Thursday, December 25, 2008


"And the shame was on the other side
Oh we can beat them-forever and ever"

According to a CNN article, “The U.S. Army says it will honor the "heroism and sacrifice" of 350 U.S. soldiers who were held as slaves by Nazi Germany during World War II.”

When I first watched the movie ‘Stalag 17’ on television long time ago my biggest surprise was contrary to what we had been told about the suffering in the concentration camps, being a captive American soldier in a Nazi camp is not horrific as what had happened to the Jews. (Think about William Holden who playfully trades with his German colleagues). In this type of movies (Stalag 17, The Great Escape or more recently as in Hart's War) the American soldier do not only manage to preserve their physical dignity but boldly confront their guardians both ideologically and psychologically. On the other hand, the hideous Nazi officers who do not refrain from ruthlessly torturing and liquidating Jews in various techniques are reluctant to disregard the provisions of Geneva Conventions in respect of American soldier, possibly by the reason of their hesitation against the capability of American individual to improvise cunning ploys when the things get complicated. It is not an unfounded delusion though since all these movies end up with practical American civility outsmarting, outplaying the collective stupidity of German idealism.

I think the reason why American army had covered the actual conditions of its soldiers in the Nazi camps in all these years is to prevent the damage to the eternal dignity and courage of the soldier who is the embodiment of the collective universal American. But unfortunately as the American soldier has traversed to the other side of the shame finally, the only way to save his appearance is to reverse the image and reflect his humane-mortal face. This is way the U.S army suddenly decided to disclose the outworn secrets.

As I understand, in the WW2 era, one of the prominent images in the U.S was the monstrous Japanese rapist targeting white American female:

It is no surprise that Turks have been told once in a while that how treacherous Armenians raped and brutally butchered pregnant Turkish women in the unguarded villages of Anatolia. But it is all right as it and the illustrations above demonstrates our humane individual vulnerability against the strictly organized brutality of the enemy. But what happens if the enemy rape or transform our soldier to their slave? Total humiliation: It would be like to rape a nation all together. The tolerable fate of the soldier is heroic martyrdom and immorality but not to be enslaved by the enemy, this is why the Turkish state welcomed the freed soldiers as if they are disgraceful traitors and shameless cowards. Later it was revealed that some of them are people of Kurdish ethnic background, i.e. they don’t deserve to be a Turkish soldier in the first place.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Radical Conformist Humor

There was a post on The Unrepentant Marxist on Robert Greenwald’s documentary “The Real McCain”. Here is my comment:

I think people watch these allegedly political videos for the same reason they are fascinated by lolcat humor. It is the obscene pleasure of witnessing the triumph of life, of its overwhelming flow that tears down all the barriers. In one of them, common human stupidity prevails over the nature by zealously reflecting its symptoms to another living thing. In the other, disturbing contradictions of human dimension invades the social order: people sometimes get confused, yes, although McCain is a politician, he can get confused too. Terry Eagleton is right to say that in satire and irony the hero is inferior to the rest of us, but I think, we should add that, in comedy the hero is inferior to each of us individually, but replicates our common weakness and confusion against our environment. I think this is the elemental trap of comedy: We typically get the inferior impersonal frame without the individual picture. Here what we got, I mean, with the sarcastic McClain movies, jokes, etc. is an empty frame of standard human stupidity, without the original, individual political picture of McCain. This is why, although it seems extremely critical to the state of affairs, comedy, parody, etc. in fact, often radically reproduces the conditions of the unpleasant individual situation.

It is amazing even if the sense of humor is one of the most exceptional qualities among humanity, modern dominance of white collar narcissism and the Internet machine remarkably decreases the expenses of its reproduction and increases the productivity of banality. At first it seems contradictory to spot pathological narcissism in conjunction with the sense of humor, but, considering the performative capability of narcissism to observe and act according to what people laugh at, along with the fact that comedy is the shortest way to objectify people, to reduce individuals to empty frames, it is understandable that the widespread shortage of creative humor itself produces infinite amount of homogeneous jokes. Now, we have countless Holden Caulfields everywhere supposedly surrounded by numerous stereotypes, stupid girls, perverts, Yale-looking guys, lazy bastards, dirty bastards, nosy bastards, phony bastard, etc. etc. they obsessively point out each other, seemingly expose their bullshit, but for what motivation? To demonstrate that I’m the the only NORMAL bastard: “I was probably the only normal bastard in the whole place--and that isn't saying much. I damn near sent a telegram to old Stradlater telling him to take the first train to New York. He'd have been the king of the hotel.” (The Catcher in the Rye). In a paradoxical fashion, the misleading element in the pretentious sense of humor of modern narcissism is its illusory radical aggressivity. As Zizek puts, the pathological narcissist “is a radical conformist who paradoxically experiences himself as an outlaw”.

I’m too fed up with this tedious lolcat style political humor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Imaginary Berlin Wall

The text below is my response to a post appeared in Louis Proyect's The Unrepentant Marxist:
Hello Louis,

Although I haven’t written you in a while, I am keeping the track of the updates of your blog. Your reference to the “post-modernist sensibility” gave me a pause to question one of the distinctive patterns of postmodern narrative: the unfulfilling culmination with an ambiguous escape from the fiction. It is the inevitable finale of a fiction suffering from the Tristram Shandy Syndrome.

Here we are introduced with an East German ghost is desperately dreaming that she has survived from her unavoidable destiny and eventually merged herself with modern West German post-industrial society. The Freudian innovation in interpretation of dreams fundamentally centered on the rupture from the previous theory in which the dream was treated simply as the imaginary showcase of the arbitrary remainders of the daily reality, however, in Freudian sense, the dream is not the imaginary illustration of our reality but it essentially displays how we relate ourselves with the reality. At this juncture Louis Althusser integrates ideology with the Freudian conception of the dream:

“Now I can return to a thesis which I have already advanced: it is not their real conditions of existence, their real world, that 'men' 'represent to themselves' in ideology, but above all it is their relation to those conditions of existence which is represented to them there. It is this relation which is at the centre of every ideological, i.e. imaginary, representation of the real world. It is this relation that contains the 'cause' which has to explain the imaginary distortion of the ideological representation of the real world. Or rather, to leave aside the language of causality it is necessary to advance the thesis that it is the imaginary nature of this relation which underlies all the imaginary distortion that we can observe (if we do not live in its truth) in all ideology.”

The central allegation of postmodern narrative is the decisive disavowal of the modern conception that reality is represented in fiction albeit in a ciphered form. Since everything is a part of the complete signifying system, there is no possibility of reality outside of the language. Just like one of Auster’s ordinary hackneyed characters, Quinn from "City of Glass" summarizes the postmodern cliché of metafiction, i.e. the primary and probably the only remarkable narrative trick of his author: the postmodern author is not interested in how his stories related with the world, but how they are relate with other stories. The postmodern distortion here resides in its initial identification that the signifying system is the ultimate determination of the representation of reality. But language, in its imaginary aspect, naturally excludes the real and demonstrates no more than how we relate ourselves with our real conditions. The same goes for literature. Even though it is a waste of time to investigate a shred of Turkish reality through the lyric verses of an ordinary petite bourgeoisie Turkish poet who in general used to extensively chant about the skies, birds, flora, bugs and insects and love, (which is the sum total of all these arbitrary images plucked from the purity of rural life… and which is contrary to the Socialist Realists of 70’s who employ love as the complementary drive-object of revolution) this imaginary arrangement of items apparently unconnected with the prevailing and pervasive indignity of the urban working class perfectly represents how the rumbles and grumbles of the stomach of our modern artists are related with the reality.

Although no more than little of my concerns still remains, for me the keystone for critic of art is to crack code of its representation that how the imaginary and the real is related. With regard to Christian Petzold’s movie that you reviewed, sticking to my standard procedure to evaluate the meaning in the artistic creation, it is required to invert and fix his depiction what his movie is about:

“…Someone who has come from a ghost town like this and who wants to enter into life, but carries around the ghostly with them, that is what Yella is all about.”

Based on your quite short synopsis, Yella is not about what Mr. Petzold ostensibly disclosed. There is a stunning irony in the act of confession or disclosing a concealed meaning: In effect, which is more bluntly revealed is the presence of a disturbing connection between the subject and the truth which is supposedly disclosed. It is not the infection of the ghostly melancholy of East German countrymen that is haunting the German financial capital personified as Philip, the rapacious private investor. But it is the German neo-liberalism (Here I used term the Real like Lacan and Badiou employed: something outside of the borders of the mighty signifying system persistently pressures the symbolic order to take precautions to interrupt its eruption with a traumatic Event which would disintegrate the coordinates of the system.. More explicitly, it’s a reminiscent of the neurotic vibration inside my left ear) which summons the East-German ghost to exorcise its evil spirit, a vibration of reality that patiently lies to wait to explode out with an unexpected Event. I think this is also the reason of your recent discontent on how contemporary fiction ends without a fulfilling culmination. Whereas the narrative is all about to suppress the reality, it is compulsory to prohibit any Event only which has the supremacy to represent the Real.

Anyway, the concealed meaning in Yella connotes that an ordinary German needs to resurrect the soul of GDR to persuade him/herself that the Berlin Wall still remains, everything is in order, signifying system still functions, words like democracy, freedom, equality, egalitarian justice, communism, totalitarianism, etc still signifies the same fixed meaning as before 1989. Even in the sexual attraction, the aluminum phallus of the private investment could be desirable with the spurring of the obsessive-compulsive East German hick fettering the social unification quest of her ex-wife. This might be elementary lesson of this story.

My critical concern here is not the problem with the emblematic construction of the postmodern fiction. I can’t give a meaningful shit about a nonsensical fart (I only care about music). Like Badiou, my concern is the birth of a new subject which rises above the wreck of previous symbolic order. Unlike Badiou, I think Subject is not the completed creation of the Event. There the new subject exists only in a potential form, in-itself. It was our desire for social unity that prompted us to tear down the Berlin Wall, freedom and democracy were its objects… Eventually we secured a valuable trophy from the ruins just to realize that the bourgeois democracy and freedom have tiny, only descriptive connection. This is the crucial point whether the birth certificate of a new subject would be stamped. The potentiality of new subject surfaces at the moment when one gets what one wants with a little malformation. Like in Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil, the main protagonist Sam Lowry unexpectedly encounters the woman of his dreams without the little detail of long curly blonde hair and eventually we see at the end of the movie that this time he dreams about Jill as she is. This is the excellent expression of true love. It is not true for the reason that from now on Sam Lowry loves Jill as the real Jill, as who she is. It is impossible anyway. But his encounter with a woman utterly dismantled the mechanism of his desire towards women: There is no need for a supplementary long blonde wig and dreams of heroism in which Lowry crosses swords with his own superego to save the dreamgirl, etc. Contrary, at the end of the movie, in Lowry’s final dream, we see that Jill the Real saves him from the torturers. This is the valid final scene of the movie for me. The actual last scene is an insult to this reality.

A new subject emerges at the decisive point that Badiou names as the “Fidelity to the Event”. Here we have extra options: We can get rid of the tomboyish shorthaired Jill or we can expel the generic “communist hypothesis” that once propelled us to demolish the walls, which would again enables us to circle around the little object of bourgeois democracy, formal freedoms of the market, more modest contentions of identity politics, etc. The science of necromancy to resurrect the deceased East German subject is for the most part represents the guilty conscience of German intellectuals that urges them to re-erect an imaginary Berlin Wall.

In an interview about his 2005 movie Gespenster (Ghosts), Christian Petzold, the director of Yella, yet again apparently discloses the recurring ghost theme in his movies:

“One has the feeling that there is something ‘ghostlike’ about all the characters in your film.…

It’s an interesting effect ... When a film starts with two girls coming home from school, throwing their schoolbags in the corner and going off for ice cream, then they have an immediate social definition. But the girls played by Sabine Timoteo and Julia Hammer are different; they don’t have homes or a place to define them; no social definition. They are, as I explained to them, in a sort of bubble. They want to go to a casting call because they want to be seen. They want to have an identity, and they can’t identify with doing an apprenticeship or anything like that ... This ‘living in a bubble’, the effort of trying to establish contact with so-called ‘life’, that’s what this film is about. And the effect is that the other characters who come into contact with the girls suddenly don’t seem to have terrific, normal lives either – suddenly it’s not only the two girls who are unable to be part of normal life. The girls reveal the rest of the world as also being a bubble; they take it apart. You get the feeling that wherever they are, just a metre beside them ... it’s not normality, but rather the beginning of the next ‘ghost (twilight) zone’. I don’t know whether that will be the effect film will have, but considering what I’ve seen so far, I think we’re on the right track.”

Apparently, Mr. Petzold is still on the right track and this is what I called as the Tristram Shandy Syndrome at beginning. Laurence Sterne’s colossal, never-ending novel is ultimate logical form that exemplifies the ideal postmodern narrative is composed of the permanent postponement of any event that has the power to castrate the story from the infinity of metafiction. Here we have two girls or Yella or whatever, but there must always be an imaginary Berlin Wall that they eventually bump their heads to just to bounce back and run against another. The perfect postmodern narrative might be achieved by an adult movie that in front of a screen which displays their former appearances, porn stars debate forever about the myth of simultaneous orgasm.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fidelity to Truth

This is my comment to Jodi Dean's post, "No Time for Politics":

Hello Ms Dean,

It is a little bit late, but Happy Birthday!

My birthday was April 2nd. As an ordinary celebration I spent my 32nd birthday by contemplating on the path my life, on how the forms of social relations ironically consumes the content of proper communication, our capacity for full speech, the field of political interaction (Here I mean something very fundamental other than real politics. Political in the sense of a praxis that interferes in the connection of two people), namely, I dwell on how this non-stop bombardment of “empty gestures”, ear-splitting prattle of “empty speech”, all those hysterical exchange of links, You-Tube videos, SMS massages, etc. etc. leads to an all-embracing isolation.

I think there are two connected features of the contemporary excessive communication or the “communicative capitalism”: The first one is the hyperactive exchange of “empty gestures”, images, jokes, slogans and the most stereotyped expression of language, etc. to prevent something that will probably disintegrate our dispassionate purity in this sheltered space. As Zizek describes as, “people not only act in order to change something, they can also act in order to prevent something from happening”. And the second one is this obsessive exchange of “empty speech” does not only provide an escape from “full speech” which verbalizes a truth about our desires in the boundaries of present, but also provides a blockade that prevent us to lie about ourselves since lies generally disclose the depth of truth more explicitly than sincere and straightforward statements. Thus the concealed silence beneath this communicative uproar signifies our or their anxiety to accidentally reveal an unbearable truth of ourselves. She or he consistently avoids proper communication to prevent the outbreak of any evidence that would possibly expose a disturbing truth: I have the right to remain silent. Here we need Hillary and Barak to sustain our counter-revolutionary hyperactivity by handing over the entertaining demonstration of the leakage of truth from the crack of “empty speech”.

“The Soviets--they had stamina, the stamina for politics”. I agree. The Soviets had stamina for politics in the conditions of specific political dimensions. In the present, I think we must attach another quality to this essential precondition to deal with politics. As Badiou pointed out, no matter how unbearable and impossible they seem, we also need a decisive fidelity to political truths: Fidelity to disclose them with every possible manner.

I will publish this comment on my blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

An Imperialist Poll

A recent article in MRZINE about a public opinion poll that was carried out by introduces how Iranians are satisfied with their goverment.

There is a profound ideological implication in the form of these questions.

First of all by querying an affirmative statement abstractly (Do you TRUST the national government in Iran to do WHAT IS RIGHT? etc.) the interviewers direct the subjects to shy away from negative answers. Together with this crafty manipulation and Iranians' well-founded suspicion that there could be covert government investigation beneath this sudden interest about their opinions, it is not surprising that this pseudo-poll has reached its original goal. The deduction here is not a critique of Western imperialism in the sense that how it misleadingly depicts Iran that fits their imperialist intentions. Surprisingly, this scientific pool perfects the imperialist propositions: The danger with Iran is not merely about its undemocratic, antiquated, oppressive and unpredictable regime like our politicians used to represent. But there is also an ossified trauma, an internal evil haunting the mentality of this monster: Although the Iranian regime is an utter outrage, the citizens are somewhat contended to be a part of it.

As I said, the questions are arranged to repress the negative responses. Let us apply something else that entirely removes the possibility of a negative response and completes the perfection of ideological manipulation. Let us compel Iranians to give concrete affirmative answers. For instance, instead of asking whether they are satisfied of Iran’s economy, let’s ask them to enumerate the positive developments in economy in recent years, or ask them to give tangible examples of the improvements in the social life, etc. Only by this way, only through forcing the subjects to neglect the negative option which is already repressed in social life, it is possible to reveal the ironical humiliation in the Iranian regime. Let Iranian people creatively fabricate lies about their reality. Their answers might reflect the immensity of the oppression that they are dealing with.

There is a wonderful passage in “Bob Dylan's 115th Dream” that perfectly depicts how people creatively lie about an unpleasant reality. (The caps are mine):

"Well, by this time I was fed up
At tryin' to make a stab
At bringin' back any help
For my friends and Captain Arab
I decided to flip a coin
Like either heads or TAILS
Would let me know if I should go
Back to ship or back to JAIL
So I hocked my sailor suit
And I got a coin to flip
It came up TAILS
It rhymed with SAILS
So I made it back to the ship"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

We Need a First Life

On Marxmail, David Picón Álvarez inquired the opinions of the comrades on whether The Ultimatum Game has potential to represent “the capitalist assumptions about rational agent behavior”. This is my response:

If we apply to Hegel, rationality is not a set of fixed formulas that serve to calculate the existing order of things, but an equation contains some variables and expresses the proportion between rationality and actuality. I think this experiment indicates one thing at best: People have a propensity to adjust their rationality to the texture of actuality. Once an equation that provides a hinge for interaction has been established, some people attempt to revolutionize the actuality, some try to prevent it, some neglect to interfere in, etc. Also, these entire scuffle structures the rationality. If we force the subjects of this experiment to play this game 10.000 times, but not for a once and anonymously, we certainly reach very different conclusions.

Two weeks ago I read an article about “Second Life”, the renowned virtual 3D world. Then I installed the game client to figure out and experience the enjoyment of virtual reality. I spent the first hour by struggling to create an avatar which exactly looks like me, a bald guy wearing t-shirt and black jeans. And after studying the basic movements I was ready to vanish in the mist of virtual reality. Unfortunately, it didn’t took me long realize that I was doing the exact same things that I would do in real life if I suddenly plunge into an unfamiliar environment. I was stone broke and glazed the showcases of shops, wandered around without any effort to meet and interact with new people, watched the sunset in an exotic island, etc. After couple of hours, it dawned on me that I need a First Life in the first place. Then I quitted the game with the taste of dissatisfaction.

I am not eager to buy any of two common explanations of how people act in virtual reality: People tend realize their fantasies or reveal their true characteristics repressed in the real world by the restrictions of social order. Both of these are too simplistic and overlook the reciprocal manipulation processing between the subject and reality. Therefore, my own experimental fiasco in “Second Life” is largely because of my stubbornness to adjust my reality to the arrangement and procedure of virtual reality but not as a result of a lack of any fantasies and unrecognized desires repressed by social order. For instance, two weeks ago a bizarre scandal was disclosed about Max Mosley, the president of FIA, who was caught in the act of sado-masochistic sex orgy with some girls dressed as Nazi officers. The common diagnosis is he is a regular pervert racist who likes to get his ass whipped and can only get pleasure from sexual intercourse with the mediation of fetish objects. But there is another fascinating feature in this scandal: He knows the mechanism and the order of the sado-masochistic virtual reality so that he is able to realize his darkest fantasies in the regulations of sexual role playing game. He precisely knows the laws and principles of the game; therefore he is capable to manipulate the virtual reality: “Oh Mistress! Please spank me, I am a traitor”

When I started to play poker, I was ashamed to bet and raise or check-raise since my personality obliged me to regard this sort of moves as an insult to other players. I was a usual tight-passive donkey constantly losing money for the sake of preserving my dignity. Then I decided to read the most important books dealing with the game, from Sklansky, Harrington to Brunson. After I have acquired a fundamental understanding about the reality within the game, I started to manipulate and exploit its very reality. I had become a downright hypocrite, cunning, provocative player making the sneakiest moves comfortably. As long as I could adjust myself with the rationality of a given table, I secured permission to act like a complete lunatic, betting with nothing, folding with something and calling with the nuts, etc. to manipulate the dynamics of the game. It is not because of the possibility that perhaps I possess a swindler in me repressed by social reality. But the deceptiveness enveloping the order of the game had compelled me to adjust my naivety according to its regulation. After this continuous process of alteration has become intolerable, I quitted this game as well.

In “18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” Marx said:

And as in private life one differentiates between what a man thinks and says of himself and what he really is and does, so in historical struggles one must distinguish still more the phrases and fancies of parties from their real organism and their real interests, their conception of themselves from their reality.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Genius of Soros

After reading Louis’s post (I will give the link later on) I searched the Internet to find out what the heck Soros means by “reflexivity”. Then I found the text of speech that elucidates his notion of “reflexivity”:

As I understand, he indicates that “the participants’ bias” in market transactions triggers the disequilibrium of markets and consequently changes the reality of economy. He ridiculously assumes that he has discovered an innovative theory about the connection between the reality and thinking. He is way too materialist in the matter of understanding that the reality is constituted by human activity but a total idiot in the sense of regarding this activity as the product of individual bias, the unreasoned judgment about the existing reality.

I know I have already overstepped the mark today by relating the concept of price by psychoanalytic definition of the symptom but I feel obliged to apply another extraneous metaphor, since George Soros’s filthy speculations in financial markets is commonly designated as “BETS”. I am not familiar with financial markets, but I have considerable amount of experience about the theory and practice of betting. Therefore, this time I will give an example in connection with the game of poker:

Let us consider that in the very beginning of a tournament; I was dealt a pair of jacks, a premium hand, but just to run against an imbecile sitting on the button who raises all-in with Ace-King suited. Suppose that I can see his or her hand. The reality of mathematics and the theory of poker advise me that I must call his bet immediately since I am nearly 54% favorite to win the hand and I have to prefer the actions that are profitable in the long run. But there is no such a thing as long run in a poker tournament. Therefore, the reasonable action here is to fold my beautiful jacks. At the moment I don’t have enough chips to prove the rightfulness of probability.

For that reason, what Soros regards as a bias against the existing reality does not imply an unreasonable preference disregarding the elementary science of probability and the art of evaluating the worth of correct information in the financial markets. But unlike Soros most of the gamblers in the grand financial casino haven’t got enough chips to consistently warrant the science of probability by making mathematically and informatively the correct decisions. His genius in financial markets sarcastically originates from the merciless reality that he has a lot of chips that provides resilience against the distasteful variance and teasing jokes of probability.

Once Marx said:

“In reality and for the practical materialist, i.e. the communist, it is a question of revolutionising the existing world, of practically attacking and changing existing things.”

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Symptom of Value

A comrade suggested on Marxmail that we Marxists should focus on money to save Marx's theory of value. This is my response:
Although in an inverted fashion, the questions that have been raised by Rakesh Bhandari imply the fundamental methodological difference between Marx and the classical political economy.

On couple of occasions Marx mentioned how preceding economists incorrectly began with analyzing “the real and the concrete” outcomes of the historical development of capitalist production, for Marx, “which have already acquired the stability of natural, self-understood forms of social life, before man seeks to decipher, not their historical character, for in his eyes they are immutable, but their meaning”. Out of the sphere of classical political economy this critique might be regarded as relevant about the economics after Marx, just think about Keynes’ theory of prices which is focused on the connection of the quantity of money and the changes in the price-level.

With running the risk of antagonizing comrades here, let me define price as the symptom of value. Although it is the final and the actual manifestation of value, in a repetitive fashion, it speaks about a fixed, concealed meaning that underlies the value. But just as Marx has revealed perplexingly that instead of disclosing a hidden meaning, what if it is the immediate, concrete form of value that conceals its authentic nature, the mechanism of social relations that produce value? If we return to the metaphor above, and remember Lacan’s statement that the real excludes meaning, there is a remarkable resemblance between Marx’s never-ending critiques of political economy and his decisive break with the its methodology and Lacan’s famous declaration that “psychoanalysis is a scam”. It is a scam as long as it supposes there is a direct, unambiguous connection between the meaning of the symptom and the real. Similarly, bourgeois economics is a scam as long as it presupposes that the meaning of immediate forms of capitalist production could be deciphered by investigating the real. As Marx said:

“The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to other forms of production.”

Therefore, it is not a wise idea to focus on money-form to save Marx’s theory of value. This approach would be exact opposite of his methodology.
On Marxmail, Angelus Novus wrote:
"Mehmet, by any chance have you read the first chapter of Slavoj Zizek's The Sublime Object of Ideology? :-)
I am somewhat skeptical of Zizek, due to his reputation as being an academic comedian, but I was very pleased to see that he heavily leans upon Alfred Sohn-Rethel in his discussion of Marx's analysis of the commodity. Anyone who uses Sohn-Rethel as areference for these discussions is fine with me. "
Mehmet Çagatay:
Hello Angelus,
No, I didn't read Zizek's book. Two years ago I tried to read it while I was staying at the house of a friend but because that I was so desperately in love with my host, I couldn't manage to focus and didn't understand anything. I didn't read it afterwards as well since that book reminds me her.
To be honest, a while ago I read Jacques Alain Miller's essay on symptom.My references to Lacan generally orginates from Miller.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On Fetishism

There was a post on Jodi Dean's I Cite blog recently about the relation of religion and sexual fetishism. Here is the comment that I posted to I Cite blog:

Hello Ms. Dean,

This is my first comment on your blog thus I will try to minimize the subsequent trivialities. All right, unlike a fantasy that enables love to pass through the real to field the imaginary, an object of fetishism operates as “the return of the repressed”, the substitute material filling the cavity which originates from the act of denial of the symbolic castration. Therefore, the pervert subject of fetishism could cross the boundary of the symbolic only by use of the object of fetishism as the authorization certificate, i.e. the transit visa for the passage from the symbolic to the real. Let me give a considerably free flowing illustration by employing our Marxist concept of “the fetishism of commodities”:

Although we have been castrated from the means of production and from our own labor power, etc. in the symbolic order, due to still being an individual who is obliged to satisfy our needs to survive in society, to obtain a ground to ensure the real conditions of our existence, we need a substitute that enables us to disavow the repressed trauma of symbolic castration. I need something that makes me to fallaciously perceive that there is nothing derogatory in the capitalist production. There “the fetishism of commodities” comes into the picture. For instance, in the feudal production God itself functions as the object of fetishism.

As regards to the Catholicism that you mention as the only fetishized religion that you come up with, for my part, I don’t see an exceptionally distinctive characteristic in the Catholic practice of Christianity that reinforces nunsploitation and nun fetishism. I think any particular outfit, especially uniforms, (the uniform of the women of God in the naughty nun case) that relates the human body with Lacanian big Other has the potential to serve as an object of fetishism that substitute the missing symbolic phallus and make the sexual intercourse possible while the complication of the denial of symbolic castration is still in the view.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Dhamma Brothers

There was a review by Louis Proyect in his The Unrepentant Marxist blog about the documentary “The Dhamma Brothers” which depicts the experience of some prisoners with Buddhist meditation techniques in a high security prison. I decided to copy my comments in Louis's blog and the exchange of my thoughts with Peter Byrne and Greg McDonald. I will keep on duplicating here if the discussion proceeds:

Mehmet Çagatay:

Hello Louis,

Your post is thought provoking as usual. At first I thought that a high security prison that restricts all forms of physical freedom is an ideal place for Buddhism to sprout since it only tolerates the freedom of mind. Then I realized that there is a flaw in this logic given that Buddhism is not a path to liberation at all. Like other forms of religion, Buddhism is a form of “desire” for freedom, which operates for not materializing its goal, but to reproduce and regulate its form as a desire. Therefore, a prison is a perfect place for Buddhism not by reason of that it promises the liberation of mind where the freedom of body is completely prevented, rather, a prison renders the desire for spiritual development possible. If we consider the reason of Jack Kerouac’s fiasco to traverse his ego with meditation, we can straightforwardly conclude that because of his American practicality he didn’t comprehend the exact mechanism of meditation: It has nothing to do with weakening the ego. Rather, it validates the excess of ego by regarding it as an inner process of the isolated mind and the measurement of truth as if the true nature of life is only accessible by overcoming the ego. As a result, rather than undermining it, mediation ossifies the ego by obsessively circling around it.

The same thing goes for the soothing effect of religion (a protest against real suffering) too. God is the object cause of the desire for a soul in a soulless world. God is the object that regulates the human desire for attaining harmony with external reality. As I said above, the function of religious desire is not to materialize its goal but to circle around it. I think this is where the answer of the question of does religion and Marxism compatible could be properly answered: Marxism strives to change the external reality, not to circle around it.

Peter Byrne:

“Rather than undermining it, meditation ossifies the ego by obsessively circling around it.” Exactly. But to remain in the vein of “American practicality”, why did meditation serve the Dhamma Brothers any better than the Black Muslim program, bible thumping or even the discipline of push-ups and weight lifting? Their problem was to keep their personality together in inhuman conditions. I.R.A. prisoners in Longkesh pored over Marxist classics.When they finally got out, their comrades told them they were old hat. But that’s another story."

Greg McDonald:

I’m glad to see Mehmet weighing in on the subject of meditation. I understand the critique on the basis of unfulfilled desire, (is that Lacanian)? but I submit that argumentation without a real basis for understanding the subject at hand lends just as much to obfuscation as did Kerouac’s original misunderstanding of the same topic. Your argument is apriori and based on western critique of “religion”. You have no experience of meditation, so that makes it difficult for you to actually understand what is involved here. If you really want an informed opinion from a psychoanalytic perspective, I suggest checking out some psychoanalysts who are indeed experienced meditators within this tradition, such as the work of Paul Fleischman M.D. To quote:
“Meditators must “have the seed”. Like the life of any seed, the seed of meditation eludes the microscope of words: is it basic good faith; or a sense of determination; or enough miseries and losses to have to keep going; or an unfathomable curiosity about their own true nature; or an intuition of values that transcend immediate life; or a yearning for peace; or a recognition of the limitations of mundane routines? It was said by the Buddha that at the heart of the path lies ahimsa, non-harmfulness. Is it an inkling of the infinite curative value that this most treasured and elusive cumulative virtue provides, that constitutes the seed? In any case, a life of meditation ia a path for those who hear the call, seek it out, and sit down to observe. Some may not seek it, some may not value it, some may not tolerate it, some may have other valuable paths to take.

The French psychoanalyst, Jaques Lacan, wrote, “Psychoanalysis may accompany the patient to the ecstatic limit of the ‘thou art that,’ in which is revealed to him the cipher of his moral destiny, but it is not in our mere power as practitioners to bring him to that point where the real journey begins.” Vipassana meditation is based on one thing; “This is suffering; this is the way out of suffering.” It is the path where the real journey begins. It is a healing by observation of and participation in the laws of nature. Even the stars are born and die, but beyond the transiency of the world there is an eternal that each of us can travel towards.

The potential therapeutic actions of Vipassana include increased self-knowledge, deepened human trust and participation, integration with and acceptance of one’s past, deepened activation of one’s will, an increased sense of responsibility for one’s own fate; greater concentration, deepened ethical commitments, firm yet flexible life structures and disciplines, fluid access to deeper streams of feeling and imagery, expanded historical and contemporary community; prepared confrontation with core realities such as time, change, death, loss, pain leading to an eventual dimunition of dread, anxiety, and delusion; fuller body-mind integration, decreased narcissism, and a fuller panorama of character strengths such as generosity, compassion, and human love. Each student starts at a different place and progresses individually; there is no magic and no guarantee.”

excerpt from “Karma and Chaos”

Mehmet Çagatay:

Hello Peter,

Since I don’t have adequate information about the Black Muslim Brotherhood, I can’t explain its particular failure in the prison system of the US. But as I grew up in a society that the influence of Islamic beliefs is palpable in every pore of daily life, I can clarify why Islam is incompatible with the environment of prison. To begin with, we should modify Marx’s famous statement regarding religion for Islam: Islam is the BDSM fantasy of the oppressed creature. The daily activity of a believer is entirely dictated by celestial law while this artificial world is a preparation ground for the real afterlife. The Islamic disavowal of the existence of any external reality as such could be traced in Qur’an which is infested with the statements about dualist opposition linking the imaginary and the real world. Such as, “the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion. (3:185)” or “and nothing is the life of this world but a play and a passing delight (6:32)”, etc. As a result, Islam functions like the Ego of the believer that suppresses one’s needs, wishes and desires as long as they are conflicting with delusive external reality. Here, one might probably ask: Then, how could you give explanation about the aggressive posture of Islamic fundamentalism towards western imperialism? If we completely abstract the fact that it has been molded by the immediate interests of its opponents to some extent, there is a significant paradox here: Muslim subject does not conflict with his own imaginary external world or with a world imagined by the Muslim subject. To be more precise, the controversy is between Muslim subject and the world imagined by the other and therefore which is exempt of Islamic suppression. I think for that reason Islam and environment of a prison is a downright mishmash because both of their purpose of existence is to control the freedom of human body.

Mehmet Çagatay:

Hello Greg,

As I told you before in a private correspondence, my recent interest on psychoanalysis was incited when a neurologist diagnosed that I was displaying some symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder. After that, I have decided to figure out the source of my anxiety rather than taking the pills that he prescribed since it is a minor disease. Lust like reading Marx has led me to question my illusions of social relations, mechanism of market and capital, their interaction with working class, false idealist conception of history, etc. psychoanalysis has gave me a ground to deal with my the illusions about myself and my subjectivity. Actually it is exactly what Jack Kerouac’s character in “On the Road” naively expects from Buddhist practices. On the contrary, the genuine path to deal with ego is to get the picture of how it is structured as an illusion about our subjectivity. There are two subtle encounters of Alice respectively with the Caterpillar and the Pigeon:

`What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!'

`I can't explain MYSELF, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, `because I'm not myself, you see.'


Well! WHAT are you?' said the Pigeon. `I can see you're trying to invent something!'

`I--I'm a little girl,' said Alice, rather doubtfully, as she remembered the number of changes she had gone through that day.

In fact, the Pigeon is right. My subjectivity is something that I invented along my adventure in the symbolic order. And my ego is a product of my fantasy about this order, which directly resists the restrictions of the internal reality of socio-symbolic order.

Here I fancied whether the famous quote from Sun Tzu, "Know thy self, know thy enemy" might be applicable to the game of poker. In my opinion, this would be a perfect advice for how to lose everything immediately in poker and in the battleground as well. We must undertake a necessary adjustment: Know thy table-image, know the table-image thy enemy. We should assign this statement to meditation too: Do not strive to know yourself in vein; there is no such a thing other than in the field of imagination.

There is a particular chapter in The German Ideology in which Marx accuses Young Hegelians for assigning self-determining existence to consciousness and thus ascribing the social relations and limitations of humankind as products of consciousness. However, the accurate pathway to understand the function of human consciousness is to decipher its relation with material reality of humankind.

As an obligatory confession, I have difficulties to understand Lacan. First of all, unlike Freud’s relatively direct and vivid narrative style, Lacan leaves readers in a jam of unintelligible expressions time and again. Secondly, I am deprived of the full access to his works as they are not available online thanks to copyright laws. I have no idea if they were translated in Turkish since making an effort to read Lacan in Turkish would be a waste of time anyway. I don’t even understand the Turkish translations of Marx, I have deserted this absurdity when I found myself in situations that I was continuously checking the English version to make sense of what our Turkish translator intended to say.

In spite of my semi-ignorance, there is an entertaining dimension in grappling with the ideas of Lacan. For instance, couple of days ago, in the farewell letter to a former intimate friend of mine (now she declines to respond my usual sterile and sensible letters), in a little bit sarcastic fashion, I declared that masturbation is the only authentic sexual activity since it is the only unmediated contact with our fantasies that renders the physical sexual intercourse possible. Then I concluded that, the genuine manifestation of sexual desire is not to make love with the person that we desire. Contrary, it is the act of masturbation while fantasizing the person with whom we made love just now.

Peter Byrne:

Mehmet, I appreciate your philosophical precision. My point was more prosaic. People in the unnatural situation of prison have to fight against being crushed as acting subjects. Any discipline they commit to personally can help them. I admire the Black Muslims for their effort to bring a community in disarray out of self-destructiveness. But they are as far from Islamic social, religious and psychological realities as other Americans. Your explanation of the Islamic doctrinal denial of a real world is telling and lucid. To the less theologically inclined, however, it has a downside. It makes the Muslim world seem arid. In fact it can be a very pleasant place and demonstrate more humanity than ours.


Mehmet Çagatay:

Peter, I am sure that if I were a dweller in that prison I would be the first person who registers the meditation course. Specifically I am not disagreeing with there is a tranquilizing effect of spiritual readjustments that provides a flexibility to endure the antagonism of reality, like I never question whether god exists or not. The proper materialist question here is why does god exist or why religion renders the social scandal of the external reality bearable. You are right that in some ways a Muslim community occasionally displays superior qualities of humanity. In consequence of my last poetry attempts published in an Islamist magazine whose editor was an honest admirer of my poetry thus ignored their content (Ironically, I was free to make downright insult to God), I spent some time with their poetry clan. I observed a continuous solidarity, a candid bosom of modesty, a never-ending salvo of goodwill that provokes me to act like Maldoror, etc. But like sci-fi movies, there was something strange, a movement of an eyebrow, a transition in the tone of voice, a sudden change of the color of skin that reveals there is something lame about this pretentious normality. One day a known Turkish-Islamist-Poet told me his darkest fantasy: “I always imagine myself observing the world behind a rifle scope”.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's not Chicken

A thread on Marxmail reminded me Freud’s definition of myths as "distorted vestiges of the wishful fantasies of whole nations, the secular dreams of youthful humanity". Like Marx criticizes the German idealist for not grasping the "connection of German philosophy with German reality", Freud criticizes previous approaches to dream interpretation for not recognizing dream as a psychic activity and not comprehending its relation with material physical life.

A hilarious thing occurred today when I suddenly entered the next room where my brother and his friend were watching TV. At the moment of my entrance, glancing at me with an expression of uneasiness my brother said: "Let's switch the channel, he could make comment!" Presumably they were watching a political debate ridden with myths of Turkish nationalism about the recent incursion to Northern Iraq. And I felt myself like commercials disturbing the enjoyment to participate the ideological sleep:

"Sleep is a condition in which I wish to have nothing to do with the external world, and have withdrawn my interest from it. I put myself to sleep by withdrawing myself from the external world and by holding off its stimuli. I also go to sleep when I am fatigued by the external world. Thus, by going to sleep, I say to the external world, "Leave me in peace, for I wish to sleep." Conversely, the child says, "I won't go to bed yet, I am not tired, I want to have some more fun." The biological intention of sleep thus seems to be recuperation; its psychological character, the suspension of interest in the external world. Our relation to the world into which we came so unwillingly, seems to include the fact that we cannot endure it without interruption." (Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis)

I was the objective external stimuli that incites the dream, "the guardian of sleep". Then I quickly left the room.

Lately, I assumed that I am going mad since I've begun to detect a continuous ideological message in the regular language of mainstream Turkish media. It is extremely annoying to the extent that it is unbearable for me to watch TV or read newspapers except sports news. I was undergoing an ideological abuse looking for an excuse to state that "The sun is not yellow it's chicken". But I realized that my madness is not because I do perceive a thing that doesn't exist. I am accurately detecting the occurrences of the coarse ideological massages. But I am not capable to internalize it, or recognize it as a routine expression of everyday language, or receive the message in its original form, or entrench the massage in my perception without turning it inside out. When I run across the ideological message, I typically point out the sun and cry out: "Here! It is yellow and it is not chicken". Therefore I am mad.

We can combine Freud’ two definitions: Myths are the disguised fulfillments of the social wishes that serve individual to preserve his or her sanity by participating in social insanity. I can't conserve my sanity as long as I am not capable to participate:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
What if I've come here accidentally?
Comrade Renegade Eye wrote:

“If the masses wake up, you'll have a different outlook.

At least when you go into a dream state, you do it armed with probably more insight than you desire.”


Hello Ren,

I don’t think masses are in a state of continuous ideological sleep. The paradoxical absurdity in Alice’s situation is she is unaware of the actuality that she is dreaming. But other characters of the Wonderland are conscious that they are the ingredients of a dream. Actually, Cheshire Cat says Alice: “If you are not mad, why are you dreaming about me?

Marx elucidates his thoughts on mythology at the end of the first chapter of Grundrisse:

“From another side: is Achilles possible with powder and lead? Or the Iliad with the printing press, not to mention the printing machine? Do not the song and the saga and the muse necessarily come to an end with the printer’s bar, hence do not the necessary conditions of epic poetry vanish?”

There is a significant similarity in both Freud’s and Marx’s approaches to Mythology. They both regard it as wishful fantasies that rise above the infantile stage of development of societies.

We are aspiring after a world, a higher stage in the development of society, in which humankind are able to endure the external life without interruption.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t manage to sleep nowadays (literally). It is not for that I’ve overcome the alienation from external life, but the stimuli of external life are so powerful that it doesn’t allow me to sleep. This the perfect condition of a revolution.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Images of Women

While I was thinking on the question of women, suddenly a strange idea came to my mind. I decided to match some images of contemporary women with Baudrillard's last three phases of the image:

1) "It masks and perverts a basic reality" (a poster designed by Turkish Army to celebrate International Women's Day):

While I was in preparation class for high school, we were studying English for 25 hours a week. I was eleven and it was the most fascinating experience that I had ever had. As my imagination was pulsated with fantasies prepossessed by Jules Verne, Gulliver, Ivanhoe, etc I remember that I was spending some of my time by burying my head into a worn-out atlas and daydreaming about the exotic people that speak with mysterious words. There came an English lady teaching us a new, unthinkable words with stories. We were reading Longman Target English books and every word that we learned was associated with an anecdote about Adams family. “Lilly is a gossip, Molly is a gossip too” was a legendary maxim of that fictional and imaginary revolution etched in my mind. Unfortunately, we had spent the subsequent six years by studying the freakin’ English grammar. Of course we read some samples from English literature but everything about the English language turned into perfunctory wanderings of the arrested development of this revolution. Then I had lost all my interest and passed the examinations by cheating in all the possible techniques that you can imagine. As the English courses were not innovative enough to stimulate my imagination, I invested my creativity for the novelty in the art of cheating.

The image above is the poster designed by Turkish Army to celebrate International Women's Day. At the left side there is a quote form Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the chief of Kemalist revolution: “Our women ought to be much more enlightened, much more productive, much more knowledgeable then men”. This poster is signifying the utopic juggle of semi-capitalist Turkish Army (Turkish Army possesses one of the biggest holding companies in Turkey, OYAK, mostly associated with French capital) as a counter demonstration against the recent disgraceful quarrel on headscarf. There is a herd of five petit-bourgeois women here, representing a military officer, a doctor, a lawyer and presumably a bank manager and a girl who seems like an accountant. As you may noticed, there is no place for underpaid working-class women, unpaid farm women, typically headscarfed scrubwomen, usually uneducated baby sitter women who look after the kids of those petit-bourgeois women, girls that subjected by honor-killings, women yoked with prostitution who ruin the “blessed” marriages of those women in the image, illiterate Kurdish women and girls deprived of access even to the rubbish Turkish wisdom awashed with nationalist agitation, and numerous class of women despised and oppressed that I forgot to enumerate. The deplorable conditions of the Turkish women who were not represented in the image are the symptom of Turkish bourgeois.

After the War of Independence, and ensuring some formal political rights for women by the goodwill of Kemalist Enlightenment, subsequently Kemalist revolution recalled its authentic roots composed of merchandise capitalists, local landlords, insignificant number of industrial capitalists and mandatory assistance of foreign capital. This is where the development of condition of Turkish women has been arrested. The question of Turkish women has been reduced to a robotic discursive illusion abstracted from the factual disgrace towards working-class women. It is now functioning as competiton of novelity in the kitschart of cheating. As Baudrillard said, the image above “is an evil appearance: of the order of malefice”. Meanwhile, in fact, I am seduced by the image of sterile petit-bourgeois women. It made me itching to write a novel like Marquis de Sade.

2) "It masks the absence of a basic reality":

When I defined the image of veiled Iranian women as “It masks the absence of a basic reality.” there are two mysterious (at least for me) Lacanian ideas in my mind: The curtain is the idol of absence. and the reality is the lack of intersubjectivity. Therefore, I don’t consider veil and the Sharia dress codes as tools to make women invisible or hide them from the public gaze. For instance, the reality of capitalist exploitation is the lack of intersubjectivity between capitalist and labourer that manifests itself as the twofold meaning of surplus value. And the reality of the oppression of Muslim women is the lack of consensus on the classification of women’s role in the society, originates from the ideological exertion to subjugate the secular world to the spirituality of Islam. But, after 1500 years, this perverted “REALITY” has no factual foundation in secular-material world. Thus, instead of being an instrument of the concealment of a basic reality, the Shaira dress code functions as a mask to conceal the absence of the reality. Because, there is no scientific and convincing evidence to justify the antiquated gaze that perceives woman “as the source of ‘corruption’ and ‘chaos’.” Then, the only choice for Muslim rulers is to exhibit the veiled women body as the idol of deception and seduction which does not fit the reality.

3) It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Council of Ex-Muslims

I wrote the letter below to salute Ms. Namazie's “Council of Ex-Muslims:
Dear Maryam,

To begin, I would like to congratulate you on your courageous endeavor to establish an organization that will hopefully fill the absence of virtual fraternity of Islam with secular solidarity. If the “Council of Ex-Muslims” will give hope someone, it is primarily as a result of the organizational power that overcomes the limitations of individual struggles.

In his "Philosophy of History” Hegel properly defines the distinctive feature of Islam: “The worship of the One is the only final aim of Mahometanism, and subjectivity has this worship for the sole occupation of its activity, combined with the design to subjugate secular existence to the One.” This is where the stubborn resistance of Islam outbreaks as a misleading symptom in the body of bourgeois modernism: The spiritual vapor that claims dominance on behalf of its supreme universality in the material world now finds itself squashed in the universal engine that melts all that is solid in the air. Unfortunately, this engine is not capable to vaporize the absolute vapor. What renders Islam and its universal spirituality political, as related with the power struggle for decision making on this-worldly affairs is exactly this incompetence of liberal world order. Just like the protagonist of Terry Gilliam’s magnificent movie “Brazil”, who suddenly finds himself as an enemy of the state on the course of his quest to find the girl of his dreams in the depths of bureaucracy, Islam has detected its imaginary political expression in the midst of liberal capitalism where the politics is relentlessly being vaporized.

This is the reason why I previously proposed Atheism within the shortcomings of neo-liberal order as a genuine solution to retard the rise of the fundamentalist enthusiasm among working-class Muslims. Demands for a more strict practice of secularism is like my bizarre habit that I carry out when I have to get up early and have little time to sleep: I always set up my environment and sleeping position as uncomfortable as possible to discourage the enjoyment of sleeping. But as the verification of Lacanian interpretation of the act of awakening, I always end up inventing the most horrifying nightmares to repress the disturbance of the external effects and enable myself to sleep for a little more.

Therefore, rigorously secularist projects are doomed to seduce the fundamentalism in the consciousness of working class Muslims. Secularism is the archenemy of the religion that hunts for the total domination of its spirituality (which knows no social bond other than the worship to God) over material world. I find it very remarkable how intellectuals often miss the connotation of the Islamic concept of “jihad”: It is not simply warfare against infidels but at the same time the struggle to expand the spiritual battlefield on which believers and infidels will exchange blows till the Judgment Day. Even the concept of sin is not exempt from the will of God: “If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases” (16:93). Its symptomatic intolerance is more vindictive towards everything that ridicules its spiritual universality: especially towards bourgeois modernism which has compelled man “to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

I think secularism is a "passage to the act” for the fundamentalism of Islam. It resolves the anxiety among working class Muslims and provokes courage for act of militant Islamism. For instance, prohibition of religious symbols from public sphere invites Muslims to attach themselves with closed circuit of fundamentalist communities.

On the other hand, in an incredibly ironical fashion Atheism is almost complementary with Islam: Atheism as an inverted spirituality due to its intact form that is still mediated with the absence of God is the perfect adversary of Islam. (No regrets! I frequently rant and rave about my indomitable Atheism as a reflective political stance). Spiritual battlefield is only maintainable with the existence of identically devout foes eager to clash their ideas. Maybe, in this vein, we might persuade some of the Muslims of working class oppressed both by Muslim leaders and bourgeois modernism:

“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasents as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be”

I think genuine remedy of religious fanaticism and the ground for an authentic and unmediated solidarity is socialism: the real political emancipation which has the capacity to dispel the battleground of abstract ideas… I hope you would not take offense to my well-intentioned criticism. My criticism also comprises my affirmation. I always have doubts about agreements without contradictions.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tendency to Fall

Last night I read the related chapter of Capital to find out why some authors apply term "tendency" between quotation marks. Is it something like the tendency of a clumsy man to trash his surroundings or like the tendency of Dwight Howard to dunk the ball? Obviously, in the same way as Jim Devine, "a Marxist economist", they use the quotation marks to imply a faint potential that somehow has no expression in the actual functioning of capitalist production: All right, Marx once propounded a highly speculative hypothesis but it was just a "tendency", but in reality, speaking of "inherent tendency" how about an inherent tendency for the relentless accumulation of capital? It is all nonsense. You don't have to be an economist to figure out that Marx merely indicates a GRADUAL progress with term "tendency", by which rate of profit gradually falls according to the growth of constant capital relatively to the variable capital.

Apparently, Marx didn't think it is necessary to explain the implication of the word "tendency" except than emphasizing the gradual process numerous times:

"This gradual change in the composition of capital... then the gradual growth of constant capital... lead to a gradual fall… ever-increasing quantity of means of production through a constantly decreasing quantity of labour… each particular lot of commodities in the total mass of products, absorbs less living labour… Alongside the development of productivity there develops a higher composition of capital, i.e., the relative decrease of the ratio of variable to constant capital… The increase in labour productivity consists precisely in that the share of living labour is reduced while that of past labour is increased, but in such a way that the total quantity of labour incorporated in that commodity declines; in such a way, therefore, that living labour decreases more than past labour increases… therefore the absolute mass of the profit produced by it, can, consequently, increase, and increase progressively, in spite of the PROGRASSIVELY drop in the rate of profit. etc. etc."

The law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, is not a negligible, non-inherent, phenomena of capitalist production. It is the "logical necessity" of the DEVELOPMENT of capitalist production. It is how the development of capitalist production (i.e. growth of constant capital relatively to variable capital, growth of productivity of labor) works. I suggest Jim Miller's article:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Desire for Amnesia

From childhood to early youth, I develop a fantasy of amnesia which was most likely inspired by a particular movie that I saw on video. Many years later, I learned that it is actually a TV movie adapted from Robert Ludlum’s bestseller: “The Bourne Identity”. As a dreamer youngster growing up with the vivid images from the simplified versions of Western literature and tales from Arabian Nights as well, I was fancying to find myself in one day, like Alice, in the midst of an astonishing story that I am the protagonist. “The Bourne Identity” provided me an outlet to break the chain of the dull reality: only amnesia could offer a GENIUNE ground for self-exploration and discovery of the hero within me.

In 2002, I rushed to the movie theatre to regenerate my fantasies with the Hollywood version of the story featuring Matt Damon. But my excitement ended up with frustration by the reason of its hastiness to transform a fascinating mystery into a loutish thriller. In its TV series version, the audience was not introduced with more information about the real identity of Bourne than the clues gained by Bourne among the plot. Is he really Carlos the Jackal? But Hollywood version immediately adopts third person narrative and we are admitted to CIA headquarters.

There is fallacy coined by the immanent critique by Hollywood on the excessive deeds of US imperialism conducted by the perverted individuals from officially armed organizations. This so-called critique extracts the lame limb from the well-functioning organism: The well intentioned organization of CIA that provides useful information to ensure free-market democracy and its philanthropist assassination program to liberate third world from despotism is now went off the rails and became dangerous, thus there comes a renegade without a memory (completely ignorant to how the game is played) and somehow equipped with a native morality that prevent him taking other’s money. But in the real life, like in stud poker, most of the cards dealt face-up. For instance, CIA does not function independent from the social organism, from the regulations of international market, approval of the Congress, etc. Assassination and torture could become instruments of the official foreign policy, like once torture was a spectacle in Roman Empire. But in the psyche of our idiotic protagonist, the spy on the run, negative quantity of information turns into a plus quantity of moralism like Marx once identified in the ideas of Heinzen.

Social perversion has been confronted with the individualistic moralism without any insight that criterion of this moralism is the product of the whole organism. This is the point where Karl Marx classified moralism as “ideological rubbish”. Ideology is the conformist hallucinogen that prevents one to evaluate the real value of truth, political truths of market and inequality, to establish an accurate concept in connection with the given object. Spiritual and memorial awakening of a discarded CIA agent is ideological as long as it doesn’t provoke him to confront the whole organism. But, he recites particular truisms continuously. Once, a woman that I loved accused me of parroting about the honesty of my love again and again: I have realized now that my discourse on love was purely ideological.

The truth process in Badiouian terminology begins with an Event that disrupts sequence of traditional relations and legitimate ideas. This event introduces its own value of measurement, its objective morality at the end. It rips off the conformist morality from the Ideology. The genuine morality presents in the potentiality of a revolutionary event which has the accurate measurement to judge our past and present. But immanent critique invokes the ideological morality that stems from traditional relations of our past and present to foreclose our future.

As years go by, my desire for amnesia has reversed with the ordinary disappointments and regrets of reaching the period of middle age. Now I am fancying that I will awake some day with an empty memory and start to investigate what kind of an incredible conspiracy, a multifaceted plot or a chivalrous tale that I am the protagonist. But just to figure out whom really I was, a perfect personification of the Beatles song “Nowhere Man”: I had nothing worth to remember, had no friend worth to be concerned about, no love worth to all of those heartbreaks, no taste of a tongue that worth to be remained in my mouth… I was the man who buys four cans of Miller and two packs of Winston in almost every single evening from the same shopping mall. I was the man whose most exciting moments are limited with qualifying to the final table of the $10 buy-in holdem tourneys in PokerStars. That is all. And I will realize suddenly that, the amnesia itself is the most fascinating thing that ever happened to me. End of the illusions of the moralism of my old habits. Now, it is the perfect time to discover the potential hero within me.

With the most famous phrase of the history of human thinking Karl Marx designated to the revolutionary form of the amnesia: “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Atheism vs. Secularism

This is a copy of my comment to a post on Maryam Namazie's blog:


I agree with your views in general but I would like to make a contribution with overstepping the mark. You implied that you are not completely content with conventional secularism (separation of church and state) by positing it as the minimum solution. Then you put forward direct intervention of state as the “real secularism”: “state cannot be natural to religion… it needs to be regulated… it needs to be controlled… it needs to be taxed”.

I think the major paradox of secularism is that it demands from the religious society to give up their illusions about the world in the political field. This is a very feasible solution as long as the society is free of contradictions… i.e. only if there was no other religion, gays, women, laborers, etc, etc. Even it was a “real secularism”, regulation of religious field by state, the subjectivity of statesmen overrides the quality of secularism to be promoted as real. So, even the “real secularism” is a derivative of minimum solution.

In the sense of state neutrality to religion the real solution is, I am very serious, Atheism. I know it sounds strange (and there is a misunderstanding that Marx criticized both religion and Atheism at the same degree) but only Atheism could ensure the neutrality of “state”. So let me set up a dialectical formula (!): secularism is the abstract negation of Christianity in political field, Atheism is the concrete negation of both religion and secularism, socialism is the complete establishment of social objectivity as there is no need for Atheism to solve the contradictions.
Best Regards,

A little discussion rised on Marxmail about my assessments above, I decided to copy comrade Mark Lause's well-founded objections and my replies:

I read "secularism is the abstract negation of Christianity in political field, Atheism is the concrete negation of both religion and secularism." Isn't anything in the political field (the real world) concrete and anything having to do with the existence or non-existence of God necessarily abstract?
What I mean by neutrality of state towards religion is an official approach to transform theology to anthropology. I was not proposing that religion must be prohibited, rather a scientific confrontation with
religion until religion descents to its essential meaning, becomes more religious by losing its political connotation. This is just a political emancipation in the boundaries of bourgeois state.
Secularism approaches the question abstractly since it misses the reality that state is regulated by religious society. Atheism is concrate in the sense of its political indifference to religious contradictions. I wasn't
implying any more than this.

Mehmet Çagatay:

As a simple example to clarify my stance: There is a fierce argument is underway in Turkey about the ban on wearing religious symbols in public schools. Muslims say that it is a question of the human rights, secularists say it is against the secularism, Kemalist social contract, etc. I think the proper Atheist approach should be like this: You are free to wear anything that you want or nothing as well, but in today's lesson we are going to work on Feuerbach, or Turan Dursun, etc.

Mark Lause:

In the Anglo-American tradition, these distinctions seem to be historically reversed Secularism (Bradlaugh, Ingersoll, etc.) has been about the removal of religious tests, getting the bibles out of the schools, etc. All sorts of rreligious groups, especially minority ones, are happy to accept secularist assumptions in the civic culture.
On the other hand, atheism is a private matter that seems to me to besocially and politically meaningless.

Mehmet Çagatay:

In Marx's words, "Hence, man was not freed from religion, he received religious freedom. He was not freed from property, he received freedom to own property. He was not freed from the egoism of business, he received freedom to engage in business." I think, secularism is the establishment of religious freedom, to ensure the imperative freedom to believe any god, or at least one god without running the risk of antagonizing the other world. If religious minorities or majorities are content with the removal of the bible from schools, now, they must give their consent to the "theoretical" critique of religion as well (the practical critique is
socialism). I demand from bourgeois state to be consistent with itself. That is all. Then let the Anglo-American tradition be reversed.

Mark Lause:

The record is absolutely clear. Historically, Charles Bradlaugh, Robert Ingersoll, and other prominent ATHEISTS fought to establish a SECULARIST civic culture. It was clearly their understanding that
secularism does not merely establish one's right to believe in any deity or deities but to disbelieve the lot of them. I'd add that this was also the position of the contemporary socialist movement.

You're reading Marx way too literally if you're understanding his position as one that secularism implies that you must make a choice of gods, goddesses, or whatnot.

Mehmet Çagatay:


In my last post, I lost my grip by inflaming myself. A particular expression from the Manifesto was resonating in my mind when I wrote, "Then let the Anglo-American tradition be reversed": "Let the ruling
classes tremble at a Communistic revolution". I have no objection to the fact that ortodox atheists put forward
secularism. It is the dead end of atheism on its own merit. Marx criticises Feuerbach for his deficiency to reach communism from atheism. And a paradox comes into view as long as atheism propounds secularism to
establish one's right to believe or disbelieve in gods: As if communism were striving to ensure the freedom to go on strike, it leaves the religious emancipation to the mercy of theology. My assertion of militant atheism for bourgeois state as a genuine approach to separate church and state was an example of suggesting the extreme to display the irrationality of the average or minimum solution (Maryam Namazie mentioned the "minimum solution"). I decided to read "On the Jewish Question" more literally once again tomorrow:

"Therefore, we explain the religious limitations of the free citizen by
their secular limitations. We do not assert that they must overcome their
religious narrowness in order to get rid of their secular restrictions, we
assert that they will overcome their religious narrowness once they get
rid of their secular restrictions. We do not turn secular questions into
theological ones. History has long enough been merged in superstition, we
now merge superstition in history. The question of the relation of
political emancipation to religion becomes for us the question of the
relation of political emancipation to human emancipation. We criticize the
religious weakness of the political state by criticizing the political
state in its secular form, apart from its weaknesses as regards religion."
"Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession's her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness"


Monday, January 14, 2008

The Right to Blasphemy

This is a copy of the comment that I posted to Maryam Namazie's blog:


The cure of racist consciousness does not begin with recognition of the other’s legitimacy or removing our prejudices towards the identity of the other. Rather, these are the potential consequences of a self-examination protect: eliminating your prejudices towards your own identity, identifying the relation between your own traits and the “social character” and their function in a given social system, i.e. deconstructing your identity and yourself. For instance, dealing with sexual discrimination begins with renouncing our heterosexuality or masculinity as means of male chauvinism, etc.

Today, while I was meandering among various texts like a hobo sailor (I learnt this phrase from Dylan’s 115th Dream) I came across an article written by Raya Dunayevskaya.

At the end of her article she introduces a mixture of speeches from a discussion on the women question. There are remarkably interesting views as regards the development of children in society. I think one of them is also related with the question of the right of blasphemy:

“The child realizes only too well the difference between fantasy and reality. He can not lose himself completely in his imaginary world.”

I think becoming an adult, integrating to society, involves the elimination of difference between the fantasy and reality. I mean the seven year olds who name a teddy bear "Mohammed" have more accurate perception of reality than the enraged adults who are charging their teacher to countenance of blasphemy. Eric Fromm explains this maturity that mishmashing fantasy and reality as: “they must wish to do what they must do”:

“In order to function well, every society must have as its members, individuals who will act, almost automatically, in the way that particular society requires; in other words, they must wish to do what they must do. If any of them had to decide, on a day by day basis if they want to be punctual or not, orderly or not, etc. they would probably decide, just as often as not, against the social demands, thus threatening the good functioning of their society. The individual must act almost automatically in keeping with the norms of his society; this means, that a social behavior trait must become a character trait.”

As regards the question of the right to Blasphemy, I think it is a practical tool to decompose some part of our identity related with religion. It derides the perception of history as a fantasy and it is the proper awareness of history: Mohammed is the name of a man who lived a thousand and a couple of hundred years ago, so what? What kind of a sensible human being really cares about the selection of seven year olds naming a teddy bear?

Transformation of the subject begins with profanity towards its own history encased in clouds of holiness. Thus profanity is the real process of maturity as Freud said: “from the time of puberty onward the human individual must devote himself to the great task of freeing himself from the parents”, or as in Marx’s observation that the traditions of old generations haunts the brains of the living, in other words, the fantastic perception of history dominates the reality of present, or like Bob Dylan did once by refusing to work on Maggie’s farm anymore:

“I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane.
It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more…"
Best Regards,

"I thought your response to Maryam, compliments her views."

Hello Ren,

I am symphetic towards most of the views of Namazie. The experiences of Maryam Namazie and other ex-Muslims are crucial to understand the reactionary character of societies stand on the verses of the Quran. I just realized that, I sarcastically criticized their idealistic representation of Islam here. Although my stance has not changed in general, now I am regretful with derogatory tone of my remarks. At that time I had no idea who Maryam Namazie is and I was unaware of their suffering. This is my usual idiotic idealism anyway. In time while I was racking my brain with racism, development of identity (Besides being a Marxist, unfortunately I am a freakin’ Hegelian too), I have reached other conclusions: Deconstruction of Identity requires the elimination of its essential difference. For instance, what is the ESSENTIAL DIFFRENCE between men and women in society? Albeit even it is the biological difference that seems essential naturally, it is a vulgar difference in society. The essential difference between men and women in society is politico-historical. From where originates this difference? It is from the arbitrary legislation based on the verses of the Quran. So how can we eliminate this essential difference? By pulling out the holly verses from the foundation of the society. So, how could we realize this treatment? Bourgeoisie secularism might be a useful Placebo. At least it is more preferable than this complete insanity. But the real solution is socialism, an unmediated society as Marx said:

“…but socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation. It proceeds from the theoretically and practically sensuous consciousness of man and of nature as the essence. Socialism is man’s positive self-consciousness, no longer mediated through the abolition of religion; just as real life is man’s positive reality, no longer mediated through the abolition of private property, through communism.

Communism is the position as the negation of the negation, and is hence the actual phase necessary for the next stage of historical development in the process of human emancipation and rehabilitation. Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society.”
Note: I just realized that I wrote as "Holly Verses" in somewhere above. There is some possiblity that it was not by mistake.