Section 1: On Method and the Regime of Truth

Civilization: The Age of Masked Gods and Disguised Kings – Volume I

In our quest to understand and live a meaningful life, humankind throughout the ages has used three basic methods to obtain and interpret knowledge, or “the truth,” namely the mythological, the religious, and the scientific methods. In this regard, we can loosely define the concept method as a particular approach and related forms of habit that lead to the desired outcome (in this case, to understand and live a meaningful life) in the most economic way. The fact that it has been tried out many times before and is successful in yielding results extends credibility to a method.

The first method, encountered in the depths of history, is the mythological approach. Nature is seen as animate, abundant with spirits.

In the light of recent scientific insights, the mythological approach may seem less naive than once was thought. In my opinion, lifeless and static methodological approaches are far less meaningful than mythology. The mythological approach is environmentally oriented, free of notions of fatalism and determinism and conducive to living life in freedom. Its fundamental approach to life is one of harmony with nature. This perception exalted and vivified all human groups up until the age of the major religions. Myth, legend, and reverence for the sacred formed the outlook of the Neolithic period in particular.

The fact that mythology seems to contradict objectivity does not mean that meaningful interpretations cannot be deduced from its content. On the contrary, one cannot fully understand history without such interpretations. Seeing that humans had been living according to the dictates of mythology for the greatest part of our history, interpreting mythology is essential for understanding humanity.

What is more, there are indications that many of the current scientific theories that are seen as the antipode of the mythological approach are themselves nothing but mere mythology.

The mythological method should be given back the prestige it lost when it was discredited by monotheistic religious dogma and by the scientific method; methods alleging to bow to absolute laws. These mythologies—related to utopian ideologies—cannot be discarded because the richness of the human psyche cannot be reduced to a mathematical and analytical mind, a mind that would be inconsistent with life itself. With a mind that is nothing more than a calculator, how will we be able to understand and interpret the psyches of the millions of different living beings, the movement of subatomic particles, the immenseness of astronomic sizes? Mathematics by itself is not sufficient to analyze these micro and macro universes.

The intuition of living beings cannot be underestimated. The meaning of life that we are searching for may well be hidden in this intuition. We should not think of intuition as something independent of the macro or the micro universes but as a fundamental characteristic of the universe. It follows that the mythological method cannot be insignificant; it may, indeed, contribute as much to our understanding of the universe as the scientific method.

Occurring for the first time just before or just after the onset of recorded history, the religious perception occupies the second longest period in the history of humanity. The transition from mythological to dogmatic religious perception is closely connected to the transition from an egalitarian, classless society to a hierarchic society and the formation of social classes. The relationship between the newly formed classes of the exploited and the exploiters demanded indisputable dogmas. In order to disguise and legitimize the exploitation and power of hierarchical and class interests, these dogmas were endowed with “indisputable” characteristics such as sacredness, being god’s infallible words, and immunity.

The dogmatic religious perception holds that the aim of life and the path to the truth can only be found if one acts in accordance with the Word of God, transcending nature and society. If not, life itself will be slavery and the afterlife hell. In reality, the god is the despot exploiting and dominating society. That this excessive masking of the god is nothing but deception is evident if we consider that, at their onset, the despots had named themselves “god-kings”; later they enforced their word as law, presenting it as the absolute truth. As the oppression and exploitation became deeply rooted, the dogmatic religious approach was constructed as the social reality through which, for a very long time, humanity was submitted to the slavery of the masked despots. In fact, one of the most important aspects of the religious method is its legitimation of slave-like submission and the establishment of the fatalistic perception. Without this method, the terrible exploitative and ferocious wars waged by humanity would not have been possible.

Creeds such as “live in accordance with the holy Word and divine Law!” made it very easy to govern through the religious method. A shepherd-herd dialectic was established. On the one hand, a passive nature and society; on the other, a very active, transcendent ruler who creates and makes all things possible. It is no exaggeration to say that antiquity and the Middle Ages were governed through this method.

One of the most unfavorable aspects of the dogmatic method is that, instead of a living, evolving conception of nature, it brought about the concept of a passive nature, a nature unable to act except under the external command of the Almighty. This concept, in turn, led to the natural acceptance of a similar mentality in the social arena.

The dogmatic religious method reached its peak in the Middle Ages, especially in terms of its transcendent subjectiveness. The physical world was nearly declared incomprehensible and ignored. The world was considered a temporary stop in life, whereas the eternal ideals were postulated as the ultimate form of life. Those who knew the dogmas and clichés best were regarded as scholars and elevated to the highest ranks. This method, which in essence is anti-mythological, played the leading role in confining life.

The positive aspect of the religious method is its improvement of society’s morals. During this period and under this approach, the distinction between good and evil was developed and absolute decrees were imposed. This method revealed the flexibility of, and hence the possibility to mold, the human mind. Without morality, neither socialization nor government is possible. Undoubtedly, morality is a metaphysical perception but this does not annul it or lessen its importance. Humanity without morals either will cause the end of its own species or the end of an inhabitable environment. In fact, it is the considerable decay of morality in the post-religious era that has brought the environment to the brink of disaster.

The prophetic approach of the major religions have employed and developed the dogmatic method, especially in Zoroastrianism where its fundamental philosophy—good and evil—was held akin to light and darkness. These religions are the founders of metaphysical morals. However, the dogmatic method has influenced not only the major religions but also classical Greek thought, where a restricted use of dialectics and objectivity reigned. The idealism of Aristotle and Plato was the strongest anchor of the dogmatic religious method during the Middle Ages. Plato, the greatest philosopher—indeed the creator—of idealism, was revered as a prophet during the Middle Ages. But morality reached its climax with Zoroaster, Confucius, and Socrates. These sages led humanity to great moral advancement.

The concept of scientific method has played an important role in capitalism becoming a world system. In this new approach (pioneered by Roger and Francis Bacon, and Descartes) a careful distinction is made between subject and object, whereas in the dogmatic method of the Middle Ages there was no room for such a distinction.

Western Europe emerged with the Renaissance when the way for a new era was paved through the Reformation and Enlightenment. The subjectiveness of the human being and the objectiveness of the world became the two fundamental factors in life. Hence, the dogmatic method based on the Word of God—along with morality—lost its supremacy. The disguised kings and masked gods were replaced by naked kings and unmasked gods. The underlying urge now is capitalistic exploitation, which is necessary to make profits. The terrible exploitation humanity and nature would encounter in this process demanded a radical change in society’s perception. The need for profits is thus the underlying reason for the spread of the new scientific method.

But society did not so easily adopt the new morality—society can only be reconstructed through an enormous change in thought-pattern and mentality. This is where the new methodology comes into play—to find the truth. It is well known that Descartes went through a radical transformation and that his skepticism about everything which led him to arrive at “I think, therefore I am.”9 While Descartes paved the way for the individual to think independently, Roger and Francis Bacon’s work on the concept of objectivity allowed the “object” to be at the disposal of the individual.

The concept of objectivity as employed in the scientific method entails that nature as a whole—that is, animate and inanimate nature including the human body but excluding analytical thought—is defined as an object. This new interpretation plays a key role in capitalism’s exploitation and domination of nature and society. The mental transformation needed for the acceptance of this would have been impossible, were the distinction between subject and object not legitimized and widely accepted. The conflict between the church and science should not be seen purely as a contention for “the truth”—mighty social struggles are fought beneath the surface. One way to interpret this is as the contention between the old society, charged with morality, and the nakedly capitalistic society that wishes to strip itself off these moral covers. What we have here is a new, capitalist, social project that wishes to fully expose society to exploitation and domination and the “objective approach” is the key notion in this project.

While subject is the most legitimate factor of analytical thought, object is the physical element open to contemplation. There is not a single value that “analytical thought” will not tamper with in the name of objectivity. Not only human labor but animate and inanimate nature as a whole can be taken possession of and put through any examination or investigation in order to gain the right to its exploitation and domination. The individual citizen, nation or state becomes the fundamental subject, locked in ongoing struggle against the object of nature and society. These new, unmasked gods have been endowed with unlimited power—from committing genocide to rendering the environment uninhabitable. The Leviathan of old has become mad and there is no object that it will not subjugate. The objective approach cannot be perceived as an innocent notion of the scientific method—such a perception can only lead to enormous disasters, conflicts, and massacres more ruthless than those of the Inquisition.

The alleged scientific method is instrumental for contemporary class division and the main reason for the dysfunction and failure of contemporary social sciences. In my opinion, the objective scientific method played a determining role in the failure of scientific socialism, which I once regarded as the most far-reaching approach of the social sciences.

Scientific socialism collapsed from within and the systems derived from it transformed themselves from state capitalist institutions to private capitalist institutions. This was due to the scientific method and its fundamental concept of objectivity. I shall discuss this later in more detail but let me just say here that I have never for a moment doubted the good intentions, beliefs and efforts of those who contributed to the struggle for socialism.

All scientific structures that regard the distinction between subject and object as fundamental also assert the right to freedom—in some cases even to the extent that they claim not to be bound by any social values. These claims have resulted in enormous distortions by science. The level of integration between science and the ruling system is alarming. The world of science has become the power that constructs, legitimizes, and protects the system’s methods and contents. The scientific method of the capitalist age and the sciences based on it thus have provided the power for the profitable functioning of the system. This in turn has caused wars, crises, hunger, unemployment, environmental disasters and population explosion. The innocuous aphorism “knowledge is power” proudly claims this reality.10 Therefore, if capitalist modernity signals discontinuity in all its parameters, then the biggest blame can be laid on the “scientific method” that it rests upon.

It thus becomes very important that critique of the system is directed against this method and the “scientific disciplines” based on it. The fundamental weakness of all system critique, including socialist critique, is that it uses the very method that the capitalist system rests upon. Any society built on this method will encounter the same consequences. Hence, despite their criticism, all opponents to the system—including scientific socialism—have suffered the same consequences as the capitalist society.

My analysis of the characteristics of class and society is based on the subject-object dichotomy, because these two seemingly innocent concepts are the ontological reasons for the unsustainability of modernity. This notion of nature and subject is as obsessive as the dogmatic method of the Middle Ages. Despite popular belief, scientific progress cannot be reduced to these two concepts. On the contrary, such a clear-cut subject-object distinction leads to a more material and primitive understanding of life than that of the Middle Ages. While the dogmatic method deprived human life of freedom, capitalist modernity has torn it apart on the basis of this distinction. A deep division in all fields of life is being constructed. Science has torn apart the whole—right down to its smallest unit. Hence, the integrity of social life and its indivisibility with time and location were lost to us. There is nothing worse than a life detached from its essence.

This critique does not entail that I propose a new method, nor does it entail that I propose a total lack of methodology. What I am saying is that we should take note of what is signified by this method, and by the laws it claims all life—including human life—and inanimate matter are bound by. Should we persist with the notions and method of the scientific approach, we may deprive ourselves and nature of development and freedom. I do not envisage the existence of universes without method and law. At the same time, I do not believe that the universe rests on the mathematical order of the Cartesian mechanism. I detect striking similarities in attitude between adherents of this theory and the Sumerian priests, and in my opinion they represent the same civilization.

But more important than denouncing a particular method or searching for an alternative is investigating the possible interpretations of the concept of free life. If the aim of employing a specific method is to arrive at a meaningful life, then the method should indeed facilitate this. But the enormous industry and state that emerged with the scientific method have brought war and destruction on humanity, not happiness. The big accumulators have always initiated intolerance toward life. Society, on the other hand, has always regarded accumulation with suspicion.

Successfully addressing the question of method requires a proper investigation into the relevant era and civilization. Without a radical critique of the methodology and scientific disciplines that have shaped capitalism, all efforts to reconstruct a science that will foster a meaningful, free life are in vain. I do not wish to contribute to the discussion on modernity and post-modernity. I have much respect for many of the opinions expressed on this topic but I am in agreement with the widely held belief that we are still far from the essence of the problem.

I wish to present my own interpretation under the notion regime of truth. It is not an endeavor for an alternative method but rather an endeavor to find a solution to the problems that a life detached from the values of freedom creates. Undoubtedly, there has always been a quest for truth by humanity; throughout the ages, various options—from mythology to religion, from philosophy to contemporary science—have been hailed as holding the answer. But, although we cannot perceive of a life outside of these fields, we also cannot deny that many of our problems stem from them.

However, contemporary modernity is unique in that it has reached an unsustainable level: the proliferation of nuclear weapons, population explosion, exhaustion of resources, environmental destruction, excessive growth of social rifts, disintegration of moral bonds and a stressful life that has lost its charm and lyricism are but a few examples that demonstrate that our regimes of truth have failed.

To prevent us from falling into a state of silent desperation, we need to remedy the situation. To find a solution, we have to question when and where we have made the enormous mistakes that led to these aberrations. Mighty struggles have been waged against capitalist modernity to no avail—we all know what happened to the systems that claimed they were alternatives. Does this mean that the world we live in is the final and eternal one, precisely as the system proclaims? Is another world not possible? Attempting to answer these questions is my duty to the values of freedom.

I am convinced that capitalist modernity acquires most of its power from erroneous social construction. Our reasoning has been weakened and distorted by the juxtaposing of the dualistic pairs subject-object, idealist-materialist, dialectical-metaphysical, philosophical-scientific and mythological-religious. The intense polarization of these dichotomies constitutes the fundamental methodological error that has led to capitalist modernity.

Though this reasoning has reached its peak in capitalism, rulers and exploiters through the ages have encouraged beliefs and arguments based on these dichotomies because of the fundamental role they have played in legitimizing the continuation of ruling systems. If the human mind were not conditioned to these distinctions, exploitative systems would not have been so successful. The continuation of the intellectual wars they cause leads to the desire for more power and more exploitation. Those in pursuit of the truth will receive acclaim from rulers and exploiters only for success in developing these dichotomies: “Truth is power, power is truth.” Such a regime of truth is the strongest possible ally of the political and exploitative regime. The consequence of such an alliance is more oppression and exploitation, which in turn means the loss of a free and meaningful life.

Such a regime of truth should not be tolerated any longer. We need to reject the system’s regime of truth on all fronts. In other words, I am not talking about merely opposing the system but about developing an alternative system based on the analysis of the flawed system. By resisting not only the power networks but also the exploitation centers and by developing the ability to build communities, the system can be attacked at its most vulnerable spot. Every social construction is the product of a specific mentality. All important events, all periods of development and their resulting structures have been the work of influential minds and their will. Thus, indeed, the world we live in does not have to be the final and eternal one; another world is possible.

One of the biggest errors of the Marxian method was that the proletariat, who were already under daily oppression and exploitation, were expected to bring about the new societal construction without the necessary mental revolution having been initiated. Marxists failed to see that the proletariat consisted of re-conquered slaves; the Marxists themselves fell for the “free worker” fallacy.

Thus, what is the world-view that needs to be acquired? In order to answer this question clearly we need to have a clear understanding of the present mentality, originating from the subject-object dichotomy.

Firstly, despite claims to this regard, objectivity is not purely an expression of the laws of nature and society. Profound research will show that the so-called “objective laws” are nothing but the modern equivalent of the “Word of God” of antiquity. The voice of the powers that transcend nature and society have always echoed in this objectivity. If we dig deeper, we will find the source of this voice to be the domination of tyrant and exploiter. The objective mind and the orders given by the voice are closely connected to the systems of civilization. It has been disciplined by and made familiar to these systems. Even if new information is extracted from an object, it is immediately adjusted to conform to the system. If resistance is shown, the culprits are punished by the gods of the system, just like Adam and Abraham, Mani and Mansur Al-Hallaj, Saint Paul and Giordano Bruno. If, on the other hand, objectivity is that which we perceive intuitively, objectivity is very valuable—it may even lead to true wisdom when aligned with the values of free life. But in order to achieve this type of objectivity, one has to be as brave as Mansur Al-Hallaj or Giordano Bruno.11

We need to be aware that we can reach two sets of conclusions through “objectivity” and that it requires great effort and resistance to understand which represents the established, dominant system and which represents the truth. If objective thought cannot be freed from analytical intelligence, if it cannot be coupled with the momentary, intuitive thought originating from emotional intelligence, then it will play a terrible role in history. The ancient Leviathan has been replaced by the monster that bore the atomic bomb—a monster equipped with the analytic thinking structures of capitalist modernity. Later, when we examine the mask-less new god—the nation-state—the capabilities of objective analytic thought will become clear.

Subjectivism, which positions itself on the opposite side of objectivity, claims that truth is to be attained through insight and contemplation rather than through scrupulous study of the subject matter alone. Subjectivism is another version of Platonism and is in danger of repeating the erroneous and obsessive aspects of the latter, expressed in the dictum: “Truth is only that which can be felt and sensed.” This attitude may even lead to existentialism, which considers a human being to be whatever he makes of himself. When it comes to its perception of nature and society, subjectivism is a strong advocate of individualism and has played a significant role in turning modernity’s individual into an egoist. Instead of fostering a healthy “I” it brings forth a selfish individual, firmly enchained to the consumptive society. And, as does its opposite, subjectivism does not hesitate to take its place within the system. In fact, the capitalist system owes much to this way of thinking. This attitude has been reflected primarily in the arts, particularly in literature and through the use of the art industry, which has formed a whole new virtual world; it keeps the whole of society under its influence. In this way, it provides the system its much needed legitimacy. Society is continuously bombarded with the sentiments of a virtual world and thus faces losing the possibility of self-reflectivity. The truth is reduced to a world of simulation. It is no longer meaningful to distinguish between the original and the copy. The only positive aspect of subjectivism (as an insight) is its close link with emotional intelligence, due to the fact that feeling and intuition play a major role in subjectivism.

In Sufism and Middle Eastern wisdom an attempt was made to capture the unity of nature and society through the method of contemplation. Much progress was indeed made and it could still be utilized, as it is a substantial source. Eastern subjectivity is superior to Western objectivity when it comes to its moral approach to nature and society. But subjectivity, just as objectivity, has often fallen into the trap of presenting itself as the god’s voice. In this respect the two attitudes converge. This very aspect of their inner and transcendental gods, together with their conceptions of nature and society, cannot but end up serving the system’s disguised or naked kings, who are the masked or mask-less gods.

Objectivity with all its academic institutions on the one hand, and subjectivism with its various spiritual and religious institutions on the other hand, breed a two-way legitimacy for capitalist modernity. Instead of playing their roles as regimes or methods of truth, they become the system’s sycophants. The cadres and institutions that legitimize power and exploitation play a role as vital as that of the institutions of brute force and exploitation. Yet again we encounter the forces of the system that have been unified with the aphorisms “power is truth” and “knowledge is power.” Hence, the quest for truth becomes the name of the game played by the triumvirate of capital, science and politics. Any quest for truth outside of this game is the enemy of the system and it must either be annihilated or absorbed into the system.

We are besieged by the most advanced stage of the material world and we face an enormous loss of meaning. How are we to break free from this power circle of capital, science and politics? The answer to this has been searched for by philosophers of freedom such as Nietzsche and Foucault, but there is no ready answer. We should truly understand these philosophers who, when evaluating modernity, proclaimed the death of man and the castration of society. The existence of death camps, atomic bombs, wars of ethnic cleansing, destruction of the environment and increased cancer and AIDS not only confirms these judgments, but necessitates an urgent counter-quest for truth. I must reiterate that social democrats, national liberation movements and even scientific socialism, although seen as the strongest opposition, have long ago abandoned this role and have taken their position as denominations of modernity. It has also been understood that many post-modern quests are indeed modernist thoughts in disguise.

Systems begin to dissolve when they have reached their climax and then start to decline. The 1970s is the period when capitalist modernity began its decline and its chosen method began losing esteem. Ecological consideration, feminist trends and ethno-cultural movements gained prominence. This was possible because criticism of the scientific method had paved the way for alternative schools of thought and independent interpretation. It is important that we understand the value of periods like these—periods that are often called “chaotic”—and appreciate the different intellectual groupings in their own right as centers of resistance. We have to understand that such historical periods are intellectually productive in terms of new and different methods and in terms of construction of truth because this insight will increase the chances of a successful reconstruction of society at the community level.

One of our practical responsibilities today is to see to the materialization of our utopias of freedom and equality by building these ideals into social structures. To obtain this, we need to realize the scientific importance of the chosen path and we need the strength of will to obtain freedom. We have arrived at a time where the love for truth is the only guarantee of free life. Our slogan then becomes “Truth is love; love is free life!” Thus, if we are not filled with love for a free life—which is both the method to obtain truth and the regime of truth—then we can neither attain the necessary knowledge nor build our desired social world.

Let us now examine the leading structures and knowledge in the light of this hypothesis. We start off by rejecting the progenitors of the Bacons and Descartes—taking the human being as our basis may be more appropriate than the subject-object, spirit-body dichotomy. I am not pleading for a human-centric world-view, nor for a humanistic approach. I am referring to the totality of facts that comprises the human being, facts such as:

  1. Atoms, the building blocks of matter, have their richest existence and composition—both in terms of number and arrangement—in the human being.
  2. The human being has the advantage of representing all the plant and animal structures of the biological world.
  3. The human being has realized the most advanced forms of social life.
  4. The human being has access to a very elastic and free intellectual world.
  5. The human being is capable of metaphysical thought.

Clearly, the human being constitutes a unique source of knowledge, where all these characteristics are intertwined, occurring simultaneously and functioning as a unit. The understanding of this source in its entirety, in its wholeness, is equal to understanding the known material universe (or, at the very least, it is a correct first step in that direction). I will now discuss the five points set out above in more detail.

1. Atoms, the building blocks of matter, have their richest existence and composition—both in terms of number and arrangement—in the human being.

The relationship between the inter- and intra-atomic entities and life forms can best be detected in the human being. In a way, the human being can be perceived as a living alignment of matter. This does not mean that the human being is nothing more than the sum of its matter. Nor does it mean that matter is a structure without living emotions. It is quite difficult to lend meaning to the relationship between matter, which has a living emotion of its own, and the human being, which transcends being the simple sum of its matter. I think the source of metaphysical thought lies in this perception. If we can attain an unlimited flexibility in our perception, we may overcome the dichotomy between matter and meaning. It just may be that the aim of all animate and inanimate forms is to overcome this dichotomy. Thus, the aim of matter is to have meaning and the aim of meaning is to surpass matter. It may be possible to find the faintest breath of love in this dichotomy. Could it be that the action-reaction principle has evolved from the matter-meaning dichotomy? Can this dual antagonism be the origin of the saying “the basis of the universe is love”? This love seems to have situated itself on a strong basis within the human being.

I believe the search for matter within the human being is a method that may bring us closer to the truth. It seems impossible to do so in the isolated laboratories of modernity. In quantum physics, the relationship between the observer and the observed does not allow for measurement. Just as the observer changes, matter—the observed—can escape the attention of the observer under laboratory conditions. Therefore, the human being can best perceive itself through introspection. Democritus was able to discover the atom through this method several millennia ago.12 Besides, the human being is a more comprehensive laboratory. I am not saying that laboratories are of no use, but that fundamental principles can be determined through human introspection.

We can observe all the laws of chemistry and physics within the human being and attain a better knowledge thereof. We can come to understand the transformation of matter to energy and the rich chemical compounds in the structure of the human being. It is also possible to come to understand the relationship between energy and matter as well as the unity between matter, energy and thought in the human brain. This leads us to the all-important question: Can the unity realized in the human being be a characteristic of the universe as well?

Therefore, our first principle is the potentially rich perception of the human being. It can be held as the main path to knowledge and a sound principle of regime in relation to what the truth is.

2. The human being has the advantage of representing all the plant and animal structures of the biological world.

The human being offers a rich example for observation of the aliveness-lifelessness dichotomy. Aliveness has reached its developmental peak and displays its most advanced characteristics in the human being. Lifeless matter has attained its most advanced level in parallel and in combination with aliveness. The arrangement of matter in the brain and the development of life still holds many mysteries. The link between the matter of the brain and the animate being that has acquired the ability to think abstractly still has to be discovered.

In searching for a hypothesis to explain the relationship between aliveness and lifelessness in the human being, an important assumption should be that matter has the potential to become alive. Without this potential, the collection of matter within the human being would not be able to sustain this advanced form of aliveness, this life form with emotions and thought.

Given this assumption, how can we arrive at an understanding of the potential aliveness of matter through stronger perception?

Firstly, we should make the fundamental principle of action-reaction the cornerstone of our notion of potential aliveness. It may be meaningful to interpret this principle (for every action there is a reaction), which can be observed throughout the entire universe, as potential aliveness.

In the second place, the existence-vacuum dichotomy should be part of our notion of potential aliveness. We cannot conceive of an existence without a vacuum and a vacuum without existence. If we strain the boundaries of our thought, surpassing the dual antagonism of existence and vacuum, it would mean their disappearance. But what can we call this new entity without the existence-vacuum duality? This is the second important question. Some immediately may give the customary reply of “God” but, if we apply our minds, we may arrive at a more meaningful answer. We may even arrive at the meaning of life or the answer to the mystery of life.

In the third place, and in combination with the action-reaction principle, the particle characteristic of light waves should be included in our notion of potential aliveness. This characteristic is a prerequisite for action and reaction to occur. The “black hole,” which absorbs all light, makes things even more mysterious. If the energy of the radiation is absorbed, what is left? This is one of the most difficult questions to be answered. If we define black holes as pure energy islands, what can we then call the energy radiation? Matter is concentrated accumulation of energy—we all know Einstein’s famous equation. Could the universe be composed just of the dual antagonism of a humongous black hole and matter? Is matter non-matter that makes itself visible? Does this mean that we can see the universe, which has made itself visible, as a big, living being? Can it be that all dual antagonisms in life are reminiscent of this universal dual antagonism? Can love and hate, good and bad, beauty and ugliness, right and wrong all be the reflections of this universe?

Questions can be multiplied, but what is crucial is that the relationship between aliveness and lifelessness can no longer be interpreted metaphysically—as was done by religious dogmatism—or be viewed in terms of capitalist modernity’s distinction between spirit and body or subject and object. The richness of life neither can be explained through the dogma of an external creator nor through the spirit-matter dichotomy. To increase our chances of understanding development in the universe—including aliveness and lifelessness—we need to consider, and become adept in observing, the richness of life in the human being. Furthermore, those who are looking for justice have the duty to look for the how and the why of life.

No entity comes into being without explanation or circumstance; nature is more than just that. (If we are unable to see the explanation, we should hold civilized society responsible for losing our ability to observe.) Thus, the development of the human being too was a meaningful one and ours is the duty to uncover this meaning.

This perspective enables us to analyze the great diversity and evolutionary processes in the biological world. Understanding the transition between animate and inanimate molecules enables us to understand the transition between the plant and the animal kingdom. Significant scientific progress already has been made in this area and, despite shortcomings and unanswered questions, we have developed a much better understanding of the evolutionary process.

The plant kingdom is a miracle in itself—from the most primitive plant to an extraordinary fruit tree; from grass to roses with thorns—showing the strength of the ability to be alive. And the relationship between the beauty of the rose and its thorny self-protection may hold a key to another mystery: The most striking aspect of evolution, as manifested in our botanical examples above, is the ability for the subsequent phase to contain in itself the previous phase, protecting the previous as part of its richness. Hence, contrary to widespread belief, evolution continues not by eliminating the other (as according to dogmatic Darwinism) but by multiplying the self through enrichment. What we have is development from a single species to a multitude of species, from a primitive fungus to the endless diversity of living beings. And all these diverse beings have a principle in common, namely to defend themselves in some way or another.

Another aspect of biological evolution we need to heed is sexual and asexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is found in very primitive forms whereas sexual reproduction is the dominant principle. Hermaphroditism, where female and male parts are found within a single unit, is due to the transition between the different stages. In order to multiply and diversify into different species the sexes need to be represented in different units. Thus, we can attribute the female-male duality to the general development principle of the universe, namely progress based on conflict and mutation (in other words, positive dialectic!) We ought to learn this lesson from nature: insistence to remain “the same” is denial of progress. It is also clear that all the different kinds of quests for absolute truth did not result in the ability to interpret the universe.

We should also pay attention to the question of why the universe wants to flourish. Is this not proof of the universe’s aliveness? Could something devoid of life flourish? The plant kingdom makes it easier to answer this question.

Another important question with regard to biological development is whether planet Earth is unique. The belief that another planet with life forms cannot exist—because such a planet has never been encountered in the observed universe—is a delusion of metaphysics that claims that the human being can know everything. It is in fact akin to believing in creation by god. We are just beginning to make sense of our world; we should not dismiss out of hand the saying “each living being has a universe”; neither should we just dismiss the concept of parallel universes. Let me clarify with an example. Any cell from any part of the human tissue is a living being in its own right. If thought develops within the brain cells, then can these cells claim that the universe is only what we think it to be? On the other hand, although these cells are unaware of the human being and of the extraordinary universe, it does not mean that the human being and the micro and macro universe do not exist. Can we then not see the human as such a cell within the macro universe? If we dare do this, we can conceive of the existence of other universes too.13

Although the animal kingdom is a system in its own right, the existence of the plant kingdom is a precondition for the existence of the animal kingdom. (In fact, cells common to both the animal and plant kingdoms do exist.14) More importantly, a rich variety of plants is also a precondition for a rich variety of animals. Potential aliveness in plant cells have led to an advanced form of aliveness in the animal kingdom, namely sensory and emotional awareness such as vision, hearing, pain, desire, anger and affection.

Animals feel pleasure and pain—emotions distinctly associated with aliveness. In the continuous search for food amongst animals, we encounter yet again the relationship between energy and aliveness. Hunger is the impulse that leads the animal to feed and thereby store the needed energy. The sexual drive has much the same function—it springs from the desire to live and from the fear of extinction. We can thus interpret eating and sexual reproduction as forms of self-defense.15

The development of awareness is a miracle in itself. Let us take sight as an example. This sensory awareness is an advanced aspect of aliveness.16 Sight, like all other forms of awareness, is a form of thought. (Aliveness itself can be seen as the ability to learn: “I think, therefore I am.”) Should we not understand the following saying in this light? “God created the universe to observe himself.” According to Hegel, the reification of Geist for self-awareness is related to the act of seeing. Can it be that to see and to be seen is one of the fundamental aims of creation?

All the characteristics of aliveness encountered in the plant and animal kingdoms can be seen in the human being. In terms of the ability to learn and think, the development of the brain is at its peak. The incredible power latent in the human being’s ability to think may even make a new evolutionary form unnecessary. The universe recognizes itself through our eyes: “To be known, I created the human being.”17

3. The human being has realized the most advanced forms of social life.

For a meaningful method and regime of truth it is important to consider the human (as a species that has realized its own society) as a unique subject of study, separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. Undoubtedly, not only in the animal kingdom but also in the plant kingdom, we encounter many examples of existence in groups. By nature, all species have the need to live in close proximity to each other, or even live as a group—trees have forests and fish their schools. However, the human society has a qualitative distinction. The society itself maybe the Übermensch, the over-man.18 If we put a human child back into the forest right after its birth (and, of course, securing its life), it cannot but live the life of a primate. If similar humans have to meet there, a social period akin to that of the primates will develop. This indicates the distinct value of human society, the role society plays in forming the human being and the role of the human being in constructing society.

Of course, without humans there would be no human society. But to view society as nothing but the sum of humans is a fallacy. A human without society cannot surpass being a primate. With society, the human becomes an incredible power. All things realized within the human individual must be socially developed. It is impossible to attain knowledge and establish the regime of truth in the absence of society. The human being is not only the inheritor of the plant and animal kingdom, the physical and chemical universe; it is a being that has been realized in society. All civilized systems, including capitalist modernity, have studied the human being detached from history and society. In fact, all thoughts and structures discussed and established by human beings have been represented as the work of individuals superior to society, detached from history and society. This has made it easy to invent the disguised and naked kings and the masked and unmasked gods. Hence, with a better understanding of society, we will not only be able to analyze the roles these kings and gods have played but we will also be able to pinpoint which tyrannous and exploitative social systems they originated from.

A serious problem regarding any method is to establish in a meaningful way the relationship between human being and society. It seems that both the Bacons and Descartes were unaware of their own societies as they discussed questions of methodology. Today we know very well that the societies they were part of and were affected by were the societies of what we today call England and the Netherlands, societies that built capitalism as a world system.19 As a result, the methods these three scientists constructed were imbedded in those societies and brought forth ideas that left the door to capitalism wide open.

What could be our main observations if we were to consider human society as a fundamental category?

  1. The society itself is a formation that qualitatively differentiates humans from animals, as has been indicated above.
  2. Although the society is built by human beings, it in turn builds human individuals. The main issue that needs to be understood here is the fact that society or communities are constructed by the human mind and competency. They have profoundly affected the human memory and, although they have been projected to be everything from a totem to a god, it is clear that they are mere human constructs. If the human being ceased to exist there would be no society for the totems or gods to rule.
  3. Societies are under historical and geographical restrictions (i.e., every society conforms to the dictates of the time when and the geographical circumstances under which it is constructed). History, for all living beings, but especially for humans, denotes dependency on time. The connection between history and society is tightly knit and is of a short time span.20 We can talk about millions of years in connection with the universe, but for societies going beyond a few thousand years it is only possible in the context of the notion of long time span.21 Geographical location of societies is determined by distribution of plant and animal life. The rich flora and fauna in some regions constitute the basis for numerous societies; societies at the poles and in arid areas are rare.
        Many of the schools of thought and religious structures formed within societal and state traditions impose a system detached from history and geography on the human consciousness, as if this system is their fate. We are told that capitalist modernity bases itself on science. Why, then, does this system take great care to think of the individual as isolated from society? The time span and geographical location of a society constructs the individual and in turn, the individuals construct the future. Therefore, historical and geographical location are the two foremost prerequisites in order to deal with any problems of methodology and perception of regime of truth.
  4. Social realities are constructs. People mistakenly believe social institutions and structures to be natural realities because the regimes striving to construct legitimacy for these social systems present them as unchangeable and sacred. They preach that these systems are divine establishments, so designated by the god. Capitalist modernity claims that the ultimate word has been uttered, that there are no alternatives to liberal institutions. There is much talk about unchangeable and unalterable constitutions and political regimes. However, a quick look at history shows that these “permanent, unshakable” structures have only been around for the last century. Hence, the rulers and exploiters need ideological and political rhetoric to constantly enchain the thoughts and will of human beings. To administer today’s society in the absence of a strong ideological and political rhetoric is truly difficult. This is why the media is so well developed. And this is why, in general, scientific and intellectual schools have been tied down by the rulers and exploiters.
       The realization that social realities are constructed realities will bring the awareness that they can be demolished and re-constructed. There is no social reality that cannot be demolished or changed, including all its ideological and material institutions. Under the appropriate time and geographical circumstances social realities in all social fields (such as language, religion, mythology, science, economy, politics, law, morality and philosophy) are continuously established, demolished and restored and new ones are formed as needed.
  5. It is important not to view the relationship between society and the individual as a theoretical one. Individuals are born into established structures that have been shaped within the depths of history and within a distinct language and established traditions. They cannot participate as they wish—they participate on the basis of the society’s carefully and previously prepared institutions and traditions. An extraordinary educational effort is needed for the socialization of the individual. In fact, in a way the individual becomes a member of the society only after the culture of the society has been absorbed. Socialization can only be achieved through continuous effort. Each social act is at the same time an act of socialization. Therefore, individuals cannot escape being constructed according to the dictates of its society. But because classed and hierarchic societies are prone to being oppressive and exploitative societies, the individual will always demand freedom and hence resist. The individual will not readily accept societies that construct slavery. Yet, there will be endeavors not only to transform these individuals as they pass through the oppressive and educational social institutions but also to eliminate them. However, the resisting individual will always find space for itself because of the contradictions between institutions and the equilibrium based on compromises within the society. Although the society does not have the strength to totally dissolve the individual, the individual too does not have the ability to detach itself completely from society.

In short, methodological work and regimes of truth based on a human sample that perceives society for what it is may end up with more meaningful results.

4. The human being has access to a highly elastic and free intellectual world.

The flexibility of the human mind enhances the possibility of a meaningful investigation. In the absence of a sound knowledge of the human mind, any ideas about method and truth will be worthless.

We have referred to the dual structure of the human mind before: the right lobe of the brain (the seat of emotional intelligence) is more advanced and older in terms of evolution than the newer part (in the left lobe of the brain), where analytical intelligence is based.

In the animal kingdom, the developmental level of emotions and thought is nearly on an equal level—emotions are triggered by things learned through conditioned and unconditioned reflexes, they are momentary reactions. The same structures exist in the human being—for example, our bodies respond to fire immediately and there is no need to think analytically. But to climb Mount Everest there are hundreds of things that need to be considered before departure. Analytical intelligence may take years to mature. With emotional intelligence, there is no margin for error and action is based on intuition.

The primary characteristic of our mind is its flexible structure. There are very few entities in the universe that possess the ability of free choice. We may think of the areas of freedom as narrow intervals. We do not know how free choice occurs within subatomic particles and the structures in the macro universe. However, we can deduce from the observable outcomes and the diversity within the universe that flexibility in behavior and ability have to exist in the worlds of particles and in the macro universe in order to make a free choice. But in the human brain, this interval of flexibility has widened quite substantially. At least potentially we have unlimited freedom of movement—but let us not forget that this potentiality can only become active when coupled with sociality.

Another characteristic of our mind is that its structure allows not only correct but also false perceptions. The combination of this characteristic and its flexibility allows it to be led astray under physical and emotional oppression. That is why mechanisms of oppression and torture are used in conjunction with deceptive and erroneous promises. The extraordinary effect of the coercion of the human mind by the hierarchic and statist orders has been the construction of a mind favorable to themselves. However, the structure of our mind also allows us to resist, to attain the truth, to choose the right path. An independent mind has been decisive in the rise of those personalities that have contributed to humanity. Free choice can best be realized when minds work independently. There is a close tie between rich conceptualization and independent thought.

By “independence of mind” I mean the ability to act in accordance with the principles of justice. As discussed before, there is a universal order that determines the relationship between reality and justice. Thus, if the mind has the ability to be just, we can say that it has used the opportunity decreed by the universal order to make the best use of its ability to freely make a choice. Therefore, the history of freedom (that is, social history), which is the best educative power, prepares the mind for the right choices.

Psychoanalytic approaches try to measure the depth of our mind and it gains importance as a new field of information. But psychoanalysis on its own lacks the ability to arrive at the correct and necessary information. This is due mostly to its perception of the human being as an independent entity. Detaching the human being from its society may lead to an insufficient and unsound collection of knowledge. At present, the attempts of psycho-sociology to remove the insufficiencies look unpromising. If sociology has not been constructed properly, how can psycho-sociology bear the right results? Psychology may provide knowledge about the animal mind and can even provide knowledge of the human being as a super animal. But we are only at the start of knowing the human being as a social animal.

It should be clear now that without knowledge of the structure of the mind, successful results in constructing a method and a system of knowledge can be nothing but a mere coincidence. If we achieve a true and insightful definition of the mind and if we secure the human position to make free choices (that is, if we secure social freedom), our method and regime of knowledge may deliver a competent response to correct perceptions. Under such conditions, methodical study and a less flawed collection of knowledge increase our chances of being free individuals in a free society.

5. The human being is capable of metaphysical thought.

The metaphysical character of the human being is a unique phenomenon in terms of methodology and system of knowledge. The method and science of arriving at information (epistemology) can be improved by analyzing these characteristics of the human being. In metaphysics, an important area of study is the comprehension of the human being itself. The least analyzed social aspect is the definition of the metaphysical human. We still need answers to questions such as:

  • How is it possible that the human being is metaphysical?
  • What need does this arise from?
  • What are the positive and negative aspects of the metaphysical character of the human?
  • Is it possible to live without metaphysics?
  • What are the main characteristics of metaphysics?
  • Does metaphysics only prevail in the intellectual and religious areas of the human life?
  • What is the connection between society and metaphysics?
  • Is metaphysics counter-dialectic and can dialectic be limited by metaphysics?

If the human being is the fundamental subject of our knowledge, then, in the absence of knowing its metaphysical thought and institutions—which are its fundamental features—we cannot claim that we have attained sufficient information from it. We are talking about an area that has been neglected by both sociology and psychology. The question of metaphysics becomes doubly difficult to handle as especially religion, but many other schools of thought as well, are perceived as metaphysical. In approaching the question of metaphysics, we should not forget that it is a fundamental characteristic of the human being. Metaphysics is a societal construction and a reality that a social human being cannot do without. If we isolate the human from metaphysics then we shall end up with a mere animal, or a mere machine. What chances does such a humanity have of living? Let us examine what a metaphysical human is like:

  • Morality is a metaphysical human feature.
  • Religion is an important metaphysical feature.
  • Arts, with all its branches, can only be defined as metaphysical.
  • Institutionalized society, and even society as a whole, fits the definition of being metaphysical.

Why and how can the human being be metaphysical? Firstly, it is due to man’s capacity to think. The human being, as a universe that becomes conscious of itself, is compelled to construct a meta-physics in order to overcome its dismays.22 Without the meta-physical, it is not possible to deal with the intense physical pain and pleasure. To endure war, death, lust, passion, beauty, etc. metaphysical thought and institutions are indispensable. This need can only be satisfied by the creation of a god, creation of art and development of knowledge.

If we look at it from a different perspective and think of metaphysics as that “beyond the physical,” the need to either condemn or praise it, disappears. Through metaphysics, the boundaries of the physical world are being pressed back by the human being. Man lives meta-physically because of its ontological character. It is meaningless to claim that there is nothing besides a physical life. Besides, such a condition would only lead to the definition of a mechanical human being.

Secondly, the fact that in the absence of morals society cannot be upheld, necessitates our being metaphysical. Society can only be engineered through morals, which is free judgment. The disintegration of the Soviet Union’s Russia and the Pharaohs’ Egypt, despite all its rationalism, can be linked to lack of morality. Rationality alone is not sufficient to uphold society. It may robot-ize and turn its members into fully developed animals, but it cannot retain them as human beings.Some of the qualities of morality are:

  • endurance of pain and the strength to counter it;
  • the ability to restrict pleasure, desire and lust; to set social—not physical—rules for reproduction;
  • the ability to decide whether to abide by traditions, religion and laws.

For example, sexual intercourse needs to be bound by rules because of its reproductive feature. We need to take care when it comes to population growth so that the society can be maintained. Hence, this topic alone shows us that there is a great need for moral metaphysics.

Thirdly, humans create a universe of their own through arts. Society is sustained through creations in fundamental areas such as music, visual arts and architecture. It is impossible to think of a society without music, literature or architecture. All creations in these areas are of a metaphysical character. For the sustenance of society, these creations are indispensable. Art, as a metaphysical construction, satisfies the human need for aesthetics. Just as the human being gives meaning to its moral behavior through its choice between good and evil, it also gives meaning to artistic behavior through its judgment on beauty and ugliness.

Fourthly, the field of political rule abounds with metaphysical judgment. This field is the strongest metaphysical construction of all—we cannot define politics through physical rules. Governance solely through physical rules is at best robot-like and at worst the “flock herding” of fascism. If we add that the political field also has the connotation of choice and freedom of behavior, then we would once again arrive at the metaphysical character of the political person. Aristotle’s statement that “Man is a political animal” is more reminiscent of such a meaning.23

Fifthly, we should emphasize that law, philosophy and even “scientism” are loaded with metaphysics.24 All these areas are qualitatively and quantitatively full of metaphysical works of art. Keeping in mind the important status of metaphysics in the life of the individual and society, we can continue to develop a more meaningful approach:

  1. Metaphysical approaches have either been hailed as the fundamental truth or have been regarded as fictitious, as words and tools to deceive man. These approaches are either completely unaware of the history of society or they are exaggerating. What both of these approaches are unaware of is the social and individual need that gives rise to metaphysics.
       Those that hail the metaphysical have denied its relationship with the physical world and perceive it as boundlessly free. In denying the relationship between thought and spirit, or in confusing the metaphysical with the physical world, they have fallen into obsessions or exaggerations of transcendental divine orders—even exalted humans as god. The hierarchic and statist order has had an important effect on these developments.
       Those who deny the importance of metaphysics (for instance the rationalists and the positivists) have attacked it intensely and have hailed the materialist world and civilization: anything reminiscent of metaphysics is a tool of deception and should be rejected completely. In retrospect, we understand that rationalism and positivism paved the way for the “fascist flock,” the “robotic and mechanical human being,” and the “simulative” perceptions of life, destroying the environment and the history of society. Extreme adherence to the laws of physics cannot prevent the destruction or the dissolution of society; “scientism” has thereby proven that it is the worst metaphysics of all. I do have to emphasize that “scientism” is the shallowest materialism and the most knowledgeable expert of power and exploitation. Whether knowingly or not, it is the biggest deceiver and the representative of the worst form of metaphysics.
       Those who say that they do not belong to any of the sides, whom we may call nihilists, claim that there is no need to be pro- or anti-metaphysics and that one could live in total independence. Although they may seem the most harmless of the groupings, in essence they are the most dangerous—at least the other two have great ideals and are aware of what they represent; they strive to reform society and to re-construct the individual. The nihilists, who believe that total independence is possible, pay no attention to these discussions. Their number has been increased enormously by capitalist modernity, in which they constitute the déclassé elements of the dissolved society. While presently football hooligans are the most outstanding example of this grouping, the number of similar movements is on the rise.
  2. The difference between two opposing approaches to metaphysics, the pro- and anti-schools, in actuality falls away in modernity. While the religion of the anti-school is positivism—which is disguised metaphysics—the god of both groups is the nation-state. The god that has removed its mask is being sanctified in the form of the nation-state in all modern societies.
  3. I believe there is a need for and the possibility of developing a more balanced approach. I do realize that metaphysics is a societal construct, hence I feel obliged to develop a metaphysics in morals, art, politics and thinking that will be closer to the ideal of good, beautiful, free and true. The essence of a virtuous life is the continuance of the quest for the good, beautiful, free and true, as it was in historical societies. I believe that a meaningful life within society is only possible when lived according to this art of a virtuous life.

We are not, of course, obliged to metaphysics but we cannot just give up our quest for finding and developing the “best, most beautiful, freest and truest.” Just as we are not obliged to the ugly, evil, unfree and untrue, it is not impossible either to live a good, beautiful, free and true life. Neither are we obliged to go through life as nihilists. This argument has continued since the beginning of time, since the era of early social construction. What is unique about this issue today is that we are at the dissolution phase of capitalist modernity, exactly the period where a struggle for the good, beautiful, free and true is needed for the new social re-constructions. And, we do not only need a love-like passion but also the most scientific pursuit—that is a method and regime of truth.

The arguments that I have set out above for overcoming capitalist modernity and developing and spreading democratic modernity need to be developed further. In order to achieve this, we need to criticize the method and regimes of knowledge that have led to the official institutions of modernity and to clarify post-modernity’s groundbreaking method and systems of knowledge. This is my intent with this material.

I explained how and why we should focus on the human being. The correct definition and perception of both the individual and of society remain important. The efforts of sociology, psycho-sociology and anthropology are not productive because they are distorted by modernity and jammed in its knowledge and power networks. Precious individual efforts, on the other hand, are unsystematic and disorganized. Although important contributions have been made, especially by Nietzsche, the Frankfurt School, Fernand Braudel, and later Foucault and Wallerstein, the new method and regimes of knowledge (the dissolution of modernity and the new post-modernity, which we would like to name “democratic modernity”), are far from being systematized. There are numerous and precious efforts but they are fragmented. The fundamental reason for this is the poisoning by the capitalist system, as Wallerstein has already demonstrated. They all suffer under the clamps of the modernity. Let us look at a few examples:

Nietzsche talks about how society is made to adopt wife-like features and is enslaved by modernity. When he uses the phrase “blond Germanic beast,” which defines fascist flocking, it is as if he could see fifty years into the future.25 It is clear that he thinks modernization and becoming a nation-state sooner or later leads to fascist flocking. He can almost be called the prophet of the capitalist era.

Max Weber had also embarked on an important finding when he described modernity as “the trapping of the society in an iron cage.” He underlined the material characteristic of the civilization when he described rationality as the reason behind the disenchantment of the world.

Fernand Braudel directed harsh criticism against the social sciences that are detached from a historical and geographical dimension. He called them a “trivial pile of events.” This is an immense contribution to the question of methodology. New horizons in writing history have been opened up by his notions of la longue durée or geographic structures, conjuncture or medium term socio-economic cycles, and événements or short term or episodic events.26

The Frankfurt School’s criticism of the Enlightenment and modernity is ground breaking. Adorno’s analysis of modern civilization as the “end of an era in darkness” is a competent evaluation. With the phrase “the wrong life cannot be lived rightly,” he acknowledged that modernity has been founded on the wrong method and knowledge.27 His criticism of the Enlightenment and rationality also opens up new horizons.

To Nietzsche’s declaration that God is dead, Foucault added that “the end of man is at hand.”28 He ascribed modern power to constant wars, inside and outside the society. His notional chain of power, knowledge, prison, hospital, mental institution, school, military institution, factory and brothel has not only made methodological contributions but also has made indirect contributions to how a system of free knowledge can be established. Due to his premature death, he was not able to complete his analysis of power, war and freedom. He seems to conclude that it is modernity that kills man. From that, we can deduce that freedom is communal life that has managed to exclude war. Therefore, we have to abolish industrialism and militarism, which produce all the destructive tools and aim for profit and regular armies. Yet, freedom cannot be realized if we cannot replace industrialism and militarism with self-defense and an ecologically sound society.

Immanuel Wallerstein is confident with his perception of the capitalist world system. He paints an excellent picture of the modern system from the 16th century until today. But he is not always clear in his evaluation of the system (as with Marx, he considers the capitalist phase as a necessity and tends to see it in a positive light), his opposition to it and finding a way out of it. Wallerstein has shown great wisdom with his theses that the socialist system—especially that of Soviet Russia—strengthens capitalist modernity instead of overcoming it and that its dissolution will not eventually strengthen capitalist liberalism but weaken it. He does not show the same competence when it comes to dissolving the system and finding new ways out of it. He states that we cannot foresee when and how the structural crisis of capitalist modernity that started in the 1970s will end, yet each small but meaningful intervention may lead to enormous results. He has distanced himself from strict determinism. In conclusion, we can say that Wallerstein is one of the most powerful evaluators of method and system of knowledge.

Undoubtedly, there are many other intellectuals that should be mentioned. The criticism and proposals produced by Murray Bookchin in relation to ecology and Paul Feyerabend in relation to method and logic are groundbreaking. However, none of these intellectuals are able to competently combine knowledge and action. (Without a doubt, capitalist modernity’s tremendous power to tie everything to itself has had an effect.)

The Marxist school claims to be the most scathing and most scientific critique of capitalism but ironically this has not prevented Marxism from being the most useful tool in terms of knowledge and power for the system. It could not escape being liberalism’s left wing—150 years of experience sufficiently proofs this. Its method and its entire collection of knowledge can be categorized under the heading “economic reductionism.” Scientific socialism (which has handled the metaphysical and historical characteristics of society in a most simplistic way, reduced the notion of power to a government committee and gave a magical role to economic and political analyses) could not escape being yet another version of positivism. Although much was expected from sociology and its founders, Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, its method and theory of knowledge (epistemology) could never amount to more than being liberalism’s left wing. Yet again we see that what is important and decisive is not the intention but the assimilating and integrating power of the system (its method, knowledge-power, technical power) that dominates society. Economy certainly is an important power that should be taken into account; however, in the absence of a proper historical and social analysis of political power and other fundamental metaphysical forces, any effort to transcend the system of capitalist modernity cannot but end up being a vulgar positivism. The present theory and practice sufficiently prove this.

The anarchist schools that emerged as the radical critique of capitalist modernity are competent in issues such as methodology and the theory of knowledge. Unlike the Marxists, they do not talk about the progressiveness of capitalism. They were able to perceive society from many different perspectives and did not limit themselves to economic reductionism. They play their role of the system’s “rebellious children” quite competently. However, despite all their good intentions, they could not ultimately avoid becoming a sect that stubbornly protected itself from the system’s sins. My critique of Marxism fits these movements as well: In the absence of a valid definition of the system, these schools failed to formulate the relevant questions that would have provided democratic modernity with the competent use of method-power and knowledge-action, thus enabling it to overcome the system.

A similar evaluation of the theory and practice of the ecological, feminist and cultural movements can be made. They resemble the nestling partridges that have just escaped modernity’s iron cage. We are continuously worried about where and when they would be hunted down. But they are important movements of hope. They will have much to contribute when the main alternative movement has developed.

The social democrat and national liberation movements have integrated with the modern system above all the others and continue to be its driving forces. They have managed to become the two strongest denominations of the main movement, which is liberalism.

As we near the conclusion, it would be useful to state my anti-Orientalist approach. Taking stock of my position relative to modernity, I realize that I am at odds with it. I can immediately give two reasons for this.

Firstly, it is the effect of the classical Middle Eastern culture that has deep-rooted differences with capitalist modernity. In the first place, Middle Eastern culture radically differs from capitalist modernity in the priority it assigns to society. Individualism is not easily welcomed by society. Loyalty to the society is the fundamental criterion in the assessment of the personality and is praised above all else. Detachment from the society is scorned and ridiculed; changing societies is also regarded negatively. Occupying a place within the hierarchy and state is envied. (Religion, tradition, and the traditional state culture of the Middle East have strongly influenced these values.) As a result, it is not easy to submit to foreign and modern cultures. Stated differently, it is really difficult to assimilate. Thus, it is not surprising that the strong tradition of the Ummah culture (the Community of Believers) is still preferred to the nation-state. This is because the nation-state is the product of capitalist modernity: it is foreign. When political Islam and the nation-state are compared, (both being nationalistic at heart) Islamic nationalism is still preferred.29 This comparison alone proves the historical and social permanence of this cultural structure.

Secondly, although I never stayed committed to any of its movements for long, I was always very interested in Western schools of thought. In my quest for truth, I became aware of the method and accumulation of knowledge and science that led to modernity. I see its clear-cut mastery. As a result, I feel the same affinity with modern culture as I have with the Middle Eastern culture. Albeit late, I realized that they were of the same material and I saw the real source of both cultures to be the five thousand year-old hierarchic and statist structures. After this realization, I had no hesitation in daring to criticize the common aspects of both of these cultures.

It is not difficult to see that individualism is eroding the society. Neither is it too difficult to understand that capitalist liberalism is not the freedom of the individual it proposes to be, but that it is the art of human society’s erosion. It has its origins in the traditional merchant culture. It can be shown that the merchant culture is linked to many of the ancient traditions, including the three major monotheistic religions of the Middle East. Commodification and exchange of commodities, which are the roots of commerce, have played the leading role in the erosion and disintegration of the communities and societies. The merchant mentality is a deep-rooted tradition of the Middle East. It has played a decisive role in enforcing negative elements of symbols, identities, languages and structures on society. (The creation and sanctification of god, the turning of the art of state administration into one that is conspiratorial, and the permanent insertion of deceit and hypocrisy into morality, are only a few examples.) The contribution of Western Europe lays in its ability to take this system from the Middle East, combine it with the outcomes of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment and then to make it the dominant social system. The Middle Eastern societies do not esteem the merchant and its institutions highly. On the contrary, they have always aroused suspicion. The success of European capitalist modernity, however, is to make the commodity system society’s most precious element and to put all the sciences, religions, and arts at the service of this new society. As a result, people that were undistinguished and of little importance in the Middle East became the chosen and the all-important ones for Europe.

It has become quite fashionable in today’s Middle East to criticize European modernity and to violently oppose it through radical Islam. However, these critics (from approaches like Edward Said’s to organizations like Hezbollah) that seem to be anti-Orientalist and an enemy of Western modernity are nothing but establishments within the boundaries of this modernity—just like Marxism. As a result, they cannot escape serving capitalist modernity dishonorably. Since they owe their existence to modernity, it is in their nature to beg modernity and to defend it—whether successful or not. These organizations have only put on the clothes and the beard of tradition. Their soul and body are loaded with the most backward remnants of modernity.

While presenting the framework of my method of criticism and my evaluation of knowledge, I have tried to shed some light on the method and science that has led to the formation of capitalist modernity. It may not be absolutely correct in all aspects, but this framework does provide us with a chance to develop our own method and science for the preferred option of freedom and democratic life at a time when capitalist modernity is going through a period of structural “chaos.”

The cornerstones of this narrative (as discussed either in this section or in my earlier books) are summarized here for clarity.

  1. There is a relation between the methods of Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon and Descartes—the scientific paradigm—and capitalism of which we should be critically aware.
  2. The intensification of the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity and its reflection in various dichotomies allows the individual (the subject) to utilize society (the object) as a source open to all sorts of exploitation.
  3. This results in the distinction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat being perceived as natural and thus paving the way for the proletariat to be used as an object.
  4. The realization that “knowledge is power” lays the foundation of the union of science and power. Hence, the union of knowledge and power was turned by the system very early on into its fundamental weapon.
  5. Science has been turned into a new religion in the form of positivism, capitalizing on the exposed absurdities and obsessions of religion and metaphysics. In the name of a struggle against religion and metaphysics, the new religion has been formed to ensure domination.
  6. The most powerful ideological hegemony has been realized by declaring liberalism to be the official ideology of capitalist modernity. This is then used on the one hand as a tool of immense compromise and on the other hand as a weapon to assimilate and integrate all opposing ideologies.
  7. Liberalism and positivism are officially sanctioned to discredit many other schools of thought and ideological movements. This will continue until all the opponents of the system are integrated.
  8. Philosophy and morality are discredited to reduce the chances of opponents developing their own perspectives and taking a stand against the system.
  9. The internal unity of science and its power of meaning is fragmented through its division into a multitude of disciplines. This excessive fragmentation makes science dependent on the power structure and thus it can easily be turned into profitable technology. The aim of knowledge is no longer the discovery of the meaning of life but making money. This enables the transition from the unity of science and wisdom to the unity of science, power and money. The unity of science, power and capital is the new sacred alliance of modernity.
  10. In capitalist modernity, in addition to the completion of the housewifization (the most advanced form of slavery) of woman, the housewifization of man—after his castration through citizenship—has also been achieved.30 As a result, the society’s control has been attained through housewifization.31
  11. In modernity, political power has meant continuous war both within and between societies—a “war of all against all,” in Hobbes’ words.32 Genocide is the extremum of these wars.
  12. In the system of capitalist modernity, the period of center and periphery expansion has been completed; damage to ecology has reached unsustainable levels, unemployment and poverty are at its worst levels, wages are low, there is an excessive bureaucracy, religious society is collapsing, going through the age of the global finance hegemony, which is the most parasitic form of capitalism. However, the fact that networks of resistance are established in all areas and amongst the majority of society generates a structural crisis.
  13. In periods of structural crisis, revolutionary and counter-revolutionary movements, democratic-libertarian movements and totalitarian-fascist groups all vie to shape the future. Those who develop their methodology and scientific systems the most competently and make it the basis of their actions have the best chance of determining the new social system.
  14. Thus, during such periods of structural crisis and chaos, the democratic, ecological, libertarian and egalitarian movements may be able to form the establishments needed to determine the far future through small but effective moves.

To this end:

  1. Sociology should be used as the blueprint for action—but a sociology imbedded in the historical and geographical dimensions of society.
  2. Capitalist modernity should be seen as the malignant structure that it is and (keeping in mind point 14), a solution should be sought outside the boundaries of this system.
  3. We have to ideologically overcome all the vulgar dichotomies based on the subject-object distinction, such as idealism-materialism, dialectics-metaphysics, liberalism-socialism and deism-atheism. Instead, we should apply the art of interpretation that takes all scientific gains into consideration.
  4. We should constantly and critically develop a human metaphysics based on goodness, beauty, freedom and truth.
  5. Democratic politics should be the norm.
  6. Based on democratic politics, thousands of non-governmental organizations should be established in areas where there is a crisis of power.
  7. A new social nation should be constructed as the democratic nation. It can be separate from the nation-state but one should not disregard the possibility that these two can also exist next to each other or within each other.
  8. The political administrative model for the democratic nation should be developed on the basis of local, national, regional and world democratic confederalism. Different nations can be organized in a single democratic nation. The same nation can be organized as both a nation-state and a democratic nation. Regional democratic confederalisms and World Democratic Nations’ Confederalism are quite essential and can be more effective (much more than today’s UN) in the resolution of local-national problems.
  9. Democratic society should be anti-industrialist and economy and technology should be ecologically sound.
  10. The defense of the society should be ensured by people’s militia.
  11. A new family system, based on deep-rooted freedom and the equality of woman, should replace the system based on the deep-rooted slavery of women. Such a system will help to abolish the male-based hierarchic and statist order.

The era of capitalist modernity is also the period in which the ideal of a utopia of freedom and equality has revived. Much blood has been spilt for this ideal: there are numerous cases of torture and inflictions of pain. It is unthinkable that this suffering has been in vain. On the contrary, we have to attain a proper historical interpretation of our problems and let that illuminate our future. Then we should be able to make the transition into a life where love reigns. However, the transition to such a utopia requires a serious effort.

I am not so insolent as to re-initiate the quest for method and regime of truth with myself. But what I tried to demonstrate in all the topics I examined was that there is something terribly wrong that is fundamental to our world perception. I emphasize that my analysis should be seen neither as an effort to construct a new system nor as the total rejection of that which I criticized. After all, it is important to criticize the system of capitalist modernity that has led to millions of cases similar to my own, to countless massacres, genocides and wars. This is especially true of the people and region of which I am part—the Kurds and the Middle East—who are going through the most brutally tragic period. The least contribution I can make, as an intellectual, is to examine all of the factors that are responsible for this terrible situation. I am being tried as the head of a comprehensive and effective organization and my primary duty is to look for solutions to the questions with which we are faced. If, at a given place and time, that oppression, exploitation, dissolution and deadlock is so profound that to live is worse than being dead, then there is no alternative but to replace the existing world-view with a profoundly new approach. Hereafter, I shall advance such an approach.

9 His most famous statement, found in §7 of part I of Principles of Philosophy (1644) and in part IV of Discourse on the Method (1637).

10 Francis Bacon links knowledge and power in The New Organon (1620).

11 The Persian Sufi was tortured and publicly crucified in 922 CE by the Abbasid rulers for his alleged heresy. As for Giordano Bruno, it is not clear whether this Italian mathematician and astrologer was burned at the stake in 1600 for his pantheistic religious believes or for his cosmology.

12 Democritus was one of the two founders of the ancient atomist theory. He elaborated a system originated by his teacher Leucippus into a materialist account of the natural world. The atomists held that there are miniscule, indivisible bodies from which everything else is composed, and that these move about in an infinite void.

13 These speculations are aimed at opening our horizons, at shedding the unsound aspects of a methodology and distorted knowledge and belief systems produced by powers of state and society. They formed our thought structure with their lies and tools of distortion and to a great extent destroyed our ability for sound reasoning.

14 An example of such a cell is seen in the Euglena, which is a present-day unicellular organism. It has properties both of animals—it does move and it takes food from the environment when there is not sufficient light around for it to photosynthesize but when there is sufficient light, it will photosynthesize and produce its own food.

15 I will go into more detail about sex and reproduction in the human society at a later stage, but for now, suffice it to say that the pleasure obtained from sexual activity should not be confused with love. On the contrary, pleasure based purely on physical sex is denial of love. Capitalist modernity is destroying society in the name of love by advocating physical, loveless sex. Sexual lust is related to the loss of freedom. Love can only be achieved in freedom and morality. Real love is the great excitement experienced from the universal creation. Mawlānā’s saying, “Love is all there is in the universe, the rest is frivolous” is the true interpretation of love: the awareness of the bond between all elements in the universe, delighting in the harmony of creation.

16 Once again, light comes into play here because sight is impossible without light.

17 Verse 56 in sura 51 in the Qur’an reads: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” A common interpretation is that “to worship” here means “to know.” A hadith reads: “I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognized Me.” (Keshfu’l-hafâ, II, 132, Hadis: 2016).

18 Nietzsche developed this concept in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883).

19 The French philosopher, mathematician, physicist and writer Descartes spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic.

20 This concept was developed by Fernand Braudel, which is “proportionate to individuals, to daily life, to our illusions, to our hasty awareness—above all the time of the chronicle and the journalist. Social science has almost what amounts to a horror of the event. And not without some justification for the short time span is the most capricious and the most delusive of all.” On History (1980), p. 28.

21 Braudel used this concept to stress the slow, often imperceptible effects of space, climate, and technology on the actions of human beings.

22 See the works of Élisée Reclus and Murray Bookchin.

23 See Aristotle, The Politics, 1253a1-3.

24 Scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. It deems it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and justifiable access to the truth.

25 See Genealogy of Morality (1887) Part I §11 and Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

26 Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and The Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II (1949).

27 Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life (1951), p. 39. Adorno maintains that it is no longer possible to live a good, honest life because we live in an inhuman society.

28 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (1966).

29 We do not see resistance against capitalist modernity in any other cultural area besides the Middle East. Those that did resist could not escape elimination.

30 Coined and described by Maria Mies in Patriarchy and Capital Accumulation on a World Scale (1999), Chapter 3: “Housewifization means the externalization, or ex-territorialization of costs which otherwise would have to be covered by the capitalists. This means women’s labor is considered a natural resource, freely available like air and water. Housewifization means at the same time the total atomization and disorganization of these hidden workers. This is not only the reason for the lack of women’s political power, but also for their lack of bargaining power. As the housewife is linked to the wage-earning breadwinner, to the ‘free’ proletarian as a non-free worker, the ‘freedom’ of the proletarian to sell his labor power is based on the non-freedom of the housewife. Proletarianization of men is based on the housewifization of women.” (p. 110).

31 Hitler likens the society to a wife.

32 In Leviathan (1651), Thomas Hobbes uses these words to denote pre-capitalist society.

Scroll to Top