TURKEY’S SCHADENFREUDE

Turkey’s schadenfreude

BURHAN GURDOGAN

 DIMPOOL ANALYSIS TEAM

16 June 2012

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As it comes from the German words, Schaden and Freude, damage and joy, which means to take spiteful, malicious delight in other’s misfortunes. In 2002 an article appeared in New York Times explaining scientific studies of schadenfreude, which it defined as “delighting in others’ misfortunes”. According to that research when people around us have bad luck, we look better to ourselves and when we see others fall it sometimes causes a chemical to be released in the dorsal striatum of the brain which actually causes us to feel pleasure. For the famous people, as we see them, hear about them and read stories about them nearly every day we started to see them as people who are in our inner circle, therefore when something bad happens to them we feel the same schadenfreude effect.

Caution!.. Schadenfreude
Caution!.. Schadenfreude

Over the last five years this term has shaped the Turkish politics, judiciary and public attitude towards it.

Nobody can deny that before 2007 the military presence in Turkish politics was incredibly influential, moreover as so-called Kemalists were ruling the judicial system along with the constitutional court, Turkish public saw those two actors as untouchables. Therefore, with the start of Ergenekon and Ergenekon related investigations those untouchable organizations became the first victims of Turkish schadenfreude.

Thousands of pages of indictments, so many human rights violations and people who rot in the prison, even died in the prison while waiting for a fair trial, did not bother public at all, because it all felt a joy seeing those powerful people in chains.

Especially after the start of Sledgehammer investigation and when everyday another high ranked military official went to prison public started to revel in the schadenfreude.

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But something strange happened after the arrest of former military head General Ilker Basbug, Turkish schadenfreude towards the military and Kemalists has reached its peak, as a result, military arrests started not to give enough pleasure to the public anymore, this is when the public realized that it is addicted to schadenfreude.

The arrest of the president of Fenerbahce football club, Aziz Yildirim and the imprisonment of the ex-untouchable minister Mehmet Agar, satisfied public’s need only for a short amount of time, yet the organizations who were exploiting the public’s schadenfreude over the last five years did not calculate that they were replacing themselves with the former untouchable bodies and becoming the target of the schadenfreude.

Aziz Yildirim and Mehmet Agar
Aziz Yildirim and Mehmet Agar

 While sending military officers to prison for alleged coup attempts, the government did not even start a sincere investigation regarding the Uludere incident, in which a military air strike killed 34 Kurdish smugglers, claiming that it mistook them for terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The AKP government successfully targeted special courts as these courts invited intelligence chief Hakan Fidan -who is appointed by the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan- for questioning, yet even though the AKP saved Hakan Fidan from the hands of special courts, it has failed to shape them in order to create a more democratic legal system.

Amending the law, after the specially authorized prosecutor summoned National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, failing to start an investigation for the Uludere incident and the closure of the laboratory that has stated the milk distributed to schools in Denizli is bad, shows us that the AKP is becoming an untouchable just like its successors, and if it does not start to criticise itself, it might become the new victim of Turkey’s schadenfreude.

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BURHAN GURDOGAN
As it comes from the German words, Schaden and Freude, damage and joy, which means to take spiteful, malicious delight in other’s misfortunes. In 2002 an article appeared in New York Times explaining scientific studies of schadenfreude, which it defined as "delighting in others' misfortune"./strong" />