As it underwent an establishment period that the people were unfamiliar with, Turkish sociology -- in which the problem of the state is more pertinent than the problem of the people -- considered the solution of the state more pressing than the solution of the problems of the people. The main aim of this sociology tended towards enabling the discovery of an objective (state) reality via not an inductive but rather a deductive approach. And the culture that was being discussed was state culture; there wasn’t any time to spare for folk culture.
Additionally, there did not exist a people’s problem that sociologists of the time defined. As it would not be very rational to talk about a non-existent problem, in its first years Turkish sociology could not go beyond being an ideology system that was established and became institutionalized in the name of the state. While Turkish sociology, which started to breathe with the multi-party period in the 1950s, began to produce masters in the field, it was again interrupted by classical means, such as military coups. Turkish sociology started to take new steps, especially over the past 20 years, and gained a different speed when conservative sociologists, who Turkish sociology labeled as the “other,” became involved in the issue. It is because up until that time the issues were being approached with a rational and positivist sense, in which sociology had begun to erode. On the other hand, the framework offered by conservative Turkish sociologists caused horizons to expand.
The process of this historical change and development that Turkish sociology underwent could be said to be valid for newly emerging Kurdish sociology because Kurdish sociology has been proceeding in a way parallel to that of Turkish sociology. The early mindset of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which let Turkish sociology proceed only under its control, is now being imitated by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Each intellectual who utters a word on behalf of Kurds needs to “acknowledge” the BDP. What the BDP, which defines itself as the spokesperson of all Kurds -- although it knows that this definition has no legitimacy at all -- demands in the name of the Kurdish nation is just the same as what the state demanded in the name of the Turkish nation back then. While the BDP’s acceptance of the Kurds’ problem as its own problem could have been appreciated, the “acknowledged problems” were in stark contrast to the actual demands of Kurds; this is nothing but the Kurdish version of an authoritarian state tradition. Just like the way Turkish sociologists turned into the ideologists of the Turkish Republic, Kurdish intellectuals run the risk of turning into Kurdish ideologists because of the BDP. Thanks to the BDP, which saw the Kurdish problem in nationalistic terms and, just like early-period Turkish sociologists, was concerned with raising nationalist Kurdish intellectuals, Kurdish sociology, similar to early Turkish sociology, will not be able to get rid of the impact of an “imported” sociology for a very long time.
As the Kurdish problem, which gained a new dimension -- especially with the involvement of conservative sociologists, breaks free of the monopoly of the BDP, the BDP’s increasing secular discourse attracts the attention, and the simplest indicator of this is its “civil Friday prayers” initiative, wherein the BDP decided to hold Friday prayers that are alternative to those offered at mosques. Kurdish sociology, which has become close to a positivist establishment period just like Turkish sociology, is creating a distance between itself and religion as a result of those secular actions of the BDP. It is very interesting that the BDP shows its “nationalistic trump card” in the aftermath of every speech of conservative intellectuals regarding the Kurdish problem.
While Kemalist (pro-Atatürk) paradigms were effective in shaping sociology in the Turkish Republic, the BDP is trying to create the same effect by means of Öcalanist (pro-Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK) paradigms. While books authored by Öcalan are effective in completing the ideological stage, they also play a role in the Kurdish community’s behavior in accordance with the same style of the discourse. The issue that becomes prominent as a result is the effort to keep the problems of the Kurds and the wishes of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) within the same framework. This effort will pave the way for monopolizing Kurdish sociology and for weakening the “strength of discourse” of Kurdish intellectuals who are not under the monopoly of the BDP.
Keeping conservative Kurdish intellectuals away
This truth is what underlies the issue of keeping conservative Kurdish intellectuals away from the Kurdish issue. It is because the BDP is aware that Kurdish sociologists, who have an Islamic point of view, hold the only power that can break the current formation. What the BDP does in relation to this is pursue the method of placing itself at the center and alienating the others who are not at the center. This alienation appears either by means of the approval of intellectuals that think differently from the BDP or by means of the BDP’s sui generis methods. The effort of making Turkishness and Turkism essential and espoused, which was the main duty of early Turkish sociology (that being of early Turkey), is similarly seen within the actions of the BDP on behalf of Kurdism today. Although the discourse of “brotherhood” is used, the BDP wishes to rule and steer Kurdish sociology.
The intellectuals of the center (BDP) are in a struggle with the intellectuals of the greater circle and this struggle should again be solved by Kurdish intellectuals. The way of this solution should not be action-based but rather steeped in ideas. What Kurds can do in order to prevent this loss of time will be establishing a kind of theory in which the BDP is included in the theory’s intellectual viewpoint and approaches -- but not under the monopoly of the BDP.
While the basic quality of Western sociology is that it is positivist and rational, the basic characteristic of Turkish sociology has not been described in light of the fact that it has been a follower of a statist tradition; it is only recently that it has been determining its own style of discourse. As for Kurdish sociology, in this phase it seems that it will be the victim of a nationalist paradigm. If Kurdish sociology is to be considered, it is sure that it will not follow a method that is independent from either the BDP or the PKK or the Kurds, who constitute the main core. However, the political language of the BDP poses a serious problem in describing Kurdish sociology. The BDP, by continually rejecting discourses other than its own and seeing itself as having a monopoly over Kurdish discourse, will cause the same problems that were experienced by Turkish sociology in its initial phase to be experienced by Kurdish sociology.
More precisely, it will not be able to go beyond being a nationalist, pro-founder and pro-power sociology. Thomas Hobbes defines the sovereign as those who have personalities strong enough to defend social peace and individual safety and to make decisions in hard times. Unfortunately, the BDP stands as an organization that is not sovereign in the concept of “state.”
*Adem Palabıyık is a research assistant at Muş Alparslan University’s department of sociology.