The culture of obedience in Turkey

The culture of obedience in Turkey

To what degree do you value the concept of law? It is the key to many of our problems.

There are important findings in that sense in the research on citizenship conducted by Professor Ayşe Kadıoğlu and her colleagues.

Some 64 percent of society says their rights come after their responsibilities to the state. 

Half of society believes that those who have not completed their military service should not benefit from citizenship rights.

Some 61 percent of society says those who do not complete their citizenship duties should not benefit from health and education services.

Authority-based culture

This data shows we are an “obedient” society rather than a society whose awareness of duties is a developed one, accompanied by a division of labor.

The reflection of this on our legal life is an authority-based understanding of governance rather than a rights-based one.

If our rights come after our duties toward the state, then the power that governs expects us to act according to our responsibilities before giving priority to our rights and freedoms.

Criticism and especially protests will result in a harsh reaction by authorities and won’t receive any support in the lower segments of society. According to the research, just 12 percent of society says it could participate in a protest that it sees as right. 

Party bases

Again according to the research, the parties where this culture is strongest are the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The ratio of those who say the law can be violated while fighting terrorism is 69 percent among AKP constituents, 65 percent in the MHP, 43 in the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and 35 percent in People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

This picture does not show that the HDP is a democratic party. If they were asked about the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the rate of those approving the violation of law would have been very high.

In societies where individual rights and freedoms are not properly developed, the culture of legitimacy based on law takes form according to political identities. This is one of the fundamental characteristics of paternalistic cultures.

The law is only good if it is on our side! The law is not respected as an independent referee.

The culture of the leader

The same culture becomes prevalent in the internal functioning of political parties. Leaders expect obedience. The delegates do not have the “right” to choose the candidates they want. They are to act according to the instructions and in fact to applaud with great enthusiasm if it is their duty.

Delegates or parliamentarians who would dare to use the “rights and freedoms” written in the laws and regulations are traitors and the like.

They are a “good man of the cause” to the degree they show obedience.

Yet in our contemporary world, a state based on the rule of law, freedoms and individual creativity is a prerequisite for the development of nations. 

In our history, all important developments were predicated on the desire and interests of the state. Society has always been passive. 

Nonetheless, we have made progress in the course of time.

According to the research, education and income rises in proportion to the strength of the awareness of law and freedoms. The ratio of those who believe that responsibilities toward the state are more important than their rights drops to up to 47 percent from 67 percent.

As the education and income levels in the future will be higher, the principle of the rule of law will also find greater backing.