am 26. Februar 1999
The Turkish political system, from 'The Prince' to '48 Laws of Power'
Agenda By Fehmi Koru,Turkish Daily News, Ankara
Ankara - "The Prince" by Italian author Niccolo Machiavelli, who lived from 1469 to 1527, is considered to be the all-time top-selling book in the world. The reason this book has maintained its popularity for a period of over 500 years is because it meets a very significant requirement: It teaches statesmen how to remain standing on their own two feet.
These days, the most conspicuous corners of every bookstore, both in England and the United States, where I had the opportunity to visit in recent months, are filled with a new book, the author of which is evidently from the lineage of Machiavelli, as one can easily detect by just opening the cover. The book, entitled "The 48 Laws of Power" (Robert Greene, Viking Books, 1998), is intended to provide politicians and company executives who are involved in intricate relations similar to those of politics with advice of the type contaminated by concepts like infidelity, treachery and cruelty. Since I read it, I can easily tell you that it is a very useful book.
"The 48 Laws of Power" presents the readers with many events that took place in history. I realized, however, that under the light of the knowledge I gained by reading the book, I could better evaluate the events that are currently progressing before our very own eyes. Since they are not known for their interest in books, and moreover, since the book was published only recently, it is obvious that our politicians are following these rules simply by instinct.
The most fundamental condition of democracy is for power to accumulate in the grassroots. Through such a process, it is believed that the support provided by the masses will be much stronger. The impeachment process of President Bill Clinton was concrete evidence of how true this assumption is. The senators did not dare to dismiss the president from office while the majority of people were providing support for Clinton. Due to this reality, the accuracy of which has been proven over and over again, elections in countries that are governed by democracy are completed in several steps, in an effort to assure people that they are the ones who are electing their representatives.
This is not the way it is done in Turkey. With only one exception, the candidacy of the prospective deputies finalized as of yesterday were determined by an odd system called "central survey." The names of the applicants were prioritized by a few party executives, and the final decisions were made by the party leaders. As a result, the deputies who will enter Parliament will not be "deputies of the people," as stipulated in the Constitution, or even the "deputies of the party," as we may all think, but will, in actual fact, be the "deputies of the leaders."
This reality perfectly matches item 11 of the Laws of Power, which maintains: "Learn to keep people depend on you."
Nothing could be more natural than for deputies who are handpicked by their leaders to feel insecure and to try and demonstrate their loyalty at any time, in any situation. This type of tense state-of-mind may, after a while, lead people to betrayal. In my opinion, the main reason behind deputies' regularly changing their political parties by transferring to another is rebellion against the requirement of having to satisfy the leaders and show loyalty at all times. But this process of changing parties does not change the basic reality. The deputy who betrayed his or her leader ends up having to show loyalty to the new leader, as there is no other way out.
Item 17 of the Laws of Power maintains: "Keep others in suspended terror, cultivate an air of unpredictability." As you can see, our political leaders know perfectly well how to utilize power, without even reading the book.
If they did not know, how could they use Rule 15, which states "Crush your enemy totally," to so skilfully eradicate their rivals within the party? The deputies who are not popular with the leaders are the first ones to be eliminated. The political elimination of some of the party members will be accomplished in two separate steps, as they are either placed at the bottom of the election lists, where they have no chance to win, or they have been nominated for mayoral seats for cities in which the party is not at all popular. In any event, their removal will be inevitable.
Experienced leaders would prefer not to get their hands soiled when they initiate this eradication process. The ones who are eliminated would, in a way, sense that the fatal blow is coming from their leaders, but they cannot say that directly to their faces. Let's say that they have accumulated adequate courage to speak their mind. There are always a few pawns available for a leader to lay the blame on. They defend themselves by saying: "I beg your pardon, it was a mistake that was made by ..." The 26th golden rule of the Laws of Power advises: "Keep your hands clean. You must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency. Your hands must never be soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds. Maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat's paws to disguise your involvement."
It must be borne in mind that the politicians who are placed in lower priorities or nominated in areas where they cannot possibly win are the ones who agreed to this method during the previous elections. The leaders, who are the only ones equipped with the power of nominating candidates, have this time used this power in favor of those candidates with whom they can maintain harmony, who will better serve them and who will not become rivals at a later date. If the ones who were eliminated had ever had the chance to read the book, they would have realized that item 40 of the 48 Rules is in perfect conformity with the situation they have found themselves in, which states: "Despise the free lunch. What is offered for free is dangerous. It usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation."
I would like to express my admiration of Machiavelli, who 500 years ago said, "A Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires." We cannot deny that some of our politicians have reached such a level of dexterity that it is necessary to increase the number of these rules.
am 27. Juli 2000
This is a really great book, but have anyone of you ever thought that the person/people that you'll like to practice these laws on might own a copy of the book themselves? ...that they might be practicing these laws on you just as you are practicing on them? ...and that, due to the "evil" connotations of this book,they, like you, would not admit to reading it, let alone owning a copy...but would convey the laws of the book through their deeds/misdeeds?
Hmmm....just something to think about. Coz you might not have the only copy of this book. I do too, and apparently, so did everyone who wrote a review here.