Modernization is bringing comfort to our lives and we like this. But, are we able to digest the fact that modernization also creates a multi-voiced society?
This is a very important cultural and political problem of ours, both today and in the last 150 years of our history. While viewing the demonstrations that have spread across the entire country from the Gezi Park protests, this mentality problem of ours emerges. According to one section of society, there are foreign powers behind these protests, illegal organizations. Some even mention Ergenekon. If you view it with these glasses, then you may see “conspiracies” and “deceived crowds” in sociological phenomena. Our political literature is full of such discourse. Your behavior is then shaped accordingly; you tend to “suppress” it instead of trying to understand it, instead of having a dialogue or finding a solution.
It does not matter whether they are of the right or left, those who have an authoritarian view of the world have such glasses: They are surrounded by enemies, discord and malice, in an overcast life.
There is also the option of looking from another point of view. I want to cite an example from one of President Abdullah Gül’s statements. Gül reminded of the mass protests that emerged in the United States and in Europe. He said the Gezi Park movement did not resemble the “Arab Spring” movement, but rather such incidents in the West. As a matter of fact, things such as free elections are not being demanded by Turkish protesters, as they are in the Arab Spring. We already have these in Turkey. However, protestors here have “green” demands, as in the Western examples; they defend their lifestyles, they protest about government intervention. They are not an ideological movement, they do not propose an ideological project to society. It is a typical modern protest movement, it opposes what it regards as wrong.
For example, Gezi Park
When you view from this point, you don’t see incidents as “political conspiracies,” but rather you try to understand them; you see them as problems that need to be solved. The police would only interfere to maintain public order, not to “suppress.” The movement symbolized by Gezi Park has passed these stages: First it was called the work of “illegal organizations and foreign powers.” The police action at the beginning was an operation to suppress this. Then, a backlash grew…
With Gül and Arınç stepping in, the modern protest feature of the movement was seen. The police were calmed, the protesting masses separated from the radicals. And dialogue started; the president received Sırrı Süreyya Önder and the Taksim Platform representative met with Arınç.
Yesterday, it was the Kemalist authority that needed to see that “modern” was not one type; today, it is the conservative authority that needs to see that “modern” is pluralistic.
The concept of “freedom” develops in today’s person who is educated, urban, aware of the world, and who earns his or her living not from the fields or from a state job but rather through his own work. His feeling of “Nobody should interfere with me” strengthens. To such a person, if you say “We have increased the national income this much, what else do you want?” he would answer, “Do not intervene, I want that.”
Since there is no room for military tutelage in this era, a majority authority that has not been able to digest pluralism puts itself into trouble; and this too has been seen.
Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on June 6. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.