Ideological defeat and fledging hopes
However or wherever it ends - in Gezi Park or elsewhere - the result of the Gezi Park rebellion is that the “ideological front” was obtained days ago. On that front, the government is facing an irreparable and historic defeat.
The moral superiority concepts and paradigms that were represented by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s personality, which were attributed as “new,” have been overcome, outdated, or collapsed. The first victim of the Gezi Park phenomenon is the “New Turkey” concept that I also used in my column.
This social explosion has revealed a newer Turkey than that of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in other words, “the newest Turkey.”
Because of the badly mistaken position Erdoğan has adopted, one that could be summarized as simply “having his own way,” the new Turkey is fast eroding in the face of the newest Turkey.
The frazzling new Turkey’s reaction to the newest one is no different than the one shown in the past by the Kemalist republic to the dynamic that has materialized as today’s AKP Turkey; the objector and oppressor stance - embodied by Erdoğan - the condescending attitude, and the effort to describe the issue using foreign conspiracies.
As a matter of fact, the issue, because of Erdoğan having it all his own way, has reached a stage today where it cannot be solved without paying a political bill.
Until May 31, there was a mentality that thought it was able to manage issues by reasoning, “I have the police force; I can crush them; I can gas them; I can disperse them.” But it was actually accumulating more problems, and when it came to the evening of May 31, it had to face the fact that its methods were no good. Moreover, it has gotten into big trouble. It should be foreseen that qualified social segments left over from the Kemalist republic’s “old Turkey” would be positively influenced by the 1990s generation that was on history’s stage at Gezi Park, was politicized based on freedoms, and would transform new paradigms and legitimate democratic demands. Change may carry them from “old Turkey” to “the newest Turkey.”
The oppressive and authoritarian reaction Erdoğan has demonstrated against the Gezi Park phenomenon is fast pulling down the moral superiority of the AKP’s Turkey; it is fast transforming it into an “old one.” If the AKP, which in itself is a very significant formation, cannot manage to be a political party, but rather stay as Erdoğan’s political machine, then it will surely receive its share of this eroding effect.
The AKP’s claim of being the pioneer of change in the Middle East with its Sunni, Ottoman and Islamist Turkey, in other words, with its claim of being a leading and example country, vanished at Gezi Park. This is the second biggest ideological defeat that the Erdoğan and Davutoğlu duo has been exposed to. Now, the chance is possible for the newest Turkey, if it is able to find its own way, to present an example of liberal and secular democracy in the Middle East.
Correspondingly, the “Islamic democracy” paradigm that had been patched to the AKP’s Turkey from outside the country also vaporized in Gezi Park. Because it defined democracy over a religion, this concept was already a faulty concept at its foundation, so it should never have been pronounced. The concept “Islamic democracy,” whatever was intended to be meant by that, is exactly what is being rejected by “the newest Turkey.”
This all points to a historic defeat for the government.
The new Turkey of the AKP will not be able to be marketed any more within this package to Muslim populations that have not digested secularism. “Islamic democracy” will no longer be the legitimizing factor of policies making Turkey more conservative, further restricting freedoms.
There are two roads ahead of Turkey: Either become a country that lives a constant instability under Islamic authoritarianism, or forming the liberal, pluralist and inclusive democracy that the very new Turkey points to.
Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on June 13. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.