Monday, June 3, 2013

Turkey Digests Freedom

The people People of Turkey are protesting, fighting for their sweet freedoms and precious democracy.  The BBC provides the sobering testimony of a musician by the name of Gokhan Aya:
The struggle to preserve this park has become symbolic for people's desperate desire to have their voices heard. Every day we are getting further away from democracy and closer to autocracy with a prime minister who acts like a sultan. 
We are absolutely tired of shopping malls and turning of green areas and historic monuments into temples of commercialism. There's been a continuous attack on our lifestyle, our beliefs and freedoms and we are now reaching a turning point. 
Mr Erdogan has often been saying that he is not backing down. But this time I think people won't back down either.
For Gokhan, an early bloomer in Turkey's freedom-fighting business, the preservation of a park may once have served been the goal of this protest, but that excuse struggle is now only symbolic.  But symbols are indicative of goals - not goals themselves.  Now Gokhan protests because his prime minister acts like a sultan, which is not unlike punching your friend in the nose to reduce the pain he feels in his shin where the third member of your party just kicked him.  A goal, in other words, reflects an incentive - not a disincentive.

What, then, is the goal of this marvelous protest?  Gokhan continues:
The only exciting thing for me has been the unity among people from different social and religious backgrounds. This united front wasn't organised by anyone and it's great to see such solidarity between all parts of society.
Now, this is a matter of democracy and freedom and I hope this government comes out of its state of denial before there is more trouble.
Surely nobody desires more trouble!  Surely!  Unless, of course, you desire a bit of unity with other people - in which case all bets are off until the government comes out of its state of denial.  Denial of what, the curious reader inquires.  Since neither the BBC nor Gokhan clarified, perhaps Rousseau can shed a bit of light on this most delicate matter:
Liberty is a food easy to eat, but hard to digest; it takes very strong stomachs to stand it. I laugh at those debased peoples who, allowing themselves to be stirred up by rebels, dare to speak of liberty without having the slightest idea of its meaning, and who, with their hearts full of all the servile vices, imagine that, in order to be free, it is enough to be insubordinate. 
O proud and holy liberty! if those poor people could only know thee, if they realised at what a price thou art won and preserved; if they felt how much more austere are thy laws than the yoke of tyrants is heavy: their feeble souls, enslaved by passions that would have to be suppressed, would fear thee a hundred times more than slavery; they would flee from thee in terror, as from a burden threatening to crush them.
Perhaps the People of Turkey do imagine that, in order to be free, it is enough to be insubordinate, but certainly they are demonstrating that insubordination is the essence of democratic freedom.  Given the trajectory formally set for them in 1920, only ye of little faith would doubt that the People of Turkey have much more liberty to digest.

How confused the man - who with such flair expounded upon the high price of liberty - must have been to have also claimed with the forced, mechanical, and blind supposition of Enlightened logic untempered by prejudice:
In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body.  This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence.  In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimizes civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.
As liberated people in a democracy, the People of Turkey are exercising their general will by participating in the democratic process to defend their freedoms.  In other words, no longer dependent upon each other, the People of Turkey are protesting their autonomy by joining together in an experience of unity by making their voices heard.  And how many voices there are!  Of all different social and religious backgrounds, to boot.  And yet, were he alive, Rousseau could listen to them all and understand not a single one.

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