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Why Turkey will never be a democracy

Reader comment on item: A Critical Moment For Turkey
in response to reader comment: Mr Pipes, you misread Turkey

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), May 24, 2007 at 16:52

Atilla Yayla ,

Leaving to Dr. Pipes the task of either agreeing to or refuting your conclusions , let me say a few things .

> Let me summarize my views about our political system. Turkey is not a secular country in the universal sense. It has a state religion that consists of two parts: Light sunniism and Kemalism.

That you as a Turkish intellectual call so openly "Kemalism" a state religion is something I find very encouraging ! I have never doubted it is a religion. Gazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk has become a sort of Turkey's younger Muhammad (for some Moslem "secularists" even Muhammad's superior) . His mad personality cult has assumed grotesque and monstrous forms . That still Dr Pipes implicitly tries to identify "secularism" ( and places his hopes on it ) with that vicious religious personality worship has always amazed me .

> I suppose you are a democrat and have some knowledge of democracy. Therefore you must know trhat If Turkey is really to be a democratic county every segment of society should have a right to participate and share political power. The system wanted to keep large religious masses away from doing this for decades. It does not work anymore. Turkey is rapidly cahanging socilogically.

Yes, democracy in the Turkish conditions brings many surprises and leads to inevitable consternations. The primary surprise is that it directly promotes the opposite of what is meant by democracy . I don't mean that today's janissaries (the Turkish militarists) have ever had anything to do with democracy . I mean that again and again under the rubber cloak of democracy a new form of despotism is invented and implemented in Turkey . First Gazi Mustafa Kemal's one-party republicanism. Then a "multi-party" militarist bloc. Most different parties belonged to the ruling janissary clique. Then when it didn't work any longer a coup d'etat was conducted in the name of endangered democracy fighting the left totalitarianism . Then more experiments in the best style of Abdul Hamid II' times , then another coup d'etat . Then free elections which gave power to a party that was not created by the janissaries . Now the janissaries are afraid their privileges may be curtailed and canceleld , so they stage mass demonstrations in the name of alleged secularism . Now the new idea is that the underprivileged and oppressed masses should participate in the power to conquer at last that delusive democracy which all want to have and which no one has ever seen in Turkey . This time the experiment must succeed because Turkey is changing rapidly.

I personally doubt it very much . There will be another form of despotism as it has always been. For me Turkey is a good example of a structual impossibility of establishing a democracy under certain cultural and social circumstances . You're either a Moslem or a democrat . Give Moslems a right to vote and they will vote for a theocracy . Don't give them that right , they'll fight with terror to establish a theocracy.

> The only way to preserve the so called secular system from influences conservative masses have over the system is to establish an open and brute dictatorship.

As you rightly remarked above this "secular" system is nothing else than a veiled Kemalist-Sunni religion and so regardless of its "secular" window-dressing quite unsecular.

> Is this what you want to see in Turkey? I believe people like you should promote democracy not dictatorship in Turkey be it in the name of secularism, modernity, religion or anything else.

It is not clear to me what you mean by "democracy" under Turkish conditions ? Majority of votes doesn't make a democracy alas , if we are to believe Charles de Montesquieu. A much more important and fundamental pre-condition must be fulfilled - the majority must be educated , enlightened , moderate and responsible to be able to make rational decisions . Elections come at the very end of a long tortuous historical process . Or as Montesquieu put it in a little old-fashioned manner the majority must possess civic "virtue" and this never comes into being because the law-giver wants it to come into being :

(The spirit of laws 3 ;3)

" Of the Principle of Democracy. There is no great share of probity necessary to support a monarchical or despotic government. The force of laws in one, and the prince's arm in the other, are sufficient to direct and maintain the whole. But in a popular state, one spring more is necessary , namely, virtue".

But if this principle is generally valid - as I am sure it is - then no democracy is compatible with the Islamo-Kemalist regime established in Turkey . Making Turkey exclusively "Islamic" or exclusively "Kemalist" will not affect this fundamental fact in any way . It will make it only more hopeless. Turkey is doomed to remain a despotic oppressive religious regime whoever rules there . It has nothing to do with a few individuals which are enlightened , respectable and responsible and do deserve to live in a democratic state after Montesquieu's definition . It's a deep structural defect of the Turkish society and history which makes democracy impossible in this country .

> May I recommend you to renew your information sources about Turkey.

If you mean he should not be so easily hoodwinked by the official Kemalist propaganda I agree with you completely. Turks have always been masters of deception and denial . Let him take heed !

Submitting....

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