Tag Archives: Turkey

The narrowing difference between ‘freedom’ and imprisonment

Can you imagine the things honest Turkish journalists go through, if this is what happens to a foreign journalist based in Turkey? 
http://www.wsj.com/articles/detained-in-turkey-a-journal-reporters-story-1483721224

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Kleptocracy

1. A corrupt governmental body made up of thieves, also sullied by nepotism.
“The current government is a perfect example of a kleptocracy.”
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Is Political Propaganda Morally Justifiable?

I recently wrote this essay for my philosophy class. It was for one of my final marks in philosophy and represents a large part of my philosophy grade. We each got to choose our subject and this is one in which I take a personal interest (as you will see when I start talking about PM Erdogan who is the corrupt leader of my home country). I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to leave a comment. 

Is Political Propaganda Morally Justifiable?

By definition, propaganda consists of the planned use of any form of public or mass-produced communication designed to affect the minds and emotions of a given group for a specific purpose, whether military, economic, or political. In today’s society, the word “propaganda” has many negative connotations as people often associate it with dishonesty. This is mainly due to things such as allegedly independent radio commentators taking money to spout the government line, fake news reports being produced and distributed to promote partisan agenda and journalists abandoning neutrality and objectivity to become cheerleaders for a political doctrine. The nature of “truth” and how words disclose a “reality” are issues of critical importance in today’s world which is full of propaganda. As the modern world has shown us, anyone can call a lie a truth: an aggressive and unnecessary war can be defined as a struggle against terrorism; a con-man can be seen as a great leader; and fascism can be disguised and promoted. Propaganda is all around us. But is cheating the masses through propaganda morally justifiable? Throughout the years, many political philosophers such as Plato, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Karl Marx, have sought to theoretically build a perfectly functioning society in which certain forms of propaganda would be both necessary and accepted in order to maintain harmony in the state.

In Plato’s Republic, Plato presents the Noble Lie in a tale wherein Socrates speaks of a socially stratified society. He explains his belief that the best city would have three distinct classes: Rulers, Soldiers and Workers. The Rulers, he said, would be chosen from the military elite because of their ability to care for the interest of the community; the Soldiers are essentially Rulers in training and the Workers form the lowest class of the society. In order for the society to maintain this order, the three classes need to be educated to perform their respective jobs without aspiring to become anything more than what they are in the interest of their society. Thus, Socrates explains that the Rulers must tell the people of the city a Noble Lie. He says, “‘All of you in the city are certainly brothers,’ we shall say to them in telling the tale, ‘but the god, in fashioning those you who are competent to rule, mixed gold in at their birth; this is why they are most honored; in auxiliaries, silver; and iron and bronze in the farmers and other craftsmen.  So, because you’re all related, although for the most part you’ll produce offspring like yourselves, it sometimes happens that a silver child will be born from a golden parent, a golden child from a silver parent, and similarly all the others from each other.  Hence the god commands the rulers first and foremost to be of nothing such good guardians and to keep over nothing so careful a watch as the children, seeing which of these metals is mixed in their souls.  And, if a child of theirs should be born with an admixture of bronze or iron, by no manner or means are they to take pity on it, but shall assign the proper value of its nature and thrust it out among the craftsmen or the farmers; and again, if from these men one should naturally grow who has an admixture of gold or silver, they will honor such ones and lead them up, some to the guardian group, others to the auxiliary, believing that there is an oracle that the city will be destroyed when an iron or bronze man is its guardian.’”[1]Thus everyone’s place in society will be dictated and maintained from birth. Plato would argue that this lie is necessary in order to keep a stable social structure and indeed, the Noble Lie can be considered as a form of propaganda.

Plato’s conception of a socially standardized society has many advantages. The Noble Lie prevents the formation of a corrupt society. Since the “Phoenician tale”[2] discourages any upward mobility, corruption is avoided. The rulers cannot use their status to make business deals, as many people in a position of power do today. Socrates emphasizes that the Rulers should never own any private property or be in possession of any excessive material wealth. He asserts that this will be maintained through another Lie: “always have gold and silver of a divine sort in their souls as a gift from the gods and so have no further need of human gold. Indeed we’ll tell them that it’s impious for them to defile this divine Gold by any admixture of such profane gold.”[3]  Thus the Rulers cannot use their power for any kind of personal gain. Furthermore the Lie convinces the masses that the class system is fair by explaining that some people are simply born “Bronze” and some people are simply born “Gold” and that if you are born with a Gold soul to Bronze parents, then the state will recognize this and move you up to Soldier training.

Thus, Plato justifies propaganda on the grounds that it is solely controlled by the Rulers (the philosopher kings), who have no personal gain from lying to the citizens. He believes this is the sole way to create a good, functioning society as some people are simply incapable of judging what is both in their own best interest and society’s best interest.  Ultimately, whether or not the Noble Lie, or any form of propaganda is a successful philosophy depends on whether the ends justify the means. If the truth is not always beneficial and if falsehood is not always detrimental then it stands to reason that in a moral setting in which the ends do justify the means, it is obligatory to lie. In a moral setting in which the means are more important than the ends, such that it is imperative to always tell the truth even though it might lead to a bad outcome (as in Kantian ethics), then Noble Lies are not permissible. In Plato’s Republic, the ends do justify the means, thus the Noble Lie is morally justifiable. However, it seems highly unlikely for such a society to be able to function on these grounds today. History has shown that humanity has a predisposition towards upward mobility, thus it seems highly improbable for the Republic to maintain itself with its people remaining within their boundaries. The Noble Lie would only serve as a temporary fix in our ever-prospering and developing, money-thirsty society.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) was a social contract theorist who lived and wrote during what was arguably the most overwhelming period in the intellectual history of modern France: the Enlightenment. Like Plato, Rousseau would agree with the idea that the perfect society ought to be administered by an impartial ruler who cannot use their power for personal gain. Furthermore, Rousseau believed that prior to private property people lived solitary, uncomplicated lives, their few needs being satisfied by nature. He called this the State of Nature: a state in which the abundance of nature and the small size of the population prevented competition, conflict and fear. With the arrival of private property, he argued that society became more complex, divisions of labour were introduced and most importantly the state became characterized by greed, competition, vanity, inequality and vice. According to Rousseau, eventually, those in possession of property became aware that creating a government would be in their interest as it would allow them to protect their property.  Thus a government, which claims to be egalitarian but is in fact in favour of the proprietors, is established.

Rousseau views the formation of this state as responsible for the conflicts and competitions we face in our world today. Hence Rousseau proposed The Social Contract (1762), which begins, “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains”[4]. Since a return to the State of Nature is not feasible, Rousseau proposes The Social Contract in which the purpose of politics is to restore our freedom, thereby reconciling who we truly are. Rousseau’s belief was such that “all men are made by nature to be equals, therefore no one has a natural right to govern others, and therefore the only justified authority that is generated out of agreements or covenants.” Collectivity is key to Rousseau’s philosophy. Thus Rousseau believes that the sovereign must be a formation of free and equal persons come who have come together and agreed to create themselves anew as a singly body, directed to the good of all considered together: The General Will. However, for this society to function there are two fundamental necessities: the sovereign must be committed to the good of the individuals who constitute it, and each individual must likewise be committed to the good of the whole society. Given this, each person must conform to the General Will; as Rousseau says, they must be “forced to be free”[5].

Therefore, despite that Rousseau himself is pro-democracy, the General Will cannot be employed democratically. In order for Rousseau’s society to function, everyone needs to take part and trust the General Will for both the individual and collective interest. In pursuance of the Social Contract, Rousseau would most likely suggest implementing different forms of propaganda in order for the contract to be installed. Thus, propaganda can only be used in favour of the General Will. This renders Rousseau’s political philosophy is rather paradoxical. Indeed, there is no bigger contradiction than being “forced to be free”. However, ultimately, he argues that it will result in a healthier society in which each man is free and equal, and thereby he morally justifies propaganda.

Both Rousseau’s General Will and Plato’s Noble Lie have of one fundamental danger: they place the rule in the hands of one sovereign. To this day, many leaders have demonstrated how, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and this threat is true for Plato and Rousseau’s societies too.

In our world today propaganda is not used in the proposed ways by Plato and Rousseau and is definitely not used in favour of society. Throughout history we have witnessed numerous occasions in which the abuse of propaganda has led to grave consequences for a state. Propaganda is a very powerful tool which eludes the truth and brainwashes the masses through language. This is especially threatening for a society consisting of an ignorant populace since language is directly linked to intellect. Politicians and propagandists, such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkish Prime Minister since 2003) for example, give the false name of democracy to the form of government in Turkey, with a clear intention of deceiving the masses. In response to this Plato would put forward that there are names and actions with a fixed nature: a name is an instrument for separating one kind of reality from another, a horse from a human for example. Thus, although Turkey is definitely not a democracy, by ruling under the false name of a democracy, Erdogan is still referring to the same objective realities. False and deceptive names are used by leaders globally in order to fool the populace into believed they are referring to a reality, when in fact, they are not. Indeed, dialogue would not really be possible with any politician today, as they have no commitment to an objective truth and are simply driven by their own personal goals. Ultimately, it is possible for a society, such as the Turkish society which is largely plagued by a weak educational system, to become so intellectually dazed and misled that people lose the ability to comprehend reality.

Overall, the moral justifiability of political propaganda depends largely on whether the ends justify the means. On a global scale, most politicians, like Erdogan, use propaganda for self-gain. Since all leaders are only human, they will have flaws like any other. Moreover, politicians have ideological biases and will inevitably alienate some of the population. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a ruler can remain pure and impartial during the course of the reign as well as objectively and universally judging whether the means they use are in line with the greater good. Reflecting back to 2003 when Prime Minister Erdogan was first elected, we can see how he has evolved and progressed as his charisma and cult of personality has grown. This exemplifies how power corrupts, especially over time, as the ruler gains more and more confidence and enjoys more and more of the luxuries of being at the top of an entire country. Thus, it may be that Plato and Rousseau’s political philosophies are too ambitious in that there is no such thing as an impartial ruler and healthy propaganda. Although there are specific cases in which Rousseau, Mill and many other philosophers justify the use of propaganda, it will always be used to manipulate the masses as there is no omniscient, impartial ruler who will look out for the greater good of a population in existence.

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

 

[1] Plato, Republic, (circa 360 B.C.) http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~ras2777/relpol/noblelie.htm

[2] Plato, Republic, (circa 360 B.C.) http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~ras2777/relpol/noblelie.htm

[3] Plato, Republic, (cira 360 B.C.)   http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~ras2777/relpol/noblelie.htm

[4] Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762

[5] Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762

 

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Summer so far…

Finally a healthy internet connection! I left my comfy home in Brussels less than two weeks ago thinking, this summer I can use my time to do some blogging. I arrived in Turkey and found that the telecommunications company decided to cancel our subscription to the internet because of some stupid mistake they made. It took numerous painfully annoying phone calls to not solve the problem and a trip to buy a usb which gives you internet access anywhere you want. Result!

It hasn’t been much of a rest so far. There’s been a lot of fixing up and cleaning out in my summer house and there’s been at least one repair guy/delivery guy at the house every day since our arrival. My mind has not really cleared up yet. It still feels like a bit of a war zone in there, but it needs to recover soon as I have a lot of serious reading to do… I’m talking Conrad books, personal statement drafts and an extended essay. Just the thought of it all stresses me out.

I went to the beach for the first time today which was nice until I thought I was dying because it was so hot. I did catch an okay tan though 🙂 I hope everyone is having a sunny and maybe slightly more relaxing summer than I am. I’ll keep everyone posted; or at least I’ll try…

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Aloha Summer.

Having finished my exams and come to an end of another school year, I think it’s appropriate to give summer a proper welcome.
It’s been two days now since I’ve had no real commitments and no studying to do but it sort of just feels like it’s a weekend. I’m hoping I don’t wake up at 7am tomorrow and start getting ready for school.

As far as my summer plans go, I haven’t really got any. Next week today I’ll be getting ready to enjoy myself at Rock Werchter (a music festival, here in Belgium). I’m praying that the weather will be nice, because right now it is miserable. After for smelly days in a tent at an amazing festival, I’ll stick around in Brussels for a week or so then fly off to Turkey, as per usual.

I can’t decide whether to look forward to it or not. All I really want to do is sit by the poolside in my bikini with a book and enjoy the sun endlessly. I have a pretty large pile of books to read and I’m hoping to reach the end of it by the end of August. ‘The end of August’, that sounds so far, but so near. I fear that summer will pass all too quickly, just as this school year did and pretty soon I’ll be back to my daily routine and starting my final year at school. That gives me the shivers. In a year from now, I’ll be finishing up my baccalaureate and getting ready for a brand new life. I look forward to it all, but it just scares me so much! There’s so much I don’t know. But I better not dwell on it now… I’m sure there will be dozens of posts related to my fear of the future as of next September. Let’s get back to summer.

So, the weather is miserable in Brussels, but I’m looking forward to long summer days and sunny beaches (as well as lots and lots of reading) in Turkey. I can’t wait to go to my summer house and enjoy waking up to the sound of the soft breeze brushing through the leaves of the willow trees, then falling asleep beneath the stars to the music of cicadas! I can take out my bike and cycle to the nearby village… pick some fresh summer vegetables from the gardens and just enjoy every bit of nature that is inaccessible in a city like Brussels. I’m also hoping to switch my creativity on, and maybe get writing a little bit. I feel like I’m only capable of formulating sentences that actually make sense when I’m away from the stress of school and homework. Just thinking about it makes me feel relaxed. Summer 2013 had better live up to my expectations because it’s practically my last before university!

I’ll keep you all updated with what I am up to, where I’m at and how things are going. Hopefully, I’ll be posting more songs of the week and getting back on track with my not-a-journal. Expect a post upon my return from the festival and perhaps a couple more in between. I hope your summers will be as wonderful.

ALOHA SUMMER 2013 🙂 

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Image

Sadly, there have been some terrible events going on in Turkey. When citizens of Istanbul were peacefully protesting the demolishment of a very popular and old park, Gezi Parki, in Istanbul, near Taksim the police got violent and the media remained silent. While war was breaking out between the citizens and the policemen, the media was still streaming series and shows. People in their homes in Turkey tried to cooperate with protesters via Facebook and Twitter sharing WiFi passwords so that everyone can remain in touch with each other. The government was blocking phone services and the internet, disabling any access for help and trying to keep all of this a secret! But it wasn’t enough. All of Turkey is standing up – the rest of the world is standing up. There are protests going on all over Europe for Turkey. It became more than just a protest against the demolishment of the park. The governments recent decisions of banning alcohol and freedom of speech had taken their toll. All over Turkey, in the big cities people are walking, people are fighting for their freedom because this is not okay. #occupygezi

Read more about what’s going on here. 

#OccupyGezi

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I’m Still Alive!

Hey everyone!

Just a quick post to say that I am still alive, no need to worry… 😛
Turkey has been incredibly busy – I’ve been all over the place doing all sorts of things.
I visited my granparents in Ankara on Thursday until Sunday afternoon. Now I’m back in Istanbul. Yesterday was shopping and today was going to my summer house. It was so sunny and warm, I was in shorts and a tank top. I rode my bike just like during the summer and I wished so much for it all to come back. This year has gone by quite fast as it is. It excites me to know that the holidays are coming soon but it also scares the living hell out of me because that leaves me only one more year of high school and a heck of a lot of decision making… aaah

But I’m not supposed to worry now. I’m going to sit back and read my book and fall asleep and wake up to a beautiful mornign tomorrow!

Nightie-night 🙂

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Greetings from Turkey!

Well, the title is explanatory as it is: I have arrived safe and sound.

Yesterday was just a boring old day in which I was just sleep deprived and did nothing productive. Today was quite the opposite. I woke up at 8am and went out at 10am hunting for a dress to wear at my cousins wedding. I only managed to throw myself back into the house at 10pm but with success! I will finalise it tomorrow and buy the dress: SCORE!

Anyhoo, just saying hello!
With love, justyourtypicalprototype!

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I forgot to mention…

I am back, but I am leaving… tomorrow… at 6am.

Yes indeed, I have become a traveler! In fact, I just calculated… as of tomorrow, in the past 39 days I will have been in 7 different countries! I always have weird timesin my life, when suddenly all these trips and holidays overlap and I find myself in fifty different places all at once. Most of the time, I’m more low key and don’t exit the boundaries of Benelux, and if I ever do, it’s only ever to Turkey to visit my family. But I have to admit I am enjoying this life. Tiring as it is, it’s also very enjoyable and it feels good to not have too much free time. It makes me realize how much time I waste doing nothing productive. I wish I had an annoying sibling or friend who would always drag me around to places and make me do things actively… Or I just wish my life was like this more often!

Anyhoo, I don’t want to blabber on and on. This is a rather unproductive post in itself as I should really be packing considering the flight I have to catch at 8am tomorrow (#firstworldproblems)

To cut a long story short, I’d like to apologize for my absences and I will try my best to keep you all posted while I’m in Turkey for the next two weeks. I also apologize for not having posted anything ultra-intriguing recently. I really need to get back on track with “Song of the Week” and with posting some of my own writings that are not just made up on the spot (kind of like this one). I’ll seek some inspiration in Turkey (which I’m not looking forward to that much but let’s see how it all turns out).

See y’all! 🙂

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