Anxiety, Conspiracy

Kimberly Guiler on Turkey, ourselves:

Political attitudes are most malleable when prevailing conditions threaten people’s economic or personal security and cause them to feel out of control.[3] Specifically, Whitson and Galinsky argue that individuals who feel they lack control are more likely to harbor beliefs in conspiracy theories.[4] According to these authors, individuals can overcome their lack of control by identifying illusory patterns, or conspiracies, in order to make sense of their environment. Elites can, then, take advantage of anxiety-producing events where people lose their sense of control by “fomenting suspicion and uncertainty and then proffering solutions by identifying a source of blame.”[5] Following this logic, the bloody coup attempt and subsequent environment of uncertainty in Turkey presented a strategic opportunity for Erdogan to position himself as the key victim of a national tragedy and to unite the nation against a common source of blame: the West.