State Mind of the Crisis


Zeynep Direk

In a crisis when the earnings are cut, when they are not enough or cannot be earned at all sleeplessness gets started. The state of not even blinking your eyes within the darkness of the night captures one. There are the problems whose solutions are unknown and there is insecurity. The knot of life takes the shape of a stuffing each day and the malaise spreads through various different areas of life that once seemed disconnected. It ceases to be a personal state of mind and spreads over everyone we are together with. This affection, which attacks to the very basis of our existence becomes timed and collectivized. Within the spaces it hovers in the air in such a way that you can even feel it. Our capacity to deal with the demands of the world, our control over the life diminishes every day. While we performed the art of lessening, the art of demanding and settling for the less it forces us to recognize and distinguish what is for free and what is not within our place in this world. Air is for free but even for dying you need to be able to buy a piece of land. For existence you need to earn money, own resources. The uncertainty of the future, the responsibility of those who are dependent on us and the desperateness of witnessing to the malaise of our beloveds as well turn into an overwhelming burden. One of the appearances of the heaviness, oppressiveness and the painfulness of existence is our inability to carry the responsibilities on our shoulders. The impossibility of doing nothing while being ready for doing anything. The closure of the possibilities in the world, being stuck with others, unemployment. Everybody knows these. At least they are conceivable.

The earnings can decrease or they can totally stop coming but the expenses don’t. The opportunities have been consumed and it has become impossible to make a new plan and even to move. This is a nightmare in which people find themselves stuck within their circumstances, unable to move contrary even if they want to do so. Crawling and struggling desperately without being able to change your condition even to the slightest, without moving anywhere within the ever-extending empty time. A strange feeling of emptiness coming periodically out of this tension, calmness, giving up the search and submission. Within the crisis, lack of money and opportunity visits us with the other people, but this is never a feast or a wedding, it is the deadlock of the society. Whatever the economists in the media tell us about the reason of the crisis in the world of a globalized capitalism a crisis can never be caused by the life style of the lower or middle classes. What can be the connection between our small vulnerable lives and the movements of transoceanic speculators or with the lies of CEO’s and the Americans’ expenditure beyond their incomes? How can it be related to the hunger of children in Africa? It is not possible to accept this relatedness without understanding the global capitalist system. The meaning of the crisis extends far beyond the life of the people living anywhere in the world whom are materially affected by it…In this crisis, we experienced the extent to which different and distant life worlds on this earth are indeed closely connected with each other. Global economy has produced a world where everyone and everything is related with one another. In such a world the crisis has come as a total fate, as a prophecy. It was foreseen and it absorbed all of us within itself in an unavoidable way.

Crisis affects almost everybody – some more and some less- but of course the crisis of each class is different from one another. Being obliged to dispense with some of your luxuries or counting every of your penny is distressing but still it is not hunger. It is an unexpected shock to observe that the conditions of your survival are diminishing, to loose your shelter, your home and to become in need of the blessings of solidarity. In everywhere the number of houses for rental or sale is increasing because the students, the ones who used to live on their own and even the nuclear families are moving back to the houses of their families. The independence of the individual’s life is being disturbed within the economic crisis. In these periods of time when our world gets narrowed and our mobility limited, when it has become more difficult to survive, the indispensability of having a social state becomes much more clear. The support coming from the social state is not dependent on the way the beneficiary unemployed citizen acts or lives. But the aids coming from communities and the political institutions are conditional and reciprocal. The bonds of kinship and friendship also work as a system of help but when everybody devotes their energy to save themselves and only those whom are very close to them, willingly or unwillingly, other closenesses turns into distances. For hunger, “Society chooses its own deads,” says Sartre. The deads chosen by the crisis, the ones whom were already on the edge of survival under the normal conditions, are the lowest classes of the society.

When the material conditions of their survival fade away, people not only die of hunger, cold or sickness in the final instance but they also die though killing each other, their families and children. This deadly aspect of the crisis should be understood not only from a class perspective but from a gender perspective as well. Though the gender aspect of the crisis cannot totally be explored by looking at the demands that call women to leave their jobs to men. Actually, in this crisis, this demand has already been made in a disguised manner. “Indeed unemployment is not as much as it is thought, it only seems to be so because women has started to look for jobs as well.” We have heard this sentence from the mouth of authorities recently. According to the patriarchical thinking men’s employment is more prior than women’s. Accordingly, if the number of available jobs is decreased within the society then women should return to their home where they can deal with their natural activities such as cleaning and children care. In times of crisis, women are faced with the danger of being defined according to their nature much more than they do in normal times. On the other hand domestic violence gains a different meaning during the crisis and it becomes much more closer to a terrible massacre. Let’s give a few examples from the things we have experienced recently: A father whose squatter house was being torn down has put the knife on the throats of his babies in order to stop the destruction. The question in his mind was how he was going to make these babies continue to live under the conditions of homelessness. A man whom was powerless enough to be unable to provide the necessary living conditions for his babies was thinking of killing them himself rather than leaving those babies to the hands of social services or to natural death. Even if he was not serious in his attempt, that it was simply a show of desperateness and a bluff to stop the destruction of the house would this necessarily change the meaning of the fact that this reflex has been shown? Here the distinction between the bluff and the real intention, between threatening and committing the crime is an issue of law. What is important for us is the fact that this idea has been thought and this action has actually been made even if it has been so in a parodical way. It is worthy to question the meaning of the action, what does it relate to and what does it actually do independent of its genuineness. Another news item from the newspapers: Because of a debt issue a man has killed his brother, his wife and his three children. When a brother is unable to pay back his debt, his authority as a brother diminishes because his manhood comes to an end. Massacres that are done by men within a family because of conflicts on resource sharing, which also involve the killing of women and children of the family is a phenomenon that intensifies in times of crises. It is the news on domestic massacres that fill up the second pages of newspapers during a crisis. The shocking event of Mardin, which involved the massacre of 44 people including men, women and children has been read by sociology in relation to war, forced migration and the evils of paramilitary system of koruculuk (rangership) but not in relation to the manhood aspect of the crisis. But all these examples are signs of a retreat on the side of the manhood to a more archaic stage. On the basis of the patriarchical society there lies a social contract among brothers. This contract is being broken in a state of mind of powerlessness and insecurity that is caused by a big crisis. Fights and revenges, which involve the massacre of women and children, are taking place. What is the status of women and children according to this basic social contract? They are not primarily independent human beings. Instead they are the property and the heirs of men; the conditions of the continuation of his race that can be destroyed at his will. When the distress increases during the crisis the name of the father, the law of the state, starts to loose its power. If the power of the name of the father, the law of the state, was strong enough it would have prevented the brothers from massacre. Here it does not make any difference whether the man has done the massacre as a planned action or as a result of a momentary insanity. Also the subject of the action he makes no more exists. He’s attempted to establish himself as a pure power; breached the law of the symbolic system and ceased to be a subject of the language. The man who kills his own family or the family of his brother indeed also dissolves the social contract on the basis of which the state rises. Crisis brings with itself the possibility of deteriorating into to a manhood prior to the patriarchical social contract. Perhaps this is the most primitive face of the manhood before gender.


From Amargi- Issue 13

Share Button