Written by Luca Tincalla
Arranged in English by Alex Carulli
First there was black smoke. Then white. But the Pope didn’t show up. In his place, however, some tanks appeared at the horizon. The gas fired by the police got mixed with the fumes of the barricades on fire. Another day of ordinary madness here in Gezi Park. Istanbul. Turkey.
After all, if the “insurgents” had some brains they would have left the waves of protest to sail on calmer waters. But who makes them take the risk, if not of kicking the bucket, at least of being hit with a truncheon every time they take to the streets? What is it that drives their desire to cling to that piece of land, called Gezi Park, like roots to the trunk of a tree? Where does this force of rebellion against a Prime Minister, democratically elected by the 49.9% of citizens, come from?
So many questions, huh. If you continue reading, I’ll try to provide some answers. My answers, since I don’t own the truth. To be honest, I’m a pretty unskilled analyst. My wife told me so and I have to admit that, for once, I agree with her. I didn’t get it right. I thought I lived in a country that wasn’t exactly democratic – in the sense of the signifier, not the signified – but moderately illiberal. A country where, yes, many not aligned people were sent to purge in prison, but also a country where a peace process with the PKK had started. I was wrong. It was just propaganda. It was just big, huge, gigantic... bullshit.
Or maybe not? Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps I lost my mind in the midst of the protest’s fumes. Because in the end, Turkey’s economy, in recent times, has been booming, and for two years its GDP was ranked second in the world for annual growth, behind China and India. Remarkable, isn’t it? Forget the 2001 crisis or the Turks migrating to Germany to erect the Berlin Wall after World War II. Right, but: Whose is the money flowing in this country? Frankly, very few people seem to realize this money doesn’t belong to Turkey. It flows, that’s right, but it goes away. For it is thanks to all foreign multinational corporations that today we’re living in the Land of Cockaigne. When the multinational corporations will find out that even in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan or Tajikistan there are (almost) the same conditions, the bridgehead of Turkey will blow up. And in Turkey some heads will still survive, yes, but only d***heads…
Economy moves the world, that’s true. But god give me your lever and I’ll lift the economy. Wouldn’t we be better off without it? Without the overproduction distress. In the name of a “fruit” that, in fact, we are almost never able to consume and that often becomes a rotten apple. Side effects of capitalism: for a note of warning I suggest the reading of an old yet up-to-date essay: Marx’s Capital. O.K., I’m provoking. But if we didn’t base our strength only on economy I think we’d be much better. Human beings have been around for thousands of years – there must be a reason for that. I’d recommend not to trust my analysis. Trust my wife – or the analyst, which is pretty much the same thing.
I even heard someone saying that all this has happened to re-evaluate the Dollar. Shame. Provocateur. Boo! The Dollar and the Euro as well, if anything. There, that’s fine. After all, in regards of Turkey’s accession to the EU, the NO box had already been ticked a long time ago (by Sarkozy Merkel & Co.). We will move even more eastwards, we are expected by democratic leaders such as Putin, Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-un. It is not said that the side effects of the protest will not get Assad and Erdogan back together. I know that lovers can’t be divided and they will soon return to be as thick as thieves. Lovebirds. I know it, but don’t call me an analyst. If things get worse, instead of singing “Bella Ciao” we will start dancing “Gam Gam style”.
Call me a witness, if you will. A chicken-hearted one. I wasn’t born under the sign of Leo. I’m a Libra. But since there was no justice during these days, or at least so it seems to me, I felt my involvement was dutiful. I wrote dutiful. I meant appropriate, necessary, right. Which are good, too, sure, but not enough. Because who wants to change the state of things MUST intervene. It’s not enough complaining just for the sake of it, and saying that nothing will ever change. No. One needs to expose oneself, to take to the streets, to actively participate in the protest. And inform, too, not only those who sleep, but using social networks. One needs to show one’s balls – or ovaries, if that’s the case.
Inform, I said. The Gezi Park protest owes its echo NOT to the traditional media – which were sleeping, and still haven’t awaken from the sweet vernal slumbers – but to freelancers and nerds. Us. Mistreated Sunday bloggers, hardened Skype users, Facebook pictures posting lovers, tweets perfectionists, and as far as I’m concerned... paper author who couldn’t tear himself away from his pages – but did. The Government has forgotten… No, let me start over. The Government did us a favour leaving the internet on in the early days and we thanked them by increasing our typing tenfold. Today the protest goes on social networks: perhaps you should write it down. And turn off the TV.
And now, if I can, I’d like to tone down a little, which seems so fashionable nowadays. Let me be clear: it’s not the first time that something like this happens in the world. June 4 was the 24th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square. Do you remember that guy, the “unknown rebel”, armed only with courage, who passively faced the tanks advancing? And all those people who now resist in Syria and in other media-forsaken places? What is it, are they unfashionable? Turkey is the new entry, all right, and media have to follow it, but they will just until it’s “news”, then they will forget it like they’ve done with all other resistance. And I’m not an analyst, I need a psychoanalyst.
Let’s say that I had never been there. I had never been a witness. Sure, years ago to skip school I never missed a Saturday demonstration. Regular meeting at nine o’clock in Piazza della Repubblica, in Rome. And at eleven we were already playing football at Villa Borghese crying out silly slogans. What’s changed now? The social consciousness. I’m not a hero, neither a 007 nor a special envoy. I’m just an ordinary man, in the wrong place at the right time. I didn’t have to look for (little) courage, it came by itself.
But didn’t I have to answer some questions? Here are my answers. One. The “insurgents” take to the streets because they can’t do anything else if they want to oppose the occupation (this for sure) of the tractors and the bulldozers that want to dismantle the park to turn it into a shopping mall. Two. Gezi Park has become a symbol of the protest and the felling of a single tree is equivalent to the loss of a human life. And three. On this I don’t have an answer. I have more questions instead. What is this democratically elected Government afraid of? Of his constituents? Of you? Of me?
In Istanbul it’s raining. In the streets the rain is washing and peeling off the spilled blood of the poor. From civilians to the police. There are many on both sides who think the same way; who hug one another in the homes and fight one another in the streets. Like blind people touching each other without realizing they’re brothers.
I leave you with the words of Javier Marias:
“Tomorrow in the battle think about me.”
Not about me, but about us all.