Zusammenfassung der TÜDEV Veranstaltung am 27.11.2021 mit Dr. Ali Ekber Dogan:
In den 1990er Jahren bezeichnete Benedict Anderson die politische Praxis der im Ausland lebenden Menschen, die Politik in dem Land, in dem sie ihre Wurzeln haben, aus einem nationalistischen oder sektiererischen Blickwinkel betrachten und sie sogar schärfer und fanatischer erleben als die Menschen zu Hause, als „Long-Distance-Nationalismus“. Fern der Heimat entwickeln Gruppen oft einen rigiden Nationalismus, sagt Benedict Anderson. Aus der Ferne können Sie sich Ihr altes Haus leicht idealisiert vorstellen – dies kann zu Problemen führen. Eines dieser Probleme ist der Long-Distance-Nationalismus der heute in anderen Ländern lebenden Menschen, die das Gefühl haben, sich selbst nicht wirklich als Minderheit zu erkennen. Kurz gesagt, viele Diaspora-Gemeinschaften, die in fortgeschrittenen kapitalistischen Ländern leben, haben seit den 1990er Jahren eine intensive rechte/reaktionäre politische Mobilisierung in Bezug auf die politischen Agenden ihrer „Heimatländer“ erlebt. Man kann ohne weiteres sagen, dass die in Deutschland lebenden Türken eine ähnliche Tendenz aufweisen.
Ich denke, dass die angemessene Bezeichnung für dieses Segment Diaspora-Rechtspopulismus ‚a la Turca‘ ist. Diese politische Haltung hat natürlich auch unter den Arbeitern an Boden gewonnen, die nach wie vor einen wichtigen Teil der türkischen Bevölkerung nach der Einwanderung ausmachen. Tatsächlich gaben die Befragten in meinen Interviews an, dass die genannte Gruppe diese rechtspopulistischen Argumente widerspiegelt, indem sie am Arbeitsplatz und bei Betriebsratswahlen oder anderen gewerkschaftlichen Prozessen häufig ihre Wut über ihre Viktimisierung zum Ausdruck bringt und gleichzeitig stolz auf ihr Heimatland (die Türkei) und dessen Führer (Erdoğan) ist.
Im Lichte meiner Feldforschung bin ich zu dem Schluss gekommen, dass es nicht sehr praktikabel ist, jedes einzelne Ereignis der letzten Jahre zu beschreiben, zu analysieren und darzustellen, um die Auswirkungen des Pro-Erdoganismus auf Arbeitsplätze und Gewerkschaften zu messen. Ich denke, dass die Auswertung von zwei wichtigen Fallstudien im Jahr 2018 mit ihren verschiedenen Dimensionen und Auswirkungen ausreicht, um das Thema zu verstehen, mit dem wir uns beschäftigen. Einer der beiden beispielhaften Fälle, die ich erwähnt habe, war der Vorfall Sevim Dagdelen- IG Metall-Salzgitter-Peine, und der andere war die Wahl vieler Arbeitsmigranten, darunter auch Türken, in Stuttgart Untertürkheim von den Listen der AfD-Anhänger im Zentrum Automobile bei den Betriebsratswahlen.
The Dynamics and Outcomes of Right-Wing Populism among Post-Migrant Population with Turkey Background in Germany
The Change of Social Reality
The standard of living of people of Turkish descent over the last 10 years improved in general. Many of them started to live in better houses. Their working conditions and income levels improved and they have become broader small and medium sized entrepreneurs.
Increase in living standards and education level means an increase in social capital and adaptation capacity of 2nd and 3rd generations. Especially 3rd generation: Physical appearances-cultural features, the ways of expressions themselves, political participation, daily life practices, interactions, social environment more or less changed according to scale and region of their settlements and social class positions. A middle-class young person in bigger cosmopolitan cities differs more than a young from poorer classes in a Turkish ghetto of a small, or middle size city.
The position of the woman has certainly changed since second generation. Even though they continue living in the frameworks of more or less patriarchal-conservative family life, more and more women became waged laborer and earn “their money”. Parallel to the members of the third generation, every year, more and more young women are studying at the university and graduating with degrees. So, second generation women have legal rights and decent jobs if they could achieve diplomas.
Interestingly, the experts of social services/pedagogy claim that the second generation had an integration agenda. The first generation always remained the guest workers” with the idea that they would go back to Turkey one day. This temporary status in their minds always prevented the actual belonging from developing. The third generation does not have an integration agenda at all; however, they think that the German identity itself is diverse, with 25% of the population having migration background.
The Rising Political Participation and Changing Migration/Citizenship Policies since 1999
Since 1980s the relationships of the first two generations with German parties (mostly with SDP) and trade unions have been more or less constructed. The first two MPs were elected among this community in 1994. After the construction of the coalition government of SPD-Greens (1999) those relationships have sharply improved. In succeeded elections until 2009, between 80-90 % of the people who has Turkey migration background voted for leftist parties (mainly to SPD, then Greens and PDS-Die Linke). More members of the mentioned people have become managers in trade unions and members of the local councils (Betriebsrats). Parallel to those developments, their income levels, living conditions and civic status had improved. Even the small and medium scale entrepreneurs profited from urban rents of post-socialist unification and Eu enlargement processes with their position as early arrivals in big cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt. It is also claimed in related literature that they exploited the precarious conditions of new labour migrants from Balkan countries (Bulgaria and some ex-Yugoslavian countries) in the 1990s during the process of finding a house or job.
The right-wing party CDU came to power in 2005, mainly because of its active opposition to the new citizenship law of the previous left coalition towards the worker migration background people. Instead of that law, CDU brought a discussion of inadequate integration due to low language skills and education levels of those people. Since the foundation of the Republic of Federal Germany (1949), CDU went on the streets for the first time and collected millions of signatures against this law, which made it easier for immigrants (mainly Turks) to become German citizens.
After all, the previous discriminatory politics -before the coalition government of SPD-Greens- were no longer dominant since the Turkey-origin people more or less created their own favourable conditions. Besides SPD’s strong position at the first Grand Coalition government of Angela Merkel (2005-2009), higher development rates of German economy were significant factors behind those favourable conditions. Germany and EU had warm relations with Erdogan government in Turkey during those years.
One month before December 2005 General Elections of Germany, German Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan attended together to the opening ceremony of the Centre of Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) in Cologne Müllheim. One must also keep in mind the UETD as a coordination centre of Erdogan’s party in Europe and it is of course -with DITIB and YTB- an exertion of homeland politics among the mentioned people. So, due to the warm relations of Turkish community with its coalition partner (SPD), the conservative-nationalist discourse of CDU created a kind of reflexive motivation among the majority of the members of Turkey-originated community towards better German-speaking and higher education for strengthening its existence in this country.
This point is very critical for recent alienation among the members of 3rd generation towards German politics and turning its face to Turkish authoritarian populist, Erdogan. The discourses of Merkel government intensified on the problem of “integration” and the suggestions of their elders (parallel to that discourse) created an expectation with having fluent German and better education until the mid-2010s. Third generation members have tried to adopt themselves both identities: German and Turkish, which were suggested by outside and inside of their families. However, there has been an asymmetry between the socio-economic realities and those expectations post-2009 World crisis and the rise of discriminative identity politics (ethno-nationalist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant) succeeded the last migration flow mainly from Syria and Iraq since 2013-4.
Alienation and Anger Among the 3rd Generation in Germany
Some interviewees said that motivation of “integration” or adaptation is decreasing among younger people who have Turkey origin and some of them even say: “Aha, we have to go back”. Comparing with their elders they have not been familiar too much with discrimination, hate speech and racism. And they don’t want to bow down those negative attitudes easily due to their levels of language, knowledge and education. After 10-15 comfortable (German-Turk) years that they had grown up, they have been called as the children of “guest workers”.
Although, they share many features with German society: born here, German passport, speak German, university education, share highly digitised and consumerist lifestyle, less relations with Turkey, don’t have the idea of living in Turkey etc. The members of the 3rd generation have used to feel themselves at home until last years. However, they have started to live the moments of rejection, discrimination more often since the mid-2010s. So, simply because of their physical appearance (color of hair, skin, etc.) or the name, they try to cope with many kinds of prejudices like their elders. Therefore, they feel less equal themselves than 5 years ago in Germany. One of the many negative emotions derived from this situation is an irritation against German society and alienation towards German politics.
They could compare recent stressy times with previous promising years when their elders (2nd generation) benefitted for improving their life standards. The overall result of this is summarized by an experienced social worker (60) as such: „OK, if we still have not been accepted as a part of this society/country after 50, 60 years; this couldn’t be our home. It may be better to loyal to our homeland, where accepts us as a citizen, a member of the society.” This kind of feeling has of course some fictitious dimensions, but it arises from their daily social interactions in this society (in school, workplace, park, street, bar, restaurant etc.), that create insecurity and anger especially among the younger generations. It is popularly argued that, „They just do not feel at home here and Erdogan conveys this feeling.” Erdogan also gives them the feeling that I’m behind you with his speech on television. He does not need to do much thing for gaining their hearts. So he keeps repeating, literally: „Boy, don’t lose your identity, stay as you are“.
Dynamic, Ambiguous and Permanently Stressful Attempt: Identifying Problem
Although Islam have become much more signifier of their identity than 10-15 year before, Turkishness is in the foreground among this people and time to time they prefer using German-Turk as definer contextually related with their citizen rights in public and social sphere. The following words of interviewee H. states this changeability well: “We are often told so much about that with our elders, who say: “Yes, you’re German, because you were born here and have a German passport. Same person sometimes says the opposite: “No, you’re not German, you’re Turkish even if your passport is German, you were born of Turkish parents, your parents are from Turkey, you have Turkish blood. But, I talk to myself; „You’re not so Turkish“.
The words of the woman interviewer (48) expresses these contradictions strikingly: “I feel both German and Turkish. I could not say now, I’m only German or I’m only Turkish, because that’s not true. I’ve been living here for so long and I’m too German in some ways. For me that would be so, but sometimes, I think my hat would burst, probably.” The main reason could be derived from the socio-cultural differences between her private Turkish life with the family and public -German- life in her office. Another interviewee says that: “For me personally this is so that I actually feel more German, but often come to points where I would say myself that I am neither still. I am neither Turkish nor German.” According to her, self-definition of people largely depends on their social class positions. For example, during the neoliberal times, Turks form laboring classes could feel more Turkish than German.
Meantime, the attitudes of biologic-Germans function much bigger barrier in front of younger generations for being part of the public. For example, 25 years old woman student says: “Despite some advancements generation by generation, I couldn’t identify myself as German-Turk. Because I feel this (discriminating look, aed) even on my own body. Causes can be unfortunately also by name differences, physical appearances, such as dark hair or religious differences.” So, they couldn’t escape from a kind of stigmatisation due to their migration background. Many social and political actors from private to public space still define and call them as Turks.
Many of them started to think that it is better to protect some values, coming from that background, but it is not clear that which cultural-national-religious values, how far for many Turkey migration background. Those big questions wait permanently to be answered. The best solution to these contradictions is the discourse of Tayyip Erdogan, who successfully fills the deep gaps between them. The sense of brotherhood derived from Islam oriented nationalist mobilization and/or the leadership charisma of Erdogan and his anti-western contentious discourse could potentially fill these gaps between those conflictual existences.
However, Turkish identity becomes dominant in recent political atmosphere, starting from their style of bilingual communication among them and cultural practices (esp. hip-hop music), a kind of sub-culture is derived from their everyday life patterns which differs from not only the hegemonic culture of Germany, but also of Turkey.
Results: Ambiguous and Dynamic Aspects and Injuries of Hybrid Identities: Intergenerational Reflections
These hybrid identities have been fed from the above headlines as well as the emotional politics of both sides.
- The authentic identity of the 3rd generation is significant in the sense that they do not fit any known perspectives. They are more or less a part and product of German society and so criticize being subject to the mainstream discourse of integration since their social realities are fundamentally different (born here, educated in German schools, don’t have language problem, consuming products of popular culture etc.) than their elders. However, they have been exposed to the strong messages coming from German and Turkish right-wing political actors which limit their identity with Turkishness and Islam since the mid-2010s. Of course, they are faced with more conservative versions of these messages from their families and social networks.
- Although Islam has got much significance than 10-15 year before, Turkishness protects its central position among this people and time to time they prefer using German-Turk as definer contextually related with their citizen rights in public and social sphere. Many of them try to carry both but many times, they feel themselves neither Turkish nor German. Starting from their style of bilingual communication among them and cultural practices (esp. hip-hop/rap music), a kind of sub-culture is derived from their everyday life patterns. It has some peculiarities which differ from the existing-hegemonic culture and life styles of both Germany and Turkey.
- However, an anger is well spread among all generations due to changing socio-economic and political atmosphere after the mid-2010s, third generation is living a deeper disappointment because of the asymmetry between discourses about “integration” and social and structural discrimination based on blood-race.
- One of the significant reflections of that disappointment is embracing Tayyip Erdogan as a charismatic leader figure from their country of origin who repairs their broken pride with the story of his underestimated identity. According to this story; Standing behind the brave leader of the Turkish-Islamic world, they think they are part of the rise of a “clean, faithful and oppressed civilization”.
- The emotional paternalist tactics of Erdogan and his leader image challenging Western domination seem to function. The Islamic connotations of this and the impact on family life, seem at the first stage as a ghettoization of a diasporic group in some neighborhoods. But in reality, Erdogan supporter majority among Turkey-origin people is not passive, introvert, protectionist group. They are well organised, networked community and shows an actively mobile, political and militant performance. Rather than ghettoization, we see a well organised people those are mobilized different dimensions of public space to protect and improve their interests collectively and pre-emptively. Due to this point they are historically much closer to the fascist or proto-fascist mobilization than passive protectionist attitude at ghettoization of a diaspora.
- The variations in perception of different generations are reflected in civil society and channels of politicization. As a recent phenomenon, “Osmanen Germania” is a good example for that. They are claiming that it is a self-defence youth organisation, fight-club protect the community from the potential attacks of ordinary foes (neo-Nazis, PKK supporters, FETÖ, etc.) based on the recent political mobilisation and sensitivities of Turkey origin people defined as homeland right-wing populism.
- Most of our respondents have pointed out that they pursue Turkish media channels even though they are aware that there is no mainstream in Turkey anymore. A few have responded that there is a gap of critical left diasporic media and that it needs to be filled. About this theme; during interviews and workshop discussions, some young people underlined that they consciously try to be distant from the agenda of Turkey; and they get informed from social media.
All this suggests that the political attitudes of migrants from Turkey and their Germany-born children should not be reduced to explanations such as “loyalty to Turkey” and “lack of democratic culture.” The dynamics are much more complex and require equally complex answers. As also reflected in this fresh article: https://www.swp-berlin.org/fileadmin/contents/products/research_papers/2019RP07_ada.pdf