The Political Is Personal Essay

626 words - 3 pages

What happens when a worldview based on the notion of being at the center of state power— and using this power to reshape society finds itself displaced form central state institutions for a prolong period of time? Özyürek shows that Kemalists have been forced to revisit expressions of their ideology in a number of unexpected market-orientated ways, as secularism went private when Islamism went public.
One of the central themes in this book is how the new market paradigm has indirectly infused expressions of popular Kemalism, described as the “privatization of state ideology” (p.6). In many ways, personalized expressions of politics have become the new basis of citizenship and legitimate political expression (p.6). An example is the “exponential increase” (p.93) in the ubiquitous images of Atatürk. The pictures that have seen a sharp rise in popularity is not the traditional images in which the modern Turkey’s founder is portrayed as a militaristic leader but those that show him in increasingly personalized settings. The increase production, distribution, and consumption of Atatürk images as a “ordinary human” with social life represents a kind of commodification of Kemalist iconography: “Suddenly, it seemed, there was an appropriate picture of Atatürk for every trade: Atatürk at a table for restaurants and bars; several poses of Atatürk drinking coffee for coffee shops; a dancing Atatürk for nightclubs; and even Atatürk with cats and dogs for veterinarians” (pp. 93-94). The shift in ideology toward market principles produce distinctive and personal understanding of peoples relationships with the state power.
Nostalgic Republicans, believe that the end of the single-party regime and transition to democracy form the starting point of selfishness in Turkey. Suddenly there was more vision for the future, the country and citizens divided along the lines of gender, class, ethnicity and religion. This led to...

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