Friday, March 05, 2010

players' democracy

the objective of politics in turkey is to get a firm grip on the state as the seat of power and not relinquish it again. the latter is usually accomplished through deep rooted planting of confederates in the bureaucracy and in the longer run, by tilting the biases in the education system to favor you.

under the thoroughly anomalous "normal" system of politicking in turkey, supplication to the armed forces used to be one tested method of not falling too far from the avatars and pundits and hence, the perks of puissance. never was a government in the last 60 years that practically encouraged the rise or self nourishment of a capitalist (1) class structure upon which power could be perpetuated. during their rule, each party breast fed a group of cohorts, supporters and/or sympathizers to affluence, many of whom, like a match flare, burned out once their benefactors left government(2).

thus, an alternative social force to state power was never able to raise its head within an autonomous social sphere. the entire system, from economics to national interests, to cultural preferences and even to morals, was shaped according to state and government priorities.

social life was thus "officialized", hence also the individual and his way(s) of mind...

according to some, the latest surge by tayyib efendi, rosy & co. to effect the supposed ouster of the military from the circle of influence represents a "revolutionary" shift from the classical tradition of politics and a big step toward democratization (3).

i object - not only because the character-type epitomized by tayyib efendi, rosy & co. is incommensurate with emancipatory dissent (4) but also for the simple reason that there exist no such social forces to base a healthy democracy on. considering that such social forces need also to span a diverse cross section of the demos and be fairly audible and most importantly, audible while speaking through their own voice rather than hitching up to the governmet's orchestra as a chorus; the basic tenets of a pluralistic democracy especially one capable of dissension are totally missing. for whatever they count, foci of political oppsition and resistance are paramiltarily organized pockets of despotisms themselves.

history offers its parallels not in straight lines but in the as arrows through spatial geometry: in ottoman times, "intellectually bolstered" debates rationalizing power struggles among rivaling factions of pashas in the palace; biting each other's head off vying for the sultan's favors - heads literally rolled rather often, too. still the main element missing was the demos; which would elevate the populace from a mob into a force with its own structured and diversified demands relevant to fairly crystallized interests and the means, including force, to access the machinations of the political system.

tayyib efendi, rosy & co. seem only set to establish a system that consolidates power in and within the executive branch. the legislative, true to the nature of parlşiamentary democracies and particularly the bizarre nature of the turkish party system which empowers the leader with enough spunk befitting a dictator, is already totally dependent on the prime minister's whims; whomever he may be (5). now, the same legislative and the president who is the head of the executive, will be appointing two thirds of the country's highest judiciary bodies, if the constitutional changes envisaged by tayyib efendi, rosy & co. can take effect. if so, they will be able to play the judiciary around their fingers (6), and be just as powerful as the sultans whose word used to be the law and was unchallengeable (7).

tayyib efendi, rosy and co. seem intent to institute a "patrimonial (8) regime",where politics, as it used to be in absolutism, is a closed-circuit game only for those included in the decision making process: a players' democracy where once the ballot is in, anybody but the élite players can only sit back and watch. this kind of politics which nevertheless derives its legitimacy from some sort of public vote affords the players a near absoulte latitude (9).

according to the potents and pundits, parliamentary selection of high judges will reflect the "nation's will" onto the judiciary. actually, the justice system exists less - if at all - to represent the public in numbers but safeguard (10) its express wills through the supervision of the way the laws passed by parliaments are respected in practice, not only by the public but alos by their elected administrators.

but then again, it all comes down to the askew, skewered political system of turkey.
the gist of the matter is dissembling the absolute power of the state apparatus in a manner that it cannot concentrate again on any certain focus, be it the clergy, religious sects, bureaucrats, labor unions, business, etc., but is distributed through a state-of-law to the entire community and to each individual, favoring the demos.

upon which, more is to come later...

(1) thence, a labor
(2) of course, some mainstay businesses and businessmen/families were always upheld as conduits to the world-economy, because without them, the state-heavy system would be in jeopardy, too. however, this qualifies more as "wealth generation" than the existence of a true capitalist social - historical system
(3) i am not so naive to believe that the current effort to castrate the military's political virility can produce a decisive shift in the balance of power. not only the "will of the nation" behind tayyib efendi, rosy & co. is rather inconclusive in its attitude toward a non-custodian military, the akp’s social base is more slippery than it ever was. indeed, tayyib efendi, rosy & co. owe their preponderance less to their own prowess than the total disability of the current political opposition and the absence of an alternative. the prosecution of well respected generals with rather unsatisfactory cases in a kangaroo court manner raises the possibility of mass acquittals; which would not only countermand current their mass arrests but also would clear the military in the eyes of the public of any wrong doing. even in chile where the public is far better versed in democratic traditions, the stamp of augusto pinochet is still carried by his lingering specter.
(4) the akp represents the political movement of a social segment that has been denied state privileges since the 17th century and has thus been able to develop into a social demand organized around a conservative rhetoric with pronounced islamic intonations rather than a class, using the marxist lexicon, "of and/or for itself". therefore, their demands. although claiming to change society prioritizes enlarging their lebensraum by appropriating state instruments, rather than providing liberal space to society by curbing the might of the state.
(5)for fairness's sake i have to note that any supposedly "potential" pm, i.e., the leader of even the smallest political party is still afflicted with the same disease caused and abated by the current laws that are the ill legacy of the last military junta of 1980.
(6) the legislative and executive practically "appointing" judges is no less similar and more reasonable than allowing high court justices automatically being named parliament or cabinet members. except, that way parliament is not liekly to be an "assembly of judges" or a "cabinet of magistrates", whereas this way, the absolute power of a prime minister controlling all three estates will resemble the arbitrary might of a charlemagne...
(7) even then, the sultans, if so they wished, would feel bound by the laws they and their ancestors issued.
(8) from maxweber, a society where the chief exercizes his near total authority through an élite administrator class as opposed to patriarchalism where his athority is personal as paternal.
(9) order and cohesion in such societies are based on authority and hierarchies rather than a covenant and contract and wherever or whenever authority becomes lax, anomies is ever present. power hirearchies and their illegal - illegitimate projections or extensions are exempt from laws to varying degrees therefore the man on the street is often crushed under the weight of laws as well as lawlesness.
contemporary examples are limited to the third world, of course: russia, malaysia, iran; etc., where elections decide who the next tyrants will be and rule without really being bound by any norms except the basic and brutest rules of power.
(10) that is why the only logical and just way of picking justices for any and each level of courts of law is to devise a method whereby they are elected by other judges and jurists; i.e., organizations representing public and private attorneys at law.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

blind spot!

garfucius spent the last four months semi-blind and that sure creates problems!

as pertinent to this blog, the last post was published in the turkish section, for instance. now that vision is better, things are falling back in place; if anybody cares.

my apologies for the error.

democracy? who wants to be a homo?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

at least one theory of politics (1) maintains that over half a century of cold war which allegedly divided the world between the u.s.a. and the soviets, was sort of a mutually beneficial arrangement that consolidated the hegemony of each side within its camp, and of the relative preponderance of the u.s. between the two. when the “arrangement” outlived its usefulness, the system collapsed and the wall fell.

that sense of “mutual in domicile beneficiarism” washed over me as i was browsing through the paper this morning. in hurriyet, ahmet hakan coskun, who transferred (according to some, converted) to the mainstream from “militant” islamism, commented that premier tayyip erdogan’s wife emine hanım was discouraged from visiting a patient lying in a military hospital because of ther turban she wears. coskun complained, if the spouse of turkey’s head of government can be banished from an official institution under her husband’s command, it is moot to speak of any threats from “civilian fascism” (2) in that country.

in another, adjacent comment, coskun also wrote that being as closely affiliated with erdogan’s akp as possible “serves one to come forth in government contracts, coveted appointments, to rise to positions, to get on to the (prime minister’s) airplane (3), to be included in the nouveaux riche class and to become elected for offices”.

knowingly or unwittingly, the ex (or crypto?) islamist columnist painted identical triangles with the cold war and the civil cold war in turkey; between two separate and discreet domains where, seemingly. “the twain ne’er meet”.

to the civilized western mind. conditioned in organized, cartesian parameters, the unending chaotic, repetitive and grossly counterproductive struggle between turkey’s military and political élites may seem too complex. i do recall reading dispatches of foreign correspondents that still naively depicted the akp as a veteran of democracy and freedoms – even claudia roth thought so at one time, though she seems to have wisened up now.

it’s garfucius’s duty to clarify: in the third and a half world, where ordinary people and their government officials are unable to manage even traffic, the simplest social organization of the homo sapiens, democracy can not elevate to the status of a consumer good in high demand (4).

hence, the seemingly democratic or secularist skirmish is nothing more than an ice cold game of grab-their-power-do-not-relinquish-yours.

naturally, it is a lose-lose game… tayyib efendi,rosy and co. wish for an army at full abeyance to them and mainly, if not only them. the generals and their cohorts would love a government that upholds a 1920’s style étatisme, under military auspices, where the state controls everything, including the decisions of who will “come forth in government contracts, get appointed to favored posts, rise to positions, get on to the (prime minister’s) airplane, be included in the nouveaux riche class and be elected for office”.

even the “religious approach” the sides adopt is similar – only, tayyib efendi,rosy and co. favor a fervent pro-islamic parlance whereas the militarist – étatist clan affects a decorous, epic, kemalist-nationalist discourse.

and a real, working democracy, a true rule-by-law that actually will do away with the paranoid fears and anxieties as well as the vested privileges of both sides in our civil cold war, is still as far as a rainbow to walk under.

also, as unreachable as it is undesirable – in turkish folk lore, your sex will change if you walk under the rainbow. in case accidents occur – and in the third and a half world, they are prone to, it is safer to stick to whomever and wherever you are… after all, who wants to be a homo?

(1) chief proponent, robert cox; criticized – not so justly – for failing to explain why and how then, the wall fell; actually explained before 1989 by immanuel wallerstein with the global spread of the capitalist modern world system and the inability of the socialist bloc to keep up with its economic and (geo)cultural appeal.
(2) basically though, fascism is civilian in origin – both mussolini and hitler created their own loyalist armies. even franco’s falangistas can essentially be considered civilian militias. İt is more after the sprout of post-colonial states in the third world that the distinction between fascist militia and utterly militarist military juntas faded; with each and every bandung member going through or still suffering from authoritarian regimes. actually, i think the term, which apparently is gai,ning some permanence in our vocabulary, should be converted in english as civilian authoritarianism.
(3) to be able to fly with erdogan on his designated jet is indeed a door opener for business”men” on the rise and budding or established supplicants in the media.
(4) in the very early 1950s, the colossal research work “the authoriatarian personality” was swiftly swept under the carpet when it unearthed severely unpleasant fascistic traits in a good number of americans; including antisemitism. however, the study indicated that authoritarian or fascistic rule is not possible without a consenting public. just take a look at iran to see how true it is… and oh, please, the greens are fighting ahmadinajad extremism, not oppression in general by an islamist regime.
Posted by Galip at 4:27 AM 0 comments