Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘ICSE

Something to be said

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I have never touted the Turkish model as—well—a model. Indeed, much of my time has been spent making fun of that absurdity. But with that, hopefully, established, I think it is worth appreciating that, by way of (unfair) comparison, Libya is a non-state, Egypt is politically back to square one (with more jihadists), Yemen is endlessly fractured (by drones), Bahrain is a den of repression, Tunisia has never had more violent dissidence, Syria is rubble, and Lebanon is Syria. Civil unrest has indeed yielded regional change in MENA, and it is—as the sober voices of the Arab Spring insisted it would be—messy.

Now that the Arab Spring is no longer trending and the narrative threads have been cut and forgotten, it is worth taking a (brief) second glance at Turkey’s place in the chaos (to say nothing of the Turkish business interests that fed the regional flames). And at such a juncture, there is something to be said for a country that has such deep, and deepening, rifts in its vision of what the Turkish nation ought to be—such a genuine dissonance—and where the death of a Turkish national is still generally treated as an unacceptable consequence of disagreement.

There is something impressive about the Turkish case. Some would attribute it to a “more modern” political system (complete nonsense), some would attribute it to its proximity to Russia (like Ukraine?), some to its being in NATO (what is “NATO”?), some to its not being in the EU (I actually read this somewhere), some to its lack of mineral wealth (Tunisia, Egypt, Syria?), etc. But that’s not it. There is something, something less tangible, about Turkish civil society that does not lend itself to the same destructive forces that rend the rest of the Middle East and, to some extent, Europe.

But all the same, I urge the reader not to look too far down the rabbit hole, for he will only find that those forces which hold the Turkish nation together, which forged a robust Turkish civil society in the first place, are those very forces—a subtle blend of blind religious observance, gender discrimination, xenophobia, blind nationalism, nepotism, etc.—that the civilized Western world abhors. Better not to think about it too much, really.

Written by M. James

March 19, 2014 at 11:04 am

Posted in Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , ,