September 2003 – East Conference Declaration

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Every historically conscious man and woman, who observed the last quarter of the twentieth century, agreed on the conviction that “we are living in one of the turning points of history, and possibly in the most critically important one”.

This turning point is marked by a horrible paradox: On the one side, there is an unprecedented level of development -achieved in the fields ranging from the exploration of the space to genetics, from nuclear physics to cybernetics- which provides solutions to the material problems of humanity. These improvements are accompanied by the developments in the field of basic rights and freedoms. Rejection of violence, participation, environmental responsibility and democracy are becoming the common principles, binding most of the human societies. But on the other side, poverty and hopelessness are increasing throughout all the continents; differences between the life-chances of various social classes are deepening; everywhere, from Rwanda to Bosnia, from Philippines to the metropoles of the USA there are bloody ethnic and religious conflicts, violence and aggression –sometimes backed by state policies and take the form of genocide. And at the center of this countercurrency, stands USA, with its unrivaled military, economic and technical power and policies. It is violating all universal values and international law and trying to replace them by its own law of power. The primary target of this new imperial policy –fed by the thesis of “civilizational conflict” and becoming more and more aggressive- is the Middle East. And its last victim is the people of Iraq.

Middle East experienced such invasions several times from the beginning of the Western progress. Indeed, we can easily claim that, each technological, economic and military development and every increase in power experienced in the Western countries, led to new waves of invasion, domination, internal conflict, totalitarian regimes, artificial boundaries, deepening of the social and political gaps in the Middle East.

The region extending from Balkans to Caucasus and Egypt was very rich both economically and culturally and was able to form a cultural base in spite of all the inherent diversities. But when, aggression and invasions disarticulated this body, it couldn’t be able to resist the strong waves of domination, which reduced our societies to an inferior and secondary status. Moreover the Eastern countries are trapped in a vicious circle in which anger and obedience fed each other and gave birth to rhetoric of victimization/oppression.

The horrible and bloody attack against Iraq and the destructive consequences of this invasion, forced us to come together and initiate the Eastern Conference. But our only concern is not, “how can we get rid of this vicious circle”. Because we are sure that, a real answer to this question cannot be given without questioning the civilizational paradox created by USA: USA now, by using the economic, scientific and cultural accumulations of the Western civilization as a tool of domination, is at the same time annulling the universal values of this civilization.

The fist and also the most glorious civilizations flowered in our region and this region was a bridge between different civilizations. This means that, a shakening suitable to this unique historical heritage and accumulation is a necessity and a strong probability for the peoples of the region. One of the two prerequisites of this revival is, not to describe East on the basis of an antagonistic relationship with the West. This will be a very easy and sterile way of revivalism. But of course, nobody can ignore the negative effects of the dominant, aggressive, exploitative and booty policies of West. Much of the problems of our region are created and deepened by these very policies. But we also cannot ignore the fact that, a considerable amount of self-criticism is inevitable for any intellectual and social construction. We believe that a new style of thinking and a new set of propositions can be produced in/by the East and it can at the same time be meaningful for the West and for all the world. So, we need not to limit ourselves with “what West did” or “what West did not”.

The second prerequisite of a cultural shakening is to open the channels of relationship between the component countries/currents of thought of our region. These channels have been destroyed or narrowed in the past but now we have to construct urgently new platforms through which we can transmit the historical-intellectual heritage of our region and the cultural-aesthetic products and experiences of our peoples. If this transmission can be succeeded, we will be able to know and learn about each other directly –after a very long interruption. The initiative of Eastern Conference wants to undertake this primary and urgent task, by contributing to the institutionalization of the dialogues about/around common problems and questions of our countries and our schools of thought.

In spite of all our differences,

we are setting out to give start to an operation of questioning, exploration and discovery motivated by our cultural identity, our historical accumulation and our intellectual responsibilities, on the basis of common concerns and questions about the future of our peoples.

We hope that this operation of discovery will be able to create a synergy.

If you find this search for dialogue meaningful;

If you believe in the participatory, pluralistic, egalitarian nature of our rich historical-cultural heritage;

If you believe in the possibility and necessity of challenging the chaotic and dark future put in front of us by the West;

If you still have a hope for a brilliant and better world, please join us and share the responsibilities of this intellectual awakening.

East Conference Conveners Committee

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