Daily Life and Laicism Practices

The relationship between religion and laicism always reflects itself in daily life as an element of conflict. Current circumstances reveal at the first instance that daily life is divided into various niches and each one of these niches are circumspect at the expense of promoting the others. The modernist imagination about how the religion could be given a form in modern circumstances, today in every part of the world, lend itself to large scale regulations which take into account religions place and authority with regard to how daily life could be given form. One of the most typical of these regulations is in place in Turkey.

The imagination of daily life of modern republic was subjected to the limits of the desire of getting modernized. Modernity implies a new imagination of life which represents a break-up with tradition in the 19th century. The unique way to realize this imagination was seen as Westernization. Westernization was seen and applied as an indispensable means in realization of modernity. While at times the terms modernization” and “Westernization” are used as synonyms, in fact, what was designed under these terms was internalization of Western social thought and practices as a whole.

Traditional Turkish societys mentality by and large was shaped by religion (Ülgener, 1981). Similarly Islams presence which penetrates deeply into daily life, was seen as a dominant legitimating source in the political field, as well as in other units of social life. In this context even in the earlier modernization attempts, it is quite important that a need to find references through Islamic origins was felt (Kara, 2008). Indeed religious interests and discourses dominated the practical interests of rulers without being limited with their search for legitimating.

The main themes of Turkish modernity are crystallized in the arrangement of niches through making them secular, as is clearly seen in the establishment of the republic (Davison,2002). With these arrangements, reducing the traditional weight of religion in our world was sought. This preference allowed a new atmosphere which gave the impression that religion was almost entirely dismissed. Likewise vulnerable tension points which might be deemed as quite tentative were formed not only in religion, but also in the world of values which was fedfrom the religion. The elites of the new regime agreed on the fact that the religious thinking, mentality and activity which characterized the practical life,  after all had many serious limitations concerning the goals that the Turkish society should achieve (Subaşı, 2004).

With this arrangement which might be seen as pretty dim, the aim was to appeal to religion as an appropriate tool. Because that half-realized project was not welcomed by a serious attentiveness in the reference world of the Muslim society and that reformers were relatively far from the religious world must have made it necessary to give up expecting support from these circles (Jäschke, 1972). At last from now on, the primary indicators of the new conception and Westernization, which were recalled with the whole republic, would form a new framework in which values that came to the forefront by an Islamic past was pictured as a problem.

In this process the question of which values would form a basis for the construction of daily life was seen as problematic areas in themselves. In fact values could be defined as criteria which were referred when evaluating people, people’s qualities, wishes and intentions or behaviors. Values as criteria which were used to measure the importance of people, models and intentions and other social and cultural things, could in reality be seen as places of of orientation and significance (ngör, 1998). In fact the concept of value”, together with being and knowledge form the three basic subjects of classical philosophical world. When the question of for which higher goals individual and social demands would be channelized, was raised, problem of values comes directly into the forefront.

Through the Turkish modernization a shift to a new understanding of life was realized. Thus, it was imagined that a modern society could be built through a new world of values. But the arrangement of society in a modern and Western framework would make it necessary to cease the relationship with every value which has associations with tradition and even continuously updates it. As a result of this Islamic values are coded as basic reference points which the traditions rely upon, and replaced by the values of Enlightenment which were shaped by French style. In fact the transference of values is a problematic attempt. The production of values in many centuries forms the basic constituents of the identity with the social elements of belonging and reference. In every stage, the import of values brings the society face to face with an anomy which was doomed to be realized. The negligence of root paradigms ate off the feelings of I and we”, and weaken the criteria of self-defining and and projections of future (Davutoğlu, 1997).

In the process of Turkish modernization, the transference of values in expense of excluding their own cultural and religious inventory, gave an end to the routineness of dailylife. The fragmented mentality structures, a loose order which made morals and ethics pretty subjective created serious problems in the arrangement of political field (Paker, 2003). But this intention bears continuity and the values of modernity are always recognized and accepted as values of Republic as well. This transformation as a result would necessitate the negligence or rejection of Islamic values which were among the determinant factors of daily life. The desire of modernization which was indispensable for the republic, in time, turned into a sacred intention. With this intention the way to revision of primary values of Turkish societyin line with the criteria of modernity;  and a need for essential dismissal and restoration in the field of values was emerged. And at times this sensitivity went hand in hand with warnings which might be deemed as radical (Toprak, Çarkoğlu, 2006).

The values of the republic could find a new realization to themselves only in the axis of modernization and laicism. The orientations in the political field also reflects the efforts to institutionalize this reality.  In fact it cannot be told that the political field proceeds independent from these values. The real motive upon which the construction and spread of the new values rely, was shaped by interventions in the fields of politics and education. While the cognitive maps of the society were transformed by the renovated curriculum,  new recognitions in the field of values would become unobstructed by the possibilities of the political field. Here, what was expected from the given politics was to use a secular rhetoric which aims to strengthen the power and hegemony by continuously updating the features of Republic in the context of Turkey. Thus the basic arguments of the politics would be shaped on the frontiers of the Turkish modernity with a complete loyalty. This rejection which was not limited by a critical account of the Islamic past, would create serious obstacles before the application of basic tenets of the traditional legacy as a serious reference network. Thus in the universe of politics which might be deemed as occasionally pragmatic, the essential thing was to make the society accept a framework which would help the continuity of the new regime. The favorite thing in the new register of the politics was to make it unhindered that secularization by laicism, which the state included in the priorities, become accepted by masses with a continuous sensitivity and expanded as much as possible.

However the transformation of the field of values was not as easy as assumed even by radical interventions. In fact the field of values could be considered as indications, even maps which could meet with root paradigms. It cannot be said that the interventions to the field of values, would create responses which would satisfy the expectations. Similarly the images of Turkish modernity which made it possible to often talk about a whirlpool of values, in fact were the result of a lack of satisfactory value production (Mardin, 1992). The question of which values would replace the old values, more interestingly to what extent these values would find a response in the societys secret and deep world, creates some gaps which could be assumed as highly uncertain. Even though a construction process, which found Western life styles as indispensable for the restoration of daily life, as a result it is seen that these values surprisingly emerge again (Birtek, 1998).

The pragmatism which is seen as one of the most important weaknesses of the Turkish modernity, characterized the field of values as well as the political field. The aims which were shaped in the political world, increasingly in a way which could be assumed as a complete fragmentation, shook also the world of values. The presence of modernization in the hegemonic level, never lost its quality of being the main molder of the society. Different political representations which came till today, always hesitated with regard to overcoming the dilemma between the societys moral values and the complicated goals of the society. Together with this, it must not be overlooked that the political rhetoric of the discourses of the political right, left, and Islam, appropriate manners which could be deemed as highly attemptive concerning the breaking of the sieging pressure of the formal life styles (Subaşı,2005).

The only value whose legitimacy could not be discussed is laicism and secularism which is aimed through laicism. Laicism, which was determined by the state as a basic tool for consensus is undoubtedly specific to itself. The main axis which applies to Turkish laicism is to sweep away the potential effects of religion from the frontiers of the state and public space. This attentive manner, not only ceases religions being a representation in the political field, but also brought forth an effective revision for accents on values based on the religious axis. In the mainstream politics, which wants a total secularization of daily life, the current is to intervene to the epistemology of the society and make the citizens be subjected to new paradigms (Krş. Shayegan, 1997; Oskay, 1989). The concern that the values most of which fed on religious arguments would limit the expectations of a laicist and secular life style, increases the strength of vulnerability on this subject.

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