Society, Politics, and Economy in Modern Turkey: Sociology of Turkey - Maintained by Tugrul Keskin
We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)
― Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism

Friday, July 25, 2014

The stumbling emergence of social democracy in Turkey


Hurriyet Daily News - Friday,July 25 2014

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is never happier than when he is slamming the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) as solely responsible for all the authoritarian ills of Turkey’s modern history. The point is hammered so effectively and relentlessly that it has become an uncontestable truth for many Turks, but like most tub-thumping political rhetoric from the bully pulpit it’s a gross oversimplification. In fact, the CHP has spent far more time out of power than in it throughout republican history, and the its traditional principles have had a far less tenacious hold on the Turkish state than many want to believe. Indeed, those principles have been robustly contested within the party itself.
This detailed study by Turkish academic Yunus Emre focuses on the emergence of the CHP’s social democratic wing in the 1950s and 1960s, examining the peculiar trajectory of a center-left outside of social democracy’s “native” Western Europe. To frame this emergence, Emre spends a long time sketching the party’s origins in the early years of the republic, when it was in charge as a single party government for 27 years. In many senses, this early CHP defined itself against the left: The existence of classes and class interests was flatly rejected by the Kemalist nation-builders, who emphasized the principle of a single corporatist nation undifferentiated by class struggle or division and suppressed the organized labor movement. The establishment of a national economy and a national bourgeoisie was prioritized; no class-based organizations were allowed until 1947 and socialism and socialist organizations were illegal until the 1960s (long after the single-party era had ended).


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