Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Archive for October 2013

Defining the “Turkish model”

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After a few happy months, I once again stumbled upon the counterfeit concept of the “Turkish model,” which had neither form nor matter before Arab dictators started spontaneously going out of vogue. Since then, the concept has served as a lodestone for all varieties of vacuous Middle-East punditry. Today, however, a colleague managed to ease my rage at the unremitting concept by supplying an amusing ex tempore definition of the “model.”

. . . what American policymakers think Arab dissidents think about Turkish populism.

Accurate or not, I think that this “definition” suggests that the concept has outlived its usefulness. The democratization ruse in Egypt, the resignation of Ennahda in Tunisia, the stalemate in Syria, and the Gezi Park protests have, after all, stripped the idea of its original, hopeful context. The reality has always been more complex than the concept suggested.

But the columnists clamor for bread. If nothing remains to be said about the “Turkish model,” then a new concept, equally myopic, will grace your doorstep soon.

Written by M. James

October 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Süzme Sözler II

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From a 1935/6 collection of clever sayings about everything from nationhood to Hitler and Greta Garbo, by Turkish writer Raif Necdet Kestelli:

Hassasiyet varlık pınarının kaynağıdır.

Which, in all its simplicity, seems to be an argument for empiricism—that sensations are the basis of all of our knowledge, including knowledge of the self.

In translation:

Sense-perception is the source of the spring of existence.


I feel, therefore I am.

Süzme Sözler I

Written by M. James

October 5, 2013 at 1:09 am

True Turkish liberals?

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It is a crucial question whether these people exist in Turkish politics, and to what degree they understand the meaning of “liberal democracy.” Mr. Erdemir seems genuine enough, but his education and party affiliation suggest that he is indeed a rare case, and not a very influential one.

A Turkish Liberal Democrat?
Claire Sadar; Atatürk’s Republic; Oct. 4th, 2013

A true liberal democrat is a rare species in Turkish politics but it appears that they do in fact exist. Last week I attended a talk by a Turkish MP from Bursa Aykan Erdemir. Erdermir is an interesting figure: a young Harvard PhD and former professor who was elected as  a CHP MP from the AKP dominated district of Bursa in 2011. His talk, titled ”Prospects for Pluralist Democracy in post-Gezi Turkey” painted a clear-eyed picture of the causes of the Gezi protests and real problems Turkey faces if it is to become a truly liberal democracy.

Erdemir identified a number causes that worked in conjunction to create popular uprisings in Turkey this summer. He believes demographic changes that Turkey has been undergoing for the last several decades are central to growing political discontent. The shift from large, extended families to small, nuclear ones has changed a formerly heavily patriarchal society into what he dubbed a “child-archal” society. Erdemir believes that the patriarchal state is out of sync with the changing family dynamic; a dynamic which has resulted in an more individualist world-view amongst the younger generations. He also mentioned the population shift from rural to urban areas, the growing export based economy and the increasing educational attainments of the average Turk as factors that have resulted in a significant societal shift.

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Written by M. James

October 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

Posted in Politics, Turkey

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