Whatever happened to the ‘Upper Mind’?

Anything goes, from being a member of a so-called “interest-rate lobby” to a being a “foreign agent,” from being a “looter/marauder” (capulcu) to being a so-called “hashhashi.” Surely many Turks remember the absurdity of the multitude of labels leveled against youths who were protesting the destruction of the last piece of green in the center of İstanbul. We later recognized that these labels were no coincidence and were very much part of the well-organized propaganda machine that shapes perceptions in this country.

These days we do not hear these labels anymore. Recently, we have become acquainted with new terminology: “The Upper Mind” (Ust Akıl). This so-called “Upper Mind” is a rather vague term, and one is able to detect a variety of actors in gross mischief against Turkey in it. At times, the term denotes the United States, at times it is Jews, at times it seems to signify the West as a whole and sometimes it appears to mean the State of Israel. Perhaps it is international Masonry or international financial circles. Whatever it is meant to be, Erdogan’s propaganda machine makes sure it fits all sizes. Whenever something goes wrong, whenever the blame and responsibility need to be shifted to someone else, the “Upper Mind” is conveniently employed. Most of us thought that the “Upper Mind” actually was the US.

On Nov. 24, when a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian SU-24, the “Upper Mind” theory suffered a serious blow because Erdogan suddenly had to turn back to the very alliance — NATO — he had been shunning for some time. Turkey’s president immediately discovered the virtues of being a member of NATO and was quick to remind all of us that a potential confrontation with Russia would mean a confrontation with NATO. Within hours the “Upper Mind” disappeared from Erdogan’s lexicon and the list of historical grievances at the hands of Russia was put immediately into circulation. Suddenly, we saw Erdogan talking confidently about the US and NATO and thanks to the refugee crisis and a 3 billion euro donation, he made up with the Europeans.

I hear you asking: Is this not too blatant a U-turn and does the Turkish public not recognize that? Unfortunately, Turkey’s polarization has reached such a menacing extent that Erdogan’s followers are able to digest any kind of U-turns or absurdities these days. The apparent inconsistencies and total reversals of narratives are fully rehabilitated by a powerful media machine that is able to flip-flop on any issue at any rate. Hence, these days the US, NATO and the EU are in, and Mr. Putin — whom Erdogan not so long ago was begging to take Turkey into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) — is out. Remember? Our president was complaining to Putin that he had had it with the Europeans and that Russia should be proactive in facilitating Turkey’s membership of the SCO. Well, all that is history now. The flavor of the month is to be pro-NATO and pro-Western. Don’t hold your breath; you will not be hearing about the “Upper Mind” for some time. We may hear of the mischiefs of the Russian secret service, the traditional Russian enmity toward the Ottomans and yes, how illiberal Putin’s Russia is… We will see what the coming months bring, inshallah… The “Upper Mind” is out; long live our new enemy: the “Russian Bear.” Turkey’s flip-flopping par excellence continues.