The things you own end up owning you.

Trying to understand and explain the transformation in Turkey

In short time, the Constitutional Court of Turkey will make its decision whether to ban or not to ban the governing AKP Party.  The rule, whether for the ban or against the ban, will open a new page in Turkish history. As we are no magicians possessing beyond human forces, we are just in a position to speculate and try to sketch the upcoming future.

Transformation can take two diverse directions. The first direction I call ‘the territorial’ and the other ‘transnational’. The first dimension, is the reminiscent of the ancient regime, that of the ‘national security state’ that was superimposed upon the Turkish state/society complex in the very aftermath of the Second World War and the beginning of the Pax Americana. The Cold War and American hegemony meant for the rest to adopt policies and guidelines in line with the hegemonic discourse. The ‘national security state’ was one of the most important concepts in this process. Accordingly, in the Cold War atmosphere, all member and ally countries should protect themselves from the imagined ‘communist’ threat. This entailed the establishment of military-bureaucratic regimes which would rule their people from above in exchange of a protecting shield of hegemony and financial-military revenues, gains, or name it aids. The state/society structure was indeed territorial, because the most important purpose was to demarcate one’s own territory.

For this purpose, establishments such as NATO’s secret armies, stay-behind forces mostly summouned through extreme-right wing elements who will be ready to attack their ‘communist’ enemies with cold blood. The economic dimension was that of ‘import-substituting’ or ‘welfare-liberal’ systems. One for the core and one for the periphery. There was a tacit alliance in the core between the state, the industrialists and the working class in the name of corporatisms. The periphery or the weaker members were to abide with the rules and try to hodl their societies impact and rule from above, and facilitate a smooth working financial market, which will be ready to interlock itself with the outer system.

In Turkey this system was institutionalised in my opinion in the very aftermath of the 1960 coup d’etat, with the establishment of a new political system and a new constitution. The makers of the coup, in line with the Third World, elevated themselves to a privileged position vis-a-vis. the elected actors. The ‘National Security Council’ established by the 1961 Constitution was the supreme body of the ‘national security state’. In time, with the 1971 and 1980 coup d’etats, the relative autonomy of the perceieved Vanguard reached its apogee. During the 1980s, with the Turgut Özal, this relative autonomy was at least stopped and began to erode as witnessed in the case of “Generals crisis” in 1987. With the inability of the Turkish intellectuals and the rulers, the rise of the PKK and the emergence of a ‘low intensity’ zone, paved the way to the re-establishment of this autonomy. During the 1997, this autonomy once again reached its apogee, but thereafter began to fade.
The second option, that of the ‘transnational’ one in my opinion began with the Ecevit government of 1999, and continued with the AKP following the 2002 elections. This option, is that of the dismantling of the ‘national security state’, integrating Turkey fully into the European Union structures, which also means the ‘transnational economy’. It is aimed to overcome the characteristics of the ‘national security state’, and replacing it by a pluralist – European style democracy. The emergence of ties between the transnational business class and the Turkish bouegeoisie, the intensifying relationships with the education communities of Europe and Turkey, and many other examples which are written in the Accession partnership documents shows the roadmap to ‘transnational’ option.

We will see which way the ship will go. up till now this is what comes to my mind.


July 21, 2008 Posted by | Turkish daily, Turkish Politics | Leave a comment