The neo-feudal society
It was rather interesting to hear a top bureaucrat explain recently how the “backbone” of the Turkish state perceived developments around the country… He would not of course comment on developments in Turkey and definitely would avoid any remark on the neo-dictator in the making but he indeed had very sharp views on what’s generally described as the “Arab spring.”
“We are in a new age. Some say it is the informatics age, some call it the neo-feudal age. The nation-state concept has died. The “interests of the state” rhetoric has no value any more. Now irrespective of where a young girl or boy is living s/he is no longer living behind national borders, within national behavioral patterns. Everyone is a global citizen of the global village. Indeed there were feudal clans in the past, now we have clans on the Net. National interests no longer come first; the individual and his rights, liberties and interests are at the core of everything. In this new age it was impossible for dictators and the like to stay long and defy the strong push of the people for democracy, wider democracy, rights and wider rights and freedoms. That’s what we have been living since Buazizi burned himself to death in Tunisia.”
A good summary, was it not? Over the past few years since a frustrated young unemployed university graduate Muhammed Buazizi set himself on fire on Dec. 17, 2010 (he died in hospital on Jan. 4) to protest the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime, a machine is rolling over the Arab world. Today, not solely as a consequence of the Arab Spring but with its immense contribution as well, many countries of this geography have become unmanageable. Tunisia is still going through instability. Libya is almost divided between Benghazi and Tripoli. Egypt is suffering under a military regime while a former Muslim fundamentalist president is in jail and his supporter Muslim Brotherhood is continuing defiance of the coup. Not as a consequence of the Arab Spring but Palestine has been divided for the past many years between the Hamas gang and the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah. Jordan and Lebanon are suffering from impacts of problems of the rest. Bahrain and the Gulf Arabs are in efforts to contain trouble of the “minorities.” Syria is burning in a civil war with millions seeking refuge in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere, exporting the fire and problems to those countries. And, can we just explain all these with “individual enlightenment age” phenomenon? Can we indeed say individuals learned of their rights from each other on the Net of the global village, tore apart national borders as well as walls in their brains, wanted to become global citizens and that’s why the Arab world was out on fire? There is of course some validity in that thesis. It is as well correct that expansion of individual freedoms and the demand for wider rights and liberties on the individual base have been to the detriment of the oppressive regimes of the Middle East. No one can dispute the fact that existing governance systems and available democracy were insufficient for the young people of these countries and they demanded far more. When they see their demands would not be met by the governments, they took the initiative.
It was great to see the top Turkish bureaucrat acknowledging all these in such praiseworthy sentences. But was Turkey in another planet or were Turks different from the Arab populations demanding wider liberties, rights and of course respect from their governments? Was there a difference between Tahrir and Gezi? How long can Turkey preach support to freedom demands in Cairo, Damascus or Benghazi but horrendously gas, soak and beat up those young people with similar demands at home?