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January 29, 2012, Sunday

This state must be cleansed

It has been quite a while since the phrase “deep state” entered the political lexicon. What we mean by “deep state” is structures -- and groups -- within the state that, while invisible, are very effective at shaping society and changing the course of certain events.

There are two specific characteristics of these “deep” structures and groups of which we speak: 1- They do not fear acting illegally at all, and in fact they see operating outside the law as their right. 2- They have ties with official institutions and circles. And this is where things get serious; how is it that the state, which by its very definition should be implementing laws (via the constitution) that it then ensures society is following, has become the main source of various illegal structures and actions?

Let me answer this question with another question: What can be expected from a state organization that does not see offering development, basic rights, freedoms and prosperity to its citizens as its main task? What can be expected is that this sort of state organization will work first to ensure its own existence. Secondly, it can be expected that this state will jealously protect all the many aspects of authority it has gathered and maintained for itself within the state and work to prevent any civilian actors from taking over these authorities. In other words, it will work as hard as possible to put up barriers for a society to become strong and more democratic.

The history of our republic is almost like a thesis written to prove the above two suppositions. Here is the real balance sheet: a) The political and legal order that has been created is not shaped by the widely accepted principles of society, but rather by the central authority and the wills of those wielding this authority. b) Society is seen not for all its historical and cultural richness and variety, but rather as a fake political construct; attempts to direct it are based on the latter rather than the former vision of society. c) There has been more of an instinct to herd and dominate society, rather than to try and serve it. d) The mentality of leadership that takes as its basis the concept of sovereignty has developed the habit of both irresponsibility and lack of accountability over the years. e) All public order and security organizations in the country have been based on the vision of an “inner enemy,” and thus the state has always been in conflict with one faction of society. f) The fact that the founding ideology of the republic -- as well as the general ideology of leadership -- has been “nationalism” and that nationalism has been reduced to the idea of ethnic purity (born of a Turkish mother, born of a Turkish father, a Turkish son of sons and the Sunni Muslim identity) means that society, which is thus being constantly polarized and divided, is never able to find results in its searches for solidarity and continuity. g) The assertions of “strong state” and “revolution from above” have never allowed for separation of powers, and thus the regime could never achieve the balance it needed, and with the insistence on consolidating the power of the court into the state, neither a true state of justice nor a developed democracy were ever able to come about.

So how are we meant to escape from these dead ends? We find ourselves so divided in our own ranks and devoid of common denominators that we are worried we won’t even be able to agree on the foundations and basis for our new constitution This is turn reduces excitement and breaks down our ambitions on this front.

So what needs to change? I am now very certain that if we do not solve the above-mentioned two problems in our hearts and our heads, we will be able to neither protect the national unity that we have constructed nor build a modern democracy based on a shared platform of equality and plurality.

1- Will we be able to rid ourselves of the mentality that worships the state and gathers as subjects people in exchange for the protection and guidance of the state? If we are not able to do this, what will happen is that the uncontrolled powerful state will be the sole actor and will become the stronghold of “officials” who behave irresponsibly and without having to account for themselves. As the state gets dirtied, so does society. For as long as politics is shaped by the state rather than individuals, neither the supremacy of justice nor democracy itself will be able to properly develop in Turkey.

2- Will we be able to redefine citizenship and what it is that a nation of people means by basing these definitions on the shared ownership of what we call “these lands” as well as on the equal membership in the political-legal entity we call the state? The truth is, I really do not know. Because all the research done so far shows that there is deep mistrust and suspicion of the Kurds, the Alevis and non-Muslims as well as conservative-religious congregations and groups in secular circles. It is no coincidence that this country is mentally and spiritually divided. This much hatred and suspicion were actually planted by the working state system in order to ensure its own continuity. And now we are reaping the poisonous harvests of all this. What we need to do is burn this harvest and plant some new seeds. Unfortunately, this will take time. But even just being aware of the mistakes made is in itself a kind of victory.

Previous articles of the columnist