Pragmatic ethics of environmentalist movements in Turkey
Öncü, Ahmet and Kocan, Gürcan (2011) Pragmatic ethics of environmentalist movements in Turkey. In: Doyle, Timothy and MacGregor, Sherilyn, (eds.) Global Perspectives on Environmentalism. Praeger, California, USA. (Accepted/In Press)
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‘Environmentalism’ covers a range of social and political movements and ethical perspectives that share a concern for the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. Almost twenty years after the 1960s when sizeable environmentalist mobilizations had first come to light and begun to shore up critical public debates and projects for radical social change in Western Europe and North America, the environment was still not a very substantial worry across a wide spectrum of social movements in Turkey. In the 1970s small mobilizations for the environment had surfaced here and there in connection with the tide of student and working class radicalism; yet these were only sporadic groupings. None of them succeeded in reaching a scale capable of developing the capacity to influence the political context in their own right. The situation changed drastically in Turkey with the military intervention of 1980. With the brutal suppression of democratic politics, all forms of mobilization for social change had either receded or gone underground. Paradoxically, after the return to the parliamentary system under the Constitution of 1982, environmentalism became popular and influential, not only among social activists, but also within official political circles as well as the least politicized sections of civil society. These mobilizations made effective use of the opportunities provided by the new codes and regulations legislated and implemented by successive governments in response to an alarmingly deteriorating natural environment, in addition to the international obligations of the Turkish state as a result of signing bilateral or multilateral environmental accords. In t, we first his chapter, we first briefly introduce a taxonomy that aims to distinguish particular environmental ethical positions. Here, by drawing from the literature of environmental ethics, we attempt to delineate some of the possible ethical stances that environmentalist mobilizations can take on while they are aiming for particular objectives as part of their agendas. Next we present a selective account of environmentalist movements with respect to four broad environmental issues that have been influential politically, and have had lasting impacts on the nature of environmentalism constructed in Turkey. These are: the commons, pollution, energy, and animal rights. Finally we offer our interpretation of the ethical stance that is reflected from the actions and agendas of different environmentalist movements associated with those issues.
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