As the crisis deepens...
2017 was another 'annus horribilis' for those in Turkey who were wishing for a free and fair country governed by the rule of law with mutual respect for different identities and opinions.
It was a 365-days-long live-broadcast horror show of rude and crude sycophantic displays that pushed some towards apathy and submission, others towards anger, some towards fear.
We witnessed the anti-democratic powers convene once again, in arrogance and aggression, and against all common sense.
And large segments of society, whether right or left-leaning, chose to lie low as a survival strategy.
Was 2017 the year that Turkey lost both its access to democracy and any means to go back to it?
The confusion, disarray, and the lack of any strategy from the opposition parties make it easier to answer this question affirmatively.
Those who see Turkey as suffering a collective lack of cognizance saw their view upheld each passing day.
Both those looking at the country from the inside and outside agree that Turkish society's refusal to repent and learn from its past mistakes is as much to blame for the destruction of democracy as the lack of leadership.
Every segment of Turkish society is partially responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. That is for certain.
The opposition's failure to understand and interpret the 'slow-motion civil coup' process that has been going on since the Gezi protests of 2013, led its leaders to misdiagnose every political development since.
It took months and months for even the elites - purportedly perceptive and intelligent - to figure out the causes, scope and goals of the 'executive order regime' imposed on Turkish citizens after the July 15 coup attempt of 2016.
Maybe this myopia points to a mistake of historic proportions. I don't know. What's certain is that we will read of the breadth and depth of these missteps in history books and research papers in the future.
If the transformation opportunities during the AKP era were almost entirely wasted because of the ambitions of the administration and the myopia of the opposition, the moral corruption and the legal ruin we find ourselves in today are mostly due to:
- Each of the social groups representing different identities in this country failing to comprehend that the other group(s) cannot be eradicated. Never has a social group been completely annihilated in this country. It is simply not possible.
- The politicians, the bureaucrats, the representatives of social groups and ethnic minorities and much of civil society and professional organisations not working to establish an egalitarian and liberal 'democracy' for all, but instead trying to change the ones holding the 'power.' They perceive the politics as a primitive race for power.
From a journalistic perspective, it seems like Turkey will find itself in a systemic crisis of even deeper moral, political, social, cultural and economic dimensions in 2018. The acceleration authoritarianism seems to point to the construction of fascism in Turkey.
It could be said that some in the bureaucracy, opposition parties, business world, academia, judiciary and the media have accepted the eventuality of "unity of powers" rather than "separation of powers;" and it can be argued that the majority of Turkish people have sanctioned the current situation.
Ironically, the alternatives offered to the public are authoritarianism with a different tone, and/or a calculated promise to carry the denial of the country's problems into the future.
At this stage in time, determining the facts requires good, honest journalism and reasoned comment and analysis.
Realism is not the opponent of optimism.
An explicit and free discussion of the challenges of bringing democracy back to Turkey is the responsibility of a few fearless Turkish intellectuals.
The risk is, in the near future, we may possibly find ourselves in a never-ending nightmare.
Those who claim fatalistically that 'everything will be OK’ ignore the wisdom of generations of people who were persecuted in the last century, for example, in Spain, Portugal, Soviet Union, and, since 1979, in Iran.
Politics is about creating an illusion, writing eloquent speeches and selling it to the public.
Journalism, on the other hand, is about exposing the reality, regardless of how painful or ugly the truth is.
Ahval is, and will remain, pledged to this principle.
We will remain open to all kinds of democratic ideas without favouring any ideology, and we will continue to tell the truth.
Regardless of their ethnic identities, we will continue to be a free public platform of debate for those who consider moral courage as their duty and those who dare to speak their minds.
Turkey's progress has been impeded for some time now. What started as a democracy project turned into a power-grab, a theatre of hate-speech, where persecution and oppression are considered the norm.
We are not even sure that proper elections will be held.
Maybe they won't.
This much is certain though:
The systemic crisis of Turkey will get far more intense in 2018.
Our modest mission here will be to tell and analyse this story.
Despite everything, may 2018 bring all our readers a happy, healthy and peaceful new year that will re-establish our mutual trust in each other and herald a far better future.