Sunday, May 06, 2007

Turkey and Australia

More secularist protests in Turkey (picture from here). Once again they seem to have attracted little attention in Australia. media coverage tends to point the Islamist's success in attracting lower income voters, although I suspect the division is driven by region and history, and success in on the ground campaigning and the provision of social services. One revolutionary left interpretation is simply to dismiss the demonstrators as evil educated middle-class people. Adherents of this seem to be a minority on LBO however. Interesting article in New Left Review on Turkey by Cihan Tugal that shows the Islamists' political success based among other factors in the discrediting of the old parties. The problem is that the secular nationalist project is exhausted, Nasser and Ataturk no longer offer guidance in the present, and as Tugal shows the Turkish army has a very dubious record. The hint of military intervention can be compared to those on the Australian left, such as new NSW Labor MP Verity Firth who argued last year that a Bill of Rights in NSW would provide a protection against anti-union initiatives by a conservative government. This is weak shield indeed, what the left needs to do is to develop social institutions and widely shared social values that will ensure that any conservative government is constrained. Federal Labor shows little sign of this. Its proposed Fair Work Australia would presumably be abolished by a conservative government; a reinvigorated Industrial Relations Commission would have more prospect of survival.

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