The Mature Slave Society
It is of great importance that we see the state as a mindset and an institutional flow throughout history. Definitions of the state based on the assumption that states rise and fall, are quickly founded and destroyed, and are then newly built by another class or group, or that states are based on religious or national concepts, don’t bring us any closer to understanding this phenomenon but, rather, obfuscate it and tear it out of its context. It would be more correct and enlightening to regard the state as society’s most fundamental conceptual system and most uninterrupted institutional reality. The state can be compared to “a snowball” that grows continuously, sometimes freezing and at other times burning those around it. Since its inception, the state has both proliferated and diversified, but, in essence, it has never changed. Most importantly, the state has existed without interruption. It hasn’t ceased to exist for even one second. If there had been even a single interruption in its existence, this would certainly have led to its destruction, in a way comparable to the separation of the soul from the body. The body is unable to continue its existence once the soul leaves it, and the soul can no longer be returned to the body. In the same way, we can regard the state as an animate creature. Given its diversity and scope, the state can be compared to a genus. Just like animal and plant genera, it may consist of many different species of varying magnitude, but its basic properties will remain the same. This explanatory model is not undermined by the fact that some species can be described as better and some as worse exemplars of the genus.
When Lenin advocated the replacement of the “bourgeois state” by the “proletarian state,” he thought he was engaging in honest and accurate reasoning, but there simply cannot be a “proletarian” version of the state as a social form. Many since Spartacus have attempted this, but they have all failed. Even the Soviet experiment could not avoid collapse, despite the fact that it was carried out in roughly a third of the world. The main reason being that the state form exists essentially to serve the lifestyle of the oppressive and exploitative groups and classes. That is why it was created. It cannot provide the form for equality and freedom for those groups and classes who are subjected to oppression and exploitation. Not only is its essence not suitable, its form also contradicts freedom and equality.
Our snowball that began with the Sumerians has grown steadily. There is significant data confirming that other regions of the world, including China and South America, were also nourished by this model. Of course, they “enriched” it with regional material, but the primary inspirational source of the ideas and institutions remained the Sumerian priest state. Science generally assumes that this model served both directly and indirectly as “divine” inspiration. The scientific investigation of the details of this process is a task for historians. We, on the other hand, need to correctly decipher and explain the soul and substance of it. The primitive slaveholding model of the state that began in Sumer and Egypt continued through time and across space with the Hittites, the Medes, the Aztecs, and other smaller states, in Iran, India, China, Greece, and Rome, reaching its mature stage in the feudal form like a growing and proliferating example of a genus. The state has continued to this day to infiltrate the most hidden nooks and crannies of natural society, creating many new realms and turning subjugation and exploitation into a magnificent art.
What is meant by the so-called “art of politics and war” is actually the art of systematically killing and suppressing people, as well as exploiting them in all kinds of ways. The fundamental artistic forms used to prepare the basis of legitimacy for this “art” were mythology and legends, partially the content of the Holy Scripture, sculpture, painting, music, and other forms of culture and art. These arts were certainly not created by the slaveholding class, but it developed a particular ability to use them for its own purposes: the art of fundamentally transforming the human mindset. And they did this by using these basic material and immaterial instruments of life that humanity had created with enormous effort over the course of millennia. The system of slavery didn’t make any positive or creative contribution but only served to distort and deform. I want to draw attention to this, as it has often been falsely interpreted, even being presented in the name of freedom and equality.
Let me briefly summarize what the institution of the state already included when it arrived at the feudal state stage. When the Sumerian and Egyptian god-kings died, they had thousands of their female and male servants buried alive so that they could serve them in the afterlife. For the erection of each sepulchral monument they sacrificed hundreds of thousands by working them to death. While a corner of paradise was made for a group of rulers, the rest were treated worse than a herd of cattle. Their fundamental policy was to obliterate all the social structures, such as clans or tribes, that opposed slavery. Erecting towers and ramparts consisting of human skulls was considered a glorious deed. The art of premeditated killing—something totally unnatural—entered human society for the first time. Women were successfully locked in a cage. The natural dreams of children were impeded. People who wanted to live freely were left only the deserts, mountains, and forests. The slaves were transformed into economic means of production not only with their labor power but with all their bodies. Analytical intelligence was used to create a grand mythology based on lies.
As if naked violence and material exploitation of the masters were not enough, the masters also made the immaterial oppression and exploitation of the priests’ world of the gods the central element of belief and worship of the human mindset. Morality and the arts were now primarily used to praise and flatter them. In contrast to the understanding of a living universe, they filled the natural environment and human society with soulless and punitive gods who lived either beneath the earth or in heaven. While the masters never experienced even one day of scarcity, all other groups constantly suffered from illness and hunger. Even during their games and ceremonies people were killed for entertainment.
This overview could easily be extended. Slave states are known to us from historical records, and their remnants are still visible and present in our conscious. No state, big or small, without exception, has refrained from operating within this framework and adding to it whatever it considered necessary for the art of politics and the art of war.
Even a mere list of the deeds of the Roman and the Byzantine emperors would make it difficult for any normal human being to reconcile the resulting canvas of horror with conscience and reason, though the truth would be a little more elucidated. The designation of the slave state as “Leviathan,” inspired by the Holy Scripture, is only too fitting.
It is not necessary to investigate the disintegration of this social form of the state more closely here. We know, however, that it was severely weakened by resistance and attacks from the outside, by tribes, called “barbarians,” that still embodied features of natural society. Because of the resistance and the attacks of various tribes and peoples—among them the Teutons, Huns, and Scythians in the north and the Arabs and Berbers in the south—the centers of the slaveholding civilization, i.e., China, India, and Iran in the East and the two Roman Empires in the West, could no longer sustain their existence in the previous form. To call these groups “barbarians,” however, simply reflects the language of the slaveholders.
It is actually more correct to describe them as the fundamental revolutionary forces that created developments that are closer to freedom and equality. For our purposes, it is important to treat tribal leaders who tried to emulate the slaveholding masters separately from the mass of the people. Internally, the system of slaveholding society was undermined and could not be sustained due to gnostic religious currents, key among them Christianity, Manicheism, and Islam, which were primarily based among the poor masses and those who were striving for freedom. One cannot really say that these movements based themselves on conscious concepts of “freedom” and “equality,” but it is clear that, in essence, they wanted to free themselves from slavery. “Redemption” and “redeemer” are the most popular concepts. Jesus was called the “Messiah,” i.e., the “redeemer.” Mani was an apostle of peace and an opulence of colors. The meaning of the word Islam is submission to peace. The most important demands leading to the disintegration of the system were peace and redemption.
Because of the mentality of the time, these demands were inevitably formulated in religious terms and, therefore, could only lead to liberation and peace in a fairly limited way.
It is clear that gnostic religions, denominations, and philosophical schools that grew in the shadow of the empires would be affected by these systems, in terms of mentality, as well as politically and militarily. They would not reestablish a system of classical slavery, which, by this point, they knew well and had fiercely condemned. But it was not yet clear what to replace the old system with. Besides, many people who had artfully mastered the system of slavery were quite at ease with politically adopting the new religions and turning them into their legitimate base. As a matter of fact, Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor who came into office in 306 CE, did so on the basis of adopting Christianity. He moved the empire’s capital to today’s Istanbul and, with his Edict of Tolerance in 313 and the Council of Nicaea in 325, paved the way for Christianity to become the official religion. The religion that had fought against slavery for three hundred years now struck a deal with the slave system, much like Mani, who was protected by Shapur I, the second great king of the Sasanian dynasty. The more radical Mohammad, however, based his system primarily on Jewish and Christian theology and the legacy of the Byzantine and Persian Empires.
They all consciously took up the struggle against the classical system of slavery and succeeded in overcoming it. Nevertheless, they fell back into the general templates of the priest state invented in Sumer. They made them a little bit more flexible and transformed them into instruments that were at least bearable for humans. It did not even cross their mind to renew natural society under new conditions. In fact, they condemned this system, not the system of slavery, as “idolatry.” All of this should be sufficient to show that the new state phenomenon that will be encountered was no more than a refurbished version of the previous one. As for the barbarian communities that were closer to natural society, they had no choice but to accept a new state form that was more bearable, because their chiefs had long been involved in the system of slavery.
These radical changes in human history took place during the fifth and sixth centuries CE. There had been a similar process during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, when Buddha, Confucius, Zarathustra, and Socrates morally and philosophically opposed the classical mentality of slavery. The result was the development of more advanced forms of state in the social systems in Greece, Rome, Iran, India, and China.
In historical developments of this sort, Marxism attributes the decisive role to the means and relations of production. For Marxism, the struggle between mentalities plays a secondary role. Marxism also attributes too little significance to the struggle of ethnic and religious groups. This amounts to little more than a dogmatic interpretation of the dialectical method and is far from an integral understanding of history. Ignoring society’s massive mobilization, which can include mentality and politics, and interpreting reality exclusively in economic terms will inevitably lead to a flagrantly limited understanding.
If we don’t understand the mobilization of large communities and instead stress the role of technology and the structure of production as the force of change, we will fall prey to the ideology of the state without recognizing it. An interpretation of history that lacks an analysis of the great movements of religious and ethnic groups—clans, tribes, and peoples—will lead to serious errors and shortcomings, both methodologically and in terms of content.1 This oversight is the main reason that interpretations of history made by the Marxist method have been sterile and have led to erroneous results. While attempting to overcome the idealism based on the traditional exaltation of the upper society, they fell into the opposite trap of vulgar materialism, with an analysis of a very narrow class and economic structure.
Another historical and social problem relates to what we mean by overcoming the past. The law of development, substantiated by change in nature and evolution in biology, shows that previously existing phenomena continue to exist within later ones. So, for example, the fusion of two hydrogen atoms leads to helium. The hydrogen continues to exist in the helium. If the helium atom is split, the hydrogen reemerges. But the fusion into helium has led to a qualitative change; helium is an element that is different than hydrogen. We find something similar in biology with regard to the emergence of species. The previous species is, in a sense, contained in the emerging one. The change in societies is similar. The upper society carries the lower society within itself. The lower society does not, however, contain the upper society, because there is no new phenomenon. Thus, feudal society emerges as a consequence of the internal and external attacks on the slave system by adopting new elements, but it continues to carry with it many of the values of slave society. These values do not continue on in their old form; as a result of a synthesis with the new values, they take new forms.
The old is not superseded by being eliminated; it continues to exist in a different form. Thus, the Roman system of slavery was able to rejuvenate itself through the “fresh blood” of the barbarians and Christians. It is only in this way that one can apply dialectics to historical processes and come to correct conclusions that are not suffocated in dogma.
The transformation of the mentality against natural society continued to deepen in the feudal society system. Great developments have been achieved through analytical intelligence. Both religious and philosophical ways of thinking form the dominant mentality of the new society. Both ways of thinking once again became dominant within the transforming elements of the old society. Just as the Sumerian society synthesized the values of Neolithic society within its new system, feudal society synthesized the immaterial values of the oppressed classes within the internal structures of the old system and that of the resisting ethnicity in the periphery. In this process praxis is decisive. Praxis, in a sense, is the constituting entity of time, like a force. Time is praxis that is constituted.
The mentality renews its mythological qualities with religious and philosophical concepts. The rising imperial power represented the form of an evolution toward the greatest god, which represents the universal power, rather than many weak and powerless gods. In a mutually reinforcing process, what goes on in material life finds its counterpart in the mentality. The transition from polytheism to monotheism was closely related to this process. The thousands of years of state practice has now eroded the concept of the “god-king.” The East-West synthesis that began with Alexander the Great was also very important stage in this sense. Alexander, who was raised with the Aristotelian mentality, clearly understood what lay behind the idea of a god-king. He even lets the scribes in his entourage know how artificial he found the concept of “god-king.” Even so, to guarantee his authority he continued to benefit from it and declared himself a god and forced a resistant Athens to accept this. It is only with the epoch of the Roman emperors that the era of the god-kings cult would finally come to an end. When the emperor died, people would say that he had risen up to the gods, showing that the distinction slowly grew between god-kings and human kings.
The concept of “God as a Trinity” that was introduced by Jesus led to great historical contortions. The mentality revolution that began with Jesus is a great development that constituted a long transition period between the era of god-king and the era of human kings. While, up to that time, the kings had presented themselves as gods, Jesus, who was influenced by that culture but whose concern was the kingdom of Jerusalem, described himself not as God but as the Son of God. Actually, the concept “Son of God” in the Holy Scripture has profound sociological significance. Being the “Son of God” instead of being God is something new, while the “Holy Spirit,” in fact, signifies being from the lineage of God.
Jesus tried to reform that mentality he was born into, and in doing so he changed both the Roman and Jewish religious cults. The kingdom of Judea and the Roman prefect collaborated to crucify Jesus because of the revolutionary character of the new message. At the time, there were a growing number of poor and unemployed people. They and the lower clerics and officials took an interest in Jesus, which is to say, the Jesus phenomenon didn’t come out of the blue. It was connected to the Essene community, which played a significant role at the time. John the Baptist, who was seen as a prophet, named Jesus his rightful successor, and even before Jesus was crucified, John was decapitated. In brief, the system of slavery was in a severe crisis. The mentality revolution in the form of Christianity was the result of an evolution spanning several centuries. In a way, Christianity was very much like the Marxist, social democratic, or socialist movements of recent times. Its expansion followed well-trodden paths within the Roman Empire and in its shadow, so to speak. One can properly regard the Christian movement as the first and most comprehensive party of the poor in history. It was a movement that was based not on ethnicity but on humanism.
This was another way in which Christianity followed Roman cosmopolitism. In their resistance against the Roman emperors, the Christians’ most important thesis was the claim that the emperor couldn’t possibly be a god. “There is only God the Father, and Jesus is His Son.” This sentence was to bring about the collapse of the foundations of the Roman imperial mentality. However, what appeared to be a religious conflict was, in reality, primarily a political conflict. Through the work of the apostles and, later, the work and sacrifice of numerous men and women venerated as martyrs and saints, Rome’s immaterial mentality was conquered. With Constantine the Great the political conquest was complete. Christianity became the official religion of Byzantium, the newly created state. Throughout its existence, this state was to be the battlefield of enormous confessional disputes that remain unresolved to this very day, disputes based on the conflicting interests of different classes and ethnic structures. Theological research has yielded vast knowledge about the development of religions. Christianity emerged as a Jewish sect, whereas Judaism can be traced back to Abraham, an important representative of the prophetic tradition of resistance against the Sumerian and Egyptian god-kings and their rule. Moses led the exodus, an important departure, and this series continued, with important figures in the chain like David and Isaiah and on to Jesus, as was discussed earlier. Islam would be the last of its sects.
Even though the mentality component of the movements led by these prophets was the predominant feature, they also had a strong political society component. They were searching for a system that was less harsh and more bearable than the archaic slavery of the god-kings. They were all strongly influenced by Sumerian and Egyptian mythologies. Even so, they considered many of the fictions of the mythologies and the conception of god as obsolete due, among other things, to the influence of the times. They regarded a continuation of the archaic form of slavery as intolerable. Another of their goals was to give the formation of the merchant and the craftspeople more breathing room and to provide an autonomous space for the development of their class. They found the necessary ideological material in those very mythologies of yore. Since they came from the lower strata of the city populations, they also found resonance in the natural society in rural areas.
They resemble today’s petite bourgeoisie. Because of their structure, they were unable to develop a radically independent ideology. The ideology of such movements, it is safe to say, was and will always be eclectic. The mentality that they constructed is a sort of ideology of the middle class—an ideology that picks from both the upper and underclasses. They created their own system of mentality by adding upper-class concept of “class rule” to the concepts of “freedom” and “equality” drawn from the lower classes and the ethnic groups, turning it into a tradition and successfully transforming it into a different culture.
The Islamic version of this tradition gave more room to analytical intelligence. It completely broke with the claims of the god-kings. Islam didn’t see Jesus as the Son of God but as a prophet, a messenger of God. The distinction between God and humans is strongly and unequivocally emphasized. The most important claim for the Koran as Islam’s holy scripture is its universal conception of God. Its delineation of God is very abstract. In a sense, he is perceived as the energy of the universe. But the outweigh-ing aspect of this concept is its relation to the social. The unity of a state concept, which became more centralized and increasingly abstract, and the new abstract conception of “God” were closely related. With “Allah,” the development of “El” reaches the summit of perfection:2 this is Sumerian theology arriving at its final stage. With the existence of Allah, whose every word is absolute law, the adventurous journey of the gods, who began as mythological beings, comes to an end. Seen from that angle, it is understandable that Mohammad approached the concept of the last prophet as he did. Sumerian mythology had already been undermined to the extent that it was of no use to the new religions. It was now time for the development of the metaphysics of those times. The broader social practice had come to know nature better and has begun to scientifically define natural processes.
As a result, the mentality of the feudal system reached a point where a separation of worldly affairs and religious affairs could be postulated. It was more appropriate for the human mind to accept descriptions such as “representative of God on earth” or “shadow of God.”3 It had become difficult to inculcate people with the belief that a human was a god.
All of the more developed religions came to the conclusion that God could not be a human being, and that a human being could not become a god. From this point onward, nature was no longer explained with divine concepts but with rational concepts. Life in this world and life in the netherworld were thoroughly and carefully separated. All the same, the idea of a God who controls all human actions and who rewards good works and punishes bad deeds remained strongly in place. Actually, a reflection of the increasingly centralist and abstract state institution was intensely intertwined with the concept of “God.”
When Hegel, in his Outlines of the Philosophy of Right, written in the nineteenth century, said it “is God’s way in the world that the state should exist. The basis of the state is the power of reason actualizing itself as will” and, thus, described the state as virtually the embodiment of God on earth, he openly pronounced this fact.4 There was a close connection between the concept of the “state,” which to a large extent parted company with individual kings and became more abstract and attained a strong central structure, and a concept of “god” that moved from polytheism toward a single, powerful God with a stronger central position. Actually, in that sense, both Christianity and Islam developed the theory of a centralist state. Indeed, during Mohammad’s lifetime, we saw the development of both the Islamic state and the papal god state putting this theory into practice.
Feudal mentality’s renewal of concepts, as well as its dogmas on many different issues, was often intertwined with the old mythologies and Greek and Zoroastrian philosophies and morality, constituting an eclectic blend of all three. From their depictions of heaven and hell to their understanding of the universe, from good and bad deeds to angels and djinns, from forms of worship to juridical rules, the fundamental sources were Sumerian mythology, Greek philosophy, and Zoroaster’s morality of freedom.
This mentality played a dominant ideological role from approximately the fourth to the fifteenth centuries, retaining its dominance in the main areas of civilization. First, it spread to Europe and, from there, to all other continents. Its decline started in the early fifteenth century, when a new revolution of the mindset began with the Renaissance. Even today, one cannot say that the mentality of the medieval age has been completely overcome. In the Middle East, in particular, it carries on in many areas and in numerous disguises.
The political and military institutions of feudal state society were also the product of a process of maturation. The state was exuberant with self-confidence. It was the most sacred embodiment of God on earth. Its soldiers were the soldiers of Allah. The mask of holiness is fitted thoroughly. Politics was the first force, the clergy, the second, the military, the third, and the fourth was the bureaucracy. The basic institutions of the state were, by this point, well-established. Even though dynasties came and went, the state as an institution didn’t lose any of its value. What counted was not this or that dynasty but the institution itself. The same was true for individuals. The world was conceived of as the God-given property of the rulers. Servants were not only expected to agree with this but even be grateful for it. Wars were embroidered with the label holy. They were led in the name of the divine order. Even though humanity as a whole was addressed in terms of freedom and equality, loot and tribute were the main institutions of exploitation. In this respect, classical slavery was simply maintained. Their armies were organized in a more systematic and permanent manner. The transition from a military entourage to an orderly standing army as an institution had long since occurred. During the medieval period, armies were formed on the Persian, Greek, and Roman models and were qualitatively and quantitatively superior to their predecessors. The institution of knighthood was pompously in full flower, and the knight and the sword were military symbols of that time.
The bureaucracy was also institutionalized. Ministers and officials gained a fixed status, a distinction was made between the military and ilmiye classes.5 Taxation was fixed on sound principles, and communication-intelligence became widespread as an institution.
War came to be seen as a form of production. Conquests were important sources of profit. The conquest of new lands meant new surplus products. The most powerful state was the state that was best at waging war and conquering new areas. Neither greed for blood nor exploitation knew any limit. But the war in the name of Allah could only be concluded with the conquest of the whole world. This, however, was tantamount to universal and endless holy war. Eventually, the statist system couldn’t expand any further, which meant it was also incapable of any further maturation. It had reached its final stage of growth. That, in turn, meant that the institution of the state had reached its mature phase in the course of history. The subsequent phase could only be a stage of crisis.
In social life, being a servant was regarded as a natural, Allah-given state of affairs. Servitude is the state of life from birth, not something that occurs later in life. People were born and died as servants. A way of life other than servitude was inconceivable. There was Allah, and there were His servants, and, in between, there were angels and prophets, as emissar-ies who relayed His orders. Translated into sociological terms, this meant that Allah represented the institutionalized abstract authority of the state. Here, the angels were the army of public officials, while the prophets and the archangels were the ministers and top level of the bureaucracy. Society was ruled by a gigantic “system of symbols.” There was a close relationship between visible rule and symbolic rule. Without analyzing the relationship between symbolic and concrete rule, we cannot really reach a sound understanding of society. If we want to understand the rule of society in its naked form, we must lift the veil of the pantheon, the system of the gods, that obscures it. Then we will see how the true ugly and cruel face of oppressors and exploiters has been veiled for thousands of years in the name of sanctity. Social servitude is not just a class phenomenon. Apart from the despot—and even he was a prisoner of the system—everybody, all social classes and strata, was shackled by it. The system of subjugation was more effectively hidden than the slave-holding system. Mollifying it also meant that the system reached deeper. The basic paradigm of society was a system of servitude without beginning or end. From time immemorial and for all eternity—this too was more of a concept of the era of the mature state—this system has existed and will exist unchanged. Scrutiny and change only takes place in the afterworld. Not only was actual physical resistance against the system considered the greatest sin, so was spiritual or intellectual opposition.
For those who know absolute obedience best, servitude was the embodiment of virtue and perfection. The creators, who in natural society and in the age of the heroes of positive hierarchy best served the community, were condemned in the age of servitude as extremely dangerous to God, i.e., the masters. They were said to be sinful and fiendish, that is, devilish and satanic, personalities who needed to be punished. Actually, the concept of “devilry,” of the “pact with the devil,” was used against all of the groups that rejected slavery. With roots from the Middle East, this concept was applied to groups that resisted being integrated into the system. For that very reason, those among the Kurds who had not adopted any of the monotheistic religions and had remained true to their traditions of natural life were called “devil worshipers.” It is quite meaningful that this group of Kurds sanctify the devil as divine.6
The mature period of the servitude system regarded the world as a place of temptation and sin. Life was to be avoided. The maxim was: the more you want to live, the more you are bound to sin. The best way to live consisted of preparation for death in every way. This view regarded nature as dead matter that should not be approached at all, which made any creativity impossible from the outset. For servants, the conception of an animate nature was unthinkable. Actually, we can see the traces of terrible oppression and exploitation at the very beginning of this system of thought. This approach to nature is the main spiritual reason that even today the society in the Middle East cannot come to its senses. On the other hand, for the world of the masters there was a lively world on earth that was in no way inferior to heaven. They and the gods—who have the same name ( Rab means lord)—lived comfortably and satisfactorily like something out of the Arabian Nights. These tales are the mythological representation of the mature state system in the Middle Ages.
As for the situation of women held in a cage, the only change was the development in the way they sounded and the ornaments they wore. Their slavery was deepened and veiled to an incredible degree. In the Middle Ages, women experienced the second major cultural rupture of sexist society. The first major cultural rupture occurred at the time of the emergence of slave state, within the culture of the goddess Inanna (later, Ishtar).7 This can also be seen later: as the system reaches maturity, a cultural rupture against women occurs with Miriam, the older sister of the prophet Moses,8 and the Virgin Mary, the mother of the Prophet Jesus, as well as Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammad.9 However, it was not just that, in the end nothing remained of their divinity—rather, by this point, women were regarded as the closest thing to the devil. Even the slightest objection would see a woman declared the devil. She might at any time sell her soul to the devil or seduce men, in which case, she would be burned alive as a witch. In this culture of massacre, girls might be buried alive and women debased into sexual objects or stoned to death by a mob. For millennia, women’s most profound state of slavery within the society grew ever more complex, reaching unbearable dimensions. It is impossible to understand the level of enslavement in this system without analyzing the situation of women. The rings affixed to them, the bride price, and all the ornamentation were symbols of this culture of slavery. They are rendered thoughtless, as if their tongues have been severed. Dried-out mothers were like fields that the men could use as they wished. They had long since lost their status as agent-subjects and been turned into objects. No longer were there any traces of the goddesses of natural society. Nothing remained of the wise leader, the woman that all of the children, the youth, and the men revolved around.
The situation of the children and the youth was similar to that of the women. The general system of servitude deprived children of the soul of childhood before they were seven years old. Because of the extraordinary educational methods of the system, the years of adolescence result in total satellite personalities. All modes of behavior had already been conditioned. Freedom had become unthinkable, even as a word.
In general, we can evaluate this as a period when society was intellectually and emotionally obliterated. The only things that were heard were the roaring voice of the upper society with the sounds of “Allah, horseshoe, and sword.” All sagas and legends were some kind of a drama based on killing and conquering. This may sound slightly exaggerated, but it reflects the essence of the state of mind at that time fairly accurately. The archaic version of slavery was replaced by the more solid system of classical slavery. The state and the society it represented entered their highest stage, their mature period. All of the system’s fundamental concepts and institutions have now been established. Mosques, churches, and synagogues declared the sanctity of the system with their daily prayer calls and ringing bells. Even though the capitalist state that was to follow appeared to grow stronger, it would, in essence, represent the last stage of a social form that was entering a general crisis. As is well known, splendid pinnacles are generally succeeded by crisis-ridden phases of dissolution. This general law of nature is even more valid for social processes.
We did not use medieval concepts like “serfdom,” “the village,” and “the city” much, which is another possible form of conceptualization. We did not repeat the class analysis—its method and results—because it is already known. This method, however, might also clarify some facts. The serf, peasant, merchant, town-dweller, artisan, and those working in the arts and sciences can be conceived of as different segments of the society. It may be necessary to deal extensively with the land as a means of production and, thus, the property relations it was ruled by, as well as law that is developing. The land was the most important means of production. Conflicts and wars always revolved around the conquest of land, and the middle class grew stronger and developed the potential to play a greater role in social developments—all of which is worthy of more careful consideration. But since my goal here is an overall definition of the state, it seems more appropriate to provide an outline and only address in greater detail those aspects that are directly related to this goal.
It was mainly internal factors that led to the dissolution of the slave state system of the Middle Ages. Neither new attacks by ethnic groups from the outside nor attacks by new religions from the inside were necessary for its dissolution. The accumulated internal problems were sufficient. The uppermost strata of the ethnic group that have been incorporated within the borders of the state, the middle stratum of the rising bourgeoisie, and those who rebelled in the name of religious confessions and other peoples were the key forces that led the uprising against the monarchy, which was considered as the absolute state. The intersection of the demand of the ethnicity movement for a national state and the demand of the urban middle class, particularly the trade bourgeoisie, for national borders led to one of the greatest historical turning points: the rise of the national state and capitalist society. This process, which began around the fifteenth century and continues to this day, represents the final stage of the state as society’s superstructure. Because of the level of progress in both mentality and material technology, it became possible for the society to recognize the state form of organization—at least in its archaic and classical forms—as unnecessary, as an institutional process that is a hindrance.
The Capitalist State and Capitalist Society: The Crisis of Civilization
Lenin was right when he noted that in times of general crisis the issue of the state and revolution is a vital one. People expected him to provide an accurate definition of the state and society. The oppressed and exploited of the twentieth century believed in him as if he were a prophet. He was honest in his thinking and his actions, and he was very capable.
He did, indeed, come close to an accurate definition. Nevertheless, the state knew how to continue eluding definition, like a spellbound object, and frustrate Lenin’s intentions. It is as if the state, for all the prophets, sages, philosophers, and scientists up to this day, has presented something like a “quantum dilemma.” This dilemma says that if one knows the location of a particle, one will be unable to measure its time (or, rather, its momentum), and that if one knows its momentum, one cannot measure its location. After its discoverer, this principle is called the “Heisenberg uncertainty principle.” This could be a principle for the most advanced sensibility— knowing. I believe, indeed know, that the moment of knowing is when we take form. Since knowing and formation occur at the same moment, I could not find a remedy for half-knowing despite all my efforts. This is, however, a dilemma that occurs at the macro and micro boundaries of the universe. It makes itself felt in the most magnificent formations of the universe.
I do not believe that the state is such a phenomenon. Just as Engels ingeniously sensed, the day will come when the state is thrown onto the scrapheap of history like a dysfunctional tool that ends up in a museum.10 But the misfortune is that it is difficult to understand, because no one knows exactly who its real owner is or where and how it was formed, and because it assumes a completely different reality when it is owned. Thus, it appears similar to a “quantum dilemma.”
We live in capitalism. Even the motor of capitalism, the US, is now declaring a worldwide battle to downsize the state.11 In fact, the destruction of the ring in the Lord of the Rings that we mentioned above intends a critique of the extreme power that has become a major obstacle. At the same time, the US does not hesitate to wrap itself around the whole world as a state. This means that the problem of the state continues in all its intensity at the highest level of upper society. The situation of the other states that should be like provincial governors could probably not be better analyzed. It seems as if there is no government that doesn’t think of reforming the state in some manner. But, oddly enough, none of these reforms has any effect beyond exacerbating the crisis. The goal of the latest Middle East adventure is supposed to be a “Great Middle East Reform Project.” It is on the agenda of the whole world, but whether the ground covered will take us forward or backward, whether it will lead to some kind of solution or further deepen the deadlock, remains unclear. In my view, all these assessments and uncertainties stem from the same problem: we do not dare to define the state.
The situation of social scientists, whose task it would normally be to develop that definition, is no better than that of the Sumerian priests who tried to determine the fate of humans from the movements of the stars. Even though the horrible record of war and violence in the twentieth century outstrips several times all previous wars and acts of violence combined, some people don’t hesitate to produce whole filing cabinets of lies about so-called individual or organized terrorism, despite the fact that these are actually a by-product of the system. It seems as if all they do is to ensure that the state is not understood for what it is—organized violence. Even those who try their best to arrive at a definition of the state continue to grope in the dark. These social scientists seem to be unaware that they are shattering the totality of the factual reality in the name of “methodology,” and, thus, they are rendering it unrecognizable.
Interestingly, not having a correct definition of the state seems to be a problem even for the state itself. The state—which sometimes disguises itself and on other occasions makes itself attractive but also often intim-idates and punishes, thereby making itself unrecognizable—has become the basis of the social crisis. It is highly likely that this aspect of the crisis can be found everywhere around the world. The things happening daily in Lower Mesopotamia alone seem like the revenge for a cursed past. As if a snake were biting its own very long tail. Or, to use the language of the Holy Scripture, it seems like the Leviathan wages a struggle for its own annihilation at its place of birth by devouring its own tail.
Just like any other social system based on exploitation and oppression, capitalism could not arise without the state. The dogmatism of the archaic system of slavery was of a mythological nature, whereas the feudal system’s dogma was religious in nature. In the first, god is embodied in the king and his dynasty and, in the latter, god is represented—rendering itself invisible—in the abstract existence of the state. The respective mentality of each epoch necessitated this.
In the mentality of the Islamic world, science and philosophy would succumb to religious dogmatism at the end of the twelfth century CE. From then on, the door to the ijtihad was truly closed,12 and the templates of the dogmas besieged the mentality of society in the Middle East like a web of ignorance. Europe, on the other hand, would begin to lay the foundations of a historical revolution in mentality by drawing upon the legacy of the East and Ancient Greece from the twelfth century on.13
All the oppressive methods of Christianity notwithstanding, it could not, on the other hand, refrain from stoking the curiosity for knowledge. Since the memory of natural society and its remnants was still alive, overcoming Christian dogmas, which were very much open to interpretation, would prove to be as difficult as overcoming the Islamic community’s dogmas.
Just as the fresh memories of the natural society did not succumb to the Roman Empire, they would also not succumb to Christian dogmatism. Rather, this memory countered the Christian concept of “nature as dead matter” with an animated, hopeful view of nature. There are many theories as to why capitalism was successful in Western Europe. In my view, the most important reason was that dogmatism hadn’t so thoroughly taken root there, not having had the opportunity as it had in the Middle East. The Inquisition primarily targeted three groups: heretics (deviants from the denomination), alchemists (the vanguard of science), and witches (the remaining wise women). The very existence of these three groups was the antidote to dogmatism. It was from the ashes of hundreds of thousands of people burned at the stake that the mentality of the Renaissance emerged.
The birth of the capitalist social system from this process—one of the greatest revolutions in mentality—had nothing to do with fate; there was no certainty about the development of capitalism. So how did capitalism take advantage of this revolution and become the dominant system?
To answer this, we must take a closer look at the ways of thinking and belief that established a connection of linearity and certainty between revolutions in mentality and social systems in history. This way of thinking is nothing more than the reflection of the Levh-i Mahfûz understanding in the Holy Scripture to scientific thought.14 The dogmatic belief expressed by the people in the phrase “what is written will happen” shows how widespread this way of thinking actually is.
In all previous analysis, I have tried to carefully emphasize the connection between this understanding and the hierarchical statist will and its understanding of ruling. The goal of this approach is to instill in society a system of commands as divine law. This can be understood as a draft concept of “law and legislation.” This several thousand–year tradition led to the emergence of a linear development model that began with the golden age and ended with the last judgment and heaven and hell. Fatalism is a requirement of this understanding. There were heated discussions in the Islamic world between the representatives of the Levh-i Mahfûz and those of the Muʿtazilites.15 The origin of this understanding, which renders meaningless the necessity for freedom of discussion and a preference for multichoice free will, is much older. It goes further back, namely, to the time of mythology, when people believed that supernatural gods created and ruled everything, and continues as philosophical idealism. The form it takes in European civilization, beginning with the Renaissance and continuing into the present, is the understanding that progress is the norm. Both the strong Enlightenment belief in “progress” and the Marxist belief in the “inevitable development toward communism” have their roots in this dogmatic way of thinking.
Proven phenomena in the physics of subatomic particles, i.e., quantum physics, have broken the power of this way of thinking. The realization that neither natural nor social development follow a straight, uninterrupted line, but that development occurs within a chaos interval in the subatomic world that is open to multiple preferences, including the option of freedom, is one of the greatest intellectual revolutions of all time. Actually, we can achieve this way of thinking intuitively and speculatively, without the need for subatomic physics, because, without developmental power that leaves room for freedom of preference in all the events and phenomena in the world, it would be impossible to explain the infinite diversity of the universe and of nature as it has emerged. Diversity requires freedom, whereas the linear approach enforces uniformity and, thus, lack of choice. We are resorting to this scientific and philosophical way of thinking to facilitate a more creative approach in our effort to understand the process that accelerated from the fifteenth century onward and resulted in the victory of capitalism.
In short, the victory of capitalism was not fate; things could have turned out differently. We need to evaluate the causes for the success of capitalism more accurately. Marxism—which influenced all of us—declared capitalism and the preceding forms of society based on class divisions as “inevitable historic progress.” By doing this, Marxism, inadvertently and contrary to its own convictions and hopes, made an enormous contribution to the capitalism that it has so rigorously fought. The essence of what I want to articulate to the court in this defense is my conviction that there is no principle of inevitability in systems of society, even though the most fundamental modes of thinking, including Marxism, assert that there is. Regardless of whether they concern forms of upper society or the state, all claims about “inevitable development” bear the traces of the official propaganda of the last several thousand years. Under a scientific cloak, the old belief in fate lives on with a new name: “mandatory laws of social development.”
But the dynamics of social transformation work in a different way. They can’t be explained simply in terms of base and superstructure. All transformations are subject to highly complicated factors. The dogmatic interpretation of dialectical materialism that influenced a great many contemporary intellectuals did not correspond to reality, as evidenced by the dissolution of real socialism. All those who had pinned their hopes on this interpretation were gravely disappointed.
We would come closer to a solution if we were to relate the historical social systems to the ideological, political, and moral forms of struggle typical for the time in question rather than viewing it as the result of mandatory laws. Laws, in humans—as individuals and in a social matrix—are both very flexible and capable of rapid transformation. The strict laws that we find in physical, chemical, and biological phenomena are valid only in the realms of physics, chemistry, and biology. For other realms, human intelligence and society are the decisive factors.
Consequently, not anchoring humans and society in fatalistic understandings is of great importance in terms of the opportunity and likelihood of becoming free. Both prejudices in advance and fatalistic final judgments impede the dynamics of free creation. As for the social science, we must not lose sight of the fact that most of what social scientists say is the rhetoric that has been filtered down from the dominant social systems that stretch back thousands of years, has donned different masks in different eras, and fulfills its current stakeholder task in the guise of scientism.
In this context it would be helpful to look at the connection between the Renaissance—the revolution in mentality—that has gained great speed and depth since the fifteenth century, on the one hand, and capitalism, on the other hand. Two aspects of Western European society play a particular role in the emergence of Renaissance mentality. The weakness of state culture and fresh memories of natural society created favorable conditions for creative and free thought. Even the rigid dogmas of Christianity were unable to prevent these conditions. The knowledge and culture of the Middle East entering Europe as a consequence of the Crusades and the combined effect of the Greco-Roman culture coalesced with these conditions, making it possible to overcome Christian dogmatism. The emergence of Christian sectarianism in the thirteenth century played a role both as the cause and the result of these developments. The Dominican and Franciscan orders were noteworthy developments. During this period, similar brotherhoods, the Muʿtazilites and the Ishraqiyun,16 were being suppressed in Islam.
The contributions made by the new observations of the world provided by the geographical discoveries of this period were also quite important. These two developments, that is, the weakness of state culture and the memory of natural society, on the one hand, and the synthesis of the positive legacy of Christianity and Islam, with Judaism effective as the stem culture, with the Greco-Roman culture, as well as the geographic discoveries, on the other hand, gave rise to the Renaissance mentality. One can regard the Renaissance as the third greatest expression of the power of understanding in the history of humanity. The first one was the Neolithic mentality, which reached its zenith around 4000 BCE in the inner arc of the Taurus-Zagros mountain system. We know that all of the technical devices required by humanity for the transition to civilization were created during that period. The wheel, weaving, devices for working the soil, including the plough, large villages, the languages and ethnic structures that were becoming distinct, heroic epics—all of these created the wonders arising from the woman-mother’s great productive power. Goddess religion actually represents an exaltation of a great mentality and the blessing of women’s productivity, as is corroborated by all findings from that time. The root word star in Arian, the language and culture of the time, that sparked the emergence of an era, which still today means star in English, meant goddess at the time. In Kurdish, the language in the region, even today the exclamation ya star, which corresponds to the present-day ya Allah—by the strength of Allah—still expresses great astonishment, grandeur, and the strength of faith.
This is such an ancient creation that, even if in varied forms, it is still found in all languages of Aryan origin. You might say that the heaven on earth was first created in that mountain arc. Humanity experienced hundreds of “firsts” in production and social life. The musical instruments and rhythms of that time continue to envelop our souls with their most shivery and deeply staggering impact even today. Research shows that this culture spread to the lower courses of the Euphrates and the Tigris, the Nile and the Punjab valleys, and laid the base for the Sumerian, Egyptian, and Indian cultures that arose. It was, as such, the first link in the chain of civilization.
The second great mentality period occurred between 600 and 300 BCE on both shores of the Aegean. This is a stage at which the mentality of philosophy and science made a big leap forward against slaver mythology. This period is, therefore, also referred to as the “centuries of wisdom.” Western Anatolia can be thought of in the way we now think of Western Europe. It is the echo of the civilizational wave from the East lapping the Aegean coast. Here, the role that Christianity would later play in Europe was played by the ensemble of the Hittite, Median, Egyptian, and Cretan civilizations. Here too, among the factors that enabled the emergence of a new mentality were the absence of a deeply rooted state tradition, the strong presence of a culture of natural society, a fecund and beautiful natural world, and the existence of magnificent seas and islands. As excavations in Troy make clear that the extensive trade between East and West was also undoubtedly an important factor.
First and foremost, these two grand renaissances provided the foundation for the Western European Renaissance. Unless we understand the renaissance in the foothills of the Taurus-Zagros, we will not understand the renaissance at the shores of the Aegean, and without understanding the latter, we will, likewise, be unable to understand the European Renaissance. To go further: if we fail to consider the spread of the Neolithic Aryan revolution, culture, and languages that formed inside the same arc that encompassed China, Europe, North Africa, and the Caucasus from the fifth to the fourth millennium BCE, we will be unable to understand either the Neolithic communities that arose there or the subsequent formation of civilizations. To understand this history, in which the consecutive parts are interwoven like links in a chain, is of central importance if we are to comprehend the great mentality revolutions, religions, and social structures.
I emphasize these points, because for each European, and even for their grandchildren, the Greco-Roman era and the Renaissance come to mind when they think of the “civilization” and Christianity. But, actually, the developments in these areas were only a stop on the civilization eras’ sacred river that had been flowing for thousands of years, constantly hitting rock bottom, growing wider, paving its way forward, and exalting its upper ranks.
The most important features of Renaissance mentality include regaining the human soul that had been destroyed by the medieval period, a return to the world and to nature, which had been continuously vilified, a rupture with dogma, and a new confidence in human reason.
Since the time of the Sumerian priests, knowledge had been monopolized by the state and turned into one of the crucial instruments for strengthening the state’s power. Not only the surplus product and the most advanced means of production but also the most useful knowledge and those who held that knowledge were immediately transferred to the state institution. The new science was not allowed to create areas of free activity, because allowing space for free science would have meant a new society. It is in the nature of the slave state to regard such structures as a threat and to act against them, either to bring them under control or to eradicate them.
It is no accident that the Church’s Inquisition began at this point: when individuals began to attain their souls, they became free. Those whose free thinking led them to question religious dogmatism were condemned as heretics. The women who were tried as witches were those who carried with them a non-Christian identity. For their part, alchemists were looking for knowledge beyond what existed. These three currents were able to open a breach in dogmatism. When the art movements began to display the beauty of life, it spelled the surpassing of the mentality that saw matter and nature as dead. Painting, music, architecture, and literature began to reshape the content and form of the individual’s soul. An individual with a new spirit and a new way of thinking was a person who was lively and who could not be constrained by the existing mold. We will see later how, with this individual, the attempt was made not only to conquer a new land but nature itself.
This was also a time that served as a stimulant in conceiving new utopias. The old clothes no longer fit. Since the material conditions were not yet ripe for more far-reaching developments, the utopias had to remain within the framework of the existing system.17 People did not want to go back to the oppressive old world, but they also did not know exactly how to open the door of the new world. This pursuit would compel the search for a new philosophy and science. The greater the rupture with the old world, the more they enter the new one.
Nicholas of Cusa moved from religion to philosophy, while Copernicus pushed the door ajar, making way for the scientific revolution. Descartes laid the foundational step for the philosophical revolution, when he addressed the dilemma of matter and the mind, leaving God, at least provisionally, out of the picture. Galileo Galilei introduced the experimental method into science, thereby making one of the most important contributions to the daisy chain process of revolution. With Newton, the universe gained the power to be in motion according to its own laws, independently of God. The philosophical, scientific, and artistic revolution took root during the period stretching from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Even though the wheels of the Inquisition continued to grind on, Protestantism would deliver a further blow to the rigid dogmatism of the Church, making religion a private matter. The rupture with the Church was essentially a rupture with state power: on the one hand, the Catholic Church was the state, and, on the other hand, it provided the armor that surrounded and protected the feudal state. A state without the Church was unthinkable; the Church basically fought in the name of the state.
The revolution in mentality liberated the individual, which also meant the dissolution of servitude to the state. What superficially looked like a confessional controversy, in reality amounted to the destruction of the legitimacy of the state.
Developments in the eighteenth century increased the foundational base of the Renaissance among the masses. The revolution in mentality was no longer a new idea, a new hope, and the spirit of just a handful of people but had become the concern of a broad range of people. Like a new religion, including Christianity or Islam, it reached its own masses.
The existence of such a free mass of people in every Western European country posed a great threat to the Catholic Church (clergy) state and the states of the various kingdoms. It was no longer possible to use the Inquisition to deal with these masses. War was necessary. The Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), the Wars of the Roses (1455–1485), and the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) demonstrated this reality very clearly. Finally, the Catholic Church and the monarchies were defeated by the awakening European nations. With the English Revolution of 1640, the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution in 1789, the triumphant era of the national denominations and their states began.
If we want to resolve crises periods in a way that favors democratic tendencies, it is important that we rethink the current concept of “revolution.” Categorizing the European revolutions simply as “bourgeois revolutions” reflects the narrow class approach of Marxism; it is a gift to the bourgeoisie, all in the name of proletarianism. Undoubtedly, a dogmatic interpretation of dialectic materialism played a huge role in this development. If we regard this as the modern version of a belief in the Levh-i Mahfûz, a belief in fate, with history unfolding in a linear, predetermined manner, we may come closer to the concrete reality. We cannot analyze the extraordinarily rich content of the reality without overcoming this dogmatism, which I also experienced as a strong influence.
In none of the capitalist schoolbooks is there anything on the underlying ideas, theories, and programs of the English, American, or French Revolutions. Those who played their role in these revolutions never claimed to represent the bourgeoisie. The masses involved in these revolutions were mostly poor and wanted freedom and equality. It would be a huge exaggeration to even claim that the bourgeoisie played a decisive role in the movements behind the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. By and large, the rise of bourgeoisie as a class focused on the accumulation of capital through profit; this was its “total effort.” Undoubtedly, this class was aware of the link between the path to profits and the path to state power. Thus, it actively tried to influence and take hold of power but lacked revolutionary theory or practice, even in the narrowest sense. The objective conditions underlying the revolutions mentioned above were the product of a long evolution of history. The subjective members, the thinkers or political activists, did not advance a specific bourgeois revolutionary program; they didn’t even have parties. They were nothing more than a current, a tendency that was primarily sponsored by some of the rich, who were mostly defenders of feudalism interested in science and the arts. The prominent demands were generally humanistic and centered on the desire for a free and equal world.
All of the written utopias presented a social structure that was the opposite of capitalism. Given that, how is it that these thinkers and militants were regarded as bourgeois and their revolutions as bourgeois revolutions? Over the course of time, we know that the bourgeoisie, as is the case with every force that aspired to dominate, achieved this by either partially or completely attaining power. Hierarchical and statist forces have come to and lost power thousands of times based on the requirements of the art called “politics,” but the instrument suitable for exploitation and oppression continued to exist uninterruptedly. The most recent similar force to rise will not, it must be kept in mind, behave otherwise. All revolutions are the work of the people. Every now and then the old hierarchical statist forces also participate. They behave very intelligently and with great resourcefulness, particularly once the victory of a revolution is on the horizon. They are masters at exploiting the demands of the oppressed for their own purposes. We find similar efforts in all revolutions, successful or not.
For example, when Jesus planned his actions, he did not have the foundation of the Byzantine Empire in mind. Essentially, he opposed the cult of the emperor. In the end, however, the movement he gave rise to could not escape becoming an instrument of this form of state, which was the scene to the most scheming of emperors. Even Mohammad couldn’t escape becoming an instrument in the hands of the aristocracy in Mecca, which he had toppled with his ideas and action, in the founding of its empire, the “Umayyad Caliphate,” while murdering his relatives ( ehl-i beyt; people of the house). No one can claim that Mohammad planned to build a feudal empire. There are hundreds of similar examples in history. “Then,” one might object and say, “there is no revolution in which people have been successful.” I will address this issue thoroughly in the next chapter, showing that a different analytical approach is required.
At this point, it is sufficient to note that the efforts were not in vain, although it is true that the problem of power has not yet been resolved. The main purpose of this defense is to cut through this deadlock, and one of the most important lessons to be learned is that the social armor most difficult to pierce is the ideology of domination.
The demands for “freedom, equality, and fraternity” that were common to the European revolutions were at their core no different than the demands that have been raised against domination and exploitation since the emergence of hierarchy. Just as state power developed as links in a chain, the people’s oppositional movements also had their own history of development. These two dialectical phenomena are in a constant interaction rife with relationships and contradictions. It is very difficult to grasp fundamental social transformations, especially revolutionary processes, with abstract generalizations without considering this dilemma of social dialectics in their historical development, especially in terms of both their generalities and their respective particularities.
The nation and capitalist society are fundamental forms of European civilization, but they don’t necessitate each other. The formation of the nation and the configuration of capitalist society follow different logics. Even though they emerged at roughly the same time, this does not mean that they share the same logic. The fact that the bourgeoisie presents itself as the leading force in the nation is closely linked to its ideological, political, and economic goals. These links are “nationalism” in terms of ideology and “liberalism” in the case of politics and economics. Both are ideal weapons for influencing both the state and the people, but they are fictitious phenomena, nothing more than propaganda tools, and they are the primary tools used by the bourgeoisie to gain and retain power.
During the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment—the developments that transformed old Europe into the Europe we know—these propaganda tools played a very limited role. It was only in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that they wreaked havoc. The concepts of “proletariat” and “communism” employed by the oppressed and exploited were used in a similar way. But given the nature of these groups, they were less successful at mastering the art of power.
Revolutions as important breaking points and moments of restructuring in the transformation of societies cannot be realistically understood using the nineteenth- and twentieth-century “right-” or “left-”wing logic structures. It is, nonetheless, important to correctly define these movements, which made enormous sacrifices in the name of humanity. The importance of the need for redefinition becomes particularly clear when we consider the gigantic sacrifices millions of people made for the Soviet revolution, the way in which the Soviet Union dissolved, and the consequences of this. After two hundred years of blood, violence, and pain in the name of modernity, the horrors of World War II marked a particularly important turning point, after which at least a limited discussion of power, violence, and the ideological instruments that disguise them began.
Bourgeois reality, which is the basic class form of capitalism, needs to be understood in this context. Describing it as a new oppressive and exploitative class tells us nothing in particular but only enumerates the properties that are common to all ruling classes. The specific feature of the bourgeoisie is that it uses both individualism and analytical intelligence with maximum efficiency against sociality and, thus, has been able to dissolve the moral fabric that envelops society to a degree that no ruling power before it achieved. At the beginning of its dissolution, natural society was also strongly against the accumulation of value that was detrimental to society. Those who distributed the greatest amount of accumulated values were held in the highest esteem. People were aware of the dangers inherent in accumulation.
Unfettered accumulation was only possible with the presence of a special ruling power and the subsequent transition to a hierarchical society and the state. Accumulation initiated the process that both fostered the establishment of this power and made way for that accumulation to subsequently be used by this power. This is how the logic of the chain reaction came into existence. Those who accumulated the most were generally the ruling power. On close inspection, in fact, accumulation was nothing but a kind of theft from society, because value itself is not possible without society. The understanding found in natural society in this regard is, thus, correct, leading it to establish its most fundamental moral principle. Since the decisive agent of all values is society, there must be neither individual accumulation nor accumulation by any particular group without the consent of society—i.e., unless society has some self-interest in that accumulation.
Looting and the subsequent division of the spoils, an aspect of all wars, was the degeneracy of this understanding in class society. Those in power have adopted the principle of deprivation from the accumulation of value in order to weaken one another. They are infallible when identifying the fundamental source of power. The craftsmen and the merchants—prototypes of the bourgeois way of becoming a class—have existed from the outset in any civilization but have been seen as dangerous and, therefore, have been kept under control. This control was constant, and they could not escape frequently being plundered. The slave and feudal state powers based on land ownership always viewed the development of a third category besides themselves and the slaves—or serfs—with great suspicion and, therefore, always tried to keep them under control. Within the history of civilization, apart from the class of servants, they found all other formations contrary to nature. Until the emergence of the civilization shaped by the bourgeoisie, there was an established morality and worldview in this system. War and power followed fundamental laws. The equilibrium that had emerged was stable enough to prevail for thousands of years. Although violence and law were employed to rule society, both had only a very limited reach. Primarily, society was held together by its moral fabric. Even though the ruling power constantly eroded morality, this feature was maintained. The fact that the ruling power only represented a numerically small minority when compared to society overall also contributed to this state of affairs.
The emergence of the bourgeoisie as a class destroyed this far-reaching equilibrium. Both as a ruling and exploitative power, this class had such weight that it became unbearable for society. In order to rule and exploit, it had to exploit the whole of society. Marxism came to the correct conclusion that, as a result, it would be the last ruling and exploiting class. To ascend as a class, it had to continuously atomize society. To achieve that, the first thing it had to do was to tear down morality, society’s fundamental system of safeguard. Without tearing down the morality that was still based on a longing for the freedom and equality of natural society, capitalist society could not have developed.
Even though Marx and Engels’s remarkable formulation in the Communist Manifesto, according to which “the bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyl-lic relations” is true, this was not a revolutionary act; it was destructive and antisocial. To render society defenseless is not a revolutionary act but, rather, at most, a move that is anti-humanity.18 In the hands of the bourgeoisie, ruling and exploitative power is a cancerous tumor that has seeped into society’s core. It is not necessary to be a scientist to detect the connection between the widespread cancer, AIDS, or any other similar illnesses afflicting people and this social cancer. At a time when capitalist society was still at its very beginning, Hobbes defined the need for power, namely, the state, as a necessity “to prevent man from becoming a wolf to man.”19 But the shoe was on the other foot. Capitalism established its rule to turn the human being into a wolf to all others. In the modern era, humans have become wolves, not just to other humans but to all of nature. Which section of society or element of nature could this class, which strives to maximize its profit and accumulation, exempt from exploitation once in power?
Marxism has analyzed concepts such as “value,” “profit,” “labor,” “distribution,” “imperialism,” and “war” well, but understanding their function in capitalism within this framework is more instructive. The descriptions in the Holy Scripture of the “false Messiah,”20 who will arrive briefly before the apocalypse, are rather fitting for this class. No dominant social system has attacked and destroyed the foundations of society and the natural environment as extremely as capitalism. This class that transforms the nation into a site of racist nationalism and fascism, the domination of nature into an ecological catastrophe, and profit into enormous unemployment is now at a stage where it is beginning to devour itself. It is increasingly losing its specific properties and beginning to fall apart. It is this class, not the proletariat, that is enacting a counterrevolution against itself. A new social era cannot sustain this class reality and can only be established on the basis of its dissolution.
Here, I present but a few theses. Addressing some fundamental processes, including the incorporation of the previous systems into capitalism, how capitalism became a state, the way in which the sciences and the arts got caught up in power, capitalism’s development into imperialism, its uneven development, and its wars could fill a book and is not possible here. What is important for us is the logic underlying these processes.
The concept of “class” can also be extended to other dimensions. Its function in dissolving real socialism, its ability to transform national liberation movements and their states into its reserve power, and its capacity to use the social democrats are all important examples. Our currently dominant class reality is able to turn everything toward making profit by advertising even the most unnecessary of things in the realms of science and technology or in society. Sports and cultural events are used like opium. The rebelliousness of the proletariat and the intellectuals is eliminated, and they are made to beg for work from this new dominant class. It drains all that is sacred of its essence and leaves the Renaissance’s spar-kling and vivid image of the world to robotic gazes.
One innovation that capitalism brings to the power structure is the depth of its institutional character. Instead of connecting power to a particular person, capitalism switched to a system that binds people, parties, and even social systems to power, and, with this, the invisible, abstract character of power was developed. Ideology, politics, and economics now serve multilayered functions. With nationalism, derived from the concept of “nation,” entire nations are made to believe that power actually belongs to them. In essence, a nation can never hold power. Always and everywhere, only a minority within an ethnic group, a dynasty, or a nation truly holds power.
A system was created in which individuals hold power with those at the bottom being oppressed. An extremely poor husband in a family at the lower end of the social hierarchy can still see himself in the role of the “little emperor” in relation to his wife, and the wife, in a chain-like manner, plays this role in relation to her children. As for the children, what else can they do but play their roles in the same system once they are adults? The fact that the chain of achieving power is established in this manner is a feature of this system.
Like individuals, political parties are overly oriented toward power. Their main function is to bring the state to society and society to the state. Society itself becomes a state possession. Like an invisible god, the state lurks everywhere in society.
The mindset of power created by ideology is perhaps the greatest falsifier. The role of the “art of politics” is to convince individual groups in society that the state is theirs, and that it is necessary that they serve it, which essentially represents political demagoguery at its most developed. Politics is not just an instrument for taking power, as one might think. It is also an instrument to defend, expand, and perpetuate power. This is the role of politics, particularly against democracy. There is probably no other phenomenon that negates democracy as much as the art of politics, and this has been the case since the classical Athenian age.
The economy, more than ever before, has coalesced with power. The economy is run as a “political economy.” We are living in a time when there is almost no individual or group that cannot be brought into line using the economy as a weapon. The saying that there is no value or power that money cannot buy is the most popular slogan of this era.
The definition of the essence of holding power and ruling can be further developed in relation to nation-state. The nation-state is the contemporary form of what in earlier times was called the priest state, the dynastic state, or the religious state. None of these are anything more than signatures left on the essence of power. In the capitalist developmental phase, borders that delimit a common language and traditions are the geographic parameters for ideal accumulation. This is primarily to create a lucrative and profitable area for accumulation that is not about a sacred fatherland. For those in power, this area—cordoned off to external competitors—is ideal for securing their capital accumulation and consolidating their power. The birth of nationalism was a consequence of this material development. A new ideological veil was required as the religion of “worldliness” declined with laicism. The ideology of nationalism, with its connection to the phenomenon of the nation, developed rapidly.
Essentially, nationalism can be thought of as a more developed form of the ethnic “tribal” feelings of the past, that is, as a faith system replacing the prevailing ethnic sentiments and religion. When its proponents began to internally oppress and exploit ethnic, confessional, religious, and other ideological groups and to proceed similarly against social systems on the outside, nationalism assumed the concept of a “master race.” Where there was once a “true belief superior to all other beliefs,” now there was the “belief in the master nation or race.” Nationalism began to infiltrate the society that had once been enlightened by the scientific mentality, submerging it in darkness once again, as religion had previously done.
Just like the previous concept of “holy war,” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nationalist mentality offered the most useful legitimating instrument for mobilizing society for war and violence of all sorts. While the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the birth of nations, the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries was the period when nationalism spread like fire. The destructiveness of the age of nationalism, with state power reaching its apex during World War II, simultaneously marked the beginning of the general and final crisis of capitalism. It became clear that nationalism and humanity cannot coexist. The system going into crisis early on did not simply mean that it lost power. It raised the risk that it would be even less likely to adhere to the established rules and would grow even more aggressive.
The revolts of 1968 represented the most comprehensive critique of the system. Capitalism—whether in the form of real socialism or fascism—reached an understanding of an all-encompassing authority, and, thus, proved unsustainable. Unsustainability means crisis, and this is exactly what humanity is living through right now. This period, which could simply be called chaos, is different from the Renaissance. While the Renaissance represented an exit from the crisis of feudal society, in the 1970s, capitalism entered a period of chaos. The innovations and diversity that will result from this chaos will depend on both the nature and strength of the struggles waged. One very remarkable thing is the fundamental shift in the worldview—the paradigm—that has accompanied this period. The unraveling of all moral values at the core of society, the massive growth of a nationalism that has infiltrated every mentality, and the consequences of ecological destruction, which have spread and created a robotic sameness, a gray, zest-less, hopeless, faithless, and aimless worldview. The dominant psychology and social atmosphere of the crisis is characterized by stress, anger, hatred, violence, extreme compulsiveness, individual loneliness, social worthless-ness, and a relationship logic totally locked into self-interest, infidelity, disinterest in humanism, extreme selfishness, and the increasing loss of any sacred meaning to life. Radically new quests only appear under such circumstances. The perpetual nature of the crisis makes this necessary.
For the first time in history, the imperialist system and the oppression of nations and classes by capitalist rule became so comprehensive that it engulfed the world. By the end of the nineteenth century, there was no longer anywhere on the map that was not occupied. With this, domination, assimilation, and even genocide on national, class, ethnic, religious, and sexual grounds became more widespread than it had ever previously been. It was the beginning of a time when humans were nothing more than wolves to other humans. Viewed in terms of imperial practice, the United States of America represents an ultimate stage. We are in the final imperial era.
From a theoretical point of view, imperial rule took the following course: state power surpassed the limits of a city, a country, or a nation; it was concentrated in one person, continually expanded, and then came to a standstill, regressed, and collapsed. Its establishment in the social system led to a chain reaction, with every new power forced to establish its empire on the remnants of the previous one.
As far as we know, this historical continuity began around 2350 BCE with the Akkadian dynasty in Sumer and continues today with the Bush dynasty in the United States.21 It is interesting that the last empire is now involved in a conflict in a part of the world where the first empire once emerged. We can think of the principle of plants drying out at their roots.
In an empire, there can be no completely independent states, nations, or societies—or, rather, complete independence can be idealized, but it is very rare that it can put it into practice. The prevailing reality is dependence on the dominant empire. This dependence can play out on various levels, but that does not change the fact that it is always present.
Within the empire, which has exerted influence on the social structures for around 4,350 years, many ruling groups, small or large, from the closest ally to the most unimportant satellite state, have been directly or indirectly dependent on the hegemonic state and are in a state of dependency within their own existing borders. This is also true in the era of the allegedly independent national states—which are all actually controlled by an internal minority.
To influence society, nationalism promises complete independence from the hegemonic power; this is its political assertion and the core of its game. To be a hegemon is to have the most influential mentality, power, social and economic structure, and science and technology, as well as the greatest military strength. Because the US meets these criteria, it is today’s primary hegemonic power, which means it is also one of the most problematic aspects of the entire systemic crisis, the way the crisis is managed, and the way it will conclude.
It is very instructive to analyze the social characteristics of the system, particularly with regard to women. However, it is important to clarify from the outset that there are serious drawbacks to examining any social phenomenon by making distinctions like political, social, economic, cultural, etc. Societies that are constantly being constituted within a historical whole have all of their base and superstructure systems work as a whole, like parts in a clock. The disease of excessive fragmentation stems from Western science’s loss of fact-based integrity. As we make use of this approach, which makes grasping the truth scientifically difficult, it is of utmost importance not to ignore the totality. Women should be regarded as an epitome of the whole system and analyzed accordingly. Just as capitalist society is the continuation and apex of all previous exploitative societies, women experience the apex of the enslaving effects of all these systems. Without understanding how women have been shaped by the oppressive and exploitative grip of the oldest and most concentrated hierarchical and statist society, we cannot correctly define society. The correct understanding of ethnic, national, and class slavery is only possible if the enslavement of women is correctly understood. A limited amount of research on the topic, always very studiously ignored by social science, was conducted in the final quarter of the twentieth century when it was no longer possible to ignore it. Both the feminist movement and the horrific destruction of the environment by rulers and their wars has drawn our attention to the sexist character of the history and domination. This alone shows us the sexist nature of science as a whole, including the social sciences, which, in theory, ought to be the most neutral. Science is sexist.
We will defer the positive interpretation of women to the next section. Let us first ask what kind of change capitalism has brought to traditional enslavement. First, we must assert that it would be contrary to the essence of capitalism to bring freedom. The claim that capitalism has broken women’s chains by abolishing the old traditions is a massively misleading distortion.
To be sustainable, an oppressive system’s relationship to freedom is a matter of coarser or subtler methods. The women praised in love poems and the women who are subjected to the harshest and ugliest slavery are one and the same. Women are like canaries in cages—houses under the domination of men. She may be cute, but she is a captive. Just like a bird will immediately fly away given the opportunity, there is no turning back on the part of a woman once she begins to become conscious of her situation. If she knows that she can go somewhere that offers her freedom, there is no house or palace, no wealth, no power, and no individual that she cannot escape from. Women have the potential to break away from it all. No other creature has ever been condemned to a captivity as complete as that of women. By captivity, I mean suppressing and destroying the objective and subjective conditions for free development. The failure of all previous social analyses, the frustration of all their plans and programs, and the emergence of inhumane developments are all related to women’s level of slavery. Therefore, without ensuring a solution to women’s enslavement and guaranteeing women’s freedom and equality, no social phenomenon can be competently resolved, nor can equality or freedom be achieved.
If we regard women’s physical appearance, which has been commodified as the result of being integrated into the system by capitalism, we may come closer to reality. We know that during classical slavery, it was primarily women who were bought and sold in the slave markets. In feudal slavery, this continued extensively in the form of concubinage. What is sold here is the woman as a whole. The bride price and political rentier are forms of this process that have found their way into the family. Capitalism, however, like a butcher, has divided the body into pieces, and each piece has been given its own price tag.
From head to toe, from chest to waist, from stomach to sexual organ, from shoulders, knees, back, thighs, eyes, lips, and cheeks to neck, no part of a woman is left unevaluated. Unfortunately, no one asks whether she has a soul or not, and, if so, no one thinks of what it is worth. In terms of her brainpower, she is the eternally “insufficiently intelligent.”
Women are the commodity that gives pleasure to both the private and the public houses.22 They are the baby-making machines. Nothing is more difficult than giving birth to children, but it does not count as work. Even for as demanding a job as raising children, there is no remuneration. In all of the important economic, social, political, and military institutions, women are at most symbolically represented, but they are indispensable material for advertising. They are the only creatures whose sex is so frequently turned into a commodity and offered on the market. They are the target of most cursing and abuse. They are widely instrumentalized in the lie called love. There is always someone interfering in whatever they do. They are an identity for which there is a unique language and particular way of speaking—the womanly way. They are humans with whom one cannot be friends in a human way. The woman is the human being whom even the most decent man wants to pounce on. Women have become the objects over which every man regards himself as an emperor.
One could continue enriching the definition. The interesting thing is that the male dominant society continues to hold the belief that life with such an identity, inscribed with so many negative properties, is easily lived. This is because women are regarded as thoroughly domesticated slaves. Nonetheless, it is difficult and humiliating for any man with a scrap of honor to live with someone who has been organized to such negative ends. Plato has been criticized for excluding women from his concepts of “state” and “society,” but this was a consequence of this humiliation. There are many philosophers who can be interpreted similarly. Nietzsche, for example, also wrote that living with someone with these characteristics definitely corrupts a person. Why, then, is there such a strong lust for women in all societies? Because these societies are debased, and because the men in them are also debased. This is because slavery is contagious. Such a useful slave would surely be the most sought-after partner for people accustomed to slavery. Birds of a feather flock together. For this reason, the ruin of women is simultaneously the ruin of society, and the debasement of men.
In short, as long as social phenomena concerning women are not sufficiently elucidated, as long as there is no unity of the free mother-woman of natural society with the free and conscious womanhood of class-based civilization, there can be no equal and balanced life partners. In any case, such unity cannot be achieved if its equivalent masculinity is also not restructured in a similar manner.
In the social realm, we can observe how capitalism creates and rules over many different phenomena, particularly in the areas of men, family, work, civil service, education, health, and the law. A thumbnail definition of the family would be: the basic institution of hierarchical and statist society. This hearth is the stem cell and the smallest molecule of this system. The “little imperator” in the family is a reflection of the imperator at the top. It is the worksite that most reflects the slavery of society.
Slavery in the family is the main guarantor of slavery in society. The system reproduces itself daily, even hourly, in the bosom of the family. The family also carries the greatest burden. It is hierarchical and statist society’s obedient donkey; mount it, and it will carry you. Because of the close connection between the two, the general disintegration of the capitalist system has most strikingly projected itself on to the family.
It is superfluous to talk about capitalism’s economy. Capital itself is the core of the economy. It is the most abusive, brutally competitive system and is willing to risk anything for profit. There is no social phenomenon that hasn’t been turned into a commodity. However, turning society into a commodity means society is to be disposed of. Such a society represents a system whose life span has expired, and, therefore, it needs to be ended.
The system tries incessantly to extend its life, using science and the arts. But the goal here is not to foster science, technology, or the arts; it is all about the system’s survival using the extraordinarily advanced power of science and the arts. This calls to mind the situation of a sick person approaching the end of their life, with science and technology mobilized to cure that person. Science and the arts mostly play an indispensable and decisive role in the construction of new and habitable systems when faced with these processes of the system and the pursuant chaos.
The historical significance of capitalism rests on the fact that it is the last of the dominant systems. The system, whose pores descend from early hierarchical society, was able to take advantage of the freer environment opened up by the Renaissance to become the dominant system and express its full potential. At this point, however, it seems unlikely that it can continue to develop in any significant way in either essence or form. There is nothing in society or nature that it hasn’t abused. What has been done, however, is entirely quantitative and nothing more. Society endures such extreme manipulation because of the unprecedented use of violence—including the use of the atomic bomb. No other system has ever been so intertwined with violence and war. Both society and the individual are tossed around like a bull rider at the rodeo; there is no forward movement, only up and down. If the present social conditions are not overcome, the individual’s search for the new, for hope, for finding their orientation, and for becoming a creative talent will stagnate and wither. The system’s state citizenship is in dissolution, both in terms of meaning and of structure.
There are no “new” territories or societies in this world of ours that could overcome US-led capitalism in terms of its scheme. Europe is in the process of self-critically assessing the huge devastation of the system, and this will be the case for some time to come. Latin America has neither the historical nor the social conditions to become like the US. The fate of the countries on that continent depends on what happens to the US. The situation in Africa is similar, with Africa even further behind. On the west coast of the Pacific, China and Japan can, at best, help the US maintain the system. They have neither the assertiveness necessary to develop a new and creative form of capitalism nor the conditions necessary to do so. They may, however, be existent capitalism’s best practitioners. Russia—the former Soviet Union—has strategically accepted its defeat and has adopted progress based on receiving US aid as its new policy.
What remains is the troubled region of the Middle East. It is no coincidence that the Middle East, given its geographic location and culture, is a source of difficulty for the system. The stem cells of society lie in the Middle East, the roots of those who once founded civilization and of those who would maintain it. Their gods are from the Middle East. Sooner or later, the son returns to his father’s house to settle old scores. With the Greater Middle East Initiative, this role befitting the US mission has now entered the phase of implementation. Relations and contradictions, which will become more intense, will determine what emerges from the chaos. Even today, one could say that the situation in the Middle East reflects the system moving from its late phase toward its unraveling. Therefore, what is happening is very important and must be correctly analyzed. These are areas where the breaking points of contradictions and the chaos is at its most concentrated. Such areas mostly play the role of a womb and the cradle of the new. Will the ruins of the Sumerian priest temples now be the grave of the civilization they gave birth to?
1 The use of the term “ethnic” might be considered as problematic, as it has come to be used almost synonymously with “race” in expressions such as “ethnic cleansing.” The author uses “ethnic” in the sense of “autochthonous.” Here, it is not the relation to a certain location that is important but the organizational form that lies somewhere between the tribal society and societies organized in the form of the state.
2 El is an old Semitic word for spirit which underwent an evolution from the Elohim of Abraham to Ilah, and then to Allah, see Abdullah Öcalan, Sümer Rahip Devletinden Demokratik Uygarlığa: AİHM Savunmaları I. Cilt I. (Neuss: Mezopotamien Verlag, 2002); in English, see Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilization (London: Pluto Press, 2007).
3 “Shadow of God, ” or zillullah, was one of the designations of the caliph.
4 G.W.F. Hegel, Outlines of the Philosophy of Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 233–34.
5 The ilmiye was one of four institutions that existed within the state organization of the Ottoman Empire, the other three were: the imperial ( mülkiye) institution; the military ( seyfiye) institution; and the administrative ( kalemiye) institution. The function of the ilmiye was to propagate the Muslim religion, to ensure that Islamic law was enforced properly within the courts, as well as to ensure that it was interpreted and taught properly within the Ottoman school system. The development of the ilmiye took place over the course of the sixteenth century, absorbing the ulema, the educated class of Muslim legal scholars in the process.
6 This refers to the religious community of the Yazidi. The charge that they were devil worshippers was mostly made by Muslims who hoped to defame and discredit them. Actually, the Yazidi believed that God later forgave the fallen angel and brought him back to the place by his side.
7 In Sumerian mythology, the goddess Inanna chose her lovers and consummated the sacred nuptials with them. It was through the act of love that the earth became fertile again each year.
8 Miriam was herself a prophet (Exodus 15:20). She criticized Moses (Numbers 12:1) on the grounds that God also spoke to her and to Aaron. God, however, clearly places Moses above Miriam and punishes her with leprosy (Numbers 12:10–14). Miriam’s fate is seen as a warning not to transgress against the priestly orders (Deuteronomy 24:9).
9 There was a great controversy around Aisha, because she became enmeshed in a situation that gave the appearance of infidelity. Ali, therefore, demanded her execution.
10 “The state, therefore, has not existed from all eternity. There have been societies which have managed without it, which had no notion of the state or state power. At a definite stage of economic development, which necessarily involved the cleavage of society into classes, the state became a necessity because of this cleavage. We are now rapidly approaching a stage in the development of production at which the existence of these classes has not only ceased to be a necessity, but becomes a positive hindrance to production. They will fall as inevitably as they once arose. The state inevitably falls with them. The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong—into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax”; Frederick Engels, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,” in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977), accessed November 1, 2021, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/originfamily.pdf.
11 See Immanuel Wallerstein, Utopistics or Historical Choices of the Twenty-First Century (New York: New Press, 1998).
12 In Islam, ijtihad is the name of an independent religious-philosophical discussion to find the solution to questions of law. From the eleventh century onward, it was massively limited by conservative imams, particularly Imam al-Ghazali; see Öcalan, Sümer Rahip Devletinden Demokratik Uygarlığa, 277.
13 The return to the Greek philosophy, known as “classical philosophy” since then, was a result of the engagement of Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and others with its Islamic interpretation. Thus, in the thirteenth century, the texts of Aristotle, for example, were translated into Latin, not from Greek but from Arabic.
14 The Levh-i Mahfûz, Arabic for the protected tablet, is the divine Islamic book where all that has happened and will happen is written.
15 The Muʿtazilites are an unorthodox current of Islam that believes, among other things, that humans are in the possession of free will.
16 The Ishraqiyun are an Islamic current, which is also called “illuminationist ( ishraqi)” philosophy, that can be traced back to the philosopher Suhrawardi (1153–1191).
17 For example, there is also an open form of slavery in Thomas More, Utopia (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997 ).
18 The preceding sentence is: “The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary role”; Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, vol. 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969), accessed July 8, 2021, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf.
19 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (London, Oxford University Press, 1909 ), accessed July 8, 2021, http://files.libertyfund.org/files/869/0161_Bk.pdf.
20 In the Revelations (13:11) of St. John, this false messiah is an animal with two horns like a lamb that speaks like a dragon. Later on, it is called a false prophet (Revelations 16:13). The Islamic tradition refers to the Dajjal, the false messiah who will deceive the world. The Dajjal is not, however, mentioned in the Koran.
21 This was written in 2004, while George W. Bush was in power.
22 This is a Turkish play on words. In Turkish genelev euphemistically means a brothel and literally means a public house, whereas özelev means a private home and refers to the institution of the family.