Fascism as Usual in Turkey, Fascism of a New Type in the USAby Muhsin Y.
The world media is abuzz with news of the fascist Turkish state's seizure of the newspaper Zaman. For years, internal conflicts among the ruling elite in Turkey have caused similar aggressive moves by the perpetually victorious Erdoğan faction (still ruling under its AKP government, despite having to resort to restarting the war in Kurdistan to preserve its power after the June elections of last year).
Liberal commentators, whether pro-Moscow or pro-Washington, view this as evidence of "emerging" "fascism" or "dictatorship" in Turkey. Those of us with a deeper knowledge of Turkey know better: Turkey has been a fascist dictatorship since at least the 1980 coup led by Kenan Evren, and backed by US imperialism.
The Turkish state, which takes journalists into custody for "insulting" prominent government figures, which murdered Hrant Dink in the street through a still-uninvestigated conspiracy, which still denies the Kurdish people their national rights even while it wages a war of collective punishment against them for voting the "wrong" way in a supposedly "free" election, is apparently at risk of being declared undemocratic!
Turkey has not been a bourgeois democracy for a long time. Turkey is a fascist state, and real opposition figures risk their safety and indeed their very lives by speaking the truth about its history and functioning now as then.
This does not mean, however, that we have nothing to notice in the latest move by the Turkish state. The AKP government faces a real threat from the left, with the progressive HDP (an umbrella party which represents the Kurdish Liberation Movement and various socialist and democratic trends) having pushed them out of government in the June elections. The AKP is nervous, because it knows its castle (or Erdoğan's massive presidential palace, newly built at tremendous public expense) is built on sand. In such a context, other right-wing players have attempted to attack the AKP to seize power for themselves. It was mere months ago that Can Dündar's Cumhuriyet newspaper made the risky decision (as a mainstream news source) to reveal what the left and Kurdish movement in Turkey have known all along: That the Turkish state under AKP control had been aiding ISIS against the Kurdish movement in Syria.
In the case of Zaman, however, the power-hungry maneuvering is quite clear for all to see: Behind Zaman lies the power of the anti-communist cleric Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania under the apparent protection of the US state whose clients in Turkey originally recruited him as part of their plot to use reactionary religious sentiment against the threat of communism. As various power-sharing disagreements drove a more and more significant wedge between Gülen and Erdoğan, now Gülen's supporters pose as champions of "democracy" and cry that the constitution has been suspended. But it is under this same constitution that the Turkish state covered up for the murders of Armenians and Alevis, throwing out investigations, and it was under this same constitution that the Turkish state trampled on the national rights of the Kurdish people, imprisoning their children for the "crime" of throwing stones at the heavily armored police vehicles that patrol their streets as an occupying force! Where were the tears of the constantly teary-eyed Fethullah Gülen for dead Alevis and imprisoned Kurdish children?
And where is the US, the protector of democracy around the world, now? Will it declare Turkey to be a fascist dictatorship? Why would it, when it accepted, defended, and funded the implementation of the fascist coup order in 1980?
No, Zaman readers, expect no such protection from "the free world" that gave sold chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein to gas the Kurdish people in Iraq, that denied he commit such crimes against "his own people" (!), only turning on him when he got into a fight with the Kuwaiti monarchy.
Besides, the Americans have their own problems: While it may be that Donald Trump cannot win the presidency, he has already opened up a dangerous space for fascists in the US. Americans may claim "it can't happen here", because they have been raised on a fairy tale of bourgeois democracy being in conflict with fascism.
In fact, the history upon which this fairy tale is based is WWII, when it was the forces of the socialist world which dealt the decisive blow against Nazi fascism. The role played by the bourgeois democracies was not nothing, but it is worth asking: Did they fight Nazi fascism because bourgeois democracy and fascism are irreconcilable? If such tactical alliances were based on deep principle, they would be hard-pressed to explain their alliance with the Soviet Union. And the United States built fascist dictatorship after fascist dictatorship around the world in the post-war era to protect its imperial hegemony against the "threat' of the Soviet Union! The war between the imperialist camp and Nazi Fascism was simply a war for redivision of world power, just as one observed in WWI between various imperial powers, none of them more democratic than the others.
We Marxist-Leninists do NOT understand fascism as something OUTSIDE of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie represented in some "pure" bourgeois democratic form. Bourgeois democracy is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie WHEN it rules (more or less) with consent and some basic respect to some basic rights of dissenters (their safety etc.). Fascism emerges when this "nice" order is not practical for the ruling elite. In Turkey, there is never any real guarantee of the freedom and safety of real dissenters against the (US-backed) coup-imposed order. In the US there still is. Thus we say that the US is still a bourgeois democracy (internally, although there is a question about which parts of internationally recognised US territory might be considered colonial holdings, on which the law is always different from in the "core" territory). However, the emergence of trends like Trump show that it can indeed happen here. The KKK and other "white nationalists" are rejoicing with the news that their views are now acceptable in (a part of) the mainstream. If rule by consent is no longer practical, the reader will look back to the Trump candidacy as a qualitative change whereby fascist trends (always extent within US bourgeois democracy) emerged and began their takeover.
But when that happens, we must not become nostalgic, and think that the emergence of full fascism in the US is a "betrayal" of wholesome US bourgeois democracy. This bourgeois democracy was always the rule of the bourgeois class which would similarly reap the rewards of open fascist rule. If fascism emerges in the US, it will only be a defence mechanism of the real rulers of the United States against an increasingly ungovernable day to day.
Just as it was in Turkey.