EIGHT – Democratic Modernity versus Capitalist Modernity

  • 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

Democratic Modernity versus Capitalist Modernity

The research methods used by the Eurocentric social sciences for investigating truth are quintessentially hegemonic. They make alternative paths of truth virtually impossible in two fundamental ways. The first is the monistic-universalist approach. Truth is always reduced to “one.” The second is the infinite relativist model. To say that everyone has a truth of their own is essentially to say that there is no truth. This is like saying that everything changes in order to prove that nothing changes. It is clear that both methods have reductionism in common. They openly reflect their character by reducing truth to “one,” whether through universalist “monism” or relativist “singularism.”

Undoubtedly civilizational monopolism lies behind these methods. Its foundations date back to when the Sumerian priests constructed “En” as the greatest god. The reason for exalting “En” was the need to legitimize the emerging hierarchy and monopolism of the city, class, and state and to make them dominant and hegemonic in social mentality. “First cause” in Greek philosophy, God as the greatest invention (Plato and Aristotle’s understanding of God), has the same source. In monotheistic religions, the form assumed by “En” is “Allah,” the god of all worlds. “El” has its roots in “Elah.”1 “El” became “Jupiter” with the emergence of Rome. The attempt to use such religions or mythological concepts to legitimize the construction of god-kings and imperial regimes in any society can be widely observed. Almost all kingdoms, empires, and despotic regimes endeavor to use such concepts to exalt themselves and attain ideological hegemony. Without this hegemony, these regimes are unlikely to survive.

During its sixteenth-century ascension, European capitalist monopolism, as civilization’s new hegemonic center and form, was clearly aware that it would not achieve dominance without a similar effort. Money-capital (a form of capital that differs from agricultural capital and commercial capital, as well as from capital as an instrument of power), which until then had hidden itself in the cracks and backrooms of society, began for the first time to rise above society as a hegemonic force and gradually infiltrated its every pore.

The search for new method by Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon, and René Descartes, who had their roots in Christian, and, therefore, Middle Eastern-Sumerian, theology, was closely connected to this material hegemonic rise. The truth they were pursuing, whether in method or content, had a share in this new kind of capital and its hegemonic rise. As capitalist monopoly consolidated its hegemony, it also consolidated and perpetuated its ideological hegemony. We can only provide a scientific explanation of the new revolutions in method, philosophy, and science by looking at the transformative effects of these material conditions. No doubt, attributing everything to capitalism leads to scientific blindness and would fall into a trap and into the most vulgar reductionism. But if we ignore the importance of connections between them, the exploration of truth will be crippled and lose its value amid metaphysical narratives.

In explaining the concept of modernity, it is necessary and very instructive to take the formation of this methodology and truth into account. Modernity as a concept means time, the present. There are different moderns, depending on the age. From Sumerian modernity to Roman modernity, and even before and after them, there have been and are many examples of modernity. Who could deny that at a certain time Roman modernity was proudly lived in all centers of civilization? Are we not in awe when the archeological records tell us that the Sumerians and, even before them, Upper Mesopotamians presented perhaps the most spectacular examples of modernity in terms of time and scope? Could we explain these revolutionary material cultures if they were not charged with meaning?

When Anthony Giddens emphasized the difference between capitalist modernity and all other modernities, he contributed to explaining the truth to a certain extent.2 Obviously, it is possible to understand Giddens’s perspective; he is, after all, a child of English hegemony. To claim that capitalist modernity is unprecedented is a sort of debt to or worship of their country and the new God, the nation-state, required of any contemporary intellectual. His description of the three pillars on which capitalist modernity rests is quite instructive. But he separates modernity from capitalism and treats it as a superior category. As a result, he clearly adopts the “singularity” attitude that dominates the methodology of social sciences. He does not want to give any other kind of modernity a chance. If there is a modernity then it is unprecedented; two kinds of modernity cannot exist simultaneously! This is the mentality that dominates all schools of the social sciences, whether left, right, or center. No leftist intellectual, including Karl Marx, doubted the singularity of modernity or that this modernity was European. Center and right-wing intellectuals, the liberal intellectuals, were sure that it represented the last word of truth (how very similar to the “last prophet” discourse of medieval Islam!). It is only recently that different postmodern discourses have begun to surface.

Nietzsche’s critique of modernity is important. Religious critiques of modernity, on the other hand, are only possibly meaningful from the point of view of their own modernity (antiquity, which lags behind modern times). Michel Foucault’s assertion that modernity results in the “death of man” is important but insufficient.3 Real socialism, on the other hand, despite assertions to the contrary, never thought of representing a different modernity either theoretically or practically. While spokespersons for real socialism often claimed to represent a new civilization, they were referring to development and competition with capitalism in all areas. They thought they were closer to the basic templates and pillars of capitalist modernity (industrialism, the nation-state, and state capitalism replacing private capitalism) than capitalism itself, and thus declared it their primary task to overtake the capitalist system. The real socialist experiments, particularly in Russia and China, quickly proved to be the fresh blood needed by capitalist modernity. The primary goal of all of the national liberation movements, seen as the peak of success, was to catch up with the dominant modernity as quickly as possible, thereby achieving a happy life. No one really doubted this theoretical and practical orientation.

However, if the content and form of the last four hundred years of dominant modernity is examined, we will not only conclude that this is just the most recent manifestation of the times (modernities) of the five thousand years of civilization. At the same time, it will be easy to analyze once we see that they go hand in glove and are links in a chain.

With my defense, whether in this volume or in the two previous volumes, I tried to shatter this understanding of a singular universal modernity and to prove that an alternative to the dominant modernity always exists and, despite all attempts to suppress and disguise it, continues to exist in all its forms and contents as one side of a dialectical pair of opposites. Democratic civilization (given that civilization corresponds to the concepts of time, era, and modernity) may be inadequate as a name and could be criticized extensively. But when I considered the historical-society nature of society (Fernand Braudel’s approach to this issue was encouraging) and visualized the movements that represent the carriers of the history of clans, aşirets, tribes, peoples, religious communities, and similar communities, I could neither emotionally nor intellectually designate these movements as “barbarian” or as “religious reactionaries.” After I realized with a certainty that dialectics do not necessarily function through opposing poles bent on each other’s destruction, it was no longer difficult (as observed in the universal becoming) to establish that civilization is not a monistic but a dichotomous process in the (mostly) non-destructive dialectical development of historical-society. Although under very difficult conditions and poorly equipped, I have attempted to present my ideas in these volumes. What both amazes and infuriates me is that despite being fully equipped to do so, Eurocentric social scientists have not tried to systematize this dichotomous state of civilization as two different modernities.

Let’s take another look at what the three fundamental factors of Anthony Giddens’s modernity entail and what responses its antithesis, the concept of democratic modernity, offers.


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.”

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