Seizing cultural hegemony the AKP way - analysis

While Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) pushes for national and religio-moral values, they have done little to offer tangible evidence of a model for youth prosperity or flourishing in the educational and cultural sphere, writes Ekrem Düzen in an article he penned for Jadaliyya.

Düzen points to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s pious youth project by highlighting the seven-fold increase in the number of religious imam-hatip schools (covering secondary education), with one in every siz student presently in religious schooling. Erdoğan himself is a graduate of one of these schools.

In addition to this, gender segregation has expanded, mostly under the guise of vocational training, in Turkey, according to the author who notes that Erdoğan’s drive to seize cultural hegemony is stronger than ever before.

‘’The project of indoctrination gained momentum right after the failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016. The ministry immediately started a campaign named “This is Experience Speaking: The Heroes within Us,” targeting the youth audience,’’ he writes. ‘’The program brought together young people with the “heroes” who took to the streets to resist the coup on the night of the attempt. The program was ostensibly intended to share and transfer the experiences of “the heroes who fought for democracy.” The campaign has been realized in all eighty one of Turkey’s provinces.’’

By forcing all educational and cultural perspectives through a native and national prism, Düzen says, the present government’s attempt to manufacture cultural hegemony is tantamount to the destruction of the social and cultural life of the country.

The AKP is able to pursue cultural hegemony not only through popular vote, but also Article 58 of the Constitution, which provides the state, at least implicitly, with the “lawful” ratification to take necessary measures to ensure the unobjectionable moral and scientific education of the youth, the article points out.

As such, the programs launched by the MYS are truly consistent with the state’s duties under Article 58[ii] of the Turkish Constitution. In fact, Article 58 is so powerful that it can be mobilized to undermine the rest of the Constitution, Düzen notes.