Memed Erdener

I am We – 2017

I imagined that all the leaders that have ruled over Turkey and the Ottoman Empire were the one and the same person. Then, I wrote a short historical summary, as if I were that person. I did not observe chronological order.

I conquered Europe, Asia and Africa.
I was the Eastern owner of three continents.
I was the greatest.
I was the wealthiest.
I was the most knowledgeable.
I had nothing left to learn, I had nothing left to do.
I removed mathematics, geometry and science from the education system.
The entire East obeyed my decision.
A long time passed.
Over the centuries, bigotry filled every vacuum.
A long time passed.
I lost Europe, Asia and Africa.
I lost everything.

I started from scratch.
I reconsidered everything.
I acted bravely.
From the lands they lived on, I forced more than a million Armenians into exile.
During this forced exile, most of them either died, or were murdered.
The country acquired negative space.
We designers know the importance of space.
Some called it genocide.
I called it space, I didn’t care.
The world didn’t care either.
Or I thought so, but it turned out later that I did inspire some others.
Design is inspiring.

Later, I had myself a Hellenistic mausoleum made.
My interest in Ancient Greek civilisation divided the Islamic community.
This division in society enabled manipulation.
The most fun part of it was how I forced everyone to wear hats.
I called it the Hat Revolution.

Rather than Islamic calligraphy, I was more interested in modern typography.
So I banned the Arabic alphabet, and I made the use of the Latin alphabet obligatory.
I like to shock people - call it professional experience.
And of course, as a great designer, I also showed an interest in language.
Never forget! Every language is a prison.
Every new language you encounter will enable you to escape the dungeon you were locked up in.
In between the dungeons, it is possible, albeit for a short while, to be free.

The Greek, Hebrew and Armenian spoken in the country made me angry.
I tried different methods to disturb the people who spoke these languages.
And I disturbed them so much that in the end, they left.
Then they said, “There are some people who speak Kurdish in the East”.
I didn’t care.
I said they are mountain Turks, and the language they speak is mountain Turkish.
The subject was dropped for a while.
After all, I am the sovereign.
Sovereign is he who decides on the exception. [1]

I carried out military coup d’etats, three or four of them.
I even hanged a 17-year old boy.
“Why?” they asked, so I responded, “Should we feed them in prison for years instead of hanging them?”
That became one of my unforgettable sentences.
I took everything they had, but I could not change the inside of their heads.
That was why I carried out three or four military coup d’etats.
Blood gushed out of the earth.
They stood silent.
It was a great tragedy.
Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? [2]

I prohibited women who covered their heads from entering schools.
I made life in public spaces unbearable for Muslims.
Why? Because whomever dares to destroy the things people deem sacred is the law maker.
Then I changed my mind.
I decided to progress with a new motto: “Belief instead of knowledge”.
I took a swift decision for Islamization, and I put it into practice.
I let religious communities manage the police force and the army.
I created Islamist pressure in public space.
I made life unbearable for anyone who wanted to be different.
Why? Because flaws, loose ends, and rough approximations are what evil cannot endure.
This is one reason why it has a natural affinity with the bureaucratic mind. [3]

I blocked access to 127 thousand web sites.
For example, they could no longer access Wikipedia.
I changed history books, and the content of education the way I wished.
I filled the past with stories of valour and heroism.
I created a different history, and a past that had never existed.
You know what they say:
Who controls the past controls the future. [4]
So adorable teens had to be tied up and brutally educated.
I employed children who did not, or could not attend school.
An average of 50 children a year died at workplaces.

I declared homosexuality to be an illness.
I stood and watched as attacks took place on homosexuals.
I said, “Instead of living a 100 years like a woman, I’d rather live a year like a man”. [5]
Beauty, truth, civilisation, form, taste, class and sexuality.
I took all these concepts out of the hands of the intellectuals.
Culture is too dangerous for me to leave it to them.
I got rid of a problem that philosophers have failed to deal with for centuries.
I combined the unconscious being with materiality.
So God and money became inseparable concepts from now on.
You want to know how I did it?
I owe this success of mine to two important subtractions.
I took conscience out of religion.
So religion became a supporters club without content.
And faith became safe.
I took economy out of politics.
So the risk posed by elections for the rich was annulled.
And politics no longer posed a threat for the rich.
Just like Mies said, “less is more”. [6]

I declared a State of Emergency.
I really liked what I did.
I kept extending it.
I put 150 journalists in prison.
I decided what newspaper headlines said.
I seized opposition newspapers.
I completely closed some of them.
I imprisoned the co-chairpersons of an opposition party.

Then they said it again, “There are some people in the east who speak Kurdish”.
I killed 40 thousand people in 20 years.
“They’re still speaking Kurdish,” they told me.
So I lifted the ban on speaking Kurdish.
Then I bombed the city they lived in with tanks and war planes.
I destroyed the historical square of the city.
I murdered the Bar President during live television broadcast.
He was making a press statement at a square of the historical city.
It was like a futurist manifesto.

I began a great construction project in the capital.
“What is this?” they asked.
“I am having a new Parliament building constructed,” I said.
They immediately believed me.
Instead of a new Parliament, I had a 1,000-room palace built for myself.
Once the palace was completed, the country began to be ruled by a Presidential System.
So the Parliament was no longer necessary.
Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design. [7]

I burned down a school on the Bosphorus, I built a hotel in its place.
I chopped down 3 million trees, I made an airport where they once stood.
I killed around 300 woman a year.
I took teachers on a hunger strike as prisoners.
I arrested a pregnant woman.
I first tortured people by mistake, then I released them.
Once a month, I ran over a person with an armoured vehicle. [8]
In brief, to encourage the people, I terrified the people. [9]
I declared my position by saying, “I like the rich”.
I created new statuses in society: the untouchables, and the excluded.
I made sure the untouchables gained hugely.
I took commissions from their gains.
I did not waste a single opportunity to belittle the excluded.

I stole millions of dollars.
Then, some tape recordings were revealed.
It was a terrible incident.
Everyone listened to these recordings.
“Lies!” I said.
I had the prosecutors who filed cases arrested.
“I am here to serve you,” I said at speeches held in squares.
They elected me again at the elections.
So I now owned both faces of power.
I claimed both terror, and mercy.
They feared me, because they knew I could destroy everything.
They understood that they stayed alive only because I showed them mercy. [11]
And they fell in love with me.
A political love affair grew between me and my subjects.
The Greeks call this agape. [11]
Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. [12]

I acted evil, I was shown courtesy.
No one was left to bring me to justice.
I imposed myself on people, and then I occupied them.
I turned into a parasite that used them to my own ends.
I learned how to feed off disaster.

I placed my bets not on communal solidarity, but on individual elitism.
I believed not in collaboration, but in competition, where the winner takes all.
I acted fair, I imposed an egalitarian terror.
I gave the same punishment to the educated and the uneducated, only with different names.
I gave democratic terror to the educated, and divine violence to the ignorant. [13]
Never forget!
Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. [14]

In the end, I created not a nation, but a mass.
You can easily fool the masses, their feelings rest on no foundation whatsoever.
The public as a mass does not think, it is exposed.
It catches an idea the same way it catches a cold.
When it runs a fever, it becomes a lion.
Once the fever dies down, every sacred thing is forgotten. [15]

Let me share a secret with you and end this speech here.
Modernism failed to pay attention to spirituality, and that gave the likes of me a break.
We politicized spirituality.
We established a link between knowledge and crime.
We spread unlawfulness.
We glorified not what’s right, but what’s acceptable. [16]
And we introduced the concept of “continuous denial” into political culture. [17]
Why? Because ignorance is strength. [18]


Every language is a prison. Every new language you encounter will enable you to escape the dungeon you were locked up in. In between the dungeons, it is possible, albeit for a short while, to be free.

  1. “Sovereign is He Who Decides on the Exception” –Carl Schmitt

  2. “Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure?” –Terry Eagleton

Whomever Dares to Destroy the Things People Deem Sacred is the Law Maker

  1. “Flaws, loose ends, and rough approximations are what evil cannot endure. This is one reason why it has a natural affinity with the bureaucratic mind.” —Terry Eagleton

  2. “Who controls the past controls the future” —George Orwell

“Adorable teens tied up and brutally educated”

  1. “Instead of living a 100 years like a woman, I’d rather live a year like a man.” –İbrahim Hacıosmanoğlu

  2. “Less is more.” —Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

  3. “Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” –Charles Eames

  4. Cihat Duman, from a tweet

  5. Zizek, Living in the End Times

  6. Zizek, Living in the End Times

  7. Zizek, Living in the End Times

  8. Agape: siyasi aşk (Greek)

  9. “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  10. Walter Benjamin

  11. “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.” –M.C. Escher

  12. John Ruskin

  13. Tanıl Bora, Cereyanlar [Currents], page 29

  14. Tanıl Bora, Cereyanlar [Currents], page 40

  15. “Ignorance is strength.” –George Orwell, 1984