SIX – The Emergence of the Social Problem
6.1 Defining the Problem of Historical-Society
6.1.a The First Major Problematic Stage of the Monopoly of Civilization
6.1.b From Rome to Amsterdam
6.1.c Eurocentric Civilization’s Hegemonic Rule
6.2 Social Problems
6.2.a The Problem of Power and the State
6.2.b Society’s Moral and Political Problem
6.2.c Society’s Mentality Problem
6.2.d Society’s Economic Problem
6.2.e Society’s Industrialism Problem
6.2.f Society’s Ecological Problem
6.2.g Social Sexism, the Family, Women, and the Population Problem
6.2.h Society’s Urbanization Problem
6.2.i Society’s Class and Bureaucracy Problem
6.2.j Society’s Education and Health Problems
6.2.k Society’s Militarism Problem
6.2.l Society’s Peace and Democracy Problem
7.1 Definition of Democratic Civilization
7.2 The Methodological Approach to Democratic Civilization
7.3 A Draft of the History of Democratic Civilization
7.4 Elements of Democratic Civilization
7.4.b The Family
7.4.c Tribes and Aşirets
7.4.d Peoples and Nations
7.4.e Village and City
7.4.f Mentality and Economy
7.4.g Democratic Politics and Self-Defense
EIGHT – Democratic Modernity versus Capitalist Modernity
8.1 Deconstructing Capitalism and Modernity
8.2 The Industrialism Dimension of Modernity and Democratic Modernity
8.3 The Nation-State, Modernity, and Democratic Confederalism
8.4 Jewish Ideology, Capitalism, and Modernity
8.5 The Dimensions of Democratic Modernity
8.5.a The Dimension of Moral and Political Society (Democratic Society)
8.5.b The Dimension of Eco-Industrial Society
8.5.c The Dimension of Democratic Confederalist Society
NINE – The Reconstruction Problems of Democratic Modernity
9.1 Civilization, Modernity, and the Problem of Crisis
9.2 The State of Anti-System Forces
9.2.a The Legacy of Real Socialism
9.2.b Reevaluating Anarchism
9.2.c Feminism: Rebellion of the Oldest Colony
9.2.d Ecology: The Rebellion of the Environment
9.2.e Cultural Movements: Tradition’s Revenge on the Nation-State
9.2.f Ethnicity and Movements of the Democratic Nation
9.2.g Religious Cultural Movements: Revival of Religious Tradition
9.2.h Urban, Local, and Regional Movements for Autonomy
The Reconstruction Problems of Democratic Modernity
The most tragic aspect of modern revolutions is that they are the victims of the modernism that they contribute to. These revolutions, whose common failure is the inability to analyze their relationship and contradictions with modernism, thought they could nonetheless successfully pursue their objectives. Therefore, these revolutions, with their utopian content, could not but disintegrate in the ice-cold calculations of modernity. The general conclusion to be drawn from the five thousand years of civilization, particularly the last four hundred years of modernity, is that the main factor behind the failure of all of the resistance and every revolution has been an inability to distinguish themselves from the system they opposed and establish their own system. They evaluated civilizations and modernity using a monist approach and regarded them as synonymous with the universal life that must be adhered to. Although countless resistance movements destroyed various civilizations, the success was followed by the formation of a new version of the previous civilization.
Here we encounter civilization’s source of power. With very few exceptions, people—including the greatest of revolutionaries—are children of the civilization of their time. Their real parents are the era they live in. I do not mean this fatalistically; I simply want to emphasize that whether it is a question of five thousand or four hundred years, if this fundamental error is not overcome, even revolutions with the most radical of discourses and actions will be unable to avoid failure. We cannot say that social resistance and revolutions have not left a legacy. If that legacy didn’t exist, our lives wouldn’t make sense. However, even the crisis of highly self-assured capitalist modernity proves that we are nowhere near getting to the root of the problems and solving them. Just because it has endured for a long time does not make an error less wrong or stop a problem from being a problem. As long as this is the case, dreams of equality, freedom, and democratic life will remain utopian.
As I settle accounts with the history of civilization and modernity in my defense writings, I am also engaging in a profound self-criticism and trying to present my own alternative, no matter how insufficient. To be consistent, I must do this. Eurocentric social sciences show no such consistency. We still talk about an unprecedented era of science but are unable to overcome the savagery of war! Under such circumstances, it is illegitimate to use the weapon of scientism to criticize the ancient times. It is necessary to pursue a legitimate science, and that is the point of my efforts.
What I said about civilization and modernity should not be considered an exaggeration. There can be no doubt that when the prophets used the word of God to criticize the orders of Nimrod and the pharaoh they were being entirely sincere. But those who thought that they were walking in the footsteps of the prophets have always, in the end, built new orders of Nimrod and the pharaoh that outdid the previous ones. You can see the power of these civilizations in the way the sultans, shahs, and monarchs have fallen prisoner to the same order. Good intentions and the belief that you follow in the footsteps of the prophets will not spare you from being subjected to the system of Nimrod and the pharaohs.
Marx, Lenin, and Mao were sincere when they grappled with capitalism. In fact, they totally believed that they had built socialism. But soon enough the results showed that the structure they had built was not so different from capitalism. Here too, it was the new civilization, i.e., modernity, that was influential. Their superficial evaluations of capital were not enough to develop socialism. An analysis of modernity was missing. The positivist worldview that they were deeply submerged in presented modernity as the most holy form of reality. Not only did they not criticize it, they thought they could perfect it. The consequences are obvious. The domino effect of these historical errors means that even the noblest and most holy objectives cannot escape being instrumentalized to serve the ice-cold calculations of civilization and modernity.
Although postmodernism was one of the first serious critical movements to arise in response to capitalist modernity’s unsustainability, it was far from providing an alternative. Its eclectic and obscure structure didn’t even allow postmodernity to successfully distinguish itself from classical modernity. Similar efforts by the nineteenth-century Romantics effectively stopped at literature. Critiques of modernity, especially those of Friedrich Nietzsche toward the end of nineteenth century and of Michel Foucault in the second half of twentieth century, are invaluable, but they were unable to get beyond being individual efforts and give rise to a collective moral and political current. More current efforts, including the analysis of civilization and modern systems undertaken by Fernand Braudel, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Andre Gunder Frank and his close colleagues, have treated the topic more realistically and critically within the totality of historical-society but have not been as adept at offering an alternative. Civilization and modernity are regarded as closed cyclical systems that inevitably exist, and in spite of the comprehensive criticism, thoughts about possible alternatives never went beyond a few sentences. We can understand why Nietzsche went mad and Foucault’s untimely death. But we don’t understand how Fernand Braudel thought real socialism was an alternative, how Immanuel Wallerstein was content with the concepts of equality, freedom, and democratization, or how Andre Gunder Frank felt an extremely general discourse about “unity in diversity” sufficed. These shortcomings amount to admitting that they are not completely free of the chains of the Eurocentric science that they have criticized so well.
My critical analysis of the subject and my proposals for an alternative within the scope of my defense may seem like an individual adjudication of the center of ancient civilization and its present representative, capitalist modernity, and that is true in a sense. However, I think that if people are unable to analyze their own convictions they will not be in a position to attempt to formulate a sound science. I am not narrowly addressing a prison sentence; I am talking about a general social conviction that has been imposed on free life by the civilization and modernity. The first condition for meaningful science is that the agents conducting it should analyze themselves and adopt a practical position. Otherwise, they will be unable to free themselves from the use of acquired knowledge—science—as intellectual capital in the market, thereby engaging in the science of the rulers.
The substance of my criticism is that the five-thousand-year-old civilization system (including the even older hierarchical system) stems from the accumulation of capital and the power established over the agrarian-village society and nomadic communities in the rural areas and the craftsmen and slave laborers in the cities. This reality has remained essentially unchanged until the present; these power and the state monopolies, which have taken various forms, including trade, money, and industry, have remained unchanged. The history of civilization is based on both the wars between monopolies over their respective shares and the wars they wage together against opposing forces. Beyond that are the wars of ideological hegemony and the games and contrivances for the usurpation of social value by war and through power. The period of capitalist civilization—i.e., modernity—is this system at its most advanced. The center-periphery, hegemony-competition, and ups and downs of crises characteristic of this system were there from the beginning. The period of modernity, on the other hand, in particular at a time when financial capital plays a hegemonic role, denotes the most profound structural crisis.
I suggest that the alternative solution be sought in the consciousness and movements of the social nature of all of the forces that have positioned themselves in dialectical opposition to the forces connected to the rise of hierarchy, the various periods of civilization, and the history of modernism marked by capitalism. No version of official civilization history offers any solution for these oppositional forces. If social struggles have not succeeded in putting their utopias of equality and freedom into practice, this is primarily because they have used the same weapons (power and the state) as the unraveling civilization and envisaged the future they want to build as little more than a different version of this civilization. The inability to create a distinct mentality and the structures suitable to their own social natures has caused them to dissolve into versions of their opposite pole.
The flow of history is not a system of repetitive cycles, but it also does not unfold as linear progression. It is the overall movement of consciousness and actions that have become a whole and have influence to the extent that they have formed mentalities and structural movements within themselves. It is always possible to become part of history, to become one of the rings in its flow. To do this, however, is to acquire a structural form with the necessary mental capacity. History, in this sense, has an unfailing nature. All the views and actions that were unable to develop the mental capacity and structural form necessary to have a place in history must assume full responsibility.
1 The author specifically uses the term “male-dominant” rather than the equivalent for patriarchal in Turkish. There is no distinction in meaning; the author sometimes prefers to use terms that are more descriptive and reveal the content, I maintained the use of “erkek egemen” (male-dominant) rather than using “ataerkil” (patriarchy) [translator’s note].
2 Murray Bookchin, Urbanization without Cities: The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1992).
3 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in Selected Works, vol. 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969), 98–137, accessed August 9, 2019, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto.
4 A small, cubical building in the courtyard of the Great Mosque at Mecca containing a sacred black stone: regarded by Muslims as the House of God and the objective of their pilgrimages.
5 Vladimir Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky,” in Lenin’s Collected Works, vol. 28 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1974), 227–325, accessed August 9, 2019, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/prrk/index.htm.
6 The word jin means woman in Kurdish, and –lojî is –logy.
7 This formulation, often attributed to Marx, comes from the French utopian socialist Charles Fourier, whom Marx quoteds. Murray Bookchin refers to this in his major work The Ecology of Freedom (Andover, MA: Cheshire Books, 1982), accessed February 9, 2020, https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/murray-bookchin-the-ecology-of-freedom#toc11. The title of this volume references Bookchin’s work.
8 Herodotus begins his history with an explanation of the causes of the wars between the Greeks and the “barbarians.” It deals with several women being “carried off,” by Phoenicians and Greeks, including Io, Europa, Medeia, and Helena, as the prehistory of the wars between the Greeks and the Persians. Reference is also made to the view if the women had not wanted to be “carried off,” they would not have been.
9 Ummah is commonly used to mean the collective community of Islamic peoples.