Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Rising nationalism

"Anyone who has been educated in Turkey has been raised and trained to be a nationalist rather than a citizen equal in legal status, free in choice and empowered by the will to participate in public policy. In fact, citizenship is acquired or paid for by being an obedient subject to the national state. Hence the perception of the nation is larger than life and, until recently, has been labeled a “sacred entity” in the preamble of the Turkish Constitution."

"For Ataturk, the founding father of the republic, nationalism was more about a deep patriotism aimed at elevating the nation to the level of contemporary civilization. Consistent with the ideological breadth and depth of the original nationalist, he wanted to place Turkey on the world map as an effective and revered nation-state. However, his followers failed to successfully fashion the tools to make Turkey a global actor. Following the zestful first decades of the republic, nationalism became an introverted defense ideology colored with a populism that was upheld by the state's distribution of favors and patrimonial protection of the uncompetitive pre-modern masses. Rather than nurturing an ideology to strengthen the nation, nationalism became a source of legitimization of state patrimony over a nation of dependents who saw the state as their protector and provider."

"The outcome is quite bleak. In defense of Turkishness, meaning the official definition of citizenship in Turkey, other ethnic or cultural identities have become the “other.” The insistence of incorporating Kurdishness into Turkishness, rather than uniting them in the general framework of citizenship, has created two conflicting nationalisms. Rather than creating a citizens' synergy, Turkish nationalism and Kurdish nationalism have been sharpened against each other like two blades. Turkish nationalism has become even more narrowly focused in recent years as an antithesis of Kurdish nationalism; this has come about in defense of the unity of the country and the “nation” that is defined as Turkish. Such nationalism is indubitably xenophobic and authoritarian. How, then, can it be the political vehicle to make Turkey become a global or even a regional actor?"
Turks.US - Rising nationalism

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