Today's Zaman, Turkey
April 15 2012


Specters as remnants of the 20th century

by MARKAR ESAYAN

The greatest advantage of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party)
has been the fact that the Enverist-Kemalist and neo-nationalist
circles have done everything wrong throughout the 20th century. If you
take the Sublime Porte (Babı Ali) raid as a reference point and start
of the pro-coup tradition in the country, this means that we have been
subjected to the brutality and arbitrary decisions of this tradition
for a century.
It should be acknowledged that the Kemalists have observed the
principle of equality in brutality and repression. They have repressed
and persecuted the Muslims, the Alevis, the Armenians and all others
without discrimination. And even when these circles and social
segments came to represent a large majority of the nation, out of
arrogance the Kemalists failed to realize that those they
discriminated against could not be discounted.

There are so many wrongs and errors done by this tradition that
despite its pragmatism and reluctance, every single step that it takes
improves the AK Party's popularity. Like it or not, the AK Party is
the only party that promotes change. And when the Republican People's
Party (CHP) strongly opposes change and reform, the AK Party's
popularity grows even further. The greatest mistake that the CHP and
its supporters hold is their belief that the Kemalist rule represented
a true success. Yes, Kemalism has created a new type of human being.
You and I are of this type. We will never know the alternate outlook
this country would have had if its history had been shaped otherwise.
But there is one thing that we know: Kemalism has left indelible
imprints on our identity.

But from another perspective, Kemalism is a dramatically failed
ideology because it has been promoted in the absence of popular
support and it has moved forward by oppressing the people. As a
result, the people have developed negative sentiments and opposition
to it, and this opposition ended this engineering project. From a
Foucauldian approach, a rule that is not internalized cannot be
sustained. The rule needs to be adopted, conveyed and reinterpreted by
the governed. Kemalism failed to realize that it has been able to
survive because of fascism in Europe and the circumstances of the Cold
War up to the 1990s. Kemalists thought that their survival was due to
their success. Because of this, Kemalism has repressed civilian
administrations viewed as being in opposition to its policies by
reliance on military coups. While it was a country that executed its
prime minister and ministers, Turkey was still able to receive
external support due to the oppressive political ideologies of the
time.

That support has disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Union and
end of the Cold War era. Instead, a huge information revolution is
taking place, globalization is declaring all dictatorships enemies to
global markets, and as a result it seems that any dictatorial regime
that is unable to integrate with the world economic system will not be
able to survive. China's transition to state capitalism and subsequent
global tolerance of its antidemocratic practices is a good example of
this. Had China not adopted this stance, it would have become a
country was struggling with insurgencies that would have attracted
global support. And let us call this one of the unethical impacts of
globalization.

For this reason, the military did not stage a conventional coup on
Feb. 28, 1997. It could be said that then-Chief of General Staff Gen.
Ismail Hakkı Karadayı served as a balancing actor between those who
wanted to stage a conventional coup and those who favored a postmodern
coup. Former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi -zkök's subscription to
democracy is being praised because of his opposition to the coup
attempts by the junta within the army in 2003 and 2004. But this is a
false view. Even if the junta wanted to carry out a coup, they would
not have achieved it in 1997 and 2003. Even if they had attempted to,
this would not have been successful; and in that case, Turkey would
have pursued the reform process more strongly. I am telling you, if
there had been a conventional coup on Feb. 28, the reforms in the last
decade would have been more radical, and we would have made our new
constitution. Some hold that Turkey is immune to developments in the
world, but this is not the case.

In sum, we are still dealing with a number of problems as remnants of
20th-century issues including the Kurdish issue, the Armenian issue,
the Cyprus problem, the coup constitution and coup institutions and
laws. They are like paper tigers. They could be destroyed by a single
fist. But our hesitation does not allow us to do this.