Over the course of many decades, the human population has attempted several approaches to satisfy the demand for energy. As the population continues to grow exponentially, our alternatives to obtaining energy, from our houses to our jobs, have changed. In the spectrum of energies that exist today, there has been one that is the most controversial of all, due to the human instinct of fear for the worst that can happen when being used and produced. This is the manufacturing of nuclear energy, which is the energy released during nuclear fission. It delivers electricity to cities all over the U.S. accounting for 20% of the used nuclear energy in the world. Nuclear energy is sometimes seen as a danger to society due to the 57 accidents that have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster such as in Marcoule (2011) and in Fukushima (2011). Furthermore, radioactive material can potentially be disseminated, as radiation is harmful and can, even in small quantities, be lethal. Contamination with radioactive material can make an entire region uninhabitable for thousands of years. However, despite nuclear energy’s negative reputation due to the many devastations that have occurred amongst the human population, ultimately nuclear energy is a better alternative, as humanity must face the reality that it cannot depend indefinitely on combustion of coal, gas, and oil, for most of its energy needs. Therefore, nuclear energy has to play a huge role in this necessary transformation of the 21st-century energy-supply system.
The Nuclear Revolution
In the mid 20th century, society speculated the idea of nuclear energy as a viable energy source that would produce enormous and beneficial results to the world in general due to its rapid expansion. The development of nuclear energy in the second half of the 20th century progressed through several stages: theoretical development by physicists, military application as atomic weapons during World War II, commercialization by the electrical industry in several industrialized nations, proliferation (for military and non military uses) among less developed nations, crises spawned by power plant accidents, cost overruns, and public protests. As a result of the nuclear energy development through the 60s and 70s, many nuclear reactors were built for producing electricity, using designs similar to those made on submarines. They worked well and produced cheap, emission-free electricity with a very low mining transportation footprint. Subsequently, due to the low mining footprint that nuclear energy had on the environment through the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan, raised the budget for nuclear energy 36%, to 1.6 billion, reducing every other Department of Energy Program. Moreover, because of its great demand that nuclear energy had on society, the U.S. population envisioned the great expansion of nuclear energy throughout the nation. For instance, Barry Brook ARC Australian Laureate Professor and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania asserts, “ From these developments of the 20th century, an entire industry emerged that has led to 435 operating nuclear power reactors(as of late 2014), 72 under construction, and 174 more on order or planned, as well as numerous research factors around the world…” Furthermore, after WWII, nuclear energy greatly expanded throughout the U.S. and has been a sustainable resource for humans to rely on for 80 years and counting. It has promoted for major advances in many fields such as in medicine, weaponry, and other fields. In addition, nuclear energy has played an important role in keeping humanity out of the energical crisis as William Parker, member of the Institute of Physics mentions: “It has been shown energy released from uranium per gram is much more than that of fuels such as oil or coal; approximately 8,000 times more efficient.” Clearly, the expansion and development of nuclear energy has greatly influenced not only our nation and cities, but also our daily lives.
The Power of Nuclear Energy
Over time, nuclear energy has expanded to meet the demand of energy for the U.S. population, delivering clean energy and a large number of products and services for use in human activities, including medical diagnosis /therapy, industry, and agriculture. In addition, nuclear energy is not only limited to the generated electricity, but may equally well be used for such important tasks as desalination, production of hydrogen, space heating, process-heat applications in industry, and for extraction of carbon from CO2 to combine with hydrogen to create synthetic liquid fuels. Moreover, after the accident in Chernobyl, the United Nations increased the role of IAEA as an auditor of world nuclear safety. According to the World Nuclear Association, an international organization that promotes nuclear power asserts, “ The IAEA prescribes safety procedures and the reporting of minor incidents. Its role has been strengthened since 1996. Every country which operates nuclear power plants has a nuclear safety inspectorate and all of these work closely with the IAEA.” The safety regulations upon nuclear energy were strictly enforced by policymakers to promote safety in response to public fears of nuclear energy. Nonetheless, due to these strict regulations, nuclear energy for electricity generation can be considered extremely safe compared to coal mines as several thousand people die every year to provide fuel for electricity. Subsequently, to date, no deaths or radiation exposure was caused by the meltdown of Fukushima.
However, despite nuclear energy being an effective resource in the U.S. to battle the consumption of greenhouse gases, with it, comes many limitations. One problem with nuclear energy is the lack of reserves that we currently sustain. According to Daniel B. Botkin, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and president of the Center for the Study of the Environment states, “ Best estimates put the amount of uranium that can be mined economically at about 5.5 million metric units…today’s nuclear plants use 70,000 metric tons a year of uranium…at this rate uranium would last about 80 years.” This lack of efficiency for a long term use of nuclear energy makes society prone to accepting fossil fuels due to its cheap and abundance. Consequently, nuclear energy can’t stand for the demand of energy for the U.S. as fossil fuels account for 80% of the energy consumed in the U.S. in 2017, while nuclear energy accounts for only 9%. Furthermore, nuclear energy, is not only an unreliable resource, but it has caused severe devastations such as the one experienced in Chernobyl were it resulted in widespread radioactive contamination in regions like Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine inhabited by several millions of people. Devastations like these have led to a challenge to convince an often reluctant public that with new waste disposal techniques, nuclear energy is worth a second look in the interests of sustainable development.
Regulation on Nuclear Power
Nuclear energy has proven to be effective in the growing population of the U.S. As a result, nuclear energy could be acknowledged as a “stepping stone” from non-renewable to renewable energy. A solution for the advancement of nuclear energy in the U.S. is to implement more safety regulations upon the nuclear reactors. Nuclear energy needs to be safe in order for people to trust it and move from fossil fuels to a low-emission source of energy, such as nuclear energy. Furthermore, nuclear energy will help transition us into renewable sources as it will give us time to modify and perfect sources such as sources that aren’t yet efficient for the demand of energy. Moreover, in order to implement the idea of nuclear energy globally and the U.S., the world’s industrial nations should take the lead in transforming the major part of their stationary electrical energy-generating capacity from fossil-fuel-based to nuclear-fission-based. With a long-term energy policy and proper incentives, this could be achieved within a few decades (as was already done by France). Overall, such a transformation could drastically reduce the global rate of greenhouse-gas emission with respect to both atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane.
Is Nuclear Power a viable source of energy?: college application essay help
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Nuclear power, the energy of the future of the 1950s, is now starting to feel like the past. Around 450 nuclear reactors worldwide currently generate 11% of the world electricity, or approximately 2500 TWh in a year, just under the total nuclear power generated globally in 2001 and only 500 TWh more than in 1991. The number of operating reactors worldwide has seen the same stagnation, with an increase of only 31 since 1989, or an annual growth of only 0.23% compared to 12.9% from 1959 to 1989. Most reactors, especially in Europe and North America, where built before the 90s and the average age of reactors worldwide is just over 28 years. Large scale nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl in 1986 or, much more recently, Fukushima in 2011 have negatively impacted public support for nuclear power and helped cause this decline, but the weight of evidence has increasingly suggested that nuclear is safer than most other energy sources and has an incredibly low carbon footprint, causing the argument against nuclear to shift from concerns about safety and the environment to questions about the economic viability of nuclear power. The crucial question that remains is therefore about how well nuclear power can compete against renewables to produce the low carbon energy required to tackle global warming.
The costs of most renewable energy sources have been falling rapidly and increasingly able to outcompete nuclear power as a low carbon option and even fossil fuels in some places; photovoltaic panels, for example, have halved in price from 2008 to 2014. Worse still for nuclear power, it seems that while costs of renewable energy have been falling, plans for new nuclear plants have been plagued with delays and additional costs: in the UK, Hinkley Point C power station is set to cost £20.3bn, making it the world’s most expensive power station, and significant issues in the design have raised questions as to whether the plant will be completed by 2025, it’s current goal. In France, the Flamanville 3 reactor is now predicted to cost three times its original budget and several delays have pushed the start up date, originally set for 2012, to 2020. The story is the same in the US, where delays and extra costs have plagued the construction of the Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors which are now due to be complete by 2020-21, 4 years over their original target. Nuclear power seemingly cannot deliver the cheap, carbon free energy it promised and is being outperformed by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
The crucial and recurring issue with nuclear power is that it requires huge upfront costs, especially when plants are built individually, and can only provide revenue years after the start of construction. This means that investment into nuclear is risky, long term and cannot be done well on a small scale, though new technologies such as SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) may change this in the coming decades, making it a much bigger gamble. Improvements in other technologies over the period of time a nuclear plant is built means that is often better for private firms, who are less likely to be able to afford large scale programs enabling significant cost reductions or a lower debt to equity ration in their capital structure, to invest in more easily scalable and shorter term energy sources, especially with subsidies favouring renewables in many developed countries. All of this points to the fundamental flaw of nuclear: that it requires going all the way. Small scale nuclear programs that are funded mostly with debt, that have high discount rates and low capacity factors as they are switched off frequently will invariably have a very high Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) as nuclear is so capital intensive.
That said, the reverse is true as well. Nuclear plants have very low operating costs, almost no external costs and the cost of decommissioning a plant are only a small portion of the initial capital cost, even with a low discount rate such as 3%, due to the long lifespan of a nuclear plant and the fact that many can be extended. Operating costs include fuel costs, which are extremely low for nuclear, costing only 0.0049 USD per kWh, and non-fuel operation and maintenance costs which are barely higher at 0.0137 USD per kWh. This includes waste disposal, a frequently cited political issue that has no longer been relevant technically for decades as waste can be reused relatively well and stored on site safely at very low costs simply because the quantity of fuel used and therefore waste produced is so small. The fuel, uranium is abundant and technology enabling uranium to be extracted from sea water would give access to a 60,000 year supply at present rates of consumption so costs from ‘resource depletion’ are also small. Finally, external costs represent a very small proportion of running costs: the highest estimates for health costs and potential accident are at 5€/MWh and 4€/MWh respectively, though some estimates fall to only 0.3€/MWh for potential accidents when past records are adjusted to try and factor in improvements in safety standards; though these vary significantly due to the fact that the total number of reactors is very small.
Nuclear power therefore remains still one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity in the right circumstances and many LCOE (Levelised Cost of Energy) estimates, which are designed to factor in all costs over the life time of a unit to give a more accurate representation of the costs of different types of energy, though they usually omit system costs, point to nuclear as a cheaper energy source than almost all renewables and most fossil fuels at low discount rates.
LCOE costs taken from ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity 2015 Edition’ and system costs taken from ‘Nuclear Energy and Renewables (NEA, 2012)’ have been combined by the World Nuclear association to give LCOE for four countries to compare the costs of nuclear to other energy sources. A discount rate of 7% is used, the study applies a $30/t CO2 price on fossil fuel use and uses 2013 US$ values and exchange rates. It is important to bear in mind that LCOE estimates vary widely as many assume different circumstances and they are very difficult to calculate, but it is clear from the graph that nuclear power is more than still viable; being the cheapest source in three of the four countries and third cheapest in the fourth behind onshore wind and gas.
Decision making during the Fukushima disaster
On March 11, 2011 a tsunami struck the east coast of Japan, which resulted in a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. During the day commencing the natural disaster many decisions were made with regards to managing the crisis. This paper will examine these decisions made during the crisis. The Governmental Politics Model, a model designed by Allison and Zelikow (1999), will be adopted to analyse the events. Therefore, the research question of this paper is: To what extent does the Governmental Politics Model explain the decisions made during the Fukushima disaster.
First, this paper will lay the theoretical basis for an analysis. The Governmental Politics Model and all crucial concepts within it are discussed. Then a conscription of the Fukushima case will follow. Since the reader is expected to already have general knowledge regarding the Fukushima Nuclear disaster the case description will be very brief. With the theoretical framework and case study a basis for the analysis is laid. The analysis will look into the decisions government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials made during the crisis.
Allison and Zelikow designed three theories to understand the outcomes of bureaucracies and decision making in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The first theory to be designed was the Rational Actor Model. This model focusses on the ‘logic of consequences’ and has a basic assumption of rational actions of a unitary actor. The second theory designed by Allison and Zelikow is the Organizational Behavioural Model. This model focusses on the ‘logic of appropriateness’ and has a main assumption of loosely connected allied organizations (Broekema, 2019).
The third model thought of by Allison and Zelikow is the Governmental Politics Model (GPM). This model reviews the importance of power in decision-making. According to the GPM decision making has not to do with rational/unitary actors or organizational output but everything with a bargaining game. This means that governments make decisions in other ways, according to the GPM there are four aspects to this. These aspects are: the choices of one, the results of minor games and of central games and foul-ups (Allison & Zelikow, 1999).
The following concepts are essential in the GPM. First, it is important to note that power in government is shared. Different institutions have independent bases and, therefore, power is shared. Second, persuasion is an important factor in the GPM. The power to persuade differentiates power from authority. Third, bargaining according to the process is identified, this means there is a structure in the bargaining processes. Fourth, power equals impact on outcome is mentioned in the Essence of Decision making. This means that there is a difference between what can be done and what is actually done, and what is actually done has to do with the power involved in the process. Lastly, intranational and international relations are of great importance to the GPM. These relations are intertwined and involve a vast set if international and domestic actors (Allison & Zelikow, 1999).
Not only the five previous concepts are relevant for the GPM. The GPM is inherently based on group decisions, in this type of decision making Allison and Zelikow identify seven factors. The first factor is a positive one, group decisions, when met by certain requirements create better decisions. Secondly, the agency problem is identified, this problem includes information asymmetric and the fact that actors are competing over different goals. Third, it is important to identify the actors in the ‘game’. This means that one has to find out who participates in the bargaining process. Fourth, problems with different types of decisions are outlined. Fifth, framing issues and agenda setting is an important factor in the GPM. Sixth, group decisions are not necessarily positive, they can lead to groupthink easily. This is a negative consequence and means that no other opinions are considered. Last, the difficulties in collective actions is outlined by Allison and Zelikow. This has to do with the fact that the GPM does not consider unitary actors but different organizations (Allison & Zelikow, 1999).
Besides the concepts mentioned above the GPM consists of a concise paradigm too. This paradigm is essential for the analysis of the Fukushima case. The paradigm exists of six main points. The first main point is the fact that decisions are the result of politics, this is the GPM and once again stresses the fact that decisions are the result of bargaining. Second, as said before, it is important to identify the players of the political ‘game’. Furthermore, one has to identify their preferences and goals and what kind of impact they can have on the final decision. Once this is analysed, one has to look at what the actual game is that is played. The action channels and rules of the game can be determined. Third, the ‘dominant inference pattern’ once again goes back to the fact that the decisions are the result of bargaining, but this point makes clear that differences and misunderstandings have to be taken into account. Fourth, Allison and Zelikow identify ‘general propositions’ this term includes all concepts examined in the second paragraph of the theory section of this paper. Fifth, specific propositions are looked at, these specify to decisions on the use of force and military action. Last, is the importance of evidence. When examining crisis decision making documented timelines and for example, minutes or other account are of great importance (Allison & Zelikow, 1999).
In the definition of Prins and Van den Berg (2018) the Fukushima Daiichi disaster can be regarded as a safety case, this is because it was an unintentional event that caused harm to humans.
The crisis was initiated by an earthquake of 9.0 on the Richter scale which was followed by a tsunami, which waves reached a height of 10 meters. Due to the earthquake all external power lines, which are needed for cooling the fuel rods, were disconnected. Countermeasures for this issue were in place, however, the water walls were unable to protect the nuclear plant from flooding. This caused the countermeasures, the diesel generators, to be inadequate (Kushida, 2016).
Due to the lack of electricity, the nuclear fuel rods were not cooled, therefore, a ‘race for electricity’ started. Eventually the essential decision to inject sea water was made. Moreover, the situation inside the reactors was unknown. Meltdowns in reactors 1 and 2 already occurred. Because of explosions risks the decision to vent the reactors was made. However, hydrogen explosions materialized in reactors 1,2 and 4. This in turn led to the exposure of radiation to the environment. To counter the disperse of radiation the decision to inject sea water to the reactors was made (Kushida, 2016).
This analysis will look into the decision or decisions to inject seawater in the damaged reactors. First, a timeline of the decisions will be outlined to further build on the case study above. Then the events and decisions made will be paralleled to the GPM paradigm with the six main points as described in the theory.
The need to inject sea water arose after the first stages as described in the case study passed. According to Kushida government officials and political leaders began voicing the necessity of injecting the water at 6:00 p.m., the day after the earthquake, on March 12. It would according to these officials have one very positive outcome, namely, the cooling of the reactors and the fuel pool. However, the use of sea water might have negative consequences too. It would ruin the reactors because of the salt in the sea water and it would produce vast amounts of contaminated water which would be hard to contain (Kushida, 2016). TEPCO experienced many difficulties with cooling the reactors, as is described in the case study, because of the lack of electricity. However, they were averse to injecting sea water into the reactors since this would ruin them. Still, after the first hydrogen explosion occurred in reactor one TEPCO plant workers started the injection of sea water in this specific reactor (Holt et al., 2012). A day later, on March 13, sea water injection started in reactor 3. On the 14th of March, seawater injection started in reactor 2 (Holt et al., 2012).
When looking at the decisions made by the government or TEPCO plant workers it is crucial to consider the chain of decision making by TEPCO leadership too. TEPCO leadership was in the first instance not very positive towards injecting seawater because of the earlier mentioned disadvantages, the plant would become unusable in the future and vast amounts of contaminated water would be created. Therefore, the government had to issue an order to TEPCO to start injecting seawater. They did so at 8:00 p.m. on 12 March. However, Yoshida, the Fukushima Daiichi Plant Manager already started injecting seawater at 7:00 p.m. (Kushida, 2016).
As one can already see different interests were at play and the outcome of the eventual decision can well be a political resultant. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the chain of decisions through the GPM paradigm. The first factor of this paradigm concerns decisions as a result of bargaining, this can clearly be seen in the decision to inject seawater. TEPCO leadership initially was not a proponent of this method, however, after government officials ordered them to execute the injection they had no choice. Second, according to the theory, it is important to identify the players of the ‘game’ and their goals. In this instance these divisions are easily identifiable, three different players can be pointed out. The different players are the government, TEPCO leadership and Yoshida, the plant manager. The Government has as a goal to keep their citizens safe during the crisis, TEPCO wanted to maintain the reactor as long as possible, whereas, Yoshida wanted to contain the crisis. This shows there were conflicting goals in that sense.
To further apply the GPM to the decision to inject seawater one can review the comprehensive ‘general proposition’. In this part miscommunication is a very relevant factor. Miscommunication was certainly a big issue in the decision to inject seawater. As said before Yoshida, already started injecting seawater before he received approval from his chiefs. One might even wonder whether or not there was a misunderstanding of the crisis by TEPCO leadership because of the fact that they hesitated to inject seawater necessary to cool the reactors. It can be argued that this hesitation constitutes a great deal of misunderstanding of the crisis since there was no plant to be saved anymore at the time the decision was made.
The fifth and sixth aspect of the GPM paradigm are less relevant to the decisions made. This is because ‘specific proposition’ refers to the use of force, which was not an option in dealing with the Fukushima crisis. The Japanese Self-Defence forces were dispatched to the plant; however, this was to provide electricity (Kushida, 2016). Furthermore, the sixth aspect, evidence is not as important in this case since many scholars, researchers and investigators have written to a great extent about what happened during the Fukushima crisis, more than sufficient information is available.
The political and bargaining game in the decision to inject seawater into the reactors is clearly visible. The different actors in the game had different goals, however, eventually the government won this game and the decision to inject seawater was made. Even before that the plant manager already to inject seawater because the situation was too dire.
This essay reviewed decision making during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster on the 11th of March 2011. More specifically the decision to inject seawater into the reactors to cool them was scrutinized. This was done by using the Governmental Politics Model. The decision to inject seawater into the reactors was a result of a bargaining game and different actors with different objectives played the decision-making ‘game’.
Tackling misinformation on social media: college essay help online
As the world of social media expands, the ratio of miscommunication rises as more organisations hop on the bandwagon of utilising the digital realm to their advantage. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, online forums and other websites become the pinnacle of news gathering for many individuals. Information becomes easily accessible to all walks of life meaning that people are becoming more integrated about real life issues. Consumers absorb and take information in as easy as ever before which proves to be equally advantageous and disadvantageous. But, There is an evident boundary in which the differentiation of misleading and truthful information is hard to cross without research on the topic. The accuracy of public information is highly questionable which could easily lead to problems. Despite there being a debate about source credibility in any platform, there are ways to tackle the issue through “expertise/competence (i. e., the degree to which a perceiver believes a sender to know the truth), trustworthiness (i. e., the degree to which a perceiver believes a sender will tell the truth as he or she knows it), and goodwill”. (Cronkhite & Liska (1976)) Which is why it has become critical for this to be accurate, ethical and reliable for the consumers. Verifying information is important regardless of the type of social media outlet. This essay will be highlighting the importance of why information need to fit this criteria.
By putting out credible information it prevents and reduces misconception, convoluted meanings and inconsistent facts which reduce the likeliness of issues surfacing. This in turn saves time for the consumer and the producer. The presence of risk raises the issue of how much of this information should be consumed by the public. The perception of source credibility becomes an important concept to analyse within social media, especially in terms of crisis where rationality reduces and the latter often just take the first thing that is seen. With the increasing amount of information available through newer channels, the idea of releasing information from professionals of the topic devolve away from the producers and onto consumers. (Haas & Wearden, 2003) Many of the public is unaware that this information is prone to bias and selective information sharing which could communicate the actual facts much differently. One such example is the incident of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant in 2011, where the plant experienced triple meltdowns. There is a misconception floating around that the food exported from Fukushima is too contaminated with radioactive substances making them unhealthy and unfit to eat. But the truth is that this isn’t the case when strict screening reveals that the contamination is below the government standard to pose a threat. (arkansa.gov.au) Since then, products shipped from Fukushima have dropped considerably in prices and have not recovered since 2011 forcing retailers into bankruptcy. (japantimes.co.jp) But thanks to the use of social media and organisations releasing information out into the public, Fukushima was able to raise funds and receive help from other countries. For example the U.S. sending $100,000 and China sending emergency supplies as assistance. (theguardian.com) This would have been impossible to achieve without the use of sharing credible, reliable and ethical information regarding the country and social media support spotlighting the incident.
Accurate, ethical and reliable information open the pathway for producers to secure a relationship with the consumers which can be used to strengthen their own businesses and expand their industries further whilst gaining support from the public. The idea is to have a healthy relationship without the air of uneasiness where monetary gains and social earnings increase. Social media playing a pivotal role in deciding the route the relationship falls in. But, When done incorrectly, organisations can become unsuccessful when they know little to nothing about the change of dynamics in consumers and behaviour in the digital landscape. Consumer informedness means that consumers are well informed about products or services available with precision influencing their willingness in decisions. This increase in consumer informedness can instigate change in consumer behaviour. (uni-osnabrueck.de) In the absence of accurate, ethical and reliable information, people and organisations will make terrible decisions with no hesitation. Which leads to losses and steps backwards. As Saul Eslake (Saul-Eslake.com) says, “they will be unable to help or persuade others to make better decisions; and no-one will be able to ascertain whether the decisions made by particular individuals or organisations were the best ones that could have been made at the time”. Recently, a YouTuber named Shawn Dawson made a video that sparked controversy to the company ‘Chuck E. Cheese’ for their pizzas slices that do not look like they belong to the whole pizza. He created a theory that part of the pizzas may have been reheated or recycled from other tables. In response Chuck E. Cheese responded in multiple media outlets to debunk the theory, “These claims are unequivocally false. We prep the dough daily for our made to order pizzas, which means they’re not always perfectly round, but they are still great tasting.” (https://twitter.com/chuckecheeses) It is worth bringing up that no information other than pictures back up the claim that they reused the pizza. The food company has also gone far to create a video showing the pizza preparation. To back as the support, ex-employees spoke up and shared their own side of the story to debunk the theory further. It’s these quick responses that saved what could have caused a small downfall in sale for the Chuck E. Cheese company. (washintonpost.com) This event highlights the importance on the release of information that can fall in favour to whoever utilises it correctly and the effectiveness of credible information that should be taken to heart. Credible information is good and bad especially when it has the support of others whether online or real life. The assumption or guess when there is no information available to base from is called a ‘heuristic value’ which is seen associated with information that has no credibility.
Mass media have been a dominant source of finding information (Murch, 1971). They are generally thought and assumed to provide credible, valuable, and ethical information open to the public (Heath, Liao, & Douglas, 1995). However, along with traditional forms of media, newer media are increasingly available for information seeking and reports. According to PNAS (www.pnas.org), “The emergence of social media as a key source of news content has created a new ecosystem for the spreading of misinformation. This is illustrated by the recent rise of an old form of misinformation: blatantly false news stories that are presented as if they are legitimate . So-called “fake news” rose to prominence as a major issue during the 2016 US presidential election and continues to draw significant attention.” This affects how we as social beings perceive and analyse information we see online compared to real life. Beyond just reducing the intervention’s effectiveness, failing to deduce stories from real to false increase the belief of false content. Leading to biased and misleading content that fool the audience. One such incident is Michael Jackson’s death in June 2009 where he died from acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication administered by his doctor, Dr. Murray. (nytimes.com) It was deduced from the public that Michael Jackson was murdered on purpose but the court convicted, Dr. Murray of involuntary murder as the doctor proclaimed that Jackson begged him to give more. A fact that was overlooked by the general due to bias. This underlines how information is selectively picked from the public and not all information is revealed to sway the audience. A study conducted online by Jason and his team (JCMC [CQU]) revealed that Facebook users tended to believe their friends almost instantly even without a link or proper citation to a website to backup their claim. “Using a person who has frequent social media interactions with the participant was intended to increase the external validity of the manipulation.” Meaning information online that can be taken as truth or not is left to the perception of the viewer linking to the idea that information online isn’t credible fully unless it came straight from the source. Proclaiming the importance of credible information to be released.
Information has the power to inform, explain and expand on topics and concepts. But it also has the power to create inaccuracies and confusion which is hurtful to the public and damages the reputation of companies. The goal is to move forward not backwards. Many companies have gotten themselves into disputes because of incorrect information which could have easily been avoided through releasing accurate, ethical and reliable information from the beginning. False Information can start disputes and true information can provide resolution. The public has become less attentive to mainstream news altogether which strikes a problem on what can be trusted. Companies and organisations need their information to be accurate and reliable as much as possible to defeat and reduce this issue. Increased negativity and incivility exacerbate the media’s credibility problem. “People of all political persuasions are growing more dissatisfied with the news, as levels of media trust decline.” (JCMC [CQU]) In 2010, Dannon’s ‘Activia Yogurt’ released an online statement and false advertisement that their yogurt had “special bacterial ingredients.” A consumer named, Trish Wiener lodged a complaint against Dannon. The yogurts were being marketed as being “clinically” and “scientifically” proven to boost the immune system while able to help to regulate digestion. However, the judge saw this statement as unproven. As well as many other products in their line that used this statement in their products. “This landed the company a $45 million class action settlement.” (businessinsider.com) it didn’t help that Dannon’s prices for their yogurt was inflated compared to other yogurts in the market. “The lawsuit claims Dannon has spent “far more than $100 million” to convey deceptive messages to U.S. consumers while charging 30 percent more that other yogurt products.” (reuters.com) This highlights how inaccurate information can cost millions of dollars to settle and resolve. However it also showed how the public can easily evict irresponsible producers from their actions and give leeway to justice.
Socio-political significance of Turkey’s emergent neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon
Over the last decade, Turkey’s cultural sphere has witnessed a motto of Ottomania—a term describing the recent cultural fervor for everything Ottoman. Although this neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon, is not entirely new since it had its previous cycle back in the 1980s and 1990s during the heyday of Turkey’s political Islam, it now has a rather novel characteristic and distinct pattern of operation. This revived Ottoman craze is discernable in what I call the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble—referring to a growing array of Ottoman-themed cultural productions and sites that evoke Turkey’s Ottoman-Islamic cultural heritage. For example, the celebration of the 1453 Istanbul conquest no longer merely takes place as an annual public commemoration by the Islamists, but has been widely promulgated, reproduced, and consumed into various forms of popular culture such as: the Panorama 1453 History Museum; a fun ride called the Conqueror’s Dream (Fatih’in Rüyası) at the Vialand theme park; the highly publicized and grossed blockbuster The Conquest 1453 (Fetih 1453); and the primetime television costume drama The Conqueror (Fatih). It is the “banal”, or “mundane,” ways of everyday practice of society itself, rather than the government or state institutions that distinguishes this emergent form of neo-Ottomanism from its earlier phases.
This is the context in which the concept of neo-Ottomanism has acquired its cultural dimension and analytical currency for comprehending the proliferating neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon. However, when the concept is employed in contemporary cultural debates, it generally follows two trajectories that are common in the literature of Turkish domestic and foreign politics. These trajectories conceptualize neo-Ottomanism as an Islamist political ideology and/or a doctrine of Turkey’s foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. This essay argues that these two conventional conceptions tend to overlook the complexity and hybridity of Turkey’s latest phase of neo-Ottomanism. As a result, they tend to understand the emergent neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble as merely a representational apparatus of the neoconservative Justice and Development Party’s (AKP; Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) ideology and diplomatic strategy.
This essay hence aims to reassess the analytical concept of neo-Ottomanism and the emergent neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble by undertaking three tasks. First, through a brief critique of the concept of neo-Ottomanism, I will discuss its common trajectories and limitations for comprehending the latest phase of neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon. My second task is to propose a conceptual move from neo-Ottomanism to Ottomentality by incorporating the Foucauldian perspective of governmentality. Ottomentality is an alternative concept that I deployed here to underscore the overlapping relationship between neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities in the AKP’s government of culture and diversity. I contend that neoliberalism and neo-Ottomanism are inseparable governing rationalities of the AKP and their convergence has engendered new modes of governing the cultural field as well as regulating inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in Turkey. And finally, I will reassess the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble through the analytical lens of Ottomentality. I contend that the convergence of neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities has significantly transformed the relationships of state, culture, and the social. As the cases of the television historical drama Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl) and the film The Conquest 1453 (Fetih 1453) shall illustrate, the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble plays a significant role as a governing technique that constitutes a new regime of truth based on market mentality and religious truth. It also produces a new subject of citizenry, who is responsible for enacting its right to freedom through participation in the culture market, complying with religious norms and traditional values, and maintaining a difference-blind and discriminatory model of multiculturalism.
A critique of neo-Ottomanism as an analytical concept
Although the concept of neo-Ottomanism has been commonly used in Turkish Studies, it has become a loose term referring to anything associated with the Islamist political ideology, nostalgia for the Ottoman past, and imperialist ambition of reasserting Turkey’s economic and political influence within the region and beyond. Some scholars have recently indicated that the concept of neo-Ottomanism is running out of steam as it lacks meaningful definition and explanatory power in studies of Turkish politics and foreign policy. The concept’s ambiguity and impotent analytical and explanatory value is mainly due to the divergent, competing interpretations and a lack of critical evaluation within the literature. Nonetheless, despite the concept being equivocally defined, it is most commonly understood in two identifiable trajectories. First, it is conceptualized as an Islamist ideology, responding to the secularist notions of modernity and nationhood and aiming to reconstruct Turkish identity by evoking Ottoman-Islamic heritage as an essential component of Turkish culture. Although neo-Ottomanism was initially formulated by a collaborated group of secular, liberal, and conservative intellectuals and political actors in the 1980s, it is closely linked to the consolidated socio-economic and political power of conservative middle-class. This trajectory considers neo-Ottomanism as primarily a form of identity politics and a result of political struggle in opposition to the republic’s founding ideology of Kemalism. Second, it is understood as an established foreign policy framework reflecting the AKP government’s renewed diplomatic strategy in the Balkans, Central Asia, and Middle East wherein Turkey plays an active role. This trajectory regards neo-Ottomanism as a political doctrine (often referring to Ahmet Davutoglu’s Strategic Depth serving as the guidebook for Turkey’s diplomatic strategy in the 21st century), which sees Turkey as a “legitimate heir of the Ottoman Empire” and seeks to reaffirm Turkey’s position in the changing world order in the post-Cold War era.
As a result of a lack of critical evaluation of the conventional conceptions of neo-Ottomanism, contemporary cultural analyses have largely followed the “ideology” and “foreign policy” trajectories as explanatory guidance when assessing the emergent neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon. I contend that the neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon is more complex than what these two trajectories offer to explain. Analyses that adopt these two approaches tend to run a few risks. First, they tend to perceiveneo-Ottomanism as a monolithic imposition upon society. They presume that this ideology, when inscribed onto domestic and foreign policies, somehow has a direct impact on how society renews its national interest and identity. And they tend to understand the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble as merely a representational device of the neo-Ottomanist ideology. For instance, Şeyda Barlas Bozkuş, in her analyses of the Miniatürk theme park and the 1453 Panorama History Museum, argues that these two sites represent the AKP’s “ideological emphasis on neo-Ottomanism” and “[create] a new class of citizens with a new relationship to Turkish-Ottoman national identity.” Second, contemporary cultural debates tend to overlook the complex and hybrid nature of the latest phase of neo-Ottomanism, which rarely operates on its own, but more often relies on and converges with other political rationalities, projects, and programs. As this essay shall illustrate, when closely examined, current configuration of neo-Ottomanism is more likely to reveal internal inconsistencies as well as a combination of multiple and intersecting political forces.
Moreover, as a consequence of the two risks mentioned above, contemporary cultural debates may have overlooked some of the symptomatic clues, hence, underestimated the socio-political significance of the latest phase of neo-Ottomanism. A major symptomatic clue that is often missed in cultural debates on the subject is culture itself. Insufficient attention has been paid to the AKP’s rationale of reconceptualizing culture as an administrative matter—a matter that concerns how culture is to be perceived and managed, by what culture the social should be governed, and how individuals might govern themselves with culture. At the core of the AKP government’s politics of culture and neoliberal reform of the cultural filed is the question of the social. Its reform policies, projects, and programs are a means of constituting a social reality and directing social actions. When culture is aligned with neoliberal governing rationality, it redefines a new administrative culture and new rules and responsibilities of citizens in cultural practices. Culture has become not only a means to advance Turkey in global competition, but also a technology of managing the diversifying culture resulted in the process of globalization. As Brian Silverstein notes, “[culture] is among other things and increasingly to be seen as a major target of administration and government in a liberalizing polity, and less a phenomenon in its ownright.” While many studies acknowledge the AKP government’s neoliberal reform of the cultural field, they tend to regard neo-Ottomanism as primarily an Islamist political agenda operating outside of the neoliberal reform. It is my conviction that neoliberalism and neo-Ottomanism are inseparable political processes and rationalities, which have merged and engendered new modalities of governing every aspect of cultural life in society, including minority cultural rights, freedom of expression, individuals’ lifestyle, and so on. Hence, by overlooking the “centrality of culture” in relation to the question of the social, contemporary cultural debates tend to oversimplify the emergent neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble as nothing more than an ideological machinery of the neoconservative elite.
From neo-Ottomanism to Ottomentality
In order to more adequately assess the socio-political significance of Turkey’s emergent neo-Ottoman cultural phenomenon, I propose a conceptual shift from neo-Ottomanism to Ottomentality. This shift involves not only rethinking neo-Ottomanism as a form of governmentality, but also thinking neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities in collaborative terms. Neo-Ottomanism is understood here as Turkey’s current form of neoconservatism, a prevalent political rationality that its governmental practices are not solely based on Islamic values, but also draws from and produces a new political culture that considers Ottoman-Islamic toleration and pluralism as the foundation of modern liberal multiculturalism in Turkey. Neoliberalism, in the same vein, far from a totalizing concept describing an established set of political ideology or economic policy, is conceived here as a historically and locally specific form of governmentality that must be analyzed by taking into account the multiple political forces which gave its unique shape in Turkey. My claim is that when these two rationalities merge at the cultural domain, they engender a new art of government, which I call the government of culture and diversity.
This approach is therefore less concerned with a particular political ideology or the question of “how to govern,” but more about the “different styles of thought, their conditions of formation, the principles and knowledges that they borrow from and generate, the practices they consist of, how they are carried out, their contestations and alliances with other arts of governing.” In light of this view, and for a practical purpose, Ottomentality is an alternative concept that I attempt to develop here to avoid the ambiguous meanings and analytical limitations of neo-Ottomanism. This concept underscores to the convergence of neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities as well as the interrelated discourses, projects, policies, and strategies that are developed around them for regulating cultural activities and directing inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in Turkey. It pays attention to the techniques and practices that have significant effects on the relationships of state, culture, and the social. It is concerned with the production of knowledge, or truth, based on which a new social reality of ‘freedom,’ ‘tolerance,’ and ‘multiculturalism’ in Turkey is constituted. Furthermore, it helps to identify the type of political subject, whose demand for cultural rights and participatory democracy is reduced to market terms and a narrow understanding of multiculturalism. And their criticism of this new social reality is increasingly subjected to judicial exclusion and discipline.
I shall note that Ottomentality is an authoritarian type of governmentality—a specific type of illiberal rule operated within the structure of modern liberal democracy. As Mitchell Dean notes, although the literature on governmentality has focused mainly on liberal democratic rules that are practiced through the individual subjects’ active role (as citizens) and exercise of freedom, there are also “non-liberal and explicitly authoritarian types of rule that seek to operate through obedient rather than free subjects, or, at a minimum, endeavor to neutralize any opposition to authority.” He suggests that a useful way to approach to this type of governmentality would be to identify the practices and rationalities which “divide” or “exclude” those who are subjected to be governed. According to Foucault’s notion of “dividing practices,” “[t]he subject is either divided inside himself or divided from others. This process objectivizes him. Examples are the mad and the sane, the sick and the healthy, the criminals and the ‘good boys’.” Turkey’s growing neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble can be considered as such exclusionary practices, which seek to regulate the diversifying culture by dividing the subjects into categorical, if not polarized, segments based on their cultural differences. For instance, mundane practices such as going to the museums and watching television shows may produce subject positions which divide subjects into such categories as the pious and the secular, the moral and the degenerate, and the Sunni-Muslim-Turk and the ethno-religious minorities.
Reassessing the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble through the lens of Ottomentality
In this final section, I propose a reassessment of the emergent neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble by looking beyond the conventional conceptions of neo-Ottomanism as “ideology” and “foreign policy.” Using the analytical concept of Ottomentality, I aim to examine the state’s changing role and governing rationality in culture, the discursive processes of knowledge production for rationalizing certain practices of government, and the techniques of constituting a particular type of citizenry who acts upon themselves in accordance with the established knowledge/truth. Nonetheless, before proceeding to an analysis of the government of culture and diversity, a brief overview of the larger context in which the AKP’s Ottomentality took shape would be helpful.
Since the establishment of the Turkish republic, the state has played a major role in maintaining a homogeneous national identity by suppressing public claims of ethnic and religious differences through militaristic intervention. The state’s strict control of cultural life in society, in particular its assertive secularist approach to religion and ethnic conception of Turkish citizenship, has resulted in unsettling tensions between ethno-religious groups in the 1980s and 1990s, i.e. the Kurdish question and the 1997 “soft coup.” These social tensions indicated the limits of state-led modernization and secularization projects in accommodating ethnic and pious segments of society. This was also a time when Turkey began to witness the declining authority of the founding ideology of Kemalism as an effect of economic and political liberalization. When the AKP came to power in 2002, one of the most urgent political questions was thus the “the limits of what the state can—or ought for its own good—reasonably demand of citizens […] to continue to make everyone internalize an ethnic conception of Turkishness.” At this political juncture, it was clear that a more inclusive socio-political framework was necessary in order to mitigate the growing tension resulted in identity claims.
Apart from domestic affairs, a few vital transnational initiatives also took part in the AKP’s formulation of neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities. First, in the aftermath of the attacks in New York on September 11 (9/11) in 2001, the Middle East and Muslim communities around the world became the target ofintensified political debates. In the midst of anti-Muslim and anti-terror propaganda, Turkey felt a need to rebuild its image by aligning with the United Nations’ (UN) resolution of “The Alliance of Civilizations,” which called for cross-cultural dialogue between countries through cultural exchange programs and transnational business partnership. Turkey took on the leading role in this resolution and launched extensive developmental plans that were designated to rebuild Turkey’s image as a civilization of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. The Ottoman-Islamic civilization, known for its legacy of cosmopolitanism and ethno-religious toleration, hence became an ideal trademark of Turkey for the project of “alliance of civilizations.”
Second, Turkey’s accelerated EU negotiation between the late 1990s and mid 2000s provided a timely opportunity for the newly elected AKP government to launch “liberal-democratic reform,” which would significantly transform the way culture was to be administered. Culture, among the prioritized areas of administrative reform, was now reorganized to comply with the EU integration plan. By incorporating the EU’s aspect of culture as a way of enhancing “freedom, democracy, solidarity and respect for diversity,” the AKP-led national cultural policy would shift away from the state-centered, protectionist model of the Kemalist establishment towards one that highlights “principles of mutual tolerance, cultural variety, equality and opposition to discrimination.”
Finally, the selection of Istanbul as 2010 European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is particularly worth noting as this event enabled local authorities to put into practice the neoliberal and neo-Ottoman governing rationalities through extensive urbanprojects and branding techniques. By sponsoring and showcasing different European cities each year, the ECoC program aims at promoting a multicultural European identity beyond national borders. The 2010 Istanbul ECoC was an important opportunity for Turkey not only to promote its EU candidacy, but also for the local governments to pursue urban developmental projects. Some of the newly formed Ottoman-themed cultural sites and productions were a part of the ECoC projects for branding Istanbul as cultural hub where the East and West meet. It is in this context that the interplay between the neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities can be vividly observed in the form of neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble.
Strong state, culture, and the social
Given the contextual background mentioned above, one could argue that the AKP’s neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities arose as critiques of the republican state’s excessive intervention in society’s cultural life. The transnational initiatives that required Turkey to adopt a liberal democratic paradigm have therefore given way to the formulation and convergence of these two forms of governmentalities that would significantly challenge the state-centered approach to culture as a means of governing the social. However, it would be inaccurate to claim that the AKP’s prioritization of private initiatives in cultural governance has effectively decentralized or democratized the cultural domain from the state’s authoritarian intervention and narrow definition of Turkish culture. Deregulation of culture entails sophisticated legislations concerning the roles of the state and civil society in cultural governance. Hence, for instance, the law of promotion of culture, the law of media censorship, and the new national cultural policy prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism explicitly indicate not only a new vision of national culture, but also the roles of the state and civil society in promoting and preserving national culture. It shall be noted that culture as a governing technology is not an invention of the AKP government. Culture has always been a major area of administrative concern throughout the history of the Turkish republic. As Murat Katoğlu illustrates, during the early republic, culture was conceptualized as part of the state-led “public service” aimed to inform and educate the citizens. Arts and culture were essential means for modernizing the nation; for instance,the state-run cultural institutions, i.e. state ballet, theater, museum, radio and television, “[indicate] the type of modern life style that the government was trying to advocate.” Nonetheless, the role of the state, the status of culture, and the techniques of managing it have been transformed as Turkey undergoes neoliberal reform. In addition, Aksoy suggests that what distinguishes the AKP’s neoliberal mode of cultural governance from that of the early republic modernization project is that market mentality has become the administrative norm. Culture now is reconceptualized as an asset for advancing Turkey in global competition and a site for exercising individual freedom rather than a mechanism of social engineering. And Turkey’s heritage of Ottoman-Islamic civilization in particular is utilized as a nation branding technique to enhance Turkey’s economy, rather than a corrupt past to be forgotten. To achieve the aim of efficient, hence good, governance, the AKP’s cultural governance has heavily relied on privatization as a means to limit state intervention. Thus, privatization has not only transformed culture into an integral part of the free market, but also redefined the state’s role as a facilitator of the culture market, rather than the main provider of cultural service to the public.
The state’s withdrawal from cultural service and prioritization of the civil society to take on the initiatives of preserving and promoting Turkish “cultural values and traditional arts” lead to an immediate effect of the declining authority of the Kemalist cultural establishment. Since many of the previously state-run cultural institutions now are managed with corporate mentality, they begin to lose their status as state-centered institutions and significance in defining and maintaining a homogeneous Turkish culture that they once did. Instead, these institutions, together with other newly formed cultural sites and productions by private initiatives, are converted into a market place or cultural commodities in competition with each other. Hence, privatization of culture leads to the following consequences: First, it weakens and hollows out the 20th century notion of modern secular nation state, which sets a clear boundary confining religion within the private sphere. Second, it gives way to the neoconservative force, who “models state authority on [religious] authority, a pastoral relation of the state to its flock, and a concern with unified rather than balanced or checked state power.” Finally, it converts social issues that are resulted from political actions into market terms and a sheer matter of culture, which is now left to personal choice. As a result, far from a declining state, Ottomentality has constituted a strong state. In particular, neoliberal governance of the cultural field has enabled the ruling neoconservative government to mobilize a new set of political truth and norms for directing inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in society.
New regime of truth
Central to Foucault’s notion of governmentality is “truth games”—referring to the activities of knowledge production through which particular thoughts are rendered truthful and practices of government are made reasonable. What Foucault calls the “regime of truth” is not concerned about facticity, but a coherent set of practices that connect different discourses and make sense of the political rationalities marking the “division between true and false.” The neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble is a compelling case through which the AKP’s investment of thought, knowledge production, and truth telling can be observed. Two cases are particularly worth mentioning here as I work through the politics of truth in the AKP’s neoliberal governance of culture and neo-Ottoman management of diversity.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Turkish television historical drama Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl, Muhteşem hereafter), featuring the life of the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman, who is known for his legislative establishment in the 16th century Ottoman Empire, attracted wide viewership in Turkey and abroad, especially in the Balkans and Middle East. Although the show played a significant role in generating international interests in Turkey’s tourism, culinary, Ottoman-Islamicarts and history, etc. (which are the fundamental aims of the AKP-led national cultural policy to promote Turkey through arts and culture, including media export), it received harsh criticism among some Ottoman(ist) historians and warning from the RTUK (Radio and Television Supreme Council, a key institution of media censorship and regulation in Turkey). The criticism included the show’s misrepresentation of the Sultan as a hedonist and its harm to moral and traditional values of society. Oktay Saral, an AKP deputy of Istanbul at the time, petitioned to the parliament for a law to ban the show. He said, “[The] law would […] show filmmakers [media practitioners] how to conduct their work in compliance with Turkish family structure and moral values without humiliating Turkish youth and children.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Prime Minister then) also stated, “[those] who toy with these [traditional] values would be taught a lesson within the premises of law.” After his statement, the show was removed from in-flight-channels of national flag carrier Turkish Airlines.
Another popular media production, the 2012 blockbuster The Conquest 1453 (Fetih 1453, Fetih hereafter), which was acclaimed for its success in domestic and international box offices, also generated mixed receptions among Turkish and foreign audiences. Some critics in Turkey and European Christians criticized the film for its selective interpretation of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and offensive portrayal of the (Byzantine) Christians. The Greek weekly To Proto Thema denounced that the film served as a “conquest propaganda by the Turks” and “[failed] to show the mass killings of Greeks and the plunder of the land by the Turks.” A Turkish critic also commented that the film portrays the “extreme patriotism” in Turkey “without any hint of […] tolerance sprinkled throughout [the film].” Furthermore, a German Christian association campaigned to boycott the film. Meanwhile, the AKP officials on the contrary praised the film for its genuine representation of the conquest. As Bülent Arınç (Deputy Prime Minister then) stated, “This is truly the best film ever made in the past years.” He also responded to the questions regarding the film’s historical accuracy, “This is a film, not a documentary. The film in general fairly represents all the events that occurred during the conquest as the way we know it.”
When Muhteşem and Fetih are examined within the larger context in which the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble is formed, the connections between particular types of knowledge and governmental practice become apparent. First, the cases of Muhteşem and Fetih reveal the saturation of market rationality as the basis for a new model of cultural governance. When culture is administered in market terms, it becomes a commodity for sale and promotion as well as an indicator of a number of things for measuring the performance of cultural governance. When Turkey’s culture, in particular Ottoman-Islamic cultural heritage, is converted into an asset and national brand to advance the country in global competition, the reputation and capital it generates become indicators of Turkey’s economic development and progress. The overt emphasis on economic growth, according to Irving Kristol, is one of the distinctive features that differentiate the neoconservatives from their conservative predecessors. He suggests that, for the neoconservatives, economic growth is what gives “modern democracies their legitimacy and durability.” In the Turkish context, the rising neoconservative power, which consisted of a group of Islamists and secular, liberal intellectuals and entrepreneurs (at least in the early years of the AKP’s rule), had consistently focused on boosting Turkey’s economy. For them, economic development seems to have become the appropriate way of making “conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.” Henceforth, such high profile cultural productions as Muhteşem and Fetih are of valuable assets that serve the primary aim of the AKP-led cultural policy because they contribute to the growth in the related areas of tourism and culture industry by promoting Turkey at international level. Based on market rationality, as long as culture can generate productivity and profit, the government is doing a splendid job in governance. In other words, when neoliberal and neoconservative forces converge at the cultural domain, both culture and good governance are reduced to and measured by economic growth, which has become a synonym for democracy “equated with the existence of formal rights, especially private property rights; with the market; and with voting,” rather than political autonomy.
Second, the AKP officials’ applause of Fetih on the one hand and criticism of Muhteşem on the other demonstrates their assertion of the moral-religious authority of the state. As the notion of nation state sovereignty has become weakened by the processes of economic liberalization and globalization, the boundary that separates religion and state has become blurred. As a result, religion becomes “de-privatized” and surges back into the public sphere. This blurred boundary between religion and state has enabled the neoconservative AKP to establish links between religious authority and state authority as well as between religious truth and political truth. These links are evident in the AKP officials’ various public statements declaring the government’s moral mission of sanitizing Turkish culture in accordance with Islamic and traditional values. For instance, as Erdoğan once reacted to his secular opponent’s comment about his interference in politics with religious views, “we [AKP] will raise a generation that is conservative and democratic and embraces the values and historical principles of its nation.” According to his view, despite Muhteşem’s contribution of generating growth in industries of culture and tourism, it became subjected to censorship and legal action because its content did not comply with the governing authority’s moral mission. The controversy of Muhteşem illustrates the rise of a religion-based political truth in Turkey, which sees Islam as the main reference for directing society’s moral conduct and individual lifestyle. Henceforth, by rewarding desirable actions (i.e. with sponsorship law and tax incentives) and punishing undesirable ones (i.e. through censorship, media ban, and jail term for media practitioners’ misconduct), the AKP-led reform of the cultural field constitutes a new type of political culture and truth—one that is based on moral-religious views rather than rational reasoning.
Moreover, the AKP officials’ support for Fetih reveals its endeavor in a neo-Ottomanist knowledge, which regards the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople as the foundation of modern liberal multiculturalism in Turkey. This knowledge perceives Islam as the centripetal force for enhancing social cohesion by transcending differences between faith and ethnic groups. It rejects candid and critical interpretations of history and insists on a singular view of Ottoman-Islamic pluralism and a pragmatic understanding of the relationship between religion and state. It does not require historical accuracy since religious truth is cast as historical and political truth. For instance, a consistent, singular narrative of the conquest can be observed in such productions and sites as the Panorama 1453 History Museum, television series Fatih, and TRT children’s program Çınar. This narrative begins with Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy, which he received from the almighty Allah, that Constantinople would be conquered by a great Ottoman soldier. When history is narrated from a religious point of view, it becomes indisputable as it would imply challenge to religious truth, hence Allah’s will. Nonetheless, the neo-Ottomanist knowledge conceives the conquest as not only an Ottoman victory in the past, but an incontestable living truth in Turkey’s present. As Nevzat Bayhan, former general manager of Culture Inc. in association with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB Kültür A.Ş.), stated at the opening ceremony of Istanbul’s Panorama 1453 History Museum,
The conquest [of Istanbul] is not about taking over the city… but to make the city livable… and its populace happy. Today, Istanbul continues to present to the world as a place where Armenians, Syriacs, Kurds… Muslims, Jews, and Christians peacefully live together.
Bayhan’s statement illustrates the significance of the 1453 conquest in the neo-Ottomanist knowledge because it marks the foundation of a culture of tolerance, diversity, and peaceful coexistence in Turkey. While the neo-Ottomanist knowledge may conveniently serve the branding purpose in the post-9/11 and ECoC contexts, I maintain that it more significantly rationalizes the governmental practices in reshaping the cultural conduct and multicultural relations in Turkey. The knowledge also produces a political norm of indifference—one that is reluctant to recognize ethno-religious differences among populace, uncritical of the limits of Islam-based toleration and multiculturalism, and more seriously, indifferent about state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against the ethno-religious minorities.
Ottomentality and its subject
The AKP’s practices of the government of culture and diversity constitute what Foucault calls the “technologies of the self—ways in which human beings come to understand and act upon themselves within certain regimes of authority and knowledge, and by means of certain techniques directed to self-improvement.” The AKP’s neoliberal and neo-Ottoman rationalities share a similar aim as they both seek to produce a new set of ethnical code of social conduct and transform Turkish society into a particular kind, which is economically liberal and culturally conservative. They deploy different means to direct the governed in certain ways as to achieve the desired outcome. According to Foucault, the neoliberal style of government is based on the premise that “individuals should conduct their lives as an enterprise [and] should become entrepreneurs of themselves.” Central to this style of government is the production of freedom—referring to the practices that are employed to produce the necessary condition for the individuals to be free and take on responsibility of caring for themselves. For instance, Nikolas Rose suggests that consumption, a form of governing technology, is often deployed to provide the individuals with a variety of choice for exercising freedom and self-improvement. As such, the subject citizens are now “active,” or “consumer” citizens, who understand their relationship with the others and conduct their life based on market mentality. Unlike the republican citizens, whose rights, duties, and obligations areprimarily bond to the state, citizens as consumers “[are] to enact [their] democratic obligations as a form of consumption” in the private sphere of the market.
The AKP’s neoliberal governance of culture hence has invested in liberalizing the cultural field by transforming it into a marketplace in order to create such a condition wherein citizens can enact their right to freedom and act upon themselves as a form of investment. The proliferation of the neo-Ottoman cultural ensemble in this regard can be understood as a new technology of the self as it creates a whole new field for the consumer citizens to exercise their freedom of choice (of identity, taste, and lifestyle) by providing them a variety of trendy Ottoman-themed cultural products, ranging from fashion to entertainment. This ensemble also constitutes a whole new imagery of the Ottoman legacy with which the consumer citizens may identify. Therefore, through participation within the cultural field, as artists, media practitioners, intellectuals, sponsors, or consumers, citizens are encouraged to think of themselves as free agents and their actions are a means for acquiring the necessary cultural capital to become cultivated and competent actors in the competitive market. This new technology of the self also has transformed the republican notion of Turkish citizenship to one that is activated upon individuals’ freedom of choice through cultural consumption at the marketplace.
Furthermore, as market mechanisms enhance the promulgation of moral-religious values, the consumer citizens are also offered a choice of identity as virtuous citizens, who should conduct their life and their relationship with the others based on Islamic traditions and values. Again, the public debate over the portrayal of the revered Sultan Süleyman as a hedonist in Muhteşem and the legal actions against the television producer, are exemplary of the disciplinary techniques for shaping individuals’ behaviors in line with conservative values. While consumer citizens exercise their freedom through cultural consumption, they are also reminded of their responsibility to preserve traditional moral value, family structure, and gender relations. Those who deviate from the norm are subjected to public condemnation and punishment.
Finally, as the neo-Ottomanist cultural ensemble reproduces and mediates a neo-Ottomanist knowledge in such commodities as the film Fetih and Panorama 1453 History Museum, consumer citizens are exposed to a new set of symbolic meanings of Ottoman-Islamic toleration, pluralism, and peaceful coexistence, albeit through a view of the Ottoman past fixated on its magnificence rather than its monstrosity. This knowledge sets the ethical code for private citizens to think of themselves in relation to the other ethno-religious groups based on a hierarchical social order, which subordinates minorities to the rule of Sunni Islamic government. When this imagery of magnificence serves as the central component in nation branding, such as to align Turkey with the civilization of peace and co-existence in the post 9/11 and ECoC contexts, it encourages citizens to take pride and identify with their Ottoman-Islamic heritage. As such, Turkey’s nation branding perhaps also can be considered as a noveltechnology of the self as it requires citizens, be it business sectors, historians, or filmmakers, to take on their active role in building an image of tolerant and multicultural Turkey through arts and culture. It is in this regard that I consider the neo-Ottoman rationality as a form of “indirect rule of diversity” as it produces a citizenry, who actively participates in the reproduction of neo-Ottomanist historiography and continues to remain uncritical about the “dark legacy of the Ottoman past.” Consequently, Ottomentality has produced a type of subject that is constantly subjected to dividing techniques “that will divide populations and exclude certain categories from the status of the autonomous and rational person.”