Power culture

Power culture

Turkey is no longer polarized. Polarization has reached to such dimensions that as if several “nations of extremes” are living side by side in this country, not only ignoring the sensitivities of the “other” nations but trying to prove their superiority in every way possible. Can this be called “the culture of the powerful”?

Widening eyes as much as possible, raising voice to the highest possible level, putting aside all norms of social etiquette and engaging in what might be described as excellence in oration through yelling has become routine in the country. A terrorist chieftain hosted as an honorable guest at the National Intelligence’s headquarters a couple of years ago might become the worst enemy of the Turkish state today. The negotiating counterparts of the government and top executives of the state in the officious and ambiguous “opening” to solve the problems of a section of the society might become such hated people one day that elected deputies and the leaders of a political party could be placed behind bars at a time when the country is undertaking a set of constitutional reforms, which will change the regime in the country. 

The main opposition in the country, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), could be branded a terrorist group just because it disagreed with a set of constitutional amendments put to a national vote, while an ethnic nationalist and ultra-radical religious group supportive of the amendments was embraced as a legitimate and democratic element of the country.

Late President Süleyman Demirel often stressed that in social sciences there was a fundamental rule: You either have the rule of law, or the supremacy of the law of the powerful. When a country falls into an abyss of supremacy of the law of the powerful and abandons the rule of law, equality of all in front of law, legitimacy and if merit, eligibility, knowledge are replaced with nepotism, would it be surprising to see the appointment of some handpicked and untested individuals as the bosses of all the economic enterprises of the state gathered in a huge wealth fund?

Constitutional law professor and Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Burhan Kuzu has been on the move nowadays. He has been talking at meetings, appearing on discussion programs on TV, trying to explain to people that if approved in a national referendum scheduled for April 16, the constitutional amendments would not create an individual-controlled autocracy. It was difficult for a constitutional law professor in the caliber of Kuzu – author of a book describing presidential rule without proper checks and balances as a dictatorial development – to explain how an individual can become the leader of a political party, head of state, appoint 12 members of the 15-member Constitutional Court, appoint almost all members of the Judges and Prosecutors Board, individually decide on promotions and appointments of all civilian and military top bureaucrats, prepare the list of parliamentary candidates of his party as he liked and on matters related to governance could rule the country with presidential decrees would not become an autocrat, if not immediately, gradually?

Turkey is changing fast. The country has already been divided into many groups, but particularly in two main blocks; those supportive of whatever the sole decision maker President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan undertakes, and those opposing whatever Erdoğan does. This is not of course the state of a healthy country and nation, but worse is yet to come.

Remembering the very difficult and bloody days the country went through from the June 2015 elections to the November 2015 elections, perhaps so far, the nation is lucky that despite the country has moved toward a crucial vote, there has not been a sight of violence. It is of course great that no major terrorist attack was seen these days but, was it because the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) gang as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and the urban contractor terrorist cells of all kinds have run out of ammunition, or their services were not wanted at this particular moment by the enemies of the people?

Those who remember that awkward conversation between a minister, some top security people of concocting an attack and placing the blame on some others could not believe of course that there has not been a link between at least some segments of politics and terrorism in this country. Does anyone remember under what conditions and at whose ignorance the ditches were opened, and arms were stockpiled in many southeastern settlements before the June 2015 elections? Condemning the political extension of the PKK of following “ditch politics” cannot help anyone to diffuse suspicions about their role in the suffering of people, and millions of money spent to clean those regions of the terrorists and the stockpiled arms.

Power politics can, for some time, make people forget everything and worship the powerful, but cannot be sustainable. At one point, at the “enough is enough” point, people will start questioning why and for what reason this beautiful country is pulled into such a situation, disintegrating the souls.

Can an all-powerful president or a single-man rule help Turkey overcome all these problems? Or would such a development aggravate the already delicate situation and put this country in an unprecedented state of affairs? The law of the powerful cannot be a sustainable form of governance.