typically conciliatory movements that try to find a middle way between the two main forces of civilization (like today’s social democratic movements). Although, I symbolically call them movements under the leadership of the Hebrew tribe, instead of addressing the racial basis of these religions, it would be more accurate to evaluate them as movements with a powerful ideological underpinning. Although the Abrahamic tradition is presented as tribal, it is essentially a centrist movement between the democratic civilization of Middle Eastern origin and statist civilizations. It is not exactly a class or a tribal movement. Furthermore, it is neither completely ideological nor completely moral and political. It is centrist in all respects. The tradition in question has maintained this quality since the Prophet Abraham’s appearance around 1700 BCE (if we take it as far back as Adam and Eve, then its roots stretch back to the origins of the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations). This tradition has been a constant source of inspiration for both democratic and statist civilizations, while at the same time it has severed the ties of its affiliated forces (both material and immaterial) from the legacy of these civilizations, with the consequence that attracting both their friendship and animosity resulted in historical developments.
The Abrahamic religions ended the mythological era of the civilization and took leadership of the religious era. They may be more easily understood in the light of our new civilization paradigm. The most prominent narrative of the mythological era is that of the god-kings. It should not be forgotten that storytelling in antiquity was loaded with mythology. It is futile to look for present-day rationality in this manner of storytelling. All facts are delivered and all events described using mythological language. The mythology of the Sumerian era was deeply influenced by animism (the idea that all of nature is made up of living beings and spirits). This era initially transformed this belief system (which could be called the religion of the clans) in some small ways, for the first time making a distinction between a “divine and non-divine nature.” The essence of all of the Sumerian priests’ inventions came from Upper Mesopotamian Neolithic society, and, instead of a mother-goddess narrative, they favored a father and male-god mythology. The great material transformation of society took place thusly; first came the male-dominated hierarchical order, followed by and in parallel with the birth of authority in the form of the state. We can find its reflection in the new religious mythology from the outset with the emergence of Enki, the crafty god. The struggle between the Uruk goddess Inanna (her roots go back to the Mother Goddess Ishtar, which means star of heaven) and the Eridu god Enki (the first male god of a city) around this issue is quite striking. Inanna tried to prove that all divine rights belong to the mother-goddess and claimed that out of the famous 104 mes, 99, things like virtue, talent, invention, and the arts, were created by women. Enki tells Inanna that her claims are no longer important and tells her to submit and listen to her father. Here, while declaring himself the father, man, and god, he reduced goddess Inanna to the position of his daughter and wife. Oh, how this resembles all of present-day secular, religious, and scientific preaching! I personally believe that Enki is the initial god of all of them. Enki is the original; all the others are adaptations and copies. The gods of Olympus in particular are the third or fourth version of Sumerian mythology. The mythological narrative finally dies out with the onset of the Roman gods.
According to the story, Abraham, who smashed the idols of gods in the pantheon of Urfa, was thrown into the fire by Nimrod, but a divine miracle occurred where the fire burned and a sacred lake was formed. Abraham then migrated to the Canaan provinces (from an area controlled by Babylonian civilization to an area under Egyptian control), because it became difficult for him to find shelter in areas controlled by Nimrod. In fact, it was a typical case of asylum. It was probably while he was the leader of a local tribe that he came into a conflict with Nimrod, the ruler of the city. It is clear that the dispute was about property, merchandise, and trade. At the time, there was both rivalry between the Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations, and the first period of very lively commercial trade had begun. This rivalry seriously impacted the traditional interests of thousands of people like Abraham. This was the material basis for hegira and asylum. The lands of Canaan lay between the two civilizations and were to some degree semi-independent. Abraham migrated when hegemonic power began to target him. It is quite likely that this hegira incorporates the stories of thousands of migrations into a single narrative in the language of the time. All indications point to the fact that story in question tells of the contradictions and conflicts experienced by the local tribe and principalities, whose interests were submerged during this period under the weight of the two great civilizations (the new Kingdom of Babylonia and Egypt). Not only did these forces reject the Nimrods and pharaohs presenting themselves as gods, they also actively protested whenever they got the chance by smashing the representative idols. In short, the conflict over material interests was reflected as an ideological struggle.
It was not easy to struggle against a god-king ideology that was at least three thousand years old; it required enormous courage and ability. This is why Abraham’s act of resistance in Urfa has taken on such miraculous significance and why it was so important. Servants for the first time opposed god, and that was an unprecedented and miraculous development. There is both the material aspect—smashing the idols—and the new ideological quest. How and where to find the new god, and, in a sense, how to create his own ideological construct, was still an open question—a question that was discussed for centuries thereafter. Abraham claimed he found his god by calling out to the voice that had inspired him “Wa hewe”—“He is (Yahweh).” Jehovah is the name of Abraham’s first god; it seems very likely that the word has Aryan cultural roots. The transition to the theism of El, Ula, and Allah occurred long after Abraham went to the Canaan provinces.
El has Semitic roots and reflects the features and the longing for similarity and unity of tribes living in the extensive desert environment. The second major inspiration found its expression in Moses and his Ten Commandments. In fact, meeting God on Mount Sinai represents Moses’s search for a solution to the worsening problems of the tribe he leads. If we keep in mind that the Ten Commandments are typical rules governing the tribe, we should be able to further develop our analysis. The tradition was to be renewed by Jesus, and Mohammad would have a similar experience in Mecca (on Mount Hira, where he received his first revelation from God). Many holy books include narratives about the contact of various prophets with God. It is clear that these were traditional narrations of guiding ideas and actions during important stages of that time. This is the nature of the narrative. The holy text reflects the natural and social (first and second nature) facts and events in the language (rhetoric) of the time, which I call the prophetic style.
We can easily say that this tradition represents a historical stage relevant to our topic:
1) It opposed history’s and that period’s first two major civilizations ruled by god-kings. This was the very first rebellion of servants against God.
2) A new ideological expression was created: a discourse that said the god-kings were simple human beings, but God was not human. He was the true creator of all things (the famous saying “He is” is the product of this great inspiration), and only He can be God and Rabb (The Lord).11
3) You could only submit to Him not to god-kings.
These were the main principles of the new ideology. These three points are the basis shared by this marvelous tradition called the Abrahamic religions. After many historical experiences, widespread sections of society gradually came to oppose the upper layer who did not contend with monopolization and deified themselves. This meant that these large sections of the society developed a sacredness and divine discourse that were more beneficial to them.
It is far more important to explain the change that occurred in relation to moral and political society. In the previous two millennia (3500–1500 BCE), moral and political society had been dealt a major blow. A very important development was the replacement of the “deities of nature”—which signified the sincere, equitable, and living relationship of nature with the mother-goddess culture and all of the clans and tribes—with the servant-god duality (essentially the slave and master class structure) expressed strictly through the domination of mythological male gods who are the creators of the land, the sky, and the sea. This is a clear indication that the ideological aspect of moral and political society has also been dealt a major blow. A major transformation in material and immaterial culture was taking place. Mythological narratives overflow with expressions of this.
It goes without saying that in this long historical period, the triad of priest, king, and commander, who are organized as a sprawling network of material interests over social nature and hidden behind an ideological mask, dealt a major blow to moral and political society. When we start from this paradigm, we can understand the society of this two-thousand-year period a lot better. The crafting of a concept is very difficult and requires a great endeavor. The paradigm of the Abrahamic tradition undoubtedly reconceptualized at least two-thousand-year period of the Nimrods and pharaohs, as well as bringing about the transition to a more humane and reasonable narrative and religion. The new religious narrative was, of course, also metaphysical and differs by far from today’s rationality and social sciences. Yet it was still a very important historical development. It did not constitute a complete return to the moral and political society of the old times, as is clear from the Ten Commandments, which present morality exclusively as religion. Moses’s Ten Commandments are obvious moral principles in religious garb. Elements of faith are secondary and weak. Therefore, substituting religion for morality was a very important transformation of moral and political society. The simpler moral and political life of the past was covered with a god that pervades all. In effect, life is wrapped in the cloak of a more advanced religion.
What most requires investigation is whether this religionized morality and politics was opposed to civilization (statist, classed, and urban) or constituted a new civilization in itself. This is the historical past of the present ongoing debate about secularism and Islamic civilization, particularly in Turkey and the Middle East. Considering the evolution of the Abrahamic religions to date, it is possible to give a dual response.
The tendency that resonates with the upper layer is the stratum (similar to right-wing social democrats) that seeks to create kingdoms and principalities based on maintaining the power of the Nimrods and pharaohs under fresh ideological cover (instead of being God, being God’s messenger, shadow, or representative) and has done so since the religion’s emergence. Abraham, for example, continued to trade while leading his tribe, which tells us a lot about his position. It is not difficult to establish that he sought a local principality or kingdom. He does not wish to remain as a simple servant of Nimrod. He found this religiously, as well as morally and politically, distasteful. It is highly likely that Moses was a dissident prince in Egypt. He rebelled against the pharaoh, representing the Hebrew community (the word Hebrew is derived from the word Apiru, which means the dust-covered men and tribes from the east), who were poor, lived in semi-slavery, and had not fully integrated into Egypt but had preserved a distinct character. The Holy Scripture tells us that following very difficult negotiations with the pharaoh he decided to leave Egypt. His exodus from Egypt (the Prophet Mohammad has a similar exodus) with the Hebrews he has organized in complete secrecy was successful. The story of his forty-year struggle in the desert depicts his endeavor to establish a new principality or emirate. He develops rules. He is searching for an imagined “promised land.” As we know, this utopia was achieved around 1000 BCE in today’s Israeli-Palestinian territory by the prophets Solomon, David, and Samuel. The true ideological leaders are the Samuel-like priests. After 1000 BCE, many similar principalities that evoke the example of the establishment of small nation-states and kingdoms were formed, taking advantage of the conflict between the two major blocs, the East and the West. Today, a similar, although somewhat different, trend continues to exist, particularly in South America but also in many other countries around the world.
Second was the anti-civilization tendency of the poor and radical sections of society. These sections understood that becoming civilized would aggravate their problems. Even in the first kingdom of Israel and Judah this was an intense contradiction. This is partly reflected in the fierce opposition of the Samuel-like priests to the leaders who became kings. The emergence of Jesus would make all of this even clearer. During this period, class division had deepened among the Hebrew people. The representatives of the upper layer, the owners of the Kingdom of Judah, who were Roman collaborators, accused Jesus of undermining their power and had him seized and crucified (with the help of Judas Iscariot, the thirteenth apostle, a Jewish informant who collaborated with the authorities). The governor who represented Rome did not insist that Jesus be crucified; it was the representatives of the Kingdom of Judah who demand crucifixion. It is clear that Jesus was regarded as a symbol of the first great inter-people’s party that represented the poor, not only of the Hebrews but of all peoples (especially the Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians, who were all peoples that had established civilizations at the time) impoverished by the Romans and the Persians. This was a new movement developing against classical civilization. The members of this movement lived an anti-Roman and anti-Sasanian underground life for three hundred years, running the risk of all types of hunger and torture. Later, the senior management (e.g., the council of priests and the consul) of the politicized movement officially collaborated with Roman emperor Constantine, becoming the ideological organ of the second largest Eastern Roman Empire built during the Byzantine era.
In contrast, the poor and the radical sections linked to different denominations displayed a fierce resistance that lasted for centuries. The resistance displayed by the Arianists, Assyrians, and Gregorians is important. Clearly, class struggle, and even the struggle for a moral and political society, carried out by the oppressed tribes and peoples under religious cover has continued unabated for centuries. The major factor in the formation of denominations within Christianity is the debate about whether Jesus was created from divine nature or human nature. Its roots go back to Sumerian mythology. The upper stratum declared itself the descendants of gods, asserting at the same time that it was impossible for lower strata to be god’s descendants (the myth about how they were created from God’s excrement addresses this). This discourse profoundly affected the Abrahamic religions as well. Mohammad’s attitude is clear: man is not God but a messenger of God and can only be his servant. This is a contradictory issue within Christianity. Denominations that came out of the poor strata (Arianists) claimed that Jesus was of human descent, while those who were eyeing possible collaboration with the rulers tended to claim that he was God’s descendant. In essence, the issue is about class formations. The anti-civilization struggle maintained by local and transformed official mythological beliefs had both class and ethnic characteristics in the period from 3000 to 1500 BCE. The aspiration for freedom is clear.
There are numerous examples to support this argument. The tribes and aşirets with Aryan roots in the Taurus-Zagros area waged a mighty struggle and destroyed the Akkadian Empire in 2150 BCE, establishing the Gutian Dynasty. Later, in alliance with the Hittites who, with the Kassites, occupied Babylonia in 1596 BCE, they formed the Mitanni confederation in 1500 BCE, with Serêkani (Ceylanpınar) as its center and all of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cities acknowledging its power.
The Abrahamic tradition of resistance developed after this historical phase and has been quite effective in a variety of ways within different historical formations to date. Still, it would be wrong to entirely detach the Abrahamic tradition from mythology. The majority of events taking place in all three holy books (in particular the story of Adam and Eve) can also be found in Sumerian and Egyptian mythology. The difference is primarily related to God and the transitions underway in different periods. The important thing is that moral and political society imposed itself through strong local ideological and religious expressions. Religion is largely moral resistance. The Zoroastrian tradition in particular denotes a more radical transformation. This tradition, a very influential source for the Abrahamic religions, is the semi-philosphical and semi-religious moral and political teachings of the Zagros Mountains–based agricultural and animal husbandry society. The Zoroastrian questioning of the God with Semitic origins with the famous question “Tell me, who are you?” reflects a radical rupture. By replacing “sanctity” with “good” and “evil,” as well as the concepts of “light” and “dark” for the very first time, they paved the way for the later Greek ethics (the science of morality) and philosophical movements. It is possible to deduce from the Herodotus’s Histories, which are primarily stories about the Medians, that the Greeks owe much to Zoroastrian tradition, which they encountered through the Medians. It can be argued that the Zoroastrian tradition continued to reflect the strong moral and political society of the mountain tribes and Aryan agricultural society at large, which had not been colonized. Understandably, it expresses the moral and political reality of a society where slavery had not really developed, and there was still a substantial free social life.
d) The Greco-Roman civilization of the final period of antiquity encompassed all three traditions. On both peninsulas the period of traditional god-kings was the first phase. The Greco-Roman mythology is the last variant of the Sumerian and Egyptian originals. The mythological tradition (Zeus on Olympus, Jupiter in Rome) experienced its last great era during the Etruscan and Spartan Kingdoms. During the Roman Republic (508 BCE–44 CE) and Athenian democracy (500–300 BCE), the philosophical tradition came to the forefront as the mythological narrative died out. Socrates is the famous philosopher and Cicero the famous orator of this period. The Athenian and Roman citizens, who were not prepared to easily abandon their former free traditions, were still quite devoted to their moral and political society tradition. They struggled intensely against monarchy and imperial systems. This is reflected in the struggle between Athens and Sparta and the struggle of the leading figures of Roman aristocracy with Caesar. Socrates and Cicero were philosophers of morals and thought, and were important figures in the development of the early doctrines of ethics and democratic politics. Although not reflected in society as a whole, it is indisputable that the power of Athens and Rome stemmed from their still vigorous moral and political society tradition. The limited institution of slavery cannot be compared to the large masses of free citizens, both in urban and rural areas, and this makes their role in the development of doctrines about the republic and democracy important. The Roman Republic and Athenian democracy succumbed to the imperial experiments of Augustus and Alexander, which was a significant setback, given that most of the positive values left by the Roman and Athenian period were the product of the republic and democracy. For the first time in recorded history, we confront the fact that moral and political societies express themselves better, although not fully, with a republic and democracy. To fully express themselves, moral and political societies must move beyond representative democracy; they need direct participatory democracy.
Christianity, the third tradition, initially had a destructive role within the empire. Christianity and the offensive by the Germanic tribes were strong constituents of the democratic civilization before the collapse of Roman Empire (476 CE). With the rise of the Byzantine Empire, Christianity fell into the reactionary position of being a representative of the statist and official civilization. However, the representation of very strong oppositional denominations shows that Christianity continues to play a positive role in the development of democratic civilization.
As a result, the classical civilization system increasingly developed its hegemonic character based on the 3500-year-old city, class, and state triad (capital and power monopoly networks). However, despite this, it collapsed (the collapse of Rome was the collapse of antiquity) under the assault of anti-civilizational Christianity and anti-civilizational (Germanic, Hun, and Frank) tribal resistance and offensives—which should be considered democratic civilization’s two main constituents—showing us very clearly the course of historical development. The degeneration of the upper layers and reproduction of classical civilization that occurs at the heart of democratic civilization forces does not change this fact. Let’s not forget that classical civilization’s territory and cities were still like islands in the sea of democratic forces (tribes and peoples, religion, denominations, the city, and craft organizations). Humanity had not abandoned moral and political society. Thousands of years of war reflected this. It was, in fact, the tendency toward freedom—related mainly to social nature—in the form of moral and political society that was trying to sustain itself in a religious disguise. It is very important that we understand this.
e) The main problem in relation to Islam, the last major Abrahamic religion, is whether it is a continuation of classical civilization or a strong voice for democratic civilization. I do not believe this debate is over. Mecca, the city the Prophet Mohammad emerged from, was a trading city. It had a vast hinterland in its own way. It was located at the intersection of north-south and east-west trade routes. It was also a central market, where Arab tribes met to trade. Ideas, god symbols, and slaves were available alongside commercial goods. This was the place where religions from Abrahamic tradition, as well as mythological and even the animist tradition all resonated. Hajj is the center of pilgrimage. When the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Byzantine Empire, one of two empires going through a transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages, reached Damascus in the north and carried with it the official branch of Christianity it controlled. Assyrian priests were mostly in the opposition and accelerated the Christianization of the Sasanians. The Sasanians, on the other hand, sought to expand their hegemony from the northeast to the Arabian Peninsula. In the southwest, the effect of Christian Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia in Eastern Africa) spread into Yemen. The Jews, who represent the oldest part of the Abrahamic tradition, permeated the peninsula, benefiting from a wealth of property and trade.
The Arab tribes, the true original inhabitants of the peninsula, on the other hand, were in a deep socioeconomic crisis. The former frequent expeditions in all four directions were no longer possible because of the strength of the existing civilizations. Prior to the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations, Semitic tribes attacked the fertile Neolithic areas and the later city civilizations. Amorit, Apiru, Akkad, Canaan, and Aramaic are names that were given to them in different periods. It was a period when the tribes were under extreme pressure and approaching the point of implosion. You might say that the Arabs were waiting for a miracle to realize their last major expansion. Islam was that miracle. It is clear that Mohammad understood his time and the conditions well. He embodied all of the characteristics needed for a new period of history. He did not become a disciple of any of the existing ideological traditions. He was influenced by Judaism and Christianity—calling them Religions of the Book—as well as by Zoroastrianism and Sabianism.12 His attitude toward idols was similar to Abraham’s; he understood that they would not serve his goals. His initial propaganda and military action were against the Mecca trade monopolies. He knew that if he did not break their influence, he could not benefit from tribal dynamism. His reinterpretations of the revelations about God were very similar to the tradition of the Ten Commandments. It is clear that he was trying to inculcate the tribes with a new moral and political perspective. If the essence of the concept of Allah can be analyzed on the basis of his ninety-nine names, then it becomes clear what kind of social utopia is being constructed. In Medina, where he held political power, he further clarified his utopia.
The success of his initial actions was seen as miraculous, which increased his self-confidence. The way that Mohammad worked in Medina is fairly important to our discussion. The mosque functioned as a democratic assembly. Initially, meetings to address social problems were held in the mosque, and until Mohammad’s death the mosque continued to play this role. The rituals of worship (prayer, fasting, and alms) were part of educational activities aimed at strengthening the believer’s personality. Nobody can deny that this was the nature of emergent Islam. Although under complete religious cover, clearly, a powerfully dynamic moral and political society was revived. Therefore, if we are to talk about a true Mohammedan movement and Islam, then we must say that it is “an undeniable fact that a moral and political society can only be rebuilt on the basis of participatory democracy and with the goal of overcoming fundamental problems.” It is known that some actions were extreme, and that Mohammad preceded very hesitantly as a result—particularly relating to the Jewish people—especially around the issue of qibla,13 as well as of the killing of all the men of the Jewish Qurayza tribe because of their collaboration with the Quraysh aristocracy. Had a suitable solution been found, perhaps the Arab-Hebrew contradiction could have been resolved at the time, and Islam would have progressed even further.
On the whole, Islam can be described as a movement that is close to being democratic, libertarian, and egalitarian. Its expansion in a very short time cannot be seen as the result of use of arms alone. Islam’s misfortune was to become a tool of civilizational forces much more quickly than was the case for Judaism and Christianity. Less than fifty years after its birth, it was used like a patch to the classical civilizational force in the hands of the Muawiyah Dynasty in Damascus. The massacre of Ahl al-Bayt was also the destruction of many of Islam’s positive features. I would argue that it was the end of Islam. Denominations that were shaped by the followers of Ahl al-Bayt and Khawarij,14 the Islam of the poor, are noteworthy traditions. The Shia branch of Ahl al-Bayt joined official civilization with the Savafid Dynasty in Iran, losing its anti-civilizational essence. The Alevis of Anatolia and Kurdistan, on the other hand, were ruthlessly oppressed by the Sunni tradition of power for hundreds of years and were only able to carry on their existence as a moral and political society, and as a result they failed to achieve systematic development. The situation was no different for the other branches. Khawarij, Qarmatians, and many other similar movements tried to develop Islam as a firm class movement of the oppressed, and they were eliminated with even greater ferocity because of this. The existence of such a rich legacy under Islamic cover requires examination. This is why there is a need for a democratic history. Mohammad’s Islam was never to be. Islam during the Umayyad, Abbasid, Seljuki, Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal periods cannot be called the Islam of Mohammad.15 This is why so many sects and denominations arose. However, there was no serious success. What is presented as Islam’s success is the massive growth of a crafty trade monopoly in Mecca under Muawiyah and the related far-reaching expansion of the trade and power monopolies controlled by tribal aristocrats (emirs and sheiks) made possible by the Mecca trade monopoly. This was clearly a betrayal of Islam.
We know that the Prophet Moses and the Prophet Jesus were also betrayed. But the betrayal of Mohammad was lot more comprehensive. England instrumentalized nineteenth- and twentieth-century Islam as part of its colonial expansion in the Middle East, and it was made to play an extremely reactionary nationalist role in a variety of nation-state formations (Arab, Iranian, Turkish, Afghan, Pakistan, Indonesian, and other nation-states). Currently, along with the ambiguous radicalism of the al-Qaeda variety, we have the efforts by formations like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that have no clear presence (I am talking about a variety of organizations that carry that name. Their link to Islam is only in name; the majority are capitalist, modernist, and nationalist organizations) to establish Islam’s place in the world, which indicates that Islam is in one of the least meaningful periods in its history. I take the Prophet Mohammad and his Islam seriously, but only if the debate unfolds around his approach to ideas, morality, and politics in particular and provided that all those involved are prepared to respect and honor the Mohammedan reality that will emerge from any honest discussion. I will expand upon this later in this book, when it is relevant.
The reader must understand why I analyze the Middle Ages (476–1453 CE) from the perspective of Islam and Mohammad. Because the Middle Ages is the age of Islam or the age of Mohammedans, but in terms of betrayal to Islam’s name and essence not in terms of its actual implementation. The precursor to our present-day hegemonic system called capitalism is ultimately this Islam. This is the age when trade monopolies reached their initial zenith. The center of civilization was still in the Middle East, and this was the prelude period when all the games of capitalism were first invented and implemented. The Venetian merchants, in collaboration with these monopolies, carried the material culture of the Middle East into Europe over three hundred years, following in the footsteps of Christianity, which had already introduced the immaterial culture of the Middle East to all of Europe between the sixth and tenth centuries. The eighth to twelfth centuries, also called the Islamic Renaissance, were nothing substantial when compared to the thousands of years of civilizational tradition that preceded them.
I believe the current state of the Middle East, which is plagued with problems and has been in steady decline since the twelfth century, is closely linked to this betrayal in the name of Islam. Even when the starting point offers a golden opportunity, betrayal will only do the worst. What happened to Islam confirms this. I can’t stress enough my certainty that if the followers of Mohammad had developed genuine theological, ethical, philosophical, artistic, and political debates, as was the case with the followers of Moses and Jesus, and shared the results with moral and political society, then the hegemonic center of classical civilization would not have shifted to the West. More importantly, rather than classical civilization, democratic civilization would have been the predominant development.
The Judaic and Christian traditions, which withdrew from the Middle East to Europe, were a lot more open to discussion. No doubt though, dogmatism, which is in the essence of any religious tradition, continued to pose a serious obstacle. But by spreading the far from insignificant immaterial cultural values of the Middle East to Europe, as dialectics would suggest, they accelerated the development of philosophy and science. What has never been done and is still not permitted in the Islam of the Middle East is to have just such a dialectical discussion and to respect its conclusions. This aside, the Middle East led Europe both in agricultural and commercial development for thousands of years and did not lag behind in manufacturing. In short, the Mohammedan movement could have shown a way forward that would have suited the history of Middle East. But the rather crippled tribal asabiyyah,16 as Ibn Khaldun argued at the time, had already imposed something similar to the present-day nationalist fascist tendencies in the early days of Islam and wasted the Middle Ages. The central civilization system that went into decline in Middle East resumed its ascent in Europe from the fifteenth century onward. The accumulation of material and immaterial culture that formed during the ten thousand years following the agricultural revolution was to make its new offensive at this point in this new location.
My intention is not to sketch the history of democratic civilization but to attempt to define it, determine its location, and describe its historical function. I believe that history unquestionably needs this analysis, otherwise we would not find meaning in the so-called miraculous developments. How can we understand history without analyzing the resistance movements, wars, and communal structures that developed in opposition to those who tried to loot the material and immaterial values? We speak here of the upper layers that declared themselves gods for thousands of years in a very rich cultural atmosphere, while driving these people to extinction and imposing disreputable social structures like slavery, serfdom, cheap labor, and housewifery on them. How can we become familiar with our humanity if we don’t understand history? If we respect what is socially indispensable, including politics, which is the art of reason, morality, and freedom, then we must ask and answer these questions. We will not arrive at a solution using narrow class tricks and tribal asabiyyah. In the absence of systematizing the tremendous movements in social nature’s history and revealing how and why they emerged, as well as their consequences, we can’t define our existence as humans. If that were the case, our life would be meaningless. The narratives of the civilization, supported by mass of propaganda, the essence of which is the networks that secure the monopoly of capital and power, do not constitute a meaningful history of humanity. Democratic civilization’s initiative to build historical-society arises from the need to end the capitalist network’s deceit—such as ideas about the end of history and a singular world—not only because we can imagine new worlds, but because they are absolutely indispensable.
Before it was possible to completely shatter the medieval dogmatism that destroyed the human being, the much worse dogmatism of the nation-state infiltrated people’s minds. It is a thousand times worse than the chauvinism of the tribal asabiyyah. This, along with the establishment of national histories that blind people and lead them to disregard the facts, has created new deserts of the intellect. Blood has flowed like a river to create and validate this disgusting history. Nationalism and the nation-state are nothing more than the most reactionary idol running roughshod over the whole of humanity. I am making an attempt to formulate this history knowing that even the so-called darkest ages of social consciousness were not this barren and humanity had not yet fallen so far.
I must repeat: without knowing social nature’s history we can never understand the reality. I will never forgive myself for evaluating history so bleakly for so long under the sway of capitalism. Without knowing history, which is a true apocalypse of humanity, and thus not being bound to the reality of moral and political society, we cannot avoid falling into the most disrespectful and unworthy of positions. The more historical you are the more you can understand the reality. History, on the other hand, can only establish a link with social reality if it is the history of democratic civilization.
Because of its importance, I will present my approach to the history of the democratic civilization as opposed to capitalist modernity under a separate heading in the next section.
1 The 114 chapters of the Koran are referred to as suras.
2 Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825) was a French political and economic theorist and businessperson whose thinking influenced politics, economics, sociology, and the philosophy of science. His economic ideology, known as industrialism, recognized an obligation to meet the needs of the working class for the smooth functioning of the economy and society.
Charles Fourier (1772–1837) was a French philosopher and “utopian socialist.” Fourier is credited with having coined the word feminism.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865) was the founder of mutualism and the first person to self-define as an anarchist.
Auguste Comte (1798–1857) was the founder of sociology and positivism, which called for a new scientific doctrine to respond to the problems that arose with the French Revolution.
Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) was a French sociologist, social psychologist, and philosopher whose work addressed the maintenance of social integrity and coherence in the face of the breakdown of social and religious ties in modernist period.
4 Shāhanshāh is a Persian honorific meaning king of kings.
5 The Levh-i Mahfûz, Arabic for the protected tablet, is, in the Islamic tradition, the divine book where all that has happened and will happen is written. See also Öcalan: Beyond State, Power, and Violence, (Oakland: PM Press, forthcoming).
6 Here is the statement referenced: “Whatever the theoretical aspects, the accumulation of capital as an historical process, depends in every respect upon non-capitalist social strata and forms of social organisation.” Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital, section three, chapter 26, Marxists .org, accessed December 4, 2019, https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ch26.htm.
7 The author uses the word şebeke, which can mean either gangs or networks; in this case, both meanings are intended.
8 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archeology of Human Sciences (London: Tavistock Publications, 1970 ).
9 Zillullah is an Arabic word meaning shadow of God.
10 For example, the archeological remains at Tepe Gawra.
11 Rabb means Lord, Sustainer, Cherisher, Master, Nourisher. In Islam, Ar-Rabb is often used to address Allah, although Ar-Rabb is not one of the 99 names (or attributes) of Allah.
12 The Sabians were grouped by early writers with the ancient Jewish Christian group the Elcesaites and with gnostic groups like the Hermeticists and the Mandaeans. Today, the Mandaeans are still widely identified as Sabians.
13 Mohammad’s adoption of facing north toward Jerusalem, Islam’s first qiblah, or direction of prayer, later changed to facing toward the Kabah in Mecca, when performing the daily prayers.
14 Ahl al-Bayt means People of the House or Family of the House. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the Mohammad’s family. Khawarij means those who went out and refers to a sect in early Islam that revolted against the authority of Caliph Ali ibn Abu Talib after he agreed to arbitration with his rival Muawiyah to decide the succession to the caliphate following the Battle of Siffin.
15 The Mughal Empire, based in the Indian subcontinent, was established and ruled by the Muslim Persianate dynasty of Chagatai Turco-Mongol origin that extended over large parts of the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan.
16 Asabiyyah is a concept of social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness and a sense of shared purpose, and social cohesion, originally in a context of “tribalism” and “clanism.” It was familiar in the pre-Islamic era, but was popularized in Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah, where it is described as the fundamental bond of human society and the basic motive force of history, pure only in its nomadic form.
17 Öcalan uses mülkiyetçilik, derived from the Turkish word for ownership, to describe it as an ideology, similar to nationalism.
18 The saying is thought to have originated with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who, in 1150, wrote “L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs” [Hell is full of good wishes or desires]. Many people have used some form of the phrase, including Karl Marx.
19 Maqam and tekke are buildings for the gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood.
20 Every wise old religious man or woman is said to belong to an ocak, which is seen as sacred.