We can distinguish two types of fascism: First one is built from the top down. The most typical cases of this typology are military coups d’etat, where the military grabs the state power, declares a state of siege and begind to govern the country by a national security council by issuing orders and decrees.
The weakness of this kind of fascism is that it has difficulty in penetrating deeply into the society and in building a comprehensive hegemony within the popular classes by means of a strong mass basis, an organic ideology and an organic intelligentsia.
The second type of fascism is built from the bottom up, as is well known in the cases of Nazis in Germany and Mussolini regime in Italy. This kind of fascism is more dangerous because it is able to create mass mobilization. It gets its own paramilitary forces to intimidate the dissidents. This kind fascism benefits from an active support of some factions of the capitalist class. It gets its own cadres who are able to control crucial positions in the state machinery and particularly a propaganda machine, including a large mass media.
In Turkey, what we are experiencing since 2011 is a fascist regime more similar to the second type.
Why in a country where three military coups d’etat have taken place in the last 55 years, is it that we are now facing the second kind of fascism? What are the root causes of this novelty?
The rising to power 13 years ago of the governing party AKP and its leader Tayyip Erdoğan, now president of Republic gave a great opportunity to the conservative bourgeoisie of rural Turkey which was largely excluded from the big business and finance since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Over time this bourgeoisie has grown thanks to public tenders of billions dollars that the AKP governments reserved for them. These newly developed Islamist capitalists also took hold in mass media thanks to the opportunities created by the government.
There came a historical moment where Erdoğan and his party succeeded in overcoming the overt domination of the military in the political area, thanks to the European Union (EU) accession process. Once the attempts of coup d’etat by a certain wing of the military during mid-2000 have been defeated (because there was not sufficient U.S. support for a military regime), AKP was able seize the opportunity to consolidate its power by winning election after election with a high margin.
Thus around 2010-11, AKP built an oligarchic power consisting of its own political cadres and a new Islamist capitalist class arose with the capacity to almost control the distribution of wealth in the country and therefore had a strong need to secure its position. As every oligarchic power, this one could not lose the governing power by means of which it has grown and the only way to guarantee perpetual power was to gain control over the state machinery by an agreement with the military, the other perpetual owner of the state throughout modern Turkish history.
So AKP began to take over the civilian wing of the state machinery and attempted to be “the state itself.” All important branches of the state bureaucracy came one by one under the control of AKP: the judiciary (for example the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK] which has the power to appoint members of the Court of Appeal, Service, the Council of State and the Supreme Court), the National Intelligence Service (MIT), the high boards regulating and supervising the educational system and universities, the banking system, the energy market, the health care system, the national TV and radio broadcasting, the National News Agency and so on.
While seizing the control of nearly all of the state machinery except the military and taking great material advantage due this dominance, AKP and its leadership became inevitably the guardians of the “red lines” of the Turkish state. In this way they pursued increasingly hostile policies against the Kurdish population, the Alawites and other minorities.
However as Turkey does not consist only of the nationalistic-conservative constituencies voting for AKP and the Islamist capitalist class, the rest of the population have found themselves in a natural alliance: the secular middle classes who felt that their way of living was under Islamic threat, the Kurds and the Kurdish Movement who noticed that they were facing with the same racist oppressions but this time painted in Islamist colors, the Alawites who have been massacred several times in recent history by some nationalistic-Islamist mobs, and the traditional secular bourgeoisie who don’t want to be intimidated by the government and make concessions of its political and economic power.
This is fascism…
When a society is sharply divided vertically and various segments of the population with very different and sometimes conflicting interests struggle in a necessary alliance to survive and regain their spheres of influences against an oligarchic power which is backed by the military and which controls the distribution channels of wealth, the judiciary and all other oppression mechanisms, it means that we’re facing a fascism of the second type.
So I think that with the help of this framework, the readers may better understand a series of events we have recently witnessed in Turkey:
Recently many journalists, humorists, columnists who have dared to criticize Erdoğan have been prosecuted, put on trial for insulting to the President of Republic or for “terrorist propaganda.” Some of them have been already sentenced to prison. In some cases dissidents who have tweeted statements critical of Erdoğan and the government’s policies have faced prosecutions.
Members of AKP youth branch lead by a AKP member of parliament have on two occasions raided a newspaper and TV channel building, broken the glasses and threatened the editors and columnists without any serious police intervention. The media center targeted by the mob is part of big media corporation critical of the government and covertly backed by the biggest Turkish industrialist group belonging to the secular capitalist class.
Police raided a university in Kayseri and detained among others Memduh Boydak, member of the board of trustees of the university. The detained were charged with helping to a rival Islamist organization, a big opponent of Erdoğan and AKP. Boydak is the CEO and owner of a big furniture and energy corporation, namely Boydak Corporation. Seven subsidiary companies of the Boydak corporation are among the 500 biggest manufacturing companies in Turkey.
A Kurdish town, “Cizre”, with 120,000 inhabitants in southeastern Turkey has been surrounded for several weeks by thousands of specially trained soldiers and police forces. The mayors of the town and representatives of many local NGO declared “democratic autonomy” about one month ago. They stated that they didn’t want to be governed by the state authorities controlled by AKP government. The local youth attempted to prevent the entry of security forces by digging trenches and defended the town with petrol bombs and other light arms. The local state administrator declared a curfew for nine days and cut the electricity and water supply, phone and internet connections. When the curfew has been lifted we learned that 20 Kurdish civilians had been killed by the fire of the security forces.
During these days Cizre has been a little Gaza.