Stages of Civilized Society and Problems Associated with Resistance

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

When Rome collapsed toward the end of the fourth century, it was not just a city and civilization that collapsed—the longest period for all the civilizations of antiquity and the classical age ended. The following centuries, also remembered as the Dark Ages, are customarily called the Middle Ages due to the way history has been classified. This classification does not add value to our understanding of history—on the contrary, it spoils it. In the Marxist historical perspective, due to its classificatory method of history, this period is also called the Feudal Period. But calling it “feudalist” does not explain the full significance of this era. It can even be said that it serves to confound our understanding.

It may be more meaningful to interpret the disintegration of Rome as the disintegration of antiquity and the classical age. The fact that Christianity took the Bible, whose roots can be traced back to the Sumerian and Egyptian periods, as its manifesto, can only be viewed as this era’s expression of unity in opposition to civilization.

I believe that the period after the fall of Rome requires a different interpretation. We can label this new period the “Dark Ages,” the “Radiant Christian Age” or the “Radiant Muslim Age,” but these labels do not explain what happened—they actually distort the significance of this era. Throughout my analysis of civilization, I have pointed out the importance of the construction done by the priests. When they had served their purpose, those who had the political and military power ended the rule of the priests and left their own, overwhelming mark on all phases of civilization. For me, the most important theme is the conflict between the civilizational culture as a whole and the Neolithic culture. The former has continuously tried to constrict, colonize, assimilate and eliminate the Neolithic culture. I believe that the conflict between the cultures goes beyond the narrow class struggles and is more important than class struggle. Class struggle should be seen as a part of this conflict. Conflict between civilizations has always been a “bloody slaughterhouse.”

I think it will be more instructive to interpret all these struggles together in terms of the following two concepts: ideological culture and material culture. Fernand Braudel’s description of the capitalist culture as “material culture” is important, and I would argue that this expression should not be used for capitalist civilization alone, but for all the classed, city, and state civilizations, as this might increase our chances of meaningful analysis.97 The distinction between material culture and moral culture has always been present, from the establishment phases of civilization to the era of capitalism—capitalism only represents the latest phase and the peak of material culture. So, ideological culture (or moral, immaterial culture), which has also existed since the beginning, must now reach its peak with the sociology of freedom and its science of knowledge. Developing our investigation in this direction will improve our understanding of the relationship between the material and the ideological cultures of both the civilization and of the resistance to it—a resistance that has existed throughout the history of civilization. It will also help to establish the connection between the “Middle Ages” and “capitalist modernity” with the sociology of freedom, and to prepare a strong basis for the evaluation of the meaning of free life in terms of ideological culture.

The comments below should be seen as an experimental attempt to set out the sociology of freedom of the Neolithic and civilizational cultures. At a later stage, once I have made my observations regarding capitalist civilization, I will present a more comprehensive analysis.

a. Ideological and material cultures in Neolithic society

It seems that the coexistence of the ideological and material cultures in Neolithic society posed no serious problems as long as the two could be clearly differentiated. The problems began when the two cultures conjoined, as if in a bottleneck, and the Neolithic culture could not adapt as civilized society started to develop.

At this point, I must explain in more detail what I mean by the term problem that I so often use in my subheadings. As I use it, it denotes the chaotic situation when the ideological and material cultures can no longer be sustained by the individual and society. To resolve these problems, the new society must achieve meaningful structures. Ideological culture refers to the function, meaning, and mentality of the institutions and structures, whereas material culture refers to the visual aspects of the function and meaning of these institutions, as explained above.

Viewed in these terms, it appears there was no friction between the ideological and material cultures of the Neolithic society that would have threatened its existence or caused conflict, especially during its establishment and institutionalization phases. Social morality did not provide an opportunity for this to happen. Private property, the fundamental factor that leads to social cracks, did not have the opportunity to develop for two reasons: Division of labor between sexes had not yet led to the development of possessive and coercive relations. Because food was obtained collectively, there were no private property rights related to food. All communities—that had not yet grown in numbers or in size—had a firm, common ideological and material culture. Private property and coercion were seen as life-threatening, since it would have ruined the structure of society. Sharing and solidarity amongst themselves were the fundamental principle of their morality—a morality that sustained the society. It seems that as a result of this principle, the inner structure of the Neolithic society was quite strong. We can assume that this principle was the reason why Neolithic society lasted for thousands of years. Regarding the relationship between society and nature, specifically in comparison with the civilized society, both the ideological and material cultures seem to have been in harmony with nature. They saw nature as filled with sacredness and divinity, and nature was believed to be as alive as they were themselves. It was considered the strongest element of divinity as it provided them with air, water, fire and all varieties of plants and animals. One of the strongest reasons for the development of the notions of god and divinity can be found in this reality.

I will elaborate on civilized society’s concept of god later, but for now it is important to note that for Neolithic society divinity had nothing to do with coercion, exploitation, or tyranny. It had more to do with mercy, gratitude, abundance, affection, excitement and, when things went wrong, fear and light. It was important to be in harmony with nature. They even went to the extreme of sacrificing their children. The social aspect of their reverence for the divine can be seen as an expression of the society’s ancestral existence, through concepts such as totem, taboo and meaning. This social aspect was partly expressed as the ancestral mother-goddess religion. Although sacredness and concepts such as totem, taboo and meaning didn’t exactly mean “divinity,” they always had a prominent place in the mindset of Neolithic society. Attributing the quality of sacredness to an object or being is, essentially, the showing of submission or exultation, sometimes of fear or concern, at times affection and respect, and at times even pain and lamentation in reaction to everything that has an effect on people’s lives. This is the value people give to the effects of objects and the meanings they have on their lives. We can also describe this value as morals. Indeed, the gods and sacred beings play a fundamental role in forming such communities’ morals as they sincerely believe that this is how their society is sustained. They believe that if any of the rules were violated or disrespected, or a sacrifice not offered, disaster would follow. Such communities are completely moral societies.

Although there was a state of belonging between Neolithic man and the plants and animals that they domesticated, this could not be called “ownership” even though this state had become their true culture. Ownership entails owning objects, but at this stage the mentality that distinguishes between object and subject had not yet developed. People of the Neolithic did not see themselves as being on a higher level than the objects around them (thus, preventing any serious violation of the ecology). This state of belonging does, however, indicate a movement in the direction of ownership. The final transformation into ownership was realized only after a long time and under different conditions. It is important that we do not conclude from this that the Neolithic society was a “paradise.” The society was still very young and its future was uncertain because of the often-changing conditions of nature. But they were aware of the fact that they were at the mercy of the elements and, in fact, it was this awareness that formed their mentality. It was inevitable that they developed a metaphysical system with mythological and religious dimensions.

This perspective may help us to understand the essence of the collective life that centered on woman, and the metaphysics of sacredness and divinity growing from this collective life. Woman’s fertility and the nourishment and affection she bestowed made her the most important element of both the material and the moral culture. The man, even as husband, did not pose a threat to society’s collectivism. Society’s way of life did not allow it. Thus, it is clear that male attributes such as “the dominant gender,” “the husband,” “the owner of the property” and “the owner of the state” do not reflect any inherent male characteristics but are social constructs developed at a later stage. Neolithic society meant woman, her children, her sisters and her brothers. A prospective male candidate had to prove himself through hunting, plant cultivation and animal husbandry if he were to be accepted as a member. At this stage, the social institution giving a male the right to—and engendering the emotions relating to—say, “I am the man of my wife or the father of my children” had not yet developed. I am not saying that there are no psychological aspects connected to fatherhood—or even motherhood—but let us not forget that in essence fatherhood and motherhood are sociological concepts, phenomena and perceptions.

When did the Neolithic society enter its bottleneck or reached the point where it desired to transcend the society of collective life? We can establish possible internal and external factors that led to this point. It is possible that the male acquired the strength to threaten the matrilineal order by overcoming his weak position and attaining a stronger status through successful hunting and the gathering of subordinates. Agriculture and animal husbandry could have also given him the required strength. However, our observations suggest that Neolithic society was dissolved largely due to external factors. Undoubtedly, the most important external factor was the priest’s sacred state-society. The oldest stories of the civilized society of Lower Mesopotamia and the Nile largely confirm this. As previously explained, the culture of the Neolithic society and the new artificial irrigation techniques led to surplus production, a prerequisite for the development of the new society. The new society, which became urbanized around this surplus production, organized itself as a city-state and its character changed as male power rose. The increase in urbanization meant commodification. This, in turn, led to the development of trade. Trade, on the other hand, infiltrated into the Neolithic society through colonies and accelerated the disintegration of the Neolithic society by causing commodification, exchange value, and ownership to become widespread. The Uruk, Ur and Assur colonies are clear evidence of this. The main region of the Neolithic (the Mid and Upper Euphrates and Tigris river basins) joined the civilization society on this basis. All the other clan communities that had or had not reached the Neolithic level, faced civilized society’s attacks, occupation, invasion, colonialism, assimilation and annihilation.

My observations lead me to believe that developments such as these were experienced in all regions inhabited by human communities. The Neolithic society (and similar societal forms from different periods) which we can regard as the stem cell of society, started to disintegrate as a result of civilized society’s attacks, but has continued to maintain remnants of its previous existence until today. My personal view is that the societies that preceded civilization can never be annihilated. This is not because they were exceptionally strong but, just as with stem cells, because social existence is not possible without them. Civilized society can only exist in co-existence with the society that preceded it. (A paradoxical situation similar to the one that there can be no capitalism if there are no workers.) Furthermore, maintaining civilized society is only possible if it is based on uncivilized or partially civilized societies. It is possible that partial annihilation and elimination of pre-civilized societies did occur, but they could not have been complete.

We should not belittle the ideological culture of Neolithic society that existed for such a long time. Timeless values such as maternal laws, social solidarity, fraternity, affection, respect, doing good not for personal gain but for the good of the community, morality, voluntarily helping one another, devotion to the undistorted essence of what is sacred and divine, respect for the neighbors, and the desire for equality and free life were the fundamental reasons why this society existed for such a long time. Furthermore, these values will not cease to exist as long as social life continues to exist. Since the values of civilized society are burdened with unnecessary material and moral cultural elements—such as oppression, exploitation, seizure, looting, rape, massacre, immorality, annihilation and dissolution—their existence within society is temporary. They are mainly the features of a society with problems. In The Sociology of Freedom, I will investigate how the unsound and distorted values of civilized society can be transcended and how the permanent values of society can become an integral part of a free, equal, and democratic society.98

b. Material and ideological cultures in civilized society

It may be instructive to interpret the civilized society as having three phases: he initial or constructing phase, the middle or maturity phase, and the final phase. However, one should keep in mind that civilized society is a whole and, although such divisions may be handy for analyses, in the long term, it will preserve its wholeness.

Attributes such as refinement, politeness, genteelness, respect for rules, moderation, systematic thinking, intelligence, devotion to rights and peacefulness are ascribed to civilized society. However, these are fabrications with only propagandistic value. The real face of civilized society is one of violence, lies, deception, vulgarity, conspiracy, wars, enslavement, annihilation, servitude, treachery, seizure, looting, immorality, disrespect for the law, adoration of power, distortion and abuse of what is sacred and divine—all for the benefit of a rapist and gender discriminatory elite. It is a society where some have access to everything while others are hungry and poor. The result is that society is brimming with slaves, strayed villagers and unemployed workers. With the might of propaganda and a false, harmful metaphysical approach, it endeavors to continuously hide its real self.

We can define civilized society as the society ruled by an organization called the state, which is based on urbanization and class division. Kinship and solidarity in ethnic and tribal structures will at most lead to hierarchy as a form of social diversification—class division and attainment of statehood are not compatible with its nature, and tribal culture is not compatible with the culture of classed-state. The essence of class division is for one class to have the surplus product at their disposal. It is also the seizure or possession of the land and production tools that lead to surplus production. The common saying that property is theft from society holds true; surplus production is of course the return on that theft. The state organization is, at its heart, the collective means of protection of this stolen property and the distribution of the total surplus product to its owners. Organized property is actually the ownership of surplus production and surplus value. Of course there was always a need for tremendous armies, bureaucracies and weapons. And, as the society needed to establish itself, there was an enormous need for the tools of legitimization. Thus, they had to invent a science, utopia, philosophy, art, law, morals and religion that would bind society to themselves. Meaningless metaphysics has distorted the social roles of these institutions and the society’s links to free life.

The relationships between civilized society and the ideological and material cultures are rife with complexities and distortions, but of crucial importance is the structuredness of this society. This characteristic, in turn, increases the extent of the material culture. I am not saying that ideological culture ceases to exist at this point but that it becomes secondary and distorted.

This issue needs to be understood. Now, structure and functionality are two concepts from epistemology, the science of knowledge. Each structure has a function and each function has a structure. When in a state of chaos, both the structure and the function enter a crisis and face disintegration and dissolution. At this point, temporary, mixed structures and contradictory functions step in. This is a universal phenomenon.

Every organic and every inorganic form in the universe contains inherent structure and functionality. In general, if matter is structured, then, in order to sustain this structure, there is a need for energy. For matter, energy is functionality. As we know from science, energy is fundamental and material structures cannot exist without energy—but energy can exist without material structure. Matter as a structure can cease to exist, but energy cannot be destroyed. As far as we know, for energy to develop its functionality material structure is needed. Even the phenomenon of life is linked to highly developed material structures and environments. Aliveness without material structure is inconceivable. If it does exist, then we are not aware of it. To draw a generalization: the counterpart of highly developed material structures is highly developed functionality.

The societal equivalent of material structure and functionality is material and ideological culture. Although the material structure in civilized society is excessively developed, it has not fully developed its functionality. On the contrary material structure has lost its functionality and in return it has also ruined its own structures. The fundamental reason for this is that civilized society does not abide by the main structural and ideological cultures that enable sociality. In fact, it places too big a strain on them. Had the development of the material culture been equivalent to and consistent with the development of the ideological culture, we would not have been talking about the drawbacks of material culture and its damage to society. All that could have been said would have been that it was normal. However, in cases where the material culture is developed and accumulated in the hands of an elite social group, it means, in a broad sense, a structural and functional deterioration of society and, in a narrow sense, expansion of the material culture and dissolution of the ideological culture.

Let me explain this with an example. The Egyptian Pyramids are very large material structures. But their counterpart is the millions of people who lost their functionality—that is a meaningful life and freedom, i.e. the ideological culture. This is what civilization is. It constructs huge structures (temples, cities, walls, bridges, fields, depots) and through its constructions, reflects its magnitude. Such societies have been made possible by civilization. However, when one searches for functionality or ideological cultural value in the same society, we find that it is either absent or we find a distorted version. An elite had broken away from society and gained control over society through merciless oppression and exploitation. It had either torn society away from its ideological culture or had presented a distorted version that deprived society of its fundamental values of ideological culture.

The ideological and material cultures that nourish the minority result in an unsound society—a society suffocating in matter and totally detached from an ideology of free life and concern with ecology. This is what I mean by the state of “social problems”—a state that resulted from the dialectical development described above. This is exactly why civilized society is detached from the environment. The existence of civilized society necessarily means a break with the environment. It is immaterial how we define the environment and ecology (whether we describe it in broad terms as “the unity of nature and society” or, in the most scientific terms, as “the integration of nature and society”), but a healthy environment and ecology needs a society that transcends the fundamental elements that constitute civilization: class, city, and state. I am not pleading for a vulgar elimination. The new society can only be achieved if material and ideological cultures are balanced and consistent. The synthesis of society’s internally balanced and harmonious material and ideological culture with that of nature will result in free nature (or, as Murray Bookchin puts it in The Ecology of Freedom, “third nature”).99 This will also serve as a means to overcome the contradiction of civilized society’s imbalance between nature and society.

Looking at the initial construction period of civilized societies from this perspective reveals in nearly all of them a significant material culture. The huge pyramids of Egypt, the ziggurats of Sumer, the underground city of China, the temples of India, and the cities and temples of Latin America clearly show the existence of the material culture. The inner meaning or ideological culture of these places lies in the mummified bodies, statues of gods, and the march of the statue-king and his army in the nether world. But it is a meaning that has been severely distorted. One could try to find sense in such grandeur by emphasizing the concept of I, but it is clear that what these structures really signify is the transformation of sociality. It is quite clear that without society—or, rather, without its transformation—such structures cannot even be conceived. Even the act of deifying the king is itself a work of mentality, of a mindset. But it is a distorted mentality and one that destroys the ideological culture. It is in vehement opposition to this mentality that the monotheist religions were founded—even though they risked demolishing the ideological culture. Thus, this society, which has established itself in cities and has organized itself as classed-state, presents its grand accumulation as material culture. In reality, its grandeur signifies a distorted mentality, a harmful metaphysical framework, alienation from nature, subjugation of nature, and the pretense that it possesses a creativity that can entirely be separated from nature. This entails the distortion of ideological culture and relegating it to a position of secondary importance.

Of course these changes were not always met with joy; naturally, they were met with opposition. It is important to understand that the early resistance to civilized society was a rebellion of the ideological culture and that it was multi-dimensional. The fact that the cities were enclosed with fortified walls as soon as they were built denotes a rebellion of the ideological culture of ethnic groups from outside. Mythological narration, the well-disguised expression of reality, and sacred religious texts also tell the stories of resistance. The fierce resistance against women’s imprisonment in the house and her subjugation to male domination is clearly reflected in the persona of Inanna.100 In-depth analyses of the personas of the creator-god and the subject-human will show that an intense class struggle raged. The manufacturing of the creator-god replaced the nature-god, whose essence was destroyed. In fact, the ruling class, who had nothing to do with creativity, declared itself the creative and masked gods. On the other hand, the members of society who were the real creators and had a meaningful system of sacredness and divinity were described as having been created from the self-proclaimed gods’ excrement. This is indeed the mythical expression of an immense class struggle.

The fall of the ideological culture is also disguised in these narratives. The myths dealing with the early construction of civilization, especially the proficiency of the god’s construction, can be seen as the ideological form of the class struggle. What happened could only have been explained through mythology. The rivalry and wars between cities indicate an intensive social struggle. The epic poems, the arrangement of the pantheons, the architecture of the cities, and the construction of their tombs clearly reflect the gap between classes and between city and the rural society. The stories of the Pharaohs and Nimrods document the deep cleavage within society. Tribal tunes, on the other hand, tell of despair and hardship in the face of attacks by civilized society.

The most significant resistance to civilized society that we know of is that of the prophetic tradition. Their story starts with Adam and Eve, the first two people. All the characteristics of this story carry the mark of ideological culture. If viewed as the personification of civilization’s mentality, Adam and Eve provide the clues to the initial master-servant conflict. The dialogue between Adam and god and his relationship with Eve symbolize not only the distinction between master and slave but also the relegation of women to secondary importance. Noah’s exodus is reminiscent of Neolithic society’s departure to a mountainous region beyond civilization’s reach where they attempted to reconstruct society. It is indeed the story of the Sumerian society and the resistance of the Neolithic society in an attempt to survive. Adam and Noah show that resistance has existed since the beginning of civilization and that it will continue as long as civilization continues to exist. The history of dynasties is the history of the ruling class, whereas the history of the prophets is essentially the history of cultures, tribes, heroines and heroes that resisted. The feature they share is their opposition to paganism.

We should of course distinguish between the paganism of civilized society and the tribal symbols such as totems. The gods gathered in the pantheons of civilized society all had human shape, looking like copies of the rulers of the specific period—in fact, they were the rulers of the time. So, when the prophets attacked these figures, it was seen as an attack on the ruler. And indeed it was, for at the time anti-paganism was synonymous with being anti-state. It was an opposition to all the notions and icons that symbolized institutionalized society. It was resistance. The struggle between the priests and the rulers of the political kingdoms had different characteristics. It was a struggle that took place within the upper class. It was a struggle internal to the state. The priest was essentially the state’s clergyman: he was not concerned with society. The prophets, on the other hand, were the spokespersons of a society that had been excluded by the state. But, of course, since they were the ones that had manufactured the ideological culture, the priests had some influence on the prophets, albeit indirectly.

The unique aspect of the tradition initiated by the prophet Abraham and institutionalized by Moses, was the courage to completely break away from the Egyptian and Sumerian society and the willpower to construct their own society. This was an ideological culture revolution. “Nimrod” and “Pharaoh” are the symbolic titles given to the rulers of the two state-societies. They had fixed characteristics and denoted total domination. Abraham and Moses renounced this domination by announcing their own ideological culture and mental resistance. We should not underestimate the significance of such a declaration during such an age. Comparatively, the declaration that another world besides the official world of the Pharaohs and Nimrods existed is as significant as admitting the possible existence of other worlds would be today. To this end, they had intense discussions with their own community; thus, the prophetic resistance was a communal movement. But above all else, it was a movement of hope. I believe that a significant part of the strength of the modern Israel (or, at least, the strength of its ideological culture) derives from the narratives of Abraham and Moses. All the stories and the utopia of the Abrahamic tradition are about the struggle and yearning for a tribal order that was prevented by civilization. Although they had been influenced by both civilizations, they rejected the essence of civilization and their aim was not to build a similar civilization. This ideal played an important part in the conflict between the prophets and the priests of the kings of Israel. (I believe the strong discord that exists today between the Israeli state and society is a continuation of this ancient conflict.) The Hebrews and the prophets were the historical witnesses of the Hittites, Mitannis, Assyrians, Medo-Persians and finally the Greco-Romans and the residuals of these civilizations had accumulated in their memories. The period between 1,600 and 1,200 BCE was a golden period for the material culture. The relationship between the Hittites, Egyptians and Mitannis presents us with the initial examples of international diplomacy. The Hebrews followed these developments from close by. Thus, we will not understand Abraham and Moses, nor any of the other prophets, if we attempt to analyze them without taking the developments of that period into consideration. Their response to these developments was that of ideological culture. I will later discuss the role of Jesus and Mohammed, the two major reformers within this tradition, in the rise of ideological culture.

Babylonia and Assur are the two important links in connecting the rise of material culture. In the time of these two kingdoms, the enlarged city and trade developed significantly. Babylonia was what Paris is today. The Assyrians were the most brutal representatives of the merchant-kingdom and, later, the empire. This is the management tradition that best represents the material society in the Middle East. They played no small part in reducing the ideological culture to secondary importance and in distorting it.

The Zoroastrian culture, which the Medo-Persian tradition is based on, waged an important struggle to regain the dominance of the ideological culture. Zoroaster, Buddha and Socrates, who lived at more or less the same time, were great moral philosophers and sages who represented the superiority of ideological culture over that of material culture. They provided the great stimulus and voice of human conscience that had been degraded by civilization. Through their own life styles they were able to show, at a time when material culture had a vastly superior position, that another world was possible and that they were seeking it. During this time, the resistance and offensive of peripheral cultures, primarily the Scythians, provide ongoing evidence that ideological culture cannot be destroyed that easily.

During the initial phase of civilization, the Semitic culture of the Amorites, the Aryan culture of the Hurrites, and the north Caucasian culture of the Scythians all resisted civilization. We cannot wish for clearer evidence that resistance to civilization has been as sustained and as strong as civilization itself. What the Goths meant to Rome, the Amorites-Arabs, Hurrites-Medes, and Scythians meant to the Middle Eastern empires. And, like Christianity later, religious movements have always played a significant part in the social resistances of the Middle East.

c. Greco-Roman civilization

The Greco-Roman civilized society represents the middle or maturity phase in civilization’s history. It can also be called the civilization of the Classical Age. They developed the best of civilization’s potential and the most magnificent age of material culture. This civilization managed most successfully to synthesize the material cultures of all its predecessors. It was the apogee of this civilization; it was also the last of its kind. (Finding anything today comparable to the material culture that they attained is quite difficult—capitalist industrialism is not a civilization but a disease attacking civilization.) The Athenian period also meant the end of antiquity’s ideological culture. The Athenian pantheon was like a graveyard for the gods who had lost their aliveness, or, indeed, their ideological cultural worth; the birth of philosophy was the end result of this process. It is understandable that such a situation arises when societies are at their peak—all peaks end in decline.

It is clear that a slave-owning society amounts to a system of a completely material culture. The primary characteristic of this system is the profound degradation of humanity, a degradation not seen in any other species. This capacity for the collapse of conscience is closely linked to the attractiveness and magnificence of the material culture. Even today, it is nearly impossible not to be filled with awe and admiration for the monuments and structures created by this culture. This is the closest the human being can get to being divine. However, when divinity targets humans themselves, it turns into a catastrophe. For the gods everyone else is servant. None of the other contradictions and struggles was so openly displayed as that of the god and the servant. The degradation can be best understood if the pederasty in ancient Greek culture is analyzed properly. Its connection to the enslavement of women goes deeper than just that of sexuality; in essence, the enslavement of women and the sexual bondage of boys are the same social phenomenon.

Two of the most striking features of woman’s enslavement are the oppression and dehumanization. Being confined to the house is not just spatial imprisonment. It is worse than being in a prison: it is being kept in a state of continuous and profound rape. No matter how hard one tries to disguise this reality with engagement and wedding ceremonies, even one day of a practice of this kind signals the end of humanity’s honor, especially for those who have self-respect. With the rise of male dominated society, woman was systematically removed from the values of production, education, administration and freedom through various forms of violence. Her violation through ideological degradation—including appraisals of love—was so extreme that the result was worse than submission. She completely lost her identity and was recreated as something else: a wife. Even in the eyes of an ordinary man a woman could be nothing but a wife. And her being a wife permitted the rise of all sorts of disposition rights—including murder. She was not just property but private property. For her owner, it denoted the potential of being a small emperor—as long as he knew how to make use of it! The principle pillar that prepared the ground for civilization was this very reality. This reality is also one of the main reasons why the material culture has no boundaries. The success of the experiment with women meant that it could be tried on the whole of society—this was the second, grave infliction. Society was to function as wife to its master. As I will argue later, the process of housewifization of society was completed by the capitalist system. However, the foundation for this had been laid during the initial phase of civilization, and during the Greco-Roman period there was an attempt to attain the housewifization by presenting pederasty as an example of a successful society. Society can only be turned into a wife if man too were turned into a wife. The Greco-Roman society realized this and took its own precautions. It was widely accepted that the situation of a slave was much worse than that of a wife. The problem was to turn those men who were not slaves into wives. The Greeks’ solution was pederasty. I am not referring to homosexuality—a phenomenon that has biological and psychological dimensions. In ancient Greek society it was fashionable for every free adolescent boy to have an adult man as a partner. The boy had to be the lover of his partner at least until he was experienced. Even the great sage Socrates took part in this practice. What was important was not how much one took advantage of the boy, but that the boy had to learn the soul of submission. The mentality underlying this practice is clear. Since attributes such as freedom and honor are incompatible with an enslaved society, they must be wiped from society’s memory. And indeed, in an environment of human freedom and honor, enslavement cannot flourish. The system understood this and strove to implement the required mental attitude. However the Greco-Roman culture was prevented from completing this mission. Internally, Christianity developed through free philosophical schools and externally the continuous offensives and rebellions of the different ethnic groups presented other problems for society. At the same time, there were indications that material culture did not have the strength to overcome everything. Later, however, society would be turned into a wife without the need for pederasty.

Essentially, the resistance of tribal forces and the Christians—paying a painful price in the process—was to end this type of society that meant the destruction of humanity. Their later reconciliation with the system does not negate the value and aim of the ideological culture of these resistance movements. These movements had no significance in terms of material culture, and their later advances should be seen as the rise of the ideological culture. A similar example would be the relationship between the Sassanids, Islam, and the migrating Turanians. The profoundness of the rise and fall of societies cannot be explained simply in terms of oppression and exploitation; it is vastly more comprehensive. Capitalism has not yet been resolved and dissolved because we have not been able to make an appropriate analysis of civilized society. The analyses of capitalism that have been done are like the small part of the iceberg above the water. The essential bulk is the civilized society and that is still below the water.

d. Christianity and Islam

It is not clear whether Christianity and Islam should be seen as civilizations or as moral systems (Christian and Islamic theologians and believers are themselves not clear about this). Although there is no easy answer to this question, it remains an important one. But even if they started off as belief and moral systems, it has not been explored sufficiently where and until when they remained like that, what their relationships with the civilized and the excluded societies were, and to what degree they formed or opposed civilizations.

In my opinion, these two important belief and moral systems, formed during the Sassanid and Greco-Roman empires, represent a great offensive by the ideological culture against the deterioration of ideological culture, and against the vast proportions that the material culture had reached. If the intention was to construct a new civilized society, they would have based themselves on city and class formations, as happened in the construction of all classic civilizations. To the extent that they intended to established cities and classes, this was only because they wanted everyone to adopt their belief and moral values and not because they wished to become civilized societies themselves. Their most important objective was not to achieve power or to take possession of the material culture. On the contrary, they wished to attain the hegemony of a new ideological culture that would protect humanity against a meaningless material culture that was no longer on equal footing with ideological culture. Therefore, simply defining the age of Christianity and Islam as civilized systems is insufficient and may lead to misconceptions.

The collapse of Rome was not an ordinary event nor was it the collapse of an ordinary civilization. Indeed, with its collapse a tradition of civilized society at least four thousand years old also collapsed. The details of the internal and external reasons for its collapse do not concern us here. What does concern us is whether or not there was a connection between the values of civilized society and the general collapse, and if so, what role these values played in the collapse.

Rome can be seen as representative of all the initial and classical civilizations (with the exception of China). Not only because it too institutionalized slavery, but because it shared all the material and moral cultures of these civilizations. The fundamental reason for our inability to understand this reality is because these societies are analyzed on the basis of their daily oppression and exploitation. This flawed approach is one of the most significant distortions caused by positivism—the school of thought that, arguably, underlies the most pernicious aspects of European thinking. If a society is not analyzed on the basis of its material and ideological cultures, the conflicts and contradictions, the harmony or incompatibility between these two cultures of the society, a meaningful interpretation cannot be reached. Consequently, new paradigms for a freer life cannot be constructed.

It should now be clear that the collapse of Rome also meant the collapse of the preponderant material culture of civilized society and its ideological culture, an ideological culture that had no bearing on a meaningful life. Even Rome’s architecture was the crowning of a four thousand year old architectural tradition, which included that of Egypt. The Roman pantheon was the final, most magnificent, stage of the top level of the four thousand year old Sumerian priests’ ziggurats. Thus, the material and ideological cultures that concomitantly collapsed with Rome were at least four thousand years old. Similarly, an analysis of how and by whom this demolition was brought about indicates a history of resistance that forms one continuous whole. The history of external resistance to and attacks on civilization, starting with the early Amorites and Hurrites and ending, finally, with the Goths, dates back four thousand years. The long history of internal resistance began with Noah and continued until Mohammed. The story of every prophet indicates the length to which they went to gather the communities around them. What is important is not only that the history of resistance stretched over millennia, but also the vast area over which it occurred. From the Arabian deserts to the Taurus and Zagros skirts, from the Central Asian deserts to the deep European forests, it left profound marks on both the material and the moral cultures of the nomadic tribes.

The Eurocentric structures of knowledge are not interested in investigating these matters (and this is precisely why “Eurocentric” is an appropriate description). But, without a meaningful interpretation of the historic civilizational sources of Rome’s material and ideological cultures, and without the real history of Rome, we will not be able to identify the roots of Europe’s material and ideological cultures.

The two hundred years prior to the collapse of Rome were described as centuries of darkness and complexities—no societal collapse is simply a matter of the events occurring in its few final years. This also applies to the collapse of the Sassanid Empire—the Eastern version of how the Sumerian priest-state came to its end. Although the Zoroastrian influence had strengthened its moral character, this influence was not strong enough to prevent Sassanid Iran’s moral collapse. Just as Buddha could not prevent the Rajahs from constructing civilized society based on material culture, and as Socrates could not cure the moral decay of the Athenian culture, so Zoroaster could not prevent the excessive luxuries of the huge Persian and Sassanid material cultures. History shows us that the final period of the Iranian Sassanid Empire was no different from that of Rome. The Turanian attacks from outside and the religious and sectarian conflicts on the inside, slowly brought about its end. When the Mani movement, a strong offensive of ideological culture, was eliminated around 250 CE, it was left destitute, unable to renew itself. If not for the wars waged by Islam, the Nasturi priests, just like the Catholic priests in the West, might have ideologically conquered Iran. Islamic occupation prevented this.

Now that we understand what the collapse of the two big slave-owning civilizations entails, we can define the two famous movements that call themselves ideological alternatives: Islam and Christianity.

The constructing of an own official society in Rome led to many marginal sections within the society. These were not traditional migrating tribal groups with their own ethnic characteristics. They were the newly formed group of the déclassé, the rabble, or, as the Romans put it, the “proletariat.” They did not start off as identifiable groups with their own ideologies; rather, they were the unemployed of the slave-owning society. For the first time in history a new social stratum was formed and gradually new cults such as the Essenes in Roman Judaea developed around them.

We do not need to concern ourselves with the ongoing debate whether Jesus was an historic person or a symbolic persona created by the conditions of the time. With the Siege of Jerusalem in 63 BCE, despite great resistance, the small Hebrew kingdom was conquered by the Romans and administered through governors. At the time of Jesus’s birth, Rome was at its peak under Emperor Augustus. The Jewish upper classes had become professional collaborators—their long history of collaboration with the Nimrods and Pharaohs prepared them well for collaboration with Rome. On the other hand, since the time of Abraham and Moses, the Hebrews always had a strong leaning toward freedom. Jesus was the continuation of this tradition. We can deduce from his last actions that Jesus had an ideological interest in Jerusalem—the reason for his crucifixion.

Initially, Christianity was not an organized movement nor did it have an ideological manifest. There was only a small group of followers loosely attached to Jesus. These early leaders of Christianity, the so-called disciples and later the apostles, had no hierarchic, ethical or official status in society. For such a group, life in Roman Judaea could not have been easy. Crucifixion, an often-used method of punishment in this region, was but one of Rome’s terrible inventions that drove many groups deeper into the interior or to the shores of Syria (the opposite direction of Abraham’s flight to the region where Jerusalem would later be built).

A century after Christ’s death the first drafts of the Bible were compiled. One of the earliest was that of Marcion.101 The early saints within the Roman Empire surfaced in the 1st century and increased in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The 4th century is the century of Christianity. After Emperor Constantine paved the way for Christianity to become the state religion, there was a huge increase in the number of saints and in the number of believers.102 During these centuries, Christianity began to divide into various denominations and state Christianity developed.

A central doctrine of Christianity is that of the Trinity, the expression of God in three personae: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not one of the Holy Trinity and not seen as divine, but veneration for Mary has been high ever since the first century, so that one could interpret the Father, the Mother and the Son as a trinity of god figures. I am not going to embark on a theological discussion, but I must indicate that the roots of the belief in the Divine Family can be traced back to our earliest history. The Sumerians were the first society to channel this belief into the ziggurats, the official temples. The initial pantheon trilogy consisted of the goddess Inanna (the Mother), the god An (the Father), and the god Enki (the Son). Thus, the often heard claim that Christianity has been strongly influenced by paganism is not something that should be brushed aside. What is of more interest to us, is that Christ came from the Abrahamic tradition, a tradition strongly opposed to paganism. The religious movement resisting in the name of Christ seems to have reconciled these two traditions.

This matter has confused people over the ages and has led to discussions, divisions, and conflicts between denominations. At the heart of the discussion is the question whether Christ is of divine or mortal essence. Mostly, those who accept Christ’s divine essence are those who align themselves with official Christianity. In 325 CE, the Christian bishops convened for the First Council of Nicaea declared that the Son was of the same divine essence as the Father; thus, that Christ was truly human, but at the same time, truly God. Constantine (the convener of the council) himself accepted this interpretation. Thus, the state’s concept of divinity is the concept that has been officially accepted. Those who claim that Christ is only of human nature mostly were those who have not been integrated into the state.103 (A parallel can be drawn with the division between the Sunni sect, being the state religion, and the Alevi sect, whose members have not been integrated into the state.) The foundation for this was laid by the Sumerian priests. The initial separation of religion based on two different social strata began with the Sumerians, whereas the concept of the divinity of humans was handed down from the Neolithic culture. Or, rather, the concept carries some important remnants from that culture (paganism too has retained some of these aspects).

Christianity underwent two important changes in the fourth century. The first was that it became a state religion. In this form it also became the religion of civilization. This was Rome’s attempt to overcome the moral crisis, or the crisis of legitimacy, experienced by the Roman material culture. The second change was that it became the religion of the masses. It was no longer the belief of small groups of saints but the official or unofficial religion of large numbers of peoples, amongst the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Latins, and others.

This is how we entered the infamous Middle Ages—the so-called Dark Ages. On the one hand, based on the legitimacy of Christianity we had the original, collapsed Rome replaced by the Rome of Constantine. On the other hand, there was the incredible development of Christianity as a large offensive of the ideological culture. The two main actors of this period—Christianity of Constantine’s Rome of and the Christianity adopted by the masses—acted according to the division around the doctrine of the Trinity: the religion with an official god and the religion of unofficial gods. The historical division continues, although in changed form, and conflict between them has caused much bloodshed. The previous conflict between Christianity and paganism has become the conflict between the Divine Christ and the Human Christ. Ultimately, though, this division is but the continuation of the ancient struggle between the civilizations, various classes and ethnic forces under new conditions and masks. A clearer interpretation of this division is that part of this new offensive of the ideological culture, with its profound historic roots, had become part of civilization by reconciling with the material culture and therefore corrupted. Another part had refrained from reconciliation and continued to pursue ideological and cultural hegemony.

The thousand years after the fall of Rome (more or less from 500 CE to 1,500 CE) can be seen as a period of rivalry, conflict, and reconciliation between those who struggled for the supremacy of the material culture and those who struggled for the supremacy of the ideological culture. Calling the Middle Ages “dark” or “feudal” can only partially explain what it was that really happened during this time. If we can answer the question of what filled the vacuum left by Rome’s collapse, we may arrive at a better understanding of the forces that caused the collapse of the Roman material culture. Elements of the material culture continued in the East in the Byzantine cities. In Europe, it reappeared in the newly constructed cities. Indeed, the history of modern Europe’s material culture can be attributed to this new movement of urbanization. If cities such as Paris were mere continuations of the 4th century Roman settlements, then the domination of the material culture around 1,500 CE would not have been possible. Not only could the medieval cities not be compared to Rome, they did not even surpass the Mesopotamian cities of 3,000-2,000 BCE or the Aegean cities of 600-300 BCE. Even the medieval European castles did not surpass the castles of Taurus and Zagros of 2,000-1,500 BCE. In short, the urbanization of Europe between 500 and 1,500 CE could not have provided the necessary power to surpass the “dark” ages. But the new moral culture, the hegemonic ideological culture of Christianity, did have this ability. For European history, Christianity’s superiority undoubtedly has had important consequences. Historians interpret this period to be the conquest of Europe by the moral culture of Christian belief and values rather than material culture, and I agree.

The really important question is why Rome remained at the level of a material culture of two thousand years ago. And even more importantly, how was it possible for a system of beliefs and moral values such as Christianity, which was not really in a position to satisfy the present need for ideological culture, to conquer Europe. I believe an important reason is the fact that Europe had only experienced the Neolithic culture at the time and was, so to speak, virgin soil. As a result you can reap what you sow and its one thousand year old history has proven this reality. The second reason could be external factors: the threat of the Turks (both as Muslims and as pagans) and of the Arabs coming from Sicily and Spain. When seeing these two factors in combination, it is possible to understand the long duration of the “darkness” of medieval Europe. There was a need for Christianity because paganism collapsed with the collapse of Rome. Even before Christianity, the belief and moral system of European paganism had proven to be insufficient. As a result, the conditions for the hegemony of Christianity, ideologically and culturally, were ripe. However, its material culture had always been weak compared to that of Rome and the East. Obviously, it was impossible to establish magnificent cities like Paris from communities who had just left the Neolithic period. As a result of this double incompetence (the inability of Christianity to overcome the need for ideological culture, and the structure of cities that had not surpassed those of thousands of years ago) it was possible for Europe to launch its grand material offensive in the 16th century.

There is, however, a close relationship between the grand offensive of the material culture and the hegemony of Christianity as the ideological culture. (Indeed, the fact that major religions have always been in conflict with sectarian splinter groups proves that this is a universal reality.) European capitalism, as the offensive of a splendid material culture, used the weaknesses of Christianity—such as its lack of strong ideological content—to construct a new age by transforming the merchant and profit cult into the new official power of civilization. No previous civilization had dared to do this. This is how the transition from the middle stage to the final stage of the material culture came about in the West. I will discuss later whether this age, capitalist modernity, should be seen as the crisis of the civilization, whether it had become a cancerous disease, or whether it is the final stage of old age.

The story of Islam is more complicated, as Islam became rapidly civilized and has been involved in serious conflicts with Judaism and Christianity since its inception and, internally, with itself. I see the two hundred years before Mohammed as the crisis of the last phase of the slave-owning civilization. Christianity came out of this crisis as the stronger side. It succeeded in becoming the first organization for the poor and un-influential of society. It succeeded as an alternative power. Although there are problems associated with Christianity, I shall evaluate these problems under Islam (since they arose from the same roots). This section shall be finalized with a look at other possible alternatives and the rise of Islam.

Before I proceed, I need to raise several points. Firstly, Islam is the final religion in the Abrahamic tradition and this is how it constructs itself. Hence, its roots include the Abrahamic tradition that is at least two thousand years old. We can conclude from this that the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews is in a way the conflict between two sects of the same religion. Secondly, Mohammed viewed the mentality of Mecca, his hometown, as ignorance. It is indeed a way of criticizing the paganism of Mecca. Thirdly, Mohammed’s dialogues with the Nestorian priests could be seen as a link to Christianity. Fourthly, his involvement with trade is due to his being employed by the merchant Khadijah, whom he later married. Fifthly, he was severely influenced by the tribalism that reigned amongst Arabs for thousands of years. Sixthly, he lived during the last magnificent stages of both the Byzantine and the Sassanid Empires.

Although these are the main factors that ensured the birth of Islam, there are of course other factors. What I am trying to point out, once again, is that the birth of Islam was also not a “miracle in the desert” but the product of strong material and historical circumstances. Not only are its strengths linked to these circumstances, but so are its weaknesses. Islam is not a synthesis of civilizations, like early Sumer or late Rome, but predominantly a movement of beliefs and morals.

Mohammed’s life is much better known than that of Abraham, Moses, or Jesus. Many of his characteristics are also known. His message, the Qur’an, does not target a single nation, tribe or class but the whole of humanity. I believe that the concept of Allah, the most used in the Qur’an, should be the main topic of Islamic theology. Mohammed was deeply influenced by this. He viewed Allah as the Lord of all worlds. The term “Allah” is conceptually so wide that sociologically speaking it has the capacity to integrate the divine in nature with that in society. The ninety-nine attributes it contains define the combined effects of the forces of society and the forces of nature. However, the issues its followers would like to understand as “perpetual laws and orders” are extremely unclear. This is because no attributes with social roots, which are necessarily transitory, and not even all aspects of nature, can have the value of a law. The concept of the immutability of law itself resulted from the extreme formalism of Hebrew tribalism. This understanding of law as changeless might have been useful in overcoming tribal anarchy, but in later centuries it led to great conservatism in the Islamic society. In any case, if we consider the rapid nature of social development, it is clear that there are potential dangers contained in the ummah concept.104

Mohammed’s strong belief in Allah determined his metaphysical strength. At least, by accepting the existence of a superior power, he escaped contracting the familiar disease of being the god. Keeping in mind the big dispute over the divinity of Christ, Mohammed’s approach clearly was more productive. But one of his failings was his inability to overcome the Judaic rigorousness. The heavy bill is now being settled in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is worth discussing whether Mohammed intended a society with a predominantly material or a predominantly ideological culture. In Christianity, the moral aspect is prevalent, but Islam appears to have established a strong equilibrium between the material and the ideological culture. Despite its insufficient and controversial content, I see this equilibrium as the strongest feature of Islam. One of Mohammed’s hadiths, “work for this world as if thou will never die and work for the afterlife as if thou will die tomorrow,” explains this structure well. It is known that he was not in favor of the classical Roman, Byzantine, Sassanid or the more ancient Pharaoh and Nimrod systems and that he vehemently criticized them. Thus, from this perspective, he was a strong critic of civilization. However, neither the material circumstances nor the ideological capacity of his time sufficiently explains his ideal of a city-state. (It is similar to the socialists of today not being able to find an alternative system to the modern state.) But his emphasis on morals indicates that he was aware of the problems inherent in civilized society. This made him a great reformer, even a revolutionary: he refused to acknowledge any society where morality was not prevalent. His rules about interest prevented the development of the capitalist society in the Middle East. In this regard, he was ahead of both Christianity and Judaism. He had well-known abolitionist tendencies, was quite affectionate and favored freedom. Although he was by no means desirous of equality and freedom for women, he did despise the profound slavery of women. He recognized the differences in class and ownership in society but, like a social democrat, he tried to prevent the forming of monopolies and their social hegemony by using excessive taxation.

This short summary shows us that Mohammed and Islam neither wanted an unbalanced material culture, nor wanted to remain a purely ideological culture. It is this aspect that strengthened Islam both against civilizational powers and against other ideological and cultural formations. As far as I can see, no other social movement, apart from those of the Sumerian and Egyptian priests, was able to maintain the unity of material and ideological culture as Islam did. If radical or political Islam is still growing strong today, we need to understand the structural aspects of this religious movement.

It may be worthwhile to reexamine the development and changes the material and ideological cultures went through at the end of the Roman and Sassanid civilizations. The four thousand year old slave-owning system had deeply damaged humanity’s conscience and morality and created a big moral vacuum. Rome’s attempts to fill the vacuum failed, as evidenced by its own collapse. There clearly was also a big vacuum in the world of belief. People now realized that the gods they had been made to believe in for the past four thousand years were not what they were said to be. Paganism had lost the element of sacredness; the huge material structures left a ruined humanity behind.

We could call this period a state of crisis and chaos. Continuous wars turned the idea of peace into a mere utopian ideal. Old laws and life styles lost their significance but there was nothing to fill the void. In the center, the threat coming from the movements of the unemployed masses and the vast number of abandoned slaves intensified; on the periphery, the threat coming from the nomadic tribes was as intense. It must have felt as if the foretold arrival of heaven and hell had dawned. All awaited a message of salvation. And, indeed, it was an ideal setting for this message to reverberate throughout society. Great movements had to be born; thus, there was an urgent need for a new utopia and new programs. This time, the structural and functional crisis of the system of slave-owning society was irreparably deep; society could no longer be ruled through (even newly constructed) slave-owning systems. Under circumstances like these, the human conscience and mentality desired something new. When the last material structures upholding the system could no longer be sustained, the circumstances for the world religions had been prepared.

Much has been said about the feudal society that existed in the aftermath of the old slave-owning society. It was, however, based on similar principalities that date back to 4,000 BCE. Stronger castles had been built around 2,000 BCE, and even at that time there were peasantry and servants around these castles. In the event of an empire disintegrating, anyone in any of the ethnic communities could easily have formed their own principality. After all, the empire was the unity—the federation or confederation—of such small states. The small states that were formed after the fall of Rome and the Sassanids came about in the same way. The villages and the mentality of the villagers were, in fact, not so different from the period of Neolithic institutionalization around 6,000 BCE. Nothing had changed in the relationship between woman and man, and nothing had changed in the relationship between serfs and seigniors. The essence of ownership remained unchanged and there was no revolutionary development in the means of production. Thus, the material order that formed around the 5th and the 6th centuries cannot really be called a new civilization.

As a matter of fact, the urban structures in Europe were not sufficient to form a new civilization. The empires that came about in the West were nothing but remnants of Rome. The same can be said about the East. Calling them the remnants of the system preceding capitalism is more meaningful; at best they can be called a revisal of the old. In other words, we should not deny the material structures preceding capitalism. Most probably, the period of chaos came about because in order to make the transition to capitalism different structures than those of the slave-owning systems were needed. The urbanization of Europe, especially after the 10th century, heralded capitalism. Thus, we should not take concepts such as feudalism and Dark Ages too seriously. A more realistic interpretation is that a four thousand year old social system of masked gods and enslavement had dissolved within the scope of the longue durée, the long term. The dissolution of the Neolithic system still continues today. Long-term systems may take hundreds of years to collapse or to be revised. If we need to give it a name, then the period after the 5th and 6th centuries can be called the Period of Late Systems.

So what does all this mean in terms of Islam and Christianity? Their utopia, like all utopias, makes promises of paradise or talks about millennia of happiness. The “promise for paradise” reminds me of the longing for an oasis. Its opposite is an infertile life. The prophets promised hope and a future for their communities; the quest for paradise is nothing but a promise of a future in a new world. We can also look at it as a harbor inevitably constructed by those who have lost hope. In this regard, Saddam Hussein’s relationship with the Qur’an just before his execution is quite intriguing. The Qur’an provides exceptional power to construct the minds of those who have no hope left. One cannot properly understand the messages brought by the Holy Books without understanding the conditions of slavery. Given this and the metaphysical nature of the human, the construction of many a utopia, including heaven (and its counterpoint hell), was inevitable. This is what being human entails. Without striving for a better future life cannot really be lived. And there would have been no foundation for us to base our efforts for a better life upon.

Fear of death itself, I believe, is a social construct. In nature, death is experienced differently from the way it is experienced in human communities. The profound pain and grief caused by socially experienced death result from its contrast with the reality of natural death. If there were no death, we could not have talked about living. This is why the most precious part of life is becoming aware of death. The alternative is to strive for immortality.

The utopia of Islam and Christianity held an intriguing promise for ending slavery, even though it was not clear what outcome could be expected. The question of an alternative was evaded with the promise of a life that would be like living in paradise. The communities at the monasteries and madrasahs can be seen as examples of the new society to be constructed. Madrasahs, monastries, different orders and denominations are all attempts at construction programs for a new society. Christianity and Islam both have pursued this goal intensely—for two thousand and one thousand five hundred years respectively. On the other hand, the heads of the Christian churches as well as the conquest commanders of Islam easily created a late, revised slave-owning system. These late slave-owning societies are just interim societies following the conquest and do not represent permanent systems of living for the entire society. Calling them Islamic and Christian civilizations would be unjust. The aim of the utopia was not the creation of new civilizations but to salvage life and to turn it into something beautiful.

Thus, we see that the belief and moral systems of the two religions do not give us a consistent answer to the question as to whether or not they were civilizations. But their role in surpassing the four thousand year old system was significant. Although there were some revised slave-owning regimes, principalities, city-states and empires constructed in their names, none of these can be considered Islamic or Christian civilizations. If they are considered thus, one must put this down to ideological distortions. The priest cannot simply come out of the church and become an emperor, and neither can the imam become the head of state. These religions have always seen turning their structures and organization into states as a wrongdoing, and have warned those clerics who use the church to become heads of state to comply with the requirements of religion. Not that their warnings have had any effect or ever will.

We might now be in a better position to answer the question of why we ended up with capitalist civilization. The ground for capitalism might have been prepared, intentionally or unintentionally, by bringing the gigantic empires (which were in the way of capitalism’s development) to collapse and by the monotheistic systems not turning their aims and structures into civilizational constructs. Wallerstein’s argument that empires were in contradiction with capitalism is indeed a very strong one, whereas Max Weber clarifies this by showing how the spirit of the Reformation paved the way for capitalism.105

Max Weber calls the capitalist civilization “the elimination of magic from the world.”106 Of course, in a highly advanced system of material culture a magical life cannot exist. Such a life is only possible in the world of ideological culture. Islamic, Christian and similar cultures do not have the skill to enchant the world of capitalist life. This can only be procured by the power and skill of the sociology of freedom, which can utilize the entire inheritance of the ideological culture. I shall discuss this point in detail. I shall demonstrate that life itself is the most magical element there is. Therefore, our slogan should not be Socialism, not capitalism, but rather: Free life, not capitalism!

But could there have been a solution that did not include civilization? The only way in which this could have been accomplished would have been something like going back to the Neolithic society. Since the cities could not be removed, trade also could not be prevented. The male-dominated society could not have been abandoned. No matter how much it was criticized, the state could not have been removed under those circumstances. Indeed, monasteries, madrasahs, different denominations and the Sufi way of life grew from such despair. They saw the degenerative and damaging effect of all the mentioned classifications above and wanted to escape them. However, their remedies could never be anything but marginal. So, they always left the door open for the emergence of a new civilization.

Perhaps another glimpse of the Hebrew tribe’s story will be instructive. During the Roman and Persian-Sassanid periods, the Jews spread throughout the known world. They were experts in matters of trade and money. They were the spirit of the material civilization (or rather, its filtered power). They also had a very strong tradition of literacy. Their authors took the position of the prophets. They were the leading proponents of a new system of civilization, i.e. capitalism. Furthermore, they were the experts on religion and god. Their mark on the utopias cannot be missed—the infiltration of the power of money and trade into the new belief systems was enormous.

Christianity conquered all of Europe in its own age of ideological culture. Its influence in Asia was limited, although traces of its influence were present in African civilizations. Islam rapidly conquered all of Arabia, North Africa, and Central Asia. Not only were all the old systems of civilization conquered, new regions were added to the empires of ideological culture. However, what happened was not an expansion of civilization. Rather, we can call it the development of the moral world. This is exactly what Christianity means with its “thousand year reign of peace” and Augustine with his “City of God.”107 Both the Christian and the Islamic utopias were influenced by classical Greek philosophy (and played a role in its revival). Their roots are partially in Aristotle and Plato, and partially in the Egyptian and Sumerian mythology. Both have weak scientific bases and as freedom utopia, they are unsophisticated. But the moral side of both is well developed. Let me repeat that for a religion morality is the essential aspect, not theology. Because morality does not lose its importance, similar moral doctrines have retained their importance in Christianity and in Islam. Utopias are not always faultless—they mostly serve contrary to their objectives. The Christian and Islamic utopias served the onset of capitalism, despite their objectives. It is also true that these utopias have been in severe conflict with each other. In addition, in the name of Islam, limitless and unjust seizure of land and culture took place for the benefit of barbaric and dominant tribal aristocracies. It is often said that Islam impeded the progress of Christians but this is a reality for all religions. Moreover, the conflict between those elements of Islam and Christianity that became the state itself cannot be called conflict between Islam and Christianity. These conflicts have their origins in civilization, and religion is only used as their disguise. I shall elaborate on these matters my forthcoming book, The Sociology of Freedom.

In conclusion, the ideological and material cultures are problematic matters but nevertheless they are realities and a study of these cultures is much needed. The role of the conflict between slave and master, serf and seignior, in the making of history is both limited and indirect—the wheels of history turn differently. It is this “different turning” that I am investigating. I know my attempt is amateurish and unpolished, but this work is necessary—not only so that we can understand history, but also so that today’s problems can be resolved.

The subject matter will not be complete without an evaluation of the other branch of resistance, the migration of peoples. In the final stages of the slave-owning civilization, the migrating Goths and Huns in Europe and the Arab tribes in the Middle East progressed very quickly from resistance to taking the offensive. The migration, resistance, and offensives of these peoples with their advanced tribal hierarchies and their pre-civilizational patriarchal societies were very much alike to movements of the ideological culture. Although their communities were partially egalitarian and carried elements of the Neolithic culture, still, they were in admiration of the civilization. They did not have the ability to develop metaphysical systems that came close to that of a religion. Mostly, they were soldiers of fortune and willing to shed their blood for various empires. Yet, they must still be regarded as amongst the most important history-makers. If it were not for the Germanic, Turkic, Mongolian, Arabic, and before them the Hurrian, Amorite and Scythian assaults, the course of history might have been different. Whilst the Germanic peoples and Arabs destroyed both Roman Empires, the Turks and Mongols played their role in the destruction of the Iranian as well as the eastern Roman Empire. Afterwards, however, all the tribal chiefs either crowned themselves or took positions in the army or bureaucracy. The rest either formed new tribes or lived as the déclassé at the bottom of society. Although these forces played an indisputable role in the collapse of the slave-owning system, they were not able to present alternative systems and to construct something new. They were able to destroy and loot, but not to create and protect.

97 For Fernand Braudel’s analysis, see The Wheels of Commerce (1983).

98 The Sociology of Freedom is volume three of The Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization.

99 Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (1982).

100 Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility and warfare. This mythological tale from Sumer features the struggle of Inanna against the male god Enki, whom she accuses of having seized everything that has value to society and that is rightfully hers.

101 Marcion (65-160) was the first to introduce a Christian canon of books. The so-called Bible of Marcion excluded all the books of the Hebrew Bible on the grounds that the “vengeful” god of Abraham and the Hebrew Bible could not have been the same as God the Father of Jesus.

102 Constantine’s edict of tolerance was issued in 313, in 380 Emperor Theodosius I promulgated the Edict of Thessalonica, declaring Nicene Christianity the state’s official religion.

103 Until the 7th century Arianism was widespread in central and south-eastern Europe, especially among Germanic tribes like the Goths. Arian Christians held that only the Father was God.

104 Before Islam Arabic communities were governed along tribal affiliations and kinship ties. Muhammed developed the ummah idea, which is not only for Arabs but universal. Accordingly, the purpose of the ummah was to be based on religion rather than kinship. Therefore it is like a commonwealth of believers.

105 Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905).

106 Ibid., Chapter IV.

107 For the “thousand year reign of peace,” see Revelations 20 in the Christian Bible.

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