Monday, September 20, 2004

The Turkish Bell Jar [pdf file]

/ turkey / crossroads /
From the New Left Review, Çaglar Keyder presents a very interesting analysis of Turkey, the decisions it is facing and the societal transformations it is undergoing

..."Against a background of high unemployment and fragile economic recovery, the neo-Islamist AKP is submitting its supporters among the urban poor to the programmes of the IMF, Pentagon and Kemalist elite. Internal pressures on NATO's Middle East bridgehead and EU candidate member."

And as a side comment on Erdogan's recent anti-adultery laws and the resulting furor, let me point out two things:
1. To fellow Greeks: adultery over here was decriminalized sometime in the early 80s by PASOK over the loud protests of the "righteous", church-going right.
2. It's a good thing that the state of Virginia won't be applying for EU membership anytime soon, since it is one of the 23 US states, where adultery is considered a crime (while having sex out of wedlock is considered a crime in ten)! In the American Bible Belt Erdogan's Islamic party would be considered way too permissive I fear...

1 comment:

talos said...

old comments

aegean disclosure:

hmm, its all rather amusing. Erdogan's frustration is coupled with the fact that he's 0 for 2 in satisfying his core constituents. His effort in getting religious high schools regular status having already fizzled out ….

2004-09-20 22:56

1. Remember the "Villa tis amartias" or whatever was called that movie with Konstantaras? I still can picture the scene where he was led off by the police!

2. It is not exactly the same, since Islam begun as much as a political movement as a religious one. In a sense Mohamed "succumbed" to the temptation of the Devil in the desert, who promised Christ the kingdoms of the world. That said, it doesn't follow that Islam is incompatible with a secular democracy, as Turkey and Tunisia show. As Algeria proves however there are several real dangers to the arrangement of a fascist-military elit keeping the (multitude of) Islamists at bay.

Finally there is a question of how much tradition influences counter situation and practices and vice-versa.
That is, the West prides itself on its tolerance but this has not always been the case. Does this mean that the intolerant west of the past wasn't Western?
Slavery was ubiquitous and accepted, while today it is considered barbarous (although still common). Yet if social and economic conditions, with the introduction of the industrial revolution, hadn't created a need for a semi-skilled, urban labour force and made said cheaper to maintain than actual slaves, would slavery and even feudal bondage have been abolished?

2004-09-21 11:35

Please could you fix the link to the pdf. It sounds interesting and I would like to read it. Thnx.

2004-09-23 11:22

Thanks for pointing it out Yiannis, it's fixed now!

2004-09-23 13:30
Frans Groenendijk:

Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek says something similar: How not to win Muslim allies

Most important in his contribution imho is this:
"In the end the EU decision will not be about Turkey's performance, which has been better than anyone could have hoped. It will be made by a Europe that is either confident or scared of the future. The former would see that Turkey could help solve its labor shortages, help with its problems assimilating Muslim populations and send a powerful signal across the world. The latter is best symbolized by the leader of the German conservatives, Angela Merkl, a bitter opponent of Turkish membership, who acknowledged these positive effects but said recently, "I look inwards." Alas, there are too many European leaders today who look only inwards. (my emphasis, FG)"

(nice layout of your comments btw)

2004-09-26 21:46

Frans, Fareed Zakaria on the EU, I've stopped taking seriously after his spirited celebration of EU's lack of democracy, a few years back. His view about what the EU should be, can be seen in the following quote, from the Newsweek article:

"…But to judge a developing country like Turkey by the standards of postmodern Europe circa 2004 seems to miss the point. If Turkey were a fully modernized society, it wouldn't need EU membership."

Which doesn't make sense, except if you see the EU's main role as modernizer of slightly backwards countries - or in Zakaria's case helping implement US plans in the Middle East. I tend to hope for a truly political union, a European confederation. In this model Turkey's accession, as well as that of other recent members, is an obstacle to political unification, unless it can be thoroughly democratized, fast - including moving the military away from politics, about which Zakaria has little to say. Interestingly, although similar arguments about "outwardness" can be made for Russia's accession to the EU, they're not being made at all.

Don't get me wrong… I'm very much in favour of Turkey joining the EU (and Russia eventually), not least because this would result in its democratization (not to mention peace for us neighbours!), but there needs to be a process that results in a more democratic Turkey (and not a less democratic EU)… This latest morality play, however, strikes me as hypocritical, and my comment was aimed at various "analysts" over here who use this to "demonstrate that Turkey is lagging behind in its mentality…"

2004-09-27 19:38