Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is Erdoğan a moron?

Pace Auden, it is not only dictators who talk 'elderly nonsense'.  Take Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

I'm sure people remember that Erdoğan's response to the Taksim uprising consisted, to a significant degree, of futile sabre rattling about the menace of Twitter.  And, almost as if he were a dictator, the cops soon began to arrest people who use social media to spread 'untrue information'.  

But that is hardly to begin exhausting the idiocy of Erdoğan s gyrations during that inspiring moment.  Drunks, terrorists - everyone but the government, and everything but government policy and state repression backing it up, had caused Taksim.

Earlier this week, a boy who died of serious head injuries sustained from police violence during the Taksim movement was described by Erdoğan as having 'links to terrorism':  

"This kid with steel marbles in his pockets, with a slingshot in his hand, his face covered with a scarf, who had been taken up into terror organisations, was unfortunately subjected to pepper gas," he said in the speech broadcast on state TV.

Now the government has followed up by literally shutting down Twitter.  Why?  Because he is threatened by a robot army.  Or because, to put it another way, leaked phone calls between himself and his son show him advising the youngster about how to dispose of large amounts of cash in order to avoid suspicion in a corruption investigation.  Now, there's an interesting question about how such a recording was made and then distributed via the internet, which presumably has to do with the many enemies he has created while refashioning the state apparatuses along AKP lines.  But he's actually blaming Twitter for this scandal.

So is he a moron?  I am well aware of the dangers of posing the question in this way.  One should always respect one's enemy.  One should look for the intelligence in their strategy.  One should avoid stupid liberal personality politics.  And clearly, the extraordinary, contemptuous authoritarianism that constitutes Erdoğan's particular arguably stupidity in these cases has some sort of social basis.  Nevertheless, the question is for real: can Erdogan's moves be interpreted as anything other than pathologically stupid?

Answers below, please.