Towards the end of order in Turkey

Towards the end of order in Turkey

Now, even the “pretension” is over. Only a month ago, the last link to democratic rule ended when Ahmet Davutoğlu was removed from the Prime Ministry. Davutoğlu might not be a real democrat, moreover he had to work under the immense pressure of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but nevertheless at least there was the pretension of a parliamentary regime, democratic rule and rule of law during his time. In fact, that was why he was removed from office. The president and his supporters ceased to even pretend to act within the framework of a parliamentary regime and commit themselves to the last vestiges of democratic rule. As for the rule of law, a series of new laws which do not even pretend to be democratic are being imposed in order to change the rules of the game.  

The new rule of the game is monopoly of power in the hands of the executive, which is none other than the word of the president. In fact, the ultimate goal is to change the system to the so-called “Turkish-style presidential system,” but even before the change of the constitution is realized, a de facto monopoly of President Erdoğan’s power is established. Now, in case there is a failure to change the whole constitution, new laws are being enforced to ensure draconian rule. Even before the judiciary is put under the direct control of the executive presidency, we have witnessed a de facto loss of judicial independence; now the canonization of judicial dependency is under way. Even within the framework of the present education system, the new policy to create a “faithful generation” was enforced by the promotion of religious schools.

Now the whole system of education is about to change. Turkey’s already non-democratic security laws are designed to change in order to implement even more authoritarian control of everyday life and curb already limited political and social freedoms. Despite that the new laws which are proposed to ensure political control of the economic life are needed to be revised for the time being, it is obvious that it is among the major goals of the New Turkey project. In fact, “command economy” is the logical outcome of the new authoritarian political system to ensure allocation of resources according to political loyalties.

Worse is that there is no longer any mention or pretension of democracy, since political legitimacy has long ceased to be based on the idea of democracy. It is not only that the definition of democracy has long been reduced to majoritarian rule, now even that definition of democracy is replaced by the concepts of the “national will” and the “historical mission.” Moreover, the “nation” itself is started to be defined along the lines of the membership of the “community which is formed by common history, faith, goals and loyalty.”

Indeed, it sounds like a textbook case of similar regimes while unfortunately political mobilization of national values against the enemies and concomitant “mob rule” is another essential aspect of such politics. Thank God the cases of communal violence against Kurds are still insignificant for the time being, but the scare is there. Besides, we started to witness events like the recent assault on a drinking party by an angry mob in Istanbul and the cancellation of the gay pride parade by the Istanbul Governor’s Office after threats from an ultra-nationalist Islamist group.

The utter dangerous consequence of authoritarian rules is not only the loss of all freedoms but paradoxically, it is also the prospect of loss of security. Despite such regimes being established in the name of security and order, they inevitably end up with a loss of security and order. It is so firstly because authoritarian regimes are established at the expense of social peace by enforcing exclusion and hostility. Secondly, such regimes not only destroy the ancient regime, its rule and intuitions, but they also tarnish the concepts of political intuitions and rational legal legitimacy while finally they ruin the idea of any order. After a supreme leader replaces the whole body of intuitions and after his whims replace the idea of law, no permanent order can be established. After, such regimes and leaders choose to rely on the mobilization of the masses by unattainable historical, national missions; no control can be imposed in the name of ordinary, mundane, human reasons.

Finally, such rules and rulers end up losing control while they aspire to have total control. This is why such regimes have fallen in tragic ways in the past and their countries have paid a heavy price… and why these new, similar aspirations are doomed to fail in similar ways.