Politics, terror and academic misery - YASIN AKTAY

Politics, terror and academic misery

The attempt to evaluate political attitudes through academic scales, seeing academic titles, positions or discourses as the verification or legitimizer of political attitudes, simply put, is a bad exploitation of knowledge. But this exploitation is also the primary tactic of efforts to slyly oppress the political area of a positivist ideology. Political engineering was quite skilled at deriving justification and legitimization for itself from scientific validity or the power of knowledge in the formation of the modern world.

Politics that hid behind pro-knowledge rhetoric legitimized all its practices with knowledge. Surely politics could not produce the privilege of speaking on behalf of knowledge from any scientific argument. Of course a normative principle that would uphold a certain policy even in its most positivist form could not be derived from the logic of knowledge. Despite this, the practice of positivist knowledge could not avoid being processed as the theology of modern politics or even its book of Islamic principles.

Academic titles or degrees neither confirm nor justify a person's political stance. Similarly, there is no room for judging people's political stances with academic discourses. The involvement of academic titles against a criticism aimed at someone's whose political stance is not favored is wrong, yet it is done very frequently. The most frequently heard criticism from opposition regarding the academic title we happened to gain is, “he became a professor, but…"

When this criticism is dug deeper, you easily can see that the expectation is a metaphysical one that will deplete all political stances in favor of knowledge and academy or that a more banal disorder of levels lies within.

In a debate with Ömer Laçiner in recent months, when I saw that he started his criticism of my political stance by directly picking on my title as professor, I only felt pity toward those struggling within the disorder of levels. I remember him attacking Atilla Yayla in an argument from the same point. Whereas his discussion with Yayla or with me was not an academic debate, but an entirely political one. Making a subject of debate the academic title of a person whose political stance you do not like, is both a confusion of levels and a slightly greedy attempt at cheap tactics. In any case you are playing to the crowd; you might not be aware that you hit rock bottom in terms of humane and intellectual level while trying to strike at the academic level of your respondent.

I personally never put forth my political stance or opinion while hiding behind my academic title. I am always aware that my every opinion may be subject to debate even with my academic personality. I never paid attention to the slyness of rendering undebatable my political stance by using my academic title. Even if information produced in the scientific area is not debatable, once you lose the difference between academic discourse and political discourse, you will have mixed everything up. The primary problem of the memorandum announced to the public as the “Memorandum of academics" has nothing to do with the opinion stated regarding this or that matter. Before anything else, the presentation of an extremely superficial and fabricated political text to apply to the assumed holiness of being an academic, hoping for power from that holiness, is a major problem. Thus, I see no reason for a political criticism of the text. Nobody needs to hold the same political views. However, since the memorandum is being imposed like a memorandum of academics, it deserves more to be criticized academically.

Frankly, the text has no consistency and in terms of language, is a complete example of catastrophe, which is like a complete letter of propaganda due to its ties with the truth. It is a situation to be ashamed of on behalf of the academic level of Turkish academics. It is as though they are unaware of the existence of the reality of terrorism in Turkey and the necessity to fight against this terror. What's worse is that it has surrendered to the propaganda language of the existing terror and has become the spokesperson of that language. So many academics signing a memorandum so far from the truth is, before anything, a disgrace in terms of Turkish academics.

An expression that defines the fight against terror as a "massacre of the Kurdish people" and calls on Ankara to give up these "massacres" is extremely disconnected from the reality of the southeast and Kurds. These academics, most of whom are social scientists, being so far from reality and surrendering to the propaganda of an organization that is a party in the matter, is an approach that would paralyze the practice and faculty of social science.

Obviously the majority of those who signed the memorandum obviously do not know the southeast where the incident happened; they have never been there nor have they seen it.

Some of them, it appears, are capable of sanctifying the terror carried out by the organization as a kind of “rescuer violence" against the current party in power. Either they are not aware that this rescuer violence has condemned Kurds to ditch politics, Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) gangs and the fascism of the People's Protection Units (YPG), that this policy is considered by the vast majority of the region's Kurds as an inhumane request for power or they have closed their ears to those cries. For them, if terror is the sole chance to escape the current legitimate political power which has taken form within the limits of democracy and politics with the votes of the people, then it is good, right and favorable.

The political criticism and evaluation of this memorandum, which is clearly in support of terror, will certainly be made, but sine this text which is political from the first letter to the last was published as an “academic" memorandum, it primarily deserves to be evaluated academically. Looking at it from this aspect, it is merely an academic misery. This misery explains why Turkish universities, despite all the political support, are still unable to make a name for themselves in world academia.


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