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The matter of sharp wits

By Guray Oz
Yayınlanma tarihi: 06 Ekim 2017 Cuma, 15:20

A time comes when retaining power is harder than changing it. And those who aspire to usurp power through legitimate means such as elections to establish their own set-up show immense interest in parables that speak of such times and wander around saying, “It’s in the bag.” History abounds with stories and lessons from the scholars of the time telling of such situations.One of these is Ibn Khaldun who filled reams about governments and the rise and collapse of governments. His Muqaddimah is indeed most useful for those who know how to read it.

In recent years, they have kept on forming and changing AKP governments one after the other. We are now confronted by the prospect of a fresh shedding of leaves. The status of both elected mayors and appointed regime-affiliated civil servants is never absent from the pages of newspapers.  Look at it as you will, it seems autumn is with us. However much they remain true to the longstanding state “custom” and unfaultingly adhere to the precept, “Don’t wash your dirty linen in public,” the people are not ventriloquists’ dummies, the truth cannot be concealed and the real reasons for resignations slip out. The “resignation” of Istanbul’s top man caused a lot of noise of this sort. It is not important; there is more to come.
What is arousing everyone’s curiosity, though, is the position of the mayor of the capital and certain other cities over which rumours have reached a crescendo. What will happen now? Everyone is curious about this. The pages of newspapers and websites – what a sinister invention that internet is; it is virtually impossible to keep up with its speed and it spreads gossip at the speed of light; nor can you get the better of it - are saying that these mayors, who have governed provinces for years with a display of sharp wits are for the chop. The order is supposedly from a high place and so defies objection.
This matter is actually no joke or laughing matter; the true reason for this shedding of leaves is indeed nothing more than the endeavour to wipe out the past and retain and defend power. But, however much human memory is fallible and the people’s memory is plagued by forgetfulness, everything has not passed into history in a flash. Look at it as you will, we are talking about a situation of 15-20 years’ standing. The old partnerships have neither grown that old, nor can that heavy burden be cast off through dissolving them. Did a former comrade who knows this party closely not say, “If they truly identify the ByLock users, 60% of this party will go behind bars?”
I do not wish for anyone to go behind bars. It is tough inside, but let the truth emerge for sure. Let us not expound at length; the scholar I mentioned at the beginning made a truly scholarly comment that applies to the status of the razor-sharp civil servants, governors and mayors. In one of his tales, he speaks of the dismissal of the governor of Iraq, Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan. It was if Caliph Umar said to this governor whom he dismissed, “I have dismissed you because the high degree of your intelligence will cause the imposition of heavy burdens on the people.” Ibn Khaldun drew a lesson from this, saying, “For those heading the administration to be sharp witted to this extent constitutes a source of oppression and the orderly working of the state will break down on account of this.”
This is precisely why you can be too sharp for your own good; the time comes when they want to smooth things out, repair the damage and jettison any ballast they can. But, do those who say this era must now come to an end and the people must finally breathe easily not need to break away from rigid adherence to “it’s in the bag” thinking? Nothing is in the bag and it is written in history that the sharp wit order continues to flourish through oppression for a while.
Nevertheless, let it not remain history. Is it not written somewhere that philosophers make do with interpreting while the point is to change things?

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