Book Review: Cihan Tuğal. 2016. The Fall of the Turkish Model

Published date01 August 2018
Date01 August 2018
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Cihan Tuğal. 2016. The Fall of the Turkish Model. London; New York:
Verso. 296 pp. IBSN: 9781784783327
As the title suggests, Cihan Tuğal’s book The Fall of the Turkish Model focuses
on what is perceived to be the failure of the Turkish neoliberal’ model, utilizing a
Gramscian ‘hegemonic’ analysis to explain its demise. Once hailed by George
Bush Jr., trumpeted by ‘global business circles’ and celebrated by the ‘interna-
tional media’ in the early 2000s, this model stood on shaky grounds by 2013 and
continues to suffer from a significant crisis (pp. 1–4). The failed 2016 attempted
coup by elements from the Turkish military establishment was perhaps the most
conspicuous manifestation of such a condition. While the book had been written
and published before the event, it tacitly anticipated such turmoil. Indeed, military
intervention was exactly what transpired after the earlier and largely failed
attempts by the Arab regimes in the region to mix what Tuğal called ‘bits and
pieces of “Islam”, democratization and populism’ (p. 3). Interestingly, such a
fusion is not recognized as indigenous initiatives but more or less conducted at the
behest of the USA and the IMF ‘as a weapon against the Iranian model’ (p. 5).
What is the Turkish model and what is its fate are the two main questions that
Tuğal attempts to address in this book. According to Tuğal, the Turkish model was
‘an Islamic Americanism with a revolutionary rhetoric’ directed ‘half-heartedly’
against ‘the remnants of authoritarian secularism’, taking the form of ‘Islamic
liberalism’. The latter reflected a ‘marriage of formal democracy, free market
capitalism and (a toned down) conservative Islam’ (pp. 3–4) which came to be
embodied in the Justice and Development Party (abbreviated in Turkish as AKP).
The purpose of the AKP was to co-opt and transform political Islam into ‘a moderate
conservative democratic party, reconciled to the secular principles of the constitution’
(p. 6). This model had its origins in the idea of containing the Iranian Islamic
revolutionary model and in absorbing the wave of revolution spreading from that
country (p. 3). After some initial years of rapid economic growth, still within a
liberal milieu, many domestic and international circles came to perceive Turkey
as ‘the global system’s best bet for rendering Islam governable’ (p. 8). Amid a
‘global hype’ (p. 5) a recipe for a stable mixture of Islam, liberalism and democracy,
as it would appear, had been found. One through which ‘Turkish Islamists’ brought
forth ‘a formula that could absorb the shock of the Iranian revolution’ (p. 4).
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
5(2) 216–226
2018 SAGE Publications India
Private Limited
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2347797018783125

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