8.3 The Nation-State, Modernity, and Democratic Confederalism

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

SIX – The Emergence of the Social Problem

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

SEVEN – Envisaging the System of Democratic Civilization

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

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

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

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

The Nation-State, Modernity, and Democratic Confederalism

Modernity’s third and most important discontinuity, the nation-state, is the most fundamental instrumental form of capitalism’s action to conquer and colonize society. While liberalism presents itself as the totality of goals (the sum of ideas), the nation-state represents the fundamental form of power. The most far-reaching conquest and colonization that the society has ever experienced, both internally and externally, would not have been possible without the nation-state form.

The nation-state is also the subject around which the social sciences have created the most distortions, blindness, and dogma. We cannot really say that there has ever been a thorough analysis of the state. Even a Marxist like Lenin when he embarked on one of the greatest social revolutions failed to liberate “the question of power and the state” from the nation-state pillar of modernity in his attempt to analyze it.11 And this is an understatement: he could not even refrain from assessing the rapid transformation of the soviets—an organization of democratic society—into a nation-state as a consolidation of the revolution, despite all criticism. The Chinese nation-state, which is currently of the greatest service to world capitalism, is nothing more than a sprawling example of the same approach.

There is some truth to Anthony Giddens’s approach to the nation-state’s singularity. However, this approach is highly inadequate in terms of the nations-state’s chain-like dependence on the historical cumulative power monopolies. I tried to define the nation-state in detail in the two previous volumes. Here, I will illuminate the nation-state from different angles and extend the presentation by way of necessary conclusions.

Above all, the nation-state should be considered the maximum form of power. No other state form possesses the same power as the nation-state (it may be more correct to speak of a state-nation). The most important reason for this is that the upper echelons of the middle class have been increasingly involved in the monopolization process. We must never forget that the nation-state is the most developed and complete monopoly. The commercial, industrial, and financial monopolies are maximally allied with the power monopoly at the level of the nation-state. What we have is the most developed unity of all the monopolies. In this context we must also consider ideological monopoly an inseparable part of the power monopoly.

One of the areas where the social sciences are most misleading is in relation to monopolies. They attach great importance to positioning the power apparatuses as discrete from the supra-economic institutions, i.e., the commercial, industrial, and financial monopolies. Thus, they want to present power in general and the state in particular as if they are distinct from monopoly. This is one of the essential points that has crippled the social sciences. The difference between supra-economic monopolies and power monopolies is best explained as a division of labor. Apart from that, they definitely constitute a historical totality. At this point I must quote a sentence by Fernand Braudel that I find very impressive. Braudel says: “Power like capital can be accumulated.”12 It would seem that he has grasped the totality of the two. In any case, he is wise and has illuminated the subject in many ways.

Power is not simply accumulated like capital; it is the most homogeneous, refined, and historically accumulated form of capital. I would like to repeat this: power is the most homogeneous, refined, and historically accumulated form of capital. Other supra-economic capitals are accumulated in different ways; they change ownership and are organized. We regard them all as monopolies, because they are all supra-economic, and the seizure of social values in general and of social surplus values in particular make up their character. In short, whether in the form of taxes, profits from companies, or completely open plundering, all such extractions from society have a monopolistic nature. Therefore, the term monopoly is appropriate and should be well understood.

The historical peculiarity of the nation-state is its ability to unite all these monopolies within itself in a cohesive way. The nation-state is the maximum totality of capital, and this is the basis of its strength. It also follows that it is the most effective instrument of capital accumulation. It came as a surprise when, after seventy years, the nation-state built by the Bolshevik Party showed itself to be a gigantic totality of capital. However, if we look at the issue from the perspective of our nation-state analysis, this situation makes perfect sense. The nation-state is the most straightforward and typical organization of capital as a state. With the nation-state, it is not possible to organize socialism but, at best, capitalism at its purest. It is about as possible to make the nation-state socialist or to regard it as socialist as it is to turn a mule into a horse!

Nevertheless, we cannot explain the nation-state’s singularity by separating it from historical forms of state. No matter how developed it may be in comparison to the earlier historical forms of the state, what is decisive is the historical accumulation of power. Let’s have a look at England, the first country to have organized the nation-state. England was in the grip of the power of Spain, France, and the Normans at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Were it unable to organize itself as a nation-state, its liquidation seemed imminent. England was a kingdom. One after another, dynasties had risen and fallen. Its economy was built on migrations from Europe beginning in the Neolithic Age. What made it distinct from other European countries was that it was an island. It built its nation-state on the basis of these concrete historical conditions. History clearly shows how the increased strength of the sterling was accompanied by debt and maximum monopolization of the economy. It is well-known that England turned to industrial revolution to make a hegemonic leap forward. So without its basis in English history, and in particular in dynastic history, and without being dynastic itself, the English nation-state not only could not have been founded; it would have been unthinkable. Dynasties represent the longest lasting and most comprehensive state form in history, and this is why England still has not abandoned the prestige of the dynasty. Democracies and republics have been much more limited. Empires are an altogether different state form. In the absence of accumulation of power as monopolies filtered and refined over thousands of years, states in general and nation-states in particular would not have been possible.

I have only touched upon the link between the nation-state and theological sources, but this is an extremely important issue. Carl Schmitt elucidated another aspect of the reality when he said that all contemporary political concepts originate in theology (the science of god). A close look at sociology should make it fairly clear that religion, and with it the image of god, is the oldest form of social identity. Religion and god should not be understood as conscious fictitious identities, but as a necessity of the age of thought. Collective imagination led society to identify with the most sacred concepts. Society regarded this as a way of securing its survival. The roots of divinity lie in the sacralization of social existence. In time, as the divergence of power and the state from society accelerated, attributes such as holiness and divinity were removed from the collective identity of society as a whole and attributed to the owners of power and the state. Ideological hegemony plays an important role in this development. Establishing that power and the state are of divine origins opens the way for those in power and in the state to assert their holiness and divinity. From there, arriving at the concepts of god-king and god-state is not that difficult. The concepts of God’s messenger and God’s shadow would follow in due course.

Although the secular state acts as if it had nothing to do with this process, this is not true. Since secularism was a basic principle of the Masonic lodges, which rejected the influence of the Church, it is in the nature of things that it owes its existence to a large extent to this concept as an antithesis to the spiritual principle. We must emphasize that laicism is not as secular and worldly as is thought nor is spirituality otherworldly or focused on the great beyond. Both of these concepts are worldly and social. The great difference perceived between them rests on ideological dogmas.

It is therefore to be expected that the image of the divine origin of power and the state, which was present at all times, will also be reflected in our time. It is unthinkable that today’s state remains unaffected by this. The term was given shape throughout history. The concepts of secular power and a secular state are contradictory and dubious.

The nation-state is laden with more divine concepts than we recognize. It is subject to more consecration ceremonies than anything that preceded it. The concepts it rests upon and its chosen images, such as fatherland, flag, unitarianism, independence, and holiness, along with the national anthem and heroic stories, possess more divine prestige than was the case in god-kingdoms. No form of state has wrapped itself in so much ideological, legal, political, economic, and religious armor as the nation-state, primarily because it is the essential source of income for an increasingly inflated civil and military bureaucracy. When the state chair is pulled out from under it, the bureaucracy is like a fish out of water. For the bureaucracy, the state is a matter of life and death, and this is a key reason for wrapping the state in the highest level of divine prestige possible. If capitalist modernity, more than any other modernity, emphasizes the state and creates a tempest in a teacup around it, this is because of the change in class structure. There is a close connection between modernity and the nation-state and the pursuit of the “unitary state” and “unitarianism” and the concept of the unity of God in particular. Just as some tribes and peoples were eliminated from history or absorbed by the dominant tribe and people, so their gods were also eliminated or absorbed by and united with the dominant god of the tribe and people. If we look at the concept of the unity of God from this sociological perspective, it is easier to grasp its meaning. It contains colonialism and assimilation.

The unitary nature of the nation-state is historically rife with divinity. The complete disarmament of their subservient societies and the transfer of the complete monopoly of arms to the modern state has led to this unitarianism, but at its core there is a devastating monopolization of exploitation and colonialism. Theorists of sovereignty, in particular Hobbes and Machiavelli, by defining the modern state in the name of science, provided the greatest service to capitalist monopoly. The concentration of all weapons within a monist structure in the name of social peace led to an unprecedented political weakening of society and thus to the deprivation of its entire economic existence. Since power and the state will ultimately act like a monopoly, there is no social value that they cannot seize, given the armed forces concentrated in their hands. They will shape society as they wish and eliminate anything undesirable. This is, in fact, how history, including its unimaginable genocides, has unfolded.

The nation-state, as the common denominator of all monopolies, is not content with being built on the theft, conquest, and colonization of social material culture, it also plays a decisive role in the assimilation of immaterial culture. In the name of the “national culture” it usually gives official status to the cultural norms of a dominant ethnicity or religious community and declares war on the remaining cultural entities. Arguing that they are “harmful to national unity,” all of the religions, ethnicities, peoples, nations, languages, and cultures that have preserved their existence for thousands of years are eliminated either by force or through material incentives. Languages, religions, denominations, ethnic tribes, and aşirets, along with peoples and nations, have fallen victim to these policies, or, rather, these genocides. Material genocides (physical annihilation) are only a drop in the ocean compared to immaterial genocide. Linguistic and cultural values filtered through the thousands of years are sacrificed together with the carrier groups in an act of madness consecrated to the sacred act of creating national unity.

The nation-state’s concept of “fatherland” and “homeland” (vatan) is much more problematic. Territories that are put under state domination and monopoly, however this is achieved, are symbolically portrayed as the “holy homeland” or “holy fatherland.” But these homelands have actually been turned into the common property of monopoly alliances. The system they built is a more profound form of colonization than that experienced in earlier colonies. While in the past there was a single type of colonialism for a given country, today, there are as many kinds of colonialism as the number of monopolies the modern nation-state establishes over its “holy homeland.” Just as the colonized peoples were disarmed, the people of the “holy homeland” are similarly disarmed and rendered incapable of resisting any form of exploitation. Their labor in particular but also their material and immaterial cultural entities are subjected to multilayered exploitation. There is no other way to satisfy the cancerous growth of monopolies of bureaucracy.

Nation-state diplomacy is built to ensure coordination with external monopolies—the other nation-states—and to pursue the affairs of the global system of nation-states. Given the logic of the global capitalist system, if a nation-state is not recognized by other nation-states it cannot exist for even twenty-four hours. Without the consent of hegemonic power, the existence of a nation-state cannot be permanent. All of their stories are recorded in the hegemon’s book. Those who break the rules will either meet Saddam’s fate or be driven to bankruptcy and toppled by sanctions. It is assumed that every nation-state knows very well, either during its foundation or soon thereafter, that without the permission of a hegemonic power its existence cannot be permanent. Even the Soviet Union and the Chinese state were no exception to this rule.

Another fundamental feature of the nation-state is that, for obvious reasons, its structure is very much closed to plural or diverse political formations, because they would be an obstacle to monopoly exploitation within the given borders. It is in the nature of things that if moral and political society is constituted by various political structures, especially democratic political structures, the monopolists’ area of domination will shrink considerably. Terms such as the indivisibility of sovereignty, territorial integrity, unitary structure, and the like were conceived for this reason. The intention is not to share the value of the country with its people and social groups. This, in fact, plays a major role in the destruction of the immaterial culture. Although political and democratic pluralism is the best regime for both freedom and equality in diversity, any act to achieve it is presented as dangerous and illegal, because it “puts the territorial integrity of the country and its regime in danger.”

The nationalist identity so often used by the nation-state may have made it the greatest collaborationist representative of hegemonic power of all time. In a nationalist guise, it is the most loyal collaborator of the global capitalist system. No other institution is as dependent as the nation-state on the central power of global capitalism nor is any as great a lackey of that power. This character is the reason for the internal colonialism. The more nationalist the behavior of a nation-state, the more it serves the hegemonic power of the world system. To consider the nation-state that has been carefully prepared, formed, and systematized by hegemonic power over the last four hundred years to be the most nationalistic state is to have failed to learn anything from the terrible hegemonic power struggles of the world system.

When analyzing the concept nation-state, it is important not to confuse it with other issues and arrive at erroneous conclusions. First, it is necessary to clearly define the concept of nation-state. The states in history have generally defined and presented themselves as organizations limited to their members. They had to be accepted as cadre states, convincing, praising, ennobling, and even deifying each other. This approach changed with the onset of the nation-state. From then on, it had to present itself as encompassing the greatness, sublimity, and holiness of the nation-state god not only to the cadres of the state but to each of the individuals in society, called citizens, who are its subjects. The whole of society was virtually absorbed by the nation-state. This amounts to being confined in an iron cage. Until we grasp this fact, we cannot understand the nation-state or modernity. A primary difficulty in understanding the nation-state correctly is that it is always discussed in the context of the republic and democracy. The nation-state is not a republic and has, in fact, developed in opposition to the philosophy, basic institutions, and function of the republic. The nation-state is, in fact, the negation of the republic. The still influential view and official doctrine of the real socialist left for the past 150 years that “democracy and socialism cannot exist without a centralist nation-state” is a terrible self-deception. The grave consequences of this were particularly apparent in Germany with the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg and many other socialists and democrats. Another example would be the dissolution of the real socialist system. No other self-deception has done so much harm to socialism and democracy. The republic and democracy can only attain their true meaning through pluralistic and democratic political structures that are directed against the monopolism of the nation-state. Only then can a meaningful patriotism and a life of unity in diversity be realized through a pluralistic-democratic republican regime.

Under today’s conditions, as the monopolies of global financial capital compete for hegemony, we observe their attempts to restructure the old nation-states. This tendency of neoliberalism is understandable, even if it is masked as other goals (especially the deceptive mask of democracy). In many respects national monopolism cannot compete with global monopolism, cannot meet the requirements of global policies, and cannot implement them quickly enough. Therefore, it leads to stagnation in the system as a whole. The efforts to rebuild are not meant to liquidate the nation-state but to subordinate it to the demands of the new global hegemonic financial capital.

The nation-state is not afraid to use four main ideological forms, intertwined and eclectically, in the service of the ideological hegemony with which it has imbued society. Nationalism, as the basic ideological form of the nation-state, has been given a totally religious essence. As much as the nation-state belongs to capitalist modernism, nationalism, likewise, is a modernist religion. It was cultivated as the social religion of positivist philosophy. We should think of patriotism as an expression of social nature, as the opposite of nation society. Nationalism, in this regard, is the most anti-nation ideology. Nationalism provides an unparalleled service to exploitative monopolies by placing the nation, which is a democratic phenomenon, under the ideological hegemony of capitalism. It turns the entire nation into the common property and a colony of the monopoly alliance (commercial, industrial, financial, and power monopolies), with nationalism in particular fulfilling this function in the garb of a positivistic and nationalistic religion.

Nationalism, as the religion of the nation-state, however contradictory this may appear, manifests itself as two phenomena that are basically the same. The first is the divinity of the “unitary state.” Within the nation, it is very sensitive to the need for a one-god state. In the international arena, this one-god form expresses itself as the super-hegemon (the president of the US, the super-hegemon, George W. Bush claiming, “I am driven with a mission from God” proves this).13 In Hegel’s words, although he intended them for Napoleon and France, the super-hegemon is the “march of God on earth.”14 Second, every nation-state as God is a nation idol of the super-hegemon. Thus, the multiplication of the nation-state in this way does not mean that its unity is fragmented and that a transition to a polytheistic system occurs. It is rather the multiplication of idols. The source of this in philosophy is positivism. The nation-state’s second most important eclectic ideology is positivist scientism. It is the ideological source closest to nationalism. They foster one another. Its founder Auguste Comte explicitly wanted to construct positivism as a secular, universal religion. However, positivism did not hold up as well as Marxism. Nevertheless, it remains the fundamental religion of secularism. Nietzsche hit the nail on the head when he correctly observed that positivism that claims to be the opposite of metaphysics is itself the most vulgar form of metaphysics. As one of the favorite ideological variants of modernity, it has become a hegemonic ideology that distorts, blinds, and idolizes the social sciences.

Positivism as a science (then called scientism) is the most vulgar philosophy of phenomena. A phenomenon is the visible part of reality; in positivism, however, the phenomenon is reality itself. Thus, if something is not a phenomenon, then it is not real. But, on the other hand, we know from quantum physics, astronomy, and biology, and even from the substance of thought itself, that most of reality occurs in worlds that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In the relationship between the observed and the observer, reality (truth) has assumed a highly mysterious character that eludes physical measurability and description. Positivism, in negation of this depth, most resembles the idolatry (paganism) of antiquity. The idol, which appears as a phenomenon, reflects the common link between paganism and positivism. Therefore, all brains washed by the religion of nationalism in the nation-state see the world as consisting of simple phenomena and perceive this as a kind of worship. The obsession of consumer society with the “object” is that worship itself. In this sense, the formation of consumer society as a product of the nation-state environment is highly important and easily grasped. On the one hand, this means that all individuals in society, as prisoners of the commodity (in the nation-state and in consumer society, the commodity has completely become an idol) and as extreme consumers offer the capitalist monopolies the possibility of extreme profit. On the other hand, a society that has been taken captive by consumerism, which has attained a sort of religious veneer, is turned into the most obedient, assimilated, and easily ruled society. The society that has fallen prey to a terrible nationalist mindset expresses this truth very clearly.

The third important ideological structure is social sexism. Sexism has been the weapon most often used by the civilization systems against moral and political society throughout history. The multipurpose colonization of women is a brilliant and exemplary narrative. Women produce offspring, are unpaid workers, do the most difficult work, and are the most obedient of slaves. They are permanent objects of sexual desire and a means of advertising. Women are the most valuable of commodities; indeed, we might say that women are the queens of commodities. They, as a constant tool of rape, appear as a factory for the production of men’s power and potency. As pieces of jewelry with beauty and voices, they also immaterially uphold the male-dominated society. Nowhere have women fallen so deeply in every respect in male society as in the structures of the nation-state. Women, with the image of goddesses in nation-state society (the common conception or identity of women), appear at first glance as objects of worship. But here the attribute “goddess” signifies the deepest humiliation and is suitable for brothels. The woman as this goddess is a woman who has been most severely insulted and entirely humiliated. On the one hand, the sexism in nation-state society endows men with the maximum power (all dominant men play the sexual act in their heads as “I have finished the whore” or “I am done”), on the other hand, through women it transforms the society into the deepest colony. In this sense, women in the nation-state are the most developed colonized nation within historical-society.

The nation-state does not refrain from using religion as a premodern tradition intertwined with nationalist ideology, because religion is still very influential in societies. Islam in particular is still very much active in this regard. But as a result of its use in modernity, the religious tradition is no longer the religion it once was. Whether in its radical or more moderate forms, religion, as used in modernity by nation-states, has been detached from its real social function (its important role in moral and political society) and presents itself in a castrated form. The role of religion in society is the role the nation-state allows. Major obstacles are placed in the way of religion that prevent it from continuing its positive function in moral and political society, laicism foremost among them. Thus, we should not be surprised when struggles occasionally flare up between religion and laicism. The nation-state does not totally abandon religion as an ancient tradition, not only because religion still has great weight in society but also because its structure is charged with nationalism and very suitable for its use. Sometimes religion itself assumes the role of nationalism. The Shi’sm on display in Iran is the Iranian nation-state’s strongest hegemonic ideological weapon. This Shi’ism is an extreme example of religious nationalism, but there are many similar examples. In Turkey, Sunnism is the religious ideology that is closest to nationalism and the one that most easily becomes nationalist.

It will not suffice for the nation-state to solely use fascism, the most terrible form of violence, to secure the fourfold monopolistic exploitation it has taken over (trade, industry, finance, and power monopolies). This requires the hegemonic use of the four eclectic ideologies at least as much as the systematic violence of the fascist regime. The fascist regime cannot be maintained without ideological hegemony.

Democratic modernity responds to the homogenization (uniformization), herd-like, and mass-like society that the modern nation-state strives to achieve by adopting a universalist, linear-progressive, and deterministic (methods closed off to probabilities and alternatives) method with pluralistic, probabilistic methods that are open to alternatives and make democratic society visible. It develops its alternative through its ecological and feminist characteristics that are open to diverse multicultural, non-monopolistic political structures, as well as with an economic structure that meets basic social needs and is controlled by the community. Democratic modernity’s political alternative to capitalist modernity’s nation-state is democratic confederalism.

We can briefly describe the characteristics of democratic confederalism:

a) Democratic confederalism is open to different multilayered political structures. The complicated structure of contemporary society requires different horizontal and vertical political structures. It holds central, local, and regional political structures together in equilibrium. Pluralistic political structures are better suited to finding the right solutions to social problems, because they respond to specific conditions. Cultures and ethnic and national identities have the natural right to express themselves in political structures—or, rather, it is a requirement of moral and political society that they do so. It is open to a principled agreement with state traditions, whether in the form of the nation-state, the republic, or bourgeois democracy. They can coexist on the basis of a principled peace.

b) Democratic confederalism is based on moral and political society. Social forms that consist of capitalist, feudal, industrialist, consumerist, and other template projects based on social engineering are seen in the context of capitalist monopolies. While such societies don’t actually exist, their propaganda does. Societies are basically political and moral. Economic, political, ideological, and military monopolies are apparatuses gnawing away at the fundamental nature of society, chasing after surplus value and social tributaries. They have no intrinsic value. Even a revolution cannot create a new society. Revolutions can only play a positive role as an operation to restore the worn-out and lapsed moral and political fabric to its proper function. Everything else will be determined by the free will of moral and political society.

c) Democratic confederalism is based on democratic politics. In contrast to the rigidly centralist, linear, bureaucratic understanding of the governance and administration of the nation-state, all social groups and cultural identities realize the self-governance of society in political structures that allow them to express themselves. Affairs are dealt with by leaders elected to office not appointed. The key is an ability to make decisions on the basis of discussions and at assemblies. There is no room for a leadership that acts as it wishes. From a general coordinating body (assembly, commission, congress) to local bodies, the democratic governance and supervision of social affairs are carried out by a bouquet of bodies that seek unity in diversity and are multi-structured in a way that suits the composition of all groups and cultures.

d) Democratic confederalism is based on self-defense. Self-defense units are the basic force, they are not a military monopoly but are under the tight control of democratic organs in accordance with society’s internal and external security needs. Their task is to validate the will of democratic politics, i.e., moral and political society’s egalitarian decision-making structure based on freedoms and diversity, and to render harmless any internal or external force that attempts to frustrate, prevent, or otherwise undermine this will. The command structure of the units is under the dual control of both the organs of democratic politics and unit members and can easily be changed, if necessary, by motions and their democratic approval.

e) Democratic confederalism leaves no room for hegemony of any sort, particularly ideological hegemony. While the principle of hegemony is active in all classical civilizations, democratic civilizations and democratic modernity do not tolerate hegemonic powers and their ideologies. If hegemonic powers and their ideologies cross the boundaries of different levels of expression and democratic governance, they will be neutralized by self-governance and the freedom of expression. Collective management of social affairs requires mutual understanding, respect for different proposals, and commitment to democratic decision-making. While the general governance concepts of classical civilization, capitalist modernity, and the nation-state overlap, there are major differences and far-reaching contradictions between these concepts and those embraced by democratic civilization and democratic modernity. Succinctly put, what underlies the differences and contradictions is bureaucratic and arbitrary governance, on one side, and democratic moral leadership, on the other.

There can be no ideological hegemony in democratic confederalism, instead pluralism is even valid among different views and ideologies. The leadership has no need of ideological camouflage to strengthen itself. As such, there is no need for nationalist, religionist, positivist scientist, or sexist ideologies, and the establishment of hegemony is rejected. As long as society’s moral and political structure is not worn-out and hegemony is not sought, every opinion, idea, or belief can be freely expressed.

f) Democratic confederalism favors a World Democratic Confederal Union of national societies, as opposed to the union of nation-states under the control of super-hegemonic power in the United Nations. For a safer, more peaceful, more ecological, more just, and more productive world, we need a quantitatively and qualitatively strengthened union of much broader communities based on the criteria of democratic politics in a World Democratic Confederation.

Finally, we could continue to compare the differences and contrasts between capitalist modernity and democratic modernity endlessly. They exist not only as an idea, but concretely, as two vast, existing worlds. These two worlds, which have at times over the course of history mercilessly fought each other as dialectical opposites, as well as having often lived in peace, have a similar relationship and similar contradictions today, sometimes finding themselves in conflict and making peace at other times. The outcome will undoubtedly be determined by those who, in the present systemic, structural crisis, make the departure in favor of the good, the true, and the beautiful in the intellectual, political, and ethical spheres.


Elah is the Aramaic word for God. The word Elah is also an Arabic word which means GodElah 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.

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 [1951]).

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 CenturyVolume 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.”

Scroll to Top