In the post modern world, politics like everything is an art. Hyper normalization of the power structures and the creation of post truth have dissolved the voice of people in general. And it at this juncture in history that we see the rise of totalitarian regimes, some of them essentially authoritarian or marring themselves as fake republics while others are outright totalitarian and out of bounds from the people. The quintessential republic – modern day Turkey is one that is slipping into a totalitarian form of government. Turkey’s example is one that says false liberalization and democratization can’t exist together. And on charting the growth of dominant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we demystify and draw parallels in the ways an establishment slips into totalitarian rule.
Promoting Thug like Followers.
Defacing an open society is never easier than sending out disillusioned youth with weapons to create fear in citizens. From black shirts in Italy to Brown shirts in Germany and to the very recent onslaughts by white supremacists in Trumps campaign; despots have used this winning strategy throughout history. In the failed military coup that happened last year President Erdogan urged his followers to take to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul to overthrow the military occupation. And with the support of his loyalists he was able to rise above the military occupation.
Extort a Terrifying Enemy.
The PKK (The Kurdistan Workers Party), ISIS, the followers of Fethullah Gulen and even the Turkish military are all the targets of President Erdogan and his regime.
Politics of Personality.
President Erdogan is often cited as a leader who exudes machismo in the public eye. The one minute heated exchange with Israel president in the World Economic Forum 2009 from where he walked off at the very end is often cited in this regard.
Right Wing and Hailing from Modest Background.
At the core of his appeal is his modest background which is relatable to the majority. He had earned money in his childhood by selling lemonade and pasta in a poor suburb of Istanbul. President Erdogan was also a member of the now – banned Islamist political party in Turkey – Refah Partisi or the Welfare Party.
Emphasizing Ultra Nationalism through a Common Language and Religious Symbols.
The Turkish leaders move to rollback the secular space in the nation by trying to replace the Ottoman language with Arabic alphabets in school and universities has garnered a lot of backlash and is seen in the larger picture as an attempt to revive the Ottoman glory.
Successfully Re-inventing a Religion for the Market.
Through the confluence of right wing thinkers and economists, President Erdogan and his political faction has been able to create a transition from political Islam to market Islam.
Resentment towards Media, Academicians and Critics.
Journalists in Turkey are at the most precarious spot in the world, in a list which India stands second. Academicians and journalists are imprisoned and censored under the regime as the President believes it is from academic circles and journalistic writings that another uprising may arise.
The illusion of freedom is what keeps us awake as a civilization. With every government that comes into power; we entrust them with the role of liberation. And in this age of power struggles we should ask ourselves if the freedom that our governments promise is really the choice we are looking for.