There is even, one may argue, a paradoxical relationship between social engineering efforts and an increase in democratic maturity. Social engineers claim they will inject grand values into the lower masses of people, as well as those who have not attained democratic maturity. As they peer at the society from above and denigrate it, they believe the masses will resist all efforts to inject civilization into them and this is because of their ignorance and low nature. They say they love the society and the country very much. They say today, the society may not be aware of the value of what they are doing, but they will certainly appreciate their deeds in the future. Until that time, it is best to exert pressure on the general public, who resist good things. This is actually nothing but fascism.
Turkey was the object of the projects first of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) and, with the inception of the republic, of Kemalists. These elites hated the public for not having the qualities they wanted them to have. They exerted pressure and violence on the public in order to recast them as they imagined. We are still being traumatized by these pressures because the state has been organized accordingly. It is exactly for this reason that our democratic heritage is weak. We are partially the products of social engineering projects. In many respects, we, as the society, have internalized the characteristics of our masters who wanted to recreate us anew. This applies to the devout people, secularists, leftists, minorities, Alevis, Kurds and others.
And the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has never been immune to this disease. Everyone is asking, “What happened to the reformist AK Party as we knew it between 2002 and 2008?” Everyone, particularly the voters’ base of the party, is trying to understand the reasons for the party’s stagnation and sinister developments concerning it.
What has been causing the AK Party to trip up in recent years is the inadequacy of what can be labeled democratic capital in its foundations.
Why a political movement that has changed Turkey and overcome many obstacles should make such simple errors at the time when it is the strongest is hard to understand. Yet the reason is very simple.
The AK Party emerged in early 2000s from the National Vision (Milli Görüş) movement. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, current prime minister; Abdullah Gül, current president; and Bülent Arınç, current deputy prime minister and the party’s spokesperson, parted ways with their former leader, Necmettin Erbakan, because Erbakan’s policies were far behind the level of political development of party’s voter base and were actually aligned with the status quo. Seeing the society’s demands for integrating with the world and having their well-deserved rights and freedoms, Erdoğan, Gül and Arınç established the AK Party. In the first election it entered, the party came to power on Nov. 3, 2002, and a process of reforms started.
But the AK Party entered a period of stagnation in their last term, which Erdoğan dubbed as the era of their “mastership.” We know that they believe they have defeated the status quo and the deep state and they can now control the entire state apparatus. We also know that they are wrong to think so. Indeed, the developments concerning the Uludere tragedy, in which 34 civilians were mistaken for terrorists and killed by military air strikes in Şırnak’s Uludere district due to false intelligence, and Syria’s downing of our jet indicate the ruling AK Party hardly dominates the state apparatus. In both incidents, the government suffered a big blow to its prestige. We are still unable to understand what really happened concerning these two incidents. The government is equally at a loss. And this is already the main problem. It is possible that both incidents were actually provocations targeting the government.
Given the fact that it performed extraordinarily at a time when coups were being hatched, when it was an inexperienced party and the bureaucracy was working against it and when the state’s treasury was still suffering from the effects of the economic crisis of 2000, but has been making such grave errors at a time when it won these battles, it is safe to argue that what kept it reformist and democratic was not an internalized understanding of democracy, but the coup threats it faced in its early days.
So, it believes it doesn’t have to keep up with reforms or pay respect to its companions on the road to democracy. Those social groups who took great risks by siding with the AK Party against the tutelage are today being lynched by the government. And the government criticizes the probes into the coup of Feb. 28, 1997, despite the fact that this coup is the greatest crime committed against the predecessor of the AK Party and religious people.
I intend to discuss this matter in my future articles.