Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Essence of Kurdishness

In his Science of Logic and then in Shorter Logic, Hegel designates the distinction and connection between the analytical and the synthetic methods. While the analytical cognition is the apprehension of what it is in the simple, unmediated condition of something, synthetic cognition is the comprehension of things in “the multiplicity of determinations in their unity”. As a repetition of Hegel’s illustration, after decomposing a piece of meat with chemical operations, a chemist is right to arrive to a conclusion of that it is composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, etc. But these elements have ceased to be mediated within the notion of flesh, so the investigation of our chemist had arrived to the abstraction of periodic table but not the concreteness of flesh. In this manner, if the objective is to handle phenomenon as it is, empiricism contradicts with itself at the beginning. On the contrary, synthetic method is the examination of that in which conditions these elements which are at once posited at the periodic table turn into a piece of flesh and it is to keep the track of the movement and development of the notion of flesh in the object matter. Briefly, the synthetic method progress from abstract to concrete which is completely reversed course of analysis. However, as Hegel emphasizes, the method which is to be applied must not be determined according to our subjective preferences but through the dimensions of our acquaintance with the object. As a plain example, even though they were forged, the pictures of white aproned scientists in the mysterious labs of Hangar 18 who are analyzing the dead bodies of the bulge-eyed aliens reflect the practicing of a suitable scientific method. Yet, although they seem real, the Turkish scientists standing over university seats, surgery tables of newspapers, etc. who are flinging analytical scalpel blows to the symbolic body of Kurds are far more fantastic and unreal than those alien models.

Similarly, in the section called “The Method of Political Economy” of Grundrisse, just before criticizing the metaphysical character of Hegelian dialectics, Karl Marx compares the analytic method of political economists of 17th century (probably William Petty) with the synthetic method of their successors such as Smith, Ricardo, etc. He sets us right that, “It seems to be correct to begin with the real and the concrete, with the real precondition, thus to begin, in economics, with e.g. the population, which is the foundation and the subject of the entire social act of production. However, on closer examination this proves false. The population is an abstraction if I leave out, for example, the classes of which it is composed. These classes in turn are an empty phrase if I am not familiar with the elements on which they rest. E.g. wage labour, capital, etc. These latter in turn presuppose exchange, division of labour, prices, etc. For example, capital is nothing without wage labour, without value, money, price etc. Thus, if I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception of the whole…” [1]

After the prototypes of economists had discovered the abstract determinants such as labour, money, value, etc. by peeling the layers of living unities like state, nation, population, etc. namely, since the famous top-hat that Marx once mentioned in Poverty of Philosophy [2] (and which was imported by Turks through the revolutions of the republic) [3] had been brought out of the chest, there comes the real masters, Smith and Ricardo who would transform men into hats. They set forth from simple social relations such as labour, division of labour, exchange value and arrive to macroeconomic categories of state, foreign exchange, world market, however this time not as a chaotic individuality [4] but as the loaded unity of the hat through the various determinations and social relations. To comprehend the real process of that how men have been transformed to hats, we have to invoke the last part of the first volume of Marx’s Capital which is called Primitive Accumulation. Here, while Marx was pointing out that “primitive accumulation plays in Political Economy about the same part as original sin in theology. Adam bit the apple, and thereupon sin fell on the human race” [5] he also implies that the masters of political economy, ‘Adam’ Smith e.g. reduced not only the “previous accumulation” but individual relations of the bourgeois mode of production to unhistorical categories. Hence in the Wealth of Nations, the previous accumulation which causally appears on the stage by holding the identity card issued in the name of John Doe, confronts us in Capital as an historical protagonist as vivid as Julius Caesar. And akin to his appearance which was implanted by Shakespeare, the poet quoted many times by Marx, into the ominous dream of his wife, Calphurnia: “like a fountain with an hundred spouts / Did run pure blood: and many lusty Romans / Came smiling, and did bathe their hands in it” [6]

The wise intellectuals who analysed the question of Kurdism – Kurdishness – Kurd had started out of their appearances in material world and arrived to ludicrous conclusions by isolating their object from its differences and clothing it with costume of abstract universality. Wherefore, they are both the internal reflections of the same essence that to demand the dignification of the Kurdish identity against the sublimation of Turkish subject by elites and which has partially adopted by Turkish working class. Similarly, the narrow-minded solution of that the universal Kurd which in appearance is an absolute separatist, a terrorist and devoted instinctively to violence could be emancipated from political illusion bolstered by the enemies of the republic through the recognition of Kurdish identity and philanthropically transforming them to equal citizens are nothing more than wishful thinking within the essence. What is this essence? It is the painful process of development of the ideal individual of the bourgeois – civil society. Consequently, the essence of immediate Turk or Kurd does not reflect the human essence but the essential dialectic of the protagonist which appears in the history in different shapes. Just like the insomniac, nameless man suffering from multiple personality disorder who is assaulting to his own body by posing as Tyler Durden, our protagonist, sometimes as an English gentleman against an Irish, sometimes as a noble French philosopher against immigrants or sometimes as a Turkish upstart against the wretched Kurds, delivers cruel blows to his body for reaching to the fantastic tranquillity of national synthesis.

If I begin with the population of Kurds, its proportion to Turkish population, with the organisation structures of young Kurds throwing stones and molotovcocktails to police forces in the metropolises, or with PKK, etc. and I conclude with simple social relations such as conspiracies of intelligence agencies of hypocritical nations, drug trade, inconvenient geographical conditions, paternal apathy in king-sized families, philistinism, etc. I do not disclose any secret about Kurds thus they had disappeared among this analytical abstraction. Nevertheless, we have no change to comprehend the concrete Kurd by grounding our investigation to these sloppy premises above. By this way, I fall into the trap of mechanical – metaphysical dialectics which is discernable with its most vulgar form in Proudhon and criticised sardonically by Marx. Because, these are the particles that have been introduced through an analysis which is practiced half-heartedly and this is partially by the reason of the allegiance to official ideology and partially of slow-wittedness. It is not a scientific approach to transmute every living thing to a puppet of our method by imposing the products of our imagination as thesis – antithesis –synthesis. If the Turkish intellectuals devoted to liberalism are keen to make the synthsis of Turk and Kurd by the romanticized notions like equality, freedom, justice, human rights, which they barely filled up with a sanctified profane ethic, we Marxist should fill them up with human practice, the real individual, the real essence of human, i.e. the process of labour in which human transform their essence by transforming the material world. Thus, we could explain that how a nation produces molotovcocktails, guerrillas, counter-guerrillas, terrorists, a rotten justice system, a president metamorphosed from the distributor of gaseous drinks, etc. while producing iron and steel, hazelnut, various textile products, a cut-rate literature, unskilled philosophers, etc.

As usual, the whole story begins with the discovery of something. Firstly, there was the discovery of the New World which had transformed the Kurdish population dwelling upon the old trade routes, into the ranks of bandits. Up to 1891, Kurds had been employed as a mutable minefield in the conflict between Ottomans and Persians. This was the multi-centennial process of transformation of Kurds into guns and the ultimate executor was Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who had established a special warrior force in the Ottoman army consisted of Kurdish tribes. While the main reason of the militarization of Kurds was to keep their hazardous vagabondness under the supervision of the Empire, the others were to infuse them into the false nationalism of the Christian minorities in the region and to concoct a stable position in response to Russian and Persian threats.

With the discovery of oil in the middle-east at the beginning of the 20th century has paved the way to new ideas. Among the imperialistic quarrel for the new resource, aboriginals of the rough lands leaking oil had found themselves as the “Mountain Turks” in the ideological economy of “Young Turks”. Contrary to the Bolsheviks, they were not the rebellious seeds arising from the unburied corpse of an irrational regime, but the naughty children of the Empire and a bunch of revisionists who absorbed from West the idea of “cultural-national autonomy” which was criticized by Lenin as, “precisely the most refined and, therefore, the most harmful nationalism, it implies the corruption of the workers by means of the slogan of national culture and the propaganda of the profoundly harmful and even anti-democratic segregating of schools according to nationality. In short, this programme undoubtedly contradicts the internationalism of the proletariat and is in accordance only with the ideals of the nationalist petty bourgeoisie” [7]. Clearly, they were the class of modernistic priests who had no knowledge of psychiatry to exorcise the demonic spirits of imperialism without the aid of a holy cross and their cross was nationalism. Just like the other representatives of modernism, Young Turks were instinctively beliving that thoughts that did not fit their ideal subject were the products of “false consciousness” [8]. This predisposition is straightforwardly observable through the pages of Mustafa Kemal’s Nutuk, his 36 hours long speech given at the first general meeting of the Republican People's Party. There he quotes from the telegrams that he had sent to the officers in the region, stimulating them to take steps for restraining the chiefs of the Kurdish tribes from spawning a current of Kurdism. But as if one can eliminate the profit motive without smearing one’s clean hands with the capital, the Turkish nationalism was the dialectical negation of the imperialistic nationalisms and which was supposedly eradicate oppressive the sides of them. As this eradication was possible only through the ideas of a conscious brain, the ultimate synthesis has been implemented as “everyone who feels himself as a Turk is a Turk. This axiom could probably remind our readers of the painstaking education process of the young Jedi’s, in which the mysterious masters are frequently urging them to feel the force. Thanks to the history, we have witnessed that how the force is objectifying itself and how triumphant the Turkish synthesis is. That was the transformation of Kurds into ideas.

By the courtesy of American’s infamous “Project Democracy” which had managed to purge the Turkish communists by arranging a military coup, Turkish elites gained knowledge of transforming these abstract ideas into profits. While the former leftists who had started behaving sensibly were welcomed to the bodies of media and universities for researching the wonders of the civil society, the actual society was rapidly being militarized. Terror and ‘counter’offensive measures circulated the scared Kurds cutting and running from their lands, to assemblage them as variable capital in the ghettos of metropolises in where they would serve as an appendage of the constant capital which was ensured by colossal foreign debt distributed as a sort of primitive accumulation among the close circle of prominent Turkish executives. A little difference from the imperialistic primitive accumulation was that the exploited man would pay for it not only with the mechanical energy of his muscles but also later on with the kinetic energy of his pocket through the unbearable tax burden and ‘uncontrollable’ inflation which was helpful to enable a steady decrease in real wages. Fallowing process was reproducing the basic manifestations of capitalist accumulation: After the expedition of obligatory conscription of workers when the demand for working power was more than the supply in the sweet-smelling days of competition, the filthy smell of monopoly has begun to arose from the suburbs, just as the veteran soldiers of the army of Caesar meandering on the streets of Rome with the confusion of their function, the discharged soldiers of the working class was deserted to hunger, burglary, vandalism, etc.

Of course, the surplus population would have to die. But what if they are resisting to their destiny? The descendants of immigrant stereotype banished from the social production in France are now burning the cars in which they have saw the dead labour of their ancestors. Ironically, young Kurds are desperately perceiving it in the body of police force, frigidly dressed like a creature rushed out of movies like Universal Soldier. In other words, we are still producing the archetypes of commodities rather than the real commodities itself.

The Kurdish question is a political question as long as surplus Kurds resist their practical needlessness with respect to the organic composition of Turkish capital. Namely, it is not question of politics as the art of mutual reconciliation of diverse identities but is the question of politics as the concentrated economics in which the identities in the gaseous state are continuously solidifying. One could argue that the Kurdish question might be solved by encouraging quixotic capitalists to make more investment in the region. Probably, by increasing the division of labour, this chivalrous charity would disrupt the semi-feudal social network in the southeast of Turkey. But in reality, this structure owes its stubborn existence against the modern world directly to the investment which had torn off the ancient bounds of the society in the west of Turkey. Moreover, if it is supposed that the unemployment is the cause of the ultimate evil (The Kurdish Question) of Turkey, one should admit that investment is not the solution but precondition of unemployment.

One might argue that Kurds should hang on to their identity. But one should recall that what happened to “black power” when it has been converted to the disinfected slogan of “Black is beautiful”. After the political emancipation of the beauty of Afro-American is granted in the bourgeois sense, the disturbing lyrics of rap music soaring from slums has been tamed as a demonstration of excess in which the black man can only achieve to survive by testing their beauty with expensive cars, precious jewelleries, dancing bombshells, etc. In this way, black men whose humanity was once theoretically questioned have practically been regulated as the accessories of entertainment devices to depict the travesty of nouveau richness. So, if you are keen to claim abstractly that Kurdish language is as substantial as Turkish language, you have to venture to take a step on the cultural competition field of the universal bourgeois in which the representatives from countless nations are competing with each other to fabricate no more than bizarre forms of literature, eccentric philosophical mixtures to interpret the eccentric word, advertisement texts of an utopia in which the ordinary man could feel the confidence of the social unity only in the act of consumption, etc. The answer of capitalism to the question of reconciliation of identities is just to transform the surplus identities into a sort of documentary ethnic dance in which the modern man could prove his development himself by gazing at the childish congeniality of the other. But the “other” is a supernatural notion to conceal the reality that there is labour of this other even in your postmodernity.

One might claim the emancipation of Kurds from Turks with regard to the right of self-determination of oppressed nations. My understanding of Marxism urges me to recognize not only this theoretical right, but also the self-determination of an oppressed individual. But I have strange feeling that woman could not emancipate from washing the dishes with hands without the aid of dishwasher. So, my humble recognition solves nothing without the practice of human. If man must prove the truth, fortunately we will not wait too long to observe how he proves the Kurdish emancipation. The de-facto Kurdish state that is being constructed vigilantly at the northern Iraq with all the devices of an average bourgeois state will manifest that how the conventional political emancipation corresponds with the human emancipation. Let us see how the basic rights of an individual in the civil society will comfort ordinary Kurds when the filthy question of who must sweat and who should take it easy arrives? Maybe, in the future, young Kurds will discover from the history books that the Turkmen of Kurdistan are actually “mountain Kurds” and their penury is originating from deficiency of technical intellect for producing oil.

These ironies are far from mirroring the calamitous history of Kurds. But we should retain that Kurds can not emancipate from the humiliation of the notion of “mountain Turks” by simply emancipating from Turks. They have to emancipate from those mountains too.

In Turkey, the Turkish army is resisting against the role that they deserved in the characteristic bourgeois state. Kurdish nationalism and fundamental Islamism are the very last weapons remaining in their hands. They cling on every opportunity to trigger them for providing evidence of their existence, although a certificate of death has been presented to their close relatives from modern world.

These assertions above could bring in mind the old idea that primitive structures of society could only be overthrown with the revolutionary character of bourgeois. But in Turkey, the bourgeois is the premise of primitivism. Should we wait for the educators to complete their education?

How could you solve the essential problems of the civil society by acknowledging it as the only ground on which the specific subject is erecting himself, folding itself, repulsing and attracting the other, and again banishing the other after absorbing its biological energy? Just as the magical formula of bourgeois economics, by delaying the problems, by leaving your psychotic inheritance to following generations.

In his “Mythologies”, Barthes describes the professional wrestling as a circus where the spectators satisfy their hunger for the image of passion, but not the passion itself. Unfortunately, Bathes did not live long enough to observe the reality shows, by which the spectators have found the fever of the real passion without undertaking the challenge to grasp the glowing coal. But now, the spectators of the sterile world who had once served to modern world as the image of real passion are expressing their hunger for passion in different ways. What is that passion? The passion for the basic premise of humanity, of the property of their labour, which will serve as a proper ground to pursue the pleasures the upper passions of humanity as philosophy, science, art, etc. The question is should we watch the shows of passion from our disinfected environment? If you are not intent on running the risk of broken feelings and not willing to lose yourself to find yourself again in the other, just as the unmediated freedoms of civil society, your love is nothing more than a scholastic question.

Mehmet Çagatay
March, 2006
3) In 1925, as an indicator of modernity Turkish citizens has been obliged to wear hats outside of their house. This code has been known as “Hat Revolution”

No comments: