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December 06, 2009, Sunday

The good that has sprung from the initiative thus far...

It is not for nothing that people are calling it an “initiative.” Everything is out in the open, plainly manifested. All of those old tricks, those leanings which were veiled with fancy adjectives, are emerging into the daylight. And when push comes to shove, it is not only some politician who made a gaffe with his words about what happened in Dersim, but in fact, everyone in our society who is being tested. Tested on whatever it may be that they believe in most deeply.

From this perspective, then, the whole initiative is like an arena of sincerity. And in that arena, secretive intentions can’t come to life, nor can adjectives like “revolutionary” or “modernist.”

What’s more, whether or not people are even aware of it, everyone is responding with their most sincere reflexes. In a nation like Turkey, where all variety of leanings are generally placed in one large, authoritarian mold to be melted together, the fact that this same mold is now broken may be worrisome for some but also signals great potential. What is the reality behind this landscape we face which frightens some so? How right are those who try to portray the situation as one between Kurds and Turks, or even a clash with the Alevis?

Yes, there are those pouring into the streets in protest. And we also know that there are factions who will react to these protestors. These are the days when nationalists become more nationalistic, when authoritarians become more authoritarian. Democrats, those calling for civilianization efforts, various interest groups: peoples’ colors are becoming clearer and clearer.

This process is akin to a litmus test. It is a kind of junction, an intersection. And, like all periods of transition, it is filled with ambiguities. It is only as we pass through this intersection and beyond it that the ideas which define certain political stances will be rewarded and receive real responses. It will only then be possible to define positions based on principles.

At this point in the process, many people are directly opposed to the initiative, and as no one can adopt an anti-democracy stance, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has become the target of criticism for the initiative itself. Some factions are trying in vain to transcend the democratization part of the process, and instead focus on Kurdish-Turkish relations or the Alevis. But actually, the latter groups are not the focus of the real debates.

Political consistency, resolutions and principles, however, dictate that this is not how things should be, because those who create this sort of politics are well aware that the Turks, Kurds, and Alevis are not homogeneous.

But it is in the interest of some to portray the situation in simple categorizations of Turkish-Kurdish or Alevi-Sunni clashes. Which is not to say that such clashes don’t exist in Turkish society; they do. But the real reason for all these problems now rising to the surface is not contained in the actual Kurdishness or Turkishness of people, but is rooted in something much deeper. These are the labor pains of the democratization of relations between the state and the society. And when these relations are finally democratized, things will cool down. When this process is completed, it will not only be the society at large that is more relaxed, but also academic circles, civil society, religious sects and even trade chambers and such! Thus the gap will be closed between appearances and reality, when the process is completed. Thus those who say that they are defenders of democracy will be rescued from their positions, which are actually anti-democratic.

For a long while now, it has not only been in Turkey that people have been trying to understand this sort of political schizophrenia; Western political scientists have also had a very difficult time grasping politics in Turkey. For example, it has never been very clear just why it is that the same Republican People’s Party (CHP) which maintains that it has never become distanced from the ideals of secularity, modernity and innovativeness now follows coup-supporting, authoritarian and discriminatory policies.

As well, there has been great trouble in grasping how it is that the AK Party, which keeps its own conservative identity front and center, has pulled so far into the lead when it comes to subjects such as liberalization, civilianization and democratization. In the coming period in our nation, there will be new definitions for many of our structures. And rightly so. And likewise, the democrats, innovative thinkers and true conservatives will be more easily identifiable. There have been similar processes that have occurred in different spots across the world. After all, in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Europe went through similar situations, as the wall had previously acted as a symbol dividing different leanings within what was essentially one society.

In Turkey, we are witnessing for the first time the authoritarian mentality which veils certain trends that rise from so deep within society be shaken this significantly. The places occupied by certain institutions in our society are being reorganized. The new social contract that will arise as a result of these convulsions needs to have a consistently democratic mentality guiding it. Because it is only those who produce politics with sincerely democratic ideas in mind that can have a voice in Turkey’s future.

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