Tuesday, February 22, 2011

reading the mocha stains

go to erkan's field diary for a reading of recent events in the region.

wow!.. that sounded pretentious didn't it? well, it's not really. just so you know garfucius will be hosted by erkan presently.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ex orientes lux! but moves westward...

the surge of uprising in the maghreeb, levant, mesopotamia, arabia and now persia reminds me of albert camus’s epoch making book of the post world war II boom years, “l’homme révolté”.

to my mind, the entire book begins an ends in the first eight-word unit of question and answer: “what is a rebel? a man who says no”...

forgive me for using some blogger’s license and belaboring the obvious here, but i feel like pointing out that the philosopher, for me, the greatest of the 20th century) punctuates the logical impossibility of saying yes and at the same time revolting: anything man says “yes” to is binding, a reason to accept, rather than reject.

applied to the current case (so far) of the arabophonic mediterranean, iran and the yemen, the popular rebellion is only about saying no to the incumbent rulers and the particular mode of rule they have employed until now. i, for instance, cannot in good conscience, come forth and say that the peoples of the region are insurrecting against the regimes that not only nurtured and strengthened those absolute rulers but also spawned them.

les hommes révolté” of yesteryear had freedom on their minds; perhaps an absurd, impossible, illogical, extreme, absolute freedom that brooked no boundaries. the mutineers of the maghreeb, levant, mesopotamia, arabia and persia seem to have a long way to go, before they can articulate their idea of freedom beyond exchanging new tyrants with the old... after all, what happened in iran 32 years ago, they still call a “revolution”.

İ am not trying to undersize the movement(s) in the maghreeb, levant, mesopotamia, arabia and persia under any circumstance. till this moment, masses in unison have dethroned two despots and are shaking several more thrones, which is an achievement in itself but may or may not turn into a victory dependent on the content of freedom the rebellion eventually generates. yes, i am partial to freedom and any supersedence that does not engender freedom is a loss for entire humanity, winning does not always mean victory. our ancestors who inhabited these lands taught the world, taught history the meaning of freedom. again, not far from the maghreeb, levant, mesopotamia, arabia and persia that have never truly possessed it, democracy as a praxis and process of freedom was created as a form of mind and life, native to the mediterranean.

ex orientes lux! hence shone the light of modernity, millennia ago.

ex orientes lux, however, it moves on toward the occident.

no wonder, we, all of us in the mediterranean, including the hellenic mediterranean, have to learn or re-learn democracy from those in the west, who learnt it from us.

Friday, March 05, 2010

players' democracy

the objective of politics in turkey is to get a firm grip on the state as the seat of power and not relinquish it again. the latter is usually accomplished through deep rooted planting of confederates in the bureaucracy and in the longer run, by tilting the biases in the education system to favor you.

under the thoroughly anomalous "normal" system of politicking in turkey, supplication to the armed forces used to be one tested method of not falling too far from the avatars and pundits and hence, the perks of puissance. never was a government in the last 60 years that practically encouraged the rise or self nourishment of a capitalist (1) class structure upon which power could be perpetuated. during their rule, each party breast fed a group of cohorts, supporters and/or sympathizers to affluence, many of whom, like a match flare, burned out once their benefactors left government(2).

thus, an alternative social force to state power was never able to raise its head within an autonomous social sphere. the entire system, from economics to national interests, to cultural preferences and even to morals, was shaped according to state and government priorities.

social life was thus "officialized", hence also the individual and his way(s) of mind...

according to some, the latest surge by tayyib efendi, rosy & co. to effect the supposed ouster of the military from the circle of influence represents a "revolutionary" shift from the classical tradition of politics and a big step toward democratization (3).

i object - not only because the character-type epitomized by tayyib efendi, rosy & co. is incommensurate with emancipatory dissent (4) but also for the simple reason that there exist no such social forces to base a healthy democracy on. considering that such social forces need also to span a diverse cross section of the demos and be fairly audible and most importantly, audible while speaking through their own voice rather than hitching up to the governmet's orchestra as a chorus; the basic tenets of a pluralistic democracy especially one capable of dissension are totally missing. for whatever they count, foci of political oppsition and resistance are paramiltarily organized pockets of despotisms themselves.

history offers its parallels not in straight lines but in the as arrows through spatial geometry: in ottoman times, "intellectually bolstered" debates rationalizing power struggles among rivaling factions of pashas in the palace; biting each other's head off vying for the sultan's favors - heads literally rolled rather often, too. still the main element missing was the demos; which would elevate the populace from a mob into a force with its own structured and diversified demands relevant to fairly crystallized interests and the means, including force, to access the machinations of the political system.

tayyib efendi, rosy & co. seem only set to establish a system that consolidates power in and within the executive branch. the legislative, true to the nature of parlşiamentary democracies and particularly the bizarre nature of the turkish party system which empowers the leader with enough spunk befitting a dictator, is already totally dependent on the prime minister's whims; whomever he may be (5). now, the same legislative and the president who is the head of the executive, will be appointing two thirds of the country's highest judiciary bodies, if the constitutional changes envisaged by tayyib efendi, rosy & co. can take effect. if so, they will be able to play the judiciary around their fingers (6), and be just as powerful as the sultans whose word used to be the law and was unchallengeable (7).

tayyib efendi, rosy and co. seem intent to institute a "patrimonial (8) regime",where politics, as it used to be in absolutism, is a closed-circuit game only for those included in the decision making process: a players' democracy where once the ballot is in, anybody but the élite players can only sit back and watch. this kind of politics which nevertheless derives its legitimacy from some sort of public vote affords the players a near absoulte latitude (9).

according to the potents and pundits, parliamentary selection of high judges will reflect the "nation's will" onto the judiciary. actually, the justice system exists less - if at all - to represent the public in numbers but safeguard (10) its express wills through the supervision of the way the laws passed by parliaments are respected in practice, not only by the public but alos by their elected administrators.

but then again, it all comes down to the askew, skewered political system of turkey.
the gist of the matter is dissembling the absolute power of the state apparatus in a manner that it cannot concentrate again on any certain focus, be it the clergy, religious sects, bureaucrats, labor unions, business, etc., but is distributed through a state-of-law to the entire community and to each individual, favoring the demos.

upon which, more is to come later...

(1) thence, a labor
(2) of course, some mainstay businesses and businessmen/families were always upheld as conduits to the world-economy, because without them, the state-heavy system would be in jeopardy, too. however, this qualifies more as "wealth generation" than the existence of a true capitalist social - historical system
(3) i am not so naive to believe that the current effort to castrate the military's political virility can produce a decisive shift in the balance of power. not only the "will of the nation" behind tayyib efendi, rosy & co. is rather inconclusive in its attitude toward a non-custodian military, the akp’s social base is more slippery than it ever was. indeed, tayyib efendi, rosy & co. owe their preponderance less to their own prowess than the total disability of the current political opposition and the absence of an alternative. the prosecution of well respected generals with rather unsatisfactory cases in a kangaroo court manner raises the possibility of mass acquittals; which would not only countermand current their mass arrests but also would clear the military in the eyes of the public of any wrong doing. even in chile where the public is far better versed in democratic traditions, the stamp of augusto pinochet is still carried by his lingering specter.
(4) the akp represents the political movement of a social segment that has been denied state privileges since the 17th century and has thus been able to develop into a social demand organized around a conservative rhetoric with pronounced islamic intonations rather than a class, using the marxist lexicon, "of and/or for itself". therefore, their demands. although claiming to change society prioritizes enlarging their lebensraum by appropriating state instruments, rather than providing liberal space to society by curbing the might of the state.
(5)for fairness's sake i have to note that any supposedly "potential" pm, i.e., the leader of even the smallest political party is still afflicted with the same disease caused and abated by the current laws that are the ill legacy of the last military junta of 1980.
(6) the legislative and executive practically "appointing" judges is no less similar and more reasonable than allowing high court justices automatically being named parliament or cabinet members. except, that way parliament is not liekly to be an "assembly of judges" or a "cabinet of magistrates", whereas this way, the absolute power of a prime minister controlling all three estates will resemble the arbitrary might of a charlemagne...
(7) even then, the sultans, if so they wished, would feel bound by the laws they and their ancestors issued.
(8) from maxweber, a society where the chief exercizes his near total authority through an élite administrator class as opposed to patriarchalism where his athority is personal as paternal.
(9) order and cohesion in such societies are based on authority and hierarchies rather than a covenant and contract and wherever or whenever authority becomes lax, anomies is ever present. power hirearchies and their illegal - illegitimate projections or extensions are exempt from laws to varying degrees therefore the man on the street is often crushed under the weight of laws as well as lawlesness.
contemporary examples are limited to the third world, of course: russia, malaysia, iran; etc., where elections decide who the next tyrants will be and rule without really being bound by any norms except the basic and brutest rules of power.
(10) that is why the only logical and just way of picking justices for any and each level of courts of law is to devise a method whereby they are elected by other judges and jurists; i.e., organizations representing public and private attorneys at law.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

blind spot!

garfucius spent the last four months semi-blind and that sure creates problems!

as pertinent to this blog, the last post was published in the turkish section, for instance. now that vision is better, things are falling back in place; if anybody cares.

my apologies for the error.

democracy? who wants to be a homo?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

at least one theory of politics (1) maintains that over half a century of cold war which allegedly divided the world between the u.s.a. and the soviets, was sort of a mutually beneficial arrangement that consolidated the hegemony of each side within its camp, and of the relative preponderance of the u.s. between the two. when the “arrangement” outlived its usefulness, the system collapsed and the wall fell.

that sense of “mutual in domicile beneficiarism” washed over me as i was browsing through the paper this morning. in hurriyet, ahmet hakan coskun, who transferred (according to some, converted) to the mainstream from “militant” islamism, commented that premier tayyip erdogan’s wife emine hanım was discouraged from visiting a patient lying in a military hospital because of ther turban she wears. coskun complained, if the spouse of turkey’s head of government can be banished from an official institution under her husband’s command, it is moot to speak of any threats from “civilian fascism” (2) in that country.

in another, adjacent comment, coskun also wrote that being as closely affiliated with erdogan’s akp as possible “serves one to come forth in government contracts, coveted appointments, to rise to positions, to get on to the (prime minister’s) airplane (3), to be included in the nouveaux riche class and to become elected for offices”.

knowingly or unwittingly, the ex (or crypto?) islamist columnist painted identical triangles with the cold war and the civil cold war in turkey; between two separate and discreet domains where, seemingly. “the twain ne’er meet”.

to the civilized western mind. conditioned in organized, cartesian parameters, the unending chaotic, repetitive and grossly counterproductive struggle between turkey’s military and political élites may seem too complex. i do recall reading dispatches of foreign correspondents that still naively depicted the akp as a veteran of democracy and freedoms – even claudia roth thought so at one time, though she seems to have wisened up now.

it’s garfucius’s duty to clarify: in the third and a half world, where ordinary people and their government officials are unable to manage even traffic, the simplest social organization of the homo sapiens, democracy can not elevate to the status of a consumer good in high demand (4).

hence, the seemingly democratic or secularist skirmish is nothing more than an ice cold game of grab-their-power-do-not-relinquish-yours.

naturally, it is a lose-lose game… tayyib efendi,rosy and co. wish for an army at full abeyance to them and mainly, if not only them. the generals and their cohorts would love a government that upholds a 1920’s style étatisme, under military auspices, where the state controls everything, including the decisions of who will “come forth in government contracts, get appointed to favored posts, rise to positions, get on to the (prime minister’s) airplane, be included in the nouveaux riche class and be elected for office”.

even the “religious approach” the sides adopt is similar – only, tayyib efendi,rosy and co. favor a fervent pro-islamic parlance whereas the militarist – étatist clan affects a decorous, epic, kemalist-nationalist discourse.

and a real, working democracy, a true rule-by-law that actually will do away with the paranoid fears and anxieties as well as the vested privileges of both sides in our civil cold war, is still as far as a rainbow to walk under.

also, as unreachable as it is undesirable – in turkish folk lore, your sex will change if you walk under the rainbow. in case accidents occur – and in the third and a half world, they are prone to, it is safer to stick to whomever and wherever you are… after all, who wants to be a homo?

(1) chief proponent, robert cox; criticized – not so justly – for failing to explain why and how then, the wall fell; actually explained before 1989 by immanuel wallerstein with the global spread of the capitalist modern world system and the inability of the socialist bloc to keep up with its economic and (geo)cultural appeal.
(2) basically though, fascism is civilian in origin – both mussolini and hitler created their own loyalist armies. even franco’s falangistas can essentially be considered civilian militias. İt is more after the sprout of post-colonial states in the third world that the distinction between fascist militia and utterly militarist military juntas faded; with each and every bandung member going through or still suffering from authoritarian regimes. actually, i think the term, which apparently is gai,ning some permanence in our vocabulary, should be converted in english as civilian authoritarianism.
(3) to be able to fly with erdogan on his designated jet is indeed a door opener for business”men” on the rise and budding or established supplicants in the media.
(4) in the very early 1950s, the colossal research work “the authoriatarian personality” was swiftly swept under the carpet when it unearthed severely unpleasant fascistic traits in a good number of americans; including antisemitism. however, the study indicated that authoritarian or fascistic rule is not possible without a consenting public. just take a look at iran to see how true it is… and oh, please, the greens are fighting ahmadinajad extremism, not oppression in general by an islamist regime.
Posted by Galip at 4:27 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

teflon obama?.. garfucius is coming back!..

hussein obama seems to be the democratic latter day version of a teflon president. it seems to me after two thirds of a year, he is less capable of doing things right than letting right things drop in the right spots by themselves.

still three and change years ahead but i wager he's gonna be re-elected only if the reps do a "kerry" on him; i.e., return the favor democrats did to dubya in '04 by nominating an obvious loser. republicans should come up with a bu-lin from somewhere, combining he best of bush & palin.

hussein makes a great media magnet but where world affairs are concerned, clinton's billy still looks like the real ringer... i mean hillary clinton's of course...

see, it's taking time but...

garfucius is coming back!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

yo! ho! and beware... garfucius is coming back!

garfucius is ready too shake the dust off the soles of his feet and return to the trek and the quest... to spread the virtues of outrageousness.

for instance... have you noticed how similar the political functions of imam ghazali and kung-fu-tzu (better known as confucius) have been?

soon on this blog!..

Saturday, January 31, 2009

coincidence? or the wisdom of folly?

while turkey is engrossed in a heated and obnoxious debate over tayyib efendi's davos walkout on pres. shimon peres and how diplomatically unbecoming and philistine (1) his behavior is - though also endearing touncouth, sycophantic, aggrieved and outraged hordes of losers; i came accross an article by prof. alexander nazaryan (2) about how wine could be a resource in classical times to help moot suchpubliic and potentially embarrassing outbursts as from both pres. peres andp.m. tayyib efendi.

nazaryan writes, according to james davidson (3) in the wealthier households of athens (4), "men of stature" would engage in lively debate, as bowls of wine were "dispensed under the careful watch of a symposiarch (a sort of strict toastmaster)... " as depicted in plato’s “symposium” where socrates and his friends, "still hung over from the previous night’s carousing, decide on an evening of light drinking". temperance pays off: in the ensuing discussion, they summon an overarching vision of love that has endured in the western imagination for more than two millennia" (5).

but then, as the japanese say, no rules in love or war...

enter alkibiadis in the symposium, young and handsome. he "drunkenly tries to cozy up to the older socrates", with "no patience for his prurient come-ons and intimations". alkibiadis was eventually subdued; only to be pursued by a group of boozy revelers bursting in. then “there was noise everywhere, and everyone started drinking in no particular order,” grumps a plaintive plato, the voice of moderation. according to the philosopher, the party ended unceremoniously because thus the "love of drink overpowered love of truth". so much for the platonic version of "in vino veritas"...

however, maybe "alithea" (6) is less in what wine does (or in plato's pro-temperance case, does not) makes us say than in what it makes us do: for, thus spake homeros through odysseus of ithaka :

(wine) sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing…it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.

nazaryan, referring to the immortal e. r. (eric robertson but he always used his initials only) dodds remarks "for the greeks, a measure of irrationality in the dionyssiac form of wine drinking checked the (absolute) rule of reason".

garfucius tends to differ slightly: if you are a child or an amante of the aegean, you realize how rationality is but a mere method to maintain sanity over the beauty proceeding from that sea and the life she nurtures. one has to experience the urge to dissolve in, maybe sacrifice one's soul and being to her eternal light and glamor, in order to comprehend what a burden sanity is in tthe face of sheer, unadulterated beauty... how it arises from that consuming passion the aegean instills in her lovers and bestows you with the persona, so you can act upon her stage... wine is not fluvial in that manner; it is the vessel, the holy grail, from which through sense and ratio, you may drink the joy that defines the life that is her, and keeps you floating on a ship like odysseus the unwary explorer - that ship is called rationality and it won't sail with sobriety.

that is why, "in vino, veritas", as is wisdom in folly.

(1) no need to intend a pun, it is there...
(2) "the tipsy hero", nyt, january 30, 2009. i do not know if mr. nazaryan is a professor at some college but i use the title in its generic sense, as teacher.
(3) courtesans & fishcakes: the consuming passions of classical athens
(4) probably no less in ephesus or bergamon or korinthos either...
(5) love is dual natured, it is both ephemeral and eternal andd therefore a bridge between those two worlds - just as is philosophy. for the purposes of this post, so is wine...
(6) truth