Conspiratorial minds, authoritarian politics

Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol


Date posted: December 25, 2013

 MUSTAFA AKYOL

In the year 2007, one of the bestselling books in Turkey was a weird title by a conspiracy theorist: “The Children of Moses” by Ergün Poyraz. The book’s cover presented Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife within a Star of David. Its pages argued, seriously, that Erdoğan was a “secret Jew” who collaborated with “international Jewry” to destroy the secular republic of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The writer, Mr. Poyraz, was a hardcore secular-nationalist (aka Kemalist) who seemed pretty convinced that Turkey was targeted by a Zionist global plot, of which Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) was a mere pawn.

Six years have passed since the publication of that insane book. Its writer, Ergün Poyraz, was arrested in late 2007 in the “Ergenekon” coup trial, and was sentenced last August to a staggering 29 years in prison. His crime was to “conspire” against the AKP government, with his conspiracy theories, at the orders of a would-be military junta.

Now, fast forward from 2007 to 2013, and look at Turkey again. You will see that the conspiracy theories that were once the propaganda tools of the enemies of the AKP and have now become the propaganda tools of the AKP itself. First during the Gezi Park protests, the government blamed “global dark forces” and “the Jewish diaspora” as the master of the “conspiracy against Turkey.” These days, the same argument is used again to explain why four ministers of the government are targeted in a corruption probe: Israel and its lobby in the United States want to punish Turkey for its trade with Iran, and “an illegal organization within the police and judiciary” (formed by Fethullah Gülen Movement) acts as the pawn of this plot.

In other words, while Erdoğan was accused of being an agent of Zionism in 2007 by paranoid Kemalists, today Erdoğan’s supporters accuse the Gülen Movement of being an agent of Zionism.
Political actors have changed, but the conspiratorial political mind has not changed.

This passionate indulgence in conspiracy theories, I believe, is the biggest obstacle to nurturing a liberal, democratic culture in Turkey. Because when you see your political opponents not as mundane people with mundane motives but wicked agents of an evil plot, you lose all grounds to communicate with them. Consensus becomes impossible, as all you need to do is to “stay strong” and even fight back.

This is what we are witnessing these days, especially in the government’s response to the corruption probe. Instead of helping clear the charges and dismissing the accused ministers as a sign of goodwill, the government instead uses the the-best-defense-is-offence strategy: They depict the probe not as a legitimate investigation by a legitimate Turkish prosecutor, but the act of a global conspiracy that involves Israel, the neo-cons, the Israeli lobby, the “interest rate lobby,” and all the “enemies of Turkey,” whomever they are.

The politics produced by such a conspiratorial reading of reality can only be authoritarian, as it clearly is. Of course, this is not a problem that is specific to the AKP. It is rather a “national” problem that pervades Turkish politics, as recently proven by the enemies of the AKP as well. I just had hoped that the AKP would break free from this bad tradition, but it clearly does not. And thus we keep seeing the same boring script over, and over, and over.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News , December 25, 2013


Related News

Planned prep school ban [in Turkey] disregards basic rights as in single-party era

The government’s intentions to shut down private examination preparation centers [in Turkey] in spite of a strong backlash from educators, economists, students, parents and even terrorism experts brings back memories of the authoritarianism of the early years of the republic, when a single-party regime was in place.

Turkey: Babies behind bars

Huseyin Sahnaz is seriously worried about his wife and infant child. After all, prisons are not exactly family-friendly institutions. Both have to share a cell with 30 other inmates. And temperatures during this time of year tend to reach 30 degrees Celsius (around 90 Fahrenheit) or higher.

Chronology of Dec. 17: The stones are settling into place…

İSTANBUL Dec. 17, 2013: On the morning of Dec. 17, Turkey wakes up to a bribery and corruption operation. Simultaneous operations in İstanbul and Ankara take place after an investigation that included allegations of land being opened up to illegal city zoning, bribery and money laundering. The operations, which are carried out on the orders […]

13 recommendations to MGK secretary for inclusion in ‘Red Book’

The president pays attention to the current National Security Council (MGK). He is determined to declare Hizmet a terror organization. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not interested in the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Kobani, Syria, the approximately 3 million refugees and the murder of 40 people in violent protests. His only concern is Hizmet. Given that the MGK is designed to be a place to discuss personal concerns, I, as a citizen, would like to raise some points of recommendation for the MGK secretary-general for possible inclusion on the agenda of the council.

‘Parallel’ inspection launched against prominent Jewish-Turkish businessman İshak Alaton

The Bureau for Crimes against the Constitutional Order of the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an inspection of the companies run by Alarko Holding’s executive board chairman and prominent Jewish Turkish businessman İshak Alaton on charges of supporting the so-called “parallel state,” a daily reported on Tuesday.

Thunder’s Enes Kanter says his father has been arrested and faces torture in Turkey

“My father is arrested because of my outspoken criticism of the ruling party. He may get tortured for simply being my family member,” Kanter said in his statement Friday.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Teacher detained just after giving birth, handcuffed to bed at hospital

Çağ Education Company in Azerbaijan held a conference to celebrate the 20th anniversary

Stuttgart police: ‘Boycotts of Gülen-friendly shops are potential hate crimes’

Erdoğan…a factionist PM?

Fethullah Gulen Statement on ISIS

Turkish Cultural Center in West Haven hit with graffiti in wake of unrest

S.A. nun speaks at the U.N. on Gulen

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News