Militant intellectuals in the 'Merkel cell' - YASIN AKTAY

Militant intellectuals in the 'Merkel cell'

An interesting incident is narrated in Ahmet İhsan Tokgöz's work titled “Matbuat Hatıralarım” (My Press Memoirs) and prepared for print by Alpay Kabacalı. The time's anti-Sultan Abdülhamid members of the Wealth of Sciences (Servet-i Fünûn) movement were turning their opposition into a show whenever the chance came up. At a time like this, the Boers launched a new war of independence against the U.K. in the colonial power's South African Cape Colony.

Since Sultan Abdülhamid's ties with the U.K. during this period were of very low profile, members of the Servet-i Fünûn turned this incident into an opportunity and visited the U.K.'s embassy in the capital to wish the imperialist U.K. “success” in its massacres against the oppressed Boers and give their support. Their fury with Sultan Abdülhamid is in question. Political opposition and anger are human emotions and are understandable. However, such low and vile attempts to subside the anger even if little and for certain political gains, are the lowest level seen by our people again since old times.

This incident is worth taking note in terms of showing the self-orientalism of the militant intellectuals in Turkey. This intellectual type always needed an auxiliary shift in following periods as well to influence the ruling government. This auxiliary shift varies depending on the spirit of the period.

The socialist militant intellectual in the Turkey of the 1960s set its sights on the military alone to escape the conditions of the era. It shouldn't be forgotten that Mehmet Ali Aybar, who was ostracized by the Yön magazine crew and the National Democratic Revolutionaries for defending parliamentarism, had also sanctified the May 27 coup and struggled to give some insight. By the end of the 1960s, the single distinction between these socialist groups that appeared to be quite different from one another is, while calling the military was the first option for one side, it was the final alternative for the others.

As you see, the idolization of power by the vengeful intellectual from this background or the hung-up intellectual who thinks it is not possible to become an intellectual unless they are blessed by this circle is nothing new. They will always demand reinforcement from the circle it believes to have power. In time, this demand for reinforcement and inability to connect with the society will turn them into militants.

There is an intellectual profile in Turkey that prides itself in independent thinking, but is always bound some place or another at the core. Whenever I think about this profile, it always reminds me of the words of Chares de Gaulle, who was at one stage the president of France and the founder of the Fifth Republic: “Of course the communists served France. Yet France was not the only country they served. What is more is that France was not the first country they served.”

French nationalist de Gaulle, who was actually a soldier, obviously made this statement within a historicity; those who he addressed were very different. However, these words might be functional in defining the militant intellectual of today's Turkey, who have become foreign to themselves and the society in which they live. Such that if you replace the word “communists” in de Gaulle's statement with “militant intellectuals” – the kind in Turkey – you can render many things understandable in terms of the reality of the moment.

Certain teaching staff giving classes at various universities in Turkey, who retired but remembered their militancy in the 1960s, gathered recently with some former academics to write a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

They warned Merkel who was to visit Turkey saying, “Your visit to Turkey will be perceived as political support to the government in Turkey and the president,” and asked her to cancel her visit. Looking at the list of names that signed the letter in question, it is possible to get an idea about the degree of contact they have with this society.

Leaving aside the reaction the greens may give in response to the contact of this intellectual type with Merkel, they are foolish enough to not understand what the German chancellor means for Germany and Europe. How do you think a communist Greek, who is told “we requested support from Merkel,” will view our militant intellectual type? Briefly, similar to their antecedents, they senselessly fall for the first person to blink at them in order to display a performance.

Historian Halil Berktay's definition “neo-mandatory” to describe those who sent the letter is on point, but probably “inadequate.” What's interesting is their interpretation of the criticisms aimed at them as a nationalist reflex. Their nationalist and fascist rhetoric is almost like a skeleton key today that opens all doors for this intellectual type, who has become a stranger within the society which they live.

We don't need the morals of this intellectual type, who have hit rock-bottom in terms of thinking and consistency and disregarded the moral values of the culture into which they were born. We don't need their fake interest in Turkey either.

The consequence of this pathetic intellectual portrait we have is quite interesting and teaching. The leaders of the militant intellectual type who today flirted with Merkel through a letter saying, “I am here, of course you can use me whenever you need, but in exchange refrain from legitimizing the politics I am fighting,” had in the past shouted the slogan “the military and youth hand in hand” with the “energetic forces” nonsense.

Coincidence has it that the Merkel cell is a medical term. It is defined as the epithelial cells that make up the sense in tissues inside the palm and heel skin. These days it is OK to understand it as the meeting point of the militant intellectuals in love with Merkel. It appears our “always opposing” intellectual is slowly entering the service of the ruling imperialism. Wasn't it always so?

As you see, the democracy of this intellectual type is synthetic, their intellectual orientation bears militant characteristics; they can't move the car without an auxiliary shift. This reinforcement in the past was the military. Today, they have no hope left of the military, so they are expecting something from the outside. This is the difference.


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