Social context of suicides and Sadik Hidayet

Sadik Hidayet is an Iranian author, mostly known for his short stories and nihilistic style. I have recently read his short story named “The One Buried Alive”, which is not to be confused with the fine movie “Buried” (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/buried/) which suggest that perhaps there is something in the theme of being buried alive that ignites the imagination. Leaving aside all the dramatic details and analysis in the lines of post-traumatic stress disorder and the like, the story is very successful in conveying the feeling of detachment from the society which seems to be the central emotion at play.

It is not that a suicide is not a tragedy, but the cheesy representation of it in much of the literature that actually sets this writer apart. Keep in mind that we are talking about someone who did, unfortunately, successfully commit suicide.

The self poisoning scorpion figure is a usual metaphor in Turkish literature, but the way Hidayet used it in his story was new for me: “I knew the scorpion kills itself by poisoning when we encircle it with fire”. Sometimes I feel that, with all our accomplishments in the past centuries, we have yet to create the culture that sustains our advanced production and workplace organization. It seems to me that all this romanticism on rural life, nature,etc. , is a symptom of our recognition of this fact and our expression of longing for a better organization of our lives (Hell, the feudal societies had much more time to evolve their culture, right?). Can this not be a result of, or at least effected by, the discrepancy between the structure and superstructure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_and_superstructure) ?

And I find out that suicide is not far away after all : http://sg.news.yahoo.com/nus-scholar-found-dead-in-utown-campus-185329134.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadegh_Hedayat

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Eleventh Thesis

Eleventh Thesis is famous among Marxist, stating that “the philosophers always tried to understand the world until now, now we should act to change it”. Incidentally, this is the name of an important Marxist book series in Turkey that was published in the 80’s, well regarded as a carrier of a tradition that was struggling for existence at the time. It occurs to me that this thesis is somehow related to how the inverse problems are handled in Bayesian paradigm, which is the idea I explore in this post.

I believe the notion of forward and inverse problems is very important and I am not so sure if this is well understood in the social sciences. The idea is that, forward problems begin with clear axioms and develop from there, as the theory of value started with Adam Smith, passing through Ricardo to be finally developed rigorously by Marx. Rigorous development of a theory helps in understanding what may be the implications of certain set of axioms, that may not be obvious from the start. Yet the rigour should not be confused with truth, as this stage of development is more of an intellectual exercise, lacking connection with reality. This connection (as I also discussed in: http://blog.nus.edu.sg/egealper/2013/06/12/hello-world) is necessary to make the rational decision. Some people say this connection is prediction, but what kind of prediction? It looks to me that passive prediction is what people hope for (observing some facts without any intervention and seeing if they fit the theory); but they tend to get nothing and still be happy about it. Just as the engineering discipline is interested in active prediction, that is predicting a system response after we modify it in some way, the economy-politics should be interested in predicting the social response after we actively attempt to change it in some way. This, I believe, is the likelihood that must be sought. Therefore, the eleventh thesis is not just some revolutionary spirited slogan, but a methodology of scientific progress and filter. Prior theoretic exercises determine the intellectual quality of a thesis, but we may still have tons of them to explain a single phenomenon, all of which seemingly viable. It is the real life’s likelihood that ranks them in the end.

Understanding Turkey

This post is meant to introduce a political book on Turkey, “Turkiye’de Sinif Mucadeleleri” (Class Struggles in Turkey) by Sungur Savran. I mean Understanding Turkey in a wide sense, in historical and class struggles context. The main goal of the book is to provide the “activists” (we still prefer ‘revolutionaries’) the conceptual framework to understand the foundation and conflicts of Turkey. From the “freedom revolution” of 1905 (The name of “freedom revolution” – Hurriyet Devrimi- was coined by the author who is largely sympathetic to it, contrary to many political thinkers in Turkey who accuse it from many angles, including the Armenian ‘Genocide’ ) to the foundation of the republic and the Kemalist ideological struggles. Finally, a discussion of the 1960 and 1980 coup d‘etat¬† concludes the book and gives the reader a framework to interpret today’s Turkey.

And I mean todays Turkey. It is a shame that the theses like “Duality of Kemalism”, “In-class conflict interpretation of the ’60s coup d’etat”, “Domination of the working class in ’80s coup d’etat” are missing from the mainstream discussion.¬† These are very helpful to explain and understand various milestone events in Turkey, including the protests today. The duality of Kemalism helps one to understand the enlightenment and the progressive elements of the founding period, while on the other hands explaining the darker aspects, including the heavy handed nationalism, oppression of more progressive thinkers and anti-unionism. The various intra and inter class struggles set the stage of both the progressive ’60s and the ‘national front’ darkness of the ’70s and its fierce opposition. Finally, the religious ideology sets the stage for a united front for the bourgeois which crushed the workers movement. In my humble opinion, the final part is where the book is a little weak, since the religious ideology has always played reactionary role in Turkey since the ’80s as a way to control working class, which lead to the deconstruction of Turkey today (which is sometimes called the 2nd Republic by many now). The fact that these ideological shifts happened rather rapidly, explains the fragmented nature of the protesters today, who come from such distinct backgrounds such as nationalism, anarchism, social democracy, liberalism and communism. But the process of protesting has a uniting effect, so let’s be hopeful.

I hope someone (perhaps the author himself) translates this book someday for the wider audience!

http://www.idefix.com/kitap/turkiyede-sinif-mucadeleleri-cilt-1-1908-1980-sungur-savran/tanim.asp?sid=DONNPPZKP1GBI00QTLAS