The first thing that struck me when reading the article “From Ashes to Ashes” was the authors early explanation for why the political climate in Turkey shifted in the early 2000’s. The author states that Turkish votes saw a vote for the AKP party as a means to express, “…dissatisfaction with Turkish politics and the Turkish economy….” I thought that this was not unlike the public sentiment in the 2016 US election cycle – or honestly, in any instance of when a political “tide” changes. As always, Americans are “unhappy” with American politics and the economy, so Americans are supporting parties/individuals who promise them answers and improvements (even if they are just (small) hand-wavy improvements). This is not a phenomena which is new to the study of history, and it is not specific to the US – Turkey also experiences the same cycle of political “seasons.”
In the case of Turkey’s secular government, changes in leading party made dramatic changes to their secular state. The beginnings of this change, as seen in the Welfare party that came to power in the 90’s, were not necessarily bad based on the motivations of the movement. Welfare actually focused on some pretty important secularist issues, like religious freedom and ethnic minority rights. However it feels like the modern day AKP has no interest in upholding these things, or Turkey’s secularist past. Erdogon, the modern day leader of the party, was once quoted saying, “You will be either Muslim or a Secularist. These two cannot exist together.” It almost seems as though Turkey is moving away from being a Turkic civilization and becoming part of the Islamic civilizations. This was the beginning of the Islamic-governing system that has taken hold in Turkey. And it is interesting to read about all of these analyses as to how the political party leaders succeeded in getting things their way, but at the end of the day, Turkey’s elections were fair. Although the multi-party system probably leads to non-majority rule, the winner is still elected democratically and therefore represents something that the people of Turkey want in politics. The sentiment doesn’t come from no where.
As “The Clash of Civilizations” states regarding religious differences, “They will not soon disappear. They are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes. Differences do not necessarily mean conflict, and conflict does not necessarily mean violence. Over the centuries, however, differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts.” The author analyzes the future of conflict between “civilizations.” One level of these conflicts will be based in asserting the political and religious ideologies of “us” onto “them.”