[Marxism] Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

Mehmet Cagatay mehmetcagatayaydin at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 27 06:32:40 MDT 2007

I wrote the text below regarding Dbachmozart's post,

But then I changed the title with Dylan's song.


This month a Turkish nationwide news channel, NTV, broadcasted BBC's
dramatized documentary "Ancient Rome, the Rise and Fall of an Empire". A
particular episode depicting the land crisis of the 2nd century led me to
think on the mechanism of democracy today and the infamous flaws of
representative democracy. 

In that episode, the misadventure of a politician is introduced, Tiberius
Gracchus who inspired François-Noël "Gracchus" Babeuf. Briefly, he was a
heroic figure for lower classes and caused an interruption of the
Republic's ordinary executive process by his insistent attempts to
legislate agrarian reforms. His reforms targeted to recapture the land
that has been occupied by wealthy classes and transformed to latifundias.
In the dramatized version, we see Tiberius Gracchus while he is giving a
zealous speech in the "tribune of the people". But when the time to decide
whether to put the proposed laws to people's vote comes, one of the
members immediately uses his veto power. In a nonchalant manner, Gracchus
says, "Let us discuss the other matters then". Afterwards, Gracchus starts
to veto every single proposal to discuss irrelevant agendas decisively. He
suddenly puts the Republic out of commission, which provokes an ultimate
turmoil. His motto is: "You can not discuss the budget while people have
no place to live".

Shortly after this documentary, I read an interesting article in Card
Player magazine which should be regarded as irrelevant to the question for
any rational mind, but obviously not for a lunatic like me: 


The author argues that, even though analyzing close decision enables us to
see the big picture; close decisions have lesser effect on the outcomes.
In other words, for instance, contemplating on the question of what
portion of the state budget should be reserved for educational expenses
facilitates to comprehend the system of civil society. But solutions of
the most devastating structural dilemmas of this society do not dwell on
close decisions; they are the matter of life and death, i.e. fundamental
questions like provision of subsistence, deciding to what will be produced
and how it will be distributed, etc. etc.

It is apparent that modern democracy has been reduced to a quest for the
conclusion of endless chain of close decisions. The refrains of that we
should be content with the representative democracy in spite of its all
deficiencies is a piece of pure nonsense since it is not the
characteristics of representation where the limitation lies. The
foundation of shortcomings of democracy originates from the expulsion of
fundamental questions from political field, which could probably change
the big picture. The trick here is to heighten the close decisions to the
abstract universal, the field of immediate knowledge. But a proper
democracy should be all about cognition. 

Think about the recent mass demonstrations against terror in Turkey and
pro-war parades which go far to devastation of the properties of Kurdish
citizens. We had been asked whether we want that the terror to be stopped
before every election. People natively voted for so-called social
contractors just to witness their persistence to exercise the same
policies which have been proved to be disastrous for couple of decades. 

Responding positively to the calls like "Say No to the Terror" is a close
decision as long as they are voiced abstractly. In truth, it is not really
significant if you have no intention to ensure the related question will
be descended from the field of universal. I don't really care about it on
the condition that my cognition is forced out the debate. But, making a
decision between practicing a tedious nationalist violence, discrimination
of ethnic minorities, being an everlasting subject of militarism; and
responding positively to the political demands for general exemption,
constitutional guarantee to preserve their cultural heritage, etc. is not
even close.  

Unfortunately, what we are ordered now is to participate to a debate about
the universal abstractions, battle of semantics for definitions like
"local insurgents" or "terrorists" (One can easily be branded as a
terrorist, if he hesitates to utter PKK and terrorism in the same
sentence), and tricky competitions to prove who is the most patriotic,
etc. etc. Sorry, I am not eager to buy this garbage. I just want a proper
democracy addressing my cognition. I don’t want to fiddle around grappling
with close decisions. 

Mehmet Çagatay

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