The December 17th operation and intellectual trauma
It needs to be acknowledged, regardless of one’s point of view, that the Turkey that has emerged over the AK Party years, is a "new experience." Whether one has a positive or negative take on the events of the last decade is irrelevant to the fact that we are faced with a "new Turkey." This new Turkey possesses many different characteristics - both positive and negative. Arriving at a fair assessment of Turkey, one that considers all these positive and negative features, is a difficult task. In fact, the comfortable intellectual world of different ideologies is one of the top structures that this new Turkey has shattered.
At the top of the list of those comfortable intellectual worlds shattered in the last decade was the world of Turkish-style liberalism, which equated the critique of politics to practicing politics or advancing political theory. The tragedy is that it is in the last decade that progress has been made on all issues they had dubbed “unattainable” or at least, “unattainable by Erdoğan,” ranging from the Kurdish question to civil-military relations, from the advancement of individual rights to the transformation of the state. This is not to deny that there is still a long way to go. Nevertheless, there is no reason why one should take the recent analyses of Turkey, offered by those who did not even acknowledge that significant progress was made, any seriously.
At a time when discussions about the Gülen movement have reached an all-time high, it seems the same liberals are not giving up their old habits. Despite the prevalence of literature on the “Gülen movement’s war against Erdoğan” or the “conflict between the government and members of the Gülen group who infiltrated the government” in any publication from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, from Jeddah to Berlin, from Paris to Kuala Lumpur, Turkish liberals seem unaware. They ignore all that is happening, as if they were living in a parallel universe. This is not unlike the Kemalists’ refusal to acknowledge the possibility of a military coup, even though the army executed four coups in the past.
The liberals, grounded in their common disdain for Erdoğan, appear to remain completely unaware of all of the news regarding the recalcitrant actions of the Gülen group members who infiltrated the government at every level, from finance, to the military, from the judiciary, to law enforcement. The majority of liberals do not even question the miraculous timing of investigations that began years ago, only to be revealed right before the elections. The prime minister, the president, the minister of justice, many high level bureaucrats, the business world and the media all talk about the infiltration of the government day and night. Yet the liberal pens remain incognizant.
Turkey is facing a new experience. It is in the process of neutralizing the threat to its judiciary system posed by an organization that infiltrated the government, despite the fact its command post is beyond borders. It is in the process of dissolving cooperation between the police, the prosecutors and judges. The liberals who appear to share "police mentality" only make it easier for antagonistic politics to prevail.