The things you own end up owning you.

The Machiavellian Mentality of the Turkish Ruling Elites

First of all we have to clarify what we mean of the Machiavellian mentality. This is an ideal type used by Michael Foucault smybolising a state/society complex which is ruled by an extra-territorial monarch. This mentality, can be taken as a complete rule from above, because the ruler is the head of the masses and his decision is the divine one. This mentality is in the Turkish version can be named as the Sultanist mentality. Accordingly, mixed up with patrimonial images, the sultanist mentality builds itself upon the judgement of the ruler. This can be seen in the family level, the all mighty father figure, and it is projected to all other segments of the society which nevertheless sustains the durability of the system itself.

An example will clarify the mentality. Accordinlgy, the Turkish media touches the topic of informal meetings between all segments of the society during the last years in order to organise a plan to counter the rising AKP threat. It was aimed to bring centre-right and centre-left parties together in a bloc and to stop the AKP’s rise. The ‘Republic demonstrations’, the organisation of civil society and grass-roots organisations was a part of these schemes. The Machiavellian mentality shines in the midst of these developments. It clearly illustrates the Turkish elite’s perception of democracy. It is Machiavellian in the sense that, it takes the “people” the very ground of the state/society complex as givens. They are just there, manipulative masses, with no inner coherence or idea. This mode of politics is as a logical consequence one from above, and social engeneering motivated.

The success of the AKP lays int he different usage of the Machiavellian model. By stressing the organic ties to the civil society, the images of virtue and brotherhood, and most importantly by having a leader which comes from the debths of the counter-current to the ancient version we tried to explain above. However, this is also the AKP’s shortback. Mr. Erdogan’s Sultanist image and his single-handedly organising of the Preisdential debate is one example. His attitude of keeping quite till the end and as he announced taking the decision solely alone illustrates this Sultanist mentality.

It at the end cuts its contacts with the roots by delegating power solely to the leader. This is nevertheless the reason of the end of the age of the Machiavellian politics. In Turkey a Lockean version lacks and it also illustrates the lack of participant democracy but th existence of a polyarchic one.


July 16, 2008 - Posted by | Turkish daily, Turkish Politics

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