At the same time, his "urban development" policies represent the enrichment of a very tight circle of government-connected corporations and big-shots whose power (including over the media) is widely resented among other capitalists. "Urban renewal" has taken place at the expense of poor neighbourhoods. Economic growth has brought an intensification of class polarization. In areas where the AKP once handed out bread it is now moving schools and other facilities to the suburbs and forcing people to move out, not by open force, but by persuading them to sign contracts for new housing in distant areas before their old homes are torn down. Often these contracts put people more than ever at the mercy of feudalistic obligations to powerful individuals. This is not so popular. It is also significant that the PKK has helped keep cities in the Kurdish east (like Diyarbakir) less turbulent than other areas so far.
Discontent with Erdogan's programmatic disregard for forces whose support or at least assent has been so crucial to his success is matched by outright alarm at his confrontational political style, as if Turkey's fate rested on him alone. His arrogance isn't without basis, since his ruling coalition might not be able to survive without him, but it might not be able to survive with him, either.
In addition to what is going on in the streets, there are other signs of cracks in the ruling class. Army units have failed to help the police in several incidents. The head of the judge's association issued a warning to Erdogan, implying that his political style is un-Islamic. The fact that five-star hotels have turned their lobbies into emergency medical facilities for demonstrators and even provided staff (in contrast to Starbucks, which closed its doors), is an interesting turn of events, but it may not be unrelated to such splits and a general feeling that a further slide toward an Islamic regime would be bad for business, not the least tourism.
Some forces are trying to sew things together again, with or without Erdogan. The move by Turkish Deputy PM Bulent Arinc to apologize to protesters may be a question of "good cop, bad cop," The Turkish stock exchange, which had dropped sharply, popped up again after this gesture. Trying to peel off some of the movement's segments, Arinc called the protests against the uprooting of the trees "just and legitimate" and condemned the "excessive force" by the police, but at the same time said that the movement had been taken over by "terrorist elements" and refused to call off the police, ban the use of tear gas or issue an amnesty for those arrested. He said that now the demonstrators were just looters ("capulcu"). This promoted a worldwide wave of all kinds of people posting videos of themselves on the Net, introducing themselves in serious or funny ways and declaring, "I am a capulcu."
Actually, there has been remarkably little looting and relatively little destruction, aside from tearing up pavements and urban fixtures to make barricades and gather projectiles to use against the police. On the contrary, the youth have been assiduously cleaning up the mess left by the fighting to demonstrate their political seriousness and perhaps recycle materials for future use.
The atmosphere is festive in Taksim and other places as people celebrate their victories, freely act out their life styles and project their visions of a future happy society. But it would be extremely dangerous to ignore the viciousness and strength of the state and the possibility that Erdogan will pursue "double or nothing" tactics to show that he and he alone can lead it.
Erdogan has said that because he received 51 percent of the votes in the last elections no one has the right to challenge him. He also said that demonstrations were occurring only in the biggest cities, and that the rest of the country supported him. He warned that he might not be able to keep his half of society at home much longer. Threatening not just repression but something more like a civil war, he declared, "Taksim Square cannot be an area where extremists are running wild. If this is about staging a protest, about a social movement, I would... gather 200,000 where they gather 20, and where they gather 100,000, I would gather a million party supporters. Let's not go down that road."
Two young men have been reported killed so far, by unknown persons, in Istanbul and Ankara, and some observers see this as the work of AKP militias. Civilians with knives have been reported to be joining police in beating and torturing demonstrators trapped in alleyways. In the south-western city of Antalya, the AKP youth organization attacked demonstrators.
No matter what approach the state takes, the situation is very dangerous for the ruling class, because any retreat by the regime may embolden the people in the streets, while a refusal to make any concessions may further enrage them. At the same time, the extremely contradictory nature of the movement against Erdogan is both an advantage and a source of danger for those aspiring to radical social change, because it embraces very different ideas about what society should look like – for instance, whether the Turkey they want is one where minorities and women are dominated, and the whole country is dominated by imperialism.
The fact that cracks have appeared among Turkey's ruling classes and reactionaries is potentially a great advantage for those seeking radical change. But to the degree that people in this movement do not achieve some clarity about the need to oppose both Kemalism and Islamism, there is a danger that one or other of the various reactionary forces and not the people may benefit from this moment.