Friday, June 22, 2007

WSM on Turkey

Modernization, Authoritarianism and Political Islam
Red and Black Revolution #13

The following article is to appear soon in "Red & Black Revolution" no.13 (magazine of the WSM, Ireland). It examines the recent evolution of Turkish society, after the 1980 coup, and how it expresses in the current conflict between the military and the Islamist parties that is nothing but the conflict within sectors of the bourgeoisie for hegemony.

Almost ten years after the post-modern coup of 1997, in which the coalition government of Islamist Welfare Party (WP also known as Refah) and right-wing True Path Party (DYP) were forced to step down and later banned, another move by the powerful Turkish military came as a reminder of the role they keep in politics. Following the nomination of Abdullah Gül as president by Prime Minister Erdog(an in April, there was a parliamentary boycott organised by the secularist opposition of the White Turks, lead by the RPP (Republican People’s Party). Although there were past decisions supporting the case of the government, the Council of State favoured the opposition, but not before the military issued a warning on April 27th, resurrecting fears of military intervention and renewed repression that have plagued the last century of Turkish public life -signalling that the political might of the army is well and strong[1].

Two days later a massive demonstration as a part of a series of “Republic Meetings” was held in Istanbul. The concept was created by the pro-army Republic newspaper months before the presidential election and the participants came from secularist moderate or pro-army NGO’s. These urban secularist middle and upper classes were also denoted as White Turks. The demonstrators chanted against an Islamist government, but also, against military intervention. This added a new dimension to the crisis.

The current impasse with the army came to pose blatantly one of the paradoxes of Turkish life: that of secularism as being an authoritarian force, while political Islam is left to play the democratic cards[2]. But to understand the real nature of this apparent paradox it is important to dig a little bit into the history of Turkish society.


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