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  • Author: Laurence Raw
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: ALTHOUGH written from a variety of perspectives at different points in history, all three books reviewed here offer penetrating insights into Turkish politics past and present, as well as commenting on how they are interpreted both inside and outside the country. Written in English, while he was guest professor at the University of Marburg, Germany (having quit his post at Boğaziçi University in protest at the law curtailing academic freedom), Gündüz Vassaf's Prisoners of Ourselves comprises a series of meditations mostly written between October 1986 and March 1987. His basic thesis is straightforward enough: although human beings consider themselves members of the free world, they are actually subject to totalitarian rule. He surveys some familiar binaries—for example, madness and sanity—and shows how they are used to curtail individual liberties. Western historians have conventionally accepted that the Nazi period in Germany was one of collective madness. However the validity of that judgment can be called into question in the light of Adorno and Horkheimer's research, which discovered that anti-semitism in the United States was much higher than it had been in Germany after Hitler came to power. Vassaf concludes that everyone is part of that “collective madness,” in which one nation is willfully prioritized over another as a means of sustaining power (p. 35). Anyone questioning that notion is abruptly silenced.
  • Topic: Politics, History
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Germany