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After 11 years in power, Erdogan is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian [AP]
|A controversial medical bill that makes it a crime for doctors to provide emergency first aid without government authorisation has come into force in Turkey despite an outcry from rights groups.Under the legislation that was approved by President Abdullah Gul on Friday, those convicted could be imprisoned for up to three years and face fines of nearly $1m from January 18.
Critics fear it could be used to bar doctors and medical workers from treating protesters wounded in anti-government demonstrations as reportedly happened during mass street protests in June last year.
The US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) branded the legislation another attempt by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quash dissent.
“Passing a bill that criminalises emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government’s relentless effort to silence any opposing voices,” PHR senior medical adviser Vincent Iacopino said.
“This kind of targeting of the medical community is not only repugnant, but puts everyone’s health at risk,” he said in a statement on the PHR website.
The legislation, drawn up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), bars medical professionals from working outside state health institutions and is aimed at preventing doctors from setting up private clinics for example.
Medical professionals who break the law would face up to three years in prison and be fined up to $985,000 (728,000 euros).
Last month, the United Nations had also raised concerns about the bill and urged the government to reconsider it.
“If adopted, it will have a chilling effect on the availability and accessibility of emergency medical care in a country prone to natural disasters and a democracy that is not immune from demonstrations,” UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, said in a statement.
“Enacting laws and policies criminalising provision of medical care to people challenging state authorities, such as political protesters, will certainly deter healthcare workers from providing services due to fear of prosecution,” he said.
During the unrest which gripped the country last year, the Turkish doctors’ association repeatedly accused government forces of preventing medics from treating injured people.
At least six people were killed and about 8,000 hurt in nationwide clashes between police and protesters who took to the streets in a wave of public opposition to Erdogan.
After 11 years in power, Erdogan is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian and of trying to impose greater government control and his conservative religious values on all sectors of the traditionally secular society.
Supporting the central state to protect your favored cartels is simply pimping for the Empire.
The central illusion of both Left (so-called Progressives) and Right (so-called conservatives) is that the Central State’s essentially unlimited powers can be narrowly directed to further their agenda.
(I say “so-called” because the “Progressives” are not actually progressive, and the “Conservatives” are not actually conservative. Those labels are Orwellian double-speak, designed to mask the disastrous consequences of each ideology’s actual policies.)
Let’s begin by stipulating that ideology, any ideology, is an intellectual and emotional shortcut that offers believers ready-made explanations, goals, narratives and enemies without any difficult, time-consuming analysis, study or skeptical inquiry. This is the ultimate appeal of ideology: accepting the ideology relieves the believer of the burdens of analysis, skeptical inquiry, uncertainty/doubt and responsibility: all the answers, goals and narratives are prepackaged and mashed together for easy consumption.
This is one of the core messages of Erich Fromm’s classic exploration of ideology and authoritarianism, Escape from Freedom.
And what is the essential foundation of authoritarianism? A central state. This is not coincidental.
What few grasp is the teleology of the centralized state: by its very nature (i.e. as a consequence of its essentially unlimited powers), the central state is genetically programmed to become an authoritarian state devoted to self-preservation and the extension of its reach and power.
The central illusion of Progressives is that an all-powerful central state will not become a self-serving expansive empire, but will be content to wield its vast powers to protect its favored cartels/monopolies and distribute money skimmed from the citizenry to Progressive constituencies such as public unions, healthcare and education.
This is an absurd fantasy. Once you give a central state essentially unlimited power to stripmine income and wealth from its citizens, create and/or borrow essentially unlimited sums of money, protect private (and politically powerful) cartels from competition and project military, financial and diplomatic power around the globe, the state will pursue Authoritarianism and Empire as a consequence of possessing those powers.
You can’t cede unlimited, highly concentrated powers to the central state and then expect the state not to fulfill its teleogical imperative to protect and extend its powers. The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to view any citizen that seeks to limit its expansion of power as an enemy to be suppressed, imprisoned or marginalized.
The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to protecting its powers by cloaking all the important inner workings of the state behind a veil of secrecy, and pursuing and punishing any whistleblowers who reveal the corrupt, self-serving workings of the state.
The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to view any other nation or alliance as a potential threat, and thus the state will pursue any and all means to distrupt or counter those potential threats.
The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to create and distribute propaganda to mask its self-serving nature and its perpetual agenda of extending its powers, lest some threat arise that limits those powers.
Democracy and a central state with unlimited powers are teleologically incompatible.
Progressives worship the central state and cede it essentially unlimited powers because they want that state to be powerful enough to impose their agenda on others and reward their constituencies.
But it doesn’t work that way. Once you cede unlimited, highly concentrated power to the central state, you get an authoritarian empire that is driven to protect itself from any threat at all costs–including democracy, though the state may maintain a facade of carefully managed “democracy” as part of its propaganda machinery.
You cannot have a state with essentially unlimited power and not end up with cartel-capitalism. So-called Progressives defend their favored cartel-fiefdoms of healthcare and education (and the “conservative” banking and defense cartels, too, to insure banks fund their campaigns and to protect their political flank with a “strong on defense” carte blanche to the National Security cartels), yet these cartels are busy bankrupting the nation and destroying the very programs Progressives claim to hold dear.
You can’t have it both ways, Progressives: if you support a central state with essentially unlimited power to protect and fund your constituent cartels, you end up with self-liquidating cartel-capitalism, a state bent on protecting itself from the uncertainties/risks of democracy and a global Empire that is teleologically driven to expand its reach and power by any and all means available.
Once you choose to cede essentially unlimited powers to the central state, all decisions after that are made in service of the state. The idea that the state can be limited to helping the needy is illusory.
The only legitimate duties of the state are limited: 1) protect the commons from destruction and exploitation; 2) protect the citizenry from exploitation or oppression by those with superior power or resources; 3) maintain transparency in all governance and 4) maintain a system of sound money.
The so-called Progressives will learn what the teleology of the state means in the real world when the state comes after them. Once you cede unlimited power to the central state, any attempt to limit that power marks you as an enemy.
Supporting the central state to protect your favored cartels and protect your political power over the state’s tax revenues is simply pimping for the Empire. You can call it “progressive,” but it’s still pimping for the Empire.
As the status quo crumbles, the state responds in the only way it knows: expand control and become increasingly authoritarian.
The Grand Narrative of the 21st century is the legitimization of the authoritarian state. The authoritarian state comes in many ideological flavors, but retains the commonalities of central control. It may label the system it controls communist, socialist or capitalist, but these distinctions are semantic: the authoritarian state controls the system, by one means or another.
Regardless of which version of the 9/11 story you believe or disbelieve, the reality is the same: the U.S. is engaged in an Orwellian global war without end, a war that doesn’t just justify monitoring every communication on the planet but actively requires monitoring every communication on the the planet.
The Federal Reserve has extended its control of the U.S. economy, transforming it into a wealth-skimming machine for the top 1/10th of 1% with access to the Fed’s credit creation. The Fed claims independence from the U.S. government, but this is also merely semantics: the Fed and U.S. Treasury are simply two facets of the authoritarian state.
We see the same narrative playing out around the world. In socialist France, the central state is extending its control over what little of the economy is still quasi-private; in nominally communist China, any weakening of the economy that can’t be papered over with bogus statistics is soon followed by nationalist propaganda hyping one red-button issue or another (Senkaku Islands, etc.) to distract the populace from the increasingly fragile “recovery” in China’s asset-bubble-dependent economy.
As the status quo crumbles, the state responds in the only way it knows: expand control and become increasingly authoritarian. This is of course a key dynamic in why things are falling apart: increasing central control only further distorts the mechanisms in the economy that seek equilibrium by self-correcting means.
Why is the authoritarian state illegitimate? Among the many reasons, we can start with three: the authoritarian state is the enemy, always and in all places, of individual liberty and free expression/the free press, and the authoritarian state is intrinsically a failed state, for the mechanisms of centralization and authoritarian control are ontologically destabilizing, regardless of the ideological flavor of the system the state controls.
- oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Have We Reached Peak Government? (olduvaiblog.wordpress.com)
- Fact Or Fiction: Obama Administration Proposes 2,300-Page “New Constitution” (zerohedge.com)
- The grand authoritarian strain of the holy rollers (dominancegamespolitics.com)
- The Cart Tracks of History or why Social Democracy in Europe was so short lived (angrytunbridgewells.wordpress.com)
- Silencing the Internet: Network Authoritarianism (marilenalucci.wordpress.com)
- Pathogens and Politics: Further Evidence That Parasite Prevalence Predicts Authoritarianism (plosone.org)
- You Say You Want a Revolution? (jonathanturley.org)
- David Harsanyi on Michael Bloomberg’s Authoritarian Instincts (reason.com)