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


Mehmet Kurtulu said...

Merhaba, Mehmet. Cok guzel blog! Ben Louis Proyect, ama adiyi "Mehmet Kurtulu" kollaniyorum. O benim "nom de guerre"!

Renegade Eye said...

Read my latest post about the PKK. Your comments would be appreciated.

Comradely regards.

Renegade Eye said...

Supporting the rights of Kurds to a homeland, is the acid test for someone calling themselves a Marxist in Turkey.

At the same time Kurds won't win a homeland until governments in Istanbul, Teheran, and Baghdad are workers governments.

Mehmet Çagatay said...

Hello Renegade Eye,

I read a comment on your site saying "Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth," regarding your invitation (just as above) to the ultimate solution of the question. You can't judge the validity of a proposition by its suitability with fashion.

Anyhow, speaking of fashion, I did not exhibit any cupidity which could lead me to propose "outworn" Marxist antics as a solution (!) I was modern enough to designate that even the liberal-democratic answers within the context of capitalism are more sustainable than the uncompimising posture of reactionary, nationalist, militarist, pro-coup, etc. elites.

Surprisingly, at the present time the whole debate on the Kurdish question is deprived of political solutions and it is reduced an ethical question of approving the landing operation to northern Iraq or not. If the origin of this question was Turkey’s centennial military ineffectiveness in the region, but not Turkey’s centennial political blunders, I would “gladly” espouse the Army to extirpate the problem. It is a foxy plot to equalize the Kurdish question with PKK. They are just consequences. Anyone who had a little bit contact with materialism might know that abolishing something amounts to abolishing its material conditions.

Now in Turkey, political struggle on the questions like “constitutional security” have been expelled from the table. If it is an acid test supporting the rights of Kurds, it is even acidier for someone who is calling himself a “Liberal-Democrat”.

Renegade Eye said...

You're not allowed to dwell on close decisions. You are unfortunate enough to see the big picture. You aren't allowed the luxury.

I never took down the link to your blog. I knew you'd return. Nobody else seems to be presenting a Marxist view from Turkey in the blogs.

I recently joined the International Marxist Tendency.

Mehmet Çagatay said...

Thank you for these encouraging comments. I saw your article on; I hope that collaboration will be fruitful. Actually I started to read Ann Robertson’s article on the site which seems to deal with important misinterpretations about dialectics:

Right now, I’m keen on to update my blog regularly, I’m sorry that I had been occupied by trivial questions for along time.