Association for Liberal Thinking held the Annual Liberal Thought Congress between November 6-8, 2015, in Urgup, Cappadocia.
Academicians, journalists, writers, opinion leaders, lawyers, intellectual entrepreneurs and many graduate and undergraduate students from all around the country came together and exchanged ideas in an intellectually rich atmosphere.
The Congress started with the opening remarks of ALT Chairman, Prof. Atilla Yayla.
Academic theme of the congress of 2015 was “the relationship between human nature and liberalism”. First two sessions of the congress were conducted on this theme.
First session of the first day was held under the moderation of Assoc. Prof. Cennet Uslu. Prof. Tanel Demirel and Assoc. Prof. Hasan Yucel Basdemir were speakers of the session. Prof. Yucel put a thesis on human nature to consist of three parts that are predispositions, moral capacity and volitional capacity. Ideologies differ from each other mostly on their emphasis on these human nature parts, further argued that political preferences are upon the volutional field. Prof. Demirel additionally referred to anthropological features of modern human beings and how those features are reflected over the political scene.
Second session was the complemetary session and moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Orcun Imga. This session was designed to draw a perspective from socio-psychological discipline to the relationship between human nature and liberalism. Psychiatrist Dr. Nihat Kaya put an argument on the relationship between character types and political views and which character type is mostly related to a liberal attitude. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yasemin Abayhan, evaluated the predispotions of individuals towards liberal values via sociopsychological experiments addressing the inidividualist features where obedience to the authority and tendency to violence emerge under disappearance of responsibility.
After the lunch, winners of “Awarded Essay Contest” on "What a Plural and Free Society would Promise for human civilization" held by ALT among undergraduate students were announced. Ahmet Bilal Arpa won the first place with his essay “ $ 1500 Sandwich”. Yavuz Selim Erfidan, with his essay “Merits of Not Being Same” won the second and Hasan Cortuk, with his essay “Harvest of Free Society” won the third place with cash awards. Winning essays can be found here. Students were expected to discuss immigration, pluralism, nation state, free trade, peace and prosperity via articles provided in the link.
This Essay Contest has been held with the contributions of Network for Free Society. Promoted 15 students were awarded travel and registration scholarships to the Congress as well as collections of quarterly journals of Liberal Thought and Market.
One of the promoted students with his bright essay was Mustafa Ali Aykol, 16, who is a high school student in Sakarya city. Mustafa has been reading on liberalism, free markets from his 9th grade and came across with ALT by the writings and speeches of Atilla Yayla. Mustafa is also holding a column at a local newspaper.
After the ceremony, well deserved first place awardee Ahmet Bilal Arpa, the local coordinator for Students for Liberty talked about the aims of the network of Students for Liberty in Turkey that is to be supported by ALT and its academic network. Arpa invited academicians from all around Turkey to encourage their students to learn and promote ideas of liberty in their campuses. Arpa and Ozlem Caglar Yilmaz, general coordinator of ALT offerred granting Liberty Classics published by Liberte Books of ALT to their rooms in the fauclties so that their students, pro liberty student groups can benefit.
Third session, “Turkey’s Political Economic History within a Rational Choice Perspective” was held under Prof. Abdulkadir Bulus’s moderation. Assist. Prof. Dr. Cengizhan Yildirim and Assist. Prof. Dr. Bugra Kalkan delivered papers in this session. Yıldırım mentioned about D. Acemoglu's description of vital political, legal and economic institutions in a country to prosper and then focused on economic policies of 1923-1946 years in Turkey and their effects on current situation. Dr. Kalkan, put forwards how economic rants have shaped Turkey’s political institutions historically, where recently rational choices had positive unintended consequences in Turkish economy as the reform opportunities and paths still exist.
In the 4th session, “Monetary and Fiscal Policy after 2003”, Prof. Ismail Seyrek spoke about the performance of Turkish Central Bank and and ALT Economist Unsal Cetin emphasized the positive results of a fiscal policy bounded by rules and offered a productivity norm for an efficient monetary policy in Turkey. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Birol Mercan moderated this session.
Last session of the day was on Resolution/peace process and the Political Situation in Turkey after November Elections. Cengiz Algan, coordinator of Look at Peace Initiative was the moderator of the session. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vahap Coskun, Lawyer Gulcin Avsar and Assist. Prof. Dr. Levent Korkut were the speakers of this session. Cengiz Algan contributed the session with a brief history of the recent 3 years of the resolution process. Coskun put his prediction regarding the future of the process after the elections. Korkut spoke about other conflict resolution experiences in the world and emphasized the achievements and the necessity to sustain the process. Avsar criticized attitudes of parties during the negotiations and pointed out the importance of the people's support.
On the second day of the Congress, Assoc. Prof. Hayrettin Ozler moderated the session on “Fundamental Questions in Liberal Theory”. Assist. Prof. Dr. Belgin Buyukbuga stated that classical liberalism, libertarianism and market anarchism differ at the perception of markets, and framed her presentation with the relationship between anarcho-capitalism and law out of giving the authority to the state to use the monoply of violence via rule of law. Haklı compared liberalism and communitarianism with their understanding of the individual claiming that the fact that the autonomous individual organizing his life with his reason and free will defines the moral field, contrary communitarians argue that an individual should decide within his identity, traditions and common values.
7th and the last session of the congress, “Democracy in Turkey and How the Outsider World Perceives Turkey” was moderated by Prof. Dr. Omer Caha. Dr. Oguzhan Yanarisik addressed the dramatic difference of the coverage of the Western mesdia on Turkey and particularly on AKP and Erdogan, and Yanarisik claimed that journalism is messed with activism by the media, however it is crucial that western media should be separated from the academia and the society as there is no single and permanent truth in politics. Dr. Ozipek mentioned that foreigners get information from one sided sources and got along with those who look alike themselves unlike the Anatolian opinion leaders. Moreover although there are supporting evidence of the government's problematic performance on some cases, further democratization, alternative media tools and new informative institutions would contribute to overcoming this miscoverage and misperception on Turkey.
Association for Liberal Thinking hosted an intellectually intense congress where participants had great chance to discuss and network.
We are grateful to all participants, friends of liberty and ALT, Network for Free Society, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty and Kayseri School of Thought who contributed to the realization of this congress.