The value of criticism

The value of criticism

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş corrected his words when he said the heads of the judiciary were “connected” to the president. 

Kurtulmuş said the word connected was not right. “I tried to recall Article 104 of the constitution, expressing the concept of ‘ensure/supervise’ in that article,” he said.

I believe that when Kurtulmuş, whose political maturity I know, used the “connected,” that it was actually a slip of the tongue. Nevertheless, it was good that he was criticized; we have experienced an example of the correcting function of criticism. 

Do you see the value of criticism? 

I should also point out that Article 104 of the Turkish constitution does say about the president that “[…] he/she shall ensure the implementation of the constitution and the regular and harmonious functioning of the organs of the state.” However, this is not about the judiciary. The president or any other executive or legislative official cannot have a “supervising” duty over the judiciary. 

As a matter of fact, in the same article the president’s duties are listed one by one. He/she has only one power related to the judiciary and that is it to make the appointments that are conferred on him by the constitution. 

The highly debated action of the heads of the judiciary is wrong as regards to the constitution and also regarding judicial ethics; they cannot be defended.

In Turkey, the president is clearly a “side” in the intense political and system debates. The party defined him as “our leader.” Party officials have stated that the party’s top administration was formed by “consulting” him. 

To avoid this shadow of being a “side” falling on the high judiciary, just like in the U.S., France and Germany, they have to avoid the legislation and execution outside of official protocol. 

The matter I particularly want to emphasize is the significance of criticism. I am viewing the deputy prime minister’s speech on the “required change in foreign policy” from this aspect. The necessity of a change in foreign policy was clearly officially declared for the first time by Kurtulmuş. 

We wish the previous criticisms against our foreign policy had been taken into consideration before, then this necessary change would not have been so belated and our foreign policy would not have been dragged to its “honorable loneliness…” 

We wish that an ear would have been lent to the criticisms while worlds were fine-tuned, while it was declared that “a parenthesis of 100 years was closed,” while masses were moved with concepts such as “the region of the Islamic ummah, the geography of the Ottoman.” 

For instance, respected historian Şükrü Hanioğlu warned that these concepts, except for one or two Balkan countries, would draw reactions from the Arab world…

In fact, the government did not pay attention to these criticisms. Moreover, they came up with mysterious conspiracies such as a “superior mind, foreign powers.” This was good for creating a close-knit active grassroots but it caused the loss of rationalism.  

And finally, it became mandatory to change the foreign policy.

Let us, from now on, go into a phase where rationalism and free debate are adopted instead of valor. Let us make this change with a rational mentality. This will be good for the country and the government.

Applause and obedience intoxicate all governments. However, criticism is not only a matter of freedom, it is the only way to correct the course and find shared wisdom.  

Late Prof. Ali Fuat Başgil wrote: “Don’t be afraid of ideas, the only harmful idea in the world is the one that has not been filtered through criticism. You should accept that there are others who think differently than you do and maybe better than you do.”