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
The Industrialism Dimension of Modernity and Democratic Modernity
It is true that our era (our modern way of life) is unprecedentedly dependent on industry. It cannot be denied that the industrial revolution that occurred in the nineteenth century is the second major social revolution after the agricultural revolution. Just as was the case with the accumulation of capital, the assertion that industrialism is an unprecedented aspect of our modernity is an exaggeration. There were several industrial advances in social nature, in particular in Neolithic agricultural society and later in societies of the civilizational period, although not to the same extent as in the nineteenth century. Progress is continuous, because all technical developments are in a way industrial achievements. During periods of accelerated development, however, qualitative leaps have taken place. Thousands of inventions can be listed in the field of industry, including the first pottery industries, hand mills, weaving looms, the wheel, the plow, the hammer, the anvil, the ax, the knife, the sword, the mill, papyrus, paper, and various metal tools. Of course, it is nonetheless indisputable that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, under English leadership, the most significant industrial revolution to date took a huge leap forward. While this is an important feature of modernity, it does not guarantee singularity. It merely describes a difference.
We have a different situation in the transition from industry to industrialism. Industrialism expresses the ideological character of industry. The industrialism that developed to the detriment of agriculture and the village, as well as traditional urban crafts, is at the root of all of the current diseases of modernity, in particular ecological disasters. There is no doubt that industrialism is the ideology of capital monopolies. At the end of the eighteenth century, the capitalist monopolies had large sums of money and capital but had limited (traditional) ways to use it. The reason they turned to industry was to prevent the fall in their rate of profit and instead further increase it (the law of profit). This is especially true of the textile industry. As mechanical production coincided with new energy sources (coal, steam, and electricity), a sudden explosion of production maximized the profit rates. The phenomenon of nation-states and the fierce competition between them are both related to these new rates of profit. Industrialism outperformed everything else. It became the most sacred doctrine of the nation-state. This race among nation-states continues unabated to this day, and it is generally agreed that the consequences have already reached drastic proportions—not only ecological destruction in the narrower sense but also the more profound and comprehensive cultural and physical genocides and local, regional, and global wars of an unprecedented dimension, as well as the use of ideological and metaphysical methodologies, along with the growing power of the nation-states, to increasingly detach society from its moral and political identity. In this sense, societycides are closely connected to the tendency or religion of industrialism. This is why the science and technology used by industry have attained a historically incomparable ideological quality.
Industrialism, as an unprecedented development of modernity, constitutes the greatest threat society faces and one that lies at its very heart. Industrialism is the essential factor for the constant growth of power, which destroys agrarian-village society, leads to the cancerous growth of the city, keeps the society under total surveillance and control, and seeps into all of society’s pores without exception. The nation-state, as the fundamental form of industrialism’s power and ideological hegemony, plays the leading role in all these processes.
Humanity, as a social nature, has long been under the “end of the world” threat of industrialism as one of the unprecedented developments of modernity. All the catastrophes that have flared up portend the danger to come. In the final analysis, capitalism, with its greed for constant accumulation and permanent growth on the basis of “the law of maximum profit,” is synonymous with hostility toward society and plays an essential role in this hostility. To continuously impose the law of accumulation on social nature is societycide itself. Material and cultural genocides are the initial steps in this process. Scientists of reason and conscience agree that if measures are not taken we are on our way to the end of the world. Industrialism, the second unprecedented singularity of modernity, is therefore not simply content with shaping modernity with its “Siamese twin,” capitalism, it also triggers economic crisis through modernity and is the main cause of the cancer eating away at all of the vital fabric and elements of society.
It is precisely here that the position of democratic modernity in social existence not only becomes clearer, its absolute necessity is obvious. Society shall either continue its gallop toward the end of the world or embrace democratic modernity and with a push for its reconstruction to stop this headlong plunge. The price of letting things drift is constantly and immeasurably rising every day.
These findings do not mean that industry is entirely negative; they draw attention to the disaster of profit-seeking industrialism. As with analytical intelligence, industry used for the benefit of moral and political society could lead to a paradisiacal life. An industrial offensive that goes hand in hand with ecology and agriculture will not only solve the most fundamental economic problems but could also turn all other side effects of the problems into positives. It isn’t hard to see that halting the rampant automobile madness could have revolutionary consequences in many areas, from oil production to transport and from pollution to human biology. If we look at the acceleration of the industrialization of the seas alone, and the rate at which both the sea and the land are being devastated, we can see how vital it is to have a clear limit on the number of vehicles used for transportation. Of course, this is not the place to discuss at length the results of radical changes that would limit industrialism in countless sectors, from nuclear energy to cultural industrialism. I wanted to take the opportunity to draw attention to the consequences of limiting industrialism. Understanding its revolutionary implications is sufficient to demonstrate the great importance of the subject.
Bringing an end to the fixation on the law of profit would require far-reaching social action. Since the main driving force behind democratic modernity is not profit, it gains vital importance as the most appropriate option for civilization. The main concern of the moral and political social system not based on the system of class, capital, and profit is to safeguard its own identity and to bring to life the instruments of democratic politics. Liberalism sets the goal of unlimited earnings and the passion for profit before the individual. To do so, it constantly propagates the idea that capitalist and industrialist modernity is the only possible way of life. A bit like the religions of antiquity, it finds it necessary to consecrate its system, so to speak. Cultural industrialism is the new form of this boundless consecration. Economic class struggle, all kinds of power struggle, and ecological and feminist movements will only be able to stop a modernity that has grown so enormous with an alternative modernity. Four hundred years of capitalist modernity make this clear.
We do not need to be great social scientists to understand that the dissolution of real socialism was the result of its inability to develop an alternate modernity. We may well assume that if real socialism had found a solution to the question of industrialism it could have maintained its superiority. If in the struggle against the capitalist hegemony that literally did everything to shape modernity, all of the forces with a real socialist line and all the other main opposition groups (utopian, anarchist, ecological, feminist, and national liberation movements) had determined at least one main theoretical and practical point of orientation in the struggle for their own modernity, the modernity of today’s world would probably look quite different. Their common point of defeat was not asking “which modernity?” and jointly pursuing a theoretical and practical line in response; they were up to their necks in the way of life that capitalism and industrialism dictated and did not see any harm in this way of life.
Moreover, and most importantly, instead of criticizing state nationalism as an aspect of modernity, they accepted it as the main form of their way of life. Under these circumstances, it becomes difficult and doubtful for the opposition, particularly left-wing opposition, to present and attain its promise.
I am astonished by the slogan “another world is possible.” The fact that this slogan is presented as if it were an important discovery only reinforces my astonishment. Now that the massive problems of modernity are out in the open, the ship of the system is already sinking and falling apart piece by piece, and even nature is rebelling, such a slogan, presented like a new discovery, leaves me speechless. Since the problems and madness (i.e., the way of life) of the ruling modernity (characterized by capitalism and industrialism) are now perfectly apparent, one should not be content with criticism of modernity’s main elements but ask: “What alternatives can you come up with and actually build?”
In the past, religion, philosophy, moral teaching, virtue, and wisdom developed in response to the problems of modernity in their respective eras. Whether or not they were adequate responses is open to discussion. What’s important is that there was never a lack of effort in the name of moral and political society. In the light of these experiences, democratic modernity only makes sense if it confronts capitalist modernity with comprehensive analyses and answers to specific problems. Contrary to popular belief, history and the present are not realms absolutely ruled by the forces of civilization, although a mass of propaganda asserts that to be the case. Just as not all histories written are true, not everything asserted by present-day social sciences about current modernity is accurate; it is mostly the rhetoric of ideological hegemony meant to confuse, dazzle, and establish dogmas. Democratic politics, in the narrow sense, is not only a means of making political society function, it is also the act of explaining historical-society in all its aspects. Moral and political society’s great decision-making capacity and power to act is only revealed when its efforts to explain capitalist and industrialist modernity through democratic politics unite with truth. Then and only then will there be an adequate answer to the question: “What kind of a modernity and modern life?” The last four hundred years of experience with capitalist hegemony proves that no other approach is capable of producing adequate and promising responses. Democratic modernity would be a suitable response to this historical experience, both in thought and in practice.
1 Elah is the Aramaic word for God. The word Elah is also an Arabic word which means God. Elah is etymologically related to Allah.
2 See Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1990); see also Abdullah Öcalan, Manifesto of the Democratic Civilization Volume II: Capitalism: The Age of Unmasked Gods and Naked Kings, 2nd rev. ed. (Oakland, PM Press, forthcoming 2020).
3 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (London: Routledge, 1989), 373, accessed July 31, 2019, https://is.muni.cz/el/1423/jaro2013/SOC911/um/Michel_Foucault_The_Order_of_Things.pdf.
4 In Andre Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills, eds., The World System: Five Hundred Years or Five Thousand? (London: Routledge, 1993); several authors argue for an extension of world system analysis beyond the last five hundred years. The concept of central civilization is also developed in this book.
5 Croesus was the king of Lydia from 560 BCE until his defeat by the Persian King Cyrus the Great in 546 BCE.
6 Karum, meaning port, or commercial district, the word used for ancient Assyrian trade posts in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) from the twentieth to eighteenth centuries BCE.
7 An expression used in Turkish to refer to the “three ‘F’s” (Fado, Fátima, Futebol—music, religion, sports), the three pillars of the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal.
8 Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from the Damaged Life (London: Verso, 2006 ).
9 Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism and Capitalist Civilization (London: Verso, 1995), 98; the complete quote correctly reads: “Even as I write this, I feel the tremor that accompanies the sense of blasphemy. I fear the wrath of the gods, for I have been molded in the same ideological forge as all my compeers and worshiped at the same shrines.”
10 In sociology, demos from Greek δῆμος, describes a political and legal concept of people, in contrast to ethnos as an ethnic concept of people.
11 Lenin completed his work “The State and Revolution,” which the author alludes to here, in September 1917, just before the October Revolution; see V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution,” in Collected Works, vol. 25 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1964), 381–492, accessed December 23, 2019, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev.
12 The original quote is: “Power is accumulated like money”; Fernand Braudel, Civilisation and Capitalism 15th to 18th Century: Volume 3: The Perspective of the World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 50. Elsewhere he also says that capitalism is an accumulation of power; see Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World: Civilisation and Capitalism 15th to 18th Century, Volume 2: The Wheels of Commerce (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
13 Ewen MacAskil, “George Bush: ‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq’” Guardian, October 7, 2005, accessed August 1, 2019, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/oct/07/iraq.usa.
14 G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 219.
15 David Shasha, “Understanding the Sephardi-Ashkenanzi Split,” Huffington Post,” May 25, 2011, accessed September 9, 2019, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-shasha/understanding-the-sephard_b_541033.html.
16 The decisions of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 were even more radical. For example, it became mandatory for Jews and Muslims to dress differently from Christians and to wear badges.
17 The term dönme (convert) is generally used in Turkish to describe converted Jews, especially those who continue to practice Judaism in secret, so-called crypto-Jews. Among them were the followers of the self-declared Messiah Shabbtai Zevi in the seventeenth century, the Sabbatians, many of whom, like him, later converted to Islam.
18 Membership in Masonic lodges requires a belief in a single God, but the Lodges are neutral with regard to the individual religions. That is why Jews and Muslims were accepted relatively early. The discussion of religious matters in the lodges is forbidden.
19 This refers to Cyrus II, also known as Cyrus the Great, c. 585–530 BCE.
20 Taqiyya, which literally means fear or caution, describes the Islamic practice of Muslims denying their faith to the outside world in the event of danger, while in reality continuing to practice their faith.
21 His sons were called Mikâ’îl (Michael), Arslan Isrâ’îl (Israel), Mûsâ (Moses), and Yûnus (Jonah).
22 In 1391, extensive pogroms against Jews took place in Spain, with tens of thousands of them murdered.
23 In 1492, after the Reconquista ended, the Alhambra Decree was issued. As a result, tens of thousands of Sephardic Jews who did not want to be baptized were expelled from Spain.
24 Sabbatians (sometimes rendered Sabbateans) is a complex general term that refers to a variety of followers of and, disciples and believers in Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676), a Jewish rabbi who was proclaimed to be the Jewish Messiah in 1665 by Nathan of Gaza.
25 Müsadere refers to the ruler’s right to confiscate unfairly acquired property, which is common in many Muslim states.
26 In reference to Max Weber, who saw capitalism favored by certain forms of Protestantism, Werner Sommbart postulates this applies even more to Judaism; Werner Sombart, Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben (Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot, 1911).
27 In 1938–1939, R.G. Collingwood wrote: “Modern Germany thus stands officially committed to the same error which infected ancient Jewish thought, and which Paul exploded—the error of regarding a given community’s historical function as bound up with its biological character, i.e. with the common pedigree of its members—and thus persecutes the Jews because it agrees with them. Intellectually, the Jew is the victor in the present-day conflict (if you can call it that) in Germany. He has succeeded in imposing his idea of a chosen people (in the biological sense of the word people) on modern Germany: and this may explain why the victims of this persecution take it so calmly.” R. G. Collingwood, The Principles of History and Other Writings in Philosophy of History. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 7S.7.
28 These three pillars are capitalism, industrialism, and the nation-state.
29 Rabb translates approximately as the Lord or, the Great. The term is a common name of God in the Islamic world, the Hebrew form is rav. It corresponds in meaning to the Hebrew adonai; perhaps this is what is meant here.
30 Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press, 1976).
31 This is another name used for the people previously known as the Assyrians.
32 The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP: İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti), later the Party of Union and Progress (İttihat ve Terakki Fırkası), began as a secret society established as the “Committee of Ottoman Union” (İttihad-ı Osmanî Cemiyeti) in Istanbul, on February 6, 1889, by medical students İbrahim Temo, Çerkez Mehmed Reşid, Abdullah Cevdet, İshak Sükuti, Ali Hüsyinzade, Kerim Sebatî, Mekkeli Sabri Bey, Selanikli Nazım Bey, Şerafettin Mağmumi, Cevdet Osman, and Giritli Şefik. This was the political party of the so-called Young Turks, and the ruling party in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
33 From 1897 onward, Geneva was CUP’s headquarters, while the first Zionist congresses were held in Basel.
34 Moiz Cohen was a Turkish writer and philosopher of Jewish origin active in pan-Turkism movement. Born to a Jewish family, he later changed his name to Munis Tekinalp. He was a proponent of the assimilation of minorities within the Turkish Republic into Turkish culture, and in 1928 issued a pamphlet on the subject titled Türkleştirme. Hungarian Ármin Vámbéry, also known as Arminus Vámbéry, was a prominent Turkologist.
35 Öcalan’s thesis of the Democratic Republic is detailed in Abdullah Öcalan: Declaration on the Democratic Solution of the Kurdish Question (Neuss: Mesopotamian Publishers, 1999).
36 The question is addressed in Abdullah Öcalan, Manifesto of Democratic Civilization, Volume IV: Civilizational Crisis in the Middle East and the Democratic Civilization Solution (Oakland: PM Press, forthcoming).
37 In Turkish Miryam and Maria are both rendered as Meryem.
38 The Marx and Engels passage referenced here, reads “When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”; Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Chapter 2, accessed February 8, 2020, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm.
39 Biologism is the use or emphasis of biological principles or methods to explain human, especially social, behavior; “Biologism,” ScienceDirect, accessed September 5, 2019, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/biologism.
40 Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–76 (New York: Picador, 1997).
41 “Braudel’s influence was crucial in two regards. First, in his later work on capitalism and civilization, Braudel would insist on a sharp distinction between the sphere of the free market and the sphere of monopolies. He called only the latter capitalism and, far from being the same thing as the free market, he said that capitalism was the “anti-market.” This concept marked a direct assault, both substantively and terminologically, on the conflation by classical economists (including Marx) of the market and capitalism. And secondly, Braudel’s insistence on the multiplicity of social times and his emphasis on structural time-what he called the longue durée became central to world-systems analysis.” Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 19.
42 A Turkish idiom: “biri yer biri bakar kıyamet ondan kopar.” It literally means “some sections of society live in hardship, others live in luxury, this creates a contradiction that will lead to doomsday.”
43 The author uses here his own term for an autonomous unit, which subsequently became popular, especially in its Kurdish language form, xwebûn.
44 One of several militaristic terms commonly used in Turkey to describe the Turkish nation. It is also formulated as “every Turk is born a soldier.”