The sociology of July 15

By: Yasin Aktay*
The carelessness displayed by the world press toward this social movement in Turkey should also actually be noted as another aspect of the sociological reality. The representatives of world media outlets such as the CNN and BBC, which had gotten a whiff of something before the Gezi Park events, remaining deaf and blind to July 15, in a sense, does not provide any new information.In a country where these media outlets, as the voice of sovereign powers, disturb sovereign forces, it is not too much of a surprise for them to refrain from making any broadcast or publication that will further increase this disturbance and as a matter of fact reveal the plans, evil intentions and their miser feelings. In a country that is run by a dictator, people pouring into the streets to the death upon a single telephone call from that dictator, rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to get rid of him, attempting to defend their leader against tanks and planes, risking their lives, was a development that negated all the “dictatorship” lies they told the entire world to date. Frankly, these images were ones that ruined and entire plan, which is why ignoring them was the best approach. With their performances on July 15, CNN International and BBC showed that they were masters at hiding the truth.

Besides the twisting of the incident with the news aspect, all that happened as a result is a subject of social sciences. July 15 and what happened afterward is the example of a “new social movement.” New social movements have always been a point of interest for sociology and within this sociology is a commonly accepted typology concerning new social movements.

Let us remember all the literature on this typology during the Gezi incidents. The birth of a new generation was heralded. Were we going to call this new youth the Y generation or the X generation? That is all that remained. So many lyrics, analyses and glad tidings of revolution had emerged from this generation’s literature.

Surely the Gezi incident was not one that could be ignored. And it wasn’t. Western philosophers and sociologists in particular from all around the world were interested in this incident. Freedom rhetoric was built on this movement that reeked of vandalism, violence and lacked any project or horizon relating to humanity. Yet, when you dug deeper into that movement, what you found was only enmity toward President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It was completely revealed that the Turkish left’s dream of a “revolution that just couldn’t happen” has turned into an obsession. Yet in the background of the incident, all that remained was how it paralleled the Tamarod movement that took place in Egypt at about the same time and ended with a coup and when it was dug a little deeper, how the Gülenist Terror Group’s (FETÖ) elements in the police, judiciary and media were incited through their specific roles and the crowds that were provoked and poured into the streets. It was the same hand behind that game, the Dec. 17, Jan. 19 and July 15 games that followed. The incident was not based on a social change, a social reality.

But the will demonstrated against the July 15 coup attempt bears all the traces of a strong sociological development, change and existence. Erdoğan has a central role in every aspect of this will and existence as a leader and player. It came out in all reality that day that the power of Erdoğan, who the West started to see as a dictator under the influence of FETÖ’s black propaganda and, comes not from dictatorship but the place he made in the Turkish public’s heart.

Perhaps this was the coup plotters’ greatest mistake and the most important reason that led the coup to failure. Even they themselves had believed the nonsense that a coup attempt against Erdoğan, who the people should hate for being a dictator, would be considered a savior. It is obvious that they were surprised that the people did not seize the opportunity when they found the chance to get rid of Erdoğan. Whoever gave them the tender, they too experienced a great disappointment as they too were made to believe this. We have no other choice but to say let their disappointments and defats be plenty. There have been many field work carried out on the democracy watches. Based on the findings from these studies, there really is a new social movement profile. For example, in the Arab Spring movement that took place only five years ago, people had set off to get rid of their dictator and the order that has been oppressing and exploiting them for centuries, to topple it. But here, strangely, people were pouring into the streets to protect the existing order, the government and a leader who is called a dictator. This was an important sociological finding.

Another finding is that the majority of those who participated in this movement have jobs and are from the middle and upper class. Surely there were people from the low-income group too. As a matter of fact, participation was in proportion with the average distribution in Turkey. However, the finding in Konda’s survey that the rate of unemployed participation in the democracy watches was very low is very interesting.

The final finding we can mention in our column today is concerning Kurdish participation in July 15 and the democracy watches that followed. With this sample, July 15 shows that in the process of becoming a single nation with all our differences, we have come to an important stage.

Konda’s research has found Kurdish participation was about 12-14 percent and this rate is equivalent to a large majority of the Kurds in Turkey. Even though the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was never present as a party, Kurds used the opportunity to show they are against the coup and that they are a single soul, single body with the entirety of the country. Just like the other elements.

Of course the sociology of the July 15 process does not consist of this alone, but we have reached the end of our word limit and will continue later.

*Yasin Aktay is the vice chair of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey.

(Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on Saturday, August 20, 2016)