October 28, 2015

AKP attempt at an Islamist-fascist dictatorship

İhsan Yılmaz

About two months ago, I published a piece here titled “Rise of fascism and Greenshirts in Turkey.”

Some of you might have found it a little bit exaggerated. After the unconstitutional conquest of İpek Media Group TV stations and newspapers by Justice and Development Party (AKP) figures, let me revisit my piece and elaborate on it further.

I gave a definition of fascism in the piece, and wrote that “fascism is a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints, goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

I then added that “...its type of a newly emerging Blackshirts (the paramilitary group of Mussolini) and Brownshirts (Hitler's paramilitary mobs). The primary purposes of the Brownshirts were: ‘providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists, and Jews.' The AKP version should, of course, be called the Greenshirts!”

Then, I warned that “the opposition media has been threatened. Samanyolu TV, Zaman, Bugün TV and the Bugün daily could directly be seized on baseless grounds of terrorism. The AKP is calculating that not many people in Turkey and in the West would be bothered about it because of these media outlets' affiliation with the Hizmet movement.” Well, I was wrong on one point: Despite my pessimistic expectation, the opposition in Turkey, which amounts to 60 percent of the vote, is up in arms and strongly behind the İpek Media Group. This may even be a first in Turkey and wonderful news for the consolidation of democracy in the medium run. But let me return to my warning that the AKP had been trying to establish an Islamist-fascist regime in Turkey. As you can see, it is trying to destroy all the opposition media outlets one by one, by sheer police force and by injuring journalists.

It is wrong to expect that whatever is happening in Turkey must be identical to 1930s Italy and Germany in order to describe what is happening in Turkey as the emergence and rise of fascism. There are, of course, spatial and temporal differences. Yet, the general expectations of fascists are similar: relying on popular support, trying to create a one-man regime and suppressing the opposition not just with punitive and ideological state apparatuses, but also para-militaristic, pseudo-civilian youth organizations. The fact that acting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has been seen shoulder to shoulder with the chief of the AKP youth branch who raided the Hurriyet daily along with his comrades and caused physical harm is a testament to this phenomenon.

Does Turkey have a fascist regime now? Of course not. It is not so easy. We still have judges and prosecutors who do not succumb to the dictatorial desires of the AKP. The opposition is still alive and kicking. It is unfortunate to say this, but the army is widely seen to be a last brake against a full-fledged fascist regime. Yet, saying all these things do not negate the fact that AKP leaders are desperately trying to establish a bizarre Islamist-fascist regime in order to stay away from judicial, political and public scrutiny for corruption crimes.

The definition of the term dictatorship is given as: “a form of government where political authority is monopolized by a person or political entity, and exercised through various mechanisms to ensure the entity's power remains strong. In dictatorships, politicians regulate nearly every aspect of the public and private behavior of normal people. Dictatorships and totalitarianism generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.”

If we combine this definition with my above analysis, we can conclude that the AKP is “trying” to establish an Islamist-fascist dictatorship. This, most probably, was not their original intention. But since they were caught red-handed by the judiciary on very serious corruption crimes, they thought that this was their only option. Now, they are trying to establish an Islamist-fascist dictatorship. The fact that Turkey is not and will never be such a dictatorship is another story. The only problem is, the AKP does not know this right now and it will only learn it by experience, which will be a very costly one for Turkey.

Published on Today's Zaman, 28 October 2015, Wednesday