CENGIZ – The East’s modernity paradox

The East’s modernity paradox Gurbuz ÖzaltInlI has written about the spiritual condition of a “bunch of intellectuals” in Turkey, in which I am included. He says: “This intellectual bunch strongly believes that it is, in fact, Western modernization — despite all its shortcomings — that creates the most meaningful political values, values that have universal applicability. This intellectual bunch is not at peace with our Eastern features, nor do they trust the traditions of the East.”He asserts that this bunch of intellectuals has become idle due to endorsement of the ruling party’s achievements, yet they have fallen into a pessimist mood. History, after all, shows that the march forward will continue with or without them. His final verdict reads: “It is now very clear that we must try and solve our own social problems using our own historical characteristics and dynamics. From the Kurdish problem to the distribution of wealth, from freedoms to development, from relations with the West to our role in the Middle East on every subject we encounter, it is conservative sociology and those who make its policies who are set to be the most influential actors.”ÖzaltInlI’s controversy is nothing new. These are symptoms seen frequently in non-Western societies, where there is an explosion of self-confidence following relative economic development. But its outcome is generally not so great. I published a first column on the issue in December 2012 following similar remarks by the prime minister’s foreign policy aisor, Ibrahim KalIn, where I noted the following: “At its basis, globalization refers to a globalization of Western concepts of nation and economy, both conceptually and in terms of application. Yet it does not refer to the creation of any new kind of modernity by non-Westerners using their own traditions. Nothing of the kind is even remotely on the horizon so far. If we absolutely had to point at something, it might be the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where nationalistic, tyrannical leaderships try to hold societies together thanks to unlimited development and mass consumption. This is the threshold at which we find ourselves today.“For, to wit, it is Western-origin nations and economics that lie at the basis of the new rich in the globalized world. But these new rich are deprived of the lessons provided by the West. Why? Because they strive to re-invent their flattened traditions! The point at which they arrive is nothing but a defective copy of both their traditions and the Western standards. Just like in Turkey. “Is there any economic model outside the Western capitalistgrowth-and-development models? Is there any governmental practice better than democracy that allows people to live with another without destroying one another? Of course not! I wish there were, but it seems that it is simply far too late for this. And so, in the end, what happens? It is neither possible to achieve a different model from the one imposed by the West, nor is it possible to duly comply with the ‘lesser of two evils’ order set in place by the West.“Westernized Turkey is a typical example of this archetype. Its Westernization did not, as is widely supposed, begin with the Kemalists. In fact, it reaches all the way back to Sultan Selim III. This is a kind of alienation that is done in the name of the continuation of the state, and is thus imposed from the top down. But as such, it implies the defeat of traditional values. I can understand the attraction inherent in trying to rediscover these values. I also understand the new balances and synergy in reference to relations between the center of the world and the peripheries. But what I cannot understand is the interpretation of new richness as being new modernity, and with this, the erasure of a 200-year-old social and political transformation with one move.”Unfortunately, the whole gimmick of a “New, Richer, and Different Turkey” pushed forward by the regime’s “new brains” is nothing but a stale hallucination. If it was just a hallucination I would still live with it, but unfortunately, it is a hallucination with strong side effects that looks more like a nightmar

SOURCE: Todays Zaman