Family, dynasty and state

I have mentioned the intense relationship between the power relations within the patriarchal family and the state. This deserves a closer look.





Abdullah OCALAN

I have mentioned the intense relationship between the power relations within the patriarchal family and the state. This deserves a closer look.

The cornerstones of dynastic ideology are the patriarchal family, fatherhood and having many male children. This can be traced back to the understanding of political power in the patriarchal system. While the priest established his power through his so called ability to give and interpret meaning, the strong man established his leadership through the use of political power. Political power can be understood as the use of force when leadership is not adhered to. On the other hand, the power of priest rests on “god’s wrath” when not abided; it is spiritual power and thus has a stimulating effect. The true source of political power is the military entourage of the strong man.

Dynasty, as ideology and in practice, developed as a result of turning this system upside down. Within the patriarchal order, the patriarchal governance became deep-rooted as a consequence of the alliance between the “experienced old man”, the “strong man” with his military entourage and the shaman who, as the sacred leader, was the forerunner of the priest. The dynastic system should be understood as an integrated whole, where ideology and structure cannot be separated. It developed from within the tribal system but established itself as the upper class administrative family nucleus, thereby deny ing the tribal system. It has a very strict hierarchy. It is a protruding class, the prototype of power and state. It depends on man and male children; owning many is important in order to have power. A consequence of this has been polygamy, the harem and the concubine system. Creation of power and state is the dynasty’s first priority. More importantly, dynasty was the very first institution that ensured its own clan and tribes as well as the other tribal systems became accustomed to class division and slavery. In the Middle Eastern civilisation, it has become so deep-rooted that there is almost no power or state that is not a dynasty. Because it constitutes a training ground for power and state, it is continually perpetuated and very difficult to overcome.

Every man in the family perceives himself as the owner of a small kingdom. This dynastic ideology is the effective reason why family is such an important issue. The greater the number of women and children that belong to the family, the more security and dignity the man attains. It is also important to analyse the current family as an ideological institution. If we are to eliminate woman and family from the civilisational system, its power and state, there will be little left to constitute the order. But the price of this will be the painful, poverty stricken, degraded and defeated existence of woman under a never-ending, low-intensity state of warfare. The male monopoly that has been maintained over the life and world of woman throughout history, is not unlike the monopoly chain that capital monopolies maintain over society. More importantly, it is the oldest powerful monopoly. We might draw more realistic conclusions if we evaluate woman’s existence as the oldest colonial phenomenon. It may be more accurate to call women the oldest colonised people who have never become a nation. Family, in this social context, developed as man’s small state.

The family as an institution has been continuously perfected throughout the history of civilisation, solely because of the reinforcement it provides to power and state apparatus. Firstly, family is turned into a stem cell of state society by giving power to the family in the person of the male. Secondly, woman’s unlimited and unpaid labour is secured. Thirdly, she raises children in order to meet population needs. Fourthly, as a role model she disseminates slavery and immorality to the whole society. Family, thus constituted, is the institution where dynastic ideology becomes functional.

The most important problem for freedom in a social context is thus family and marriage. When the woman marries, she is in fact enslaved. It is impossible to imagine another institution that enslaves like marriage. The most profound slaveries are established by the institution of marriage, slaveries that become more entrenched within the family. This is not a general reference to sharing life or partner relationships that can be meaningful depending on one’s perception of freedom and equality. What is under discussion is the ingrained, classical marriage and family. Absolute ownership of woman means her withdrawal from all political, intellectual, social and economic arenas; this cannot be easily recovered. Thus, there is a need to radically review family and marriage and develop common guidelines aimed at democracy, freedom and gender equality. Marriages or relationships that arise from individual, sexual needs and traditional family concepts can cause some of the most dangerous deviations on the way to a free life. Our need is not for these associations but for attaining gender equality and democracy throughout society and for the will to shape a suitable and common life. This can only be done by analysing the mentality and political environment that breed such destructive associations.

The dynastic and family culture that remains so powerful in today’s Middle Eastern society is one of the main sources of their problems because it has given rise to an excessive

population, power and ambitions to share in the state’s power. The degradation of women, inequality, children not being educated, family brawls, and problems of honour are all related to the family issue. It is as if a small model of the problems integral to power and state are established within the family. Thus, it is essential to analyse the family in order to analyse power, state, class and society.

State and power centres gave the father-man within the family a copy of their own authority and had them play that role.

Thus, the family became the most important tool for legitimising monopolies. It became the fountainhead of slaves, serfs, labourers, soldiers and providers of all other services needed by the ruling and capitalist rings. That is why they set such importance to family, why they sanctified it. Although woman’s labour is the most important source of profit for the capitalist rings, they concealed this by putting additional burdens on the family. Family has been turned into the insurance of the system and thus it will inevitably be perpetuated.

Critique of family is vital. Remnants from past patriarchal and state societies and patterns from modern Western civilisation have not created a synthesis but an impasse in the Middle East. The bottleneck created within the family is even more tangled than the one within the state. If the family continues to maintain its strength in contrast to other faster-dissolving social bonds, this is because it is the only available social shelter.

We should not discount family. If soundly analysed, family can become the mainstay of democratic society. Not only the woman but the whole family should be analysed as the stem cell of power; if not, we will leave the ideal and implementation of democratic civilisation without its most important element. Family is not a social institution that should be overthrown. But it should be transformed. The claim of ownership over woman and children, handed down from the hierarchy, should be abandoned. Capital (in all its forms) and power relations should have no part in the relationship of couples. Breeding of children as motivation for sustaining this institution should be abolished. The ideal approach to male-female association is one that is based on the freedom philosophy, devoted to moral and political society. Within this framework, the transformed family will be the most robust assurance of democratic civilisation and one of the fundamental relationships within that order. Natural companionship is more important than official partnership. Partners should always accept the other’s right to live alone. One cannot act in a slavish or reckless manner in relationships.

Clearly, the family will experience its most meaningful transformation during democratic civilisation. If woman, who has been stripped of much of her strength and respect, does not regain this, meaningful family unions cannot be developed. There can be no respect for a family that is established on ignorance. In the construction of democratic civilisation, the role of the family is vital.

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