Virtual gated communities

A friend of mine, Devrim, who grew up in Turkey, posted his mind dump during the aftermath of the recent failed coup. His thoughts struck me as spot on in describing our silo societies and tendencies to form our own virtual reality bubbles. I am posting him word for provocative word.

DevrimMy thoughts on the popular claim that the military coup attempt was fake; it was staged by the Turkish government to design suitable conditions for a political system change:

Chomsky once commented that in this so called information age we started to create – more than ever – political islands, where we use social media as primary information source and we rely on Twitter and Facebook feeds constituted by people whose opinions are similar to us. We do not want to be disturbed by the alien thoughts; we pursue harmonic havens. Contemporary news websites are also organized in a similar manner, it is becoming rare to see conflicting columnists/opinion builders within the same organizational frame. This is sure a part of bigger trend; we witness more and more examples of increasingly homogenous gated-communities; physically, socially, politically and virtually. These partial and multiple realities make a direct impact on how we ‘read’, interpret and experience major social and political events.

Yesterday I read in the social media that many people in Turkey claim it was the French State who was the mastermind behind the recent Nice attack, because they needed stronger reasons to expel all ‘migrant’ communities from the country. Similarly many claimed in Turkey that the government was behind the ISIS attack in Istanbul because they wanted to rule a country based on fear. The ‘alternative’ readings and interpretations of events, in our time, got a bolder ‘conspiracy’ tone, I argue, as a result of proliferated mentioned opinion and life-style enclaves. Some like to talk about Illuminati and New World Order, while some believe it is the Jews who rule the world, some truly argue without direct consent of White House nothing major thing can ever happen on Earth. However, for instance, when one reads cables revealed by Wikileaks couple of years ago, what is exposed was lame and mundane everyday politicians/state officers who were trying to make sense of what is going on around them, often enfolded beyond their control, understanding and their interference capability. The coin side of overstating the organizational and mental capacity of power-holders is, it encourages pacifism while fueling pessimism. Continuously depicting a world inspired by dystopias of fictions like Matrix and 1984 clearly blocks a possible imagination of a social change because it attributes supra-human abilities to the organizational organs of inequality.

When it comes to ‘readings’ of the unfortunate and horrible course of events last night, I recognize a similar pattern. Many claimed that, even in the ‘western’ mainstream media, it was a staged coup by the government, referred as mistakenly self-coup, to pave the way for Erdogan to fasten his grip on the country. Some others reminded that without USA’s consent no coup could be realized in Turkey so it was the White House who ordered the coup. Others believed it was UK who was orchestrated the turmoil. I consider we humans are much more mundane and we function in a much more colorless manner than what all these circulated meta-readings and conspiracy theories imply. I cannot imagine that Erdogan has Star Wars’ emperor-like organizational capacity to design and perform complex ‘scenes’ with bombings and fighting jets involved resulted in around 200 dead including members of the governing political party. I actually believe no-ever government has ever had such power. As far as I know from my history readings such things happened only in smaller scales under military governments for manipulation the public opinion. Actually we have had multiple similar failed military coup attempts in Turkey’s history, the most famous ones happened in 20 February 1962, led by Talat Aydemir, and in 9 March 1971, Cemal Madanoglu was the protagonist. They carried many common qualities with the attempt yesterday with seemingly amateur organization and their limited ground capacity. So it is not for the first time a clique in the military tried to take the control of the rest of the army to settle their rule in the country and eventually failed. In addition when we examine the high rank army officers detained today and last night, we see no ideological link to the government in any possible way. There is no solid evidence backing such claim, apart from pro-coup soldiers disorganization, limited capacity and Erdogan’s arrogance.

The official claim from the government side is coup attempters belonged to outlawed Gulenist movement, but no evidence has yet been presented on this issue either. I personally have a difficult time believing that Fetullah Gulen followers had that much power in the army. Nevertheless, the army in Turkey has long believed that they are the real owners of the land and it is their duty to interfere if politicians fail to defend some core Kemalist values, such as laicism, westernisation and nationalism. In other words the Turkish army has a specific institutional history augmented with repetitious practices. At the height of his 14 year-old rule, Erdogan has never suffered such a bad reputation in the ‘western’ world as today, and pro-coup soldiers might have thought that they could therefore enjoy ‘international’ support as was partly the case with Sisi in Egypt. One common thing among some of the high ranking commanders detained today is that they were reportedly expected to be retired this summer; it might to some extend explain the premature condition of the coup as well as its timing.

Luckily the coup was not successful this time, just like the majority of coup attempts in the relatively short history of Turkey. However it is obvious that Erdogan and the current government are the ‘winners’ of the night, they played the major role, with the help of their supporters and the police, in defending parliamentary democracy – as much Turkey has claim to it – against military rule. It is very likely that they will tighten their rule as an outcome, just like many commentators claim. I think, it would have been much better if opposition (both secularists and pro-Kurdish) was also protesting intensively last night against the attempted coup; so they could also claim a share from the democratic ‘victory’ and could hold a stronger position against future authoritarianization of the government.

At a time when instability has become the transnational norm, wars are tearing down existing social orders and people’s lives, unjust global order pushes war-survivors to richer countries to claim their share from the global wealth, organizations such as EU and USA are increasingly leaning towards xenophobia, isolation and mass manic-aggressive paranoia, the last thing we needed in Turkey was a military coup. Albeit the near future looks still dark.

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