Ellis Goldberg

Ellis Goldberg

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Despite the seriousness of the growing economic and political crisis, however, the DP still enjoyed enough support in the country that if elections has been held in 1961 as scheduled they would probably have produced another DP victory, albeit with a smaller majority.
The junta was particularly intent on destroying the widespread belief that Menderes was superhuman. (...) One of the few explanations for the death sentences, which are otherwise hard to understand, is that they were passed and carried out in order to prove that Menderes was nothing more than a mortal human being. The irony is that the junta’s actions made Menderes even more powerful in the eyes of his supporters. (...) He was now perceived as a Messiah-like figure who was suffering for the ordinary people at the hands of a cruel of authority.
When studying social change, we have a tendency to focus on period of crisis, hoping that these will give us a clue as to what was wrong with the period that led up to them.
Over the years, the Democrats and the political movements and regimes that followed them were so strict in defending private initiative that they resisted even the most elementary laws and regulations concerning minimum wage, child labor, workers’ safety and right to strike, let alone the consideration of larger issues such as land reform and directive economic planning. By being unequivocal in this respect, the Democrats managed to attract the support of not only large landlords but also medium peasants, merchants, and manufacturers in towns and cities.
The injustices of the military regime, and in particular the cruelty of the military tribunal, made a large section of Turkish Society ever more responsive to the populist complaints of the JP.
In Turkey, the popularity of the ideology that combines the democratic discourse with a heavy dose of conservative and traditionalist elements does not owe either to the manipulation of skillful politicians or to the malleability of simple people holding simple beliefs. While both of these may have played some parts in making the Democratic Party and its successors successful, the real power of this ideology lies in the way in which it both reflects and reinterprets reality so that the individual, typically a peasant and/or a migrant, can see himself at the center, capable of affecting that reality according to his will.
Whenever the economic problems appeared insurmountable or Ankara’s political scene became too contentious, Menderes will take off to Anatolia and speak before hundreds of thousands of people and remind them of their power, while reassuring himself of his continuing popularity.
World history is full of examples where, failing to improve their own standing, groups of people, states, and nations have sought big and universal solutions that have turned out to be instructive not only to themselves but also to large sections of humanity as a whole. To avoid the repetition of such catastrophes people need to have the space where they can associate freely and expand their energies in a positive way and affect changes starting from the most immediate, local level, and in this way imbue concepts of democracy and freedom with a substantive meaning where it most matters in their own lives. To do that, however, they have to be free, and this is where the dilemma lies.
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