Closing or opening the European Union: The debate on Turkish accession caught between kultur; civilisation and cosmopolitanism
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CitationMehling, S. (2006). Closing or opening the European Union: The debate on Turkish accession caught between kultur; civilisation and cosmopolitanism. (Unpublished master's thesis). Doğuş University Institute of Social Sciences, İstanbul.
This Essay is not meant to deliver a new history of Turkey-EU relations. Neither is it a fully-fledged discourse analysis of the debate on Turkish Accession within German Newspapers. Its focus lies instead on the political language, more precisely on the discursive logics, which were used within the discussion on the complex policy decision of whether or not Turkey can or should join the European Union. lts major claim is thereby, that it is the character of language that determines the way in which discussion about politics are structured. Language is accordingly defined, first, as a collectively derived 'tool-kit' which is only used by individuals. Every individual statement, indeed any individual reflection, is thus framed by collective structures and must obey predominant linguistic rules (to a certain extent) in order to be meaningful and enable the individual to communicate with its environment. On the other hand it is equally true, that .every meaningfu1 statement must redefine those structures, so as to adjust them and make them useful within the individual speech situation. What emerges from this perspective on language, is a mutual and tense relationship between structure and agency, between continuity and change and between the other and the self, i.e. a dialectical relationship between both, which is necessary to construct a meaningful reality. In consequence, and secondly, every meaningful statement must connect to a historicist beyond, i.e. an other time beyond the individual speech situation. The individual present must thus be embedded in speculations about past and future, in order to endow the statement made with the necessary element of consistency and direction in time, without however, proving that something like a meaningful history/futııre does exist outside of language. Thirdly, but equally emergıng from the first point, it is indispensable for every meaningful statement to refer to a collectivist beyond, i.e. the speculative and imagined other, which is not directly involved within the individual speech situation. This is done to endow the statement made with the necessary element of direction in (social) space, without, however, implying an authentic representation of the other within the statement made. Accordingly, every statement within a political debate cannot avoid potentially ideological speculations about a teleological connection of past and future, as well as it cannot avoid a stereo-typical representation and evaluation of difference, ranging from the same (or self), over similar ( or core ), to different ( or peripheral other) and contradictory ( or the outside other). On the other hand, however, it is exactly the actual utilisation of these linguistic tools within a communicative confrontation between two or more individual debate participants, which triggers a mutual re-definition of them and thus enables an inter-subjective creation of a social reality. Yet, this does not mean that communication leads necessarily to dialogue and understanding. It can equally lead to misunderstanding, or be performed through mutually exclusive monologues. Instead it means that all kinds of statements are formulated within a present negotiation and bargaining process, in which commonsensical knowledge about the self and the other, about the past and the future, is re-defined according to the new situation at hand. It is thus feasible to approach the complex discursive landscape of the debate on Turkish accession to the EU, from the perspective of language. If one does so it becomes clear how the specific argumentation used connect to certain discursive logics, so as to receive from them the necessary normative horizon it needs to produce itself as authentic reflection on reality, which can trigger consistent and morally legitimate decisions. The structuring discourse logics used within the debate, can be categorised under the labels of the French notion of Civilisation, the German notion of Kultur, and the English notion of cosmopolitanism. This categorisation thereby is constructed as ideal-type categorisation, which reduces an over-complex debate reality and creates clear-cut distinctions between the camps, in order to provide a structure that can trigger understanding. However, it does not suggest that the ideal types formulated strictly correspond to anything real. lt thus resembles both, the structuring frame of language and the ideological and stereotypical distortions, which necessarily emerge from this reductionist, selective and speculative procedure of structuring. The ideal types of Civilisation, Kultur and cosmopolitanism are accordingly defined as discursive logics, which produce mutually exclusive but interdependent, ideological evaluations of historical and social development. Yet, although these evaluations do not correspond to any social reality, they are nevertheless able to re-create it through their employment of a self-referential and self-evident, i.e. quasi-realistic narrative, which sets itself off against the other logics and thus produces itself as the more realistic and more trustful alternative. Hence, by doing this, the discursive logics employ the linguistic fundamental of a dialectical relation between two poles (thesis and antithesis), whereby reality logically must emerge in between those poles (as a synthesis). An argumentative chain based on the logic of Civilisation, for example, can thus materialize itself as more realistic, when it is able to disqualify counterarguments as being based on the ' amoral ', 'unrealistic' and 'obsolete' boundaries of a thesis Kultur and antithesis cosmopolitanism, which are accordingly synthesised and balanced within the logic of Civilisation. However, this process works as well from out the other discursive logics, exactly because neither of them can be verifıed or falsified, i.e. objectively proven by the yardstick of an outside reality. Instead, they produce reality among each other verify themselves by falsifying the altematives, within a mutual but tense relationship of dependence and exclusion. Accordingly one can define the three discursive logics as fundamentally based on the same linguistic method of dialectical production of reality, whereby, they however, essentially differ in the way they emphasis on one feature of society and de-emphasise the corresponding alternatives. Whether one or the other discursive logic is used does therefore not depend on their objectivity, but instead on their utility for the identity project of the debate participant that employs one of them. The analysis of (a selection of articles from) the German debate illustrates this fact by applying the theoretically derived ideal-type categorisation to newspaper articles, which were published in between 2002 and 2004. The statements made in those articles are all essentially based on normative speculations about what the specific qualities of European societies are. In so doing they derive their meaning not primarily from their analytical quality. Their meaning rather depends on their capacity to construct an internally consistent narrative, i.e. their ability to re-produce the framing discourse logics of Civilisation, Kultur or cosmopolitanism and to establish an ordering hierarchy among them within the speech situation at hand. The thesis concludes thus that it is impossible to arrive at an objectively right evaluation of the compiex social environment around the political decision whether Turkey should join the EU or not. However, the more channels for communication exist, where individuals can confront and (re-)negotiate their commonsensical knowledge with or against each other, the more probable it is that a dynamic debate emerges, which keeps the fruitful dialectical tension alive. The question, whether an entity called Turkey will join a European Union or not, is thus not so important. More important is the question how one can intensify the communicative engagement between individuals of both, the societies of the EU Member States and the Turkish society.