Thoughts following the Catalan Declaration of Independence

Today is a historical day in many aspects. We will test (although a modified version of) the democratic peace theory. We will test if the EU really has values which shape politics, not that politics shape the values (or lead to temporary and changeable values). We will test the clash between legality and legitimacy. And we will see if a developed country can get into armed conflict (i.e. any sort of civil war or large-scale suppression as we see in Turkey, for example).

First let us look at the main hypocrisy. While supporting Kosovo in their declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, today the big guy of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the EU “doesn’t need any more cracks, more splits”1. Why did they support Kosovo, and why are they against Catalonia? In 2008, there was no immediate problem in Kosovo so that independence would be vital or highly necessary, as is not the case today (which is not to say that there was the prospect of a long-lasting peace in Kosovo, as there is not in Bosnia and Herzegovina today). Why having a “value” yesterday which is different than today?

Do Human Rights Actually Exist?

“… one reason why governments found it possible to accept the principle of international concern for human rights [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] was the expectation that the UN would respect the domestic jurisdiction of states by refraining from intervention in their internal affairs. The declaration, which lacks provisions for implementation and in any event does not have the legal force of a treaty, was compatible with this expectation: it professes to state ‘a common standard of aspiration,’ not a set of enforceable commitments”1.

We like to talk about human rights a lot, but we do not know what should be done when a country does not fulfill its duty and respect the rights of its citizens. The problem, as things stand, and as detailed as I can put, is this:

  1. Every human being has inalienable rights.
  2. Because of the existing world-system, there exists states.
  3. Every human being is FORCED TO have a citizenship, i.e. a legally binding relationship, with (at least) one of these states.
  4. Theoretically we assume that we need states for order and security. Therefore states are assumed to protect (first and foremost) bodily integrity of its citizens.
  5. Yet, as mentioned at #1, human beings have more than only the right to life.
  6. The states are supposed to not only protect but also provide each and every right human beings have.

Populism isn’t Dead. Here are Five Things You Need to Know About It by Cas Mudde

(Originally published at The Guardian. Please visit the page before or after reading the piece here, to show your appreciation to the author and the publisher)

The electoral victories of Emmanuel Macron in France and Mark Rutte in the Netherlands have significantly changed the discourse on European politics. The international media has gone from “populism is unbeatable” to “populism is dead”. Obviously, neither is or was true. In fact, populist parties are still doing better in elections, on average, than ever before during the postwar era. Various European countries have populists in their government – including Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, and Slovakia – while the most powerful country in the world is at the mercy of a billionaire president who has wholeheartedly embraced the populism of some of his main advisers, notably Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller.

But at the very least, the rise of Macron has given us some breathing space to reflect in a less alarmist and more rational way on the phenomenon of populism, and draw some lessons for the future. Because, whether we like it or not, in many western democracies populism has become ingrained in national politics and there is no reason to assume this is going to change in the short- or medium-term future. Here are five theses on populism and the lessons that liberal democrats should draw from them.

Are Populists Democrat?

According to Takis Pappas, an expert on populism and one of my former professors, populism can be defined simply as illiberal democracy. The populist leaders believe, according to him, in democracy, and are found in democratic systems, yet they defend a form of democracy in which liberal values are not in place.

Can one be democrat if she is not liberal? The answer is a simple and plain no. In this short essay, I aim to briefly show why this is the case.

Turkey from 2007 to 2017: An Introduction

In 2007, Turkey elected its new President, Abdullah Gül. He is presented as “the first Muslim President of Turkey”, which meant all of the following, and all at the same time:

  1. The previous presidents were not Muslim.
  2. They were not Muslims because of the system of the country.
  3. This system will be taken down.
  4. The identity of Republic of Turkey will change.
  5. With the new president, Turkey will evolve.
  6. This evolution change will be towards Islamism.
  7. Turkey will not be what it has been so far.

In less than a year, after managing to hold both Presidential and PM offices, the party invented a term, New Turkey (Yeni Türkiye). According to them, in the old Turkey so many bad things happened because of the system and the bad people who were responsible of the system. But this New Turkey was different. It was not the continuation of the old one. It was revolutionary.

Further and Possibly Larger Scale Suppression of the Opposition in Turkey

On the anniversary of the so-called coup attempt and newly invented “day of democracy and national unity“, so-called Turkish President Erdogan said “we lost 250 heroes in the night of 15 July [coup attempt], but saved the future of 50 million Turks“. According to Turkstat, population of Turkey in 2016 was 79.814.871, excluding Syrian refugees and immigrants who are to be given citizenship as long as 5 years have passed since their entry to Turkey, regardless of any other criteria.

Erdogan is famous with making strange comments and arguments. Generally, next day these are followed with corrections by the members of the cabinet or the party. They do not argue that Erdogan was wrong, but we, opponents of him, got him wrong. Yet this time there still is no correction, which makes us believe that we are discarded, or sacrificed, already.

Whenever we the opposition ask for rights, we are constantly warned that we aim to break a civil war up, and we should stop being the puppets or puppies of external powers. Turkey and Turkish society, for a long time, has been divided into two camps: those that want the good of the country and the people (i.e. supporters of Erdogan), and the others (i.e. opponents of him).

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