A New Apology : ‘Etatization’ of AKP
The prominent democrats of Turkey who has long been keen apologists of AKP politics, recently started to be critical of the govenment party. They invented a new term ‘etatization’ (‘devletleşmek’) to explain govenment’s drift away from democratic politics as adopting ‘state politics’ which has always been authoritarian. Despite the fact that, it sounds quite reasonable, in fact this argument does not only misses the point but also provides a new apology for AKP’s failure of democratic politics.
It is true that, the governing party seems to adopt the politics and discourse of ‘the ancien regime’, concerning its domestic as well as foreign policies. The politics of February 28, 1997 intervention was designed to supress Islamists and/or conservatives, now AKP govenment seems to reverse the politics of supressing dissent by attempting to silence the secularist opposition. The official policy concerning Kurdish problem has always been defined in terms of militaristic and security based. AKP’s promise for democratic solution is short lived and dramatically shifted back to politics of suprression. The final verdict on Hırant Dink assasionation has been the most important dissappointment. The foreign policy discourse turned to be extremely ‘defensive’ not only concerning the Armenian question but also in terms of ‘the return of grand narrative of conspricies againist Turkey’. Accordingly, political crises centered on MİT could be explained away as a foreign conspiracy mostly by MOSSAD but also by CIA.
Nevertheless, ‘etatization’ is no explanation for ongoing AKP politics. I was first who claimed that AKP became ‘the state party’ right after the last general election, but I referred to the process of AKP’s total control of executive, legislative and judicary (aspecially after September 12, 2010 referandum) by using the term of ‘state party’. I did not mean AKP’s surrender to ‘state apparatus’ as some democrats call it, because I do not think that ancien regime still retain any power to be able to force AKP to surrender. On the contrary, AKP built its own state apparatus which pusue similar politics to those of the ancien regime, since the political vision of AKP was limited to handover of state power to the conservatives. It is not the ancien regime which had the power to resist AKP’s supposed project of democratization but AKP’s understanding of democracy which was limited to the idea of ‘majority rule’.
In fact, AKP was expected to ‘democratize the state’ rather than to ‘deconstruct’ the state apparatus altogather, since it has never been and it has never needed to be a revolutionary party. Therefore the failure of AKP is not to continue to operate within the existing state machanism, but failing to democratize the political system. Under the circumstances, it can be claimed that, either AKP did not intend or it was not capable of democratization of the present political system and the state mechanism. I am inclined to think that the latter is the case, since AKP managed to fight againist the military establisment but did not show any sign of denouncing militaristic politics. AKP proved to be capable to change the judicary system but the government is still reluctant to reform the judicary system along democratic lines. AKP managed to overcome secularist pressures but still insist on slincing the dissent by using the supposed ‘threat coming from secularist establisment’.
Finally, there is no such thing that we can call ‘state’ and ‘state ideology’ apart from the governing party and its ideology which can force AKP to surrender and lead to a process of ‘etatization’. It is a process of governing party’s takeover of state power and building the new state apparatus and ideology along conservative authoritarian lines, rather than choosing to reform the state along democratic lines. It is to give AKP a new apology to call the political process as ‘étatization’ as if AKP is only to be criticized of its weakness to fight againist the resisting forces of the ancien regime, rather than of its unwillingness for democratization.