Academic journal article Insight Turkey

After Gezi: Moving towards Post-Hegemonic Imagination in Turkey

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

After Gezi: Moving towards Post-Hegemonic Imagination in Turkey

Article excerpt

"There is no hegemony and never has been. We live in cynical, post-hegemonic times: nobody is very much persuaded by ideologies that once seemed fundamental to securing social order" (Beasley-Murray, 2002)

Introduction

Adapting from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's philosophical propositions, Jon Beasley-Murray challenges the concept of hegemony, advanced by Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci (1) and later developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (2). According to Beasley-Murray, ideology is no longer the determining agent in shaping the politics of contemporary society, where individuals maintain complex relations with the state apparatus and the dominant class in a given society. The idea of hegemony advanced by Gramsci emphasizes the efficacy of ideology; which is, the bourgeoisie ideology managing to reproduce consent over individuals belonging to different social classes. The decline of ideology with the rapid development of a consumption-oriented society in the postmodern era gave rise to the visibility of differentiating identities, which were included in a process of accumulating different sorts of capital and (cultural, social or practical) power. Politics can no longer produce unified collective identities but at the micropolitical level a wide variety of differentiated identities emerge through new media technologies.

While the term hegemony refers to the set of social relations, which is regulated by the dominant class who manages to reproduce the consent of the underprivileged members of the society, Beasley-Murray suggests that hegemony is no longer sufficient to explain the contemporary dynamics of social order. With reference to Deleuzian concepts of "habit" and "affect" (3), he underscores that the social order is maintained through the complex web of relations between the individuals on the basis of multiplicity of differences as well as conflicts in-between, rather than concrete ideologies determining the limits of certain discourses shaping our social realities. Moving beyond the Marxist formula towards Foucauldian conception of power, which draws attention to the horizontal dispersion of power relations that act upon and subjugate individuals in differing social settings, the term post-hegemony refers to "the dispersion of power, the fragmentation of politics and the multiplicity of identities". (4)

The particular realization, which has been debated within the Marxist and poststructuralist circles within academia regarding the assertion of post-hegemony, as the characterizing force in contemporary society, might explain the course of events that Turkey has recently been experiencing, namely, the Gezi Park activism. This essay aims to point at various dynamics introduced into our universe of discourse with the unfolding of the Gezi events, especially the paradoxes that the "Gezi Spirit" is founded upon. We suggest that the Gezi upheaval was a reactionary response against the particular social class, which is represented by Prime Minister Erdogan's personality as the "other" as opposed to those of secular, middle class individuals who associate themselves either with the paradigms of Kemalism or leftism. The argument, which defines the Gezi events merely as a "reactionary" response does not mean to insult or degrade the importance of the demands of a particular social class. It rather suggests that all social oppositional movements in contemporary society are necessarily reactionary since it is not possible to mention a concrete revolutionary body of social classes, which would carry the potential to radically transform the society. Revolution is no longer possible since a revolutionary program with the potential to offer "salvation" to a certain class or the society as a whole cannot be coherently established. With the decline of ideology and the differentiation of individuals within social classes, we suggest that it is no longer possible to maintain particular hegemony, however, post-hegemonic dispositions can be instrumentalized for democratic politics. …

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