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23 ESA Social Theory Conference, Innsbruck, September 11-13, 2008

Schmid, Carola (2007): Korruption, Gewalt und die Welt der Polizisten. Deutschalnd, Chile, Bolivien und Venezuela im Vergleich. Frankfurt a.M.: Vervuert.

Haldun Gulalp

Istanbul, Turkey

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Dilemma and the Turkish Solution

and unilaterally declare it. Rousseau, a democrat, finds the latter solution unacceptable. He thus has no choice but to unsatisfactorily theorize that it is possible to ask the citizens not what their particular wills are, but what they think the general will should be.

Rousseau’s normative theory, distinguishing between the “will of all” and the “general will,” contains an internally insoluble dilemma. The will of all is the sum of particular wills (private interests), whereas the general will represents society’s collective interest and is therefore qualitatively superior as democratic expression. But Rousseau does not propose any mode of determining the general will other than voting, which may (and indeed, does) generate nothing but the will of all. While Rousseau is aware of this pitfall, he tautologically assumes the problem away.

Turkey’s republican ideology was deeply influenced by Rousseau’s political theory, and Turkish nationalism by Emile Durkheim’s sociological theory, both of which emphasize the organic unity of society. Historical and contemporary evidence reveals that the Turkish solution to Rousseau’s dilemma, i.e., to the question of how to institute liberal democracy and still maintain the notion of a singular national interest, has been to circumscribe the field of political choice, so that certain

state

institutions

monopolize

the

meaning

and

Hence, governments either rely on the democratic vote to determine the general will, and thereby risk the undesirable outcome of only eliciting the sum of particular wills, or they forgo the democratic process to determine the general will through some other means

substance of the “general will,” while political parties compete on the composition of the “will of all.”

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