Thursday, 7 February 2019

How to Lose a Country by Ece Temelkuran


How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship by Ece Temelkuran
Published in the UK by Fourth Estate today, the 7th of February 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An urgent call to action from one of Europe’s most well-regarded political thinkers. How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship is a field guide to spotting the insidious patterns and mechanisms of the populist wave sweeping the globe – before it’s too late.

‘It couldn’t happen here’

Ece Temelkuran heard reasonable people in Britain say it the night of the Brexit vote.

She heard reasonable people in America say it the night Trump’s election was soundtracked by chants of ‘Build that wall.’

She heard reasonable people in Turkey say it as Erdo─čan rigged elections, rebuilt the economy around cronyism, and labelled his opposition as terrorists.

How to Lose a Country is an impassioned plea, a warning to the world that populism and nationalism don’t march fully-formed into government; they creep. Award winning author and journalist Ece Temelkuran identifies the early-warning signs of this phenomenon, sprouting up across the world, in order to define a global pattern, and arm the reader with the tools to root it out.

Proposing alternative, global answers to the pressing – and too often paralysing – political questions of our time, Temelkuran explores the insidious idea of ‘real people’, the infantilisation of language and debate, the way laughter can prove a false friend, and the dangers of underestimating one’s opponent. She weaves memoir, history and clear-sighted argument into an urgent and eloquent defence of democracy.

No longer can the reasonable comfort themselves with ‘it couldn’t happen here.’ It is happening. And soon it may be too late.

How To Lose A Country is probably going to be the most depressing and the most horrifying book I will read this year. Especially because it is nonfiction. Temelkuran's explanations of how her Turkish homeland fell under Erdogan's spell rang scarily true with what I am seeing happening across Brexit Britain and across Trump's America too. The irony isn't lost on me of the Leave campaign's threat of millions of immigrating Turks should we remain in the EU 'when' Turkey joined - when what those very same men would actually love to import is the current Turkish democratic system!

A couple of years ago I read Karl Billinger's 1939 essay Hitler Is No Fool in which that author attempted to explain how easily a nation's people can be manipulated into acting against their own interests. Temelkuran's How To Lose A Country shows that very little of the methodology has changed in the past eighty years. Indeed much of the British rhetoric I hear is nostalgic hankering for 'our glorious past',  seemingly a want to return us all to an imagined version of that wartime society although, as Temelkuran repeatedly warns from her Turkish experience, we are highly likely to end up living as if we were on the Other Side. I found myself in agreement with all her observations and sadly recognising disturbingly similar versions of conversations I have had since 2016 with numerous people who, while incapable of actually defending or explaining their statements and viewpoints, nonetheless expect me to blindly agree because they can shout louder. All marketing and no substance used to be a joke, now apparently it's really the future.

Temelkuran now writes from Croatia, exiled from Turkey because expressing free opinion is no longer acceptable. She has lost her country and cannot envisage herself regaining it any time soon. I wonder how much longer I will be able to think of Britain as my country?


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ece Temelkuran / Politics / Books from Turkey

12 comments:

  1. My dad pointed this out to me in the newspaper this week to see if I'd heard of it so it was fun to see you'd read it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's scarily timely and will probably take the prize for most depressing read of the year!

      Delete
  2. And this scenario is what keeps me up at night. I wonder what kind of world my grand children will face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know philosophies tend to circle around again every few decades so I'm hoping the current situation is short-lived. Temelkuran's experience does suggest otherwise though :-(

      Delete
  3. Wow, this does sound like a disturbing read because of the similarities to the present.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even more disturbing because Temelkuran shows that the US and the UK are headed in the same political direction as Turkey, just about a decade behind :-(

      Delete
  4. It's always scary when you read a book and you know it is true history and you can see the parallels to the modern world and current happenings around the globe. It's scary but I agree that it could happen with how things are going in the US/UK at the moment... chilling stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very scary, especially when there doesn't seem to be any effective opposition :-(

      Delete
  5. I am living in Turkey and I am Turkish. She is right; we are losing our country. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It must be awful to be in such a situation :-(

      Delete
  6. This book is absolutely terrifying, all the more so because obviously it is non-fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! Temelkuran concisely shows just what our countries will be in for if we don't swerve away very very soon

      Delete