Many writers and thinkers in Turkey, responding to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan crew's full-scale, state-backed attack on the Gülen movement, noted wisely, "You cannot wipe out that entire sociology." These observations came in the face of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) posturing, characterized by words of warning from Ankara to the movement along the lines of "You exist only because we exist," or "Not even water for those folks." But of course, then, as now, no warnings are heeded by true Erdoğanists. But still, for the sake of posterity, I'd like to engage in a small bit of analysis on this front.
It's undeniable that the Erdoğanist regime has damaged the Gülen movement. After all, this government has had from its very inception deep alliances with many who harbor serious grudges towards the Gülen movement; not unlike the view of more pious citizens taken by some "White Turks." In this way, forces within the state have worked over the years to derail the Gülen movement as much as possible, causing it a certain level of losses in the process. In the end though, rather than finishing off the Gülen movement for good, what has actually happened is more akin to how a tree grows more rapidly and healthily after it has been pruned.
It should be examined whether some people parting ways with the Hizmet movement is actually a loss because these people seemed close to Hizmet when they thought it was strong, assumed the movement was acting in cooperation with the government on all issues or when the movement was part of the state, but they never understood the core philosophy of Hizmet or adopted it. Hizmet underwent traumas during the coup processes of 1971, 1980 and Feb. 28, 1997. Following the first departures, it developed more, became more mature and had more depth. This is what will most probably happen following this process. Companies that undergo crises with self-criticism, reflection, assessment of their actions and strategies for adaptation to new circumstances, following a short-term dwindling, begin flourishing again.
This is the period that the Hizmet movement is going through right now. Certain deficiencies found among volunteers of the Gülen movement, such as seeming extremely close to the party in power, assigning more importance to the state than necessary, being overcome by hubris, distancing themselves from being human-centric, weakness in being justice-oriented and the weakening of spirituality are being re-evaluated over and over again as a new era is being prepared for, albeit with very little of it overtly in the public eye.
Hizmet's past is the witness of how it renews itself and adapts to new conditions without losing its founder's soul, basic philosophy and paradigm. In other words, Hizmet's story is not finished, it just feels the pain of passing to a new and more exciting period. Yet, what is the situation on the AK Party front, which claimed to end the Hizmet movement? Though they asserted a thousand turgid claims and exploited the power of the state, they failed to submit evidence for any of the claims that they have made. They just raid the nurseries of children with heavily armed police officers to show off and continue to pick on Kimse Yok Mu, a charity organization, and on philanthropists.
No need for deep analysis, this is the dramatic portrait of an ending.
Published on Today's Zaman, 19 August 2015, Wednesday