work in progress in social theory and cultural sociology

Nilüfer Göle on Gezi and what came after

06.17.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

[update 30th July 2013 – İhsan Yılmaz’ critical comments in the conservative/religious Zaman on the combined Kemalist-Islamist witch hunt against the eminent sociologist Nilüfer Göle … and our whole discipline for that matter are interesting reading  http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-320525-gezi-and-kemalo-islamist-attacks-on-sociologist-gole-1.html]

In a previous post I refer to the role that pioneering secular sociologists have played in de-demonising the new Turkish Muslim middle classes that found their voice in the 1980s. After the figure head of Islamic sociology in Turkey, Ali Bulac, now Nilüfer Göle has given her assessment of the recent events http://t24.com.tr/yazi/film-geri-sariliyor-akpnin-dinle-imtihani/6907 Below my humble attempt at translating the core points (corrections welcome).

Göle sees a missed opportunity for a more creative and pluralistic democratic development in Turkey – mainly owed to the government reaction that threatens to annihilate the democratic progress that has been made over the last decades

İktidar partisi, devletin tüm güçlerini arkasına almış, ama iktidarda değilmiş gibi davranıyor. Film geriye sarıldı. Ergenekon davası, Cumhuriyet mitingleri, 28 Şubat, 27 Mayıs, Cumhuriyet’in kuruluşuna kadar gidiyoruz, geri adımlarla gidiyoruz.  Film geri sarılıyor.

The party in power, having gathered all state forces behind itself, behaves as it were not in government after all. The film rewinds – we’re going back to the Ergenekon process, the Republic Protests, the 28th February, the 27th May,  the Founding of the Republic. We’re regressing. The film rewinds.

(“Ergenekon” refers to a network of nationalist/Kemalist interests, also referred to as the “Deep State”, that allegedly has maintained their grip to power by engineering pretexts for military coups on a regular basis – the “Republic Protests” refer to Kemalist mass demonstration against the prospect of an anti-secular regime that many expected from the AKP in power, the 28th of February 1997 denotes a “diplomatic” intervention by the military, also known as “soft putsch”, that brought down the coalition government headed by the Islamist leader of the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi) Necmettin Erbakan, 27th May 1960 is the date of the  first military coup in Turkey)

Müslümanlar ve Cumhuriyet arasında onarıldığı düşünülen yara yeniden kaşınıyor.  Hem de cumhuriyet sınıflarının yaralandığı, kırılganlaştığı, mağdur olduğu bir ortamda. Müslümanlara mazlum kimliği biçiliyor. Ötekilere terörist muamelesi reva görülüyor.

The rifts between the Muslims and the (secularist) Republic that have been thought to be mended are opening anew. But now it is the secularist-republican classes that are in a state of being injured, vulnerable and victimised. An identity of the oppressed is forming against the (now dominant) Muslims. And it is perceived as a terrorist operation against the other.

But the conflict is no longer (and never really has been just) between “religious” and “secular” forces. The binary misconception that was part of the self-conception of the Kemalist elites has been torn apart by observers of all colours:

Cumhuriyet aydınları, laik kesimler, solcular, muhafazakârlar arasından çok kişi, düşünür, “biz – öteki” ayrımlarının aşılmasına katkıda bulundular. AKP iktidara gelmeden çok öncesine giden demokrasi sınavı verdiler.

Many people, many thinkers – republican intellectuals, secularists, leftists, conservatives – have contributed to an overcoming of “us versus them” distinctions. They have passed the democratic test long before the AKP came to power

So while the Kemalist elites can no longer count on the secular masses gravitating, in the end, towards the armed forces and also are no longer able to portray Muslim politicians per se as reactionary advocates of a return to Ottoman rule or an Iranian-style theocracy, neither can the ruling Muslim politicians of the AKP dismiss the mass protests as engineered by the “deep state” to provoke another military coup (even though attempts have been made to draw parallels between Erdogan and Adnan Menderes, the prime minister and leader of the Democratic Party who was executed after the 1960 putsch)

Otoriter laikliğin, Kemalizmin eleştirileri, milliyetçiliğin, baskıcı devletin çözümlemeleri, demokrat düşünce tarihinin mirası zengindir. Gezi hareketi etrafında oluşan protestolar bu geleneğin ve demokrasi anlayışının derinleştirilmesini ifade etmektedir, derin devleti değil.

There is a rich heritage of democratic thought, critiquing authoritarian secularism and Kemalism, analysing nationalism and the overbearing state. The protests unfolding around the Gezi movement stand in this tradition and they are an expression of a deepening understanding of democracy, not of the “Deep State”.

Also, Göle  points that many which would have counted as natural supporters of the AKP, members of the new Islamic middle classes, do not support the government response to the protests – and some, like the movement of “anticapitalist Muslims” even takes part in the protests, thus identifying a potential for rifts within the Muslim camp

İçki, kadın, faiz, Alevilik üzerinden, mutaassıp Sünni çoğunluk anlayışı dayatılmak isteniyor. Ahlaki temalar  “muhafazakâr demokratlık” değil,  geçmişin tutucu, “yobaz” kategorisini çağrıştırıyor. Kendi yarattığı yeni Müslüman sınıfların yeni hayat tarzlarını hiçe sayıyor.

There is an insistence on a sanctimonious majority-Sunni approach to alcohol, women, profit, Alevism. The promotion of moral issues evokes the image of a bigot clinging to the past, rather than that of a “conservative democracy”. They disregard the lifestyles of the new Muslim classes that they themselves have created.

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