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Friday, May 05, 2017

The Art of War

Today, almost every interaction we have seems to be an art of war. Warring words wins votes. It wins you power and powerful friends. It gets you what you want.

In such a society, we shouldn't be surprised when young people become increasingly violent. Or loving relationships don't last. Or acrimony seems to spin on the flip of a coin. It's a natural result of emulation. The micro emulates the macro and vice versa. It's a vicious cycle.

Once locked into a warring mindset that achieves short-term results, you begin to see the world in that way. Every obstacle is a goal to be conquered. And with every failure, we turn that warring mentality on ourselves or our loved ones.

What we equate with strength at the start soon becomes a weakness. It's a house built on sand rather than stone; the house on sand is easier to build, but it doesn't last. What requires so little effort, will require just as little effort to fall. Whether its downfall takes a decade, a generation or two - or even a few centuries - in the grand scheme of things, it will not last.

Look at nearly two decades of news headlines and the overview is of so many houses being built on sand: The cross-section shows a slide towards violence, extremism and authoritarianism. Whether a subconscious choice or not, there is a gradual precedence of more serious news events over quirky ones. Interest over what tickles our fancy has been overtaken by the (increasingly less fanciful) fear of what threatens us.

When I first started mashing up "news things" on my blog, my designs were to have a summary of events where I could look back and have a (if somewhat artificial) sense of what that year was like. But I guess it wasn't simply a sense of the world, but a sense of my own mindset that I wanted to track. There is obviously a global project of fear at work, and I just wanted to see at a glance how much I had been affected by it over the years.

You can see the change not just in my selection of news headlines, but in my own posts, too. It's a harsher stance framed in hard, divisive language, focusing on skin coloured politics - which has become the norm for most of us.

This fear, this aggression is popular, its appeal to ordinary people is widespread. And while global populist movements threaten democratic institutions, it also draws attention to lingering problems like inequality: Trump may pass his healthcare reforms and push his loony policies on the back of this aggressive fear. The white man will rescind all the good work the black man has done. And for a short while, America will be the stronger for it, but the lesser because of it.

In the UK, Theresa May's high voltage stance against the European Union will no doubt (just) win her the snap election she called - the conservative vicar's daughter marching her soldiers against her political bogeymen of Labour opposition and European officialdom. And for a short while, Britain will be the stronger for it, but the lesser because of it.

It's the same rhetoric that is changing the face and fabric of Turkey, and whether you love or loathe him, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is here to stay. And for a short while, Turkey will be the stronger for it, but the lesser because of it.

To my critics who say I'm an apologist, I say that under Erdogan I understand why you want a strong, stable Turkey, even if it means a continued slide towards authoritarianism. It means your country will no longer hold itself ransom to Europe, or allow itself to be chained to a fluctuating tourism economy.

Erdogan's Turkey will become a stable power, which no country will be able to use as a scapegoat or run a smear campaign against for its white man goals. For example, I realise that Kurdish rebels aren't fighting in Syria and Iraq because of altruistic ideals. It's for land grab of countries once strong, now weak. And it's US backed.

But I also understand that as Turkey may rise today, it is destined to fall tomorrow - as is Trump's America, and May's Britain. And it will be lesser than before. The US-backed Kurdish rebels are destined to fall, too, because no one has a rubber stamp on forever. But if you give them today, you can have tomorrow.

What do I mean by that? I mean I would rather have a weak Turkey - yesterday's Turkey - if it means allowing freedom of the press. Instead of adding another notch to the already existing record of censoring, banning and blocking, if it means allowing freedom of speech, then I would rather the country continued as an object of ridicule.

I would rather have the freedom to challenge beliefs and be open to others, and have memorials erected to genocides real and imaginary all across the country, than the presidential Turkey of today - because although these freedoms may seem a weakness, when the walls inevitably fall, it's such foundations that will let the future stand.

Read more: Turkey and the EU | My Say >>

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