Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Lectures on Central Asia


H.B. Paksoy short BIO
H. B. PAKSOY taught at the Ohio State University, Franklin University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Central Connecticut State University. He now resides in Texas.

Over the past two decades, his research papers have appeared in over sixty periodic journals and scholarly collections, issued in more than thirty countries, on all inhabited continents. Dr. Paksoy also published (as author or editor) Nine books:
IDENTITIES: HOW GOVERNED, WHO PAYS? (Lawrence, KS: Carrie, 2001);
ESSAYS ON CENTRAL ASIA (Lawrence, KS: Carrie, 1999);
INTERCULTURAL STUDIES (Co-Editor)(Simon and Schuster Education Group, 1998);
TURK TARIHI, TOPLUMLARIN MAYASI, UYGARLIK (Izmir: Mazhar Zorlu Holding, 1997);
CENTRAL ASIA READER: The Rediscovery of History (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1994); CENTRAL ASIAN MONUMENTS (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1992);
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule (Hartford, Connecticut: AACAR, 1989).

H. B. PAKSOY earned his D. Phil. from Oxford University, England (with a Grant from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom), M.A. at the University of Texas at Dallas (with a National Science Foundation Project Grant Assistantship), and B.S. at Trinity University (with Bostwick Scholarship).

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lectures on Central Asia by H.B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Lectures on Central Asia
H.B. Paksoy


Copyright for these lectures belong to H.B. Paksoy

Copyright for these lectures belong to H.B. Paksoy

The entire set of Lectures presented here
are Copyright 1995-2005 by H.B. Paksoy.

Lectures prepared for the Course entitled
“Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia”
Budapest, July 2004
were broadcast by the wire service
NewsCentralAsia during 2004.

As a result, they were adopted for classroom use in various institutions of higher learning.
All of the lectures constituting this collection were distributed world-wide
via print and electronic mediums
and the individual and collective copyrights
are retained in each an every case solely by H.B. Paksoy.
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Lectures on Central Asia: Table of Contents

Lectures on Central Asia


Leviathan*: Identity Interactions between Society and Technology

Governing with the wiggle of a Mustache

Leavening of Culture, Identity, Civilization: Examples in Eurasian Traditions

‘Employee Owned’ Identity?

Identity of Candied Watermelon

Thoughts on "Religious Fundamentalism" Identity in Central Asia

Identity Markers: Uran, Tamga, Dastan

The Question of ‘Religious Fundamentalism’ in Central Asia

Views of the 'outlaw concept' in comparative perspective:
'The American West' and the "Zeybeks in the Turk lands"

Benjamin Franklin and Nasreddin of Asia Minor

An open letter to the editorial board of Hurriyat (Mustakil Gazeta),
Tashkent Ozbek Republic

Leviathan*: Identity Interactions between Society and Technology

Identity Interactions between Society and Technology

H.B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Lectures prepared for the
Course entitled
“Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia”
Budapest, July 2004

I would like to present the following questions as a structural prelude:

a) How and for what purpose technology is created?
b) How does technology serve humanity?
c) What does humanity expect from technology?
d) How are those relations regulated and by whom?

This mode of approach to ‘searching for truth,’ fortunately, begets more inquiries than any other. The issue of Identity in each case will become self-evident at every turn. So, we ask and search:

1. How do human organizations, as designed by humans, govern polities?

Current web-site analyses indicate that the medical-sites register the heaviest use. Humans are concerned with their health in a variety of iterations. If you will, it is the choice of the marketplace. But, humans must tend to the business of life. The humans live in communities, which necessarily choose definitions for their polities. Polities cannot exist without explicitly appointed and generally known socio-legal laws. In defining those rules, societies decide how they are going to be organized and ruled---either consciously or by default---and how the common functions of the community are going to be financed. Either the members of the polity take the matter in their hands, and write a charter, or, allow---by not taking any action, such as not revolting against an invading force---the overlord (open, or secret) to write the rules for them.

There is no polity that can live without taxing itself. Communal functions need financing just as individuals in their private lives. The only question is how that taxation is going to be arranged. That is, the flavor of governance defines how the communal spending decisions will be made in the polity. This taxation may be in the form of forced labor, part of crops raised, or in cash.

Earliest codifications of communal rules, such as Hammurabi's laws, Asoka's columns, Roman twelve tables, Solon's laws, Ten Commandments do not always openly address the issues of taxation. All those codifications are meant to, in the first instance, to secure a society living in relative peace and order, regulating interpersonal relations. Even though there certainly was taxation in all of the named polities, the matter of relations between public finance and securing harmony in that society were not directly linked. The American idea of "no taxation without representation" is perhaps the first time the case of polity governance and public finance was brought to the same platform.

The Magna Carta of 1215, signed between the Barons of the English polity and the King was also an attempt to restore harmony at a higher level, among and within the governing strata rather than directed strictly at the public good. Napoleonic codes, to a certain extent---whether influenced by the American declarations or not--(not forgetting the Swedish example), followed the thought that it was necessary for the government to spend part of the tax income toward constructing state infrastructure such as roads, ports, and so on. This construction of the infrastructure was meant to stimulate the economy, so that more income would yield greater tax receipts, as well as organizing the polity for future wars. It was recognized, by experience, that the increasing cost of fighting wars, defensive or offensive, required maximum use of all available resources. And, the state---or the ruling strata--- could not accomplish that task alone; participation of the members of the polity was imperative, with or without their consent.

Thus, the nature of governance determines the nature of public finance. "No taxation without representation" model gives the taxpayer a say in the tax rates, and how and for what those receipts are to be spent. If the governance turns out to be authoritarian, then the state or the designated agencies thereof will dictate terms to the populace. In an authoritarian polity, a very small percentage of individuals who manage to appoint themselves as the guardians of public good will decide what is good or permissible. The remainder, the majority, will often have no choice but to obey, until they "rebel," because they do not posses any meaningful input into the process. And, it is undeniably their resources that are being spent.

2. Inherent conflicts between authoritarianism and pluralism

Authoritarianism and pluralism have always been polar opposites and formed the ‘outside boundaries’ of human governance modes from the earliest times. The primary motive for organizing a governance system within the polity was survival; either against the forces of nature, or as a defense against armed neighbors (immediate, meaning, next door; or long-distance, across the border). It is intended to make life easier for the polity. Likewise, in any sub-community, such as settlements, individuals usually seek means to make their lives easier for themselves. What is now known as technology is no more than methods and techniques developed by able individuals to perform a task with greater alacrity and efficiency. The tendency has been to replace human (or biological) effort---muscle power---with mechanical operation. We gather, initially it was the humans what pulled the plough to till the soil. Then, oxen or horses replaced the humans; later steam-powered tractors called locomobile, took over. All were supplanted, in time, with machinery powered with an internal combustion engine.

As far as the landowner was concerned, the mechanical replacement of human power was beneficial to the users; it reduced overall costs. But, this replacement began a new stratification in the society. Only those with the necessarily large land holdings could afford the mechanical contraptions, which, in turn, increased the crop yield and accrued greater disposable incomes. To combat the disparities in income between the small-holders and large farm owners, some polities instituted, at various times and localities, "state farms." These institutions ostensibly worked for the benefit of all members of their society. Yet, at the same time, the state or communal farms transferred the mode of production from private to public means. Now, some governments were controlling the food production directly. That led to the direct political control of the populations by the governing strata.

Transfer of resources from private hands to public also had additional repercussions. Rather than individuals creating new technology (means of labor saving), governmental bureaucracies obtained the funds from tax receipts to conduct research and development work. The matter is further compounded, when the government pouring public money into technology development happens to have an authoritarian flavor.

The production of technology in such an authoritarian society will also be within the monopoly of the state. Any and all access to knowledge---including education and developmental laboratories---will be tightly controlled according the perceptions and goals of a central administrative apparatus. And, the uses of technology will also be dictated by those high bureaucrats. Even though the process involved is the classical "guns-or-butter" issue, as defined by Paul Samuelson, in authoritarian polities it is not the general public but the bureaucracy decides the percentage.

When the polity decides that it will instead have a governance system we term as "pluralistic," then the decisions may be made accordingly. Pluralism will allow for much more individuality, provided decisions made by a single individual does not curtail the rights of others. Rather than governmental agencies or bureaucrats, persons with ideas and energy will begin the process of harnessing innovative technology. The aim of the creative individual here, of course, is to make and accumulate personal wealth---as opposed to increasing the direct power of the state. This, the creative individuals may choose to effect by means of Mercantilist Monopoly. In that case, all the applicable identity issues and approaches will be identical to that of the authoritarian state.

3. Role of technology in the human conflict between authoritarianism and pluralism

A short overview of authoritarianism and pluralism may be beneficial:
Authoritarian governance system comes in several flavors, and can be organized around a belief system (Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, et al); a social order (communism, socialism, mercantilism); military leadership (juntas of various degrees and social orientations); philosophical strain (utopianism, stoicism, realpolitik, opportunism); or, commercial interests (mercantilism, capitalism, ‘mixed’ economy). The ruling strata of an authoritarian society is usually very small, and seldom allows participation of any kind from the masses it controls. It is generally inflexible and doctrinaire, seeks to impose a particular set of rules on the society no matter what the cost.

Pluralism, on the other hand, has rarely achieved a wide-spread application in the practical sense. Republicanism and democracy came closest, but not entirely. True pluralism would allow for all the voices in a polity equal hearing. This aspect makes pluralism a highly contentious system, requiring moderation by a category of individuals we might term opinion leaders comprised of various specialties. Anyone may aspire to join the governing process, and make a contribution. It can also be noted that pluralism provides the most flexible approach to problem solving, but it is also the most expensive (and, some say, the noisiest) means of governance. It takes a long time to make policy and mobilize large resources for the good of all. However, the pluralistic governance best harnesses the energies of a society or polity.

The allergy or dislike some societies have for pluralism stems from the fact that it takes a long time to find and apply solutions to problems facing the polity; no one sub-group is allowed to dominate; the cost of decision-making is the largest; the end product rarely satisfies everyone. Essentially, every participant is required to compromise at some point. Yet, the process facilitates living together---provided compromises are spread among all participants according to their population proportions and the general living conditions.

Either authoritarianism or pluralism may emerge from any of the above enumerated belief, social or military, philosophical or commercial systems. That is an outcome of particular conditions in the life of the spawning polity in the given time-frame. Technology, amidst this tug-of-war, may serve to consolidate the rule of one system over the other. The outcome of this competition between two diametrically opposed systems depends on the ability of the polity to balance the ensuing partisanship. “Nationalism,” often in extreme forms, under whatever guise or terminology, emerges under such conditions, to redress imbalances---either real or imagined.

4. Strains between the interests of the technologists and society

In considering the relations between society and technology, we must remind ourselves of the inherent natures of both. The governance methods (authoritarianism or pluralism--or anything in between those) are well-defined. There are only so many types of governance systems, all evolved to their present stages since humans appeared on earth. For all practical purposes, general governance methods are unchanging. Almost everything about them is known---at least for those who care to pursue that knowledge. Therefore, governance becomes personal, in that authoritarianism or pluralism may acquire and display the face of a single individual, symbol or token.

Technology, on the other hand, continually changes. What drives technology (of course, apart from a desire for personal advantage) is the discovery of the laws of nature by individuals. And the design of methods by which those laws can be applied to solve problems---be those problems fictive or natural. The laws of nature have always been there; but not necessarily known to humans. This is unlike laws of governance, which have always been available.

Technology, too, may thus present the face of an individual or institution to the world. For the purpose, there are even more "named awards" in the world of technology celebrating the accomplishments of individuals who manage to understand the laws of nature.

Here, we reach a paradox: It is a human that discovers a heretofore unknown law of nature, or designs a means of doing a task more efficiently. Some of those designers and discoverers become so attached to the results they have achieved, they begin to disregard the effect their product will have on their immediate polity, or the humanity at large.

At this juncture, the 1990s televised debate between three technologists and three humanists come to mind. All six were eminent in their fields; some even were household names. Over the course of an hour, the technologists insisted that, as they put it, "Technology is where it is at. It is the future." In return, the humanists shot back with the statement that "The technologists did not get it." Neither side could "see" the other's point of view. And none attempted to elaborate on their viewpoints. They parted without changing their own understanding in the least, let alone the public in general.

Upon reflection, one could observe that the technologists were referring to the way humans are living their daily lives, and the influence of technology on every activity of individuals in a given polity. But the humanists, mainly historians, were thinking slightly more broadly. They were envisioning that, an authoritarian government can easily monopolize all available technology. In doing so, that authoritarian government can restrict the rights and actions of its citizens. The examples abound. What is important is how humans govern themselves. If the governance system is not pluralistic, all technology becomes a hazard---not a benefit--- to the community. It is not the technologists who decide the fate of polities, or construct the methods of governance. The technologist only becomes a tool or designer for either side; depending on the awareness or lack of the same by the affected polity. In the end, it is not the technology all by itself that tips the balance between authoritarianism and pluralism; it is the use of technology in the hands of the partisans of either side.

5. Possible resolution to the tensions

One might take a popular spectacle, say a science fiction yarn, as an example, and there are many of those available to the general public. In those presentations, the "empire," or a "government" uses technology to destroy the individuality of the so-called "rebels" who may happen to be pluralists wishing to live their chosen lives. And the technology constitutes the main support of the emperor or the "leader" in his quest to stay as emperor, by destroying the home worlds and societies of those who wished to have another means of governing themselves.

Of course, the subject matter is a movie, or several movies, by definition, a fiction. Or, is it? By admission of the writers of those movie scripts, the events forming the backbone of the stories were taken from the experiences of past societies, from real life past and present. Only the technology depicted on the screen was new. In fact, so new, it did not even exist. In actual historical societies, the invention of the iron smelting was a tremendous technological innovation. That new weapon gave the advantage to their owners and users. So was the cross-bow. But the struggle was still the same: what kind of a society were they going to have; authoritarian or pluralistic? Who shall govern: an emperor, or the members of the polity, through their representatives or votes? That there are variations of both the authoritarian and the pluralistic modes of governance, for example, mercantilism and capitalism; democracy and socialism, does not materially alter this equation.

The same issue was contested once again when the firearms were introduced by technologists. The cycle was repeated yet again, with the invention of the nuclear weapons, not to mention numerous others in between those. In the future, the contest will continue, with whatever new technological ways are invented.

The interactions among the society and technology are not limited to the nature of governance, the eternal struggle between authoritarianism and pluralism. There are tensions---essentially--- between society and technology within a pluralistic society. Let us take the very recent case of genetically engineered foods and plants.

Genetically engineered plants provide higher yields, resist traditional (natural) maladies afflicting the non-modified varieties. As a result, the technology companies and the food-processors can earn higher returns on their products based on the genetically altered foodstuffs. But, what about the effects of those altered foods on the humans? What happens when the consumers decline to buy them? The European Union refused to allow US origin genetically engineered soybeans and fruits. That is their choice. Can the companies overcome the consumer resistance by insisting that there is no danger from genetically altered foods? Who decides, and how?

The stated objectives of those genetic engineering companies may be read in their stock prospectuses. Of course, all were established legally for pecuniary interest. Yet, the products they develop already had influence on the society, usually without the knowledge and consent of the polity. When those companies develop tastier, longer lasting and suitable for packaging tomatoes, most consumers (and farmers; individual or corporate) benefit. When the product begins to interfere with nature's cycles, then the results must be audited by those who will be affected. For example: What happens when the lawn-grass genetically altered not to grow more than a few centimeters an entire year produces pollen that interferes with food crops? When crops fail, because the altered pollen of one species stunts the growth, who will answer? Who will pay for the cost of feeding the populace? And who will pay when that leads to the extinction and extermination of various species---be it plant of animal that earned, up to that point, a livelihood for individual farmers?

Examples abound, and are scarcely limited to genetic engineering. One can cite the present court cases involving two technology companies charged with predatory and monopolistic practices? One revolves around a company that copied an operating system and made it a monolith, and the other became dominant among charge cards by threatening to raise service fees and driving out competition (to raise the fees in earnest later, without competition).

We already discussed the inherent struggle between the authoritarian and pluralistic modes of governance. The basis of pluralistic governance is the ability of individuals to make choices without interference. But, those decisions cannot interfere with the rights and benefits of other members of the polity either; or, other polities. If there is such interference, then, that will form the bases of another conflict; usually technology will be involved.

The governance system of the polity will include provisions to make that right of choice available. But, nothing can be permanent, if the members of the polity do not defend their rights, their rights to right of choice. We, humans have seen, many a time, the transformation of a pluralistic (more or less) governance system turning authoritarian. We have observed republics becoming empires, choices being restricted, or altogether being eliminated.

Technology, therefore, is called upon by societies to solve the problems facing humans; not to create new ones, or aid the repression of societies by new means. This issue is valid not only for authoritarian societies, but also to the pluralistic ones. For example, does a company, a private entity, has the right to curtail the right of choice in a given society? Does the fact that companies may insist that they are not restricting the right to choice change that? The right to pursue the development and exploitation of technology does not mean having the right to restrict or eliminate the right to choice by the society. The aforementioned anti-monopoly cases must be viewed from that point of view as well. Returning to the case of debating technologists and humanists, we can now begin to place events, and issues, into larger and proper perspective. There is no question that technology will progress, as it is part of the human nature to be inquisitive. On the other hand, technology will have to be in aid of humanity, and not the other way around. Humans cannot allow technology to dictate terms, precisely because the technologists are humans, and must live in polities and societies. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all members of a society to engage in a continuous dialogue, without doctrinaire or inflexible approaches.

Humans are capable of learning, provided they wish to acquire the knowledge that will lead them to a life affording more and responsible choices. That betterment requires an intake rich in variety if it is to yield more choices. Just as a human body biologically requires a wide range of foods to sustain its metabolism, the human mind is also in need of multiple sources of stimulus to maintain its humanity. A single-source diet leads to defects. And in the case of the mind, a single-track approach will yield low returns. The remedy lies in acquainting the mind with sources from the collective experiences of humanity, without forgetting the cost of that wisdom.

The "Borg," another TV series, is the creation of human minds as well. That program, too, attempts to represent another facet of authoritarian governance system. Against which, humanists, the crew of a starship, even if they are technologically very advanced, are fighting to preserve the right to choose. The Starship crew also learned their humanity from the large body of humanistic literature available to them---and, yes, through technology, on-line.


*As can be readily inferred, the reference is to:
Tracts of Mr. Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury containing I. Behemoth, the history of the causes of the civil wars of England, from 1640 to 1660, printed from the author's own copy never printed (but with a thousand faults) before, II. An answer to Arch-bishop Bramhall's book called the catching of the Leviathan, never before printed, III. An historical narration of heresie and the punishment thereof, corrected by the true copy, IV. Philosophical problems dedicated to the King in 1662, but never printed before.
Thomas Hobbes, London, 1682 Printed for W. Crooke.


Governing with the wiggle of a Mustache

Governing with the wiggle of a Mustache

H.B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Lectures prepared for the
Budapest, July 2004
In the scheduled Course entitled
"Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia"

I. Mustache

Truth is like the universe. Most individuals only know parts.

An ancestor is said to have ruled his royal domain with his eyebrows. If he raised one, he was displeased. The movement of the other indicated annoyance. Both, horror.

Not too long ago, the USSR was ruled by a mustache. However hefty or stylish, it still was a mustache. Those in his retinue learned, or thought they did, how to read that piece of facial hair. As a result, the members of this ‘inner circle’ carried out despicable acts and atrocities in the name of the face holding the mustache. And the mustache, in full knowledge of the misdeeds, did nothing to discourage the retinue.

The whisker mobility style of governance is always open to interpretation. That is, to the interpretation of the immediate inner circle of the mover of the whiskers; provided, of course, there is benefit to glean for the interpreters of the facial hair. That leads to excesses and communally undesirable consequences. For example, when the mustache asked for a simple and solitary doppi[1], the interpreters did not hesitate to deliver one sitting atop a freshly decapitated head. Some of the immediate circle members will benefit from such a system; only for a spell, before, they, too, fall. After all, the single mustache is the combined prosecutor, judge and jury. Often, he is also the executioner.
When there is no recourse to an independent judiciary, whose interests are also shared by the population, then no one person’s life is safe. By way of demonstration, one may point to various prominent individuals, including that of Beria, the Secret Police chief of the era.

Under the rule of ‘whisker governance’ many organizations are fostered by sycophants. All will be devoted to pleasing the mustache. In the process, they will hog all the resources of the polity. This will leave less, a lot less for the general populace, and, by necessity, create a bifurcation among the citizenry. This societal chasm will be amplified by the competing secret organizations established by different organizations fighting for the attention of the Whiskers. Indeed, these factions are competing for greater resources for themselves and using the Whiskers for the purpose. This increases the distance between the population and the tools of the Governance Strata. In fact, this development creates the ‘new’ Governance Strata.

The all out efforts by the control tools will leave no part of the societal fabric untouched. The primary objective will be to foster a pliant mindset. This can be accomplished with least cost only through the construction of a new Identity for the polity and individual members.

The purpose of the Identity is to hold a polity together; indeed to form a polity in the first place. Since Identity itself is a composite with many parts, the new one under construction will have to encompass all aspects of the societal life. Along the way, new symbols and rituals will have to be created in order to reinforce the new Identity---much like the Christian church grafted itself onto the pre-Christian ceremonies, special days, doctrines and beliefs, for the purpose of supplanting all. However, during this process, Christianity also soaked its ecumene and theology with what came before itself. The new Identity formation efforts will not be immune to this process. The Designer Community working on the project will be subject to the influences of what they encounter. This is inescapable. The Designer Community’s research into the past Identity will also renew a broader interest in the past Identity. The contest of wills thus gain another front, since the past owners of the extant Identity had already left their testament in what they enjoyed. Thus, the Governance Strata will now have to contend with a renewal of the past Identity and related actions, their consequences. Another front in the struggle for the hearts and minds of the population is opened.

II. Leavening

Leavening of Identity is a natural process, akin to fermentation. Nature utilizes fermentation to refine and transform substances, mostly for preservation purposes. Yeast is the best known fermentation agent. It is used by bakers, beverage makers, geneticists, dairy operators. The basic yeast occurs freely in nature. It is the humans that isolate specific yeasts, nurture it to perform targeted tasks, after refining them. It must not be forgotten that, while a strain of yeast might affect almost all living organisms and beings, it is the refined and targeted varieties that will yield the desired best results. Consequently, winemaking yeast added to milk is unlikely to produce a tasty yoghurt or pleasant wine. It must not be forgotten that not all cultures are naturally compatible when refined. However, all cultures need their basic elements to remain alive. Once a culture is dead, it may not be possible to revive it. At least, not in its original flavor.

What is referenced as human culture is essentially the result of refinement of what humans are born with. Arts are the leavening agent in this process.

The word and concept of Culture is derived from the Roman use. Hence, agriculture is cultivating the fields for the purpose of growing crops useful to humans. At that point, the question is raised: for the benefit of which humans? The immediate polity growing the crops, or some far-off entity that requires it?

Likewise, the concept of Civil is Roman invention, referring to laws and regulations applying to its non-military inhabitants; thus, the general Roman population. Civilization is derived from that root, certainly encompassing Culture.

Among humans, akin to natural yeasts, natural leavening agents exist. It is the duty of the polities, not only their Governing Strata, to refine those leavening agents to advance the society at the local level, as well as entire humanity. This is nothing less than a race, competition.

Doctrines of Belief Systems are outlined in user’s manuals specific to that system. The method is not unique to ‘religions.’ All Belief Systems have been abused and given over to serve the needs of the Designer Community and the Governance Strata . In the process, the verbiage contained in those doctrines are sprinkled with contemporary vocabulary borrowed from the Governance milieu. Even when the user manuals are translated into new languages, this attribute is prevalent. For example, the word ‘Lord’ is utilized to denote a deity of deities in English. Of course, the reference is to the title or designation of the immediate ruler of the realm and polity. This, is due to the Identity of the clergy in question: For example, the forced merging of identities during the Holy Roman Empire (which was neither) when the Emperor and the Pope entered into an uneasy pact to support each other, at least publicly, for their mutual benefit.

III. True Believer

A True Believer may be identified by how she handles a doctrine, unquestioningly. She has no qualms about whether it is rational or beneficial to all concerned.

Whereas a person with a curious thought process always must question herself whether a particular human path is superior to all others in terms of universal outcome, a True Believer rarely engages in a similar exercise. The thoughtful person may choose the saying “never in doubt, always in error” as a thinking method, while the zealot might counter with “I believe” in whatever second hand doctrine handed her.

Imagine an artery, a major road crossing a large city. In the middle, we unexpectedly discover a checkpoint, manned by a sniper. He is in civilian clothes. He has decided he has the authority to shoot and kill anyone he deems unfit, unhealthy or unphotogenic. And, he carries his self appropriated task with zest. Is this just? Is it acceptable to the populace, The Governing Strata?

What happens if this sniper is actually ‘given’ that task by a committee, deciding who should be shot and killed, instead of leaving that decision to the lone sniper? Does that change the questions we just asked, or the nature of our inquiry?

What gives the ‘right’ or authority to the sniper to carry out his deeds, killing people he does not agree with or does not like? How did this sniper decide on his course of action? Did he inherit his views and call to action from his family? A particular philosophy? Club? What was the motivation of the philosopher in designing the thought which influenced the sniper? How was that philosophical thought transmitted to the sniper, and became his own to act upon? Was it a direct line of transmission, meaning the sniper read the philosopher’s book and absorbed it? Or, were there intermediaries who might have modified the original thought of the philosopher for some reason or other? How do we know that we understand all that has been going on?

The point is: every action begins as a thought first. All our thoughts have their beginnings in interactions with humans, institutions. But, humans are capable of transcending as well as descending into the depths of baseness. Humans perform extraordinary feats at either extreme. What makes the difference? Religion/Belief System? Literae humaniores ?

If we opt to believe that religion makes the difference, we must also remember that all theology is manmade. This also includes political ecumene.

Burning books of knowledge, especially those opposing the current regime de jour, never extinguished the curiosity of the human mind. Moreover, draconian measures always failed to reach their purported objectives.

Are we, in this discussion, examining morality and ethics? That may comfort adherents of religions, people of the book. After all, ‘holy books’ exhort the readers, “thou shall not kill’ in various forms. The point here, however, is not the precepts of belief systems. Instead, we are concerned with profane and mundane matters such as reasoning arts and sciences. For example: what is the Identity of the sniper? Is he a monster? What about the Identity of the Committee that ‘tasked’ him? And, what is the Identity of the Governance system that fosters all this abomination?

Does the sniper lay claim to Natural Law? If she claims the right to kill accordingly, does she realize that the same right exists for others to kill him as well?

Single person Governance Systems, regardless of their designations such as kingdom, empire, democracy, etc, have inherent weaknesses. One person could not possibly be on duty 24/7. Of course, the autocrat realized that, and sought two solutions:
spent resources on increasing amounts of security forces to keep himself alive,
recruited a slate of obsequious lieutenants

Under such a system, as soon as duties are delegated to others, degradation of collective tasks begins. This is simply because the individuals delegated may or may not share the ambitions of the ‘ruler,’ hence, pursue different agendas. But, there is even a deeper structural flaw in this system: Educational differences. Education is not a simple matter of earning a diploma; the greater the difference between the governed and the governing strata, more difficult for both sides to communicate with each other, and hence failure of the system. It is only a matter of time before the Governed snap under the strain. This happens under many categories.

IV. Individuals or Groups over Polity

What is the common denominator for Spain, England, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway? They are all monarchies. They have also embraced the constitutional version (as opposed to the autocracy) and possess representative governments. A number of political parties regularly contest the elections.

The foregoing is in contrast to the examples of Democratic Republic of Germany, Poland, Democratic Republic of Vietnam at al of pre 1991. Even though these polities sported the term ‘democratic’ in their official appellations, they did not have representative governments.

That is not to say that all polities that purport to be democratic are pluralistic; neither were the origins of democracy. By way of comparison: about 10% of the former ‘socialist’ polity were members of the ruling communist party---as in the examples above---the proportion is perhaps similar in the case of the original democracy where 10% of the population were citizens with the right to vote, and the remaining 90% comprised of slaves without such privilege.

Why is it important for all members of a polity to participate in the governance of that polity? An autocrat (under any designation) may drag the polity into war and ruination by personal machinations. The all member participation in governance will inject sanity to the deliberations in case of a crisis.

In an authoritarian polity, the Governing Strata will use its resources to compel the population. This compulsion will take the form of all-out pressure that will ignore the bases of human dignity. For example, getting shot dead without a trial, for transgressions not even known is definitely against human rights. Any form of torture is absolutely within this domain.

All this is intimately tied to deciding how the wealth of the polity is going to be shared, allocated and spent. Will the resources be expended on guns or butter?

That, in turn, requires a definition of Identity. The question to elicit the answer is not “Who are you;” instead “What are you?”

There are quite a few answers to that query: offspring, parent, sibling, citizen, member of a profession, political party adherent, club member. There are obligations, benefits, costs and gains in each case. But those designations still do not answer the question “What are you?” Human psyche is quite dynamic and attributes will fluctuate from one moment to the next. Are these oscillations caused by emotion or reason or economic factors---the most powerful impellents?

Do these choices also apply to the polity as a whole, in addition to the solitary members? After all, the polity is comprised of individuals, each possessing their own Identities.

Moreover, the Governance Strata will also have their own Identity. This is already demonstrated in two well known manuals of statecraft: Balasagunlu Yusuf’s Kutadgu Bilig, and Nicolo Machiavelli’s Prince.

In Kutadgu Bilig stresses the necessity of having a happy and content population if the ruling dynasty is to survive and prosper.

In The Prince, Machiavelli’s concerns are focused on the happiness of the Prince (ruler) without regard to the prosperity of the population.

This contrast begins to point to the roots of Identity in each case. Keeping only 10% of the population happy and content and the rest unsatisfied is a good recipe of regime change under any political system.


[1] Regular Ozbek skullcap.

Leavening of Culture, Identity, Civilization

Leavening of Culture, Identity, Civilization
Examples in Eurasian Traditions

H.B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Lectures prepared for the
Course entitled
“Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia”
Budapest, July 2004

The story of a newly minted PhD is oft told, who, immediately after defending his dissertation, promptly ordered a shiny brass plate for his apartment entrance prominently displaying the initials "Dr." preceding his name. Shortly afterward, in the small hours of one morning, he was awakened by an urgent pounding on his door. A neighbor, half dressed, demanded of the Dr. that he get his bag and follow, for his wife was very ill. The young PhD made a futile attempt to explain that he was a doctor of philosophy. His neighbor responded with angry allusions to the sexual ancestry of such claims, and a doctors' responsibility to humanity under some oath that he heard all doctors swore. Observing the noose imagery hanging in the air, the new PhD asked a few exploratory questions: what were the symptoms of the ailment, what hurt. Swiftly emptying the briefcase of unfinished manuscripts, the "doctor" refilled it with the contents of his bathroom medicine chest. Immediately upon his return from the patient's bedside, the PhD posthaste transferred the brass door-plate bearing his cherished title to the bathroom cabinet.

In some cases, there has been a similar confusion between thinking and thought, and identity and function. For example, once a student asserted that he could think that he needed a drink of water, and that constituted ‘thinking and thought process.’ Perhaps. Thinking and thought process imply transformation, and that change is inescapable. One who does not adapt to developments beyond one's control, is likely to pass from the scene. This holds true not only for individuals, but especially for the identities of polities and cultures. Each successful community, one that prospered within its environment, had devised its own method of coping with transformation. Each successful society also transmitted its cultural identity values to future generations. The study of the means of those transmission methods is a fruitful endeavor.

An example of such adaptation is the American transition from a fundamentally theologically inspired educational environment to a liberal arts college system. This transition in the U.S. was essentially designed by a handful of individuals. The change was primarily impelled by the hopes of giving the fledgling republic a sound intellectual future base, an independent life, because the liberal education was by then regarded a vanguard of an open mind towards a balanced world view. The U.S. founding fathers and their followers were well read, and knew the tribulations of previous cultures and civilizations.

The Founding Fathers of the American Republic sought to avoid the errors of the old Greeks and the Romans, but went a step further. By establishing liberal arts institutions of higher learning, the Founders pursued a policy of educating the American masses, thereby ensuring the continuance of what was established; the Republic. Thus, in 1753 Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) helped found [among others], the College of Philadelphia, later to become University of Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson (1743- 1826) led the establishment of University of Virginia in 1819. George Washington not only gave his name to at least one college, but also supported the creation of others. These initiatives were followed by the founding of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago. These institutions were devoted to the development of Liberal Arts, as opposed to the training of clergy. Almost all colonial American colleges prior to 1776 were designed after the European model, including Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), Princeton (established in 1766 as College of New Jersey), and were first and foremost training institutions for preachers. The newly created Liberal Arts Colleges were to soon require the older universities and colleges to revise and reform their curricula, and adopt the liberal education approach. Most other institutions followed that lead.

Religion, or a given belief system, is also regarded as an essential ingredient of culture and civilization. Hence, approaches to religion of various cultures are important and the study of religion to the extent those societies have chosen to modify religion, to suit their own needs, is to be studied.
Thus we can summarize: We humans are influenced by events; whether we know their sources or not. If we are not cognizant of the sources of influences, it is too easy for us to be led astray. As a result, we may lose our humanity. There are many examples, not the least in the 20th century.

We are in search of that defining essence of humanity; what constitutes it. This is a long term search, one that may never be finalized. For good reason: The search itself is the infinitely dynamic voyage, and the results attained along the way are markers, if you will, of the evolving measures. If the humanity does not continually refine itself, than we run the risk of allowing the horrors and inhumanities experienced in the past to take over once again.

A free society cannot survive without the educated and active participation of its members. In order to participate as a responsible citizen, individuals must be prepared. Preparation includes the ability to comprehend and analyze information, which one learns through a liberal arts education. Familiarity with the society's goals and principles, as necessary as familiarity with ones' own, is attained through the study of societies in their entirety. A liberal arts education provides people with a broad foundation. Anything less than a whole education, that is Liberal Arts education, will eventually lead to a society which is not free. Without such a base, a democratic society will give way to the sway of an attractive rhetoric or personality, as has been demonstrated several times even in the 20th century.

Let us now consider how one culture flourishes and, a millennia later, influences another. In this case, none of the actors had any intention to do so. A booklet, issued by the U.S. Congress, contains the following information:

The 23 relief portraits in marble are of men noted
in history for the part they played in the evolution of
what has become American law. They were placed over the
gallery doors of the House of Representatives Chamber
when it was remodeled 1949-1950.

Created in bas relief of white Vermont marble by
seven different sculptors, the plaques each measure 28"
in diameter. One is full face, and 22 are profile. From
the full face of Moses on the north wall, 11 profiles
face left and 11 face right, ending at the Webster
quotation on the south wall above the speaker's chair.
The subjects of the plaques were jointly chosen by a
group from the University of Pennsylvania, and the
Columbia Historical Society of Washington D.C. in
consultation with authoritative staff members of the
Library of Congress. The selection was approved by a
special committee of five Members of the House of
Representatives, the Architect of the Capitol and his

The plaster models of these reliefs may be seen on
the walls of the Rayburn House Office Building subway
terminal. In chronological order the lawgivers are:
Hammurabi (c. 2067-2025 B.C.); Moses (c. 1571-1451 B.C.);
Lycurgus (c. 900 B.C.); Solon (c. 595 B.C.); Gaius
(c. 110-180 A.D.); Papinian (c. 200 A.D.); Justinian
(c. 483-565); Tribonian (c. 500-547 A.D.); Maimonides
(c. 1135-1204 A.D.); Gregory IX (c. 1147-1241 A.D.);
Innocent III (1161-1216 A.D.); de Monfort (1200-1265 A.D.);
St. Louis (1214-1270 A.D.); Alphonso X (1221-1284 A.D.);
Edward I (1239-1307 A.D.); Suleiman (1494-1566 A.D.);
Grotius (1583-1645 A.D.); Colbert (1619-1683 A.D.);
Pothier (1699-1772 A.D.); Blackstone (1723-1780 A.D.);
Mason (1726-1792 A.D.); Jefferson (1743-1826 A.D.);
Napoleon (1769-1821 A.D.).

Thus we learn that Suleiman (1494-1566), the sixteenth on this list, whose epithet is Lawgiver (he recodified the laws of the Ottoman empire), is regarded as an individual whose actions and thoughts have influenced the formation of the U.S. law; therefore our actions. One can learn more about Suleiman's reign by reading works about him. However, a factor concerning
Suleiman needs to be considered: What influenced his mind?

Suleiman's ancestors in the Ottoman dynasty (13-20th centuries) have established a palace school. The purpose of this institution was twofold: to educate the future rulers (their own off spring) and to simultaneously train the future high level bureaucracy. In this manner, the high level bureaucrats and the rulers would know each other, from their earliest ages. As can be expected, Suleiman was also a student.

The palace school instructors also had to train future teachers, to maintain successful continuity. Among other subjects, statecraft (what we may term Public Administration) was taught at the palace school. One of the earliest known manuals of statecraft anywhere is Balasagun'lu Yusuf's KUTADGU BILIG. It was completed in 1070/1 C.E. in the heart of Asia, four centuries prior to the voyage of Columbus, and dedicated to Tavgach Han, the ruler of the Karakhanids in Central Asia. An English translation by Robert Dankoff is available, under the title Wisdom of Royal Glory: KUTADGU BILIG (Chicago, 1983). KUTADGU BILIG has three known mss. One of them is referenced as the Herat copy. According to a note found on the Herat mss, the volume was brought to Istanbul in 1474 (still before the Columbus voyage) from Tokat in Asia minor by Fenerizade Kadi Ali, for the specific needs of Abdurrezzak Seyhzade Bahshi. The late Professor Resit Rahmeti Arat makes the following observation concerning this note:

In the Ottoman bureaucracy, there were chanceries
managing the official correspondence with the Central
Asian states. At their head, there was an educated
individual with the title 'Bahshi' who knew the Central
Asian conditions well; often they themselves were from
those regions. Seyhzade Abddurrezzak Bahshi is such a
person during the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet
II), working in Istanbul. Thus we understand why the
said copy of KUTADGU BILIG is brought to Istanbul in
879/1474. However, it becomes difficult to trace the
peregrinations of that work afterwards. On page 190,
there is another note: "purchased from blacksmith Hamza;
next to Molla Hayreddin's friday chapel; as witnessed by
Hoca Haci Dellal. This Hoca Hayreddin mentioned is a
teacher of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and died in 880/1475.

Recalling that Fatih died in 1481, his son Bayazit II in 1512, and so his son Yavuz Selim in 1520; Selim's son, Suleiman, ruled 1520-1566, one might place KUTADGU BILIG into perspective, by briefly considering similar works from other cultures, contents and messages.

MAGNA CARTA (1215) is a well known document. It was forced on King John, by his noble subordinates. It does not address the concerns of the general British population; but regulates only the relations of barons with their king. The barons grew weary of the King confiscating their wealth, and the basis of the document reflects this aspect. By signing MAGNA CARTA, King John promised not to expropriate the lands and money of his nobles. By contrast, KUTADGU BILIG is primarily concerned with the happiness of the masses as the basis of the legitimacy of the ruler. In other words, according to KUTADGU BILIG, the ruler should rule by the consent of the ruled; and that the ruler ought to be impeachable, if she does not bring forth happiness for the masses. Consequently, the ruler must be just, predictable in principle and action and in constant touch with the populace.

It should be remembered that KUTADGU BILIG was completed some century and a half before MAGNA CARTA. It is also of interest to note that MAGNA CARTA has been held as a model "constitution" for many a successor document.

THE PRINCE (1513) is another well known work. Written almost five centuries after KUTADGU BILIG, The Prince sides with the Italian rulers (of the city states of the time); again, as opposed to the masses. We may consider that as a requisite of the time and the locality. There is no proposition in THE PRINCE, as the U.S. constitution states "...for pursuit of happiness..." for the individual citizen, or the society in general.

Naturally, this list may be extended by the mention of the works by Hobbes-Locke and Erasmus-Luther debates, and, of course, many others.

The aforementioned decision of the US House of Representatives in 1950, then, is a tribute not only to Suleiman, but by extension a celebration of the pluralism of KUTADGU BILIG. This can be considered an example of the educational "leavening" process in societies at large.
Accordingly, the founding fathers were acquainted with Plato (c. 4th B.C.E.), who in his book entitled Republic suggested that the true function of the state is to balance the social forces for the advancement of society. Revolutions and social upheavals may be started by seemingly simple reasons. In actuality, they are the result of accumulated injustices. In the end of sometimes protracted struggles, democracy may be achieved. The principle of democracy is the independence and self governance of the people. However, the masses must be educated in order to select their suitable governing representatives. If a population cannot choose wisely, democracy may decay into autocracy. Demagogues, through their superior orations, may gain leadership. It may even seem that those able to garner votes are capable of governing. The true democracy requires education.

It was the Greeks who first disregarded Plato's teachings, and their democracy was lost to empire end dictatorship. The Roman Republic shared the same fate in the hands of Julius Caesar (100-44 C. E). The Roman historian Tacitus (First Century C. E.), in his The Agricola and the Germania [H. Mattingly, Tr.] outlined the policy of the Roman empire in Britain:

[We] elevated King Cogidumnus to the throne,
who served us loyally... in this manner, enslaved
masses were governed for the Roman Empire. Britons
were at first living in scattered settlements thus
prone to rebellion. [The Roman Governor of Britain]
Agricola privately encouraged Britons to build
temples, baths and Roman style public buildings, in
order to gather them into large settlements and to
induce them to live in luxury and in pursuit of
pleasure. In his official capacity, Agricola helped
those Britons who undertook his wishes, and rewarded
them. Those who were slow to accept Agricola's
invitation were scorned and criticized. In this
manner, Agricola sought to control the Britons not
through state coercion, but by introducing private
competition and sowing discord among them.
Moreover, Agricola sought to educate the children of
the Britons in the Roman way, and in Latin. In a
short span of time, Roman clothing and ways
proliferated among the Britons. The Britons began
to lose their indigenous customs, commenced
attending baths and hosting magnificent parties.
Due to their inexperience, Britons thought of their
new ways as civilization. In actuality, it was
nothing but a requirement of their servitude.

On the other hand, in the same work, Tacitus also records the thoughts of some Britons, apparently obtained through informers, who were aware of the predicament their society was facing. These opponents of Roman policies resorted to physical fight in order to free themselves. This is akin to the Basmachi movement, or the Movement for the Liberation thereof, of Central Asia during 1916 1930s, as described by one of their leaders, Togan:

Basmachi is derived from "baskinji," meaning
attacker, and was first applied to bands of
brigands. During the tsarist times, these brigands
existed when (Turkistan) independence was lost and
Russian occupation began in Turkmenistan,
Bashkurdistan and Crimea. Bashkurts (in Russian
language sources: Bashkir) called the ayyar, by the
Khorasan term. In Crimea (and, borrowed from there,
in Ukraine) haydamak was used. Among Bashkurts such
heroes as Buranbay; in Crimea, Halim; in Samarkand,
Namaz became famous. These did not bother the local
indigenous population but sacked the Russians and
the Russian flour mills, distributing their booty to
the population. In Ferghana, these elements were
also active during the tsarist times.... After the
proliferation of cotton planting in Ferghana [with
the forced the tsarist policy of replacing grain
production] the economic conditions deteriorated.
This increased the brigandage. Among earlier
Basmachi, as was the case among the Western Turks,
the spiritual leader of the Ozbek and Turkmen bands
was Koroglu. Basmachi of Bukhara, Samarkand, Jizzakh
and Turkmen gathered at nights to read Koroglu and
other dastans. What has the external appearance of
brigandage is actually a reflection and
representation of the thoughts and spirit of a wide
segment of the populace. Akchuraoglu Yusuf Bey
reminds us that during the independence movements of
the Serbians, the Hoduk; the Kleft and Palikarya of
the Greeks comprised half nationalist
revolutionaries and half brigands... The majority
and the most influential of the Basmachi groups
founded after 1918 did not follow the Koroglu
tradition; they were composed of serious village
leadership and sometimes the educated. Despite
that, all were labelled Basmachi. Consequently, in
Turkistan, these groups were regarded as
'partisans;' more especially representing the
guerilla groups fighting against the colonial power.
Nowadays, in Ozbek and Kazakh press, one reads about
Chinese, Algerian and Indian Basmachi.
[See H. B. Paksoy, "The 'Basmachi' (Turkistan National
Liberation Movement 1916 1930s") MODERN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
International Press, 1991) Vol. IV. Pp. 5 20; idem, "The
Basmachi Movement From Within: An Account of Zeki Velidi
Togan" NATIONALITIES PAPERS Vol. 23, No 2. June 1995. Pp.
373 399, Reprinted in H. B. Paksoy, Ed. CENTRAL ASIA READER:
The Rediscovery of History (New York/London: M. E. Sharpe,

This, of course, is quite contrary to the views of the Bolsheviks. On the other hand, theirs is only one side of the event.

Now, how to transmit our findings to the students? How to interest the students in Erasmian and Lockean traditions as opposed to the Spencerianism that seems to pervade most settings in the current world? Why not ask them to enjoy the rose for what it is, versus their viewing the rose as the concept of social Darwinistic "How to Grow the Great American Beauty" approach? Even though they may not even have heard of these phenomenon? Or, is this shunning ‘reality’ and ‘truth?’
Perhaps the first step is to introduce them. Not all will at first accept, learn to enjoy the rose for its own magnificent source of fragrance and aesthetic existence. Possibly, some will remain skeptical. Not because they belong to that ancient school of thought, but perhaps because they have not had the opportunity to consider the alternatives. That constitutes a danger of losing humanity and the consequences of that loss. Such loss will inevitably lead to the well known horrors of Holocaust, totalitarianism, police state, slavery and intolerance and the resulting violence of all types.

Next comes the difficult task of encouraging the students to think for themselves. In an environment where the commentaries abound on every conceivable topic, the opinion seems to drown out the fact. In many a case, the rearrangement of facts to fit a pre-conceived solution or end pervades. The resultant opinion might masquerade as the received truth. Many a student arrived in my courses armed with the mental baggage of such commentaries deeply coloring their world-view. I never challenge their position, only state that they are free to think and believe in what they like. My job, I explain, is to present the extant and received corpus and point to future possibilities. By learning that there is a "perspective," a prior beginning to what they believe in, some begin to question the sources of their "learning." At this point, the paradoxical questions come to our aid. "How do we know what we know" is particularly useful. It functions as a bridge to more soul-searching approaches.

Aristotelian binary approach to questions lend themselves to a nice to contrast with the Siddhartan. If we can summarize, for the sake of a short demonstration, that Aristotle's position on a given topic is either one or zero. Put in other terms, "A or Not-A." A quill is either sharpened or not. But there are other possibilities when the humans are concerned. If I am to be pardoned to reducing the position of Buddha to a similar term, then it will be "A AND Not-A." The simplest demonstration can be, for example, England is all Anglican, vs, England is both Anglican and Catholic. U.S. is comprised of 73 Christian sects besides.

The human rights topics are always good for extended discussions. Invariably there will be students who will be unadulterated Spencerians---knowingly, or due to "received wisdom" of commentaries and popular commentators. They will forgive and defend all transgressions on UN Charter or even the US Constitution with the argument that labor is a free market commodity. That every laborer is free to decide whether to work for 5 cents an hour or not in a given country. At this point, the question "What makes humans think that they have rights" gives them pause. The pregnant silence inevitably following this invitation allows the teacher to explore the development of "freedoms" in near and far history.

What I strive to inculcate in students is not a memorization of minutiae, but the ability to compare and contrast. The ability to see the panorama as Burckhardt put it. They need to leave each and every session with more questions than they thought possible, with the understanding that they need to understand; and for the purpose, they need to acquire more "data" in the form of what the humanity thought and can teach us now.

If we do not engage in the humanistic tradition, then the Intolerant will do it their way. As they have done in the past.


Extracted and translated (with additions) by the author from a much longer paper he presented to a Toyo Bunko (Tokyo) audience. That original paper previously appeared in:

Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies No. 7, 1992. Pp. 173-220.
[Reprinted in Yeni Forum Vol. 13, No. 277, Haziran 1992.]

‘Employee Owned’ Identity?

‘Employee Owned’ Identity?

H.B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Lectures prepared for the
Course entitled
“Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia”
Budapest, July 2004

The men I should be tempted to commemorate would be the originators of transforming thought. They often are half obscure, because what the world pays for is judgment, not the original mind.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

It is the privilege of anyone to engage in any intellectual pursuit; provided, laws appertaining are not violated.

If the above statement is read to mean, for example, “While engaged in the study of physics, if you violate the laws of nature in your deliberations, such a shortcoming will lead you to erroneous results,” it would be logical. But, it becomes ominous if the same statement is made as a “political warning to an individual not to transgress the dogmas of the institution or state” which employ that person. Yet, the statement fits both occasions effortlessly. In the latter case, if not an outright offense, it may even be seen as a violation an unspoken law. And, in some cases, unwritten (secret) laws have precedence over the published ones.

Creating a governance code, on the other hand, requires more; it is not a simple intellectual pursuit. The entire process has been through a longish period of evolution, the ‘governance strata’ and ‘individual will’ doing battle against each other throughout history. What is more, the ‘governance strata’ has tried a variety of ideologies in order to win over individualism and pluralism. These ranged from strength of arms to claims of divinity of a human; single dictatorship to institutional autocracy, and everything else in between.


While there are probably a significant number of unknown natural laws in physics, perhaps nothing is left more to learn about human governance principles. In being creative, it is necessary to be the sun; not just son of sun. Nor will it suffice to be an astrophysicist writing on the solar disk. Discovery and originality does not fall into the same bin.

States, polities and principalities arise of necessity, desire and determination. This endeavor requires not only blood, but brains. And the emphasis is on creation. This does not mean that any and every creation will be beneficial to all. Most, as events have demonstrated, are not. Communism, for example, as a governance system, was, at least for a while, seen as the savior of humanity. Let us overlook, for the time being, the fact that the root idea of communism goes back to Plato’s Republic c.360 B.C.E. and then to Thomas More’s Utopia c.1515 C.E. Some of these failures have come about due to inconsistencies between the Designer of the system and the Applicators. Those who wished to apply the system either did not understand the principal tenets, or were corrupted. Another possibility is that the system was not a major shift from those already existing, too confusing or not necessarily sufficiently mature to be introduced to the world.

Even the above mentioned example of Thomas More (1478-1535) and his Utopia is full of irony. More and Erasmus (1466-1536) were very good friends, adoringly close. During a visit by Erasmus to More’s house in England during1509, Erasmus caught a cold, and while recuperating, Erasmus wrote Moriae Encomium (The Praise of Folly), with a word play and pun on More’s name. They were also contemporary with Henry VIII (1491-1547), and well acquainted with the monarch well before his ascent to the throne. In the same breath, let us also remember three more individuals before exploring Identity relationships and how they evolve. In chronological order: The English religious reformer John Wycliff (1324–1384); The Czechs religious reformer Jan Hus (1369-1415); The German religious reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). We also need to recall that Wycliff was the first translator of the bible into English; and Luther has the honor of rendering the same holy book into German for the first time. It was the reformist writings of Wycliff that influenced Hus, whose life and writings caused Luther to turn religious reformer. These three never met.

On their part, More and Erasmus were religious reformers, too, even if, in the end, in different directions. Both remained Catholic all their lives, much like Wycliff and Hus. While Luther was protesting, and laying the foundations of a new path to a new approach, Erasmus was very sympathetic. They briefly met and discussed the issues. Erasmus was in favor of working gradually and from within Catholicism to reform it, while Luther was in a great hurry. Luther gradually became aware of his position that his noble ideas were hijacked by his protectors in Germany. And Luther needed German nobility’s protection from the Italian based Pope’s allies. The German nobility had finally discovered a reason not to pay a portion of their annual income to the Papacy. When Luther perceived Erasmus not to be in support of Protestantism in the open and full force, he turned against Erasmus.

On the other hand, More joined the administrative strata of England, even serving under Henry VIII, who founded the Church of England. This was another irony, because, earlier, Henry VIII personally wrote a pamphlet attacking the ‘heresy’ of Luther. More objected to the expropriation of the Catholic Church and its holdings by Henry VIII in favor of this English Protestantism. More was in opposition to Protestantism, and being one of the two undersheriffs of London, may have persecuted the ‘new men.’ By this time, Luther’s ideas were primarily transmitted into England through Geneva, by those around John Calvin (1509-1564). Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was following a similar line of Lutheranism in Zurich. And the term ‘new men’ became a code word for Protestants.

Thus, the efforts to reform the financial and moral excesses of the Papacy led to a new religion, Protestantism---with many branches. As a side effect, the process of translating the Bible into ‘national’ languages only strengthened the formation of nations and states. But, the works by Erasmus and More took their place in this new world, within Protestantism, alongside the works and commentaries of all other protesters. The efforts to reform the religion also fueled the impetus to have a new governance system; one that is more ‘individualistic’ than the communitarian one prevailing under an authoritarian, religious Identity.

Development of Cooperation

No amount of regulation, by whatever means, will suffice to maintain civility. Only the willingness of the population to get along with each other can. So far, the population on this earth has not uniformly demonstrated that can be done. Ideologies have been used to wrest more of the resources into the hands of an ever smaller group. As the population grows, the pressures of resource access are transferred to other areas; or so they are presented.

The collaborative experiences of a society, in part, are responsible for the formation of its Identity. If those experiences are recorded in the form of belle letters and popular literature, than that corpus become the vertebrae of that polity. Most, if not all, Identity systems insist on a single or oligarchic leadership for a polity, from imperialism to mercantilism; regardless of its other functions. Even pluralism does not seem to result in broad based rule but tends to elect ‘representatives’ to undertake the task.

Every Identity system defines itself through sets of formal rules and adumbrated doctrines. These related words place more stress on goals then methods. Such inflexible rule-setting hampers coordination among diverse groups who need to collaborate for the success of all. This set of objectives must seek to accommodate more than the basic necessities for all concerned. The extent of the prize pie is generally known. If the distribution of the pie falls too short of expectations, there is likely to be an attempt at revising the rules, and the Identity.

The cooperative production unit, legally favored in the 19th and the early 20th centuries, heavily depended on a self governance model. This self governance model did not arise independently, but out of the ‘pie distribution’ necessity. The wealth created by the onset of industrialization had to be distributed a bit better across the labor force to prevent outbreaks of violent wage protests. Even though the parents of the cooperative movement were social activists, the midwife was a rather high ranking politician, intending to rein in galloping capitalism in its harshest form. The politician’s objective was to keep his polity together, to moderate deeply divisive issues and to create a counterbalance to unchecked moneymaking by the nascent industrialist. He wanted his polity to succeed in the world.

The employee owned corporations followed on as legal entities, as a result of a century long evolution of the cooperative production unit. By that time, the coop did not have to ‘produce,’ but could be a service organization. This began to form the Employee Owned Identity, over and above the hopes of the midwife European politician of the 19th century.


The employee-owned corporation is rarely formed and reared into successful operation by a collection of owner-employees. Rather, an entrepreneurial individual (or, small number of individuals, usually working in pairs) establishes a business. The founder(s) either sell it, or otherwise transfer the ownership of the enterprise to the employees. In a plurality of the cases, the business involved has either a local a regional base. Provided the owner-employees take a continuous interest in the heath and welfare of the enterprise, it will live and even flourish. This constant participation of all owner-employees, in a rational manner, is imperative. This rational manner here is defined as pulling on the assigned oar at least one hundred percent and not engaging in capricious tangents.

Is the Employee Owned Corporation representation, then, the ‘ideal’ model for a new Pluralistic Identity? Is it the most rational economic unit? Should there be a limit on the corporate charters much like patents, trademarks and copyrights? For example, should an entrepreneur be given a corporate charter to start a business, with the provision that after 30 or 50 years later the enterprise must be turned over to the employee ownership? Of course, the founder(s) or their legitimate heirs would be compensated at the prevailing market value. This, of course, can be foreseen in addition to the revenue derived from the operation of the enterprise throughout the specified charter period.

As a further inducement, for the purpose of encouraging the use of limited time charters (rather than making them compulsory), the corporate tax rate may be kept some percentage points lower than the regular corporate charters. Would this provide for smoother labor-management relations? Would this structure reduce the dreaded turnover, secure job continuity?

If the limited charter holders chose to revert to a regular charter, meaning, change their minds, might they be permitted to do so by paying additional taxes, and granting minority ownership in the corporation to the employees? Or would all that lead to abuses? Would all the foregoing remind us of the guild system of yore, where the entered apprentice toiled until he became a journeyman, and finally a master and owner of a craft shop (akin to the present day corporation, but, perhaps smaller in scale)? In other words, there are precedents to this type of thinking. However, at this point all we have are questions.

Identity Implications

The guild system was widely in use in Central Asia, and in Europe. Though not founded on the exact same principles, both varieties of guilds operated on the foundations of strict discipline. This was done in order to:

limit the number of craftsmen in a given specialty
regulating wage and price stability
assuring quality control favoring the consumers
leading to the formation of Identities in a given polity

All this is a necessity, if the polity is to be kept intact. In both Europe and in Asia, there was a secondary and generally unverbalized reason for supporting the guild system: Keeping the population stable and preventing the flight of taxable talent from a polity. This aspect especially required the formation and maintenance of an Identity. Nowadays, that is known, in the business-speak (and, beyond) as ‘brand recognition.’ When the polity is well regulated, including the legal system, individuals living in that society will take pride and will want to further better the conditions for selfish reasons. Those noticing those desirable qualities will want to move in, thereby swelling the population numbers, taxable businesses and disposable income. A highly respected ‘brand recognition’ of a city will ensure not only survival, but also future prosperity. Same goes for continents.

Therefore, it is a legitimate question to ask: Which came first, Identity or economics? So, what we started considering, a particular activity (interaction of Identity and economics) of a given polity, managed to force itself on the rest of life in that polity. Not only in the specified area, but in the largest sense; order in life and governance system of a polity. That we must observe, is not the only binary question that may be posed. As noted above, the idea of religion also played a prominent part in the formation of Identity; both for and against. Moreover, that struggle, to find and preserve the Identity of the self and the larger polity also influenced the nature and formation of the governance systems now in use. The process is inseparable.

Identity of Candied Watermelon

Identity of Candied Watermelon

H.B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Lectures prepared for the
Course entitled
“Rewriting History: Emerging Identities and Nationalism in Central Asia”
Budapest, July 2004

During the depths of cold war, one of the Moscow airports was decorated with large-scale mural images from each of the Soviet Republics. Ozbekistan was represented with cotton and, yes, melons. The joke used to be that, Aeroflot flights leaving Taskent had devil of a time getting airborne, due to the large quantities of melons they were carrying in their cargo holds. And, someone with either a great sense of humor, or in possession of acute business sense, marked the pictured melons on the mural with “3 rubles per kilo.” At the time, Moscowites were the latest customers of that fruit which is a close cousin of cucumbers. Previously, we find varieties of cucumis being mentioned in medieval Central Asian writings, as they were obviously highly prized.

One may indulge in candied fruits at various time-periods around the calendar year (except, perhaps, when encountered in the ‘dreaded’ fruit cake). Apple, strawberry, apricot, orange peel are the varieties that come to mind almost immediately. Along with their names, the images, sounds and aromas of the season associated with a given fruit is also burnt into our memories. Hot toddies, sweetness, tartness, fragrances are all good for the body as well as the soul. Provided, of course, one lives in a culture that affords these small favors bestowed upon the humans. In most cases, prior to candying the fruit, it must be dried; that is, the natural water content must be drastically reduced. Central Asians have been traditionally preserving fruits for consumption out-of-season for centuries that we are aware. They do not need to ‘candy’ the fruit, as their varieties are naturally sweet; almost too sweet to begin with. Apples, apricots, grapes, prunes and even pomegranates do especially well when dried under the sun. But, what about melons? The Central Asian solution has been to harvest the melons with stems intact, so that each individual fruit could be suspended from the ceiling of the specially built, naturally temperature controlled larders. In that manner, the melons would be available for consumption for a few months. In other words, no dried melons.

Over the past decades, a series of private companies began patenting methods of drying fruits around the world. These techniques do not always involve sun, fire or even heat. Some depend on cold, freezing temperatures in extracting the natural water from the fruit. In that fashion, the dehydrated fruit weighs less for transportation purposes. Whether or not the taste is similar to the original is a matter of preference and opinion. But, what about the melon? If dried melons are commercially available, I have not been privy to that knowledge.

Some appliance manufacturers managed to design food dehydrators. Allegedly, those were marketed as one result of the cold war, so that the population can preserve and later have access to their favorite foods while awaiting the results of a predicted nuclear exchange in the comfort of their underground blast-proof bunkers. It is even asserted that some users managed to dehydrate, to preserve, watermelons. I wonder. Yet, there are no reports of candied watermelons. Not even from Central Asia.

Apparently, research is ongoing in the elusive quest for obtaining dried melons. The abstract of a research project reports:

The combination of osmotic dehydration and weak acids addition is a mild process that results in a final product with organoleptic characteristics very similar to fresh and "ready to eat" fruit, appropriate for immediate consumption. The purpose of this work was to evaluate the influence of citric and lactic acids on the production of osmotically dehydrated melon and on its final quality. Melon (Cucumis melo inodorus, cultivar Gold Mine) pieces of 40x30x15 mm were immersed in three types of dehydrating solutions (sucrose + citric acid, sucrose + lactic acid and control) of different concentrations (50 to 70ºBrix). Osmotic dehydration was carried out for up to three hours under controlled temperature (30 to 50ºC). The addition of acids had no significant influence on chroma parameters. However, solution concentration and process temperature increased lightness significantly. The fracture stress was weaker in processed samples as compared to fresh ones, but the fracture strain was much higher for samples treated with lactic acid at 50ºC, resulting in more viscoelastic but firmer products.[i]

So far, it appears there is not a commercially viable dried or candied Central Asian melon on the market, nor do we have any hope of a reasonable timetable to expect one. A Thai company appears to advertise dried bits of Thai melons; not whole melons.

It may yet prove to be possible to dehydrate the prized Central Asian melon. Is there a need to produce candied watermelon? To what end?

Is everything reducible to the pleasures they may evoke? Even in facsimile, in the form of a dehydrated caricature when one of the main attractions is the characteristic ‘wet’ taste?

The subject matter and these questions are directly related to the Identity issues:

1. Can identities be taken out of context?
This is perhaps the oldest question: Can we consider earth’s gravity without the earth? For example, can there be Central Asian Identity without Central Asian Values?

2. Can identities be transplanted from a donor to a recipient polity?
Is it possible to import, say, a specific Eskimo identity and juxtapose it onto Central Asians, and make Central Asians all Eskimos living in Central Asia? How long would that be functional?

3. Can Identities be embellished?
Can the Central Asian Identity be ‘improved’ from the outside, by enhancing it with ‘additives?’ Is it feasible to concoct a “New and improved” Identity?

4. Is it possible to construct a hybrid identity?
Can a hybrid identity duplicate itself? The effort necessary for producing hybrids will have to be repeated ad infinitum with every half generation. Mind you, this ‘operation’ has been tried in the distant and near past, primarily involving Central Asians and Central Asian Identity.

5. What causes an Identity to evolve?
Is it certain that an Identity will not ‘improve’ if left to its own devices, polity and values? What may be salient parameters?

6. Can a new Identity be grafted onto an existing one?
This, too, has been attempted. What methods have been employed in the past? What was the success rate? Can those efforts be refined and made more ‘effective?’

7. Is it possible to ‘speed’ the calendar when it comes to Identity ‘evolution?’
Speed is not always successful, or lead to success. For example, too much artificial fertilizer used to grow citrus in a shorter period will cause a condition called ‘puffing.’ There will be pockets of air between the skin and the fruit. The taste, presentation, aroma will not be there. The lemon, orange or tangerine will not have sufficient ‘wetness; it will taste dry, without being subjected to the drying process. The crop will be unusable from the consumer’s point of view.

At this juncture, we need to put away the shoehorn, and turn our eyes toward the cobbler. If the shoe does not fit, we cannot wear it even after attempting to force our feet into an unsuitable form; lest we are fond of walking around with tears in our eyes. Comfortable shoes are probably more important than a good watermelon. That is, if one is not dehydrating in the desert. One must not forget: dehydration will cause mirages. And mirages are notorious for not being real, causing heartbreak and death. Every biological entity will seek food, shelter and the necessary protections. And, biological entities will do everything they can, in order to survive. The ecology community finally began to understand that fact. The logic was simple and clear: each entity has something to contribute for the good of all, even if that ‘something’ may not be apparent at the moment.

Identities certainly experience shifts:

The owners may choose to initiate change, for their own purposes

Every identity experiences this, to a greater or lesser extent. It is a natural motion. This may involve degeneration or refinement of the core identity, depending on the governing conditions and cycles.

Contact with other, neighboring or distant identities will cause interactions

This may be a shadow of the ‘sports team model’; when a team plays another, differences will come to focus sharply. At times, Identities will borrow from each other or, in reaction to the contacted identity, strengthen some aspects of itself, definition and modes of operation.

Reaction to outside forces, in response to undue pressures.

This is the most problematic type of change, because an Identity may thus be pushed to extremes. Sharpening of extremes will be inevitable. An identity operating at its extreme edges will not only harm itself, but will cause harm to the interacting ones.

When the governing strata of a polity decides to tinker with the prevailing identity or identities, there will be another set of challenges:

i. the leadership vision of the identity may be quite different from that of the held by the individuals in that polity

ii. the prevailing collective identity can differ from the goals and aspirations of the governing strata

iii. resultant internal tensions will cause turbulence that will be irresistible to outside forces, inviting ‘unwanted’ interventions.

Again, the last option will lead to instability both for the identity that is being tinkered with, as well as the ‘tinkering forces.’ An Identity has the propensity to protect itself; it will respond instinctively through individuals and institutions. Examples abound.

Any doctrinaire behavior, regardless of its source and inspiration, will draw reactions. Also, provocative actions, with or without association with any movement will be recognized. The responses to such provocations may vary according to the collective intellects facing such ‘insulting confrontations’ as they will be seen. Never in doubt, always in error.

In conclusion: We still have no candied watermelon. Perhaps it is as moot a challenge as finding Utopia. Let the ‘wet’ taste of a watermelon reign and be enjoyed.



[i] Quality of osmotically dehydrated melon in sucrose solutions with addition of acids. Eliana Janet Sanjinez Argandoña2; Cintia Nishiyama2; Míriam Dupas Hubinger
Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Fac. de Engenharia de Alimentos, Dep. de Engenharia de Alimentos, Caixa Postal 6121, CEP 13083-970 Campinas, SP
Cf Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira
Print ISSN 0100-204X Vol. 37 No 12 Dec 2002

Identities: How Governed, Who Pays?


Thoughts on "Religious Fundamentalism" Identity in Central Asia

Thoughts on "Religious Fundamentalism" Identity in Central Asia

H. B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Inaugural Lecture by H. B. Paksoy, Texas Tech University,
The Special Collections Library Presentation Series, 21 February 2002

As a means of focusing our attention, let us consider two questions:

1) What is the Identity of Fundamentalism? For example: Is Religion equal to Nationality?
2) Who is more eager for the Central Asians to be fundamentalists?

Now, we can consider a population in 1990, exhibiting the following confessional attributes: 35,0481 operating churches, clustered in 219 denominations; 58.6 % of the total population maintaining church membership; 335,389 pastors in parishes; 537,379 total clergy. This country has 203 seminaries with 52,025 students enrolled. One sect alone operating 8,913 schools, not counting other denominational parochial schools. These figures do not include resources devoted to overseas evangelical and missionary activities. This political entity has 3.5 million square miles of territory and 145,383,738 out of a total population of 248 million are church members. The political entity in question, of course, is the United States.[1]

There are no comparable statistics with respect to Central Asia, which has a land mass akin to that of the U.S., but its population of approximately 80 million is clustered in several irrigated patches separated by uninhabitable expanses. From the late 1930s until 1990 there were only two seminaries in Central Asia, with a student body not more than several dozen students in attendance.[2] Total number of operating mosques, according to varying Soviet statistics, numbered around one hundred. The holy book Koran was published less than half a dozen times until 1984 in limited quantities.[3] The entire clergy was under the total control of the state. The bureaucratic apparatus of the center selected the seminary students for training and the graduating clergy were then assigned by the state apparatus to practice religion who paid them monthly. All official clergy reported to one of the four Moslem Spiritual Boards. In Central Asia the US type evangelical TV or radio stations are not indigenous. In the earlier periods, such as between the 12th and 16th centuries, the propagation medium of religion and legitimation of a new ruler was literature, especially poetry. Instead, especially during the past two centuries, Central Asia has been a target of proselytization, both Islamic and Christian, rather than a jubilant exporter of religion. The sources of these efforts to variously Islamicize or Christianize Central Asians are diverse, and now continuing with renewed vigor.

At this point, it may be useful to remind ourselves of a fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam: Christianity generally operates within a set administrative church apparatus. The Christian sects have a hierarchy, with a church pastor answering to a bishop of his denomination as well as the congregation. The bishop, in turn, answers to a higher level cleric, and so on. And, some of the denominations maintain a world-wide spiritual leader, with a suitable supporting state apparatus. None of this is the fundamental case with respect to Islam. A prayer leader only answers to his congregation. This is because Islam believes that there ought not be any type of mediation between a soul and God, a thought that fueled the Christian Reformation in the 16th century. Each individual will communicate with the deity at his own personal level and receive unconditional salvation. Again, in its original form, Islam did not make a distinction between the spiritual and the profane worlds; religion and statecraft are of one fabric. That is, when the mosques are not under the control of the political state, be it the 8th century Caliphates or the 21st century sovereign states. As mentioned above, on the other hand, the Soviet Union totally took over religion and placed it firmly under state control. Nothing religious, regardless of sect, could take place without the knowledge or permission of the security organs. The purpose, as demonstrated in related literature, was to remove this religious influence from the ruling equation, to make the population more pliable in general to the demands of the state. After all, a religion usually has legitimation issues involving the ruling strata and may support or oppose a political system or politician.

Much has been written about the rise and fall of Islam as a political movement, military power and distinct civilization. A great majority of those commentaries aim to view Islam as a monolith. Indeed, some of the practitioners and even opponents of Islam wish to portray it as such---each for its own benefit.[4] One look at the record indicates that, much like Christianity, national interests have always taken precedence over that putative unity. Christian Europeans have killed each other by the tens of millions during the 20th century World Wars under various grievances. Likewise, Islamic states also went to war with each other during the same period. Were all those wars fought in the name of religion? At the time of the fighting, the combatants claimed so. Further, all parties insisted that theirs was the true religion, and the belief of the opposing party was nothing but heresy. But, everyone, deep down their hearts could at least sense that there were other reasons. These are as varied as the desires and dreams of all humans. Some can be lumped together under economic, even political sub-headings.

In order to better understand this puzzle, it may be helpful to delve into the identity of the belief systems, stripped of their outer garments.

It is commonplace to have a person or polity to have more than one identity. Political (political party preference), economic (fee market or restricted forms of daily economic activity), belief systems (for example, Buddhist or Christian, etc). But, choices and occurrences do not stop there. We, as individuals cannot choose our birth order, an occurrence that also contributes to one's identity, much like being a parent, member of a particular social or service club, or a graduate of a specific school. This complexity of identities certainly contributes, as a package, to the outcome.Within the foregoing framework, therefore, it may be necessary to investigate the needs of various identities and the interactions among those needs, and associated costs.

The statecraft of Central Asia has deep roots, with surviving manuals from the tenth century and even earlier. The nature and identity of political systems of the region have evolved according to the needs of the populace and ecological environment. As it always is the case, a certain ruling exhaustion (born of long term governance) had already set in by the time outsiders first discovered Central Asia. These outsiders began publishing their understanding of the events, institutions and practices. However, the visitors---whether they were traveling in an invading army, or collecting intelligence or peddling commercial wares---had arrived with pre-conceived notions. These prejudices included both expectations of what to find and also their own perceptions of personal worth and capabilities. Unfortunately, those published works served to establish the bases for foreign policy options of a number of neighboring and far away states. This practice produced disastrous consequences for all, born of a mismatch between what is expected of the central Asians and the conditions that existed in central Asia. Most of those issues are still alive and well.

When the polities that come under pressure from outside sources to modernize, open up to global trade, their long standing local values are disrupted. These disrupted polities will wish to preserve their identities as a means of preserving and maintaining their life styles in many manner they think appropriate. After all, they realize, this is war by other means.

Anytime a problem is defined, the mind wanders about casting for an answer or solution. There may not always one ready to hand, other than the invisible hand that apply to economics. That is not to say that there ought not be any communication whatever among polities. Rather, the question is at what level? And, what ought be the qualifications of those communicators? And their numbers, intentions, objectives? If the designated communicators are there with the pre-conceived notions, to impose their will on the other side, the entire enterprise fails, and the hostilities commence once again.

It has been suggested that peace, enduring peace, can only be devised by global participation of all polities. This is difficult to defend or demonstrate. Some governance systems are designed for perpetual conflict without which they cannot survive. To quash such particularistic systems, other polities must arm and wage real war. The necessity to establish additional forces and logistics for the purpose eventually recalls Napoleon's dictum: One can do everything with a bayonet, except sit on it.The federative model of governance is a solution advanced to check the excesses of a overly centralized and overly authoritarian world government. In that case, the laws enacted, rules promulgated with executive decree in the name of the majority (it those indeed reflect the clear decisions of the majority), presumably for the good of all will not suit the needs and aspirations of the minority or minorities. Will that mismatch not constitute a violation of rights pursued by the majority as well? Will the minority be forced into submission into a set of circumstances, for example, buying a certain product, for the sake of 'efficiency?' If the producer of, say, genetically engineered agricultural products have the right to engineer and market them, should not the consumers also have the right to accept or reject them?

Assaults on belief systems are not uncommon to Central Asians, who, in the course of a millennium, have braced themselves against a number of major campaigns. However, shamanism is the earliest known belief system, based on spirituality, courage, physical prowess, hospitality and generosity. It has two discernible basic branches: one of the earliest known monotheisms, the Tengri; and the dual diety Erlik and Dirlik (Sky and Underground gods, respectively). Over time, the Turk shamanism came into contact with neighboring belief systems, such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Mithraism; and exchanged tokens (images and lores) or significant eschalatological aspects. The entry of Islam into this Shamanist territory created new traditions, and in some cases seriously eroded the basics of both belief systems. There are myriad poems and stories demonstrating the shamanist resistance to Islam, from all over Central Asia.[5]

For example: A Turkmen rider encounters a dismounted kinsman. The latter had stuck a twig in the ground, in the vast expanses of the bozkir (semi desert, arid-lands) to create a semblance of private space, and is performing namaz (ritual prayer) behind it. The rider chides the worshipper:Anan, atan iþidür çarpmak, yýkmak, talamak Kim kodu sana çöpe tapmak, toprak yalamak?It is the tradition of your forebearersto strike, to raid So, who induced youto worship the twig and lick the dirt?In another instance, precepts of Islam were being explained to a gathering of Kazaks. The preacher, attempting to review and reinforce his message, puts the question to the assembly: And, how will the Kazaks enter paradise? To which an attendee responds without hesitation: On horseback. [6]

Among some of the Turk groups, reverence is articulated towards the ancestral superstars in poetry:Kök kümbezin kürüldetip,ürkütme bizni Biy Temir;Qaraqaþ taþýn qýmýldatýp,Qorkutma bizni Biy TemirDo not scare us Bey TemirBy making your blue dome thunder;Do not frighten us Bey TemirBy moving your black stoneHaris Sisenbay, c. 1922 [7]

Of course, many an ode was written to Islam as well as Christianity.[8] The following is a rare 'fusionist' (combining Turk Shamanism with Islamic doctrines) poem, somehow attempting to merge the two.Bir kapýdan Baba Ilyas çýktýAyak çýplak baþ açýk sine üryanErenler katýnda ulu kaçýktýYarý ýslâm idi yarý þaman [9]Baba Ilyas emerged from a doorBarefeet, open headed, bare chestedAmong the saints, a grand ole holy foolHalf Shaman, the other half Islam

Perhaps the Turk proverb Avcu nice al bilse, Adük anca yol bilür (As many devices the hunter knows to hunt with, so does the bear to escape) is still meaningful.

In the recent months, works on 'influence of modernity' on Central Asia began appearing. According to this observation, capitalist consumer goods flooded third world countries as a part of the globalization process. This caused an outflow of capital from essentially poor economies to wealthy ones, leaving the poor countries even more destitute. Artisans, merchants and others became unemployed reducing income generation. Poverty deepened.The foregoing can be either a Marxist or a Capitalist view. Only the proposed solutions differ. The Marxist demand that all outside intervention to cease, foreigners to go home. Capitalist require loans to be made from their financial institutions to the countries at hand.Economic, political and military institutions form an inseparable trivet. Does any one of these have an absolute superiority over the other two? Not even in absolute regimes can they be separated. This, however, does not stop absolutists from trying. Marxists demand and fund national liberation fronts, while the Capitalists---by now having been converted into Mercantilists monopolists---insist on joint-ventures and free trade. Both parties will also desire a military solution, involving the basing of troops, previous withdrawal demands notwithstanding, from both sides on the soil of the third party.So far, as it is noticed, suggestions and demands have been pouring from out side in. No one yet consulted the populace that became a target of outside theories, generally hatched without reference to the practices followed in daily life. This is where the Identity issues become clear.

Global Trade is war by other means. It is an attempt at transferring wealth and resources from the losing party to the victor. The party that amasses the most wealth will be known as the most noble. Since Second World War, it has been argued that a world government is necessary to prevent global wars. This is in essence an idea first advanced over two centuries ago, at least in two different major versions: The Hobbesian variety relied on a strong central ruler (as in Leviathan) to impose order. In the other, Mill foresaw a trade based mutually dependent environment conducive to peace. Kant then made an attempt to combine the two, by means of cosmopolitan laws. In all cases, the sovereignty of the nation states are reduced in favor of cosmopolitan laws. These writings greatly influenced the present forms of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

It can be argued that both approaches can be associated with a unique transference of initiative, resources and sovereignty from the individual to multinational organizations led by yet to be tested. One relatively new experiment on these principles is the formation of the European Union. In addition to a large bureaucratic apparatus, the EU also possesses a legislative body based in Strasbourg. However, the European Parliament lacks the real means of regulating the multinational organizations. If, on the other hand, should the European Parliament acquires such means, there is always the danger of that body going beyond the intention of the population---that may, perhaps, endow that body with stronger charter--- in general.As one response, perhaps Consumerism need to adapt, to consider such agreements as NAFTA regulations where a grieved person or company, from a polity outside of the USA may force the closure of a US business; in a secret meeting, closed to the public.

The issue, at once, becomes cultural; thus, a matter of Identity. Moreover, the tussle and the concern is not over a specific product, but over the pre-eminence of ideas and approaches to that intellectual output. A 'problem' is defined in cultural terms, containing the seeds of a proposed solution. If a polity is regarded as the problem, should it be exterminated? What if the same polity also regards the earlier one in the same terms? What is likely to transpire? Mutual annihilation? For example, when the steelmakers of other polities put the US steel plants out of business, what was the problem, and its solution?During the 1960's and 1970's waves of international terrorism swept Europe. Prominent European politicians and businessmen were kidnapped and killed. When caught, the perpetrators defended themselves with the assertion that they had the right to break the law, and such a right could not be truncated by any authority. Some judicial organs and Thought Employers [10] understood the true nature of the claim; it was to stress the nature of the laws and associated intentions. At the time, no polity was bombed by the armed forces of any country.

It appears a world government, as has been proposed, has some issues to resolve yet. The bow of a boat arrives at its destination first, ahead of the stern. But, it is the stern that guides it there.Thus, Identity is a composite. [11] A great many ingredients are stirred into a solution, which, from the outside seems a solid unchanging mass. This makes Identity an extremely fluid structure, but one with definite parameters. Shifts in the composition are predictable. That is, it is definite that anger and despondency will be exhibited when income reduced or lost. What we do not know is when this person or better yet a group of persons in the same set of conditions will take some firm action, such as revolting by various means.Identity components are strongly influenced by culture. Culture, by its original definition, is cultivation of mind. This is specific to place and time. What was handed down from the parents from childhood on. A composite of values transmitted from one generation to the next determines the general culture of a given polity. It is both changeable and immutable. This seeming contradiction is best understood by learning the specific culture.

If a given polity has a culture of unchanging adherence to certain principles in personal life, for examples as Amish live, then there will be a collision, between a given immutable principle and the society at large. Literally. In Ohio and Pennsylvania there are regular accidents between horse drawn Amish carriages and motorcars. Does that create a certain tension within the community? The consequences of intergenerational conflict in a large part of the world have been appearing ever since the first generation. This shift of emphasis, or change, is forced by changing conditions in the immediate vicinity. However, the reception of the depth and range of change differs from one polity to the next. This is not because a polity cannot handle the change or its speed. The priority is attached to the leavening of the given culture. How and what was learned. The Marxist culture, for example, equates enlightenment with empowerment, so that individuals can take their fate into their hands. The opposing camp, the capitalists, fervently believe the solution lies in education. Even if the terminology is somewhat different, both end up with the same methods and means. So far, however, it must have become apparent, the real competition is actually between two groups who interpret and staunchly practice their ideologies. The target polity is a field of contention, the prize, or, at best, a testing laboratory.

Then, after a while, the target polity, or its components, begin assessing these outside factors influencing and affecting their lives. These alien thoughts appear to be contrary to their own desires and expectations, as leavened by their own culture. As a result, they decide to take action, in order to remove the outside obstacles to their own lifestyle. The methods they choose to obtain will vary from one polity to the next. But they will also learn from the methods directed at them by all camps. And, they will turn the tables on alien influences. It will be costly to all parties involved.

Belief systems have always been a part of human endeavor. In turn, there has always been a raging competition between belief systems. Is it the ideas themselves, or the agents they influence and act upon that compete? How well do the agents understand the basic precepts of the belief systems? Or, did the agents deliberately distort those tenets, for pecuniary interest? Central Asia has been, and still is, a battlefield of belief systems, with Islam being one of the latest entrant into the fray. And, many interpretations of Islam have been fueled not only by indigenous interest groups, but also by the outside players. The latter may have the distinction of constituting the majority of such initiatives.The belief systems, once released onto a polity, begin interacting with the economic, political and military trivet, leading to a new set of issues and possible solutions. What complicates this already crowded matrix is that most, if not all, belief systems tend to have subdivisions. These internal components of a belief system may and do contain self-contradictory doctrines in themselves. The existence of such bifurcations are an ideal opening for outside forces to exploit, for the purpose of influencing the affairs of target polities. When the target polity objects to the outside entities and their aims and methods, these outsiders may and will resort to clandestine methods. They will, essentially, insist on getting their way.

All throughout recorded history one warlike visit begat a return of the same upon the initial aggressor. As an extension, when clandestine operations become known--- and they will invariably become public---the same response can be expected. These responses need not be on the same level of the outside offenders. The targeted polity will choose its timing and methods. Even after a long wait, lasting decades.If the clandestine forces of the outside polities choose to concentrate on bifurcations of belief, governance or economic systems to exploit, that does not mean that the target polity will respond in kind. But, respond, they will.

Both the authoritarian and the mercantilist systems, while competing against each other, will also initiate paramilitary operations. At a certain activity level, these operations will be penetrated and compromised.This is exactly the case with respect to Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia. Not only the immediate neighbors of Afghanistan in Central Asia, but also polities from other regions have been partaking in this process of exploitation of bifurcated belief and governance systems. A portion of the targeted population, originally grieved by economic and political depredations, will respond decisively to the provocation. This will be in the direction of military action. This includes, necessarily, the struggle waged between the 17th and 20th century struggle between the mercantilist and the capitalist governance systems; the latter attempting to change the world, as the former doggedly resisting.

Central Asia, even if the term implies a block of land, is not a monolith in cultural terms. Afghanistan has a different history and culture than Iran or the Newly Independent States of Kazak, Kirghiz, Tajik, Turkmen, Ozbek. Even within the NIS, the experience, for example, of Tajikistan is different than the adjacent neighbor Ozbekistan. For example, Afghanistan did not exist as a state before the 20th century. The five states of Central Asia were part of a much larger entity, named Turkistan. Languages spoken in Afghanistan, that is, the existence of large minorities are not the same elsewhere.

The issue at hand, then, becomes:

1) Will the polity at hand evolve politically and economically, if left to its own devices

2) How much external interference in whatever form will be tolerated
a) by the governance strata of the target polity
b) the people of the polity.

The political systems of the region, prior to the arrival of outside authoritarianism in the form of various external clandestine services, were designed or evolved according to local realities. These eastern or Oriental governance systems, labeled 'unsophisticated,' 'primitive,' so on, were in existence for millennia or more, when they were discovered or designed for the past two hundred years within the western reaches of the world. When Bismarck, in late 19th century was designing his Governance Participation Units (factory unions; workplace representatives, etc) or multi-party and coalition initiatives were taking place in their neighborhood, such systems have been functioning in places such as Afghanistan and in the east for quite sometime. They were established institutions long before university based social scientists created books of terminology to explain them.

All these old and new systems of Governance Participation Units came into being for the obvious reason: to share in the resources, to keep the polity in balance. Every Governance Participation Unit, through its membership strength and leadership skills, sought to obtain what they deemed a fair share of what is available. In terms of functions, who gets how much water and who gets to build a golf course or travels to space as a tourist work on the same principles. One of the implications of this (often is regarded euphemistically as a resource sharing arrangement by the outsiders) is that the polities targeted by authoritarian or mercantilist polities will assess the relative merits of what is being imposed on them. In the end, the target polity members may reject what is on offer from the outside, in favor of keeping what is and has been there as far back as the existence of the polity. The more the pressure on a target polity, the more energetic the objections and resultant countermeasures.

Corruption, under many guises will take place, despite prescribed safeguards. Corruption is basically an attempt at subverting the rules of governance. It is a dash to jump the queue, divert resources for the benefit of a sub-group or individual at the expense of the rest of the polity. If the polity does not have effective recourse to enforcement of the rules, corruption will cause the eventual collapse of the system, and the polity. Some polities engage their secret services, in full force, to deal with corruption. To eradicate it. Other polities' secret services fully cooperate with the players of corruption and become corrupt themselves. The entire polity suffers from a range of ills, including human rights abuses and distortions in income distribution. When the corruption is exported along with a political and economic system, the recipients not only may not appreciate the incoming product, but also resent the defective nature of the process and choose to fight it with tools at their own disposal.

The abusers of belief systems are rather adept at exploiting all of the above ideas and means. As usual, when a new system arrives, it has to do battle with the existing one. The new recruits or converts will be more eager to prove their worth than the rest who have been in it for a longer period. Similarly, adherents of an old system will seek revenge. The methods of the revenge are not necessarily salient; revenge, itself, is.

The so called fundamentalism is a hybrid. First there exists a body of disgruntled people. Second, there are individuals and groups who abuse the belief system for either institutional or personal gain. Third, the interest groups from the outside place unwanted pressure on the same people. The resultant cocktail can well be overly potent. And, one fundamentalism, regardless of its origin and location, will fuel others; just like one armed visit will begat a military invasion in return.Central Asian political movements emerging at the beginning of the 20th century stressed a separation between religion and state, before the coercive Soviet methods were put into place. This can be observed from the platforms and programs they issued over time. When the Bolsheviks militarily incorporated Central Asia into what became the Soviet Union, all plans for the a secular and independent Central Asian state were also postponed.In closing: to place the issue of fundamentalism into perspective, perhaps the two initial questions need to be reiterated:

1) Is religion equal to nationality?
2) Who is more eager for the Central Asians to be fundamentalists?


1. Constant H Jacquet, Jr. Editor, Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches 1990 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, Communications Unit of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, 1990).

2. In 1900, it was estimated that in Turkestan alone, without counting the khanates of Bukhara and Khiva, there were 1503 congregational mosques and 11230 parish mosques with a total of 12499 imams (prayer leaders) to minister to 6 million persons, that is, one mosque for every 471 believers. See Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Central Asia (New York: Praeger, 1956)

3. H. B. Paksoy, Deceivers. Central Asian Survey Vol. 3, N. 1, 1984.

4. H.B. Paksoy, Nationality or Religion?: Views of Central Asian Islam AACAR Bulletin (of the Association for the Advancement of Central Asian Research) Vol VIII, No. 2, 1995; Reprinted in International Journal of Central Asian Studies Volume 3, 1998; Translation in Central Asia and the Gulf, Masayuki Yamauchi, ed. (Tokyo: Asahi Selected Series, 1995) . Original reprinted in Essays on Central Asia (Lawrence, KS: Carrie, 1999) also accessible at: http://www.ku.edu/carrie/texts/carrie_books/paksoy-6/

5. H. B. Paksoy, Sun is also Fire Central Asian Monuments (Istanbul: Isis, 1992). http://www.ku.edu/carrie/texts/carrie_books/paksoy-2/

6. With many thanks to Dr. Buðra Atsýz.

7. Z.V. Togan, Hatýralar (Istanbul, 1969) . Sisenbay was the Baþkurt orderly to Z.V. Togan (1890-1970) during the Turkistan National Liberation Movement of the 1920s and 1930s. See The Basmachi Movement From Within: An Account of Zeki Velidi Togan Nationalities Papers Vol. 23, No 2. June 1995. Pp. 373-399. Reprinted in CENTRAL ASIA READER: The Rediscovery of History H.B. Paksoy, Editor, Translator (New York/London: M. E. Sharpe, 1994). 'Biy Temir' (or Temur Bey) is the correct spelling of what has been rendered as 'Tamarlane:' And the 'black stone' is the very large, very dark green jade marking Timur's burial location, inside the moseleum known as Kök kümbez 'Sky Blue Dome' ('sky blue' or 'Turquoise' has been the primary royal color among Turks).

8. See Peter B Golden Codex Comanicus' in Central Asian Monuments (Istanbul: ISIS Press, 1992).

9. http://www11.ewebcity.com/ahibirlikleri/aef.html

10. H.B. Paksoy, Dusunce Isvereni Turk Tarihi, Toplumlarin Mayasi, Uygarlik (Izmir: Mazhar Zorlu Holding, 1997)

11. H.B. Paksoy, Identities: How Governed, Who Pays? (Lawrence: Carrie, 2001). Simultaneous print and e- book release. Accessible at http://www.ku.edu/carrie/texts/carrie_books/paksoy-7/