Paranoia in the new Turkey

People – who run the risk of being thrown into prison any time on charges of trying to undermine our government – often say that our Supreme Leader has a lot of fear.

According to this, our Supreme Leader’s only motivation now, is fear. He is doing all that he does out of fear. For example, he is going after the academics who signed a peace declaration condemning atrocities perpetrated by the Turkish state in the southeast, because he is too fearful.

He is paranoid that even the most valued aide might one day turn against him. He is playing in his mind constantly a replay of the impending act of betrayal that might come from anyone at any time. All the sycophants and yes-men surrounding him, his slavish advisers, obedient deputies, servile bureaucrats, his businessmen cronies, even the closest members of his family…their unquestioning obedience..all these mean nothing to him. People say our Supreme Leader is being consumed by the paranoia that his Empire might collapse because of one traitor; that he is losing sleep at night fearing that just one man or woman can bring all of this down.

The same people claim his fears are not unfounded. Levent Gültekin, for example, recently wrote in an article he penned for the Turkish-language alternative news-site Diken that he knew that Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies tend to talk very differently behind closed doors than they do publicly. They are worried, deeply.

Gültekin appealed to AKP deputies to stop offering endless support to Turkey’s all-powerful leader:

I know what you think about where the country is headed; I know what words you speak behind closed doors; even if our people don’t.

When you are in the company of friends, you speak about the kind of disaster the country is being dragged into. You tell your close friends and family that ‘you can’t get any sleep at night.’”

But do they really? How does he know? If all this is true, then why are AKP deputies going on living this lie?

In the new Turkey, paranoia and fear are certainly not reserved for the mighty alone.. Understandably, critics have reasons to fear, such as potentially being locked behind bars, loss of jobs, lack of financial security..etc. But the new atmosphere is breeding a thick aura of distrust between ordinary people as well.

There are many questions, and not good ones, that we are compelled to ask daily.

If AKP deputies know that Turkey is being dragged into hell, then why are they doing this? Do the voters, AKP voters specifically, also know?

People speak of their conversations with pro-AKP cab drivers. Do these AKP supporters really mean what they say, or are they like the AKP deputies? “Now it is the people who are in power. This is why you don’t like the new regime,” they say. But do they believe it?

They are shutting down websites, cutting access, and more importantly, they are actually erasing things from the Internet, by force or by other means. They call this “on-line reputation management.” Could it possibly work? Do things just evaporate from people’s memories as well? Do people really not remember? Will they be able to destroy digital evidence of the voice recordings as well? Can reality really be this Orwellian; this convenient for power holders? Has it always been that way?

Surely, the boot-licking pro-government media; their columnists, since they are the ones who doctor most of the government’s policies to look good in newsbulletins printed on glossy paper, also know what’s going on. They must. We have an idea of how much they are paid.

It is impossible to guess who might be a government supporter in any public setting; and sadly now it is good to know. They are taking people away from their homes in the middle of the night for “insulting the president,” just for sharing a tweet. Can anyone on your Facebook friend list be a government snitch? Could something you share or say be used against you in a court one day?

When there is a fight on a public transportation vehicle, when somebody says something, it is hard to discern what they mean. Are they really talking about giving up that seat? Do they mean something else; something more political, a disguised show of ‘being on the side of the government’? If they are on the side of the new regime, do they really believe everything they are told, or are they just “faking it” like the AKP deputies?

A woman called into a very popular live show, the kind the dreamy masses like, to tell what’s going on in the Southeast; begged people to wake up. “Children shouldn’t die,” she said. The host agreed, on air. Later he had to apologize. Did all that really happen? Doesn’t everyone know what’s really going on? Prosecutors are now going after both the caller and the show host. Don’t they know how unreal all this is?

At the hairdresser.. Is the manicure girl one of them, or is she one of us? Surely, she can’t be not bothered by all of this. She said “I really like Germany.” What does that mean? Does she want to leave the country? She can’t be happy. Or is it a bait?

Who is a true believer? Who is a fake? Does it really matter if they all say the same thing? Would the true believers turn if the others spoke up one day? Is that Erdoğan’s worst fear?

Could it be that at least some of the voters, the sycophants, the Erdoğan-lovers really believe any of the egregiously obvious lies blaring from the TV? Of course not, it can’t be. They all have something in for them. Then so, why are we living in this manufactured bubble of never-ending government propaganda? Who is it for? If people know and still support the AKP, do we really need it?

Do they know something we don’t?

What could it be?

Author: E Baris Altintas

I am a journalist and a civil society professional. I can be reached at retinueeATgmail.com.

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