“Useful idiots” was how mass murderer Stalin referred to left-wing academics who enthusiastically supported his communism in the name of a just living for all. Several decades later, Turkish politics forcefully challenges Stalin’s useful idiots with its “disposable idiots.”
In my own version of “useful idiots,” I wrote that:
“It was fun all the same to see the appalled European faces along with appalled ‘liberal Turkish faces’ after the latest wave of arrests… What else did you expect when any possible thesaurus failed to provide you with sufficient words of praise for the (Justice and Development Party) AKP’s ‘determined march toward advanced democracy.’ You can enjoy Turkey’s advanced democracy now. Our colleagues in prisons certainly don’t.
“Sadly, to the willing or unwilling blind eye of the useful idiots, this is a ‘religious war.’ It’s not a war between two different faiths. It is not even a war between two hostile sects of the same faith. It is a war between two different practices of the same sect of the same faith.
“With a powerful hatred of the ‘other’ and enjoying a popular support based on ‘head-count democracy,’ neo/post-modern/whatever Islamists are fighting to create a unified form of observance – theirs. They are offering the enemy two choices: Convert to our observance of Islam, or you’ll be crushed!
“Several years ago, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan … put it very honestly when he said ‘Islam’s victory’ would sooner or later emerge, ‘with or without blood.’ At his funeral, his son, Fatih Erbakan, put it in a different way: ‘Islam is not only making your prayers, fasting and going on the hajj, but it is also to make jihad in the path of Allah and to work … for an Islamic union.’
“[Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s difference is to put the same idea in much better wording – a wording that wins thundering applause from useful idiots.” (Useful idiots, this column, March 8, 2011).
There is bad news for Turkey’s “Advanced Democracy Lovers’ Club.” Just listen to what Aziz Babuşcu, an AKP bigwig and the party’s chairman for the Istanbul provincial organization had to say last week:
“Those who partnered with us during the last 10 years our party was in power will not partner with us in the next 10 years. This is so because they were our partners during a liquidation process and for what we did around a rhetoric of freedoms, legality and justice. They, let’s say liberals, were our somewhat grudging partners in this process. But the future will be a period of ‘construction.’ And ‘construction’ will not take place as they wish. Therefore, they won’t be with us. Those who walked with us in the past will this time partner with the forces that oppose us, because the future under construction will not be a future they [liberals] could accept.”
Honest words, indeed. All the same, Mr. Babuşcu, who occupies a seat that Mr. Erdoğan once occupied, is possibly too pessimistic about the ethos Turkey’s useful (and disposable) idiots often feature. Our useful idiots are not exactly Stalin’s useful idiots: They are useful but certainly not idiots. And they may not be so easily disposed of. They will abandon the holy march toward advanced democracy not if the ruling elite turned more autocratic but if it cut off their “liberal” links to fortune.
Have no worries, Honorable Chairman. If your party imprisoned a million Turks because “they behaved like the enemies of Islam,” your useful-and-disposable idiots will cheer up, filling thousands of column inches that will tell readers: “Oh, but is it not wonderful that tens of millions of Turks are free?” But always remember to reward your idiots since they are not really idiots.