Delusions of the new order

Delusions of the new order

As I was reading the story of a man who was diagnosed with a “rare mental condition called delusional disorder,” I could not avoid making a comparison with the current mental state in Turkey. Could it be that our country is suffering from a similar problem since the government and its adversaries often seek refuge in delusion? The major delusion of the opposition parties was to refuse to face the realities of the changing time in general and of Turkey in particular. That is why the republicans and the nationalists insisted on defending the ancien regime in the name of secularism and/or the nation-state. As for the governing party circle, they challenged the ancien regime before coming to power and ultimately becoming all-powerful, at which time they started deluding themselves into thinking that they had ended all problems by building a “New Turkey.” One might call it “delusional disorder” or “delusions of the new order.”

In fact the so-called “New Turkey” is being built on grand delusions. The rulers of “the new order” insist in deluding themselves that Turkey is not suffering from a tragic isolation in its foreign relations but that it is being punished for its advocacy of just principles. The delusion is so deep that a government adviser invented the term of “precious loneliness.” As for the democratic deficit, they define it as “the black propaganda by the internal and external enemies of Turkey.” Finally, the failure of the politics of the so-called “Kurdish peace process” have also become totally delusional recently. According to the president and his government, the New Turkey can continue the peace process without dealing with “disliked” Kurdish political actors, like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish party in the Parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Government circles have been engaging in the most childish way of accusing Kurdish politicians for all problems and have required total submission from the Kurdish political movement to take positive steps. The “new” approach has been expressed by the prime minister as “public order comes first!” In fact, it is not new at all, it is politics as usual; it is the politics of security as opposed to the politics of rights and freedoms or the politics of democracy.

Indeed, the greatest delusion is to believe that such a complex country with so many problems can be governed while denying democratic politics. As early as the aftermath of the 2011 elections, I needed to remind that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) could “rule” the country by a majority vote, but could not “govern” it; unfortunately my worst nightmare has come true since then. The rise of neo-authoritarianism, which is empowered by economic growth politics, is a bad omen for the future of democracy globally, but it presents the utmost risk for Turkey for many reasons. First, Turkey has serious fault lines already in motion like the Kurdish and Alevi issues. Second, this country suffers from the ultimate polarization between secularists and conservatives. Third, economic growth politics have not only come to an end but have also created many social grievances as in the case of massive mining disasters and other deadly accidents in many sectors due to the lack of social politics and legal supervision, which are also connected to the politics of crony capitalism.

Finally, Turkey has considerable liberal urban classes who may not make up the majority, but they are sizeable enough to be taken into consideration for political sustainability. Many political observers consider the fall of the Gezi opposition as a disappointment, but it was the best evidence of the limits of discontent from urban, middle-class youth. The fact that they were no revolutionaries further proves the nature of urban liberal classes rather than their failure. Authoritarian rules can silence urban youth, liberals and secular middle classes for some time through suppression since they cannot engage in fierce struggles, but such regimes cannot survive their discontent forever.

In summary, the biggest delusion of the new rulers of Turkey is to consider opting out of democratic politics. Democratic governance is no weakness as it is thought to be in our country, but a powerful mental map and strong tool to overcome many difficulties. The current rulers of this country only need to comprehend this plain truth, rather than delude themselves.