Author: Süleyman Seyfi Öğun
One of the fundamental stories of mankind tells of drifting between two extremes. The course of the story is as follows: We are so preoccupied with world affairs that we often neglect cosmic calculations and securities. Narrow-minded historical disputes that do not accept any cure and lead to enmities, conflicts and wars that are passed down from generation to generation arise from here. Worldliness is another word for this. Narrow-mindedness forgets that the earth is a small planet, occupying a space as small as the head of a pin in a galaxy called the Milky Way, which consists of a hundred billion solar systems like ours and has tens of millions of counterparts in the universe, and which looks like a cloud of dust from far, far away.
Religions, which are like an antidote to this, actually draw attention to this fact. They warn people to know their limits and not to overestimate this world. However, it seems that they too become historicalised and are articulated in familiar fights. We know that history has witnessed countless religious wars, or even worse, internal fights of religions that ended in fratricide, whether mythically through gods fighting for man as in Troy or more realistically through men fighting for their gods. Look at the magnitude of the deviation…
But the deviation does not end there. The other form of deviation is the withdrawal from history arising from cosmic and metaphysical exaggerations. When the world is suffering, clergymen come out and say, “Forget it, the world is mortal. Save your soul”; in other words, to be buried in irresponsibility is also inedible. In A. Chekhov’s The Sixth Ward, this mentality that renders the world meaningless is described very well.
Modernity was born precisely as a reaction to this. Although it had different veins, the Renaissance was basically a movement of unadulterated reality. (Announcement to those who call it the Islamic Renaissance). It was a resistance against the numbing effects of the church. From a purely moral point of view, it can be considered consistent and even justified in itself. It was an invitation that confronted people with the truth against the lying Church Fathers. In time, it has become a ground for opposition to the religious institutions and discourses established almost everywhere in the world. This is the background of the science-religion debate.
But have these developments been a panacea? I must say that I am not of that opinion. Ideologies that replaced religions began to function as compasses of truth. The issue was history. Whether, as in Hegel and Marx, it was a question of bringing the facts of history to a metaphysics or of attributing a purpose to it through concrete facts, the issue in the final analysis was to bring history to salvation.
This was not only a battle between numbness and awakening, faith and reason, darkness and light. At a deeper level, it was the emergence and takeover of the entire world by a new set of structures called capitalism, which looked at the world from the point of view of the calculating mind. (The Renaissance was also the time when double-sided accounting was discovered). The caravan continued on its march while humanity was being thrown together in a reorganised caravan with the flare of ideologies. The march itself, the direction it took, was a narrow-mindedness; the fights within it were nothing but its multiplied variations.
It was a kind of bourgeois mind that fetishised history on the basis of the unity of being apart from any kind of cosmic provision, blending engineering, philosophy, literature and politics. They hit a wall after the Second War. After a few flutters like Sartre’s, they sank into a deep lethargy that is synonymous with consumption. This was accompanied by a deep-seated homophobia (one should not take the anti-homophobia of the middle classes seriously and take into account that it is an experience of projection). When humanity did not act as they wanted and things did not go the way they wanted, homophobia deepened. As a result, they dehumanised life in their minds. I think that another emotion that was very effective in this defeat was a multi-layered hatred of the father, which was the price of being socialised on a puritanical basis. This, in turn, led them to a deep hatred of authority and the institutional world. It was not for nothing that they drifted into Counter Culture movements, Madame Blavatski’s, Gurdcieff’s, Bailey’s, Osho’s, countless theosophical, astrological and yoga associations, all the gurus with their polytheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, mystical variations. I see the traces of a bourgeois defeatism and escape in these movements. The measure of bourgeois sophistication has been replaced by a wisdom that is now equated with selling Ferraris. The part of the bourgeoisie that still maintains relative social and historical ties spend their time with cultural agitations and provocations that they have carefully distilled from history and made themselves the proxy of the cause. But a larger group is playing the fugitives in the true sense of the word. This escape comes from within consumption, passing through gastromonic-touristic-rustic stops and culminating in seclusion. The enlightenment they once desired for humanity as a whole, they now want for their own individual spiritual salvation. To their credit, those who are not involved in cultural agitation at the political level, but still retain their sense of devotion, are inventing unmanned causes for themselves.
Capitalism, which is currently experiencing a severe crisis, is cutting the world in half like a watermelon between democracy and authoritarianism. Not only that, it is taking up arms and shouting for war. The Social Democrats and the Greens, who harbour the remnants of the middle classes that have lost their minds, are enthusiastically supporting this. It was not only a stubborn 83-year-old woman politician who got off the plane in Taiwan. It was the spirit of the middle class, whose mutant claims collapsed and who were buried under what they had built. If it comes to your notice, you can say a prayer for it.