We live a world with an ever-increasing global peer review. Material or moral superiority of the West is no longer a foregone conclusion. The quicker the West sheds the illusion of the default superiority, the faster all of us can start the essential work of making liberal values relevant and compelling in a post-western world. In other words, Turkey has an Erdoğan problem, but all of us have a larger liberalism problem. This conundrum is relevant beyond Turkey. Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Hungary's Viktor Orbán and India's Narendra Modi may be manifestations of a similar phenomenon. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the liberal West told the rest of the world: "Be like us to become rich" while the 21st century is producing many illiberal ways to enrich societies.
Erdogan's people wear suits. But the power that the Turkish state has appropriated no longer takes its references from enlightenment but from conservative values, from traditional Islam whose propagated fatalism was always the most powerful ally of repressive rulers. It is always the same lack of values and orientation that draws many people to Islam -- they hope to find in it something to hold on to. Why does Islam -- which once founded a highly sophisticated civilization and is possessed of a strong social consciousness -- fail so miserably as a reference for political and societal life in modern times?