Wednesday, December 12, 2007

of men and norms

one of last week's most bizarre incidents was the death of a motorcycle rider who hit a standing truck wearing no helmet.

so far, ordinary is it not? by law, motorcycle helmets are compulsory in turkey, and to my knowledge, all european states. here, especially in summer, the mandatory condition tends to evaporate with the heat, to the degree where even mounted cops ride wearing only a baseball cap, because some genious desk-jockey has not included the helmet as part of their hot weather uniform! in america, some states require it and some leave it to the rider. in many parts of the u.s., there exist sizable movements to repeal the helmet requirement on grounds that "protecting my life is my own privilege and concern, not a domain of intervention by the state". ok buddy. you free to croak... jes don't do it in, on, under or over my vehicle... drôle, drôle, drôle...

but our guy in question had just left a conference -which he had joined on his own free will - extolling the virtues of safe motorcycle riding with full protective gear, helmet, boots, knee pads and so on...

events like this raise the question of the relationship between men and rules.

excluding such accidents of political history, as saudi arabia, iran or pakistan etc., where rules exist to keep -often naturally submissive- peoples subdued and supplicant; and are, more often than not, arbitrarily enforced, just as they are arbitrarily made, norms serve to establish some sort of an order over impersonal social relations. in general, legal structures favor extant power structures and serve the interests of power wielders. still, there can be no societal order, even in saudia, where the normative structure does not also answer some needs, albeit at the most basic, of the general public - there is your basic gramsci for you.

as power becomes more diffused, so that society can maintain some effective control over the state and its political machine, norms begin to order social life in an inevitably "reasoned" (*) manner, that is more instrumental in serving the interests of almost everyone concerned. as reason wins over rulers' whim, although qualitatively more efficient, norms become fewer in number. even in the european union, there (probably) exist laws that favor big business, but there are also quite live rules that protect the common consumer. every ordinance is rationally designed to best avoid violating third party concerns, while solving problems for -hopefully- the entire populace.

drawn under such rational systematics and methodology, also open to alterations or even abolition, through equally rational and methodical criticism, such normative structures create a collective intelligence and collective wisdom that not only orders but also facilitates social organization and cohesion. a german or a dane refrains from diving into a one way road from the reverse direction, not because he is not stupid but because he recognizes that if that becomes a habit, he will end up losing far more hours than the few minutes he can gain. the "ever-clever" turk (or, still, the mezzogiornian) who tries to cut a corner eventually gets to block a whole road, a whole junction, a whole traffic flow and still sits on his horn in total indignation.

in short, individuals' control and sway over their social life-domain arms them with an armor of collective wisdom, so that they do not even have to be clever. in the third and a half world, however, a quasi-clever band of malfed nincompoops forever perpetuate a guagmire of total collective idiocy continously pissing into it.

no wonder such pathological personality manifestations occur, where one attends a meeting that propagates safe riding bike and on his exit, bangs his bike barehead into the back of a garbage truck.

like getting out of an alcoholics anonymous meeting and hopping into the first watering hole next door.

(*) inevitably reasoned because otherwise the social machine will not function and be wrecked.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

do not take sarko seriously

m. nicholas sarkozy, le president de la republique de france has reportedly placed a stumbling block on turkey's supposed path of accession to the european union.

of course that is not truly the whole case: turkey's current situation concerning the eu is, directly, pacta non sum servanda, promise unkept! we simply have no sincere intention of becoming european; of not parking on sidewalks, of not shutting dow parties, of observing traffic lights, of respecting the law and others' rights, of living together without screwing each other, etc., etc... relax, i am not going to harp on turkey's impossible road to europe, not today at least.

the consensus about sarko's motive is that he is pushing turkey into a sub-pact of the countries of the mediterranean basin, which, he hopes, france will be leading.

nothing new here, it is an ambition inherited from napoleon, whose clumsy invasion of egypt in 1800 forever settled the anglo-saxons in the mare internum. france re-tried in 1956, together with the new imperial loser, the not-anymore-so-great britain and israel but barely got away before america gave them all a good slap on the wrist.

france, since losing algeria has had its eye on becoming the political pilot of the mediterranean nations but especially since the 1990s, was challenged by italy, too, which harbored similar ambitions but of a lesser tenor. the barcelona process of 1992 expired without creating a spirit of unity but squeezing fry the "soul" of the mediterranean, in part because of that rivalry.

and of course, like it or not, the mediterranean is actually an american lake since the world war II; and unless a serious challenge is in place, no continental contender will be allowed to put on too much brawn to contest the u.s.. they cannot, anyway... not with wahisngton's lackey, britain in their midst, breatihnig down europe's neck as a transatlantic fifth column - general charles de gaulle was apparently right in vetoing the pommies off the eec (what the hell are they really doing in the eu anyway? they are an island as remote to europe as japan. they do not even drive on the right side of the road or use intelligible measures! even turkey is more european!).

so, as far as the med is concerned, france is in the position of the married man lusting after somebody else's mistress. sarko le presidente tries to slip one over the americans sometimes and plays the game of france france über alles... that's all there is to the imaginary french primacy in the mediterranean...

in the aftermath of ww II, britain, still nurturing the illusion that it was still a world power (why do brits have that knack of deluding themselves that what pleases them not, in actual fact, actually, is not. really?) had shunned turkey off nato that ankara wanted to join to the price of thousands of troops killed in korea. britain was hoping to use turkey as a cornerstone in a chimerical mediterranean pact, which london would be leading - hence, controling the passage to india and the oil flow to europe and the world. not only america and the soviets but also even the arabs proved too clever for such that english ploy. the sixth fleet ended up dominating the bluest sea in the world, turkey (for whatever its worth) became a nato member and britain since, is america's lastest star even if it is not not spangling the banner.

so forget france or sarkozy, turkey's fate vis-a-vis the eu is only and only a function of its real integration with world capitalism which has proved a far stronger force of nature than either. and the first rule of capitalism is democracy that is a sine qua non of european/eurogenic rationality.

there is no need for stumbling blocks to place before turkey when it comes to rationality and democracy; we trip over our own toes treading toward that direction.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

stately anomaly

oh lord! sunday i wrote how the stately governor uzun of isparta, commented on the route of the crashed atlas jet, speaking as a quasi-aviation authority that high state service seemingly injects through occupational osmosis. therefore, more often than not, any turkish state (definitely not civil) servant by the nature of his office, is privy to everything.

akşam reported tuesday that the governor was the first (and by then only) person to mark how the plane had veered of its course!

repeat, the governor, who by no means is an air traffic connoisseur (unless he is a private flyer, which is darn unlikely), happens to be the first and only, repeat, first and only, official who could say the aircraft was apparently flying on a wrong bearing, according to the paper!

the news here is that the paper completely misses the anomaly in that situation...

unless the might of the august state incites some to do with their tongues things tongues are not supposed to do...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

stately agony

agonize freely: the governor of isparta, some şemsettin uzun, flew over in a chopper where the atlasjet crashed, in order to to inspect the wreckage and reportedly declared "the zone is not in the flight route of the aircraft, it should not be where it is".

as obvious to anyone interested, in turkey the state is the ultimate in everything. therefore, it has to have a hand in everything. unlike in democratic practice , governors in turkey, for instance, are appointed "state officials", a term preferred over "civil servants" because the state is there to be (*), not to serve .

so, a governor, representing the high authority of the state in some province, is the ultimate authority on everything by the unspoken of bibles of officialdom. the ultimate arbiter...

hence, his excellency gov. uzun, after inspecting the site of the incident by air, according to newspaper reports, has expertly rendered his opinion as the speaking voice of the state. behold how his knowledge of aviation is so obvious in his recount of the event: "we flew over the wreck in a helicopter. all ambulances are there. it is impossible to fathom how the plane landed (**) there. it crashed on the other side of the ridge. it is a wooded and somewhat rocky area. the aircraft is a mess. we (***) are sorry. that area is not included in the plane's fly-over zone. they informed that connnection with the aircraft was lost at 0300 hours. the tower sighted the craft. they even gave (relayed) the meteorological reports. (the runway was) reported clear to land. the plane was suupposed to make a turn over burdur. there was a break of communication" (****).

can you doubt his official authority and his word that the plane was where it should not be and forthwith crashed?

so, having been enlightened by his excellency, hürriyet's inspired headline to the governor story: "curious statement about the crash".

going on with the "curious" statement, or more of the sophia of state: “the fuselage is there, the wings are not so much. half the fuselage. there are scattered parts right and left. we shall go to the site by land to be with the citizens. we are very sad". tthen comes the governor as a human: "i have not seen anything like this".

whence goeth all the sophistic expertise?..

oh lords of ignorance, glory of eternal triumph is yours!.. may you forever ban promethean lights lest they may shine lucifer's torches on your endless swamps of hebetude...


(*) try to imagine a nightmarish versioon oof the existentialist dasein...
(**) direct translation from hürriyet's report.
(**) the much apppropriate royal we.
(***) the statement in turkish, as reported in hürriyet: “enkazın üzerinde helikopterle uçtuk. bütün ambulanslar orada. uçak oraya nasıl indi anlamak mümkün değil. sırtın öbür tarafına düşmüş. ağaçlık ve biraz kayalık bir bölge. uçak perişan vaziyette. üzüntülüyüz. o bölge uçağın geçiş alanında değil. uçakla irtibatın kesildiğini 03.00'te haber verdiler. uçağı kuleden görmüşler. hatta hava raporlarını vermişler. iniş için müsait denilmiş. burdur üzerinden dönüş yapacaktı. orada bir irtibatsızlık oldu.”
Gövde var, kanatlar pek yok. Yarım gövde. Gövdenin ön tarafı var. Sağa sola serpilmiş parçalar var. Olay yerine kara yoluyla gidip vatandaşlarla beraber olacağız. Çok üzüldük. Ben böyle bir şey görmedim” diye konuştu.

adding insult to agony

the plane crash in isparta gave the media the field day they have been craving since the bogus war fervor of a few weeks ago. a horde of scandalous ignoramuses now roam mountainsides, fly over the wreckage, "peruse" security cameras for a drollop of sensation to jolt us readers and viewers; most of whom are glued to the news-that-is-not, oscilllating between the joys of having survived a far away accident and the vicarious lethal reminders of how fragile we are.

some "news" hyenas, as if their papers and stations on "normal days" do not represent a dormitory of information employees, brag that they were the first on the scene - to do what? shoot a few tons of torn metal debris among autumn foliage? they do not even have the gall to make public bloood and gore!

the only news that matters comes from two sources in air crash incidents: lists of passengers that airlines make known, and the cause of the accident which the civil aviation authority discloses after an arduous study, if the black box is found. the rest, including the commentary by so called aviation experts, is speculation where it is not taurean excreta.

pretending to do something that cannot be done, the media, this once, have invested in an imaginary enigma of "sabotage" theories, having found out that some top turkish physicists were among the casualties. yet other reporters for the public and virtual grapevine, further blamed nuclear energy proponents for having the scientists blown apart...

when intelligence so dramaticallly drains from public experience that even common sense becomes a scarce commodity, reason and decency, too, ebb from social relationships. just as any member of the great driving unwashed can bust unannounced and unwelcome into your lane at any intersection, another mindless half-life form (with an unfortunately long half-life) extracts is/her kicks from what is grief to you.

adding insult to agony; chiefly, the agony of having to suffer so much human effluent.