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.