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Turkish tribalism.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Francis Fukuyama argues in his "The Origins of Political Order" (2011) that "tribe" is still the basic unit of politics in all societies.

True. One may even, for instance, think of the Republicans and Democrats of US politics as "modern tribes." However, such a reductionist reading may mislead us. Though "political tribe" is still the basic unit, even in modern societies there is an important fact that one should emphasize: The tribes of modern societies have a capacity to create a social contract that is beyond tribal interests and operates on all tribes as the uber all-inclusive structure.

Turkish tribalism is still medieval. Turkish politics is made up of many tribes, but a modern social contract that rises above the tribal perspective is absent. Therefore, the outcomes of the Turkish tribal structure are these:

i. Each tribe is obsessed with its own interests and does not care about other tribes.

ii. No tribe is willing to acknowledge the legitimacy of other tribes' grievances.

iii. The tribes have no capacity for inter-tribal dialogue.

iv. Each tribe believes that all other tribes are its enemies.

v. Each tribe's ultimate aim is to annihilate all other tribes.

vi. Each tribe believes that the other tribes are traitors.

vii. The members of each tribe read only their own tribal materials.

viii. Prejudice reigns in each tribe about the other tribes' realities.

ix. The state enjoys intra-tribal feuds and does not refrain from provoking them when that serves its convenience.

x. Tribes rarely change their leaders.

xi. There cannot be a leader who is the general leader of all tribes.

xii. The ruling tribe employs the state as its servant to dominate others.

At present the ruling tribe is the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and its de facto ruler is still President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an. Though Erdoy-an is constitutionally the president and thus the leader of all Turks, the non-AKP tribes do not recognize him as their leader. Since his election, Erdoy-an has not formally met with, for instance, Kemal Kylycdaroy-lu, the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), a tribe composed of secular and Kemalist Turks. Therefore, in practice, the other tribes see Erdoy-an as the leader of the AKP tribe.

As a natural consequence of the Turkish tribal system, hate speech reigns in Turkey. For Erdoy-an, the Gezi people are vandals. In a recent speech, he argued that the young people who protested the destruction of Gezi Park were immoral vandals. Erdoy-an is criticized in similar terms by many other Turkish tribes.

Can the Turkish political tribes generate an American or European brand of social contract? Potentially, yes. But realistically, that cannot happen in the short term. Why? The reason is in the tribes' permanent strategy of provoking their followers against other tribes.

Naturally, fierce tribal wars in Turkey weaken citizenship. Turkish citizenship is in crisis today. Thus, it is not enough to be a Turkish citizen to be "somebody" in society or the bureaucracy. You need the approval of the ruling tribe in order to be "somebody." Worse, tribal identity affects even critical professionals such as judges and prosecutors. Unfortunately, some judges act as tribal loyalists rather than as upholders of the rule of civil law.

So, who is a Turk? Today, being a Turk is only a sociological (or ethnic) category. "I am a Turk" says little about political status or rights. Rather, it is your tribal identity that determines your political position (and even your rights) in Turkey. More precisely, the idea of Turkish nationhood is in decline. Meanwhile, as has happened in the past, the ruling AKP tribe wants to reformat all other tribes according to its own tribal genes.

Neither Islam nor Kemalism is the rule in Turkish tribalism. The arch-ideologue of Turkish tribalism is Machiavelli. Thus, tribes believe that they have a right to suspend morality for the sake of their sacred tribal goals. You can lie. You can accept corruption. You can employ authoritarian politics. You can put someone in prison because of a critical Tweet.

GEuKHAN BACIK (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Mar 16, 2015
Words:694
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