I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Istanbul over half term. It’s been 25 years since I last visited. It is still one of the loveliest and most atmospheric cities in the world, and I hope you don’t mind some holiday snaps below.
It’s a bargain destination right now, thanks to terrorism, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the attempted coup against him. Despite the brutal suppression of dissent it wasn’t hard to find people who were anti-Erdogan as well as lots of people cheering him on.
The people who voted for Erdogan are essentially the same demographic that voted for Trump, for Brexit, and for Modi in India. While they grew up as the most wealthy and privileged generation ever in their own countries they are have become anxious and resentful, particularly towards the modern world and a younger generation who don’t share their values. They want to assert control over a world they no longer feel respects them, and to address some petty grievances, grievances that reactionary politicians has astutely nurtured.
Above all they are prepared to swap liberty and opportunity for security and identity.
Having visited India under Modi, Turkey under Erdoğan, the US under Trump, (and living in Brexit Britain) it is clear that all 4 countries look backwards as much as forwards – even if those Imperial pasts are a long time ago (India/Turkey), or fictional (the USA). The conservative ideologies in India, Turkey and the US are rooted in a religeous tradition; Hindutva, Islamism, and Conservative Christianity, which provide a moral excuse for reactionary politics and bigotry.
What is unusual about the UK is that it is essential a secular state, and the reactionary elements claim their moral authority form some union jack bunting and a picture of a spitfire. WW2 nostalgia and a desire for a simpler time when people knew their place is the backbone of Britain’s reactionary ideology. The Christian far right may have their own representatives in Jacob Rees Mogg, but a white Christian nationalist ideology is still fringe in the UK.
I am not sure if this makes our own reactionary forces more or less dangerous. Would Erdoğan, Modi or Trump been worse if they didn’t have a religious moral framework to constrain them?
The lack of any moral framework to Britains Erdoğans, Modis and Trumps does still worry my hugely. Brexiters have won a fictional victory over an imaginary enemy. How long before they want to start a real fight?
While I worry, these are 2 of my favourite Turkish pop stars ever. Both conservative baiting feminists.
The legendary Selda Bağcan. Jailed 3 times by Turkey’s military regimes, and car bombed by Islamists:
And the great Gaye Su Akyol:
For those who find Selda’s music familiar she has been sampled by lots of hip hop artists. This is Mos Def: