[Marxism] Disquiet in a Turkish Fishing Village : The New Yorker

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 20 08:21:38 MST 2014

The two fishermen agreed, in any case, that the environmental impact of 
the bridge would hurt their livelihoods. “When the construction started, 
they started digging underneath the sea,” the pro-A.K.P. fisherman said. 
“All the fish went out to deeper water. They have destroyed the fish 
population.” He continued, “I support the bridge. But, at the same time, 
I am very angry about it.”

Outside the fishing shack, Elvan Aslan, a mother and a former cafe 
employee, saw hope in the fishermen’s anger. She had recently decided 
that she would run for the position of Garipçe muhtar, the head of the 
village. (Turkey’s local elections are in March.) The current muhtar, 
she said, had been in his position for twenty years. But “young people 
in the village asked me to run,” she said, even though they are A.K.P. 
supporters. Aslan supports the main opposition party to the A.K.P., the 
Republican People’s Party (C.H.P.), and acknowledges that, in Garipçe, 
she has a lot of work ahead of her if she wants to win.

“I am completely against the third bridge,” Aslan told us. “I don’t 
think it will solve the traffic in Istanbul. There is only profit in the 
project.” She worried that the villagers would be victims of the 
development, a fear that included her family; she pointed to her house, 
just down the road. “It’s the one with the garden,” she said, smiling. 
She had yet to start formally campaigning, but she was ready. She 
planned to talk about women’s issues, and focus on rebuilding the 
primary school. She would work closely with the fishermen and the 
neighborhood association. “When there is a woman in the government, 
everything gets more beautiful,” she said.

We walked to the cafe where she used to work, a squat, ornate building, 
which, because of Garipçe’s protected status, is in dire need of 
renovations. A wood stove heated a small room where breakfast—small 
dishes of honey and olives, served with piles of bread—was declared 
proudly to be the Black Sea’s best. Like Serter and the fishermen, the 
cafe owner was ambivalent in his support of the bridge, but he was just 
as eager to show that, even in a small village, he understood the issues.

“I own the restaurant,” he said, “but I am still worried that the 
government will take it away from me.” I asked Aslan whether she would 
campaign against the third bridge, to convince villagers that the 
A.K.P.—embroiled in scandal, transforming Istanbul at breakneck 
speed—was not looking out for their best interests. “No,” she said, with 
a strained expression. “They already know.”


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