The Gülen Movement has clear effects on Turkish society, so how can it be said to be non-political?

Fethullah Gülen

A notable feature of the Gülen Movement is that participants acknowledge and abide by the political system, and display disinterest towards seizing power and gaining control over the state apparatus. The Gülen Movement assumes forms of action and organization which are accountable and amenable to political mediation by the Turkish political system, without becoming identifiable with it. The Movement therefore does not act like an oppositional action which involves a minority, or which rejects the system in Turkey, or which resists the “rationality” of decisions and goals imposed by the Turkish system. The Gülen Movement is a cultural actor, or a social movement, not a political movement.

The chief implication of the Gülen Movement is that political parties are unable to give adequate expression to collective demands. This is because parties are structured to represent interests that are assumed to remain relatively stable, with a distinct geographical, occupational, social, or ideological base. Also, a party must ensure the continuity of the interests it represents. When faced with the task of representing a plurality of interests, the traditional structure of a party may not be able to adjust itself to accommodate them. Indeed, a political party can hardly mediate between short- and long-term goals. For short-term gains and profits a party may act in favor of unstable, partial and hierarchical interests. In contrast, unlike political parties and bodies, the Gülen Movement’s participation in social projects and in the specific areas of social life demonstrates no interest in hierarchism or short-term gains.

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