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Posted by on Jan 22, 2009 in At TMV | 5 comments

The Latest in Battle for Turkey’s Future

Is Islamic fundamentalism Turkey’s future, with secularism, what we in the West would call democratic pluralism, its past?

Apparently secularists who plotted a coup against Turkey’s democratically-elected Islamic fundamentalist government fear that seemingly topsy-turvy scenario. Many have been arrested for plotting against the government there.

Many in the West have presumed that because democracies have tended to be less aggressive or oppressive, having elections will necessarily result in less aggressive or oppressive regimes. But that’s faulty logic. Without what I would call the idea base, the metaphysical turf from which true pluralism arises, being in place, exercises in democracy may be little more than legitimized mob rule, the proverbial lipstick on a pig.

Most democratic and pluralistic societies have arisen from ways of thinking that support the value of individuals and free inquiry, not values upheld by fundamentalists of any religious tradition, really. (Historian Rodney Stark argues in The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, that democratic pluralism and capitalism arose in Europe and North America arose because Christianity, particularly Protestant Christianity, encouraged a belief in reason.) If those basic cultural assumptions don’t exist or if they’re questioned by large enough numbers of people, regimes that don’t conform to Western notions of democracy or pluralism may be duly installed.

Is that what’s happened in Turkey, a country that, unlike many of its neighbors, has had a tradition of democratic pluralism? And are the Turkish secularists wrong or right to plot the current government’s downfall?

Whatever the answers to those questions, the battle over Turkey’s future continues.

[See also here and here.]

[This has been crossposted at my personal blog.]

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