No ordinary election, call for revolution

No ordinary election, call for revolution

This is not an ordinary election, the fate of Turkey will be sealed in less than two weeks’ time. If the governing party manages to get a majority, which would be enough to prepare for a transformation to a presidential system, the so-called “2002 Revolution” will be completed.

The 2002 Revolution is the name given by the supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to define the period since the AKP came to power after the 2002 general elections. Nonetheless, there was no mention of a revolution at the time; instead it was naturally assumed to be a case of the democratic transformation of power after a regular parliamentary election. On the eve of the 2002 elections, the ex-Islamists reinvented themselves as “conservative democrats” and defined their new party as “center right” and became convincingly self-critical. 

I was one of the “useful idiots” who argued against the accusations of “the hidden Islamism” or radicalism of the new party. I argued that we should take the word of the new party and refused to look beyond the public statements, as a matter of political principles. No, I do not regret it, since I think that it is unethical to accuse people for their past and/or for their supposed “dark motives” and that hypocrites should not define our morality. To be true to the principles of liberal democracy, we should take political actors by their words rather than their supposed “intentions,” “motives” and subsequent hypocrisies. In other words, to be just to everyone we need some sort of political “veil of ignorance,” I believe.

Besides, the AKP and its leader initially pursued “conservative democratic” politics and denounced “Islamism” with such strong words that we could not know that in fact we were living in “revolutionary times.” Long after the AKP turned to authoritarian politics, the governing party and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to tell us the truth that Turkey was heading toward a radical change. The coming election is not an ordinary parliamentary election, but one to choose between parliamentarianism and a “Turkish Presidential System” and between the new and old Turkeys. Now we are being told that the choice is black and white, good and bad; we will either be on the side of the revolution which started in 2002 and will culminate in a presidential system and the foundation of the New Turkey, or will be cursed as anti-revolutionary public enemies. 

The revolution that we are being asked to support is the “Last War of Independence,” so those who fail to support or dare to criticize it, deserve to be defined as “pawns of enemies,” or “unnational,” et cetera. Is the fate of all Muslims that is at stake in this election, so those who are in the opposition are at best non-Islamic. In this view, “Turkey is the target of a great assault since it is the only hope of Muslims all over the world, as the imperialists, or the ‘grand global design,’ is using all methods to weaken the last bastion of Muslim resistance.”

Forgetting that political “conservatism” is born as a reaction to revolutionary politics, our conservatives have decided to become revolutionary and now do not simply ask for our votes, but require our loyalty to the so-called 2002 or New Turkey Revolution which did not dare to spell out its name until recently. “Democratic elections for a revolution” may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it rings a bell, doesn’t it? What will follow is the legalization of all the current authoritarian politics, then court cases will follow against those critics who are already being criminalized in every way. It is an old story which does not need to be repeated with old clichés, old methods, but new names, new victors and new victims.

Unfortunately, the political opposition is oblivious to the coming of very difficult times, let alone being able to challenge it. The main opposition party’s overwhelming focus on economic matters and their most recent grand project for a future techology city, sounds like promising “free body building” to a dying body.

Moreover, it sounds more and more pathetic in the face of the increasing revolutionary zeal of the supporters of President Erdoğan, his governing party and his grand cause.