Sunday, 16 June 2013

How Erdogan Responds

It is highly likely that many of our foreign friends are wondering how the state authorities have responded to the protests in our country. Here is a rather outdated and less than comprehensive, yet enlightening article on how the Prime Minister of Turkey responds to various issues. We are aware that it is relatively long, but we suggest that you read the entire article as this is an accurate portrayal of how Erdogan responds to all issues at hand.

Translated by: Occupied Taksim

An Algorithm Shedding Light on How the Prime Minister Responds Ozan Tuzun, a blog writer critical of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attitude towards the Gezi Protests has written an entertaining article formulising the methods of reasoning employed by the Prime Minister.

Here it is:

Tayyip Erdogan has an algorithm which he resorts to when responding to any question. Apparently, he has perfected this pattern over the years. As a person who has studied communications I have attempted to analyse it.
This algorithm has several steps. If he has the time he employs all 8 steps, however, if his time is limited, then he settles for some of them (usually steps 1, 3 & 6).

In order to explain myself, I shall use an example. I will go back to Erdogan’s childhood and create a scenario where he has broken a vase at home.

*Tayyip is home alone. When his mother returns, she finds out that the vase has been shattered to pieces*

His mother: “Tayyip! Did you break the vase?!”
Step 1: Alter the way the committed mistake has been expressed, portray it as if it were something good.

-I did not break the vase. I have disassembled it and made the necessary rearrangements so that it can be reshaped.

Here are some real life example of this technique:

“We are not harming the trees. We are simply uprooting and transporting them.”

“I have not changed, I have improved myself.”

“We are not banning alcohol. We are merely regulating its use.”

Step 2: Convince people that you are the last person on earth who could possibly commit that crime/make that mistake.

- Why would I want to harm the vase? I too, am a vase. I am the epitome of a vase. When that vase was bought, it was I who carried it up four floors on my black. Look, I am giving you a specific number here, I carried that vase on my back for 98 steps. It was I who always suggested that we put the vase in our storeroom so that its colour would not fade from exposure to sunlight. I always covered it whenever we had company so that no one would be jealous of it, so that it was protected from coveting eyes. I am the number one supporter of that vase, why on earth would I want to harm it?

The following are examples of this technique:

“Why would we want to cut down trees? We have planted exactly 3 quadrillion tress.”

“Why would we put pressure on the judicial institutions? We are the ones who built the largest courthouses. No one, since the founding of this republic, has granted them such extensive possibilities as us.”

Step 3: Mitigate the importance of the issue in question, present it as if it were something normal. Go to the extent of claiming that what you have done up to this point is still lacking.

-I cannot understand why you are making such a big fuss about my rearrangement of the vase. The vase is an obsolete ornament, more commonly used in former communist countries. Take a look at America and England, can you see any vases over there? Do you see any vases in movies, or in modern homes? The vase is a baroque tool which can only be found in Ceaușescu’s Romania or the socialism stricken oblasts of the Ukraine. Does the vase have a place in our modern world? It most certainly does not. It is impossible to understand this reaction. I think that we should have rearranged the vase at a much earlier date. 

A real life example of this technique is as follows:

“We are not the only country regulating alcohol consumption. One would think that we were the ones who came up with this. Look at the Scandinavian countries, France, England… They have far more restrictions than us. Our regulations can be seen as a beginner’s stage in handling this problem.”

Step 4: Crush your opposition with your kindness and virtue. Tell them that you could have done it if you wanted to, but didn’t.

- You keep hurling these accusations at me, but you should know that I could have broken that vase 20 times over. I stay home every day, I am constantly alone with the vase. If I really had a hostile attitude towards said vase, then why didn’t I break it? It’s true that I could have broken, even destroyed, it if I wanted to. But I didn’t. Even though, personally, some of my opinions are different than those of the vase, I did not do such a thing. Because, I respect your opinions. I believe that people have a right to like the vase and I see this as a divine right. I do not like the vase because of the vase itself, I like it because of the Creator. I am the warrantor of vases in this house.

Real life examples of this technique are as follows:

Well actually this is not only used by Erdogan but the entire party. Recent examples are “During the Gezi events we could have closed the internet down, but we didn’t,” and Melih Gokcek’s [Mayor of Ankara] “we could have drowned you in our spit if we wanted to, but damn it, we believe in democracy.”

Step 5: Never leave a question unanswered. Respond with a “let’s assume what you’re saying is true” attitude. Appear to accept that what has been said is possible and that you are acting responsibly to counter it.

- Let’s assume what you’re telling me is true and that the vase has experienced the things you claim have happened. Does this mean that it is entirely my fault? A strong breeze, or the cat could just as likely have broken the vase. I have delivered the necessary orders to the neighbour’s kid Mustafa and he will carry out an investigation. He will do some research on the velocity of the wind yesterday and the behaviour of the cat, and the report to me. Should we come across any faults, then I will be the first to punish that cat, I shall be the first to fix those windows. I am aware of everything that’s going on. All my actions are for the peace and prosperity of our home.

Here is a real life example of this method:

“It is true that several complaints have been raised in regards to the excessive use of gas by the police during the Gezi Park events. I have given the necessary orders for an investigation on the aforementioned issue. If such a thing exists, it shall be investigated and the necessary procedures will be carried out accordingly. We cannot, and will not allow such a thing.”

Step 6: Question the sincerity of those posing the question.

-Now here is an important point which needs to be stressed. The vase in our living room is not the first vase in history to be rearranged. If you are so sentimental about vases then why didn’t you react when the neighbour’s child broke not one, but two of her vases? Where were you back then? Why didn’t you weep for aunt Ayşe’s plates which were broken while she was moving? What makes this vase different? Is it because it’s about me?  The vase is a mere excuse to attack me.

Real life examples of this technique are as follows:

“If you love trees so much, why weren’t you present when I strived to prevent the construction of a university in forested areas? Where were these crowds back then?”

“You constantly talk about freedom of the press. Where were you during the coup of 28th of February?” [Both are events from the late 90’s-O.T.]

Step 7: You are off the hook and have portrayed yourself in a positive light. Now use this advantage to attack your opponent.

-This kind of vase breaking is the sort of thing my brother Ali would do. He is the one who acts in this manner. Who broke the glass pane of the cupboard last year, who broke father’s record player with a soccer ball? Ali. Ali’s mentality is the kind of mentality which breaks vases. Let me tell you this, he is the one behind all this. You know, father will soon determine the amount of our allowances and Ali’s grades cannot compete with mine. That’s why he has come up with this plot to discredit me. But my father knows all about this, and knowing this gives me comfort. I always talk to my father.

The following is an example of this technique:

“These demonstrations, all this turmoil are the product of CHP mentality [referring to the main opposition party in parliament-O.T.] They are the ones behind all this. As you know, the elections are coming up and this is their preparatory plot. They are organising marginal groups and are trying to spread disorder with a handful of brigands. But we know our people very well. They know exactly what’s going on and display no support for such things. The people can see everything clearly.”

Step 8: The issue has been settled and the question has been answered. Conclude your speech while at its peak by praising yourself and your actions.

- Mother you must understand that I pay little to no attention to all this. I focus on my tasks. Look, during the past two years of my life as a middle school student, I have become the most hard-working child in my class. Everyone looks up to me, the parents of other children are telling their kids to be more like me. This is the situation I am in. I have an A in religion, an A in sports, and an A in math. This is our situation. I focus on my tasks, I focus on my grades. I am striving to be an exemplary child for my family. I am striving to carry our family to the state of a model family for this building and with the help of God, I shall continue my efforts.

Here are real life examples of this method:

“The economy is getting better in such and such ways, our debts to the IMF have decreased this much etc. etc.”

Apart from these 8 steps, there are various minor details sprinkled over the speech. I have filed a report for investigation and those in charge have analysed it.

Use the term “we” when mentioning positive developments. But in regards to negative ones, pay attention to referring to the names of institutions such as “the police, the state etc.”

When there is a positive development:

“We built a stadium for Galatasaray and gave it to them.”

“We built the world’s largest water fountain in Kayseri.”

When you do not wish to be associated with a certain event:

“The police may have used an excessive amount of gas.”

“The state has talks with Imrali, it has talks with everyone.”

When responding to a question or accusation, do not use your own principles. Instead, employ the principles of the accusers against them.

For instance,

“The constitution clearly says that the state must protect its people from alcohol and drugs. This task has been endowed upon me by the constitution, it’s not like I was not the one to write that article.”

When referring to people or institutions you do not wish to mention, pronounce their names differently. If you cannot do this, use different terms.

For example, don’t say Ataturk. Say Gazi Mustafa Kemal instead. Don’t say Ocalan, use Imrali as an alternative. Don’t say CHP, instead use “CHP mentality.”

When you want to pose a question requiring a long answer, ask as if it were a mere “yes or no question.” This will prevent those facing you from coming up with an actual reply. It will seem as if you are the one who is right.

For example, if you are giving a speech to a multitude of journalists, address one of them and say: “what do you think I should understand from these demonstrations, you tell me.”

Should anyone start a sentence with “X has said that you…” do not hesitate. Resort to ad hominem arguments.

An example, “If X adhered to democracy to that extent, why did it keep silent when this and that happened? What has Y done for the benefit of Japan? Their only intention is attacking us.”

Constantly praise your actions, but never yourself. Instead, portray yourself as an insignificant element.

For example, if you start a sentence by saying things like “this government has spearheaded the most important leap since the founding of the republic” or “we have created/built/organised the largest X of Turkey” continue with phrases such as “I am not your ruler, I am your servant.” For example, when talking about the city of Van, he managed to do both in a single statement: “With our investments we have rebuilt Van anew. Why do we do all this? Because we are mere servants, mere custodians. Not masters.”

Always portray your actions as if they serve a much broader perspective, a certain grandiose goal.

For example, come up with a law regulating the consumption of alcohol then say: “We must grant our children a horizon, direct them towards significant goals. We must raise a new generation of Mehmed the Conquerors, Mimar Sinans” or a more simple example, if you find yourself at the opening of a new highway junction declare, “our goal is to reach the year 2023.”

Refer to events from the past which you regard as mistakes in order further legitimise your point

Exaggerate both events to deepen the antagonism. For instance, say: “The used to force children to drink beer during breakfast whereas now, we are protecting our youth from the harmful effects of alcohol.”

Insinuate that you are aware of all that is going on, thereby leading people to act with the notion that all their actions are being monitored.

“We know full well the perpetrators of X,” or “We know who funded the Gezi Park declaration in NY Times” (while the names of all those who have donated money can be seen at indiegogo). Using precise numbers in your speeches also helps.

Always display your intentions as if they were reasonable. Always tie sentences together with the conjunctive “because.” The reason you present does not need to be important, it should merely serve to preventing people from asking “why?”

“We want to turn the Haydarpasa Train Station into a hotel, because the number of hotels in Istanbul is not sufficient.” It is important that you state your intention before your reason. Otherwise, the logical fallacy of your statement will become blatantly clear. “The number of hotels in Istanbul is insufficient, therefore we have decided to turn the Haydarpasa Train Station into a hotel.”

If you do not have a clear-cut reason for your actions, then you can say anything after a sentence beginning with “because.” For example: “We want to pedestrianize Taksim, because this is what the nation demands of us.”

These are the analyses of your humble servant up until now. Should I come up with any other remarkable points, I shall update this article.

Ozan Tuzun.