Nothing better illustrates the scientific truth that the arrow of time is irreversible than the early stages of a revolt: when the public energy flowing through a political system accelerates beyond a certain point, and is met by an accelerating flow of energy by the system’s controlling elements, nothing can prevent the situation from continuing to a point at which it bifurcates to a new state. This process is known as revolution. Those of the Arab Spring have had mixed results, and the one in Turkey will have its own trajectory, but all have followed the same pattern in which the energies of the two sides have continued relentlessly in their forward motions.
Observers wonder why Prime Minister Erdogan persists in his plans to destroy a beloved park in order to build a shopping mall when confronted with massive public opposition. Evidently he has not understood that it is precisely the goal of ‘development’ and ‘progress’ that is being rejected. Turkey’s unique location between Europe and the Arab world has made it the first Muslim country to which a heretofore mainly Western minority rejection of consumerism and the rule of finance has spread. It’s dazzling history has only stren-gthened opposition to the commercial aspect of modernity, unexpectedly uniting it with a growing rejection of authoritarian rule among cultural Muslims.
Read Orhan Pamuk’s celebrated novel Snow for background on the religious/secular tension that has infused Turkish society for the last hundred years. Better than news reports it explains why the fact that Erdogan has been maintained in power by democratic elections does not protect him from popular rejection of authoritarian rule.
The Turkish Summer also has broader international implications than the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya because Turkey has been embroiled in the Syrian uprising, which is spilling over into Lebanon, and both these countries have borders with Israel, a Turkish ally.
On a related note, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting in California failed to agree on much aside from policies toward North Korea. But a world in which public energy, with the help of the internet, increasingly poses a threat to state power, undoubtedly helped the two leaders to keep their own antagonistic energies in check.