Thought Archive

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Getting in?

In more recent times, the European Union has been extending its influence to the east. It has accepted several new members that were previously behind the Iron Curtain, and has plans to accept several more in the medium-term. But none of the candidates is more controversial than Turkey – a large Muslim country with sizable and restive minorities and regime not fully commited to Western ideas of democratic state. A queue of countries waiting to get a cheap ticket prosperity has formed behind the main frontrunner, countries as diverse as Morocco, Georgia and Ukraine. They are impossible to absorb for the EU in its current state and will be for many times to come.

Besides factual impossibility of successful accession, which requires overcoming prejudices and fears from current EU member states, it is obvious to me that this step will be detrimental, if not perilous to the existence of Turkish Republic, or any other kind of secular Muslim country as we know of today. Several frequently overlooked factors contribute to this:

Application of more liberal laws creates a legal framework to challenge the state on the questions of ethnic or religious freedoms.
More individual freedoms allow exploration of one’s identity that undermines state-supplied propaganda in education.
Some Islamists are found to be ardent supporters of the EU accession (and not just in Turkey), in order to gain religious freedoms.

The law framework protecting rights an individual is very important in a liberal Western society – it is a cornerstone of legalizing one’s right to self-expression. A liberal penal code, will allow many to be free from persecution and demand their religious freedoms.

The self-awareness amongst great multitudes of population, but not moderated by education, leads them to quickly accept their new, sometimes imposed, identities. Thus more and more people will want to formalise their other identity in opposition than state-propogated Turkish one. Similarly many will realise their Islamic identity in opposition to nationalist one. Inevitable (in case of accession) recognition of Armenian genocide, withdrawal of Turks from Cyprus, and independence for Kurds will lead to an extreme nationalistic paranoia with unpredictable results.

The state machine understands that from allowing Islamic headgear in schools, allowing freedom of religious education and self-rule to non-Turkish peoples (which incidentally what most Turks are), there is a slippery slope to ruin of the nationalistic Turkish state as build by Ataturk. This road leads to Western-style liberal society and Islamist politicians are happy to speed up the journey – however before the Turkish juggernaut will get there, it will disintegrate into pieces.

An example of Iraq’s implosion is a gory one, and have put off indefinitely neo-liberal dreams of introducing democracy in Middle East. Instead they should have analyzed Islamic history more closely and understood how the concept of fitna or disorder – a result of multitude of clashing opinions – was a reason for downfall of many a civilization as their tipping point of dissent was reached. They also should have looked at importance of consensus and conformism as opposed to individual expression and rights, and most importantly should have understood an absence of indigenous intellectual and cultural basis for liberal society in the Middle East.

Turkey may be significantly different from the rest of the Middle East – actually it is already not a part of it; but equally it is not part of so called European space, simply because it is not part of Western Christianity. Turkey is a proud descendant of Byzantine and Ottoman society – her institutions and bureaucracy are Byzantine and its people are united by indoctrination. The implosion of the Turkish Republic means civil war, chaos and incredible bloodshed that may be worse than that of Iraq’s. This is a gloomy predicament , and Europeans and Americans, at least out of self-preservation should not encourage Turkey or other countries in similar position to self-destruct. There is always a sensible road in the middle – a tightrope act that Turkey does so well.


Riri said...

Computer says nooooo!

Hazar Nesimi said...