PNEWS, 1995

On appropriation of Meaning and misrepresentation

Irfan erdogan

My ideas on the struggle of meaning seems to be appreciated and taken by the LEFT OF CENTER and used with the slogan "PARTY TIME." It is ironic because my close friends were on the Left of center movement in the 60s while I was trying to understand K. Marx. On the struggle of meaning, I tried to explain that whatever human beings hold as good and see as worth to defend ( i.e. family, goodness, justice, democracy, freedom) is appropriated by the dominant ideologies and the negative opposites are attributed the opposition. Furthermore, through Appropriation of meaning and hegemonic education and communication practices, even the clear realities are dressed differently and shown upside down.
    Here are few examples (from The Peace Studies Association and the Conference on Nonviolence issue, a CALL FOR AN INTERNATIONAL DAY WITHOUT VIOLENCE) to the appropriation and misrepresentation of the actual relations: A day without violence, cultivating peace, conflict resolution, non- violent methods of social change and similar usages reflect rather distorted picture of social reality of protests. Such usages clearly mean that protestors are the source of the violence and "let's protest without applying violence". This is grotesque distortion of the protest and violence issue. The major sources of violence in anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-racist etc demonstrations are almost always the uniformed and plain-cloth officials and agent-provocateurs of the department of Justice all over the world, and, of course, the fascist militia and\or similar groups that the system uses when needed. LET ME PUT IT VERY CLEAR: WE ARE THE ONES WHO ARE ATTACKED AND FORCED TO DEFEND OURSELVES. WE ARE NOT THE VIOLENT ONES. WE ARE THE ONES WHO PROTEST A VIOLENT WORLD OF PLUNDER AND OPPRESSION OF RULING FORCES. WE ARE THE ONES WHO ARE VICTIMS, OPPRESSED, ABUSED, MISUSED, PUT IN JAIL, TORTURED, MURDERED.

    Non-violent methods of social change?

Again, this concept too indicates that those who seek for social change are after violence: "let's use non-violent methods fo social change". Violent or non-violent change is entirely depends on the bloody owners of systems. If a few protest of passive submission to the violent structure had a success, it hardly ever proves that the oppressor\capitalist class is going to give up and negotiate the reorganization of the capitalist property relations (i.e. via not military but peaceful conflict resolution).
    Cultivating peace? In order to cultivate peace, there must be a societal and international conjuncture that feeds the cultivation of peace. The lopsided structure of the world system not only breeds violence but also comes alive with violence.
    Peaceful conflict resolution? Intellectual hogwash! Process of Conflict resolution ends up with the partition according to the dynamic structure of power, not according to what is right or what is wrong. The right and wrong are defined and redefined by the power struggle and relations.
    Am I too harsh in telling the truth? Let me be more precise: there can be no peace on earth as long as the capitalism and imperialism exist. It is simply because the peace requires justice for all and there is no place for justice in capitalism and imperialism except their own class dominated justice. Again, according to what I meant on struggle over meaning, my statement "there can be no peace..." will be articulated as call for violence by the dominant ideology and used as an excuse to apply oppressive measures to any social protest. I am, indeed, by the above statement, indicating the fact that the system is the source and user of violence, regardless we ask for peace and peaceful solutions or not .
    Party time? Sure. But do we really think that we can topple capitalism by playing the game the capitalists set?. When we are oppressed to the degree that other means mean our own blood, the most of us find the solution on clinging to the only alternative we are given: Party time around the left of center, because no peace otherwise?
    What does peace mean under the present systems? It means a secure and smooth operation of plunder. Peace doesn't work as we witness many examples every day all over the world. So what? Capitalists make more investment, thus more profit in war industries.
    We are neither at the beginning nor at the end of organized activities of opposition and counter-measures. Struggle goes on, like it or not.

    ps.: if LEFT of Center gains momentum, it means a meaningful step forward for the American politics which are dominated by only one party and one global interest divided into two as republicans and democrats (Single party character of the US political scene is more so in the second half of 90s. Can you differentiate Klinton in deed (not in word) from the mainstream republicans?)