Tuesday, October 30, 2007
now, we are facing as a nation, a gross ramification of thinking with our guns instead of our minds. our democrat-free democracy has long created an ogre that has gnawed on turkish society for years and now threatens to mangle it: a feud between turks and kurds, that is mutually suicidal rather than fratricidal!
ten years ago, a division of the country might have been hypothetically possible without destroying the essential make-up of either ethnic community. now, even on paper, such separation can be but fatal for both. since the 1990s, millions of kurds have spread into the country, which is also their country, so that ethnic strife can only devastate both entities that constitute one nation. however, not only rampant turkish nationalism but also the cultural customs of kurds and their particular articulation with their turkish compatriots can at present be listed as psychological distances that belie physical proximity.
what do we know about this anthropological - sociological and pychological phenomenon that bears so much dormant risk to our vey existence? nil? most possibly... why? because in our denial of a kurdish entity, in our despisal of academic inquiry, we simply ignored the study of the kurdish way of mind and life. worse, we jailed anyone who dared to study the kurds as a specific social actuality. i know many young scholars who have researched kurdish life and culture in situ but all as affiliates of universities abroad. i doubt any turkish academic institution has any worthwhile and reliable data, studies or publications on a matter that directly pertains to the country's life-lines.
how are we going to live with people to whose minds, souls and praxes we are so indifferent? how are we going to communicate with them? whether on the north or the south of our borders, how are we going to reach out to them and make sense to them as partners in life? certainly a reference to a millenium of shared geography and politics is not so satisfactory any longer.
instead of science, learning and thought, we have tried to ensure political unity only with our guts and guns, since the 1821 uprising in the peleponessus. it seems there has occurred no change in our grasp of the world ever since, wielding nietzche's hammer all the time, we see all problems as nails.
hope we do not bang it on our thumb this once...
Friday, October 26, 2007
the fellow stood us up with no prior or posterior notice of regret.
furthermore, i understood he also stood up haluk şahin, another bilgi professor and went to talk with soli özel (1), still another bilgi university instructor who also scribes for the post on occasion.
big deal... who in a sane mind can hope for proper conduct from a journalist?
yet, primary school etiquette tells you that if your are not going to be able to abide by a promise, keep a date etc., the civilized act is to call, write, whatever and apologize. that is because the human interfacce of modernity dictates that we are all equal (even journalists, unfortunately). our time is equally important and precious, and to keep somebody waiting is stealing from their time, i.e., their life.
it was the colonialists who usurped the time and lives of their vassals in the old days of imperialism.
what cheek! so like a puny pukka sahib, this discourteous fellow from the washington post has the arrogance, the impunity, the audacity, the ill-mannered, uncivil rudeness to impose himself into our schedules, also abusing the credit we accord a beloved colleague; impinges on our time and has the gall to be so impolite as not to apologize for disrupting the flow of our lives, as if we are pariah!
and in total blindness of this pretentious, grandiose, colonialist attitude displayed in its name by one of its employees, a major american newspaper inquires into rising anti americanism in the rest of the world, after they dispatch this boorish would-be colonialist to do their investigation as if they have no other person to send
then, in absolute hebetitude, they do wonder why anti americanism has become a global tide!..
(1) soli is a right person to see. this commentary no way implicates him but the rude and purpose defeating demeanor of the post reporter, some amar bakshi.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
i insisted that the pkk is an organization dealing in common crime and must be treated as a gang of common criminals. i was wrong, i apologize...
a "gang" is, sociologically, if not by historic origin, more or less an urban, therefore a civilized phenomenon. it assumes by definition, some sort of capacity to organize, albeit, outside the law, which requires some sort of adaptive autonomy in members' actions.
the pkk arises from the rural world of the peasantry and the corvée of the east. the only organization it can manage is through forming a rigid hierarchy. it cannot form a gang because autonomy is impossible without disbanding. that is what the pkk is: a band.
they are not gangsters but only rural bandits. or, using the term from a culture they are more akin to, los bandidos desperados.
let us not exalt them or ascribe them any legitimacy, however dubious, by calling them terrorists.
Monday, October 22, 2007
perhaps that is why, at one point in time, gathering information about your antagonists and kneading them into konwledge of the world you are dealing with, came to be called "inteligence".
and whatever the power of weapons, as military history tells us, victory depends not on how many bodies you can afford to bury but on how well you know the ways of coming home leaving back as few unmarked graves as you can.
intelligence, after all, begins in the mind as a capacity to recognize and formulate problems... a capability to ask the right questions, rather than move forth upon well worn answers.
where intelligence fails, luck is the only thing you can count on. but then, luck is often a matter of probabilities and a fairly intelligent analysis of them.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
fear and aversion of russia was so ingrained, turkey was the only country in the western bloc where a communist party was totally and often violently banned from 1923 to 1990s, until communism collapsed. this is a weird contradiction since turkey's political, economic and cultural structure reflected a centrality, homogeneity and monotony that any sovietic-socialist government would envy (1). even today, as even a blind man can see, very typical of sovietic socialist social organization, in turkey, the state is far stronger than society (2). in my (not so) humble opinion, that is why turkey is doomed to remain a mediocre presence in the league of world politics but that is not the issue now. suffice to say, cold-war turkey was less threatened by the idea of communism as a political regime than russia, which was communist, and could use the "partnership" to manipulate turkey.
the issue is russia. particularly after vladimir putin last week put (3) his foot in the near-eastern soup cauldron, in support of iran's suicidal, as well as homicidal nuclear craze... and now that turkey is preparing to nose-dive into the gravy, moscow has reemerged or has been remembered as a factor to reckon with.
some 10 years ago, when the soviet weary and wary west was drowning its dollars (no € then) in boris yeltsin's vodka glass, i was busy maintaining that it was a waste. russia would (and will) never garner the paper-tiger power the soviets did or were made to look like they did.
then putin began to put in his magic wand to the brew. very despoticallly, he created a plethora of non-capitalist but private conglomerates which practically expropriated the state's resources. these conglomerates functioned as privately owned and managed companies under state control. they had access to gigantic material and financial opportunities and soon turned into fairly competitive players in the global market. they were large, big, sumptuous and fairly competent in world trade but inside, their colophon read "property of the ex-sovietic state of mother russia" (4). in one way, russia's economic success that putin put in the books is a matter of reorganization with efficiency in mind; something all bureaucracies can achieve if some despot puts his mind and devotion in it. the russian on the street was already oriented toward a middle class lifestyle in the late soviet era. recent economic growth let poverty drop and a middle class grow. foreign direct investments - mostly in energy enterprises- increased, too.
however,russian economy is still relatively a backward one, using the measure that says a developed economy is less dependent on income from natural resources than the power to transform them into commodities and services... russia's exports consist by 80 percent of oil, natural gas, metals, and timber (5). the industries that the world's second superpower was once so proud of, are derelict and unproductive.
this portrait leaves russia as a minor economic power world-wide but supposedly affords it the brute strength it can bully other states with. can that really be so?
russia still finances its growth and its progressively middle class welfare with what it exports to the prosperous west. a fossil energy crisis caused by, say, a russian embargo (which is singularly unlikely by reason of insanity) may undermine the west's economic security for a short while but russia thus forfeits not only its chief revenues (6) but also almost all of the monies that flow in through its borders for other reasons.
so, in effect, russia is a bear that barks (is that what bears do?) with ultimate reluctance to bite. and this is only the economics of the problematique, without going into russia's entanglements with its own "democracy" and its ambitions over control of the mainly oil-based wealth of the asian "turkic" states.
thus, russia's political worth appears as a derivative function of what it signified as the empire of evil during the cold war. it is basicallly, an assumed power to scare. it is invalid once people refuse to be afraid of it.
(1) one time turkish premier tansu çiller had complained while grappling with the resistance to privatizations that she was trying to "dismantle the last remaining communist state in europe", in the 90s.
(2) a chief criterion for karl august wittfogel (1957) to distinguish an oriental despotism.
(3) putin had put it in previously too, when he let europe freeze over gas prices.
(4) since the union and progress party led "revolution" of 1908, the equally strong and inbound state apparatus of turkey has been trying to do the same, with little success to speak of. turkey never dispensed the opportunities and finances as putin put in the russian "private" companies; for fear that any emerging social force could topple the state's ultimate supremacy. all it offered was conditions for profitable (in many cases, profiteerable) import substitution between 1958-1982; at a time when second tier economies were turning global.
(5) cf. cia factbook
(6) 32 percent of the state's revenues according to the cia. by the way, iran, too, needs to finance its nuclear craze as well as its wayward allies as hamas with oil revenues.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"we are the government of all, we are here to serve all" he stated. and after the applause subsided, he rolled on "we shall serve not only the muslim, we shall serve the christian and we shall serve the jew... if there are any, we shall serve the buddhist and the atheist, too".
we are used to tayyib efendi's habit of confusing himself with the ottoman sultan or the khalifa of islam, forgetting that he is a citizen, perhaps primus inter pares (1) but still a citizen, of the republic of turkey, a democratic state where, although threatened, the primacy of its secular law is supposedly universal. hence, any government has to "serve" not only any citizen of the country but also visiors residents who are the beneficiaries of the protection turkish law affords everyone.
tayyib efendi often loses this distinction between religious and secular law, simply because his scope of the modern world sometimes slips out of context and into the ottoman (or worse, mohammedan) era. pretending he is the khalifa of islam, his tongue begins to run loose before his mind. that is what happened at the bayram speech. "we serve regardless of anyone's creed, because that is the custom we inherited from our history," the primus inter pares raved.
he conveniently disregarded that it is his obligation to serve the whole country, including not only non-muslim turks but even the foreigners within its borders. it has nothing to do with history, customs and traditions or tayyib efendi's family upbringing. any government of the republic, including his, is there to serve all, muslim, atheist, christian, devil worshipper, jew or pagan because they are duty bound by the law of the land! because the constitution says so...
the realization may disappoint tayyib efendi but he is neither khalifa nor sultan. for the moment, he is primus, because his pares have assigned him the duty of protecting the law of the land, under whose democratic principles, we all are equal and deserving of the services of the country's governments.
that privilege includes tayyib efendi's politically and artificially elevated self, too. whatever power to serve is also vested in him through that law, which he has sworn by honor to uphold!
as a citizen with mixed spiritual affinities and a fairly rational mind that suggests the logic of atheism, i think i am entitled to tell tayyib efendi: "just do properly the duty you are appointed to, oh mighty one! if my forefathers had wanted a sultan or a khalifa, they would not have deposed what they had... apparently, those they disposed of were better than your esteemed self, otherwise you would not be yearning to emulate them".
(1) first among equals
Friday, October 12, 2007
i propose a similar slogan describing the political attitude of turks: ready to rage!..
the typical collective or singular primary reaction to any adverse stimulus in this country and for our fellows is instant fury and displaying a disposition toward solutions favoring violence. the same was true last week when the pkk ambushed and killed 13 turkish soldiers (then, two more elsewhere) and later the u.s. house foreign relations committee adopted the armenian genocide bill. in the former case, preparations were hastened to lay the legal background for military incursions into iraq's kurdish territory; in the latter, threats were hurled at washington to hamper the u.s. war effort in iraq.
i am not going to argue the workability of turkey's poicy in either case except to note:
1 - they both simply and singly play with brute force options and reduce politics to muscle flexing; 2 - they are the first, almost automatic responses that come to mind, rather than fruits of a ruminative process of problem solving; 3 - in history, force has been the chief response turkey has opted for in solving territorial issues and almost each time, it has failed: when, in 1921, a band of rogues in the morea sparked the greek revolution, massacring their muslim neighbors (not neccessarily even turks), the imperial armies staged such a retaliatiory attack that some english politician said "grass won't grow under their feet", referring to the savagery of the janissaries. a more recent example, in 1923 and 1930-31, kurdish rebellions in the east were suppressed by force and compulsory migration in certain instances.
between 1821 and 1921, the ottomans lost their empire. the heir, the turkish republic, is still dealing with kurdish insurgency almost a century after it hammered down the first uprising. what other evidence is necessary to convince a people that the "favorite" remedy in the past served only to worsen the ailment?
for nearly three decades (1), the turkish political machine endevaored unsuccessfully to quell the kurdish (or eastern problem) by military might. whenever other, cultural, social, economic or political measures were raised, most were destined to bang into a wall in a dead end. kurdish members of parliament were roughly arrested, jailed, silenced; the most renowned kurdish novelist died in exile recently, a researcher spent a third of his life behind bars, journalists were persecuted... oops, sorry, prosecuted for mccarthy-ish interpreations of anti-turkish activities etc., etc...
the sole consequence of all that militantism was that istanbul turned up to become the largest kurdish city in the world!
when the armenian genocide debate began, i was a kid. the turks reacted then, just as they are doing now; and in 40 years, they have not been able to convince anybody who counts that there was no genocide of the armenians in 1915. one moment though, the sole exception probably is president georgewalkerbush alias dubya, who, in defense turkey, told congress before the voting that ottoman turks did not commit genocide, they just "mass murdered" armenians.
looking at the historic genesis of the problems plagueing turkey which so readily enrage us, should we not perhaps stop and take a look at how we are describing the "problems" ? after all, intelligence is essentially a capacity to recognize define and formulate problems, rather than finding (in our case, very instant) solutions or responses to percceived obstructions.
rage so obviously fails to win the race.
(1) this is a very arbitrary dating. cutthroat kurdish separatism was on the rise before the military coup of 1980; indeed, was one reason cited for the army takeover. in the late 60s and early 70s too, right after the 1971 putsch by communique slackened its military hold over society, secessionist kurdish nationalism began to arm itself and get violent. the pkk and its imprisoned leader apo are offshoots of those early movements.
Monday, October 08, 2007
no, my indignation was to neither song nor singer, although if the trt, which scores the lowest ratings among all national stations, in spite of being the richest, technically best equipped and most extensively manned broadcaster in the land, is so keen on celebrating the holy days of the muslims with such glee that legitimizes unadulterated propaganda, i now expect it to run clips of happy christians singing carols in approaching christmas. as a matter of fact, since the trt collects various special dues and draws its funds from our taxes, it is obliged by law and common sense to treat all religions of all turkish citizens equivocally.
what infuriated me in the clip was the background to the song: a forest under rain, greenery and flowers all around, and a 6 - 7 year old girl child, totally clad in islamic costume, including head cover, waltz-stepping through the foliage!
the obvious message: regardless of age, a woman is an agent, an element of temptation and must be covered to keep out of sight of men who may not be able to resist the allurement of her sexual appeal!
i cannot understand male minds ruled and guided by the constant, concupiscent hankering and the complementary apprehension and tantalization of impending sex or sexuality even when grown, mature women are concerned. the mere idea that a supposedly human creature, equipped with a capacity to reason, can regard a 6 -7 year old girl as a sexual object is a complete anathema! the notion is repulsive, nauseating, disgusting, sick, despicable and because the trt which i only incidentally watch, continuously robs me of my tax liras, deplorably exploitative!
what is worse, i browsed the papers in the last two days to see if anybody else was as irked by the clip as my poor self... alone again, naturally.
on the contrary, in the media, i came accross a slant that drove me truly mad! some diddlebrains with their testes where their wits should be but apparently never were, defended dressing children a la islam, with head cover and veil etc., on the grounds that "it was their choice".
as corroboration of covering up with free will, they cited the childrens' own expressions that they wanted to wear the veil... "i want to dress like yoou do, mumma..."
i will not insult the intelligence of my readers arguing the validity of a minor's such capacity and access to free will. we all know that even leaving aside the oedipal social training of girls with mothers and other women kin as models, especially in oppressive, basically peasant communities where high islamic fervor thrives in this country, the child of a religious environment has virtually no choice but do as bid or shown. allow me to draw a parallel of evil, though:
child victims of sexual and physical abuse may (and often do) develop a bondage with their tormentors and many do not even want to be relieved from their custody into conditions where they can be treated normally. where, technically, lies the difference, if you force or coax a child to venery or faithful virtue by means of closing all channels of her developing a sense for freedom and will? then again, most child victims of sexual abuse are lured into the trap by love and affection, rather than coercion!
i am for as few restrictions of any freedom on a universal scale. therefore, i do not find in myself the right to oppose the right of those who wish to cover up, provided they are mentally sane and able. however, please do not expect me to show respect to the full exercise of the freedom to become unfree. it is abhorrent!
then again, i absolutely am for sexual freedom between "consenting" adult partners regardless of gender, method or taste. rape, molestation, persecution, abuse, and obsession are, by my standards, condemnible wantonness of the worst caliber, akin only to taking of lives.
and i am at terribly confused in distinguishing the level of evil between violating what is between the ears and what is between the legs!
Friday, October 05, 2007
just as they are accustomed to shoot first and ask questions afterward (2), the laz have the habit of talking first and if at all, start thinking about what they said only subsequently, along with the audience. then comes stage 2, turning what was said around to mend or control the damage. tayyib efendi, who is originally from rize, and is a perfect laz, has demonstrated that trait countless times in his public career. he practically solved the question by appointing a special officer mr. atıf beki, to turn around and translate what he said into what he did not mean (or worse, sometimes into what he did mean).
as a matter of fact, tayyib efendi, persecuted by the approaching vote over the constitutional amendment, has recently gone absolutely laz and claimed that "eleventh in actual fact, means 12th".
well, good luck to tayyib efendi, but our target today is another laz, the father of the minor o.a., the assassin of father santoro of the catholic church in trabzon, who was a victim of slef declared jehad by a band of ultra nationalists. the "killer" was sentenced to 18 years of which it will be a miracle if he serves six. said his father, rebelling to the court's decision: "if my son had killed a mufti, they would have given him no more than eight years. just because he killed a papaz (3), they sentenced him to 18".
do not be misled: the speaker is not just a frustrated parent, he is a retired teacher, who supposedly has the faculty to distinguish right from wrong. of course, he is laz.
(1) don't look up the term. i just made it up. obviously, it refers to the automatic transferral of cultural cumuli from one social group to another, simply by virtue of sharing the same social space. this is not a case of learning by observation or imitation. as in biological osmosis, traits seep from one element to the other due to differences of cultural density, that is, the ability or degree to which one group maintains and preserves its so-called identifying characteristics. (there you go! garfucius has rolled up another fold up his social scientific sleeve...)
(2) the laz love guns. they used to make excellent copies of famous firearms by hand for decades. when the turkish government could not outlaw guns, gun bearing or gun production, it legalized them, during the life and times of turkey's hero-saint of liberalism, turgut özal. just as other laz-ic phenomena, gun love, too, spread in society especially whereever the mental aspects of personality development ran slack. now, we have more firearms than we have people. anybody can simply shoot anybody else and not even has to ask any questions later. killing is so "normal", when a pathological sadist butchered eight family members couple months age, it hardly made front page news.
(3) mufti is a higher muslim cleric that corresponds more or less to a bishop or arch diocese. "papaz" is turkified from the greek papas, father and is used to desecribe all christian priests.
few turks are aware that papaz means father. the "lower classe" often use it as a term of derision.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
complicated? ok, cars are expensive (1); right? in order to buy a car, whether to use privately or to professionally haul third persons and goods, one needs to invest a fair fortune; right? that assumes, the owner of a car has to have an income which is at least a few times above the average per capita income; right? so, on a quite rough scale, persons who own motor vehicles can be included in some degree among the economic élites of the society (2); right? that, normally, indicates some success at business/work; right? except very rare and often decidious cases of pure dumb luck, such success cannot normally be achieved without some intelligence as the basis of acquiring some capital, acumen or skill; right?
then, how come those fellows, who, supposedly, are endowed with a certain degree of mental acuity, use their vehicles (or let them be used by third parties) in such utterly dumb and stupid fashion that trained circus monkeys and bears can do a better job? to put it another way, where goeth the brains that serveth the turk (3) for the acquisition of that chariot, whence it hit the road?
i have pondered a lot about that question and, it appears although the answer was before me all the time, i could not see it because of a technical - methodical mistake that blinded me:
my life long observations, heuristic experience and studies have led me to conclude that the laz (including cretans), who incidentally, are a "race" (4) that raises not only the brightest specimens of the local population, but also the dullest and most witless, are usually successful in life because of a single-minded purposefulness and obsessive perseverance over one single objective, to which all other acts of life simply append as accessories. for example, if temel (5), the proverbial laz, who lives in rize sets his mind on showing his new watch to his betrothed in istanbul, he can drive 700 miles in five hours only to discover at the bosporus bridge that he forgot the watch home; turns back, recovers it and returns in seven hours... when the laz are concerned, the dumbest individual can, at the most critical moment, do an incredibly clever thing that makes a physicist look like a dimwit - and of course, vice versa: a genious laz surgeon may forget the keys to his bentley in your left ventricule. naturally.
i missed the generality of temel-ism. i overlooked that the trait which distinguishes the laz is a universal human condition that i exclusively ascribed to the laz because its frequency and range are relatively higher among them to fairly consider a trademark. in that bout of temel-ism, i could not see that the entire turkish populace is affected by the same affliction! indeed, there seems to be a rapid laz-ification of turks recently... did you notice how turkish pedestrians wait for the traffic light to turn green? almost without exception, they step down the sidewalk on the pavement, frequently take a few steps onto the road, definitely blocking cars and putting life and limb in peril? did you observe how drivers honk and horn their way in at top speed through every gap in traffic only to brake hard and wait at the intersection, where they try to beat the lights, transgress into the line of crossing cars and cause a deeper mess?
i previously wrote that the mental faculties of an average turkish driver is generally equal to that of a sperm, rushing in absolute fixation toward the womb and the ovum in competition with 70 million others. that compulsive mental state is the bane of traffic in turkey. however, as jean paul sartre argued once upon a time, one's outlook in life is an integral attitude, you cannot be a a tender, compassionate torturer but you can be a neat one. so, if you drive like a sperm, it probably means in all walks of your life, your intellective modus operandi is equally spermatazoic.
thus, i now know why and how individuals who otherwise possess paltry cerebral proficiency, whose intellectual attainment hardly reaches the dizzying heights of mediocrity, whose cognitive universe cannot extend beyond a fetishistic devotion to football and a football team, have ably conquered the molehills of economic progress since the inception of özalism... a pathologically success(result) oriented single-mindedness, hinged on a totally iniquitous veneration of money and material gain that completely disregards the means and method over the end, has swept the ethos of society down the drain to the gutters of pragmatic opportunism.
then dawned the dark ages of conservatism...
once the normative structures of living together, which are usually the yield of decades, even centuries of urban praxes are destroyed by avid hordes, typically of parochial backgrounds, who cannot adapt to cosmopolitan urbanity, the commonest rubric ascends to become the canon of society. naturally, that most basic rubric is heavily perfumed with religious dogma; which by definition, is deficit to regulate the transactions of a modern society.
hence, the pervading, ubiquitous, pernacious, venal anomie that plagues the third and a half world.
i heretofore absolve and acquit the laz for all their social sins...-----------
(1) in turkey, proportional to income, they are even more expensive.
(2) in turkey, where dollar billionaires abound but few major companies get into the higher ranks of the fortune 500 list, economic élites, too, have a sub-mediocre standing by universal standards. so, owning a car/vehicle is a realistic socio economic status indicator within its particular community - frame.
(3) my definition of turk is rather generic and covers the north-western demography of the byzantine - ottoman empire, which, for me, one and the same historio-psychological entity. it includes ethnic turks, greeks (of hellas as well), armenians, kurds, the laz (then again, laz comprises all but markedly all eastern black sea people and very significantly, the cretans) and assorted apocrypha; some albanians, bulgarians, macedonians, bosnians etc... by contrast, the azarbaijani are excluded by reason of a separate mentality.
(4) a true laz is the member of a historic clan of indeterminate origin from the mountains of eastern black sea, speaking an old dialect that sounds like a mixture of turkish, greek and armenian. by reference, the people of the eastern black sea region are often called laz. they are attributed a special mentality, humor and character that has inspired at least 40 percent of jokes in turkish. they resemble those the french tell about the belgians.
(5) temel is literally, foundation; actually, a greek word, themelion, of the same meaning. it is also one of the most common - if not the commonest - name among males of black sea extraction.