Regional Islamic States Union Bodies Examination and Research Board
An ASSAM Member’s Democratic Questioning of Democracy
The last book I read before this Ramadan and the peer-reviewed social sciences journal that will hopefully come out this Ramadan are related to each other. The book belongs to an academician who is a member of ASSAM, and the journal is a direct gift of ASSAM to our knowledge and intellectual life. The author of the book is the editor-in-chief of the journal.
Churchill said, “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”. That’s right. It is bad because it is a form of government after all. Every system it contains is the “worst” for human beings. Because people do not like being ruled. Especially from an Islamic point of view, it is not something to love to rule because of the responsibility to Allah. For this reason, the first four caliphs were reluctant, but nevertheless, they had to assume the leadership because they were chosen. What makes democracy better than other forms of government is that it can improve its faults and faults by questioning all of the governed. Assistant Professor Doctor Ali Fuat Gökçe also made a democratic inquiry about democracy in his book titled “Siyasal Partilerde Lider ve Yönetim Değişimleri/Leader and Management Changes in Political Parties”.
Every book and article we read teaches us something new, but also allows us to make synthetic-analytical new interpretations of our former knowledge. Gökçe's book is also very useful in terms of both providing valuable new information and new ideas and enabling the reader to generate new ideas.
While reading the book, I remembered another book in the field of political science. In that book by Arend Lijphart, the types of democracy were discussed in terms of legal and sociological variables, with studies on twenty-one countries. (1) In his book, Gökçe gives examples of the changes in the staffs and management mentality of the political parties, especially the leaders, in terms of the same variables, with the examinations he made from the G-8 countries. The most useful aspect of the book is that it covers Turkey extensively and makes suggestions, not content with historical-sociological analyses. It is also evident that the author, whose devotion to democracy is immediately evident, made a serious effort to show the flaws of our democracy and make up for it.
This feature of Gökçe may seem interesting to many. Because although he is now a political scientist and academician, his previous profession was military service. The fact that he has spent a significant part of his life in a military lifestyle may lead to expectations that he is a complete anti-democrat. However, there are also opinions that the sense of responsibility that military service has made a habit gives the desire to participate in the administration in civilian life, thus conducive to the development of democracy. We can give an example from France. Before giving the opinion I mentioned, I should convey a feature that Gökçe gave and that most of us, including me, do not know:
“No party came to power alone, except the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR), which won the 1968 elections in France… In the five elections held between 1945 and 1958, six political parties came to power… While fourteen political parties came to power in the seventeen general elections held after 1945, eight different political party presidential candidates won the eight presidential elections held after 1965 (p. 60).
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) takes the popular revolutions as an indicator according to the period in which he lived, and attributes the French's ability to change the administration to the fact that a large part of the people were drafted in the wars and gained the ability to lead and manage because a significant part of them gained the rank of non-commissioned officer. Mill counts the French and the Americans among “nations which got used to stand on their own feet”. In contrast to the popular revolution in the French, the virtue they see in the Americans is completely civilian-based and has the ability to form a government easily. (2) The political characteristics of today's Americans, seen in Ali Fuat Gökçe's book, are that there is no official political party leader practice and the right to be elected president is limited twice by the constitution. Even if the president is very successful, this situation does not change (p. 205). With this practice, no doubt, “bossism” is prevented.
Whatever the foundations for democracy in which country the philosopher Mill and others point to it, it is in fact an unplanned consequence of the long struggles of the masses against injustices in every country in which they live. In fact, the masses who rebelled were in favor of granting rights only to themselves, not to other victims, but in the end, everyone had to accept each other's rights for peace. It was the same in the USA and France. The only exception to this situation in the history of the world is the first Islamic State. With its system that we can describe as "Islamic democracy", that state was established with a “social contract” in the real sense, the administrators were elected, and the principle of being egalitarian and fair to everyone. (3) However, that point that we have expressed at every opportunity is not the subject of this article.
While Ali Fuat Gökçe gives examples from developed democracies in his book, he also conveys some very interesting information, such as the age requirement for party membership being fourteen (p. 240). It is certainly commendable that every individual, young or old, can have a say in the administration of the country. I believe that the current age limit of eighteen is adequate.
Gökçe, who also examines the individual by-laws of the parties that are influential in Turkish political life and demonstrates the inadequacies of intra-party democracy, also offers different applications for this field. What I found most original and useful was his proposal about arranging the number of party delegates by province with a new understanding. Gökçe, who regards the disadvantages of determining the delegates attending as local representatives in general congresses in proportion to the number of party members there, proposes that the number of delegates of a party in any region should be determined by taking into account the number of members in that region as well as the number of votes received from that region (p. 246). I would like to add to Gökçe's reasons in which I agree: In this way, the domination of big cities, especially Istanbul, will be prevented in our political life. Because Istanbul, with its very large population, has the highest number of members in almost every party, on the other hand, it can have the lowest vote rate in any party compared to the population of the provinces. In this case, it is not fair for that party to establish dominance over successful provinces with its many delegates in the general assembly, even though it was unsuccessful.
I also wholeheartedly support Gökçe's opposition to male hegemony in politics and his acceptance of women's being active in political life in Turkey. But there is one point where I differ from him within this regard: Among the changes he deems necessary to be made in the party bylaws, he also proposes the equal number of men and women in the delegates, members and party organizations (p. 245). I am against both negative discrimination and positive discrimination. I think that individuals should be evaluated according to their hard work and abilities, not their gender. Let this statement of my opinion be accepted as a democratic and intellectual consultation between Esteemed Instructor Gökçe and me.
I strongly recommend Gökçe's book, which I have named above, to anyone who is interested in political science and strives to generate ideas for the future. Since the book was published in Gaziantep, those who are interested may have difficulty finding it. Therefore, in the bibliography below, I give the full postal address, e-mail address and telephone and fax numbers of the publisher. (4)
I hope to see books from other members of ASSAM and wish you a Ramadan Kareem.
1- Ljiphart, Arend; Çağdaş Demokrasiler: Yirmi bir Ülkede Çoğunlukçu ve Oydaşmacı Yönetim Örüntüleri, Translated by Ergun Özbudun ve Ersin Onulduran, Yetkin Yayınları, Ankara, 1996.
2- Mill, John Stuart; Özgürlük Üzerine, Translated by Tuncay Türk, Oda Yayınları, İstanbul, 2008, pp. 155-156.
3- Dayı, Hüseyin; İslam Medeniyetinin Küreselliği, 2. Baskı, Akis Kitap Yayınları, İstanbul, 2012.
It is a fact that the general attitude of the people in Turkey has been in favor of human rights and freedoms, but since the so-called libertarian Committee of Union and Progress, a coup-plotter totalitarian mentality has been influential in the state. The most determined democratic stance of the nation against that mentality was realized under the leadership of Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdoğan.
The most obvious feature of those who support the coup-plotter mentality is summarized in the phrase “It is not about Gezi. Did not you understand?”, which they used during the Gezi Park protests. Let alone those who believe in them, the nation understood that strategy very well. Just as Gezi was a pretext, the method they tried on March 30, 2014, local elections was also a pretext that they could not make it.
In this article, the subject will be discussed with the explanations of the Islamic mystic-philosopher Attar of Nishapur of the twelfth and thirteenth century and the Western philosophers of our time, and some events in the history of democracy. As a result, some basic expectations from the Turkish Armed Forces, National Intelligence Organization, and the public will be expressed.