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Read the other articles in the series The Vile Beast
What better way than to look up sentences on Wikipedia in order to summarize the previous article on the vile beast?
Well, maybe not quite…
“Strictly speaking, the term fascism applies to the Mussolini period of Italian history and in a larger sense to a political system inspired by characteristics of the Italian model, but which may have taken different aspects depending on the countries. Historians debate among themselves as to the description of certain regimes (Vichy France, Spain under Franco…). The difference between fascism and totalitarianism is the object of numerous debates.”
Of course, all those who raise the word anachronism precisely when one wants to re-enter in “the object of numerous debates”, the same ones assailing “cancel culture”, apparently know all there is to know about this object that ended strung up by his feet. This will avoid me the need for a fastidious replay. There is abundant literature and available films and documentaries. Precisely in order to avoid anachronisms, let’s talk about its recent presence among us, and better yet about…today. Let’s leave the Wiki terms behind us somewhat and move on.
We are on Kedistan. What could be more logical that to talk about Turkey, that “lovely secular republic” still praised on occasion in the West, the one that would have disappeared under the frontal attacks of political islamism at the opening of this century. And let’s talk about it without a veil.
Before doing so, I can’t avoid advising that you read the graphic book by a good friend, journalist and artist Zehra Doğan, who performed a work of archiving by publishing Prison N° 5 at Editions Delcourt, about the years from 1980 to 2000 concerning that very Turkey seen from inside its prisons and torture gaols. You will discover that by her own period inside them, under what some persist in describing as a totally new regime (non-secular and neo-Ottoman) a certain continuity exists nonetheless, thanks to the matrix provided by fascism. This might help us to unravel the threads of those who criticize and attack Erdoğan, not for his bigotted tandem with ultra-nationalism, a variation of the fascist flirt with dominant religions, but out of an anti-Muslim racism. Once unveiled, the enemy of my enemy can turn out to resemble him.
Second referral this time to our friend Etienne Copeaux with whom I learned almost everything I know about Turkey, and you will be in luck if you manage to obtain this book. But his website in French and in English will also answer all your research and questions. However if you look under the word “fascism” there, your head will spin, despite the fact the word is not used even once as defining the political regime in Turkey. And this is precisely because the offspring of the vile beast have prospered there and continue to do so, and they, in themselves, do not cover the full extent of what is under analysis. Let’s acknowledge then, that even in the case of averred and documented cases, there is always room for a historian’s scruples in using the word fascism as a false and definitive shutting of the door. So I will also leave the door half-opened, while fervently hoping for a breath of fresh air.
Are the scruples caused by the fact that using the term fascism for Turkey would immediately raise the problem of being unable to apply it to the Armenian genocide of 1915, the negation of which remains an element of the Republic in Turkey? Or does this have something to do with rigorous terms of analysis in Human Sciences where a concept must not be cheapened? The two hypotheses may complete one another.
Let’s get back to “the beast”. Political zoology is not as stringent.
In the early years of the XXth century, and prior to them, “the beast” is at work in the Middle-East where the Western imperialistic powers are finishing the recoil, dismemberment and dispersal of what is left of the Ottoman Empire and its five century-long domination. It is at work in the will for conquest of Western armies confronting one another also in the theater of a European national trench warfare in 1914 and the ongoing colonialist predatory activities. It is at work in the nationalist forces liberated by all this, and the Armenian genocide will serve at their absolute example. And yet, we continue, notably in France, to commemorate the poilu from Verdun while forgetting the soldier in the Dardanelles, and thus the global character of the butchery.
Yes, this period in which peoples were shaken in every direction, displaced or killed off in genocides in order to build States with ruler-straight edges, each one called upon to behave as an exclusive Nation made out of the broken pieces of mosaic, came shortly before, then became contemporaneous with the Italian yardstick. Does this mean these nationalist wars, these mass murders served as the beast’s gametes that seeded the century?
And what does it matter if a Mustafa Kemal remained officially”neutral” during those years were nazism developed? Wasn’t the graft there, ready to burst into buds? Peoples, trained by war – be it of national liberation or independence – when offered a peace paid at the price of the blood of others, with a single religion as a binder and national identity, all of this veiled under a “Muslim secularism” could only agree, inasmuch as they were on the side of the wolves and not of its prey. Here also, a few “grey beast” led the charges. The Republic was not social but indivisible, monist, a warlike Turcity.
What about ulterior developments? How did this Turkey find itself encircled in a world divided in two blocks? How did it become indissociable from the anti-communist struggle killing off elsewhere anti-colonial liberation fights? I let you guess where the support and the funds came from, starting in 1948, to prop up Turkey economically and equip it with a military caste and an even stronger army.
And twenty years later, there started the succession of coups d’état, all the way to those in 1980 and 1990, constantly more virulent in their fight against the “reds”. The ultra-nationalist hand did not hide the fact it stood by the capitalist hand feeding it. The Grey Wolves cultivated a fascism that suited the military powers and preceded their increasing thirst for more power. So how should one describe the massive repression against Turkish social movements, youth, political organizations in the New Left of the times? How should one describe its corollary against Kurdish populations, as well as against what was left of those speaking Greek or practicing Judaism. Over two decades during which humanity disappeared behind orders from strong powers. Totalitarian years, or fascism at work?
We are almost there now.
Here we are in those moments close to the time when a nascent European Union maintained at its doors an inhumanity the consequences of which it already experiences because of the exiles fleeing toward it, mixing into the immigration “useful” fot its development and profits. But this inhumanity drapes itself in the shroud of a pseudo “firm secularism”, the cement of national order and unity, at least that is its official alibi.
That very same secularism now shamefully federating here and now the fascist apprentices who pretend not to notice. This secularism that attacks, ostracizes, enfolds entire populations in racism. If the European far right did not already have its own racist affiliation, it would form an alliance with the grey wolves in the Turkish diaspora.
Those years between 1980/90, were, at the same time, the ones when European public opinions recognized the fascism at its doors in ex Yugoslavia with its policy of ethnic cleansing., and those during which a torturing Turkey, reclaimed its virginity by sheltering persecuted “Muslims” under the applause of the social-democratic leaders in the EU. The nonsense of an “Islamo compatible Turkey” an orientalist term with definite paternalistic and racist leanings, was then built up by this European social democracy, refusing to look reality in the face, i.e. the military Kemalist fascism, and the deep nature of this political Islam, instrumentalizing the Muslim masses in Turkey. I will also deal with Bosnia in this series of chronicles.
So, is Erdoğan’s Turkey fascist?
Once again, it’s much more complicated than first appears. That self-proclaimed fascists, moulded by an ultranationalistic and virilist ideology are everywhere in the State appartus is one thing, just as the current official alliance, that complicated coupling with business minded bigots of the AKP with warmongering nationalist of the MHP is the very image of a fascist power that has confiscated the army, the police the judicial system and many other things too, yet still does not allow us to speak the dirty word.
A dirty word because it would call into question the so-called liberal democracies to which Turkey attempts to resemble as a facade, because of its deep integration with them, both economically and militarily. But with this provisional ending, I refer you again to other reading, inviting you to read an article much more knowledgeable than mine, published here.
And perhaps you remember what author Aslı Erdoğan, wrote, in the short article title “Journal of fascism“. She was then speaking to the European Union in a letter written during her trial, where the regime was requesting a sentence of “perpetuity” against her as she stood imprisoned:
There have been too many signals that indicate European liberal democracies can no longer feel secure when the fire around is expending. The “democracy crisis” in Turkey, for so long underestimated or ignored for pragmatic reasons, namely the growing risk of islamic-based, militaristic dictatorship, will have serious outcomes. No one has the luxury to turn a blind eye to the situation, especially us, journalists, writers, academicians, as we owe our existance to freedom of thougt and expression.
It is no longer a blaze in the vicinity, but a domestic fire.
And, finally, speaking of the grey wolf, we must know that a few days ago, it did not hesitate to attack, as is its habit, premises of the HDP. This time, a person died. No comments from regime authorities. “It’s just another murder among others.” Deniz Poyraz was killed by a fascist in Izmir, nothing but a normal occurrence under this type of regime.
And sleep tight, “the beast” is guarding your safety. No freedoms will come disturb your slumber.
To be continued…
Read the other articles in the series The Vile Beast
Image : CC Lila Montana solidary photographer-journalist