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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

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…