February 3, 2015

How big is the ’parallel structure’?

Duygun Yarsuvat, the president of Galatasaray Sports Club, recently held the "parallel structure" responsible for the club's being about to go bankrupt by defaulting its debts. You may see his claims as individual conjectures, but his claims weren't restricted to his club only. He also claimed that Fenerbahçe Sports Club, too, is facing pressures from the "parallel structure." He alleged that the parallel structure threatened Aziz Yıldırım of Fenerbahçe to pay $50 million. Of course, Yıldırım refuted the claims, making all other claims by Yarsuvat suspicious.

Another striking example is from the cinema sector. An expensively produced film about the conquest of İstanbul (Constantinople) in the 15th century recently came out in theaters, and was a failure in terms of box office returns. The producer was quick to accuse the parallel structure. But he didn't clarify how the parallel structure ensured its failure or what methods it used.

At İstanbul University, a professor who had frequent arguments with the rector and underwent numerous investigations accuses the parallel structure announces that he will continue to fight against this structure.

What these three examples tell is actually the same thing. Those who seek assistance from the ruling party for the problems or failures send this message to the ruling party by complaining about the parallel structure. This process is similar to the one in which a person who seeks to join a clandestine organization or a primitive society declare the "evil spirits" of that organization or clan as his enemies and denigrate them openly. You secure the support of the ruling party by hurling insults at the parallel structure. In this way, Galatasaray Sports Club will secure loans from the public banks for its debts. The producer will get new marketing opportunities for its failed film using the public resources. The rector will start to treat the professor more carefully.

These examples are not exceptional. The ritual of reciting a vilification of the parallel structure is performed not only by those who seek to ensure the solution of their problems, but also by those who like to draw closer to the ruling party. This is actually an attitude that is specific to totalitarian countries. In the Stalinist Soviet Union, dissidents would be stigmatized as "collaborators of capitalism," "puppets of imperialism," "enemies of the working class," "counter-revolutionaries," etc., and those who sought to get along with the government would parrot these phrases.

The ruling party is quick to respond to these recitals. A speech President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave at the general assembly meeting of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) last week explains why this parallel structure discourse is so widespread. "I don't see any parallel structure around," TÜSİAD's former president, Haluk Dinçer, had said in an interview he gave to Hürriyet newspaper. Erdoğan was so angry while criticizing his remarks that the sheer intensity of his rage must have struck anyone who heard him. There is more to it. "Actually, he sees it," Erdoğan said, targeting Dinçer. With these remarks, Erdoğan chided not only Dinçer, but also TÜSİAD and the capitalists represented by the organization.

Erdoğan's "parallel structure" rage is not simple emotional reaction, but is based on a conscious, planned and systematic policy. He controls a sufficient number of media outlets and a great portion of the political network to maintain a witch hunt. The Sabah newspaper, acquired using loans from public banks that have not yet been repaid, is running headlines about the parallel structure every day. The ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) huge propaganda machine continuously runs parallel structure campaigns. With this strategy, Erdoğan is keeping corruption allegations about him away from the party competition and democratic opposition. As there is no true challenge to him, he can create the grounds of the political struggle at will.

The parallel structure must be big enough to keep Erdoğan in power without any rival and justify his quest for dictatorship.

Published on Today's Zaman, 02 February 2015, Monday