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Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis


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The present document argues that the debates about religion and faith-based fundamentalism are mislead, largely by neglecting their real socio-economic meaning. Rather than looking at socio-economic aspects of disadvantaged groups and regions it is important to look at the patterns of a wide-ranging economic restructuration, directed into what is a suggested re-feudalisation. Taking Islam and Turkey as example, the work seeks to provoke some deeper reflections on current developments.
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William Thompson Working Papers, 14
ISSN: 1649-9743i
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Dr. Peter Herrmann, The Jasnaja Poljana, Aghabullogue, Clonmoyle, Co. Cork
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Peter Herrmann: Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam,
Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
Peter Herrmann
Peter Herrmannii
Introduction: Economic Crisis and Values........................................................................3!
Rationality, Rationalities and Rationales...........................................................................8!
Rationalities of Life – Irrationalities of Living ................................................................ 10!
Turkey – Looking for Traces ............................................................................................12!
Law – Individual, Community and the Rational State ...................................................19!
Economies and Economy ...................................................................................................21!
Conclusions ......................................................................................................................... 26!
References ...........................................................................................................................30!
Editorial Note .................................................................................................................................34!
The present document argues that the debates about religion and faith-based
fundamentalism are mislead, largely by neglecting their real socio-economic meaning.
Rather than looking at socio-economic aspects of disadvantaged groups and regions it
is important to look at the patterns of a wide-ranging economic restructuration,
directed into what is a suggested re-feudalisation. Taking Islam and Turkey as
example, the work seeks to provoke some deeper reflections on current developments.
Introduction: Economic Crisis and Values
It is not only since “9/11” that Islam or going beyond faith oriented and based
systems are debated as central topics and part and parcel of a generally mystifying
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
discourse on globalisation, economic development and behaviour. This is the case for
the good and for the worse: for instance Asian values are celebrated – and the Fordist,
later even the Post-Fordist models had been replaced by appreciating Asian values as
foundation of the so-called Asian tiger economies and marking Taylorism – with both
its familiarist-authoritarian and patriarchal-communitarian and as well its “positive
values” as admiration, respect and support as way for the future; and on the other
side we find the condemnation especially of Islamist fundamentalism as expression of
the evil per se. Both these strands are part of the process of globalisation, commonly
faded out without accepting the fact that the related issues are genuine part of an
overall process of globalisation. These ideological debates are themselves part of the
global process as expression and cause of an overall process which is usually captured
as (economic) globalisation.
With respect to Turkey the point in question is – so the thesis – that the analysis of the
accumulation regime, if going hand in hand with the mode of regulation, shows at
least traces of the historical foundation not only in terms of path dependencies but
even more as reflection of a mode of thinking, an ideological tune that determines
what is (or can be) considered as available resources and possible mode of exploiting
them. It determines ‘what is considered as being just’. Taking it from here, the Islamic
society in a Kemalist state may actually not come so much as a surprise anymore.
However, we find that the vivaciousness of these traditionalist patterns provide as
well a sound foundation for recent changes of the political economy that may be seen
as re-feudalisation.
– Though dealing mainly with Islam and Turkey there are good reasons to see with a
grain of truth the basic pattern also alive as characterising moment in that part of the
world that interprets itself as enlightened west – regretting the loss of values as moral
integrity and fearing religious fundamentalism and claiming that both are principally
different issues.
However, the present contribution looks at some general issues of the development
mainly of Islam and/in Turkey and argues in favour of following central points.
First, as valid as the fundamental value changes and appreciation of general value
and faith systems – may be, the shift of the meaning of different systems and in
particular the increase of the meaning of fundamentalism is an expression of rather
than cause of a changed socio-economic climate. This is not least part of a change of
the power structures and a relative shift of the centre-periphery balances in terms of a
Peter Herrmann
changed economy: It are those political and faith systems that gain from the economic
development that are prone to political-economic feudalism. In other words, we are
not simply facing the accumulation of power but we are facing a shift of economic
structures that allow the accumulation of power in places that are not immediately
based on the productive sphere. These are areas where on the one hand primary
resources (now raw materials, in particular oil, rather than agricultural products) and
on the other hand tertiary potentials (in particular trade and services in the financial
arena but as well services as education) play a decisive role. The latter translates not
least into cheap manpower as distinct resource which can actually counteract the over-
accumulation, being even more favourable than “cheap machinery”.
Second, the latter means not least that the economic development itself undergoes two
fundamental shifts. The first is the virtualisation of economic processes. These take
increasingly the form of circulation of non-production linked “capital”. In a way this
is similar to early processes of banking the Italian Medici-dynasty and the German
Fugger-family being two major examples. However, today’s processes are different as
we are now facing a disconnection not in terms of making money available for real
economic processes; instead we are concerned with a process by which surplus money
is taken out of the real economy, temporarily “making money out of itself and out of
nothing” credit swaps and hedge funds are the most pronounced expressions. The
second is the refeudalisation (see in this context as well Herrmann/Dorrity,
forthcoming). With the virtualisation and profit rendering in the sphere of circulation
we find a process by which political power and moreover individual “charismatic”
leadership gains control. Multinational players as Microsoft’s Bill Gates (and Bill
Gates’ Microsoft) gain a Machiavellian status that produces virtuality, transforms this
into personal and corporative political power and combines it with “foundational
support mechanisms” – and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is only one of
severable comparable foundations – as much as the politico-economic Bill Gates
empire is only one amongst other modern noblesse oblige.
Third, the victimisation of specific faith systems and ideologies should not allow us to
forget that that these are mainly expression of specific socio-economic and political
systems – and as such they are not only traditionalist but as well a vehicle of re-
traditionalising ‘modern’ economies and polities in the sense of their re-feudalisation.
It then comes by no means as surprise when we see a revival of normativism and
efforts to explain contemporary developments as matter of lost values and as well
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
deriving from here the claim to return to religion. – Thus1 Michael Chalupka, head of
the Austrian Diaconia (a major protestant organisation) states in an article in “Der
Standard”, answering the question if he had been surprised by the current crisis of the
financial markets:
In# den# letzten# 15# bis# 20# Jahren# habe# ich# beobachtet,# dass# das#
Finanzsystem# und# der# Kapitalismus# zu# einer# Religion# geworden#
natürlich#an# Gott# und# das#Evangelium#und#nicht#an#die#heilenden#
Religion,# dieser# Religionsersatz# Kapitalismus# brüchig# wird.# Ich#
angeblich# nach# Naturgesetzen# funktionierenden# Konzepts,# dass#
And although Chalupka continues by rightly rejecting the presuppositions of the
warmongers on the war of markets
dass# sozialstaatliche# Maßnahmen# die# Wirtschaft# am# Wachstum#
seeing! in! a! changed! value! basis! the! foundation! for! overcoming! the! current!
Islamist fundamentalism is surely frightening but the danger should not be used to
hide the fact that proposing a value change as remedy for overcoming the financial
(and general economic) crisis is not so different from flying into twin-towers.
Mocking remarks and personally attacking them will not stop the Bushs and Gates nor
1 See in this context also Irish Times, December 27th, 2008 “Top Banker accuesed by bishop of financial ‘idolatry’”
( - 10/01/2009 5:56 a.m.)
2 translation - PH: I observed during the last 15 to 20 years that the financial system and capitalism emerged as religion.
Thus I – as theologian – hadn’t been surprised, as I believe of course in god and the gospel and not in the healing power of
the market. It had been a question of time that this religion, this idea of capitalism replacement of religion would crumble
away. Therefore I see this crisis as demystification of a wrong concept, supposedly the market, following natural laws,
regulates everything, regenerates itself and the state is only a distracting factor, …
3 translation – P.H.: that measures of the social state hinder the economy to grow, that one believed that money could work
without taking the detour over production and work
Peter Herrmann
will the Obamas, Bonos and Rotarys succeed by the claim that we can, hoping for
another world as being possible by changed morals.
Looking at the current situation a thorough analysis of the so-called Casino-capitalism
has to investigate the specific convergence of history as way of traditional, though
still existing feudalist structures, ways of thought and habitus merging with post-
productive capitalist systems.
In this respect it is not least important to look at the creeping danger of leftists claims
for communitarism – easily conflating with nationalist and ‘nimby’4-patterns – the
problem not being the emphasis of communities but the neglect of the dimension of
appropriation as it is emerging from the tensions between individual appropriateness
and social legitimacy – a tension that is outlined in Figure 1. We can say as well – and
observe it in actual practices – that the actual danger has to be seen in the privatisation
of communities expressed by the private armies in front of the shopping malls and
the (re-)emergence of anti-begging laws.
Figure 1: Scope of Reference for Identity Building of Social Individuals
What wonder is it then, looking at the refeudalised patterns, that Jews and Hamas
are fighting? And that weird coalitions seem to emerge between old-fashioned
Schumpeterian entrepreneurs and protestant work-ethicist on the one hand and
freedom-fighters who claim nationalist protectionism and rights for self-determination
as higher values than internationalist social rights the on the other hand.
4 Not In My BackYard
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
Rationality, Rationalities and Rationales
It is with respect especially to (social) law interesting to look at two aspects of its
closure. In one respect we can understand closure as matter of seclusion and
departmentalisation or coherence building. Either
* every systemic level of the legal system (simplified: pre-judicial, primary and
secondary level) is in itself closed and allows only the execution of hierarchical
influence (seclusion); or
* the different systemic areas (again simplified: pre-judicial, primary and secondary
level) influence each other and in both directions to provide redefinitions that
increase internal coherence; this can for instance happen through concretisation of
general regulations due to specific regulations that require more thorough reflection
(departmentalisation); or finally
* the communication between the different systemic legal areas (in the same way
simplified: pre-judicial, primary and secondary level) is closely linked to the ‘social
reality’, equally
‘adapting’ to changes in terms of changing themselves,
supporting changes of reality or
aiming on hindering social change (coherence building).
This can be translated into a complementing perspective, dealing with the question of
control. Three dimensions have to be defined. First, it is the degree to which it is
secularised, i.e. the degree to which human beings have actually taken hold of the
legislative process. Second it is the degree to which it regulates every day’s life and to
which it is a matter of ordinary policy processes, calculable in the sense of clearly
defined and put into writing. Third, it is a matter of exclusiveness in its scope, i.e. a
question about the actual and real meaning of equality. Most importantly we can see
this as well as three dimensions of constituting citizenship – and it has to be
emphasised that we are talking about the constitution of citizenship as matter of active
identification of people with their engagement in a specific relationship rather than
granting citizenship as legal act.
In the West and for us this is the easiest way to develop a meaningful reference
the relevance can be seen if we follow the process of general secularisation which is
not only meaningful as matter of translating divine power into human law. Rather, it
is as well meaningful as means of using this power for directly shaping the way of life
Peter Herrmann
though still very much an exclusive procedere it is increasingly defined as process
of direct control and matter of defining norms. From here the development opens into
three directions, namely (a) the use of law ‘against’ people as disciplinarian means,
(b) the use of law in support of people, though the support character can have very
different meaning, ranging at least between enablement and empowerment (meaning
that the latter is more characterised by gaining independence) and (c) the use of law
by the people, i.e. the move towards a system in which both law making and law
implementation is controlled.
We can see some parallels when we look for instance at the Sharí ah, the Islamic law.
Ernst Klingmueller, for instance, mentions
three large epochs
the foundation of the Islamic law in the Qur’ân in its function as
source and standard of law. The reason for validity is solely god’s
will, expressed in the prophet’s proclamation to the people;
the doctrination and systematisation of the entire matter of law by
the paradigmatic law school and the endeavours to amalgamate the
Islamic legal thoughts with the various jurisdictions and laws of the
subordinated countries;
the dispute between the Islamic thought of law with European legal
thinking by way of defence and assault.
(Klingmueller, 1980: 376)
Then Ernst Klingmueller puts his finger on a serious problem, he calls congenital
defect, the problem being that the Sharí ah
arose from a faith based pardigm rather than from ‘staatsraeson’
[raison d’état, national interest]. … The Qur’ân rather than the
state, the power of the state is a constitutive element of Sharí ah;
legal security follows more a transcendental understanding and
ensuring legal peace is in this light primarily a consequence of the
Muslims, living together in their community rather than being a task
and function of the state; this is different when it comes to the courts
led by the state (mahakim al-mazalim). The Sharí ah lacks the
immanent and chartered efficiency, in other words: as well the
independent power to enforce the sentence.
(ibid.: 376)
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
This contradiction opens as well a different perspective, emphasising the supposed
compatibility of Sharí ah and the Western legal tradition. Whereas from the latter
perspective a claim is made to represent a rationalist approach, deriving legal
principles and judgements from a supposed general will, the logic of the Sharí ah is
twofold, first claiming the identity between the primary sources, namely the Qur’ân
and the Sunnah (traditions) and what is legal, and second establishing a direct
hierarchical ‘deductive’ line between these two and the actual legislation and
deliberation for a verdict, applying the subsidiary sources of which is said that
[t]here is almost unanimous agreement among the scholars of the
different schools of jurisprudence that the Qur’ân and the Sunnah
(the Traditions) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are the only
primary sources. In view of the extreme complexity of the possible
sources of legal provisions, there can be no complete consensus on
the subsidiary sources. It emerges however from the different
schools of jurisprudence that the most commonly accepted
subsidiary sources are: Consensus of Opinion, Reasoning by
Analogy, Equitable Discretion, and finally Interests.
(Omar, 1997: 148)
Seen in this light it is not about rationality here and irrationality there. At stake is that
the link between the different rationalities – for us relevant the pre-judicial, the
primary and the secondary law is much closer; and this means not least that the
degree to which humans are independent and self-determining actors on their own
individual and collective behalf is at stake.
Rationalities of Life – Irrationalities of Living
As important as it is to acknowledge the religious dimension of the background of the
different legal systems and their pre-judicial conditioning, it is not less important to
consider secularisation not only as way of overcoming the religious dimension but as
well as bending faith and religious issues in a way that establishes, maintains and
manages certain hegemonies.
An important, though largely neglected point of the debate is that in any case even the
religious pre-judicial grounds are at some stage translated into matters of everyday’s
Peter Herrmann
behavioural norms. This, in turn, means that the totalitarian, holistic, general approach
comes into conflict with the situational particularity. It is for instance remarkable that
[t]heologians say that Islam is a simple and intuitive faith. It is
based on clear foundations which are valid at all times and in every
place. As these foundations are the core of the Muslim’s belief, it
follows that disbelief in any one of them is equivalent to disbelief in
all of them.
(ibid.: 148)
And from here Mohamed Abdel-Khalek Omar claims that
Islam, as a matter of faith, is a religion, not a mere ideology, and as
a matter of practice, a way of life, not a mere compilation of legal
(ibid.: 157)
and continues that
the Qur’ân lays much stress on the necessity of making use of one’s
own reason both in matters of belief and action
(ibid.: 259)
However, the translation into reality, i.e. the application does not simply follow from
above. Rather, it is an application in a specifically given framework of reality. As
such it is a mixture of the traditional beliefs, i.e. interpretations of the world, the given
reality at a given point in history and the interpretation of this reality in the light of
old values and value systems.
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
Figure 2: Determination of Current Frames
Exploring this linkage may offer a way of clarification of the necessary pathway of
contemporary conflicts between seemingly generally accepted values and their
defiance in reality. This then explains as well that the contemporary modes of
regulation, legally constitutional systems (primary law) and even secondary law are
still to a large extent coined by very early systems of politico-legal thinking.
Turkey – Looking for Traces
We continue by looking at current debates in Turkey a secular state since nearly
hundred years, though at the same time coined by both: Islamic traditions and a
currently still strong influence of the Islamic community in the country. In addition, it
is important to recognise the economic situation, roughly to be characterised by
* only recent economic growth, though this is regionally extremely unbalanced,
* a huge divide between economies,
part being under public control,
part being entirely dependent on foreign capital and not much more as
others performing as sustainable national industry and others again performing as
some form of genuine shadow economy
* a ‘modern performance industry’ on the one hand and a tradition-oriented economy.
In addition, we find a relatively large share of public employees, in the state
administration and not least the overwhelming role of the army.
Peter Herrmann
To point briefly on some aspects of the historical development, we have to look at the
different patterns, in part establishing specific tensions within the economic, political
and legal system. Decisive aspects in this regard are the following:
* The breakup of the Ottoman Empire meant as well establishing a new socio-cultural
and economic entity, itself being still classified as ‘developing country’, and in this
case being characterised by the inherent religious tension between Islamist and
Christian traditions. It is not the place to discuss historical aspects of the nearness
of the young republic to one or another faith system. Important is that we are facing
under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the foundation of a secular republic.
This break with (parts of) the country’s history means as well the establishment of
internal and external conflicts in ideological respect as it meant the foundation of a
secular enclave within contradicting religious traditions a conflict that had been
(and still is) as well marking part of the inner factionalism.
* What matters is at least a strong influence of economic traditionalism as stigma of
the republic. At first glance, this seems to be a straightforward matter, being based
on the developmental stage of the country: for a long time the slow move from a
mainly agriculturally oriented economy. The history the breakup of the Ottoman
Empire in the early 1920s meant in a way as well disentanglement from the
capitalist centre – could not easily been overthrown. The one reason is a huge
regional disparity in the country’s development (see for the analysis of different
aspects of regional economic development and regional policies: Özaslan, 2007:
This can be seen not least by looking at some key statistical figures: Though we
find a mentionable sectoral shift within the economy, the decline of agricultural
production is relatively slow. There is, however, a stark difference between regions,
for instance an above-average share of the service sector in central Anatolia, and an
above-average share of agriculture in the Black Sea area. Similarly interesting
patterns can be seen with respect to concentration of capital and the relevance in
different sectors (see Pöschl, Josef et altera, 2005: 35, 32, 38 ff.).
Another important meaning had been the geopolitical position. Here we find some
uncertainty, the country(‘s economy) being torn between the orientation towards
the European west (what became later institutionalised as the EU), the European
east (especially the USSR) and the American United States. This translated not
least into the choice between three options:
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
The first option being the orientation on rapid gains or at least relief although
very precarious and socially segmented. In this context relevant is the importance
of migration: outward migration of workers and inner segregation as factual
exclusion of Kurds on which Richard Rose and Yusuf Özcan state:
Historically, Kurds have lived in the poorest regions of eastern
Turkey, where illiteracy, family size and infant mortality are higher,
while incomes are considerably lower. Such social conditions tend
to depress such people’s quality of life; moreover, living in an area
of armed conflict further undermines citizens’ quality of life.
(Rose/Özcan, 2007: 12)
Later migration of these groups to western parts of the Republic could not
compensate for effects of previous social exclusion, politically leading to the
confrontation and fight between at least two nationalist movements within
Turkey: the Kemalist and the Kurdish groups, each as well in themselves split
with regard to their ideological orientation.
The hope for slow but sustainable development of an economy that involves not
least major state activities – including a mentionable socialised sector.
The orientation towards political power not least as expression of the concern
for securing secularism.
These different orientations did not just show a huge impact on the living
conditions of the different social groups of the population but meant as well that the
socio-political system – and with this any social policy and public responsibility for
social quality remained rather ad-hoc oriented rather than allowing a systematic
and strategic development.
Furthermore, economic traditionalism can be seen as characterising the country’s
developmental status as well as consequence of the persistence of some elements of
Islamic economics.
The three central moments in this regard are
commitment towards poverty relief and raising living standards for the mass of
the population
on the one hand by a strong role for the state,
on the other hand by a morally-obligatory system of support mechanisms as e.g.
socially responsible investment, interest-free borrowing (or at least special
regulation of interest claims), payment of charity contribution and others.
Peter Herrmann
M. Umar Chapra writes that
[s]ome of the essential functions of the Islamic welfare state with
respect to the economy may be stated to be:
(1) to eradicate poverty and create conditions for full employment
and a high rate of growth;
(2) to promote stability in the real value of money;
(3) to maintain law and order;
(4) to ensure social and economic justice;
(5) to arrange social security and foster equitable distribution of
income and wealth;
(6) to harmonise international relations and ensure national defence.
(Chapra, without date [1979]: 9 f.)
claiming the same importance for all the elements mentioned. Planning, provision
of infrastructure and guaranteeing law and order are emphasised by the same
author. But at the same time the general und utmost rule is claimed in the following
The very objective of the Shari'ah is to promote the welfare of the
people which lies in safeguarding their faith, their life, their
intellect, their posterity and their wealth. Whatever ensures the
safeguarding of these five serves public interest and is desirable
(Chapra, [without date] 1992: 1; with reference to al-Ghazal)
and also in the following statement:
The basis of the Shari'ah is wisdom and welfare of the people in this
world as well as the Hereafter. This welfare lies in complete justice,
mercy, well-being and wisdom. Anything that departs from justice to
oppression from mercy to harshness from welfare to misery and
from wisdom to folly has nothing to do with the Shari'ah.
(ibid.; with reference to Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, I’lam al-
Muwaqqi'in (1955), vol. 3. p.14)
The decisive moment is – and this is an argument going through the works of
various representatives of Islamic economics – its claim of being distinct from
socialism and also from capitalism. As Umar Chapra states
socialism, as conceived by Marx, is basically amoral and based on
the concept of dialectical materialism; while capitalism, being a
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
secular ideology is, at best, morally neutral. In contrast Islam lays
emphasis on both the moral and the material aspects of life and
erects the edifice of economic well-being on the foundation of moral
values. The foundation being different, the superstructure is bound
to be different too.
(ibid.: 27; cf. e.g. Haneef, 1995: 58 ff.)
* A final aspect is that despite the introduction of a legal system that had been
broadly build along the lines of European traditions, we find only at a relatively late
stage a clear
justification of public law in contradistinction to civil law, which
had been as well in the Ottoman Empire initially solely determining
the foundation and scope of judge’s control of statuary activities, as
well as the concern for the relationship between the hierarchy of
norms and the judicial control.
(Rumpf, 1992: 211)
The fundamental – and as well contemporary – tension is very much a consequence of
the intertwinement of two moments, one being the long-term tradition from which the
Kemalist state arose, the other being the concrete historical circumstances of the
foundation of the state. The latter are very much expressed in article 103 of the
Turkish constitution which reads as follows:
ARTICLE 103. On assuming office, the President of the Republic
shall take the following oath before the Turkish Grand National
‘In my capacity as President of the Republic I swear upon my
honour and integrity before the Turkish Grand National Assembly
and before history to safeguard the existence and independence of
the state, the indivisible integrity of the Country and the Nation and
the absolute sovereignty of the Nation, to abide by the Constitution,
the rule of law, democracy, the principles of the secular Republic,
not to deviate from the ideal according to which everyone is entitled
to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms under conditions
of national peace and prosperity and in a spirit of national
solidarity and justice, and do my utmost to preserve and exalt the
Peter Herrmann
glory and honour of the Republic of Turkey and perform without
bias the functions that I have assumed.’
(Office of the Prime Minister. Directorate General of Press and
Information, 2008)
Although a thorough withdrawal from Ottoman principles took place, including the
acknowledgement of the rule of law, a principle limitation was given. In the
interpretation of Christian Rumpf
[i]t has not been possible to observe the development of an ample
concept of a state based on the principle of the rule of law, rather
teaching and jurisdiction linked up with specific focal points as for
instance the incidental control of norms and the principle of the
sovereign act, independent from law.
(Rumpf, 1992: 457)
As much as these forms can be seen as justified by the concrete historical conditions
of nation-building, Rumpf points on the principle problematic, writing
[t]he moment constitution is written down it can easily come to a
congealment. The problem is aggravated by the fact that the
composition of the text of a constitution frequently mirrors only the
ideals and perceptions of an elite which are not necessarily linked
to the reality of the state. In a society in which breach of honour can
only be revenged by blood, in which the state is on the one hand
seen as protector and guardian in all situations of life, serves on the
other hand with the available positions as source for sinecure, used
in a self-service manner without considering its function of being a
power to secure societal peace in the name of freedom, equality and
justice conflicts may easily arise: the text that is suggested as
constitution emerges as utopia of norms, being independent of
normative reality.
(Rumpf, 1996: 29; see as well Weber, 1915: 77)
With this, the actual problem is not least one that acts around the two issues of
building a distinct identity on the one hand and combining this with relating itself to
other countries – the latter of special importance as the geopolitical situation is
automatically raising the question of being a border or a bridge between the occident
and orient.
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
The question if and to which extent it is justified to see Turkey as bridge may be left
open, in actual fact two points are relevant. (a) The strong influence of Islam as
previous state religion – and with this the close relationship with Arab countries
confronts the country with a specific challenge when it comes to defining its own
identity. (b) This is not so much a matter of defining its position between orient and
occident or a matter of the geopolitical position. At stake is the country’s positioning
within the processes of modernisation, as they had been pointed out by Stein Rokkan,
namely the clarification of the internal and external centre-periphery structures (see
Rokkan/Urwin [eds.]1982, Rokkan/Urwin 1983). We may look at the internal
structure by directly referring to the four cleavages, namely class, religion, cultural
hegemony, space (urbanity). External points of reference are of course, the degree of
independence and with it the orientation especially towards the Unites States of
Northern America and/or towards the European Union (the other past, current and
future centres are currently not playing any obvious major role).
In more concrete terms the following seems to be interesting. Though it will not be
systematically developed, we find a strong nationalist orientation not only as notion of
independent statehood but as well as rejection of ethnical and cultural diversity. This
includes ‘integrational’ policies with a strong assimilatory stance. This is as well
interesting in a comparative perspective as it goes hand in hand with a strong
orientation along the lines of French legal traditions (see for several pointers Abadan,
This is the context in which Kemalism has to be understood, characterised by the
following principles which are defined in the constitution:
* Nationalism
* Laicism – explicitly seen as elementary for the rule of law
* Revolutionary reformism
* Populism, understood as mutuality
* Etatism
* Republicanism.
Remarkable is in the 1982-constitution an extensive elaboration of principles of the
social state. Looking at the English translation of the constitution, it is striking that we
find below the very general level of argument some attempts concretising the meaning
of general rights (social justice …), before going on to developing principles of social
security and service provision. This and also the principle of democracy are not
Peter Herrmann
immediate part of the principles as they had been originally brought forward by
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Law – Individual, Community and the Rational State
Another interesting feature, showing the entire tension, is the inclusion of certain legal
definitions that are of crucial importance in the present context: the redefinition of
collectivity and individuality or in other words: the redefinition of the reference of
judicial systems. Looking at the development in Turkey shows the importance of
analysing the shift towards juridification and raises at the same time the question in
which way and to which extent juridification equals a specific individualisation. – The
matter in question gets clear when we briefly look at the legal dimension of the so-
called honour killings.
First, though apparently5 directed against women, the point in question is in a legal
perspective the term honour: to be precise, reference is made to the honour of the
family, this taken in a very wide understanding. To some extent this seems to be a
simple reflection of the ongoing meaning of feudal and religious patterns. However,
more important are the ongoing family bonds. It is difficult to source this meaning. In
any case it is important to highlight the contradiction that on the one hand Turkish
legislation signed and ratified a multitude of relevant international legislative
agreements (e.g. the UN Declaration of Human Rights [1948]), supports as well
international initiatives as the World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) and
finally has sufficient relevant provisions in the Constitution (e.g. article 17); on the
other hand we find in the old Turkish penal code from 1st of June 1926 the
classification of criminal offences, directed against sexual indefeasibility of women
and children as ‘offence against public moral and the family order’ (see Göztepe,
2008). It is only since June 2005 that this orientation has been changed – the
suggested public interest is in terms of legal systematisation redefined and shifted to
the individual and his/her protection. In a statement by the Permanent Mission of
Turkey to the United Nations we read
2. In Section 1, the references made to the new Turkish Criminal
Code has to be changed as follows:
5 There is of course as well a factual side to it but this dimension is outside of the legal system – in legal terms the so-called
honour killing can be directed against and undertaken by both: men and women.
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
‘The new Turkish Criminal Code which was adopted by the Turkish
Parliament on 26 September 2004 and will enter into force on June
1, 2005 has very important reform-like regulations concerning
women. The most important regulation is the abolishment of the
distinction between women and girls in the law. While the existing
law protects the societal norms and evaluates many crimes that
victimise women as crimes against society, the new law abolishes
that approach and gives priority to the protection of individuals’
rights and freedoms. In this way, sexual crimes are defined as
crimes against the individual rather than crimes against public
decency. Marital rape and sexual harassment at work place are
defined as crimes against the individual, for the first time, in the
new law. Another important development is, crimes committed with
the sake of honour are regarded as qualified crimes with heavy life
term imprisonment as the sanction to be imposed and no reduction
is possible.
(United Nations, 2005)
It would be important to investigate the actual background of these crimes. Usually
seen as being linked to Islam religion, such a stance seems to be questionable
although these crimes persist in parallel to maintained religious beliefs and the
belonging to the faith community rather than being linked to a traditional life style.
Thus we read in a report on violence against women:
In the UK, the most visible ‘honour’ crimes are those which have
occurred within Islamic Asian or Middle Eastern immigrant
communities, reinforcing stereotypical notions that Islam condones
‘honour’ killings, a view which is refuted by many Muslim
community leaders and members, in the UK and elsewhere.
‘Honour’ crimes are rooted in cultural traditions, not religious
beliefs; the conflation of the concepts of culture and religion
contributes to the misunderstanding of such crimes, …
(Sen/Humphreys/Kelly, 2005: 23)
Although so-called honour crimes are obviously a matter of disrespecting human
rights – inasmuch as they are simply disrespecting human existence per se – the actual
question is much more complex. To point on one problem only, it is remarkable that
Peter Herrmann
in the UK the justice system is – according to the same report – reluctant to intervene
because of the respect of the private and cultural sphere. As duplicitous as this sounds
in this case, it is in the same vein that human rights groups actually disapprove
governmental intervention in connection with data protection. – The respect of and
dealing with individualism, rights of individuals and individualist rights seems to be
difficult to balance.
Economies and Economy
And it is necessary as well to return to the question of economics relevant on the
level of ‘family economies’ in both, the understanding of private households in
developed countries and as subsistence economies in a macro-economic context, and
also relevant as macro-economic issue. The task – here only pointed out and left open
for empirical research on another occasion – is the investigation of the economic
development within the following quadrangle: one dimension is defined by the
orientation of management and the other by the availability of resources against the
background of the mechanisms of regulation and steering.
traditional value-orientation
(i) collective
(ii) individual
occidental rationalist
(i) collective
(ii) individual
Figure 3: Resources and Regulation
The following brief look at the current economic development has to be seen against
the background of the various influences from the Republic’s development. For
instance it is interesting to recognise the assessment of the more recent economic
development – put into a historic context – by the European Foundation for the
Improvement of the Living and Working Conditions. In the summary of their quality
of life study we read:
By EU 15 standards, Turkey has been late to industrialise.
However, unlike the ten new Member States of eastern and central
Europe, its economic development was not distorted for four
decades by the imposition of a non-market economy. Instead,
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
following decades of unsuccessful state-led initiatives, its economy
has developed by producing goods and services for export, without
access to the rich energy resources that have characterised
development in parts of the Middle East. Turkey’s acceptance of
market-led growth is in fact more comparable to that of the
Republic of Korea. Unlike many countries with a small population,
Turkey is big enough to sustain economic conglomerates that
possess the resources to finance development and support the
country’s application to join the EU.
(European Foundation for the Improvement … , 2007: 2)
However, the development is mixed, both regionally and socially. In the following a
brief look at only two figures may provide already some insight into the huge tensions
of different developments. On the one hand,
[w]ith a population seize second only to that of Gemany among the
EU Member States, Turkey’s aggregate gross domestic product
(GDP) is now greater than that of 16 EU countries.
(Rose/Özcan, 2007: 5)
This has to be seen against the background that
[e]conomic growth reflects the activities of indigenous
entrepreneurs in Anatolia in classic early industrial products such
as textiles, as well as the growth of financial conglomerates based
in Istanbul.
Some general patterns can be seen from Turkstat- and IMF-Gobal Economic
Perspectives-data. In the recent years (21st century) we find a steady economic
growth, now going hand in hand with an overall increase of the GNP (Dollar Value of
Turkish GNP) – accompanied by a decreasing inflation rate and a decresing net public
sector debt. The currency volatility in 2006 is likely not expression of a ‘crisis’ in the
strict sense of capitalist economy6 but can actually be seen as moment linked to the
relative stability: although foreign direct investment decreased in 2007, it is still on a
high level. As well, despite the negative trend of GDP development, there is no
dramatic rupture. However, alarming are two factors: The overall unemployment rate
6 Though it is surely expression of the general crisis of this system.
Peter Herrmann
remains – with the exception of 2002 – on a high level. And we find only a relatively
small number of jobs created, if related to the GNP- and GDP-growth rates.
Looking at the quarterly development, it is obvious that a large number of jobs are not
meant to provide permanent, stable employment rather, it is seasonal work,
presumingly farming and tourism related.
The segregation behind the economic growth is reflected in the fundamental split of
the employment figures as they are shown in the following graph:
(from ibid.: 28, with reference to Tüík, 2003)
Figure 4: Proportion of Different Forms of Employment in Turkey, %
This also means that we have to acknowledge the tensions which occur in terms of
social policy and public responsibility for social quality: though other moments surely
play a role, we can assume that a major impact on social rights and their definition is
coming from the underlying economic pattern and the maintenance of traditional
thinking. Thus it is striking that on the one hand the gender gap in terms of
educational achievement actually turned around – showing high achievement rates
now on the side of women however, continuing the disadvantage of women on a
disproportionally high level when it comes to equality in the labour market and
overcoming existing patterns.
Striking gender differences emerge in the employment patterns of
men and women. Men are more than five times as likely as women
to participate in paid employment . Moreover, women are more
than twice as likely as men to be unpaid family helpers rather than
working in paid employment. Since a majority of female adults are
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
homemakers, who are unpaid and have no retirement age, women
are much less likely to be eligible to avail of the social security
benefits of retirement.
Gender differences account for the substantial discrepancy between
labour force participation in Turkey and in the EU countries … .
While no statistically significant difference emerges between the
proportion of adult men in employment in Turkey and the EU, a
large gap in the labour force participation of women is evident. The
EQLS survey found that three times as many women in the EU15
are in paid employment than in Turkey; conversely, three times as
many women in Turkey are homemakers compared with women in
the EU15.
(ibid.: 39 f.)
This is seconded by Ali Murat Özdemir and Gamze Yücesan-Özdemir, who state
When women workers in Turkey are considered, the striking issue is
the relatively low level of labour force participation. Compared to
many OECD countries (especially Nordic countries and some
central European ones), with female participation rates of almost 80
per cent, female labour force participation rates in Turkey are very
low, at less than 30 per cent (OECD, 2004). When we consider
urban employment, the female participation rate decreases to less
than twenty per cent (Table 5). Following immigration to urban
areas, women, because of their low level of skills, cultural
conditioning and traditional family responsibilities, stay out of the
labour market.
(Özdemir/Yücesan-Özdemir, 2004: 36; with reference to OECD,
The latter quote contradicts slightly what had been previously said the overcoming
of the educational gap. However, it is likely that this contradiction is only an
expression of the specific pattern of migration. The figures in Table 1 and Table 2 are in
any case telling much about the contradicting intertwinglement of – to use these
problematic terms – ‘traditionalism’ and ‘modernisms’. – And though there is a
definite pattern, it seems to be rather rushed to ignore it as transient.
Peter Herrmann
(ibid.: 37; with reference to State Institute of Statistics)
Table 1: Female Labour Market Participation
Wage and
(ibid.; with the same reference)
Table 2: Status of Female Employment
This picture is then completed by the incessantly high level of subsitance economy,
the importane of mutual support and at the same time the low level of ‘organised civic
engagement’. This is shown as well by the fact
that only 4 % of the youth who participated in the State of Youth
Survey were members of NGOs. The fact that NGOs in Turkey are
still in the process of developing their capaicuty accounts for the
low participation rates. Moreover for NGO projects where the
international dimension stands out, more educated young people
who know how to use computers adequately and, more importantly,
who know enough English have an advantage. However, in Turkey
the rate of youth who speak a foreign language adequately so as to
be able to read a publication is 28.4 %. (.) Regional differences
should not be forgotten either. When we look at the distribution of
National Agency projects among cities we see the remarkable gap
between large and small cities and between the east and the west …
(Aytaç et altera, 2008: 82 f.; see as well Rose/Özcan, 2007: 43).
Thus, any reflection on the economic development has to note that Kemalism is not
only a matter of secularism but despite other important moments – as well a matter
of the nationalism. And it is nationalism that actually determines as well a specific
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
interventionist mode of the state also with respect to the economy, going hand in hand
with the subsistence economy and as well some reflection of the traditional Islamist
The article gives some ideas for a new thinking about both: economic developments
and the role of religion and religious fundamentalism.
I. At the centre the thesis is developed that looking at Islam the challenge is not
religious fundamentalism but an economic system and thinking that is closely
feudalist in nature. Again religious orientations are only part of a superstructure that
supports the maintenance of feudalist economies. However, more important is that the
fertile ground is not the return to or search for values. Decisive is the ongoing
meaning of economic feudalism and religious fundamentalism in societal and social
practices in societies as Turkey but as well in the so-called modern Western societies.
One point that is getting clear is the enlightenment did not reach far enough due to its
inherent individualism.
II. Another crucial argument is that the so-called Casino-Capitalism is not based on a
simple over-accumulation of power. Rather, it is expression of a structural dis-linkage
of profit-making from the productive sphere and as such it can be seen as partial
reintroduction of feudal economic and political structures. To capture the full
momentum of this process we have to look firmly at the close link between
accumulation regime and mode of regulation. There are different dimension to this,
the one being the strictly economic question: how to re-establish the link between the
different spheres. This can well be discussed as technical matter of control of financial
markets, control of inflationary processes and developing a sound economic strategy
in which mechanisms of generating are based on productive processes. It has to be
emphasised that this does not overcome the existence – and re-occurrence – of critical
developments. Still, it can limit them and it can as well lead to a more “just re-
distribution”. Such development can be seen from either side: as fundamental success
if related to a bursting and crumbling global socio-economy or as fundamental failure
of answering the seemingly eternal and structural contradictions between control over
means and ways of production and depending and alienated working positions,
translating into excessive wealth and threatening poverty.
Peter Herrmann
The other dimension to this question of the link between productive and re-productive
dimension is more of a socio-philosophical kind – slightly more complicated if looked
at in technical terms, much more difficult when it comes to the power question and
extremely difficult when it comes to the question of political strategy. If we cursorily
revisit the secular development of the economic process, we find going hand in
hand with division of labour and more importantly: going hand in hand with the
division of classes and later nation states as organisations of classes – a specific nature
of appropriation, “representing” the said divisions in particular in three divisions of
the process of appropriation, economically as decisive as socially and politically:
* The disintegration of the process of appropriation into
a matter of making something one’s own, being concerned
with the technical side of dealing with it and
with the substantial side of relating oneself to the object (be it an object in the
strict sense of be it the wider environment
a matter of property building in the sense of “the making of a thing private
property;” … “setting aside for some purpose” (Harper, 2001)
* with this the breakup of life and work as meaningful entity expressed not least in
the closure of the commons as property of a household economy;7
* and the final stage of a definite link of status and private property of means of
production as reaching stage of alienation of
status and contract,
work and life
work itself and even
property itself.
The paradox that is left behind is the following: although we face apparently a
fundamental individualisation the individual actually looses to the same extent as it
looses his/her ground in commonality. He/She looses ground and disappears
him/herself not in him/herself: as emerging hedonistic personality. Rather the
individual follows only rules of alienation, not “producing” his/her own existence but
exhibiting him/herself. This, of course, has some parallels, indeed, with what Michael
Chalupka stated, speaking of a Religionsersatz! Kapitalismus“.! The! important!
aspect,!however!is!that!we!the!terminology!–!Religionsersatz!–! already! suggests!
7 It should not be overlooked that such household economy is itself a strictly closed economy.
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
productive! system! provide! sufficient! commonality! if! it! is! only! based! on!
production! of! commodities.! So,! reflecting! on! the! “beginning! of! history”! has! to!
actually! start! from! the! commonality! of! production! of! utility! values! rather! than!
autonomous zone, a … time-space commons in which the three
dimensions of cyclical, phase and linear time were re-articulated.
(de Angelis, 2007: 19)
Massimo de Angelis’ following focus on the argument that
the market as an ethical system
(ibid.: 25)
falls short asking the more important question. This question has to go beyond the
matter of “just distribution” and has also go beyond the question of “just production”
At stake is the indeed as well ethical question of what we are actually producing
and how to relate (and reintegrate) utility value and exchange value. The question of
“socially necessary labour time” (ibid.: 155) becomes then a question of socially
allowed production time, production here understood as
* reintegrated production and reproduction
* reconciled “social” and “economic” valuation and
* renewed appropriation as re-established entity of agency and structure (the process
of appropriation and its form of property.
III.! Furthermore,! the! following! can! be! envisaged! –! dealing! more! with! a!
methodological! issue.! These! developments,! the! analysis! of! the! socio‐economic!
questions! allow! us! as! well! to! go! a! step! further! with! regard! to! finding! a!
framework!for! defining! general! human!rights.!Though!we!have!the!fundamental!
the! –! to! some! extent! –! the! application! and! implementation! of! the! relevant!
defining! general! rights! –! a! basis! that! rises! about! any! subordinating! artificial!
to!face! the! problem!of! defining!what! human! rights,!the! challenge!to! find! a!“just!
Peter Herrmann
way”! of! defining! such! rights.! It! is! relatively! easy! to! find! a! definition! within! a!
In!any!case!and!within!any!framework we usually forget that such human rights are
contested and that they are contested with respect to interests. We can leave open in
which way we actually can define interests. Or actually we cannot leave it open, as
this is the core question: which interests – of the conflicting ones – are legitimate and
in which way can we legitimise them. The standard approach when it comes to this
question is the referral to natural or divinely given rights or something like this and
as soon as we approach this in concrete cases we see that such reference is actually
causing the problems rather than being a means of overcoming them. We can see this
in the – to say the least – very different ways of approaching for instance gender
questions, in concreto: the question of the position of women in society in general and
their rights if compared with and related to men(s’ rights). And it is especially here
then that we have to acknowledge that progress in the “socially developed countries”
is actually very limited. And it is of limited (and limiting) value to refer to individual
cases or to focus on an ‘implementation gap’. In the following a short outline for a
possible systematisation is proposed along at least the following lines (see in this
context as well Herrmann 2009 a; cf. Figure 1 in this text):
A The perspective of the global-abstract
Definition of “abstract global” rights
Practice of (granting) “abstract global” rights
B The action perspective
Meaning of rights for individual power (pouvoir: the ability)
Meaning of rights for individual power (possere, linking to possibility)
C The determinants of the qualitative perspective
Meaning of rights for social development (legitimacy as matter of cohesion and
Meaning of rights for social development (legitimacy as matter of integrity, not
least “appropriateness”.
The latter, understood in a dialectic way, could of course be not least a mechanism
that can (re-establish a) link (between) A and B.
Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
This can be seen as foundation for further work in this area, oriented along the lines of
security, power and appropriation.
Further research can be directed on elaborating this as methodological framework, not
least by applying the 3x4 factors of social quality as they are reproduced in the
Figure 5: The 3x4 Factors of Social Quality
This means as well that further social quality research can well get a new drive from
such a perspective by opening social quality towards a human rights perspective and
also by de-formalising debates on rights.
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Godless Laws or Lawless Gods – Islam, Fundamentalism and the Economic Crisis
Editorial Note
i The William-Thompson-Working-Paper-Series is edited by the European Social
Organisational and Science Consultancy for University of Cork, Department of Applied
Social Studies and meant to offer a space for publications of occasional documents. One aim
amongst others is to offer a space for publication of work by colleagues of the Department of
Applied Social Studies at University of Cork.
The work is edited and supervised for publication by Peter Herrmann, ESOSC.
The papers will only be published as PDF- or word-file on the website http://william-
Requests for publication can be sent to ESOSC at herrmann[at] and will be accepted
for publication after collective assessment (peer-reviewers will be listed on the website
without reference to concrete documents).
The copyright is still with the authors so that the documents are free to further publication.
ii Herrmann, Peter; dr. phil (Bremen, Germany). Studies in Sociology (Bielefeld, Germany),
Economics (Hamburg), Political Science (Berlin) and Social Policy and Philosophy (Bremen).
Had been teaching at several Third Level Institutions across the EU; currently correspondent
to the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law (Munich, Germany),
senior advisor to the European Foundation on Social Quality (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and
Director of the Independent Research Institute European Social, Organisational and Science
Consultancy (Aghabullogue, Ireland) and teaching at the University College of Cork,
Department of Applied Social Studies, (Cork, Ireland), where he holds the position of an
adjunct senior lecturer and Kuopion Yliopisto, Yhteiskuntatieteellinen tiedekunta.
Sosiaalipolitiikan ja sosiaalipsykologian laitos (Kuopio, Finland), where he is adjunct
professor. He held various positions as visiting professor and is currently in this position at the
Corvinus University in Budapest. Member of the Administrative Board of the European Social
Action Network (ESAN), representing this in the Platform of Social NGOs.
Member of several editorial boards; editor of the book series Applied Social Studies – Recent
Developments, International and Comparative Perspectives (New York, USA); peer-
reviewing for several journals in the social area and book series.
iii The present text is by and large an excerpt from Herrmann (2009 b), supplementing this work
with the attempt of inspiring new thinking of current economic developments.
I gratefully acknowledge discussions, comments and inspirations in particular from the
following colleagues and friends: Claire Dorrity, Cork, Ireland; Jaap Westbroek, Den Haag,
The Netherlands and Yitzhak Berman, Jerusalem, Israel.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Die Entstehung der Tuerkei und ihre Verfassungsrechtliche Entwicklung bis
  • Yavuz Abadan
Abadan, Yavuz, 1960: Die Entstehung der Tuerkei und ihre Verfassungsrechtliche Entwicklung bis 1960; in: Jahrbuch des Oeffentlichen Rechts [JOeR]; Tuebingen: Mohr; Neue Folge 9: 353-422
Youth in Turkey. Turkey Human Development Report; Ankara: United Nations Development Programme in Turkey Chalupka
  • Aygen Aytaç
Aytaç, Aygen et altera, 2008: Youth in Turkey. Turkey 2008. Human Development Report; Ankara: United Nations Development Programme in Turkey Chalupka, Michael, 2009: Globale Ehtik der Oekonomie. Diakonie-Chef Michael
The Islamic Welfare State and its Role in the Economy
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