Thursday, September 27, 2007

iran, the sliding ground under china?

how bad really is the nuclear threat iran poses for the modern world? a new york times photo of a square in teheran shows that the leitmotif of street decoration in the persian capital consists of a display of weapons. the scene is pathetic, actually... a backward economy, an oil-poor nation trying to secure itself a place in the world as the spearhead of islamic jehad while being despised and feared by the muslim world around it.

the scene in nyt is reminiscent of the latter-day soviet empire. naturally, the much further modernized russians paraded their arsenal with much more aesthetic coreography but the essence remains the same: dread me, for i am guided by fright myself. like russia under communism (*), iran is pressed under economic problems of all sorts and since it has a totally and thoroughly oil dependent economy, its sole choice to maintain its awkward and retarded power structure under the disguise of national integrity and islamic jehad, is to bribe a jobless, profession-less, generally ill educated hordes with oil money (**). the already overloaded military expenditures are bound to take a toll on the state's budget and the public's welfare in due time - which cannot be too far ahead.

therefore, just as it drove the soviets to the same corner, it is in america's interests to push iran to spend more on military matters. the main factor that may slow washington from pushing teheran to bankruptcy is the imponderability of iranian leadership. more specifically, the u.s. considers the probability that once squeezed into a corner, iran's bizarre and idiosyncratic president mahmoud ahmadinajad may try an attack on israel and the buttcake may hit the fan. however, that is, ahmadinajad knows just as well as everybody else, but a suicidal option. not only because militarily, iran's success is not anywhere near a plausible probability but a war will devastate its moribund economy, too.

now, increasing the economic pressure on teheran by expanding the sanctions, nyt reports, is more of a possibility since ahmadinajad went overboard with the nuclear threat in his u.n. address which assured any civilized person on this earth that he is not compatible in any aspect with modernity. the europeans are now likelier, as president nicholas sarkozy of france indicated, to back america's policies against iran despite "dubya" bush - mainly, economic and commercial sanctions based on boycotting iran's oil trade and crumpling its revenues. the imponderable factors here figure as russia and china, who, it is feared, may continue cavorting with teheran and may even attempt at solidifying some buyers' monopoly over its oil.

russia is a card laid face down; however, china is much more susceptible to pressure from the west even than iran, in the eventuality it tries to circumvene the blockade against ahmadinajad's belligerence. chinese development and prosperity rest on imported capital and technology, as well as clement western markets. chinese products, whose prices are not exactly determined in a fashion foreseen by capitalism-proper, threaten western industries. if the west openly or secretly pressurizes china and "punishes" it for dealing with iran, despite the coalition of capitalists, a trade ban or limitation that only requires china to comply with the basic rules of market economy can leave china commercially stranded, with lots of cheap produce it cannot sell in any of its "natural" markets.

thus, the nuclear situation may serve not only to rob the chief evil, iran, of its own treasury, it may also help drag china, the economic loose cannon, to toe the line of proper capitalism.

russia? it currently survives by selling oil. is it going to re-sell the oil it buys alone from iran? import and re-export chinese toys and motorbikes? big deal...

(*) not that the ex-communist led neo-tzarist russia has left that corner behind it...
(**) actually, not with oil money even but oil itself... when the sanctions and military spending forced the government to cut down on free petrol rations of the people, a rare mélee against the mullah regime broke out recently.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


recently of issue is the so called sociological phenomenon of "peer pressure" (mahalle baskısı). the secularist/laicist masses are afraid/wary and warn that once relgious symbols as the head scarf are let free, peer pressure will cause those who now ignore them to abide by religious dress codes, too.

what is more, there exists positive evidence that the current administration is willing to encourage such pressure. an advisor to the prime minister just made a public statement condoning government contractors who made their wives cover their heads, so they can win tenders. "well, it is better they pull themselves together," he said; "if they want to do business".

hmmm... implication one:

in turkey, politics still consists of seizing the power and the means of the state and distributing them in partisan fashion to cohorts and minions, through an hierarchical pyramid, depending also on the psychological distance the beneficiary maintains to the center. this qualifies as a form of "patron - client" relationship but differs in that it is historically ordained: in the ottoman (and previously byzantine) system, the state was almost the only way for upward mobility aqnd prosperity. bureaucratic promotion depended on which clique of grand vizirs or vizirs were on the rise or on their way to the executioner's rope. peer pressure was a method of consolidating relations within one faction, and also tightening loyalties.

the same is true of any centrally operated system of distributing benefits. in diversified, democracy-oriented societies, interests are far more impersonalized, and are defined and sought collectively. that is why parties exist. rather than base policies on distributing the assets of the state (which, theoretically at least, belongs to everyone, rather than just the ruling political party and in practice, is getting smaller), they clear the way for the particular groups they represent to realize their goals, without license to harm or destroy opposing social forces.

in turkey's lay, non-political society, too, the same pyramidal hierarchies persist: with the weakening of the state and bureaucracy, a quasi-feudal structure of landlords and notables arose in turkey. they had tenants whom they had to "look after" in a paternal (patriarchal) rather than patronal model.

when the state's regime softened with the advent of democracy and more or less modern - capitalist modalities settled, the two branches of the paternal system merged. most of the previously externalized landlords and notables found their niches in the political system. thus, they, too, accessed means that they could dispense among loyals and entrench their local powers. then, as feudal ties further loosened, smaller but still paternal patterns of affiliation with a distinctly "business" rather than agrarian character dispersed in society. today, such "cliques", mostly based on locality or some sort of kinship, play an important function in all parties.

ferdinand tönnies was the first philosopher to put a finger on the machinations of this phenomenon, with his famous gesselschaft versus gemeinschaft dichotomy. simply put, the model pits the impersonal and anonymous urban (society) relationships against the more intimate rural (community) where personal ties, group pressure, social control play a heavy role in maintaining cohesion. obviously, the dichotomy lies on both ends of a continuum of capitalistic development.

the first implication is that, despite politicians' and media mythologies of economic development and success, turkey, one of the world's 20 largest economies, is still a state-oriented, over-centralized bureaucracy.

hmmm... implication two:

abiding by and strictly observing islamic rules may put souls at ease but they do not guarantee success in an open economy, dependent on technological development (*); where innovation is next to synonymous with free thinking.

this is the islamist's quandary in turkey: more and more, turkish capital and capitalists of islamic origins are appearing on the global scene of trade, not simply as merchants as they once did, but as consummate commercial agents in a fatally competitive market, where knowledge is not limited with what one learns by experience. neither at home nor abroad, can such economic dynamics suffer too much state patronage, auspices, intervention or impediment for long. rules of capitalism cannot brook playing favorites (**).

the first part of the second implication is that the akp and its hand-fed capitalist section may soon (***) have an oedipal fall out.

the second part of the second implication is that the akp's economic policies, unless the party is going to vanish into political vapor shortly, have to be autophagic (***) - they have to be self-devouring. they have to relinquish their hold over their protéges and aggree to being controlled by them. their alternative is going down the same way hardline islamist erbakan and co. did, into obligatory oblivion. if the akp succeeds such a gargantuan paradigm shift from religious piousness to conservative capitalism though, it can set itself free... just as a cunning fox chews away its caught limb from a trap... or a starving octopus feeds on one of its own legs...

hmmmm... implication three:

it all comes back to the same point on the vicious circle: tayyib effendi & co. & rosy are not philosophically, therefore mentally, therefore technically equipped to enact such a major transformation.

(*) i use technology rather looosely here, to cover all acts - not necessarily technical or mechanical - that make life easier and more enjoyable; or in practical terms, turn production as well as consumption into a meaningful source of fun, for deriving the best value out of time. therefore, a fine movie, an excellent painting, a good idea etc. are all a part of living-life-technology.
(**) indeed, there are signs leaking from the traditional economic giants of turkey, traditionally always watched over "paternally" by the state, that they do not much approve of the government's favoritism toward the "green" capital. they are apprehensive that the religiously oriented government is in a process of creating its own bourgeoisie, just as they were raised by the secularist state at one time. want an indicator? a major holding has sponsored an art show endorsing optimism! optimism is usually required at times of uncertainty, with the bad looming on most of the horizon. jjust ask who feels pessimistic in turkish society today?
(***) self eating
(****) sociologically soon... five years? 10? probably not 20...

Friday, September 21, 2007

the missionary position

only thus far the ship skippered by tayyib effendi could fare into the uncharted oceans of freedom and liberty.

adopting the missionary position in politicking, tayyib & co. & rosy forfeited their capacity to institute that aura of legitimacy encompassing all elements in the community, which is the binding cement of social unity. only in that aura can a society experience cohesion in concord, dissent and resultant diversity that constitutes its dynamism (see blog of aug 13, 07).

tayyib & co. & rosy's 47 percent electoral victory was an acknowledgement that they could be accepted as legitimate governors of the whole nation. the vote, in spite of the strong surge of opposition that is now solidly entrenched in one third of the nation, gave them license to end the bureaucratic stranglehold over the society, to set it free from impediments that functioned to divide the people. it empowered tayyib & co. to write the new social contract, to instate the new parameters of legitimacy embraced by all.

instead, they dropped into the missionary position, and once again attempted to foist their own religiously colored agenda as the priority of the entire society.

the country desperately needed the remedies that a new constitution, i.e., the new social contract could bring. the right political cadres could turn it into a catapult that could launch turkey into a far better epoch; were the totality of the society paid due respect. instead, tayyib & co. & rosy hinged their priority on their obsession to cover women, or the dubious liberty of women to cover themselves up.

covering-up is an obvious ban! it restricts women's appearance and behavior. it restrains their birth rights to determine how to use their own bodies, for the service of men; so that men will not sin! this is an insult to women because it reduces them solely to objects of sexual desire for men. it also humiliates men, who materialize as creatures that cannot tame or civilize their meanest instincts in the presence of minimal stimulation. so, tayyib & co. & rosy, in their missionary position, have devoted their energy to elevating a ban that naturally demeans and subordinates the human race, both woman and man, to the eminence of a liberty!

tayyib & co. & rosy launched their campaign to liberate through carceration because that is the extent of their understanding and sense of freedom... because they feel emancipated as they surrender (*). they strive to cover, conceal and control; instead of open and make transparent, emancipate... they try to confine and contain, instead of release and liberate. therefore, they attempt to represent the covering up of women as a freedom, rather than making sure that nobody persecutes (and certainly does not prosecute) any woman for un-covering and baring her body. they cannot bring themselves to accept the universal recognition that the body is essentially a private domain and not a matter of public intervention (**).

the problem is not that simple, though. in their recalcitrant resistance to modernity (***) tayyib & co. and rosy are so engrossed with problems long solved by the modern world in the 18th and 19th centuries that, they are philosophically too retarded to realize that the uniformity they are keen to impose in the name of religious freedom is a straitjacket that restrains the heterogeneity of a modern society; strangles its life-lines of culture and thought. faiths, and all of them simultaneously, are only one color in the hue of social multiplicity. prioritizing any religion just turns plurality into a monochrome; causes the hue to turn gray.

what about the 47 percent electoral victory? oh, do not trust the public vote; it is a fickle mistress, at best! at least one fourth of it was loaned to tayyib effendi & co & rosy, because it was obvious the rest of the political machine was in a state of utter hebetude as far as creative society management was concerned and had no answers to give to any question, including how and why their sole bastion, secularity was to be protected. that minimum 10 percent was a credit extended to tayyib & co. & rosy to unite the country around a basic legitimacy, without conceding from cohesion in concord, dissent and diversity. they were not accredited to assume the missionary position and pursue their conventions from yesteryears.

tayyib effendi &. co. & rosy failed grossly. they failed within 60 days of their electoral victory. with them, the turkish society failed; look at what is happening: a superior court considers birth control pills in a wife's purse as evidence of adultery and lessens the sentence of the husband who killed her... a nitwit folk singer and a dimwit "poet" praise the murder of hrant dink in an extremely stupid but dangerously racist song... more examples abound but not now, wait for another post...

(*) "islam" means surrender.
(**) that is why, in civilized communities, even in the bible belt, exposure of one's body is usually a misdemaneor only. and civilization began aeons ago, with the recognition of habeas corpus, "having a body".
(***) to modernity, as a way of mind (culture) not to modernization which is more limited to enjoying the fruits, especially techno-mechanical fruits of modernity.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

virtue of asses

the following are excerpts from a research proposal (*), written by the blogger in the early years after the collapse of the soviet regime.

“the end of the cold war has not signified the termination of conflicts but rather caused a shift in heretofore well known objects, objectives and borders of conflict ... the “new” conflict, which although it actually was always there, was shadowed by the controversy between the west and the east, is the one between modernity, with all the material, practical, social, political and psychological values ... and the non-modern world for which the fruits of modernity are not easily accessible or acceptable and therefore, sometimes an anathema.”

“the border along which ( the conflict) materializes has moved to what was formerly the southeastern flank of the (nato) alliance. of the postmodern threats classified by nato, terrorism and fundamentalism are rooted and nourished in the middle east... (migration and environmental deterioration are not problems foreign to the near east either). terrorism ... is used unscrupulously as a political means by the states in the region and iran is openly an exporter of fundamental islam, as well as a quite probable sponsor of political violence. in short, the eastern and southern frontiers of turkey, in a sense, is the physical boundary between modernity and non-modernity.

[and from another contemporary paper: ... “(terrorism), this “world wide war” thrives in the historical fault line along the schism between modernity and nonmodern modes of existence, easily recognized in a propensity for seeing violence as a solution to problems at any level, from the international to the familial and the personal”...]

... “the empire of evil has toppled to reveal a boiling cauldron of evil, to the east and south of the anatolian peninsula... this borderline of imminent threat to the west, or the western style of life, which now includes former soviet bloc societies as well, is practically extended on an axis that begins from the caucasus, reaching as far as the ionian islands ...”

and the following are passages from an article by robert kagan in the sunday times (**). mr. kagan is a senior associate at the carnegie endowment for international peace and transatlantic fellow at the german marshall fund.

… “the years immediately after the end of the cold war offered a tantalising glimpse of a new kind of international order, the hope that nations might grow together or disappear altogether, with ideological conflicts melting away, and cultures intermingling through free commerce and communications. that, however, was a mirage…”

… “it is a time not of convergence but of divergence of ideas and ideologies ... the old competition between liberalism and absolutism has reemerged, with the nations of the world increasingly lining up between them or along the fault line of tradition and modernity – islamic fundamentalism against the west...”

… “the islamists’ struggle against the powerful and often impersonal forces of modernisation, capitalism and globalisation is a significant fact of life in the world today, but oddly this struggle between modernisation and traditionalism is largely a sideshow on the international stage. the future is more likely to be dominated by the ideological struggle among the great powers than by the effort of radical islamists to restore an imagined past of piety … the enduring ideological conflict since the enlightenment has been the battle between liberalism and autocracy”...

back to my nato paper, further elaborating on the relationship of modernity and security:

… “(modern west moving toward) an organic functional integration or, as popularly called, globalization... a structural incorporation into the forming organism means taking part in the shaping of the “better” world; of being able to determine for (one)self. the inner core of global security in the near future, is likely to be based on a world that is predictable, controllable, manageable and therefore safe and therefore free, i.e.; where no setbacks on the rule of modern democracy and economic liberalism are necessary or tolerated. this world (of modernity) is one that can expect growth in every aspect of life in geometric proportions”...

then, about islam (religion), democracy and modernity, from another paper:

... “modernity is a uniquely eurogenic phenomenon. it corresponds to the progress of capitalism as a world system and the evolution of a modern geoculture (cf. immanuel wallerstein) i.e., a typical way of mind and life (***), shared values and praxes around more or less homogeneous social, political, economic and psychological structures. the singular "controversy" of essence in the history of (at least) the last five centuries is being or not being modern. along this dichotomy, religion plays a determining role only in relation to and to the extent of its influence on the processes of modernity in any society ..."

oh no, no, no no!!!!

i have not grown complacent, i am not bragging, i am not being vain, i am not jealous, i am not angry and i am not polishing my manure!

i am just laying the grounds so i can demand a hearing ear for what i am going to say in the near future. i guess i have a right to, if long-titled international fellows can only now see or dare speak out what was obvious to me a decade ago.

if that is rodomontade... big deal! the brits used to say modesty is the virtue of asses.

(*) presented to nato, however not evaluated because it lacked the “hard (physical) science” component required. the project foresaw the extension of western security along a caucasian – ionian axis involving greece, turkey and armenia, through political moderation and mediation, aided by science. it may be worthwhile to remind readers that in those days, “war” was a rhetorical standard between ankara and athens and turkey was chastising the pro-islamic confectionary maker ülker for selling chocolates and biscuits to armenia! prof. burcu bostanoğlu of the gazi university in ankara was my partner in crime…

me? i was, at the time, a humble and happy skipper of pleasure boats in the mediterranean when I was not writing ambitious papers…
(**) september 2, 2007
(***) it is exrapolated in the paper, with elaborate references to wallerstein's "the end of what modernity?" that capitalism involves both economic and political - social freedom and liberalization.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


music is the ultimate in human thought because it is where emotion, in its purest, blends with and becomes reason in its most unadulterated: mathematics... music is also quantum physics experienced, for forever, music is the edge of life, a whole, single moment and place epitomized in sound... existence as absolute! undiluted dasein!

thank you, luciano, for a lifetime of absolute life.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

hats off to stoner but rossi is still great

i loved the little aussie from the first. casey "crasher" stoner always looked to me as a very talented, brainy and bold fellow, with a heart, as the turks say, "as large as a hearth" (*). maybe that braveness earned him the monicker "crasher" but he is obviously better on two wheels as he is in falling off them.

now, unless the sky drops off, casey stoner is the virtual champion of the motorcycle grand prix, or the moto-gp, the greatest event in motorcycling, for 2007. there still are more races to go but the all-time-grand-champion of the hearts, the "doctor", the "mozart of motorcycle" the great valentino rossi who has elevated riding into a visual art, has already caved in, when his yamaha developed transmission trouble this sunday.

i hope that before he retires, hopefully not before some decades later, rossi will recall his pep and bring his art back to the top of the podium. after all, last year he lost to a mediocre american from kentucky because of a machine that kept failing him and ultimately destroying his morale. this year, he lost first to the excellent and frighteningly fast (**) new ducati and than to casey from down under.

i am a fan of stoner, all right, but without the soul that rossi (whom i prefer to all riders out there), and old timers like max biaggi, alex barros, loris capirossi, marco melandri, john "hopper" hopkins etc. bring to the events, watching bike racing will soon become like looking at a porno movie where japanese robots make love in the finnish language.

it is my hope that the fighting spirit that comes with a sly smile in stoner will, as of next year develop into an inimitable style that can mark his deed and keep the art within the trade.

so, congratulations to the winner, he is a crash!

(*) americans would take the expression downward into the ball-park...
(**) doing better than 20 kliks faster than rossi's yamaha.

s(h)itting at home!

ertuğrul günay has never been on my list of comment-worthy politicians. to me, he has always been like another hundred billion unbeknownst public servants, only mediocre - no insult meant, with the quality of material available, if i had commented on him, i'd probably have slapped him around like a wet rag. still, by my book, mediocre fares worse than bad...

now i am giving günay a chance for public maturity after years of political adolescence. as minister of culture - which, in turkey, is essentially an oxymoron -, i read his first declaration that he goes mad whenever he sees concrete slabs "grinning like decayed teeth in a mouth", obstructing what remains of seven millennia of history all around the country.

i don't know what he can do about it, or what can be done about it - just recently an antwerper told me that bodrum has no character as a city, it is just a collection of cubic slabs. actually, it has become an ugly collection of white slabs in only the last 20 years; the bodrum of 1985 looked slightly different from the bodrum of 1885, and even for my calloused soul, it was an exciting sight, sailing back to home port from some of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world.

in two years, marked with the stamp of turgut özal's "money and gains before all" philosophy, the entire old town, consisting at least 75 percent of houses built in the 19th century or before the republic (*), was torn down practically in a fortnight, and rebuilt according to the current templates of temples of terribly pedestrian taste. in worst cases, those character-free cubic hovels surrounded and smothered what could not be brought down of the old stone buildings.

disrespect, the peasantly disdain for history and culture were so suddenly released from long suppressed depths of sick souls of the intellectually oppressed that brazen authorities, despite "strict" laws against building on historical remains, could permit a supermarket chain (now acquired by carrefour) to display a six-seven thousand years old rock tomb inside, along and among their stands! it is still there but even shoppers are not aware of what stands next to macaroni or raki.

bodrum's natives, too, were the first to demolish their hundred-year-old family abodes. after 1989, the "populist" mayor overlooked any and all restrictions in the statutes that protected the old town. by 1990, bodrum looked like a shanty town, built overnight somewhere in deep africa, when some lucky dude struck oil.

a couple years later, during an informal meeting, i complained about the devastation of all those beautiful, historic and historical buildings, which, nowadays, grin at you like a reverie from a full mouth of architectural decayed teeth, the wife of a mayor said "well, they were not comfortable at all. we had to go to the garden and relieve ourselves in outhouses".

you see why günay's job is like don quijote's mission against windmills? people don't mind giants, it is the windmills they want felled...

that is why they s(h)it down, in air conditioned, cinderblock, whitewahsed, ugly, expensive shacks that have bathrooms under their roofs, instead of out-houses.

instead of houses to live in and love...

(*) i must note that "old" is not necessarily synonymous with beautiful or good. but aesthetically, bodrum until 1985 was a sight for sore eyes indeed. it represented a historically proven solution to accomodate nature in culture that was monumentalized in stone-craft architecture. i searched for old photos on google but could not find any.
(**) except where it pertained to myths of military conquests that had concluded 400 years ago to be followed by an endless procession of humiliating defeats, and sycophantic, hypocritical idolatry of anything remotely religious as "islamic heritage"...