Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Immaterial Labor

Posted to Marxmail on Tue, 18 Dec 2007
Some time ago I noticed a strange jam of a certain creature when I was rambling on the side streets around my house. They were everywhere, even on the sidewalks and it was impossible to walk without some ability of acrobatics. One has less chance to perceive this farce on main streets since we have the presupposition that it is their habitat. I fancied myself like Ford Perfect, an alien adventurer in the movie "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Who was mistaken about the major life form in earth and is almost run over when he tries to greet a car.

So, what is the illusion behind overlooking the process of production while the commodities are consistently accumulating here and there? We all know the "fetishism of commodities" and "the world of commodities with the products of men's hands", etc, etc… There is no time for truisms.

Comrade Ben advocates concept "immaterial labor" one of the keystone concepts of the Negri & Hardt’s Empire :

"The central role previously occupied by the labor power of mass factory workers in the production of surplus value is today increasingly filled by intellectual, immaterial, and communicative labor power. It is thus necessary to develop a new political theory of value that can pose the problem of this new capitalist accumulation of value at the center of the mechanism of exploitation (and thus, perhaps, at the center of potential revolt)."

"We will elaborate the three primary aspects of immaterial labor in the contemporary economy: the communicative labor of industrial production that has newly become linked in informational networks, the interactive labor of symbolic analysis and problem solving, and the labor of the production and manipulation of affects"

"We will argue that among the various figures of production active today, the figure of immaterial labor power (involved in communication, cooperation, and the production and reproduction of affects) occupies an increasingly central position in both the schema of capitalist production and the composition of the proletariat."

"The passage toward an informational economy necessarily involves a change in the quality and nature of labor. This is the most immediate sociological and anthropological implication of the passage of economic paradigms. Today information and communication have come to play a foundational role in production processes."

"With the computerization of production today, however, the heterogeneity of concrete labor has tended to be reduced, and the worker is increasingly further removed from the object of his or her labor."

"The service sectors of the economy present a richer model of productive communication. Most services indeed are based on the continual exchange of information and knowledges. Since the production of services results in no material and durable good, we define the labor involved in this production as immaterial labor-that is, labor that produces an immaterial good, such as a service, a cultural product, knowledge, or communication."

"The other face of immaterial labor is the affective labor of human contact and interaction. Health services, for example, rely centrally on caring and affective labor, and the entertainment industry is likewise focused on the creation and manipulation of affect… This second face of immaterial labor, its affective face, extends well beyond the model of intelligence and communication defined by the computer. Affective labor is better understood by beginning from what feminist analyses of "women's work" have called "labor in the bodily mode." Caring labor is certainly entirely immersed in the corporeal, the somatic, but the affects it produces are nonetheless immaterial."

"Finally, a third type of immaterial labor involves the production and manipulation of affect and requires (virtual or actual) human contact, labor in the bodily mode. These are the three types of labor that drive the postmodernization of the global economy."

And finally, after undergoing sarcastic and decisive critics, Negri & Hartd were obliged to make a contradictory clarification:

"a)When we claim that immaterial labour is tending towards the hegemonic position we are not saying that most of the workers in the world today are producing primarily immaterial goods;
b) The labour involved in all immaterial production, we should emphasise, remains material – it involves our bodies and brains as all labour does. What is immaterial is its product."

In other words, most of the workers of the "world" are producing material goods but there is a current under the surface towards hegemony immaterial production. (What a fantastic talent of farsightedness) Although the product is immaterial, labor remains material since production consumes our labor power.

One must explain me clearly that how could my labor power, life energy, remains material if it was consumed by an immaterial product. Probably as a image of a ghost haunting the paper money. And how can I change my own nature without changing the external world, i.e. nature? And how can I change the existing forms of the relations of production without changing my own nature and the external world?

Actually this new theories of labour reflects the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisation of working class in imperialist countries. Lenin writes:

"Imperialism has the tendency to create privileged sections also among the workers, and to detach them from the broad masses of the proletariat."

The theories like "immaterial labor", "new proletariat", etc. are the immaterial products of the hitherto overlooked masses of the "upper stratum" of the workers raised above woldscale division of labor.

According to the CIA factbook, the main area of the Empire's occupation, services, covers 64% of the GDP of the World. First of all, the concept of services does not completely indicate "immaterial production". This misunderstanding is adequately explained here, probably written by Andy Blunden.

Secondly, the sectorial composition of GDP doesn't represents the sectoral division of labor since in the sector of services the price of labor power shows a constant tendency of rise according to the accumulation of commodities which requires more expenditure of repair and maintenance, monopolization which boosts advertisement wars and its costs, new contradictions causing new judiciary expenses, etc. etc.

Anyhow I made list of countries where the proportion of services is under 50% based on CIA factbook, excluding some of the tiny ones:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Botswan, Brunei, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, North Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

As regards to "affective labor" and the place of women in capitalist production, this theorists might be more affected if they mind to take the trouble of exploring the army of unpaid or underpaid females in the sweetshops Asia, rather than lighten with the outgoing welcome of McDonalds girls.

Furthermore, as represented by Woods and Grant, if there is more poker chips than the value of actual goods, this mirrors the speculative character of the economy. In "Reason in Revolt" they quote from Akio Morita, former chairman of Sony Corporation:

"It is a heady game, full of excitement, but wins and losses at the poker table don’t obscure the frightening fact that the ship is sinking and no one realizes it."

In his recent posts, Comrade Ben duplicated the ideas of Negri and Hardt word by word. None of our comrades felt a necessity for reply since we think that these jokes have already lost their artistic value of humor. But, they tend to reappear on the sidewalks here and there.

The difference between Ford Perfect and postmodern theorist is they are trying to greet automobiles, commodities, as though they came up against an alien life form: "Hello aliens, we are human". I hope that this time automobiles will not miss the target.
(Note: Comrade Jeffrey Thomas Piercy corrected me here that the true name of the character is Ford Prefect).

Chavez and the Referendum Results

Posted to Marxmail on Sun, 16 Dec 2007

Fred Feldman wrote:

"And note the coup-hopeful lie about Chavez accepting the referendum results only under military pressure."

There is no wonder Chavez calmly accepted the results. As he implied by stating that winning with a tiny margin could be more unwelcome result, a photo-finish victory was the second worst outcome for both sides. He just let the counter-revolutionaries take the worst of it which requires further struggle for realization. Tiny margins reveals the incompetence of potential to turn into the actual. Revolution is already the actual.

Chavez just made a probe bet and it disclosed the potential of the opponents in the most suitable conditions and trew off the mask of hypocrites within the movement. (In his article Alan Woods explains the reasons of referandum results). I think, which he didn't touch upon was a major leak of proper reasoning behind putting all sixty articles in a package to people's vote. Then one has sixty possible reasons to vote for "no". I think this is the main reason of vast number of abstention. The majority of people who has one or two of this reasons just refused to vote against Chavez.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

China's New Labor Law

I just read a detailed report on China's new labor law on The Red Wombat Hole blog:
Although there are galore of articles on the Internet that warn dear capitalists how to ward of distasteful situations, some regulations stirred up my suspicion as their contents still seem unclear.

For instance, a blog which informs foreign investors about China Law, states:

"It is also going to require all employers maintain a written employee handbook setting out the basic rules and regulations of employment. Without an employee handbook, employers will be essentially unable to fire anyone; "the failure to maintain an employee handbook means that an employer will effectively be unable to discharge employees for cause, since "cause" must be determined with reference to the employee handbook."Do it."

My question is, according to which superior regulations must a handbook be written that regulates employment? Without apropriate superior laws, a handbook serves more to penalize workers. I recalled a passage from Capital:

"The factory code in which capital formulates, like a private legislator, and at his own good will, his autocracy over his workpeople, unaccompanied by that division of responsibility, in other matters so much approved of by the bourgeoisie, and unaccompanied by the still more approved representative system, this code is but the capitalistic caricature of that social regulation of the labour-process which becomes requisite in co-operation on a great scale, and in the employment in common, of instruments of labour and especially of machinery. The place of the slave-driver’s lash is taken by the overlooker’s book of penalties. All punishments naturally resolve themselves into fines and deductions from wages, and the law-giving talent of the factory Lycurgus so arranges matters, that a violation of his laws is, if possible, more profitable to him than the keeping of them."

When I was an undergraduate student and living in one of the most unrestrained student dormitory that you can imagine, I had a conversation with the principal who suddenly showed off a long list of rules and regulations consists of nearly 150 articles, and said: "As you see, although it seems that there is not a single rule in this dormitory, actually every step you take is a transgression of the rulebook. But with our goodwill, we use it in certain situations".

We've cut the the prices on salvation and sin, but I am scared of the dusty day when the preachers cannot read a word from the handbook:

"The telephone rang and it jumped off the wall,
That was the preacher paying his call.
He said, look at the shape that world is in,
I've gotta cut price on salvation and sin.
The church houses were jammed and packed
People was strengthened from front to the back
It was so dusty the preacher couldn't read his text
So he folded his text and he took up collections.

Note: It is quite possible that I mistook the verses:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Ultimate Religion

Samir Amin’s article is one of the most informative texts on its subject that I have ever read for a while.

In one of his works (Marx’s Theory of Alienation) István Mészáros writes, “Judaism and Christianity are complementary aspects of society's efforts to cope with its internal contradictions.”

Judaism solves the contradiction with “crude partiality”, adopting the inequity between “our people” and “strangers”. Christianity negates the partiality with abstract universality, i.e. “universal brotherhood of mankind”.

Therefore, Judaism partially denies humankind as strangers and Christianity universally denies humanity as an abstraction.

In my humble opinion, Islam completes the missing part. Islam solves the contradictions of society with subjective individuality: brotherhood of Muslim individual. See:

Islam is the ultimate religion since it denies the humankind concretely by replacing them with a subjective individual who is absolutely tied to God. As a result, Islam is the absolute checkmate, bad-beat, our beautiful aces cracked by a donk holding the bottom pair, etc. of humankind against God.

Islam solves the riddle of society by renouncing there is any contradiction in society. Islam acknowledges only one contradiction and that is between God and humankind. The challenge of God objectified in the body of Muslim individual versus ordinary human disparaged as an infidel.

In a ardent conversation with an Islamist friend of mine (couple of years ago who had published some of my most sarcastic poetries in his literature magazine disregarding his furious comrades), he told me in a moment of desperation that perhaps the theories of Karl Marx is relevant regarding the class nature of Western societies but since there is no such a thing as class in Muslim world, the verses of Quran is sufficient to eliminate the prospect of any injustice.

Expect its compatibility with the premises of capitalism, the danger of political Islam resides in that it is not political enough as assumed by some of us. While communism strives to render politics prevalent in society, Islam struggles to levitate the political terrain above the society, to the presence of Allah.

Finally, Anti-imperialism of political Islam is only comparable with an executioner purportedly advocating anti-death penalty legislation.

As a cordial ritual, I want to quote from a song at the end. Cohen’s Hallelujah (I prefer Buckley version):

“Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?”
Communism cares about music not the Lord.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Endless Rain into a Paper Cup

The text below is my response to a thread in Marxmail where one of our comrades suggested that we leftists should appear in the forums of conservatives to take on their political discourse rather than carrying on an inconclusive dialogue between ourselves:

If the politics was a field of quest for truths it could be reasonable for us to come forward in right-wing forums to reveal the contradictions of their discourse and the limits of their reasoning. Remember G. W. Bush’s recent statement regarding the National Intelligence Estimate report which brings forward the reality that Iran has no program to acquire nuclear weapons: "The NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world.” Politics is the battleground of power where the measure of truth is the struggle itself. For instance, Democrats of US had not lost the 2004 election through their lack of skills for delicate political debates. Contrary, they were so skillful in the art of disclosing absurdities of the Bush administration, they eschewed the drudgery of physical labor to transform the political debate to ad hominem. As Marx asserted once, “Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical.”

When I first began to read the works of Karl Marx (my adventure has started with the 1844 Manuscripts), I got so excided that whipped me to run amok for spreading the ideas of the most well-known thinker whose theories are living in the shadow of his commonly distorted reputation. I delivered never-ending monologues (!) to every single person that I met from diverse backgrounds of society in cafés, beer pubs, billiard halls, family meetings and friendly parties and even to the taxi drivers (I gave up the latest practice when I came across the most strange taxi driver, an anarcho-capitalist who suggested that we must privatize everything when we were passing in front of the residence of Prime Minister of Turkey). Although I attracted a decent attention among the people who have leftist credentials, I didn’t manage to persuade single conservative whether he or she is an islamist or a nationalist to the theory of Marxism. Moreover, I didn’t manage to convince even my intimates to read the Manuscripts at least. I tried everything just to run against the tough walls of indifference. It is not for the reason that I wasn’t capable of overcoming the sloppiness of their political discourse. Rather, I was skilled enough to analyze their contradictions effortlessly which led me to miss their truths. The most recent instance took place while I was conversing about the Kurdish question of Turkey with my brother who has apparent nationalistic tendencies. In the most fervent moment of our quarrel, he blared, “Why are you always taking the side of our enemies?” I told him that I am not prone to taking sides, just investigating the truths. Then he clearly reminded me the genuine political struggle: “To hell with the truths. I want to talk about our truths”.

In the moderation principles of Marxmail it says that, “We also welcome non-Marxists who come to the list in a respectful attitude, desiring to learn more. However, if you have decided for yourself that Marxism is wrong and that your purpose on the list is to struggle to convince others of that, you should not subscribe.” What an intolerant forewarning which exposes the hegemonic attitude of Marxists to prohibit inconvenient critiques. Like high-school debate teams, wouldn’t it be entertaining to wrangle with the absurdities of rightists to demonstrate the world that we Marxists have unshakable tools for evaluating incidents of politics. But the problem is too much political discussion alone results in a power failure of theory to become a material force. So what was the effect that converted John Lennon from writing songs like “Across the Universe” inspired with Transcendental Meditation? How could the indifference of a man to the words that “are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” so nothing’s gonna change his world was transformed to an iconoclastic voice in the song of “God”? The key line is “The dream is over” which implies a state of flux in the truths of Lennon incited by the consequences of the Vietnam War, etc.

If we really believe that we can sell the truthful words of class struggle without an inclination towards ad hominem, for instance, to an ordinary manager of Fortis Bank, a creative director of an advertising company, a nationalist undergraduate student who is only capable of rationalizing his limitations via alien conspiracy, etc. we should revise our well-intentioned rational idealism which fails to notice that how a theory becomes a material force. Karl Marx strived not only for introducing the hypocrisy of political economy but also materializing the truth of working class as a subject of the communist revolution: proletariat.

In my opinion, rather than desperately striving to prevail over our dissidents with endless rain of words we should keep the track of social incidents that probably have the propulsive energy to beget ruptures in the hegemonic truths and look for ways to organize people whose truths are naturally contradictory with the ruling class. I am not referring here to new forms of vanguard parties since vanguardism neglects the spontaneity of truth process by adopting a lengthy string of predetermined missions that are more than capable of resulting unexpected interruptions in actual improvements.

The announcement of “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims” is besides an appeal for voicing our truths explicitly. I think it is more important for us to concentrate our energy to publish our aims rather than rehearsing the myth of Sisyphus by pushing the rock of criticism up to the mountain of the online forums of conservatives.

Monday, November 19, 2007

IMF says: "Good Luck"

I just came across a particular paragraph in IMF’s “Financial System Stability Assessment” (Country Report No. 07/361) on Turkey:

Macroeconomic volatility, especially because of the large current account deficit. Turkey remains dependent on capital inflows and thus on international investor sentiment. Moreover, continued efforts are still needed to anchor inflation at low levels, and the stock of government debt remains relatively high, albeit declining.

I thought that someone should translate these statements that bear some concealed contradictions:

It is distressing that macroeconomic stability of Turkey is at the mercy of the rationality of international investors. But, since the continuity of current inflation rates are directly subjected to the decline of exchange rates via capital inflows, intensification of this volatility is inevitable… Good Luck!

All the arguments of economists to maintain the macroeconomic stability are directed towards the question of ensuring the mental steadiness of international investors. The major fear is “what if they suddenly go insane one day?”

They like self-proclaimed “good” poker players, who believe that it is impossible to win at a table full of loose-aggressive maniacs, because there is always couple of players who are denying the odds and will outdraw you in later betting rounds. Their motto is: “Aces never hold up”

But the real danger lies in the presence of players who play rationally and who are counting the odds. They call when the odds are in their favor and fold when they are against them. This is where you’re really in need of the interference of good luck.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

If Democracy Exists

When I read the news about Chavez’s cross swords with the Spanish King, I recall Zizek’s counter argument to Ivan Karamazov’s assertion on the absence of an ethical ground if god doesn't exists with his If God exists, everything is permitted”.

It was reported that, the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero warned Chavez to respect the democratic debate, "I want to express to you President Hugo Chavez that in a forum where there are democratic governments ... one of the essential principles is respect,"

Zizek’s argument might simply be applied to politics: If democracy exists, everything is permitted. All our privileges have been limited by mutual respect which could be translated as to avoid touching the heart of the matter that may be antagonize the opposition. The problem with “democratic” governments is their comfort that is feigning as an obligation to rationalize the use of excessive power. The real dictators are not dangerous as such since they are bereft of the shiftiest tools for justification. To be exact, while it is a lot easier “historically” to condemn Nazism for its crimes against humanity, the historical imperialism of the UK could well be tolerated by the invention of new political concepts such as “democratic realism” to validate the modern expansion strategies of the United States which has triggered enough blood bath comparable with the most brutal experiences of the human history. It is very fascinating to keep the track of Hitler’s relatively sloppy arguments to rationalize his position, which are narrowed with denunciation of the “Bolshevik Imperialism” bolstered by the Jewish conspiracy and the betrayal to the pact of peaceful colonialism. Some examples could be:

“Russia planned a world revolution and German workmen would be used but as cannon-fodder for bolshevist imperialism”

“Bolshevism has attacked the foundations of our whole human order, alike in State and society, the foundations of our conception of civilization, of our faith and of our morals: all alike are at stake.”

“If Europe does not awaken to the danger of bolshevist infection, commerce will decrease in spite of all the good will of individual statesmen.”

“Jewry, with its bolshevist onslaught, might smash the Aryan States and destroy those native strata of the people whose blood destined them for leadership, and in that case the culture which had hitherto sprung from these roots would be brought to the same destruction....”

“We know further that now, as before, there is lurking threateningly that Jewish-international world enemy who has found a living expression in bolshevism.”

"I do not know whether the world will become fascist! But I am deeply convinced that this world in the end will defend itself against the most severe bolshevistic threat that exists."

"Germany has no colonial claims on countries which have taken no colonies away from her."
“The German people once built up a Colonial Empire, without robbing anyone and without any war. This was taken away from us. It was said that the natives did not want to belong to Germany, that the colonies were not adminis-tered properly by the Germans, and that these colonies had no true value. If this is true, this valuelessness would also apply to the other nations, and there is no reason why they should wish to keep them from us. Germany has never demanded colonies for military purposes, but exclusively for economic ones”.

What impotent arguments are these that even make us to think once on the historical justness of Hitler’s “preemptive strike” against the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy? But at the same time he was well aware in relation to the tricky power of democracies that licenses variety of actions free from ethical ground:

“There has been formed in the world the curious custom of dividing peoples into so-called 'authoritarian' States, that is disciplined States, and democratic States. In the authoritarian, that is, the disciplined States, it goes without saying that one does not abuse foreign peoples, does not lie about them, does not incite to war. But the democratic States are precisely 'democratic,' that is, that all this can happen there In the authoritarian States a war - agitation is of course impossible, for their Governments are under an obligation to see to it that there is no such thing. In the democracies, on the other hand, the Governments have only one duty: to maintain democracy, and that means the liberty, if necessary, to incite to war...”

To emphasize the mutual connection, I think it could be useful to copy&paste my observation which was posted to Marxmail regarding the relation between Ann Coulter and more sensible neocons:

"I read some of the articles on her website:

The danger behind her ludicrous political propositions is not that they are admissible, but they render the logical premises possible to be perceived as rational. The proposal of "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" is much lessthreatening than the official doctrines as "bringing democracy", "preemptive strikes", "struggle against Muslim fundamentalism", etc. While, the assertion to convert whole infidels to sensible believers is acomplete exaggeration, destroying the secular nationalist Iraq to erect an Islamist but more tractable regime is the logical premise of convertingmischievous subjects to the believers of global order.

This is the duplication of good cop/bad cop craftiness. One of the components of a political discourse portrays the villain, who is symbolising the aftermath of avoiding cooperation, or of the terrifying outcomes of being shy away to interfere in current situation, the other one represents the bearable penalties of being included in the discourse and inevitable sacrifice of the compromise. (If you are eager to live in amore safety world you have to drop some of your old democratic rights, e.g.) Real interrogator is the one, who disguised himself as a good cop but the ultimate misfortune of the suspect.

Ann Coulter gives examples of pathological contradictions of an authentic racist mind like one of her associates: . But these statements arenot truly dangerous isolated from their original political discourse andhow it works in reality. The danger lies in the blindness that they beget which does not allow us to identify the new forms of fascism."

And here is the comment that a left as regards to the article on Renegade Eye dealing with the "democratic" activism of the opposition in Venezuela:

"It is not surprising that, with a sleight of hand a question of social justice is being converted to a discussion of universal premises of civil society, human rights, law of self-defense (yes, it is extremely impolitic to take up a handgun when the aggressors are modest enough to make do with slingshots), right to assemble, freedom of speech, etc. It is gibberish to accuse Chavez for his furtive attempts to undermine the “democracy” by extending the length of presidency when the opposition is genuinely against the economic reforms. But our democrats and humanists in the shallowest sense, all the wise people who are keen on the superiority of freedom and democracy have no intention to debate about the social consequences of constitutional reforms except the one targeting the article 230. So what about the “social stability fund”, limitation of working hours, autonomy of the Central Bank, agrarian reforms preventing the large estates, etc? Are you promoting the freedom of speech enough to apply your own freedom appropriately?"

So, the vital question rises here: What should we rely on other than justice if the democracy eradicates any ethical ground?

Monday, November 05, 2007


I want to presume to make a contribution to the discussion on imperialism since there is a particular confusion has been going on that gives me a pause about the anti-imperialist movements in Turkey.

First of all, the classification of “the highest stage of capitalism” does not indicate a simple formula as modern capitalism is equal to imperialism. This is a misconception just as equalizing capitalism with commodity production. Imperialism is the “modern” concrete form of capitalism and capitalism is the “modern” concrete form of commodity production. In my opinion, translation of this connection to Hegelian dialectics could be like this: commodity production=universal, capitalism=particular, imperialism=individual (negation of the negation). Therefore, Capital starts with the analyses of commodity.

Imperialism is a particular existence form of a socio-economic system but its existence does not resolve the contradictions or the existence of other forms. I mean, if one day, imperialism or capitalism disappears from existence, commodity production could preserve its existence in different forms. For instance, while I was recently proposing the liberal democratic solution for the Kurdish question to be activated urgently, I was well aware that those improvements will not remove the conflicts of other forms of the question. To quote Hegel, “…each of these moments is no less the whole Notion than it is a determinate Notion and a determination of the Notion.”

The problem with blindered anti-imperialist movements is while they are purporting to criticize the whole Notion, in fact they are tackling a single movement of the Notion. But the proper approach is to strive to understand the Notion along its whole process.

Let’s take the example of Worker’s Party (Turkey). After their perfunctory tone of voice has decreased regarding with class struggle, they have directed all their rhetorical appetite towards the most feverish form of Turkish Nationalism and sometimes joined forces with the Nationalist Movement Party which has been obviously pursuing fascist strategies for couple of decades. Their babblings are limited with constant swearing at American Imperialism, and unyielding provocations of nationalism. They are embracing different classes without a doubt but there is nothing progressive about appealing the suppressed desires of the people or opposing to Imperialism alone. I think that these sort of anti-imperialist movements have been forged to mislead the people.

I will write more about the issue, this is all for the present...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Demons of Separatism

“Does the "left" in Turkey support, self determination for the Kurds? The PKK supporters seem to not differentiate Turkish workers from bosses. Why expect different of Maoists and nationalists."

Hello Ren,

In the wake of PKK’s renunciation of its former objectives for political separation, self-determination, in other words, “political separation of these nations from alien national bodies, and the formation of an independent national state”, is now an orphan desire in Turkey. However, its ghost is still haunting the psyche of the warmongers, who are vigilant enough (!) to perceive that political and cultural demands are simply an obfuscation of the intention of separation. Thus, the question of “self-determination” is being introduced generally by dull nationalists for the purpose of escaping from the responsibility to intervene in the causes of the miseries of Kurdish minority. The separation-phobia engendered by Kemalism is a scarecrow in Turkey to ward of the dreadful realities about the Kurdish question. Nowadays, no one is raising publicly the idea of self-determination, separatism, except the adherents of the long-standing state tradition for rationalizing the status-quo. Hence, in the current political encyclopedia of Turkey, the entry of “the self-determination of nations” is not being defined as political separation, but a menace which makes even the bourgeois-democratic revisions impossible.

However, if we recall Lenin’s pamphlet, we should identify a particular contradiction of the Kurdish nationalism. The longing for the formation of national states has habitually been initiated by indigenous bourgeois class to capture the home market. But on the occasion of the natural deficiencies of the region, the Kurdish bourgeois class has integrated with Turkish economy so exceedingly that they defend the political unity or their fidelity to the Turkish identity more viciously than their Turkish colleagues. For instance, Aziz Yildirim, the Kurdish chairman of Turkey’s one of the prominent soccer clubs, recently uttered the famous slogan on the television: “Martyrs do not die; the country can not be divided”. There is an article in yesterday’s Economist exposing the approach of Kurdish bourgeois class on Kurdish nationalism:

"Despite Mr Barzani's popularity, the Turks can take heart from the millions of Kurds who have no desire to break away. That was the message of the July 22nd election, says Sehmus Akbas, a Kurdish businessman in Diyarbakir. He is thinking of the big gains made by the Justice and Development (AK) party in Kurdish areas, at the expense of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DTP). Such is the appeal of AK's mix of liberalism and Islamic piety that it might even wrest Diyarbakir, the Kurds' unofficial capital, from the DTP in local elections next March"…

In sum, self determination for the Kurds is the subject non grata in Turkey even the Marxists (including me) are shy away from. The most well-intentioned expressions are restricted with the presentation of the Kurdish question as a by-product of capitalism and unassuring appeal to overthrow the capitalist states for absolute resolution. Personally, I prefer to stay aphetic concerning a separate national state option, which is a part of renunciation to identify myself with the national identity which is stamped with diversity of political manipulations and deceptions. So, this is not an off-limits area for me hedged with the nightmares of the others. To reiterate, one of the old interpretations of demons in dreams that, people who have a tendency to abuse others have overwhelming fears that outbreak as demons just to ease the burden of guilty conscience. The Kemalist nightmare about separatist demons must be diagnosed in the context that a demon occasionally represents the payoff to sustain one’s own deeds.

"I like how you used quotation marks around the word "left."
At a meeting of the local antiwar group, I reported from your posts, about the situation with Kurdistan.
Considering the Stalinist history of the PKK, if they say they are for or against seperatism, you never know. Not the most honest brokers to say the least."

I did not use them in this post, but I usually use quotation marks along with the term “left” to signify when it includes also the groups that classify themselves as leftists but do not support the distinctive characteristics such as involving in class struggle. Like everywhere, there are so many of them in Turkey that quotation marks are practical tools to point out the ambiguity of the term.

The skeptical expression of “you never know” called to my mind Daniel Negreanu’s article where he dealt with the myth of poker tells. He depicts one of his experiences at a table full of “aspiring pros” paranoiacally struggling to decipher the body language of other players but neglecting the fundamentals of the game: “They were so obsessed with trying to figure out what people's tells were that they completely neglected what was actually going on in the hands - who bet, who raised, and so on.”

It might be noticed that I have been wittingly sidestepping the critique of PKK. It is not by the reason of that I have sympathy for their pragmatic strategies, their desertion of the Marxist roots, adoptions of a Stalinist mind, reactionary collaboration with feudal remnants, etc. In truth, it is not my dilemma. The critique of PKK is the responsibility of Kurds. I have no idea about their “real” intentions and neither have the enthusiasm to crack the code of their political body language. I am more concerned with the truth that PKK is the objectification of the Kurdish question which has been ramified by years of assimilation, oppression, and overlooking policies. We should not judge form of the objectification of the question at first, when the question is still on the table.

Rather than wrestling with the consequences, I want the political demands of the Kurdish citizens of Turkey, like a new Constitution acknowledging the existence of Kurdish people, a general amnesty, an economic plan to improve the daily life in the region, etc. to be accepted immediately. We might have the luxury to be involved in the question of PKK then.

I don't let anyone call me "leftist," if it includes Stalinists, nationalists etc.

Dear Marvin,
I’m really very sorry about the misunderstanding which is due to my careless statements. I didn’t ever attempt to criticize you; Actually, I was criticizing my previous standpoint about the Kurdish question which can be traced back in my older posts. While I was contemplating on this issue recently, I have realized that by introducing the long-term possibilities like workers state and self-determination, we are overlooking the immediate demands of Kurdish people to be treated as equal citizens. I believe that the solidarity of working classes of all nations is the ultimate solution but this should not constrain us from landing an ear to the immediate demands. Please inform me about your further anxieties regarding my assertions.
Sorry again,

I didn't notice anything in personal.
The democratic demands, are not in contradiction to Marxism. Ultimately in the era of imperialism, they can only be won with socialism.


Dear Marvin,

I am tirelessly trying to indicate that democracy of capitalism is an illusion and true democracy is only possible with socialism (For instance, my post titled with Dylan’s song). But I realized that sometimes my appetite for true democracy makes me to overlook the possible gains even in the illusionary one. This is for the first and the last time that I have ever proposed liberal-democratic reconciliations to be activated urgently regarding a particular question, and for me this was not the absolute idea or a dead end of the debate. It was just a plea to draw the question to a more tangible ground. Anyway, I decided to cease this short adventure of mine with liberalism hereafter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Query

This is the copy of the comment that I made about an article on Renegade

Thank you for presenting us with an article detailed enough to cover the historical, economical and social extents of the multifaceted situation of the region.

I want to raise a very speculative question, which I have neither investigated by any means of statistical data nor carefully contemplated on:

Following the recent debate in Marxmail about the question of contemporary imperialism, I have developed a strange PARANOIA concerning the immediate role of the Turkish Army in the imperialistic expansion. As I stated before, Turkish bourgeoisie has been bolstered heavily by European finance capital. I can’t IMAGINE a notable Turkish company issuing an annual report that does not include liabilities to European creditors. We should also take direct investments and joint partnerships into the account. In other sense, one should reevaluate the gradually rising influence of European Union in the Turkish economy. I’m SUSPECTING the good old days that one could unhesitatingly count Turkey simply as a satellite of the U.S have remained in the past. Now the pie is bigger and prospects are more alluring.

Another thing to bear in mind is the up to date consequences of the power struggle in Turkey. The Turkish Army (i.e. its appendages in the political racetrack) waterlooed heavily by bourgeoisie in the recent election. But, this rivalry has to be maintained friendly as both teams need each other for the sake future organizations. Now it is time to regenerate the relations and establish brand new table-images which were spoiled by busted bluff attempts. A couple of showpiece triumphs against PKK might save reliability of the Army and suspicions about the the devotion of bourgeoisie to the political heritage.

The existence of PKK is a practical tool for Turkish ruling classes to prolong nationalistic sensibility. After the dissolution of Soviet Union and extermination of socialist movements, Turkey has been deprived of a “real enemy” excluding PKK, religious fundamentalism and those noisy Armenians and their persistent claims. Nationalistic consciousness is not a gift from god; you must strive relentlessly to constitute it by every tool. On the other hand, uncontrollable forces always represent a threat to “free trade”, which is an enormous risk to take for the small-minded justification of keeping the enemy in view. The one who jeopardize business affairs is a threat not only for Turkey also for all the participants.

We endeavored to a large extent to analyze the interests of American imperialism in the region. But we are bereft of a careful research about the position of Europe in the picture. How about an investigation to reveal the possible cooperation between Turkey and the usual suspects of European imperialism? Who knows what bargains are in process behind the curtains? Maybe accession of Turkey to the European Union will be a shorter process than predictions.

This is not an attempt to mystify the current debate with conspiracy theories. I just tried to throw out the question that is rambling in my mind. And I have no idea about the validity of my thoughts. Voicing it in front of the public was the only way to test it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

I wrote the text below regarding Dbachmozart’s post,

But then I changed the title with Dylan’s song.

This month a Turkish nationwide news channel, NTV, broadcasted BBC’s dramatized documentary “Ancient Rome, the Rise and Fall of an Empire”. A particular episode depicting the land crisis of the 2nd century led me to think on the mechanism of democracy today and the infamous flaws of representative democracy.

In that episode, the misadventure of a politician is introduced, Tiberius Gracchus who inspired François-Noël "Gracchus" Babeuf. Briefly, he was a heroic figure for lower classes and caused an interruption of the Republic’s ordinary executive process by his insistent attempts to legislate agrarian reforms. His reforms were targeted to recapture the land that had been occupied by wealthy class and transformed to latifundias. In the dramatized version, we see Tiberius Gracchus while he is giving a zealous speech in the “tribune of the people”. But when the time to decide whether to put the proposed laws to people’s vote comes, one of the members immediately uses his veto power. In a nonchalant manner, Gracchus says, “Let us discuss the other matters then”. Afterwards, Gracchus starts to veto every single proposal to discuss irrelevant agendas decisively. He suddenly puts the Republic out of commission, which provokes an ultimate turmoil. His motto is: “You can not discuss the budget while people have no place to live”.

Shortly after watching this documentary, I read an interesting article in Card Player magazine which should be regarded as irrelevant to the question by any rational mind, but obviously not by a lunatic like me:

The author argues that, even though analyzing close decisions enables us to see the big picture; close decisions have lesser effect on the outcomes. In other words, for instance, contemplating on the question of what portion of the state budget should be reserved for educational expenses facilitates to comprehend the system of civil society. But solutions of the most devastating structural dilemmas of this society do not dwell on close decisions; they are the matter of life and death, i.e. fundamental questions like provision of subsistence, deciding to what will be produced and how it will be distributed, etc. etc.

It is apparent that modern democracy has been reduced to a quest for the conclusion of endless chain of close decisions. The refrains of we should content with the representative democracy in spite of its all deficiencies is a piece of pure nonsense since it is not the characteristics of representation where the limitation lies. The shortcomings of democracy originates from the expulsion of fundamental questions from political field, which could probably change the big picture. The trick in here is to heighten the close decisions to the abstract universal, the field of immediate knowledge. But a proper democracy should be all about cognition.

Think about the recent mass demonstrations against terror in Turkey and pro-war parades which go far to devastation of the properties of Kurdish citizens. We had been asked whether we want that the terror to be stopped before every election. People natively voted for so-called social contractors just to witness their persistence to exercise the same policies which have been proved to be disastrous for couple of decades.

Responding positively to the calls like “Say No to the Terror!” is a close decision as long as they are voiced abstractly. In truth, it is not really significant if you have no intention to ensure the related question will be descended from the field of universal. I don’t really care about it on the condition that my cognition is forced out the debate. But, making a decision between practicing a tedious nationalist violence, discrimination of ethnic minorities, being an everlasting subject of militarism; and responding positively to the political demands for general amnesty, constitutional guarantee to preserve their cultural heritage, etc. is not even close.

Unfortunately, what we are ordered now is to participate to a debate about the universal abstractions, battle of semantics for definitions like “local insurgents” or “terrorists” (One can easily be branded as a terrorist, if he hesitates to utter PKK and terrorism in the same sentence), and tricky competitions to prove who is the most patriotic, etc. etc. Sorry, I am not eager to buy this garbage. I just want a proper democracy addressing my cognition. I don’t want to fiddle around grappling with close decisions.

Mehmet Çagatay