A Musical Composition, Not an Analysis

by Prof. Dr. Nur Vergin on . Posted in Commentaries

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The poverty of ideas shaping Turkish political life; the shallowness of the world around us; the empty, hollow, sterile, short-sighted games being played in the name of political struggle and democratic competition; and the display of superficial politics in Turkey have both saddened and angered me for a long time. As a Turk I am sad; as a sociologist I am upset.

The roads to this country's ability to be governed and to Turkey's taking its rightful place in history have been blocked (or cut), and its political philosophy and foresight have atrophied. There might be many reasons for this that are unknown to me.

Perhaps the reasons for our lack of philosophy should be sought elsewhere. Maybe it is necessary to surmise that the misfortune befalling Turkish political thought comes from other sources. Obviously a trauma occurred and, as a sociologist, I should have diagnosed it.

I wonder if it is only an interesting coincidence that the three great men of sociology Marx, Durkheim, and Weber all put religion in the center of their thought. The first concentrated on rejecting religion and its negativity as a social factor; the other two dedicated almost all their energy to explaining the impossibility of forming a society without religion.

My investigations led me to the writings of Carl Schmitt, a good student of Weber's, and in particular to a book, translated from the German, that I was able to read only a few years later called Siyasi Ilâhiyat (Political Theology).

Schmitt says that all concepts of modern state theory like sovereignty, obedience to and dependency on the state, allegiance to politics are secularized religious concepts carried over from theology to state and political theory. His purpose is not to theocraticize politics, but only to emphasize that subjects exclusive to politics and concepts used in politics have their roots in theology. According to him, an analogy between these two fields must be established if we are to achieve a correct and orderly political philosophy.

By pointing out the conceptual proximity between politics and religion, Schmitt both proves what a close follower of Weber's he was and also opens an enlightening window. In Turkey's case, this window opens on our society's political thought and lack of knowledge about it, in which I share. When I read his words, I understand that ignorance of religion, an ignorance that either is not known or is willfully ignored by academic circles, results naturally in the existing political class' inability to have a flourishing political life on the intellectual plane. Moreover, these circumstances prevent the development of a philosophical perspective related to politics or the conception of a new political model or models. The worst part of this is that in a society where religious scholars have become this blind and where religious knowledge is this absent, political thought, which is trying to crawl in society, becomes a game with blindfolded players. Forget about the present political structure being strengthened; it cannot even be protected. Turkey's political uncertainty, vague ideas, and current instability prove this.

Once again the "deep" Turkey comes to help-and this time in the light of day in a concrete and vivid form. In Turkey, where it appears that a wall has been built to obstruct the horizons, we have set out on a "tour of the horizons" with a man who is obviously and undeniably a product of love and belief a man who has been conceived in the bosom of Turkey, protected in its political genius, and raised jealousy. The Zaman interview that I have been reading for the past 3 days, "A Tour of the Horizons with Fethullah Gülen," appears to us as a sign that the above-mentioned depressive dead-end period is ending and that Turkey's historical and natural style of political thought is producing new shoots. Turkey is learning about today and the future from the analysis of a hodja longing for religion. Hodjaefendi's analysis of our social structure, religious consciousness, and position in the international community are things that maybe we never knew and never heard explained in such a simple, profound, and intense way. But they are things that we always wanted to hear. The composition that Turkey has longingly and patiently waited to see has appeared. The analytical ties between faith and the politics it will follow have been established. Turkey has begun to find answers to the questions of who it is, what its direction is, and how it should be.

Prof. Dr. Nur Vergin, Comments on Ufuk Turu by Eyup Can, Istanbul, 1996