Volume 13, Number 13
12 December

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Why Feed a Black Hole?

I'm sure most of you have been to the Ankara City Bus Station at least once or twice. If you've never been there, I'm sure you've encountered those credit card "representatives" standing in front of the stands on the sidewalks downtown, or around our campus buildings. One way or another, you'll know what I mean when I say, "some companies do not advertise, they act like beggars to sell their product or service to us."
The verb, to advertise, is defined as "to call public attention to especially by emphasizing desirable qualities so as to arouse a desire to buy or patronize" by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

To beg, on the other hand, is "to ask for as a charity" according to the same source.
These two definitions basically sum up the main difference between advertising something to make people buy it, and begging them to buy: advertisement tells about the qualities. This way, it "arouses a desire to buy or patronize." While the advertiser is doing this, the beggar asks us to buy his product or service as a charity. He expects us to do him/her a favor by doing something. His/her only argument is that he needs us.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the "Untimely Thinker" as he calls himself, distinguished between master morality and slave morality in the second half of 19th century. In this distinction, he dubbed gaining strength from being/appearing weak and miserable as "slave morality." For him, our lack of ultimate aims led to our forgetting the question "why" and made us focus on "how" just like slaves without aims (similar to what Max Weber dubs "instrumental-rational action"). In a society without questions, strong individuals with important aims lose their superiority to those who know nothing about setting values.*

Both Nietzsche and Weber proposed that this automatization trend dominates modern society. For Nietzsche, this meant the domination of slave morality over master morality. I think this is very different from social responsibility. The beggar does not care about social balance. You are supposed to help him/her just because you are in a better position than him/her. It's bilateral. He blames you because you possess what he doesn't. His understanding of morality makes you feel guilty because you have what others don't.

If someone demands something from you and gives something in return, there is nothing wrong with it. We don't have to be as materialistic as Ayn Rand. Even hearing a "thank you" in return might be enough. But the beggars I'm talking about do not care about exchange. They just demand, and they hate whoever denies giving them everything. In fact, they hate everybody. Because they always play "the victim."
You have money? He has bus tickets to İstanbul. You have to buy it because he needs to sell. What about the quality? It doesn't matter. He will shout into your face "İstanbul!" and expect you to follow.

You are happy? But he is sad. You have to listen to him because he needs to tell. What about your happiness? It doesn't matter. Will he be grateful? Of course he will not be. What makes him strong is being the victim.
Surrounded by all kinds of outstretched hands, we're left with two important duties: (1) distinguishing between self-contained actors and ever-demanding beggars, (2) and learning to say "no" to the latter while glorifying the former. This will most probably solve many of the problems in our social life and cure our economic dissatisfaction.

*POLS 343 (Social Theory: Past and Present) and POLS 421 (Issues in Modern Political Thought) lecture notes. Thanks to Asst. Prof. Nedim Karakayalı and Asst. Prof. Banu Helvacıoğlu.

İsmail O. Postalcıoğlu (POLS/IV)

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