30 Eylül 2010 Perşembe

Political Islam in Turkey: A Comparison of Welfare Party and Justice and Development Party

The main aim of the founders of the Turkish Republic in 1923 was to subordinate Islam to the secularism principle of the Republic. In addition to the reforms that were being made, a very clear distinction was drawn between the relationship of Islam and politics. Due to the very nature of one of the main pillars of the Republic that is secularism, state and religion was clearly separated. Elimination of religiously oriented people from politics continued until the early seventies with the establishment of the first religiously oriented party NOP (read National Order Party) under the leadership of Necmettin Erbakan. However, NOP was a short-lived party and closed down by Turkish Constitutional Court in 1971 “for violating the principles of secularism set out in the constitution (Preamble and articles 2. 19. 57.) and the Law of Political Parties (Law No. 648. Articles 92, 93, and 94)”[1] After NOP experience, NSP (read National Salvation Party) was established in 1972 again under the leadership of Necmettin Erbakan. This party was also shut down in 1981 as a result of the coup that took place in 1980. After the second failing experiment, WP (read Welfare Party) was established in 1983. WP had been the most successful and controversial among the religiously oriented parties that were established by Necmettin Erbakan. The Constitutional Court also closed down WP in 1997 and banned its leadership cadre from politics for five years. In addition, JDP (read Justice and Development Party) led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his colleagues, who split up from Felicity Party due to some ideological reasons, was formed in 2001 and won a landslide victory in the November 2002 general elections and occupy the majority of the seats in the assembly.

While comparing the two important Islamic parties, it is worth to take into account some concepts defined by Daniel Brumberg. He mainly distinguishes the types of Islamism into three categories; namely “radical or militant fundamentalism, reformist fundamentalism and strategic modernism or Islamic Liberalism”.[2] Accordingly, parties who pursue radical fundamentalism aimed at changing the system of the country through force and at the end form a regime based on Islamic laws. In reformist fundamentalism, the parties have the same aim with the radical fundamentalist that is establishing a state based on Islamic laws but those parties pursue moderate policies and continuously reject violence. In other words, through establishing mass electoral support they try to win the elections and construct a hidden agenda. This is also called dissimulation (takiyye). On the other hand, “Islamic Liberals, which are quite rare in the Middle East, seek to extend religious freedoms in a broadly democratic environment.”[3] Unlike the radical and reformist fundamentals, Islamic Liberals do not aim at forming an Islamic state. Instead of doing this they try to co-exist with the secular establishment of the state. In this sense, we can call WP a reformist fundamentalist party having some elements of militant fundamentalism and JDP an Islamic Liberal party carrying some aspects of reformist fundamentalist party by looking at analyzing their policies and the deeds of their leaders.

As noted above, WP was established in 1983 after the transition to the multi-party politics after the 1980 coup. Although during the 1980’s WP had been a marginal party, 1990 onwards it started to become a mass party that tried to appeal to the different segments of the society. However, the major segment of the society that WP tried to reach was the urban poor that were mostly suffered from liberalizing measures of Motherland Party under the leadership of Turgut Özal during the 1980’s. The main rhetoric of the WP in domestic policy was “Just Order”. Accordingly, “Just Order” (Adil Düzen) is the only remedy to the injustices that were suffered by the majority of the people. In other words, in order to garner the votes of the masses, the leadership of the WP emphasized the importance of social policies instead of appealing to the religious sentiments of the people. Regardless of this effort, most of the votes that they garnered in 1995 general elections still came from the party’s Islamic identity. As Özbuldun points out, “The party combines religious and non religious appeals, as seen in its emphasis on industrialization, social justice, honest government, and the restoration of Turkey’s former grandeur.”[4] In terms of foreign policy, the ruling cadre of the WP introduced “National View” approach. Accordingly, national view movement is totally against the west and its westernization components. Instead, it embraces the Ottoman past and as a reaction to the neo-liberal multi-national companies, WP emphasized the importance of domestic production for the welfare of the society. As a consequence of this movement, “Anatolian Tigers” which comprises small-scale producers in different parts of the Anatolia emerged. They further claimed that if it is imperative to build economic and political relationship with other countries, it is better to build relationship with Islamic countries, illustrated by Necmettin Erbakan, as a prime minister, mainly paying visits to the Middle Eastern and Northern African Muslim states. Not only the secular segment of the society but also our western allies showed reaction to those visits.

WP increased their religious appeals after they had become the dominant partner of the coalition government after the 1995 general elections. The numbers of the Koran courses were increased. In addition to this, the number of the Prayer Leader and Preacher Schools (İmam Hatip Okulları) was also increased. WP government rescheduled the working hours in the Ramadan month and they also allowed wearing headscarves in the universities and public spaces. However, the final faux pas was the invitation of some sheiks and the leaders of religious movements to the Prime minister’s residence for the evening meal during Ramadan. These actions greatly attracted the attention of the military and on the 28th of February 1997 they introduced their famous recommendations. This so called post-modern intervention has had huge effect on the Islamists and Islamic parties in Turkey. As a consequence of recommendations Necmettin Erbakan was forced to resign from the government. As well, “In June 1998, the Constitutional Court closed down the WP on the grounds that the party had resorted to action against the secular Republic and banned Erbakan and other leading members of the party from politics for five years.”[5] The WP’s further appeal to ICHR (read International Court of Human Rights) was also rejected on the grounds that WP constitution had sayings that would change the regime of the country via force and this is totally against the IHRD (read International Human Rights Declaration). As noted above, it would be not wrong to place WP to the category of reformist fundamentalist as it was also proved by the decision of ICHR and Turkish Constitutional Court. WP also carried some elements of militant fundamentalism since some of its members engaged in violent activities although the party never officially supported these activities.

In direct contrast, JDP, while having strong Islamic ties illustrated by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s famous inflammatory speech, supposedly inciting potential religious violence, has so far successfully avoided the pitfalls that brought the WP to such a dramatic end. Although acknowledging the personal practice of Islam, the formal rhetoric of the party has been to brand themselves as “conservative democrats” thus promoting their ideology of political morality, but distancing themselves from political Islam. Prime Minister Erdoğan himself summed up the description of the party leaders that they were “pious people, but preferred secular politics.”[6] However, the distinction of where the exact line between public and private religious expressions lies has been an ongoing point of contention through much of Turkey’s political history. Having a strong secular state following the Kemalism ideal of national secularism, has yet contained a strong contradiction regarding the separation of religion and state, as Toprak and Daver point out that “the inclusion of the religious organization within the state bureaucracy and the consequent subordination of religious authority to the political is contrary to the spirit of secularism as understood in the West”.[7]

Within this framework, the JDP has sought to bring morality, integrity and democracy to the forefront of politics, and to meld values based on a religious belief system with the contemporary vision of a secular Turkey moving forward toward further Westernization and full membership in the European Union. Prime Minister Erdoğan has put forth considerable effort to strength the ties with the West. JDP has also criticized the strong enforcement of the military regarding dismissal of officers that might have a religious affiliation; feeling “democratic harmony” should be the result of dynamic consensus, not state consensus.[8] This method was illustrated when the issue of vocational schools, including the Prayer Leaders and Preacher Schools (Imam Hatip Okulları) was brought up for policy revision. Although legislation was submitted to correct the unfair prejudice toward graduates of these schools in regards to university entrance, and duly passed because of the JDP majority in parliament, there arose a great opposition in the military and it was declared by the military authority that this was utterly unacceptable. Consequently, when the President vetoed it, the government did not force the legislation to pass, although it had the means, but preferred to let the issue ride currently, while maintaining its focus on the top non-religious priorities of the government – socio-economic issues, such as unemployment and EU membership.

Following this same political agenda, another sensitive religious issue currently in Turkey – that of the public wearing of headscarves has not been included in any type of legislation in parliament, and in fact, has actually been handled in a secular manner, with the President not inviting to public events the spouses of the party leaders that are known to wear the headscarf. Although some in the party insist this is a personal, not public issue, it seems the JDP does not wish to focus on this debate, as many secularists would denigrate any solutions they might put forth, claiming a religious basis, and thus crippling the party’s positive influence in matters of higher priority.

Although many have been and continue to be quite skeptical of the “true” motives of the JDP party, the rhetoric of conservative democracy and support of Kemalism as the “the code of collective existence”[9] for the nation of Turkey, along with the legislation that illustrates the practical application of this political ideology, seems to give credence to the party’s continuing support of a secular state not influenced by political Islam. As the JDP continues to walk the tight-wire between secularism and religion, the trick will be maintaining the balance so as to appease the secularists enough so as to not be removed from power by the military, while satisfying the electorate enough to retain the majority of the votes.[10] When we look at the policies, sayings and deeds of both Prime Minister Erdoğan and other prominent JDP figures it will not be wrong to say that we can call JDP as an “Islamic Liberal” party. However, it should be noted that JDP has strong ties with fundamentalist religious groups and communities and the party could increase its dose of Islamism in the future.

In conclusion, the Welfare Party and the Justice and Development Party at first glance seem to have much in common as Islamist parties, but given a closer look, the differences in many areas outweigh the similarities. Looking at three examples of these differences – the first issue is the development of further relationships with Islamic countries versus Western countries. While the Welfare Party was quite determined to make a statement to the world of wishing stronger ties with Islamic countries, the JDP has maintained close relations with the West while also keeping friendly relations with the Islamic countries when possible. The top priority of EU membership is undoubtedly a strong factor in this position of the JDP’s foreign relation policies.

Secondly, while both governments desired an improvement of the vocational/religious schools, and passed legislation accordingly, the WP was very forceful in implementing changes in the number of Prayer Leaders and Preacher Schools and the Koran courses that were offered, while the JDP did not force the legislation to pass and has put this issue on the “back political burner” at the current time. The third issue – that of wearing headscarves in the public arena has been handled entirely differently – the WP once again forcing the allowance of headscarves in the public, which in part contributed to their political demise by the military, but the JDP has not made this an issue to do battle over; rather having remained sensitive to the wishes of the secular state and downplayed the issue as much as possible.

The final conclusion that can be drawn from these comparisons is that the Justice and Development Party, while having strong personal religious beliefs, truly believes Islam and secularism can co-exist, and has hopes for the future, as stated by Prime Minister Erdoğan, “I dream of a Turkey which will be the strongest bridge between civilizations”.[11] (This paper was prepared as a weekly assignment in 2006. After the second landslide victory of JDP in 2007 general elections, the party’s liberal Islamism quickly turned into reformist fundamentalism in many areas including foreign policy, internal policy and cultural policies, and JDP started to act differently although it still seems to hesitate between Islamic liberalism and reformist fundamentalism.)


· Heper, Metin, A Democratic-Conservative Government by Pious People: the Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Blackwell Companion for Contemporary Political Thought, Ed. by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi. New York: Blackwell

· Tank, Pınar. Political Islam in Turkey: A State of Controlled Secularity. Turkish Studies Vol.6, No. 1, 3- 19 March 2005

· Özdalga, Elizabeth. Necmettin Erbakan: Democracy for the sake of power", Political Leaders and Democracy in Turkey”, Ed. by Metin Heper and Sabri Sayarı, New York and Oxford: Lexington Books, 2002

· Özbudun, Ergun. “Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to democratic consolidation, Boulder, CO, Lynne Reinner Publishers. 2000

· Öniş, Ziya. “Political Islam at the crossroads: from hegemony to co-existence”. Contemporary Politics, Vol 7, No 4, 2001

[1] Tank, Pınar. Political Islam in Turkey: A State of Controlled Secularity. Turkish Studies Vol.6, No. 1, 3-19 March 2005, p.7.

[2] Öniş, Ziya. Political Islam at the crossroads: from hegemony to co-existence. Contemporary Politics, Vol 7, No 4, 2001, p. 283.

[3] ibid, p. 283.

[4] Özbudun, Ergun. “Contemporary Turkish Politics: Challenges to Democratic Consolidation”, Boulder,CO, Lynne Reinner Publishers. 2000, p. 87.

[5] Özdalga, Elizabeth. Necmettin Erbakan: Democracy for the sake of power”, Political Leaders and Democracy in Turkey, Ed. by Metin Heper and Sabri Sayarı, New York and Oxford: Lexington Books, 2002, p. 134.

[6] Heper, Metin, A Democratic-Conservative Government by Pious People: the Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Blackwell Companion for Contemporary Political Thought, Ed. by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi. New York: Blackwell, p. 8.

[7] Tank, Pınar. “Political Islam in Turkey: A State of Controlled Secularity. Turkish Studies Vol.6, No. 1, 19 March 2005, p. 5.

[8] Heper, Metin, A Democratic-Conservative Government by Pious People: the Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Blackwell Companion for Contemporary Political Thought, Ed. by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi. New York: Blackwell, p 14.

[9] ibid, p. 16.

[10] Tank, Pınar. Political Islam in Turkey: A State of Controlled Secularity. Turkish Studies Vol.6, No. 1, 3- 19 March 2005, p. 16.

[11] Heper, Metin, A Democratic-Conservative Government by Pious People: the Justice and Development Party in Turkey. Blackwell Companion for Contemporary Political Thought, Ed. by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi. New York: Blackwell, p. 12.

Ozan Örmeci

28 Eylül 2010 Salı

Amerikan Devrimi

Amerikan Devrimi iki yüzyıllık İngiliz sömürgesine karşı yapılmış ve 1775-1783 yılları arasında gerçekleşmiş olan tarihi olaydır. Birçokları Amerikan Devrimi’nin ateşinin 1775’te ilk silah sıkıldıktan çok daha önce başladığına inanmasına karşın, İngiliz koloni rejimine karşı 1763 tarihine kadar ciddi hiç bir tepkinin var olmadığını görmekteyiz. Fransız Devrimi’ni tetiklemesi ve Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’nin kurulmasına neden olması açısından çok önemli olan bu tarihi olaya kısaca bir göz atalım.

Amerikan Devrimi’nin gerçekleşmesinin altında çok önemli siyasal ve ekonomik sebepler yatmaktadır. Siyasal sebeplerle başlamak gerekirse öncelikle söylenmesi gereken şey, İngiliz koloni hükümetlerinin bir buçuk asırdan fazla sürmüş iktidarları nedeniyle ekonomik güç ve kültürel kazanımlar alanında büyük ölçüde gelişme sağlamış ve hemen hemen hepsinin uzun özyönetim yılları geçirmiş olmalarıdır. Zaten koloniler 1760’lardan başlayarak birbirleriyle dayanışma içine girerek Birleşik Krallık'ın üzerlerindeki etkilerini kırmanın yollarını aramaktaydılar. Kolonilerde iç savaşların nispeten hız kesmesi ve yerleşik düzenin, ekonomik faaliyetlerin istikrarlı devam edecek bir şekilde kurulmasıyla, ekonominin gelişmesine paralel olarak, hızlı bir kentleşme ve nüfus artışı süreci yaşanmıştır. Buna ek olarak Fransız ve Kızılderili savaşından sonra İngiltere yeni bir imparatorluk düzeni gereksinimi içinde bulunuyor ancak Amerika’daki durum değişime elverişli gözükmüyordu. Yaygın özgürlüklere alışmış bulunan koloniler, Fransız tehlikesi de ortadan kaldırılmış olduğu için daha az değil daha çok özgürlük istiyorlardı ancak İngiltere’nin planları bu doğrultuda değildi. İngiltere parlamentosu denetimi yoğunlaştırmak ve kendi kendini yönetme deneyimine sahip olan ve dış müdahalelerden hoşlanmayan kolonicilerle başa çıkmak için ilk olarak ülke içi düzenlemelere giriştiler. Kanada’nın ve Ohio Vadisi’nin ele geçirilmesi, o yörelerde yaşayan Fransızları ve Kızılderilileri küstürmeyecek bir siyaset uygulanmasını gerektiriyordu; fakat bu konuda İngilizlerin çıkarları kolonicilerle çatışıyordu. Topraklarını genişletmek isteyen kolonicilerin Kızılderililer ve Fransızlarla yeni savaşların başlamasına neden olmasından korkan İngiltere hükümeti, 1673’te yayınlanan kraliyet bildirgesi ile aslında kolonicilerin toprak ilerleyişine son vermeyi ve Kızılderililere toprak ayırmayı amaçlamıştı. Ancak materyalizm felsefesi üzerine kurulu yenidünyada aç gözlülük ve hırsın bir sınırı yoktu ve İngilizlerin kararı hiç bir zaman tam olarak uygulanamadı. Bunlara ek olarak para birliğinin olmaması ve İngiliz parasının her yerde kullanılmaması ve oluşan yeni sosyokültürel atmosfer koloni yerleşimcilerinin İngiltere’ye olan aidiyet duygularını oldukça düşürüyordu. 1763 tarihinde Pontiac İsyanı ile uğraşmak zorunda kalan İngiltere, kolonicilerden gelen parlamentoda temsil edilebilme isteklerine de sürekli red yanıtı vermekteydi. Yenidünyanın nimetlerinden sınırsız yararlanmak isteyen Amerikalılar İngiltere’nin vergilendirme politikasından da büyük rahatsızlık duymaktaydılar. Genişleyen imparatorluğu finanse etmekte zorlanmaya başlayan “üzerinde güneş batmayan imparatorluk” İngiltere, vergi mükelleflerinin kolonilerin savunulması için gerekli tüm parayı sağlayamaması üzerine kolonilerden alınan vergi oranlarını yükseltmeye başladı. İngilizlere göre kolonilerin güvenliklerini sağladıkları için yüksek oranda vergi almaları doğaldı. Ancak Massachusetts’li idealist avukat James Otis 1761 yılında temsil hakkı olmadan yapılacak vergilendirmenin “tiranlık” olduğunu söyleyerek devrim ateşini yakıyordu.

İngilizler 1764 tarihli şeker yasası benzeri yasalarla yabancı mallara gümrük vergisi getirerek İngiliz ürünlerini tekel haline getirmeyi ve ticari rakiplerini saf dışı bırakmayı amaçlamıştır. Bu yasalar nedeniyle ciddi bir enflasyon sorunu yaşanmış ve çok pahalı hale gelen İngiliz ürünleri Amerikan halkını öfkelendirmiştir. Bu ekonomik sorunların yanı sıra koloniciler temsil hakları olmadığı halde getirilen bu vergilendirme yasasının anayasaya aykırı olduğu gerekçesiyle Samuel Adams önderliğinde krallığı protesto etmeye başlamıştır. İngiltere’nin hayalindeki yeni koloni düzenini kurmaya yönelik girişimlerden en önemlisi ise 1765 tarihli pul yasasıdır (stamp act). Sons of Liberty (özgürlük çocukları) ismiyle ilk yurtsever Amerikalı örgütlenmesine neden olan pul yasası uyarınca tüm gazetelere, el ilanlarına, broşürlere, ruhsatlara, kira sözleşmelerine ve diğer yasal belgelere damga pulu yaptırılacak ve Amerikan gümrük memurları tarafından toplanacak gelir, kolonilerin savunulması için kullanılacaktır. Gelişmeler üzerine Sons of Liberty, 13 koloniden 9’unun delegelerini yolladığı toplantıda New York’ta pul yasasını reddetmeyi kararlaştırır ve The Declaration of Rights and Grievances’ı hazırlar. Bu deklarasyona göre yalnızca kolonilerin vergi toplama hakkı olduğu, koloni vatandaşlarının İngilizlerle aynı haklara sahip oldukları ve oy hakkı verilmeden meclisin Amerikalıları temsil edemeyeceği vurgulanır. 1767 yılında ise yangına körükle gitmekte ısrar giden İngiltere, maliye bakanı Charles Townshend’in hazırladığı yeni mali programla gümrük denetimini sıkılaştırır. Townshend yasaları denilen bu yasalarla, kolonilerce ithal edilen mallardan alınan resimlerin yasal olduğu, buna karşın pul vergisi gibi iç vergilerin yasal olmadığı görüşü hâkim oluyordu. Bu yasalara tepki olarak Amerikalılar yerli mallara rağbet etmeye başlarken, vergi tahsili için gelen gümrük memurlarına da şiddetli tepkiler gösterildi. 1768’de Bostonlu bir tüccar olan bağımsızlıkçı John Hancock’un “The Liberty” isimli gemisine kaçakçılık şüphesiyle el konulması sonrası özellikle Boston’da İngiliz karşıtı kitlesel gösteriler başladı. Gerilen ortam neticesinde 5 Mart 1770’te Boston katliamı (Boston massacre) adı verilen olayda İngiliz askerlerinin aşırı güç kullanması ve birçok kişiyi öldürmesi bardağı taşıran son damla olmuştur. Zaten bağımsızlık hisseleri doruklara çıkmış koloni vatandaşları Birleşik Krallık yönetime son vermek konusunda kesin kararlarını bu saatten sonra almışlardır. İngilizlerin geri adımlar atmalarına karşın özellikle Samuel Adams’ın örgütlediği bağımsızlıkçı hareket hızla güç kazanmaya başladı. Ekonomik sıkıntı içerisindeki British East India Company hükümetle birleşerek kolonilere çok ucuz bir fiyata çay satmaya başladı. Bu durumdan oldukça rahatsız olan koloni tüccarları ve kaçakçılar kar marjlarının çok düşmesi üzerine bağımsızlıkçılara katıldılar. British East India Company’nin mümessilleri, Atlantik kıyısındaki tüm limanlarda istifaya zorlandılar ve yeni gelen çay partileri ya İngiltere’ye geri gönderildi ya da antrepolarda depolandı. 16 Aralık 1773 gecesi, Mohawk Kızılderilileri kılığına bürünmüş bazı bağımsızlıkçılar, Boston limanında demirli bulunan üç İngiliz gemisine çıkarak, malları denize attılar. Boston Çay Partisi olarak bilinen bu olay sonra İngiliz hükümeti yeni zorlayıcı yasalar çıkararak gelişmelere karşılık verdi. Alınan önlemlerin Boston Liman Yasası (Boston Port Act) denilen ilki uyarınca, Boston Çay Partisi olayıyla imha edilen çayın bedeli ödeninceye kadar Boston limanı kapatıldı. Ayrıca ek yasalarla yerel yönetimlerin yetkisi kısıtlandırılıyor ve ticaret geliri düşen ve hatta limanın kapatılmasıyla ticaret imkânı elinden alınan Amerikan tüccarları zor duruma düşürülüyordu. Bu yasalar, parlamentonun istediği gibi, Massachusetts’i zor duruma düşürüp yalnız bırakacağına, diğer kolonilerin yardıma koşmalarına neden oldu. Akli dengesi iyiden iyiye kaybeden İngiliz kralı 3. George’un baskısıyla çıkarılan 1774 tarihli “Quartering act” ve “Quebec act” gibi yasalarla İngiltere’nin koloniler üzerindeki yasal ve ekonomik gücü güvence altına alınmaya çalışılmış ancak kolonicilerden tepkiler gün geçtikçe artmıştır.

Bu yasalara karşı bağımsızlıkçılar 5 Şubat 1774’te Philadelphia’da toplandılar. Birinci Kıtasal Kongre (First Continental Congress) olarak bilinen toplantıya katılan delegeler, bölgesel meclisler tarafından ya da halk toplantılarında seçilmişlerdi. Georgia eyaleti dışındaki tüm koloniler bu kongreye en az bir delege gönderdiler. İngiltere’ye karşı toplu bir tepki gösterilmesi açısından büyük önem taşıyan Birinci Kıtasal Kongre, Articles of Association kararları ile İngiliz ürünlerini boykot kararı alırken, halkın devrim duygularını ve bilincini fazlasıyla körükledi. Bu kongre sonrası tüm kolonilerde bağımsızlıkçı liderlerin önderlik ettiği kuruluşlar oluşturuldu ve propaganda faaliyetleri sonucu sadece işçi ve köylü kesiminin değil ekonomik durumları iyi olan büyük çiftlik sahiplerinin ve zengin tüccarların da desteği sağlandı. Askeri malzemelerin toplanması ve ilk defa askeri birliklerin oluşturulması da bu tarihlere tekabül eder. 19 Nisan 1775 günü Lexington’da başlayan çatışma Amerika Bağımsızlık Savaşı’nın ve Amerikan Devrimi’nin başlangıcı oldu. Savaş devam ederken 4 Temmuz 1776’da Thomas Jefferson tarafından kaleme alınan Bağımsızlık Deklarasyonu (Bağımsızlık Bildirgesi) ile birlikte Amerika’daki 13 İngiliz kolonisinin bağımsızlığı ilan edildi. 8 yıl süren Amerikan Bağımsızlık Savaşı sonucunda 1783’te yenilen Britanya, Amerikan bağımsızlığını tanımak zorunda kaldı ve son Britanya birlikleri de New York’u terk etti. 7 Eylül 1787’de bir anayasa kabul edildi ve federal bir yönetim biçimi benimsendi. 1789 başındaki ilk seçimleri çoğunluğu bağımsızlıkçılardan oluşan federalistler kazandı ve George Washington ilk ABD başkanı seçildi, federal bir hükümet oluşturuldu. 1791’de Haklar Bildirisi (Bill of Rights) çıkarıldı. 1792’de ise çeşitli konulardaki farklılıklar etrafında politik partiler ve akımlar şekillenmeye başladı. Amerikan devrimindeki iki ana akım güçlü bir merkezi yönetimden yana olan George Washington, Hamilton ve John Adams’ın önderliğindeki federalistler ile tek tek devletlerin varlık hakkını vurgulayan Cumhuriyetçiler (sonraları demokratlar) idiler. Kongre, her eyaletin nüfusuna göre temsil edildiği bir Temsilciler Meclisi ve her eyaletin iki oyunun bulunduğu bir Senato teşkil edildi.

Fransız Devrimi ile birlikte tarihin ilk burjuva devrimi kabul edilebilecek olan Amerikan Devrimi böylelikle ilk aşamasını tamamlamıştır. Ancak kapitalist sistemin ve serbest piyasa ekonomisinin tam olarak oturması ve burjuva demokrasisinin şekillenmesi ancak 100 yıl sonra patlak vermiş olan Amerikan İç Savaşı (1861-65) ile mümkün olmuştur.

Ozan Örmeci

26 Eylül 2010 Pazar

John Rawls and Justice as Fairness

John Rawls, who died few years ago, with no doubt, is one of the most important thinkers of natural right approach. Although Rawls’ theory is in the form of a social contract[1], his ideas about natural and inviolable individual rights make him a natural right theorist. In this paper, I am going to analyze John Rawls’ views in the light of his “Political Liberalism” article and “A Theory of Justice” book.

Like famous philosophers Thomas Hobbes, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke and Immanuel Kant, Rawls thought of a period of time in the history in which human beings lived freely without the existence of a state or any kind of central authority. Rawls constructs his natural right theory upon this hypothetical stateless period called “original position”. Some of other social contractarian philosophers presented their ideas as a real historical process instead of a thought experiment. (Other philosophers preferred to call this period as state of nature[2]) Rawls claims that in this original position, people do not know their status, class, abilities, profits and even the conception of good. “Among the essential features of this situation is that no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength and the like” (Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pg.12). Rawls calls this situation as “living in the veil[3] of ignorance”. People not knowing their profit and the conception of good because of the veil of ignorance do not try to favour them. In addition, they do not feel like single individuals. “The point is rather that the persons in the original position are not to view themselves as single isolated individuals” (Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pg.206). They do not try to cheat on each other or to make secret plans because they really do not know their profit and they think that the original position is fair and advantageous for them.

According to Rawls, “justice as fairness” derives from this original position and basically tells the fairness of people living in these conditions. “This explains the propriety of the name justice as fairness: it conveys the idea that the principles of justice are agreed to in an initial situation that is fair” (Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pg.12). Due to this fair equal situation, benefits and burdens are distributed appropriately in the society. No one tries to violate other people’s basic rights for his own profit or the profit of the whole society. So, inviolable individual rights are protected in the original position due to the existence of the veil of ignorance and the disinterestedness of people. Rawls is a real defender of individual freedoms and thinks that a person’s thoughts and actions should be tolerated as much as possible unless this person’s actions begin to cause problems for social order that is necessary for keeping free individual and social life. “Furthermore, liberty of conscience is to be limited only when there is a reasonable expectation that not doing so will damage the public order which the government should maintain” (Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pg.213). So, we can say that Rawls’ proposal for the base of justice is the untouchableness of basic individual rights and the disinterestedness of people derived from the untouchableness of their rights in a tolerant environment. Thus, laws should be arranged according to this basic principle of justice and the state should be responsible of only taking part when there are problems threatening the untouchableness of natural individual rights. Inviolable individual rights should be superior to public interest and any other ethical proposal. This should be the base of justice and laws. “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override” (Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pg.3).

Rawls’ “justice as fairness” and political liberalism understanding has two basic principles. Firstly, “each person has an equal claim to a fully adequate scheme of basic rights and liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme for all; and in this scheme the equal political liberties, and only those liberties, are to be guaranteed their fair value” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 5). Secondly, “social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first, they are to be attached to positions and offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, they are to be the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 6). According to Rawls, these two principles are derived from two philosophical traditions: Lockean tradition what Constant calls as “the liberties of the modern” and Rousseau école what Constant calls as the “liberties of the ancients” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 4). Lockean tradition is about freedom of conscience and basic natural rights whereas Rousseau’s perspective focuses on political liberties and the rule of law. Rawls thinks that although we cannot separate these two principles from each other, the first one is more important in a just and fair society. Rawls thinks that these two principles express an egalitarian form of political liberalism in virtue of three elements. First of all, these two basic principles guarantee the fair value of political liberties by preventing formality. Secondly, they give emphasis on equality of opportunity and thus, create a fair political environment. Thirdly, they aim to prevent socioeconomic inequalities unless these inequalities are in the favor of the least advantaged members of society (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 6-7). Rawls thinks that in order to create a secure environment in which different political views can be represented without clash, there must be basic principles accepted by everyone in the society. For doing this, he advises “narrowing the range of disagreement” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 8). This can be done only in “organizing familiar ideas and principles into a conception of political justice” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 9).

According to John Rawls, the aim of justice as fairness is practical and it directs people to form an “overlapping consensus” on the necessity of basic principles that would be shared by everyone and guarantee all people’s freedoms. Rawls thinks that justice is fairness is not like other moral doctrines such as utilitarianism which are comprehensive and “hold for all kinds of subjects ranging from the conduct of individuals and personal relations to the organization of society as a whole as well as to the law of peoples” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 13). Justice as fairness is like a central organizing idea that was developed by two fundamental ideas: creating free and equal individuals and to establish a well-ordered society. By this way, opposing religions, philosophical and moral doctrines will enjoy security and freedom in Rawls’ view. Rawls also talks about the necessity of social cooperation. Rawls defines cooperation as “distinct from merely socially coordinated activity, for example, from activity coordinated by orders issued by some central authority, rather as a guidance by publicly recognized rules and procedures that those cooperating accept and regard as properly regulating their conduct” (John Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 16). Moreover, cooperation is realized by approval of all citizens and has the idea of reciprocity. All participants benefit from the social cooperation and they make a rational choice in approving it as the basic principle of the society. “The idea of social cooperation requires an idea of each participant’s rational advantage, or good” (John Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 16).

Rawls’ ideas especially his ideas about the socioeconomic inequalities seem interesting and worth an analysis. Rawls claims that “social and economic inequalities are to be the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society” (Rawls, Political Liberalism, pg 6). Although this claim seems as a social democratic sensitivity for the suppressed groups, classes in Rawls’ theory, many other people criticized Rawls for creating an exit guarantee for the capitalist system. In other words, we can claim that this perspective does not aim to abolish inequalities but rather minimizes it for the sake of the survival of the system. Furthermore, although Rawls talks about the veil of ignorance and describes the original position as a state of ignorance similar to the Rousseau’s state of nature in which men are seen as natural livings who lack humanity, when he explains the necessity of the justice of fairness he gives men’s reciprocal realization of their benefit in political liberalism as an explanation. These are some points where Rawls’s theory seems confusing. Moreover, although it was a well-known and appreciated theoretical work, it would be difficult to apply his “difference principle” to real life in this abstract form.
- Rawls, John, “Political Liberalism
- Rawls, John, 1971, “A Theory of Justice”, Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press
- Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com

[1] Social Contract: An agreement among the members of an organized society or between the governed and the government defining and limiting the rights and duties of each.
[2] State of nature: A wild primitive state untouched by civilization.
[3] Veil: Something that conceals, separates, or screens like a curtain.

Ozan Örmeci