Seventy years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, fascism has reemerged with a vengeance. This resurgence can be seen all over Europe and the former Soviet bloc, perhaps most notably in Ukraine where Nazism masquerading as nationalist patriotism has effectively embedded itself in the political and military institutions of the country, all with the backing of the United States and European Union. From racist rhetoric and xenophobia in Western Europe, to torch-lit parades with fascist iconography in Greece and Ukraine, this virulent disease is once again infecting the body politic of the European continent.
However, just to the East, and with very little fanfare from sociologists, political scientists, and the international Left, Turkey has quietly been transformed into an aggressive, and deeply reactionary, country where civil and human rights are trampled under the weight of so-called “nationalism.” Under the leadership of first Prime Minister, and now President, Erdogan, Turkey has eschewed its once deeply held desire to be accepted as a liberal democracy in the community of European nations, and instead chosen the trajectory of regional hegemony abroad and fascist thuggery at home.
Now, it should be said at the outset, that the term fascism can take on many meanings, particularly in light of its historical development and context. One must also be careful not to use the term haphazardly at the risk of robbing it of its true meaning. Indeed, it would not be fair to say that Turkey in 2015 is as fascist as Ukraine or Germany under Hitler; such a description would be grossly irresponsible and not at all accurate.
However, a close analysis of Turkey in the ‘Age of Erdogan’ does reveal a country that has given over to violence as a political tool, repression and censorship as standard government practice, and sponsorship of terrorism as foreign policy. If it hasn’t already earned its fascist moniker, it may well be on its way.