Turkey’s chest-thumping, arrogant threats against France over the anti-denial legislation that passed both houses of the French legislature betray Turkey’s inherent weakness, stemming from its refusal to come to terms with and atone for its past misdeeds—and the Armenian Genocide isn’t its only transgression against humanity.
Much like an adolescent whose body is big but whose brain still doesn’t know what to do with it, Turkey is thrashing about, lumbering bewildered, and trying to find its way and place in the international community. And just like its youthful human analog, it hasn’t yet learned that being straightforward will help it progress.
Does anyone recall Turkey being this loud in its knee-jerk, denial policy-based reaction before? Was it this intense a decade ago with France’s recognition of the genocide? How about the UN’s acceptance of its special rapporteur’s findings about the Armenian Genocide? Or the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of Armenian Genocide resolutions? Or the U.S. embargoing arms sales to Turkey over its invasion and occupation of Cyprus? Or the decades-long farce of the EU keeping Turkey as “always a bridesmaid never a bride”?
The reason Turkey is so voluble and strident in its reaction is because it perceives itself as being in a much stronger position than it used to be. And there’s some truth to this. Its economy has been growing rapidly (though, some argue, unsustainably). Its population exceeds that of every European country except Russia and Germany (although a quarter of that is actually Kurdish). It has had relatively better governance for a decade now. It feels young, strong, and surging. It has all the attributes that, coupled with immaturity, overweening pride, and insecurity, lead to bullying.
So it’s clear that bigger can mean badder.
That’s why it is an insoluble mystery to me why that same lesson is not applied by many in society to another institution that is a manifest example of “bigger-badder.” I refer to those who reflexively defend large corporate interests.
Corporations are set up as vehicles for conducting business to make money. That is their primary purpose (with the exception of those organizations that incorporate as a legal necessity, even though their purposes are charitable or civic). When an organization gets big, it unavoidably becomes less personal, and the money-making impetus becomes the sole organizing theme and unifying factor. So far this is not a problem.
But, as with any human endeavor, there are costs and tradeoffs. The efficiencies that accrue to big companies enable them to get ever bigger, and with their financial prowess, deform the functions of their surrounding societies, bending them to better suit their purposes. This happens at a cost to the individual citizens of these societies, usually impinging on their freedoms and voice in governance.
The only way to counterbalance this deformation is by controlling and limiting corporate activity. A single citizen is clearly not up to such an onerous task. That’s where the citizenry’s representative—the government—comes in. It is the only agent capable of counterbalancing corporate power.
However, big government can be just as effective a choker of individual liberty as any money-addled corporation. So citizens must be aware of and involved in their government; otherwise, “klookhuh g’arneh, g’erta” (it will run amok). As paraphrased from a 1790 speech by John Philpot Curran in his “Speech Upon the Right of Election”: “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
Corporations, of course, act to subvert the only power able to check theirs, so citizens must be doubly vigilant. A current example of this awareness/engagement requirement is the effort now underway to restore corporations to what they rightfully are—legal constructs that exist based on the government’s permission. Two years ago, in its “Citizens United” decision, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively granted “personhood” to corporations, a huge threat to every human citizen. Now, many are out to remedy this abomination.
Big Turkey is bad. Big Corporations are bad. “Citizens United” is bad. Please explore this issue and get involved in taking back your government and powers as a citizen.