Notes from an unconscious a-s licker

speak the truthI don’t usually come out with a negative response to another blogger’s blog. We’re all in this for the fun, or the hobby, or the deep political convictions, or whatever, so I generally “LIKE” or, if possible, give some kind of positive, supportive comment to my co-word-pressers.

Somehow, though, I seem to have touched a raw nerve with one actual follower, to the extent that he took me to task on his blog – and when I responded, I thought, fairly moderately, I got this reply:

“If fear, given the current climate of repression in Turkey, is your reason for hiding behind a façade of obsequious fealty to the current President of Turkey and all that he and the AKP and the Muslim Brothers stand for, that may be excusable and perhaps even to be commended under the circumstances. After all, you live in Turkey and must go on making a living if you aren’t already retired, and if retired, don’t want to expose yourself to unnecessary harassment and bother.

“I suspect, however, that you are not God, and that like the rest of us, you are at the mercy of the education (read the “indoctrination”) that you have received and the content of media that you peruse, or the things reported directly to you by friends and acquaintances and even complete strangers.”

gandhigreatquoteWell, I’ve been accused of many things in my longish life – but never before of sycophantic adulation of authority figures. But there’s a first time for everything, I guess.

Back in NZ, in years gone by, standing as a candidate for a very anti-establishment political third party, my family was threatened and our house broken into, I assume to intimidate me.

I like to think I have retained a healthy disrespect for empty authority and political parties. At the same time, I give credit where credit is due – or how will the world ever get better?

The funny thing about this latest accusation, is most of the people I know in Istanbul are ardent haters of the AK Party Government, and outspoken critics of the president Mr Erdoğan. Interestingly, I don’t know anyone who has been imprisoned for their views, expressed verbally or via social media. I am not a paid lackey of the Turkish government, nor do I have anything much to gain by acknowledging their positive achievements. There are aspects of life in Turkey where I myself am outspoken in my criticism.

truth hurtsI am, however, here; have been for the best part of the past 22 years. I read widely, speak the language, and keep an eye on events here, and in the big world outside. If you’re interested in an alternative point-of-view on a fascinating, important and much-maligned country – WATCH THIS SPACE! 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Notes from an unconscious a-s licker

  1. Many people have been the subject of mud-slinging for taking strong positions on subjects surrounded by mystification or controversy. You aren’t the only one. Norman’s accusation of “fealty to the Muslim Brotherhood” is one of the stupidest things I ever heard in my life.

    • You have, of course, read the entire exchange between Alan and me, and can therefore confidently confirm the stupidity of my “accusation.” Good on you. I see the matter a bit differently, eh. And clearly, although Alan does link back to our conversation — you know, the link that you assiduously followed back to the entire exchange — he quotes, let us say and to put it mildly, somewhat selectively, eh.

      Alan wrote a piece in which he was rather approving of the Muslim Brother’s majority win in what he referred to as the first ever “genuinely” democratic election in Egypt.

      But when it was pointed out to him that his praise for the Egyptian Brothers might have been a tad misplaced, and that the 2011 election had actually been anything but democratic, and this by means of a series of uncontroversial facts adduced by Doctor Samir Amin and, so to speak, dumped right into Alan’s lap, he yet persisted in referring to that election as being “democratic.”

      So given that Alan appears to be unimpressed by and uninterested in information that is at variance with his claims of “fact” as they pertain to the 2011 election in Egypt, either he really is putting something on, that is to say, something like a protective façade that just happens to agree with Erdogan’s and the Muslim Brother’s party line, or he is ideologically blinkered or, to borrow your expression, plain old stupid. What other possibilities might there be, bluegreen2017. Perhaps I missed another one or two?

  2. Love the title. Just about did a spittake when I saw it. And that nerve of mine, Alan, well it’s still very raw and throbbing, you know. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to live it down.

    Oh, and right, there are no limits to what people can openly criticize in Turkey, as in America. Well, of course. And I don’t doubt that you yourself “don’t know anyone who has been imprisoned for their views, expressed verbally or via social media.” Others might beg to differ: 1656 people arrested in Turkey in 6 months for posts on social media

    • Ah, Norm! 248 people were killed on 15 July last year when soldiers attempting to overthrow their lawful government by military force, opened fire with live ammunition on unarmed Turkish citizens, and 2,196 were injured. There are undoubtedly thousands of people in this country of 80 million who supported that military action, and see it as desirable, given their inability to achieve their wishes through the ballot box. Surprisingly, Western media seem to consider those facts less newsworthy than police in Turkey occasionally using pepper gas to deal with violent protesters.

      Needless to say, people ihere are following with interest media coverage of the Spanish government’s response to demonstrations in Calalonia.

      • Right. And you know for certain that Erdogan and Co. had absolutely nothing at all to do with that attempted coup. Maybe they didn’t. That certainly is a real possibility, and in that case, what we are witnessing is a contest between two mafias, so to speak, so that regardless of the justifications and rationalizations proffered for the repression, it is from the standpoint of the population at large still illegitimate.

        And you keep insinuating that the ballot box under a capitalist regime is democracy. How can it be democracy when the entire process is under the sway of the autocratic control of the capitalist oligarchs and their corporations, commanding the greatest concentrations of wealth and, by implication, power and influence and public perception?

        Incidentally, have you ever heard of and researched <a href="Operation Gladio?" The simulation of unrest or terror (and not at all to suggest that unrest is never spontaneous and from the bottom up) is standard operating procedure for all military organizations around the planet, and especially of NATO affiliates. It is, so to speak, their stock-in-trade to nudge or deflect recalcitrant currents of public opinions in desired direction. You don’t really believe that Turkey’s capitalist power elites would never resort to such stratagems if they felt they had to, do you?

        But we digress from the original bone of contention, don’t we.

        We were talking about The Muslim Brothers in Egypt and their all so “democratic” ascension to power, and Samir Amin’s countervailing interpretation, on the bases of publicly ascertainable facts, of that actually undemocratic ascension to power, and of the ends trully served by the Brothers, that is to say, precisely akin to those that Brother Erdogan and Co. are completely committed to, economically speaking, ultra-liberal values, you know, austerity and privatization and the rampant exploitation of the masses so as to keep the rich unfathomably rich.

        Wasn’t that the thing that prompted my original reply to your reaction to the slandering of Qatar, that other stalwart promoter of democracy in the Middle East? I think it was. But you continue to evade the issue and now want to talk about the corruptions of the West.

        So in what sense do capitalist mafias, be they Turkish or Egyptian or of whatever nationality and religion, serve the interests of the majority, Alan? I’m not suggesting that nothing capitalists have ever done in history was progressive. They’ve achieved a great many things that by fighting tooth and nail people at large have been able to turn to their account. But in particular and to keep to the discussion I had imagined we were having, was the election of the Brothers in Egypt truly, as you contend, democratic?

      • “you know for certain that Erdogan and Co. had absolutely nothing at all to do with that attempted coup. Maybe they didn’t. That certainly is a real possibility, and in that case, what we are witnessing is a contest between two mafias, so to speak, so that regardless of the justifications and rationalizations proffered for the repression, it is from the standpoint of the population at large still illegitimate.”
        What on Earth does that mean, Norm?
        “How can [the ballot box] be democracy when the entire process is under the sway of the autocratic control of the capitalist oligarchs and their corporations, commanding the greatest concentrations of wealth and, by implication, power and influence and public perception?”
        Maybe so, but what’s the alternative? A successful military coup? Have one in Canada or the USA. Set an example to the world!
        The Muslim Brotherhood were at least trying to work through the “democratic” process rather than resorting to terrorism. What happened? they were tossed out by a US-sponsored military takeover.
        Sure I know about Gladio: a tool of the US/CIA/NATO for suppressing the left since WWII. Most of what is going on in the rest of the world has been a reaction to that. It is almost certain that they were behind the 4 successful military coups in Turkey from 1960-1997. Are you disappointed that the last one didn’t succeed?

  3. I think I smell a false dichotomy here – that the truth lies somewhere between your two positions here. There’s no doubt in my mind about the increasing repression in Turkey, Russia, China, the US and nearly everywhere else – in my mind the root cause being the gradual demise of global capitalist society. Historically as imperialists feel power slipping from their grasp, they ramp up the repression.

    That being said, I tend to agree with Alfred McCoy’s analysis of the US fighting (vs China) for control of the Eurasian landmass, which he outlines in In the Shadows of the American Century. With Turkey making moves to ally themselves with Russia and China, it seems perfectly logical the CIA would attempt a regime change coup. It’s also totally consistent with their past behavior. Now that the coup has failed, the next step is an assassination attempt on Erdogan.

    • There’s some truth in what you say. I am highly sceptical of all politicians, but I’ve adopted my position largely as a reaction to the outrageous black propaganda poured out by foreign sources, and mindlessly repeated by the “White Turk” community here. Also I have seen first hand the enormous improvements to life in Turkey over the past 20 years.

  4. Since I could not reply directly beneath your latest reply to me, I will place it here:

    You ask, Alan:

    “What on Earth does that mean, Norm?”

    This is giving you a great deal of difficulty, isn’t it? If Edgoan was complicit in the coup, then its obvious that the game he is playing is an assault against the whole of the Turkish people. But in your mind, if he wasn’t complicit in that coup, then he is an “innocent victim,” the target of Western Imperial aggression. This is, more or less, and as far as I can tell, the schema of your thinking on this issue.

    But if “capitalists,” who by intention and the structural imperatives capital, cannot possibly align their interests with those of the working class, even if they wanted to do so, and the political establishment of Turkey, whether Islamist or secular or whatever, is capitalist, AND IT IS, then the coup, however you want to dice it up, regardless of whom you want to side with, is between contending CAPITALIST FACTIONS, you know, oligarchies, or in the argot of the street, mafias. Capiche.

    “Maybe so, but what’s the alternative? A successful military coup?”

    No. Denounce it. Denounce it. Denounce it. Speak the truth about the reality and only the truth.

    Let me quote something to you that I wrote some time ago in reply to something a friend had me read, so that you have a better sense of where I’m coming from and so that I can save myself a bit of time, and so that you get at least a more exact fix on where Marxists stand on the issue of “violent revolution:”

    Quote begins:

    Not entirely sure what to make of the article. It’s a hodgepodge of ideas and insights being served up on the run, so to speak, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t interesting. The focus of the article seems to be the tension between the trance like prison of ideology and the impulse to revolution. This, roughly speaking, is how I see that tension:

    Epochs are times of stability, when a social order — however unjust or just, repressive or lax — is more or less persistent over a period of time, when social roles are more or less clearly defined and the majority of people adhere to their assigned duties and accept, if not always in gratitude but grudgingly, the rewards deemed to be their due by the norms of the dominant ethos of their society. Epochs, in other words, are the historical periods in which ideological conformity, and not critical dissent, is the rule.

    When the system begins to break down, when large numbers of people begin to suffer acutely from not having their basic needs and expectations satisfied in customary ways, the end of the epoch draws nigh, people begin to be shaken out of their ideological trance, to wonder about what the fuck is going on. They notice that between the promises being preached by the elect from on high and the paltriness of the miracles being realized on the ground, there is a painful discrepancy if not a chasm.

    When the people begin to suffer en mass and the suffering becomes sufficiently intolerable, that is the time of possible mass upheavals, and there is no telling how turbulent the coming storm might be or what it may leave in its aftermath.

    The aftermath will certainly be a new order, a new epoch dominated by a new ideology, the mindset or culture of whoever will then comprise the new ruling class. This mindset will most certainly and in many ways resemble the dominant mindset(s) of what went before: it will be reactionary or progressive on the basis of what was because nothing in the evolution of culture or modes of life ever emerges into the light of day that isn’t largely a variation of what went before.

    Therefore, the likelihood of a socialist aftermath will depend upon how far and wide the ideals of socialism will have been disseminated before the upheaval happens. You cannot make a revolution; but a revolution can to some degree be co-opted. That is the most that progressives can hope for.

    To my mind, if the aftermath of the next upheaval turns out to be a step forward rather than backward, industry will be geared more to the satisfaction of human needs; and the pursuit of technological advances to enhance productivity — rather than being motivated as it is now by a mindless drive to pad and monopolize profit margins — will be used to drastically reduce the workday for everyone.

    Everyone talks about freedom, but no one really says what in fact it is in concrete terms: it is leisure.

    That society which maximizes ‘personal leisure time’ for the citizen, also thereby maximizes the ‘individual freedom’ of the citizen. The more you have to work, the more you have to attend to the needs of others, the more hemmed in you are by ‘necessity,’ then the less ‘freedom’ you possess as an individual.

    A society that truly prizes the individual and his freedom will try in so far as it can to increase for all its citizens in as equitable a fashion as possible a maximum of leisure time, to create the ‘space’ in which each person, unharried by the hurly-burly of making ends meet, can explore and discover, alone or in company, the joy of engaging in self-selected and self-directed pursuits.

    Technology reduces work-time and the drudgery of work, and that should be its only socially useful and redeeming purpose.

    If someone asked me what I had in mind when I speak of my hope for a socialist future, this would be the outline of my answer.

    Quote ends.

    The point is, revolutions are not made. THEY HAPPEN. And they only happen when people break. But if you want something hopefully more progressive out of the explosion, you must, so to speak, prepare the ideological ground beforehand, and the way you do so, is to develop as accurate an understand of the situation as you can, and to disseminate that far and wide. A correct understanding of reality will of itself prescribe to people what it is that they need to do under their circumstances to change them for the better, that is, if and only if they actually have a decent grasp of their circumstances.

    • OK, sorry, Norm – I was bit slow on the uptake. I think I’ve got it now. I guess there are a lot of things we agree on, and probably a few things we never will. At least we agree on who the enemy is/are (well, I think we do).

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