Contemporary Subscription

July 2018

Why Turkey is Authoritarian

From Atatürk to Erdoğan

Halil Karaveli

Paperback

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'Wrests us out of the stale narratives of Islam vs. secularism, offering a new way of understanding one of the most important questions in Turkey today: why despite so much democratic promise, its fundamental political structure returns to authoritarianism again and again' 
– Suzy Hansen, author of Notes on a Foreign Country (2017)

'This authoritative analysis should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand Turkey's relentless retreat from democracy' 
– Ronald Grigor Suny, William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History, The University of Michigan

For the last century, the Western world has regarded Turkey as a pivotal case of the 'clash of civilisations' between Islam and the West. Why Turkey is Authoritarian offers a radical challenge to this conventional narrative. Halil Karaveli highlights the danger in viewing events in Turkey as a war between a 'westernising' state and the popular masses defending their culture and religion, arguing instead for a class analysis that is largely ignored in the Turkish context. 

This book goes beyond cultural categories that overshadow more complex realities when thinking about the 'Muslim world', while highlighting the ways in which these cultural prejudices have informed ideological positions. Karaveli argues that Turkey's culture and identity have disabled the Left, which has largely been unable to transcend these divisions. 

This book asks the crucial question: why does democracy continue to elude Turkey? Ultimately, Karaveli argues that Turkish history is instructive for a left that faces the global challenge of a rising populist right, which succeeds in mobilising culture and identity to its own purposes.

Halil Karaveli is a Senior Fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, a US-Swedish think tank. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs and the National Interest

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