Unity in Plato’s State, Muhammad’s Prophecy, Osman’s Empire, Atatürk’s Republican Party and Erdogan’s Rabia

In the following, the attempt to create unity despite the differences and diversity is described in its genesis. The search for unity seems to be a fragile undertaking for reconciliations, especially when conflicts do not only take on material form and the differences seem ideologically insurmountable, but communication is nevertheless based on extraordinary symbols. The current political communication of the Turkish ruling party, which seeks unity with the rabia stands for the topicality of the issue. It is a search somewhere, where there is neither light nor something has been lost. 

Plato’s state

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato wanted a perfect state that imitated what the happy and virtuous man is in each individual. He enumerates three main virtues; wisdom, courage and moderation, from which justice emerges as the right measure, the right balance of all three virtues. These three virtues correspond to the three mental states of the virtuous man, and these are the state of knowledge/wisdom/reason, courage/will and the state of desire/drives.

These three basic elements of man correspond to the three estate in the society on the social level. These are the estate of the wise, insightful philosophers, the estate of the brave guardians and finally the estate of the working people.  Work, and thus the status of the working man, is a necessary function that exists and is made without meaning, purpose or will and corresponds to the basics desires of man. The members of the estate of the brave guards, where the policemen, members of the army, teachers, leaders of religious institutions belong, correspond to the will and are characterized by courage, bravery. Finally, the estate of the ruling philosophers corresponds to reason, wisdom.

Just as justice emerges from these three virtues, so man achieves the same state through the harmony between instincts, will and reason.  Just as man must first satisfy the elementary needs in order to attain morality, so the state must have first the functional elementary functions in order to strive for perfection. If the basic functions of man are coordinated with those of the state, a complementary and expanding unity is created, which can strive for perfection in common. In this context, the coordination means to bring these three estates and qualities into a ranking order. Consequently, Plato subordinates the desires and wills to reason and the diligent workers and brave guardians to the ruling philosophers.

Education

In humans, it is daily worries, needs and individual shortcomings that prevent them from achieving perfection. He must try to educate his instinctive nature, his desire, through an active energy, through the will to morality. But, as certain functions, parts and inclinations of the human body do not always obey the will of man, and as man must balance between his short-term interests and long-term well-being in the face of these tensions, the state must also learn to make the best choice between different option on a rational basis.

In order for the values of the human being to be in harmony with the laws of his community and of the State, they need a good education, a conscious guidance towards perfection. Thanks to upbringing and education, man can strive for wisdom, morality, perfection, the union of all existing forces in the State. Through education, man can unfold his abilities in their most artistic way. To this end, the representatives of all these estates must be educated and trained according to their characteristics and the expectations of society. The ruling classes must be particularly well prepared for their future way of life. Since education and upbringing also serve their selection, are they not a purely individual but a community matter. 

Through upbringing, education, life order, a community is created in which all functions can be subordinated to the common. Possession, reproduction, family as well as pleasure, desire, pain and friendship form every single organism of individual as well as the state. In that state of union and thanks to will and reason, mine and yours, as well as discord, are abandoned in favour of the common. State and individual are fused together in a perfect unity. And the life of the individual is conditioned by the totality of the state and the continuation of the state by the practical and reasonable achievements of the individual. On the other hand, a state whose rulers do not strive for perfection first falls into timocracy, the rule of the guardians, then into oligarchy, as well as democracy, and finally it is led by demagogues into tyranny.

 Since everything here is forced to a ranking unity and thoroughly organized, Karl Popper among others accused the ancient philosopher Plato of totalitarianism. In fact Plato treated working people, women and non-Greeks, and slaves as necessary tools. They have no value in themselves. Their value is measured by their work. Since work in turn is equal to biological necessity, they are to be treated in the same way as working tools.

Unity in the Kingdom of God

How strongly Plato’s ideas were inspired by other advanced civilizations, such as Babylon and Egypt, and whether they reflect more strongly the prevailing unrest in the Greek cities, whether this unity, an idea of a harmonious relationship between dance and song to the praise of gods, is part of enlightening and long-standing research. It is a fact that in Gilgamesh, immortality was attempted to be achieved through a union of man with the gods. Gilgamesh was a good and human being at the same time. And, as is well known, Greek mythology is full of beings who are gods, but who behave like humans or are humans who rule like gods. The attempt to achieve harmony and perfection precisely through the existing opposites, to create contradictions, was in any case one of the intellectual challenges of the time. 

The monotheistic world and human images had to face this challenge, too. Until today, the idea of a perfect unity through the unification of existing dichotomous, contrary forces, which are at once attracting and withdrawing, belongs to the cultural heritage of the elite of especially of religious ethics. This tradition was (partly) broken off by the Jews and Christianity. In it the contradiction, the dichotomy is extended by a trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). According to it Jesus Christ is the mediator between the perfection, the divine truth and the profane man with a claim to equality of rights. In philosophy, the correspondence theory was developed in accordance with this idea, according to which theory is a corresponding formulation that is consistent between the object and its property. “Truth” is in this respect a question of the correct mediation between sentences and objects. Immanuel Kant based his epistemology on this theory of correspondence. In his own words: “What is truth? The explanation of the name of truth, namely that it is the correspondence of knowledge with its object, is given here, and presupposed; but one demands to know which is the general and certain criterion of truth of every knowledge.” According to the doctrine of the Trinity, man can lead to happiness, truth, perfection, unity, or find them by following the concrete example of Jesus. Jesus as the truth is thus the mediator between the true Father, pure morality, that is, God, and the spirit of man, which was originally led by instincts but is now sanctified. 

Now, new was, that the communication between God and man had to go through the messenger, through the theories. The ambassador himself had to first assign the messages to the good, the beautiful and the true, and within this assignment he then had to separate the elementary, the urgent from the unimportant, the non-essential and to appreciate the office. He could do that in that way, as hi wishes to do. Here, there was either God, nor people to bring to the truth.

It took time. But a group of people emerged who contributed to the discourse and then another group of people who opposed it. The opposition was now no longer between people and God or Gods, but between people who have the truth and people who develop ideas against this truth. In any case, a new unity emerged, perfectly coordinated in their communication. To this new communication belonged the message of the Trinity as well as the message of the unity of man and God, but also man and state, man and king. In concrete terms, communication was ignited at the theodicy; if God is exactly the truth and his messengers not only know this truth, but also inform God exactly about the suffering of people in the world, then the question arises firstly, whether the messenger contains God truths and secondly, if not, what is the reason for the suffering of people? It was clear that something was not quite right. It was unclear whether this discrepancy, the problem on the way to unity, was due to the messenger, to the communication between messenger and sender or even to the sender himself. However, man could not help it. He could neither change anything about this communication nor be satisfied with the ambiguity.

Islam

In view of the frustrating response of Judeo-Christian theology, Islam reacts with a radical response by the Prophet Muhammad; God’s kingdom is to be established in this world exemplarily in the prophecy of Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad was a judge and at the same time a religious, political and military leader. Following the Prophet Muhammad, the caliphates were constituted by his successors as a unity of army, politics, ethics and law. Religion, more precisely the practices of religion, was understood as a concrete search for truth. And soon the intellectual, idealistic search for the truth was abandoned; with Prophet Muhammad the gates of the Ichtihat/içtihat were closed. Since then, every Islamic republic, every Islamic state, every Islamic organization has tried to practically restore this unity without a fundamental questioning of the existing truth or unity construction. Although there are fundamental differences in the execution of this idea, the goal of any organization guided by Islamic ethics remains a return to Muhammad’s prophecy. But, the concrete attempts seem to be doomed to failure. And at the same time, it is precisely these failed attempts that have provided the necessary fuel for further attempts. From this paradox, at any rate, a number of states emerge without any of them ever having succeeded in getting closer to Muhammad’s prophecy. Islam remained an idea, although all attempts to realize it were very concrete. In any case, there is no concretely achieved Islam according to Prophet Muhammad’s ethics, no Islamic state according to the theological principles of Islam. There are Islamic republics, but no caliphate. There is no concrete entity of the idea of unity of Islam. 

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire is considered to be the most powerful attempt at for a real-Islam. It also represents the last Islamic state, whose leader was also considered the caliph (successor of Muhammad) and was recognized as such. Sultan was not only an ordinary king, a just warrior (hakan), but he was seen as servants of the holy cities Mecca and Medina and called himself “zillullah” (shadow of God). The empire has tried to achieve unity sociologically, concretely through the millet system, the segmented differentiation of centre and periphery, as well as through their integration in to the Sultanate and his harem. Harem was the only place where this order was approximately realized. Harem was both oikos and polis at the same time. It was the house of the Sultan, who also owned the empire. Only here did the housekeeping, the house rules, conform to the values and economic and legal order of the empire. 

Naima (1655-1716) tried in vain to transfer this system to the whole empire. Not only the Ottoman, but all empires, all colonial powers in their pure form have disappeared from the political map. Accordingly, apart from the fact that today neither harem nor millet system exists, the differentiation of centre and periphery is no more appropriate, the Ottoman Empire was declared obsolete by Turks themselves. Mustafa Kemal and his friends founded the Turkish state by distancing themselves completely from the Ottoman Empire history and its ethics. In view of the fact that the search for truth should be followed by religious practices, the founders of Turkey proposed profane practices for unity; secularism, unitary state, obligatory military service, obligatory participation in education and politics, uniform clothing, uniform language, uniform ideology etc.. In result, unity was no longer striven for with reference to God, but with the concrete unification of people, language, territory and the corresponding right of self-determination.

Turkey

Since for the founders of Turkey the idea of many states with a superstate, called the federalism, was too reminiscent of the millet system of the Ottoman Empire, and thus the danger of renewed fragmentation was associated with it, and thus was not an option from the outset, in the end two models came into question. This is the inter-nationalist model of the party and the inner-nationalist model of the people. Out of a series of internal power struggles and reasons of international politics, the elites chose a mixed unit of party, people, state and economy more out of necessity of idea than out of a balance of considerations. The decision was never based on majority and/or consensus. Against the unity of the people, the Kurds took a prominent position. Against the unity within the party the Islamic circles were a great obstacle on the way to it. And against a unity of state and economy, Turkey was too much in the sphere of influence of capitalism. 

It is astonishing that even today’s Turkey is guided by these structural divergences. In contrast to the founding phase, today not only politics, the economy and the state in its tradition, but also Turkish society is deeply divided. The graves were hardly absorbed by the new presidential system. On the contrary, since then, Turkey has been moving further and further away from the European Union, the USA, the modern educational, legal and economic system, the free speech, the diversity of opinions and, indeed, capitalism itself, whose sanctuary, namely property is in no other European state under such massive attack as in Turkey. 

This has consequences for the everyday life. For example, the layman in Turkey has hardly any relevant points of contact with the layman in Europe. This is also true for the intellectual professor, the practical businessman, the God-fearing political class in Turkey. None of them have hardly anything in common spiritually with those who live in Europe or America, although the integration of Turkey exactly to the values of European cultural heritage was and is the dream of the Turkish elites. Moreover, even though since the emerge of modernity not only companies such as McDonalds, CocoCola, Lewis, Ernst&Young, but also the legal systems, art, architecture, cities, and even people’s dreams have become more and more similar in their structure and function, this process does not seem to have had an emancipatory character in general, nor does it seem to apply to Turkey of the last five years at all. Turkish companies are more similar to other Turkish companies than to German, Spanish and Canadian companies in their financing, accounting, management and integration into the overall economic system. In its political system, too, Turkey is moving away from the established European state system. 

Accordingly, Turkish society seems to be led by a new refined, functional millet system. Millet were legitimized in the Ottoman Empire with the reference to God-given diversity. They were logically related to the sacred legal system. In contrast, even the professions in Turkey today are guided by a sacred idea of unity, although they are organized according to their function. There are Islamic, republican, Kurdish, Alevi and capitalist employer organisations. Soon there is to be an Islamic oriented and secularly organized bar association. This runs through the whole range of functional systems; education, art, economy, sports and communication systems should be organized along ideological-political structures rather than along their functions. The consequences can be observed in communication media, for example. If one takes a brief look at the media in England, Switzerland, Italy and the USA, there is a great deal of overlap in terms of content, type and scope of reporting. In contrast, the Turkish media seem to report from a different planet. They do not have any similarities with the media in England, Switzerland, Italy and the USA. Not only the assertion of affiliations, the ideologization of topics, but also the way in which social resources are monopolized are guided, yes controlled by different types of rationality.

Communications Communication

In view of the deep lines of conflict in society, the ruling AK party reacted not only with a revitalization of ideas with deep Islamic tradition, but also with a new symbolic unity that perfectly captures the spirit of the times, Rabia. Rabia is zeitgeist. Rabia means the unity of 4 and it contains Tek Millet (united people), Tek Bayrak (united flag), Tek Vatan (united home), Tek Devlet (united state). What is characteristic of this ideal of unity is that it is derived from the Islamic-Ottoman-Turkish tradition of thought and that it is peculiarly united with the modern politics of symbolism and identity, as well as providing a functional congruence for the millet system of the Ottoman Empire. Like the millets, these elements also seem to correspond to the natural diversity of a higher-level unity. It is morality, the unity of harmony. It is also omnipotent and omniscient, but it eludes the insight and knowledge of the ordinary mortal. Consequently, it does not offer concrete experience. Rabia corresponds rather to a unity to be realized in the future than to the formulation of an already existing reality. 

On the other hand, Rabia is not only a well thought-out communication, but Rabia itself is a self-communication. Historically, unity was striven for under an abstract principle through the bundling of forces and its organizational representation of interests in the state. The reference to extra-ordinary powers has been extended with modernity by the rationality of purpose. According to this logic, something should be achieved, not because it is promising, but because it is also useful. With the establishment of the new technological infrastructure, this phase was replaced by the logic of communication; the symbolic representation of interest groups in the state can be replaced by a symbolic communication of their values to participants. Rabia represents this symbolic communication.

However, like all other symbolic communications, this communication also creates unity at the expense of complexity. This communication also creates contrasts. In this way, the President of the Republic is represented as the strong man. The opponents accuse him of sole rule, of autarchy. It is no coincidence that the leader of the opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is seen as moderate, as the centre of consensus, reconciliation and balance. If now in this dramatized communication of unity through opposites the symbol begins to claim validity at the expense of interests, unity also begins to communicate more and more with itself. The bans and closures of media but also the economic-political slogan of “biz bize yeteriz” (we are enough for ourselves) are examples of this self-communication.

As in all other cases, at the end of self-communication is the implosion. We recognize the signs of a collapse particularly well when such a communication of validity is activated in an enlightened public along with many other communications. However, since the Turkish public is monopolized and, due to the attempted coup, was and still is under legally restricted conditions, which makes access, weighting, selection, etc. from a cone of self-defence, it is precisely in this symbol of Rabia that not only unity but also the reasons for any deviations are sought. Thus the discrepancy between symbol and reality becomes more reflective not only for the interest groups but also for every rational person. The symbolic expectation of unity as a promised communication fails if it has to rely on other communications that sanction sacral references already from the rationality of interests and are themselves based on ideas that promise other types of reconciliations and unity. 

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