TEN – The Tasks in Rebuilding Democratic Modernity

  • ONE
  • TWO
  • FOUR
  • FIVE
  • SIX
  • NINE
  • TEN

SIX – The Emergence of the Social Problem

6.1 Defining the Problem of Historical-Society
6.1.a The First Major Problematic Stage of the Monopoly of Civilization
6.1.b From Rome to Amsterdam
6.1.c Eurocentric Civilization’s Hegemonic Rule
6.2 Social Problems
6.2.a The Problem of Power and the State
6.2.b Society’s Moral and Political Problem
6.2.c Society’s Mentality Problem
6.2.d Society’s Economic Problem
6.2.e Society’s Industrialism Problem
6.2.f Society’s Ecological Problem
6.2.g Social Sexism, the Family, Women, and the Population Problem
6.2.h Society’s Urbanization Problem
6.2.i Society’s Class and Bureaucracy Problem
6.2.j Society’s Education and Health Problems
6.2.k Society’s Militarism Problem
6.2.l Society’s Peace and Democracy Problem

SEVEN – Envisaging the System of Democratic Civilization

7.1 Definition of Democratic Civilization
7.2 The Methodological Approach to Democratic Civilization
7.3 A Draft of the History of Democratic Civilization
7.4 Elements of Democratic Civilization

7.4.a Clans
7.4.b The Family
7.4.c Tribes and Aşirets
7.4.d Peoples and Nations
7.4.e Village and City
7.4.f Mentality and Economy
7.4.g Democratic Politics and Self-Defense

NINE – The Reconstruction Problems of Democratic Modernity
9.1 Civilization, Modernity, and the Problem of Crisis
9.2 The State of Anti-System Forces

9.2.a The Legacy of Real Socialism
9.2.b Reevaluating Anarchism
9.2.c Feminism: Rebellion of the Oldest Colony
9.2.d Ecology: The Rebellion of the Environment
9.2.e Cultural Movements: Tradition’s Revenge on the Nation-State
9.2.f Ethnicity and Movements of the Democratic Nation
9.2.g Religious Cultural Movements: Revival of Religious Tradition
9.2.h Urban, Local, and Regional Movements for Autonomy

The Tasks in Rebuilding Democratic Modernity

I’m not talking about reviving some past “golden age” memories or imagining a new future “utopia.” I wouldn’t consider a proposal in either sense meaningful. Even though the mentality of societies is laden with such thoughts, these recollections and utopias are not explanations or narratives that add much of value to the reality of the moral and political society that I’m trying to interpret here. Even if we don’t deny the contributions of such recollections and utopias, it is necessary to deliberate about them and address them in certain narratives, knowing that they bring with them possible drawbacks.

In these respects, the concept of democratic modernity neither heralds the return to a “golden age” nor a future “utopian paradise.” It is also not a historical era or the social form that positivist science asserts it is. I have to point out, at least in relation to my own approach, that in terms of method I would never espouse such narratives of history or society, whether they are approached with metaphysical or a positivist method, both of which, in fact, produce similar results, and, contrary to what they claim, their interpretations of truth and reality are incoherent. I consider the material and its experiences available in history absolutely necessary for thinking. It is not just a matter of what historical material has to offer, the material in nature and its experiences are also essential. I do not adopt a typical empirical approach, but I also do not share the perspective of the idealists, who claim that they can produce ideas independent of natural and historical material and experience. I know that over the course of the history of civilization a huge corpus was created using these methods. While I believe it is necessary to be aware of this body of work, I am convinced that it is hardly indispensable for interpreting the truth. What I am trying to say is that it is entirely possible to interpret the truth without recourse to this body of work. In particular, I consider the positivist school of research buried in the plethora of historical material to be pitiful and miserable. Similarly, I do not think that those who, without the need for any material, foretell the future like a sheikh bearing a self-proclaimed prophecy are in any way in touch with the truth. They are equally pitiful and miserable.

It would not be sufficient to restrict our criticism to the empirical and idealist approaches. It is also important to criticize the different forms of these two methods; universalist linear progression and relativism. In general, the truth cannot be built or explored using either linear progressive or relativist methods. The flexible high intelligence level of social nature undoubtedly presents a broad freedom option when building social reality. But this does not mean, as proponents of the relativist method argue, that “everyone can build their own truth as they like.” It also does not mean, as the idealists assert, that “everything happens when its time comes,” as is written in the levh-i mahfuz. To build social realities with new ideas (social natures from clan to nations, class, the state, etc.), the social material within a given time and space, as new realities seems to be the way of the mentality and its most realistic method and can be accepted as such.

The point I am repeatedly attempting to make is that the method must necessarily be based on social nature, in particular on the fundamental state of existence of this nature, which I am certain is moral and political society. In short, any school of thought, any movement of science, philosophy, or the arts, that is not connected to moral and political society will be born crippled and sooner or later cause problems. I designate as my very first condition that all methods adhered to and the products of knowledge, ethics, and esthetics must be based on moral and political society. I would like to draw attention to the fact that all methods, knowledge, ethics, and esthetics not based on this first condition will be unreliable and crippled, loaded down with errors, ugly, and rife with evil. I insist that this is not merely my personal opinion and perception, but has, in fact, the merit of being a fundamental norm on the path to truth.

I have presented my approach to democratic modernity. In my analysis up to this point, it can be seen I have tried to develop a two-way approach. My first specific analytical point is that the civilization system develops by continuously eroding and exploiting the society with a moral and political nature, the given state of social nature, and by constructing monopolies of exploitation and power over it. This matter is very important and must be understood and properly analyzed. That’s what I have done. I have tried to analyze the civilization system, using the limited material at hand due to the conditions I am being held in, and essentially, I interpreted life in general, which is the sine qua non of truth, and my life in particular in an intertwined way with this limited material. I did not think that providing an excess of material was necessary, as this would have risked suffocating the analysis in detail. But, with the data I have presented, I have tried to show that it is necessary to have access to sufficient material.

Here is the result: dialectically speaking, against whom were the gigantic civilizations of the historical ages developed? Where, how, and with whom did they build their relationships and develop their contradictions? Despite having minimal material and a minimal capacity to interpret it, I did not hesitate to designate the sum of the antagonistic forces civilization was in contact with as the demos, adding to this an already well-known word, kratia, to arrive at demoskratia—self-governancea concept known and widely used in the intellectual world. Of course, demoskratia does not encompass all units of moral and political society, it corresponds to the “confederation of tribes” that existed for a time in Ionia. Therefore, it may not, and, in fact, does not, include some of the lower, upper, or other distinct moral and political units. Nonetheless, it seems to me to be the most suitable term available to us. If a more appropriate term were developed, I would not have a second thought about using it. The important thing is the substance of the term and what we mean by that substance.

There is not much of a need to explain what is meant by the second word modernity. As generally understood, it denotes periods, eras, and durations of time that have occurred with certain norms. Along with the numerous eras of civilization, there have also been just as many, in fact, even substantially more, demoskratia, or democratic modernities. There are numerous moral and political society units that I would interpret as democratic modernity that the civilization systems were unable to completely encompass and subject to their exploitation and power monopoly. History offers much material in this regard, and I have touched upon but a few examples in my analysis.

The second important point is that democratic modernity did not or could not organize itself in terms of its ideological and material culture as well as civilization systems. There is ample easily available historical material for anyone interested that shows that because civilizations have to operate the apparatuses of monopolistic exploitation and power on a daily basis, they are highly ideologically equipped and organized and in terms of their material structures they must maintain unity and be in action. But this is not the case for units of democratic modernity. Rather, since they constantly shift between resistance and colonization, and their independent units, which can be found in some isolated corner, on mountain peaks or in the middle of deserts, are not fully developed, they cannot have the same systematic ideological and material structure. I don’t mean that they can never develop any system, ideology, or structure. History is undoubtedly replete with examples of democratic modernity providing richer ideologically and materially structured cultures. Just because the ideological hegemony of civilization obscures these examples does not mean that history does not provide very rich data.

I have attempted to outline both sides (statist and democratic) of civilization up to the present. Although I only provide a rough outline, I believe I was able to uncover the main tendencies, even if insufficiently. In particular, it should be evident I tried to extensively analyze the modernity that is called capitalist. On the other hand, it should also be apparent that I have assessed the opposite poles of the same period of modernity more extensively and with certain criticisms. The conclusion to be drawn from these criticisms is that democratic modernity clearly faces the task of rebuilding itself. Whether renewed or not, we know that the forces of the official capitalist modernity led by liberalism are highly skilled and experienced in presenting themselves in whatever guise necessary. The same cannot be said about the forces of democratic modernity. Whether we look at their historical experience or their recent past in terms of their attitude toward liberalism, it is possible to see how they were ideologically dissolved and have lost their clarity. To avoid as much as possible once again falling into this situation, or to at least avoid the painful and tragic positions of the recent past, it is necessary to clarify the tasks the units of democratic modernity face in rebuilding.

By unit, I mean any individuals, communities, or movements that live in a more or less self-consciously anti-system way. These existences, which constitute the overwhelming majority of social nature, unfortunately subsist as qualitative forces far weaker than their numbers. Therefore, above all, rebuilding must pursue the objective of the quantitative multitudes gaining a qualitative capacity that equals their quantity. If we always keep in mind how extensive and intertwined the commercial, industrial, financial, ideological, power-centered, and nation-statist monopoly networks are at a global level and how they treat their targets destructively and unpredictably, we will understand that rebuilding the units of democratic modernity and ensuring that they gain a capacity that is proportional to their multitudes are clear tasks that cannot be postponed—if we are to at least eliminate the enormous imbalance between them. These tasks, which can be sorted into three main categories, are all strongly connected and have intellectual, moral, and political dimensions. But the strong and reciprocal connection between them does not eliminate the need for them to be institutionally independent of one another. On the contrary, there was, is, and will be a need for each of these areas to preserve its independence as an institution, or they will be unable to function properly. Clarifying the required institutionalization and the tasks related to these areas, which have become quite intertwined in history, and organizing them for maximal cooperation are issues that must be resolved.

It may be elucidating to provide some examples that explain the historical process in this respect. In tribal units, intellectual, moral, and political tasks were usually carried out in an intertwined way. Separation and specialization had not yet really developed. Aşiret confederations were predominantly associated with political tasks. Moral tradition was represented by the experiences of the elders, while enlightenment and reflection were represented primarily by the institutions of shamanism, sheikhdom, and the priesthood. During the longue durée of history when the Abrahamic religions also gained moral and political dimensions, these three tasks were institutionalized to some degree. In Islam, for example, madrassas tend to be intellectual institutions, while mosques function as moral institutions, and the sultanate as a political institution. However, the overly intertwined nature of the three has prevented their creative development. The fact that they have not developed to at least the same degree as the corresponding institutions in Christianity and Judaism is linked to this reality. The dominant form of relationship among them is ecumenicism, or ummah, which, in a way, represents their internationalism.

During Greco-Roman civilization, intellectualism attained greater independence. Philosophical schools were essentially intellectual institutions and were highly independent. Morality was institutionalized in the temple. Politics, which had once been institutionalized in the assembly (ecclesia) and the republican senate, suffered a major blow with the development of the empire. The empire is in a way the negation of political institutionalization at the central level, a major factor behind the assassination of Julius Caesar.

In contemporary modernity, intellectualism is trapped in the university, while morality has suffered a major blow and faces elimination. The substitution of morality with positive law is an attempt to liquidate the role that morality plays in society. Politics, whose area has been increasingly narrowed down and forced into the sheath of parliamentarianism, has almost been brought to a standstill under the administration of nation-state bureaucracy. Like morality, it can no longer play its true role. However, in the units of democratic modernity there have been various and complex institutional developments. In a certain sense, fraternal organizations combine these three tasks, as do utopians. Intellectual, moral, and political tasks attain functionality and are fulfilled under the guidance of a single person, much like in a sect. Especially during the period of real socialism, all three areas were institutionalized in the Communist League and the First, Second, and Third Internationals. The Communist Manifesto was effectively their program. These institutions shared the assimilationist inclinations of capitalist modernity regarding these three tasks. While politics is sacrificed as an institution to the administrative mechanisms of nation-state god, morality is sacrificed to the same mechanism’s positive law, which regulates the captivity of the citizen. The area of intellectual tasks, on the other hand, is sacrificed or negated by being left to the intellectual capitalists and load donkeys (like a donkey carrying knowledge) of the universities, which play the role of the nation-state’s new temple. This short historical overview clearly indicates how important it is for the units of democratic modernity to take responsibility for these three tasks by forming counter-networks, if they want to avoid complete disintegration as a society.

Before discussing the tasks, it might be useful to briefly touch upon the issue of units and networks. A unit is any type of community that is anti-monopoly. Any community, from the democratic nation to a village association, from an international confederation to a neighborhood branch, can be a unit. Each governing body from the tribal level to the city, whether local or national, is a unit. A unit might represent two people—even one person—or billions of people. Viewed from this rich perspective the concept will prove extremely instructive. But what is important here is that each unit should be evaluated as a moral and political society. Therefore, the collaboration of all units in intellectual, moral, and political tasks is of principle value. Just as it is necessary to be a moral and political society to be considered a unit, being a moral and political society requires a commitment to the intellectual, moral, and political tasks. The fact that the opposite side is organized as a network is related to its organizational structure and administration. In addition, internal unities can best be organized into networks. Rigid centralism and a hierarchical chain of command in organization and administration are inimical to the organizational and governance principles of units of democratic modernity.


1 This is likely a reference to the following statement: “After Auschwitz there is no word tinged from on high, not even a theological one, that has any right unless it underwent a transformation.” Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, (London: Routledge, 1973), 367.

2 For a detailed discussion of the will to truth, see Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994 [1887]); “However, the compulsion towards it, that unconditional will to truth, is faith in the ascetic ideal itself, even if, as an unconscious imperative, make no mistake about it, – it is the faith in a metaphysical value, a value as such of truth as vouched for and confirmed by that ideal alone (it stands and falls by that ideal). Strictly speaking, there is no ‘presuppositionless’ knowledge, the thought of such a thing is unthinkable, paralogical: a philosophy, a ‘faith’ always has to be there first, for knowledge to win from it a direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist. (Whoever understands it the other way round and, for example, tries to place philosophy ‘on a strictly scientific foundation,’ must first stand on its head not just philosophy, but also truth itself.)”

Tekkekhanqah, and maqam are the Turkish, Farsi, and Arabic names of buildings used for the gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqaDargah are the shrines of Sufi saints.

Zoroaster is the Grecized version of the name Zarathustra.

5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999 [1883]).

6 In fact, zendik is related to words like gnosisknow, and narrate via the proto-Indo-European root *gno, meaning to know.

Cemevi is house of gathering in Turkish.

8 This probably refers to Zeynep Kınacı (Zîlan) whose political accurate analysis and courageous action made her a role model for the Kurdish women’s movement.

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