Mustafa Karasu: Building Democratic Modernity

Especially at a time when humanity is in deep crisis and depression, discussing Rêber Apo’s (Abdullah Öcalan) thoughts that will be a solution to this chaos and crisis will be guiding in terms of finding solutions to the problems of capitalism in the world, especially in Europe in the coming period. I believe it will play a very important role in this direction.

As you all know, the main problems of humanity today stem from capitalism, the capitalist modernity. Today, not only the capitalist modernity, but the nation-state, but the crisis of the 5000-thousand-year-old statist system is being experienced. Now the social problems created by the statist system and the exploitative system have become the problems that people can’t bear. In this respect, humanity is longing and struggling to eliminate the problems of the 5000-year-old statist system, including the nation-state, and the problems created by capitalism. However, in order to fight against capitalist modernity, first of all it is necessary to take an ideologically correct approach and accept it. All modernities or new thoughts and new structures in history have gained with the power of thought, the power of structuring. In this respect, democratic modernity will ideologically win against capitalist modernity. For this, it is essential to look at the history as a whole. Because there is a history on which capitalist modernity is based: State, class, power, exploitation. These are continuous. It has continuity. Capitalism has become a consequence of them. Capitalist modernity is based on these. These have a history. Democratic modernity also has a history. Democratic modernity is also based on democratic civilization, which has been fighting against the statist system from the first primitive communal society to date. The history of capitalist modernity is also the history of democratic civilization. In this respect, it is very important to look at history as a whole, to deal with democratic modernity as a whole, and to fight against capitalist modernity in this context.

The real socialism made a mistake in the past. It was not against capitalist modernity. It was against capitalism but not against its modernity. Even the basic components, arguments, and core values of its modernity were based on the nation-state. It was based on industrialism. So much so that at the beginning of the October revolution, the Soviets, which emerged strongly, resided the state. Electrification and industry, these are really dealt with on a religious level, on a sacred level. In this respect, nature has been destroyed, the destruction of nature has brought its negative approach to society. For this reason, real socialism has collapsed. The collapse of real socialism was not due to the lack of opposition to capitalism. Real socialism has really been the opposite of capitalism, it has been opposed to capitalism. But capitalist anti-modernity has not been made. Even without an anti-capitalist anti-modernity, no anti-capitalism can be made, and no fight against capitalism can be fought. For this reason, real socialism has collapsed.

In this respect, while democratic modernity will fight against capitalism and capitalist modernity in the coming period, ideological integrity should be based on the total struggle against capitalist modernity. This is really important. In fact, anarchists have been against the state, they have been against capitalism, but they are individualistic. However, capitalism is antisocial. It mainly disintegrates society and lives by disintegrating society. But anarchists opposed the state, opposed capitalism, but they could not defend the society, which the state and capitalism were most opposed to, could not be socialists. Therefore, they lost. Ecologists thought that they would defend nature without being against the state or against capitalism. However, the various currents defending this ecology and the arguments they defend were actually produced in the centers of capitalism. In this respect, they have not been able to fight strongly against industrialism, and have not been effective. Because they are not anti-capitalist, they are not anti-statist. It is not possible to protect nature and to be a protector without being against them. Feminists have opposed power, they have opposed patriarchy, but they have not been able to oppose the female creation, women’s reality and women’s typology created by capitalism as much as they have opposed patriarchy. In their opposition, they could not create their own ideology, its organization, its structures. In this respect, they have been helpless and weak in the face of capitalism. Yes, they are against patriarchy but without a consistent opposition to capitalism and no consistent opposition to the female reality created by capitalism feminists have also been ineffective. Now there are religious currents in the Middle East, which says that it is mostly against the west, capitalism and imperialism. In fact, they are not in a consistent struggle against capitalism, capitalist modernity. They even say that `what modernists say and modern scientists say are all in our sources`. As these have been said before and `we have said them better`, they are in an approach that defends and accepts the values of that modernism.

After all, they all want to keep the values of capitalist modernity alive by dimensioning nation-state, industrialism and capitalism to new discourses. It is like a version of capitalist modernity. They oppose Orientalism, but look at the approach of sociologists produced in capitalist modernity centers to all events and phenomena. They are not so anti-modernist.

In this respect, the total struggle against capitalist modernity is very important. It is not enough just to say that I oppose capitalism. First of all, it is necessary to propose an alternative. When you do not propose an alternative, one would dissolve within the capitalist modernity, that is, it is inevitable. In this respect, democratic modernity must propose its alternatives against capitalist modernity. This is very important. In other words, if it does not establish its economic society, industrial society, democratic confederalism, moral and political society, and it does not bring about its structural institutions, it is not enough to be against capitalism. Now everyone says that I am against capitalism, but when it comes to opposing the institutions of capitalism, to create the institutions of democratic modernity, then it is seen that they can not break away from capitalism when necessary, it is seen how dependent one has become on capitalism. Indeed, capitalism is like that, capitalist modernity is such a system that it has binded so many people with individualism that it even holds those who oppose capitalism within itself. In this respect, while opposing capitalist modernity, it is necessary to put forward its alternative, but it is important to put it holistically. It is not only enough to oppose capitalism, it is necessary to oppose the nation-state, and to strengthen democratic confederalism, which is an alternative to the nation-state, to strengthen the moral society. It is important not to glorify industrialism. Industrialism is glorified, technique is glorified, yes, scientific technical revolution is good. But industrialism is not a good thing. After destroying nature, that technique, that industry has no meaning. Nature, society is a whole. It is the first nature; the society is the second nature. In this respect, it is very important to defend society in the fight against capitalism. Society should be taken as the basis.

Now, for example, there are many opponents of capitalism, there are multi-class approaches. There are, of course, classes. But how do classes emerge; they emerged by fragmenting the society. This state, the ruling and the exploitative section do not oppose the class, states did not become the ruling power by opposing the class, they became the ruling power and the state by fragmenting the society and dividing the society into classes. In this respect, the main value is society, society should be defended. You cannot really defend democratic modernity without defending society. This has to be seen very well.

In this respect, it is really essential to defend society. If we defend society, defend social values, advocate society, then we will be against capitalist modernity. I would especially like to emphasize that democracy can only exist if there is a democratic society. Capitalism is anti-democracy. There is no democracy under the conditions of capitalism. Because capitalism shatters the society. Disbanding society is anti-democracy. Democracy is a phenomenon intertwined with society. Real democracy happens with a democratic society. In this respect, defending democratic society, defending democracy is the most important way of struggle against capitalism. Here, it should be emphasized that; democratic society is equal to socialism. Socialism and democracy, and socialism and democratic society should not be seen as separate things. Real democracy, democracy based on democratic society is equal to socialism, socialism is equal to real democracy. Socialism means societism. In this respect, it is necessary to see the connection between democracy and socialism very well. In fact, we should not put any distance between democracy and socialism. You have to see it equally. Communal conditions democracy.

When you are communal, you have to be democratic, you have to create democracy. You cannot protect the communal without democracy. Communality can only be protected by democracy. Nobody can think that there will be socialism without democracy and that there will be communism without democracy. In this respect, it is necessary to see democratic modernity identical with democratic society and socialism. This is very important. Of course, the main difference is between capitalism and democratic modernity. Capitalism, capitalist modernity means material civilization. It means the destruction of all immaterial values. Because the immaterial values are social values. Immaterialism is socialism. Society is immaterialism. Society and immaterialism are intertwined. Society has immaterial values. The materialist does not have immaterial values; Even in the old world, in the old society, materialists were cursed centuries ago, they were seen as out of society. In this respect, democratic modernity must emphasize immateriality, emphasize immaterial values. This happens with owning society, with socializing values. Without socialist values, that is, without the emphasis on society, without the individual and everyone not giving society a priority, sacrificing themselves for society, saying society comes before me, saying that I exist if society does threre can be no true democratic modernity. In democratic modernity, work cannot be done with material thinking. Democratic modernity cannot be built with the material culture of capitalism and the material culture of the west. In this respect, it is necessary to break from the material culture. It is necessary to embrace the immaterial world. Justice, conscience, morality, equality, neighborhood, friendship, companionship should be embraced. Without them there can be no democratic modernity. Democratic modernity cannot be created with today’s individualist culture. It has to be a spiritualist, socialist culture. Again, in connection with these, democratic modernity cannot be created without a women’s freedom line. Women’s freedom is life itself. Woman is related to life. In this regard, without giving value to life, without making sense of women’s freedom democratic modernity cannot be created.

In this regard, Rêber Apo called his paradigm a woman-libertationist, democratic and ecological society. He placed woman-libertationist on top of his paradigm. Because, in a historical aspect of democratic modernity, it is a history of women’s freedom or women’s democratic character. The history of democratic modernity is not the history of capitalist modernity, because capitalist modernity is the deterioration of life, fragmentation of life, meaninglessness of life by that began first by the domination of the woman. In this respect, the women’s freedom line of Rêber Apo is seen as valuable and meaningful by everyone today. But it is valuable not only because it is about women, but also because life is the main element and the basic descriptor of democratic modernity. In this respect, while democratic modernity is an alternative, immaterial values, moral values, social values and values of conscious should be cared for. In this respect, Rêber Apo has presented a very important concept. This is really important. It needs to be emphasized and given meaning. He said moral and political society. He said, society is essentially moral and political. He said there is no nonmoral and non-political society.

Capitalism dissolved the moral political society. Capitalism has put worthlessness instead of morality, power and bureaucracy instead of politics. In this respect, it is important to create a moral and political society. It is like the theory of morality, that is, values. All the values created by society are moral. Politics, on the other hand, is its implementation, that is, the realization of that morality, those values in social life. Politics is their implementation. Indeed, if democratic modernity will make sense of itself in the future, if it will be an alternative, if it is to create excitement for humanity, this can only be done with moral and political values. It cannot be done with dry theoretical discourses.

We can not just say I am against capitalism, and that I will create such a society. We need to create excitement in people, in society. This certainly happens by keeping moral political values alive. While creating an organized society, organizing society, we organize democratic confederalism, we organize women, we organize youth, we organize laborers. While organizing each of them, it is necessary to establish these moral political values. Those communities and their organizations must transform themselves into a moral political society. When this happens, what would all these communities be of democratic modernity? It becomes the basis. And they can become an alternative society against capitalist modernity. From this point of view, what the democratic modernity should do in the future is the most fundamentally integrated approach. It should not be fragmented. It needs to be based on society. And, of course, to make democratic confederalism as the alternative of the state, it is necessary to be a moral and political society. Democratic confederalism and moral and political society are nested things. Democratic confederalism cannot be achieved without moral and political values. Or it is pointless to create democratic confederalism without relying on moral and political society. It does not mean becoming an alternative. In this respect, I see these basic parameters very important.

On this basis, I emphasize that democratic modernity advocatesand democratic modernity institutions should pay attention to these basic points in the coming period. On this basis, I greet you all respectfully and wish you success in your work.

The text is a contribution by Mustafa Karasu to the “Challenge Capitalist Modernity” Conference in Hamburg 2015.