Coup and Counter Coup VI: Presidential Authoritarianism in Turkey

The last post in my series on the political situation in Turkey for the group blog Notes On Liberty. However, there will be an appendix on political thought related to the Ottomans, Atatürk and so on.

Notes On Liberty

(Previous posts here, here, here, here and here). The state of emergency proclaimed by President Erdoğan in Turkey on 20th July last year, in response to the coup attempt of five days before, is not a situation that will come to an end in a return to normality. It is the model for the presidential system that Erdoğan has been pushing for since 2007, when he was still admired by many liberal minded people inside Turkey (though not me) and abroad. One of the key provisions of the state of emergency is that the President can issue decrees with the force of law. There are doubts about the constitutionality of this form of ‘law making’ but two members of the Constitutional Court were arrested after the coup attempt and the chances of the court starting up to executive power are now extremely remote. Judges and prosecutors…

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Coup and Counter Coup IV The Kurdish issue in Turkey

A bit out of sequence, thoughts on the current situation in Turkey from a series I am posting at the group blog Notes On Liberty

Notes On Liberty

Previous parts here, here and here. As mentioned in the last post, in the immediate post coup atmosphere President Erdoğan appeared to have the support of some significant part of Kemalist (as in Kemal Atatürk who shaped the Turkish republic with reference to secularism, modernisation, national sovereignty and statism) opinion, the more hard core part, seeing shared enemies in both violent Kurdish separatists and Gülenist (members of a religious community, see previous posts) infiltrators into the state apparatus. The return of PKK (the Kurdish acronym for Workers’ Party of Kurdistan) violence against state forces and civilians (the latter largely undertaken by the Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan, TAK in the Kurdish acronym, a product of the PKK) in the summer of 2015 already placed the AKP, hardcore Kemalists, and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP, rooted in a ‘Grey Wolf’ or ‘Idealist’ ideology of absolutist state nationalism and Pan-Turkism)…

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Coup and Counter Coup V: Jacobins and Grey Wolves in Turkey

Go to Notes on Liberty for the full text of my latest thoughts oın the situation in Turkey

Notes On Liberty

Previous posts here, here, here and here. The post coup atmosphere created the impression of an invincible block of the AKP and the MHP, backed by some parts of Kemalist (Jacobinism alla turca) opinion, which would provide a massive majority for the Presidential republic desired by Erdoğan. The MHP did provide the votes in the National Assembly, for the super majority necessary to trigger a constitutional referendum. This was a complete turn about from the MHP’s previous position.

The background to this turn is partly in the state-PKK polarisation, but also in an internal female challenge to the MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli from Meral Aksaner. She is very popular with the Grey Wolf community and would have probably won a leadership election if a special party congress had been called. This became an issue in the courts, which did not in the end force the…

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Coup and Counter Coup III (Gülenists and Kemalists)

My thoughts on Turkish politics, part of a continuing series. Re-posted from the group blog Notes On Liberty

Notes On Liberty

My last post established the party structure in Turkey. The flow of events since the attempted coup of fifteenth July and the emergency regime instituted on twentieth July is that of a government assault on opposition. Democracy as liberal democracy continues to give way to illiberal majoritarianism. Liberal democracy has never existed in its purest form in Turkey, but there was more of it ten years ago and it looks like becoming further diluted. Initial indications that the state of emergency would be three months only, rather than the constitutionally allowed maximum of six months have been undermined by constant renewal with no debate and no indication of when the renewals will end.

When the AKP first came to power its campaign materials included claims that it would end the use of the state of emergency as a tool of government. A long period of emergency rule in the southeast…

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A Memory of Derek Parfit

Derek Parfit, an influential moral philosopher died on January 1st this year. He was evidently an extraordinary individual, both very self-absorbed and very generous,  as well as a philosopher of considerable talent. His importance goes beyond ethics into metaphysical and philosophy of mind questions of personal identity, questions of social welfare and justice, questions of rational choice and maybe some other things I have overlooked.. A few stories have come out in obituaries and comments since his death. Here is a memory passed onto me on condition of strict anonymity.

Parfit told me that I should pursue manual labor, a joking reference to Wittgenstein’s advice to his students which I actually did not find funny. Later he actually read something I wrote and changed his mind.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, an extreme character as well as a extremely creative figure in philosophy, liked to tell students he did not think had genius to do manual work.

Parfit is most famous for his book Reasons and Persons (1984), which I have read myself and I can recommend even though it is a bit outside my normal range of reference, that is to say I believe it to be a distinguihed work of philosophy with wide appeal. Enthusiasts for Parfit regard his later book, On What Matters (3 volumes, 2013-2017) as a master work which towers over other works of ethics for over a century. My brief encounters with the text do not support this view and Reasons and Persons appears to be still much more influential. It is at least worth noting the enthusiasm that does exist for Parfit’s later book and acknowledging the possibility that it will surpass Reasons and Persons in influence.

I cannot see it overtaking Philippa Foot’s Natural Goodness, Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy or Morals, Emmnuel Lévinas’ Totality and Infinity, G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica, Charles L. Stevenson’s Ethics and Language, W.D. Ross’s The Right and the Good, Bernard Williams’ Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Henri Bergson’s Two Sources of Morality and Religion, R.M Hare’s The Language of Morals, and other major works of various schools in its influence, but there are intelligent well informed people who have claimed otherwise.