'Islamic Contract', Öcalan and 'social contract'

It is clear the the Turkish democratic powers and Kurdish politic movement who organize democratic/civilian opposition, objection and resistance; who are trying to accelerate a democratic republic, do not need a brotherhood under 'Islam flag' nor encouragement for it.

Haluk Sunat

Abdullah Öcalan's lawyers have shared with Mesopotamia Agency notes of their August 7th Öcalan meeting. What we have learned from these notes is that Öcalan thinks there is a connection between Turkey's enthusiasm and appetite for an intervention in North Syria and a "trap set up for a Turkish-Kurdish war", that fighting is not the solution and most of all that there is a need for a reasonable state mind approach. He also emphasizes that even though "Turk-Kurd brotherhood is often spoken, none of the necessary actions have been taken for the thousand year old Turk-Kurd brotherhood". This meant that the leader of the Kurdish political movement is inviting the state to reasonable thinking as well as to do what is necessary for "Turk-Kurd brotherhood". Yet, the aforementioned brotherhood had historical roots and foundations. Misak-ı Milli (National Pact) was a reflection of the Turkish-Kurdish partnership, without Kurds it would be impossible to create a place called Turkey, it was Kurds who won the Battle of Manzikert for Turks and the 1921 constitution represented this brotherhood, etc. His lawyers were ultimately conveying this: "Öcalan, within this context, has said 'With extraordinary effort i am trying to resolve the state mind, I am trying to create space for Kurds. I will remove any possibility of fighting within a week. I can create the power for a solution if my way is cleared. I have already said I am ready for a solution. State should also do what is necessary for reasonable state mind. I trust myself completely, I am the only one who can solve this and prevent what's to come".

We had witnessed similar emphases on March 21, 2013, when Öcalan's letter for Newroz was read in Diyarbakır. There, appealing to the "Turkish public", Öcalan said "Turkish people, who are living in old Anatolia under the name Turkey, should know that their shared lives with Kurds for almost a thousand years under the Islam flag has its foundations in laws of brotherhood and solidarity". The aim was to remind the Turkish state which historical consensus path should be taken: "Shared lives woven with brotherhood and solidarity under the Islam flag!" He added: "Turks and Kurds fought and became martyrs side by side at Çanakkale, together they won the War of Liberation, together they founded the 1920 Parliament". Turks and Kurds who have experienced a recent, complex and deeper version of the War of Liberation, had a joint history and their futures had to be built together as well. Only with such a partnership is a contemporary democratic order possible where everyone will live freely, equally and brotherly.

As someone who aspires to be included in social opposition with a political/ideological attitude that leans towards violating the "Islamic/Turkic Contract" as much as I know and as much as possible, there must be some things that disturb me when Öcalan reminds the historical/social partnership woven with brotherhood and solidarity under the İslam flag, emphasized by him in both 2013 and 2019, suggesting a reasonable mind of state - but what? A lot of things; but first and foremost, the society which is desired to be refitted and revived in order to move from today's "capitalist modernity" to a "democratic modernity" - is it supposed to be inspired by this brotherhood under the "Islam" flag which is said to be a thousand years old? If such partnerships existed, which one of them happened under the desire for a Islam brotherhood? If what is meant by democratic modernity is a sense of community built upon democracy, freedom, equality and peace; how can a democratic modernity be built referencing a brotherhood under the Islam flag without cooperatively facing and coming to terms with what has been done to non-Muslims? When Kurdish political movement has significantly pushed members of the "Turkish Contract" into a "Turkness crisis" (or, moving towards doing so), doesn't underlining with such insistence "me" (nobody else but me) undermine the reputation of the civilian/social dimension of the movement? Historical partnerships (happenstance collaborations) are the result of dominant mind (holding the power to dominate); if the fact that the place of Kurds during the whole Republic history is what Mahmut Esat Bozkurt designated for them is due to cunningness on the founding state's behalf, what is the dominion or wisdom behind indoctrinating the State for a better and nicer future?

Barış Ünlü starts his book Turkish Contract / 'Creation, Functioning and Crisis' with a chapter on "Thinking About White' against 'black'. Charles Mills, who has significantly influenced 'Whiteness Studies', writes in his book The Racial Contract that the privileges that stem from being White has its foundations on a totality of understanding (Racial Contract) which whites have built (formally or informally) among themselves. (The book by Carole Patemen which has been a conceptual inspiration for Mills is titled The Sexual Contract). Ünlü conveys Patemen's point of view as such: "According to Pateman, the modern civil society which is said to have been founded through social contracts is at the same time a patriarchal order that provides men with rights and authority over women's bodies; therefore a social contract is only a sexual contract that men 'sign' among themselves". Ultimately, we concede (and while we are at it; also which level of consciousness the 'Muslim/Turk contracts function), that the hegemonic dominance of a belonging (being white or male) is beyond objective determinants (class, etc.), it is a subconsciously functioning (under the shadow of information and ignorance, interests and disinterests, emotions and apathy, that which is hegemonic; living unaware like a "fish in the sea") reality rather than a conscious one.

In that manner, after the 'Thinking About White' chapter, Ünlü will tackle the 'Islamic Contract' constructed after 'Ottoman Contract' no longer applied (the point when it became clear that equality for non-Muslims would never be possible), and then 'Turkish Contract' which is founded upon the Ottoman one. When we briefly review it; we primarily assume that the disintegrating and crumbling Ottoman Empire tried to make up for its disadvantage against the West by military, diplomatic, administrative, legal, educational, fiscal and economic "modernization and centralization" reforms. Ünlü says that; Mahmut II's tendency towards non-discrimination in religion and language for Ottoman subjects, modern equal citizens and a bit of secularism; the Tanzimat Fermanı (Imperial Edict of Reorganization) of 1839 during Abdülmecit reign which made Muslims and non-Muslims equal before the (law -military, taxes, etc.); the Islahat Fermanı (Imperial Edict of Reform), and the Kanun-u Esasi (Ottoman Basic Law) implemented after pressure by constitutional monarch advocate Ottoman educated class and bureaucrats, especially Mithat Pasha, of 1876, make up the 'Ottoman Contract' era (1839-1876). However, Ottoman Basic Law article 8 states that "Anyone who is living in the Realm of Ottomans, no matter what their religion or sect is, is defined as an Ottoman. And although non-Muslims were widely represented in the first Ottoman parliament, the Ottoman Contract never could really become a 'social contract'; and with the emergence of "Neo Ottoman" thinkers (Şinasi, Ziya Pasha, Ali Suavi, Namık Kemal, etc.) in the 1860's paved the way for a Muslim Contract (Neo Ottomans embraced the Western ideas of modernization, progress and liberty but also added an Islamic touch to these, made them more in line with İslam, they requested a modern constitutional monarchy and order based on İslam), and even though the real emphasis was on being Muslim, the concept of "being Turkish" also started coming up here and there.

My emphases about the process following the increasing tendency towards 'Muslim Contract' which could not be enabled by 'Ottomanism', will clearly show that, -as Öcalan chose to put it- the brotherhood under Islam flag is not independently and exclusively definitive; and the aforementioned brotherhood (and therefore 'being brothers with Kurds') can only be appropriated within the resilience and continuation of the state. What I'm talking about is the process that started with the exile of Mithat Pasha and closing of parliament and suspension of constitution using the 1877-78 Ottoman-Russian War as an excuse. This is a period which included loss of huge amounts of territories in Balkans and Caucasia, Muslim migration to Anatolia from lost territories, increased anger and resentment towards Christians in Anatolia, Kurds starting to see Armenians as a threat on lands they have been living together for thousands of years, usage of this perception for the perpetuity of the state (maintaining a regular army against a possible Russian attack, suppressing Armenian rebellions and preventing possible Kurdish separatism in Kurdistan) and creation of Hamidiye Armies in 1890 drawing from approximately 60 different armies, Armenian massacres of 1895-96 by the brotherhood under Islam flag, murder of more than 20 thousand Armenians in Adana during the March 31st rebellion by non-constitutionalist Islamists, and Armenian Genocide of 1915 by the will of the Committee of Union and Progress and the Muslim Pact (with participation of Muslim Kurds). And ultimately the transition to "Turkish Contract" following the "Muslim Contract" that ended with the end of the War of Liberation (which leaned on Unionist tradition and an Islamic discourse, thus strengthening the brotherhood of non-Turkish Muslims and of course Kurdish Muslims) and creation of the Republic in 1923. If the absolute truth is all of the things in the history of Republic within the "Turkish Contract", then this is probably ordinary information for Kurds.

If I am to summarize; this very brief historical tour shows us that in the period between Empire and Republic, religion/Islam is not a directly founding value; rather, it is a supplier of social nationality, appropriation, support, consent and legitimacy that the 'state apparatus' needs in order to accommodate and protect the authority of the ruling class. In this context Islam has been an ally for the state which defines itself with a certain identity (Muslim, Turkish). Therefore; it is clear the the Turkish democratic powers and Kurdish politic movement who organize democratic/civilian opposition, objection and resistance; who are trying to accelerate a democratic republic, do not need a brotherhood under 'Islam flag' nor encouragement for it; nor do they need to turn costly historical contracts into legends on a basis of desiring a "common motherland' and legitimizing them. Furthermore and more importantly; the social/historical (and a product of 'Turkish Contract' with its subconscious roots) 'Kurdish Problem', with the invitation to 'Me' solutions with emphases like "I will solve it, I will solve it in a week", with its sensation (and representation) power (the element of armed forces) as its fundamental addressee, Öcalan's attitude not only narrows the civilian-political-social fighting space, it also discredits it. Today, as things stand, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and its ally democratic powers' sensitivities and tenacity to fight, do no need to cling onto a brotherhood by referencing notorious contracts which should already be historical garbage; it is inevitable that they should be completely invested in moving toward a 'Social Contract' based on equal citizenship and decentralized administration principles.