I am in the Norwegian capital for the Oslo Freedom Forum, a brilliant initiative that that brings together the liberal activists and intellectuals of the world. There are heroes who dared to defy the North Korean dystopia, the tyrannies of the Arab world, or the dictatorships in Russia, Gabon or Serbia. It is a great place to learn more about the struggles for freedom by those who genuinely believe in freedom.
Back in Turkey, meanwhile, a new government is being formed. Honestly, I am not terribly interested in it.
For I know it will give Turkey simply more of what we have been given in the past five years: One-man rule and the unquestioned, unchallenged leadership of one single individual who sits at the top of a colossal hierarchical pyramid.
It is such a hierarchy that it purges everyone who does not show full and resolute obedience to the great leader, even if they happen to be the very founders and veterans of the ruling party. You probably already know this, seeing what has happened to key figures of the ruling party such Abdullah Gül, Bülent Arınç, and, most lately, Ahmet Davutoğlu. I also know it thanks to certain rumors I hear from Ankara and Twitter feeds I follow on the web. On one of the latter, for example, which is widely believed to be a good source of insider information, I read yesterday: “The cabinet was prepared days ago. It was a list cleansed of all the names close to Gül and Davutoğlu.”
Wow. The hierarchy not only purges Gül and Davuoğlu, as you can see, but also “names close to them.” For they have hurt themselves by showing loyalty to these key names in the party, whose loyalty to the great leader proved insufficient. So now, they find themselves on the side, no matter how successful, how efficient they may have been in their jobs. For such qualities are only secondary to the most important quality: Being 100 percent (not even 99 percent) obedient to the great leader.
This culture – or cult – of the great leader was quite visible also in the party congress last week where the ruling party announced its new chair. But the new chair was just a chair, not “the leader,” and everybody, including himself, made sure to emphasize this fact. That is why the thousands of people who sat nonchalantly in their seats throughout the congress all stood up, suddenly, at a special moment – when the message of the great leader was recited out loud.
One of the sympathizers of the ruling party thought that this was even a bit too much. “We sit even when the Qur’an, the message of the Creator, is recited,” she wrote on Twitter. She did not elaborate as to which problem she was alluding to, but it was obvious. It was probably also obvious to the army of trolls that monitor social media on behalf of the great leader and decide who is loyal enough to be favored by the party. I am sure she got a minus.
These are the things that make me unenthusiastic about the new government. I wish the best for it, for sure, including the new prime minister who, at the very least, seems to have the rare quality to smile at people and crack jokes. But I will not kill myself to see who gets which ministry and what their vision is. For whoever comes to any position of power, I know who will actually be ruling Turkey, from the most macro- to the most micro-level management: The great leader – who would actually have done all of us, including himself, a great favor, if he did not aspire to be this great.