Blog week 5

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.”



3 thoughts on “Blog week 5

  1. Sadly, if the ISIS connection in the Orlando attacks is proven, the “us” vs. “them” of radical Islam and the United States is still strong enough to incite terrorism. This clash of cultures can be seen outside of just radical Islam however. While reading news about the tragedy, I came across an article about a headline of a Turkish newspaper, which read, ‘Death toll rises to 50 in bar where perverted homosexuals go!’. This newspaper, Yeni Akit has strong ties the AKP and president Edogan (1). While one newspaper headline should not be the basis for a judgment of an entire country, I think that it is a good example of the turn that the government has taken towards a more Islamic focus. With the way that free speech is restricted in Turkey at the moment, the parts of the media that are allowed will give an insight into the real leanings of a ruling regime.



  2. Good point about the political tides. I think the polarization and confides of the two parties (both of which now puppets of big money) in the U.S. has made this worse than we’ve seen in the past.

    I think it’s really interesting to discuss “fair elections” that have horrible results. I mean we can also look at the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. What happens when a “fair” election appoints a dangerous regime? I think that sometimes it’s easy for a leader to exploit the frustration of a group of people – who are not educated enough to vote for their actual interests. We can see the Trump movement in this light, as well as much of the mid-west here in the US who continues to vote republican and against their interests.

    You bring up “non-majority rule”, this is something I’ve always been interested in thinking about. I’ve never been a fan of really limited political landscape – particularly when two parties tied to the same self-interest exists. But what would happen if there were 10-15, or more, really strong political parties that allowed for niche platforms that truly represented the will of their respective followers? I can envision a scenario in which a “president” is elected with a very small percentage of the total population – which then doesn’t represent the “will of the nation”. I’d be curious to hear everyone’s opinion on how we can reconcile the representation of the “few” and the representation of the “whole”, when it comes to large scale national elections.


  3. In response to the comment about the Orlando attacks being linked to ISIS and the “us” against “them” concept, I think it’s important to recognize that in this case “us” against “them” wouldn’t really be Islamic extremists vs the West, but rather ISIS vs everyone else in the world who disagrees. The ISIS militants have taken far more Muslim lives than Western so I wouldn’t necessarily define it as a clash of the Western values.

    Also, you made some really interesting comments about the elections and Turkey and comparing them to the US. This election has definitely shown that the public’s dissatisfaction and frustration can be used by leaders to gain support, even if they are unconventional and sometimes irrational. I think it’s also interesting that people tend to support the runner who promises not only change but immediate change. Its not uncommon to want fast results, but a democracy is basically meant to prevent any fast changes, which probably makes the a democracy less attractive during hard times when frustrations are high.


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