Destruction versus creation in Turkey

Destruction versus creation in Turkey

In a movie I recently watched, an artist holding an art exhibition was told that his paintings were ugly.

His reply was surprising: “I know that, but I did this on purpose. I want these ugly pictures to spread like a virus and destroy art from inside.” This scene reminded me of the ongoing fierce battle between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülen Movement. We are witnessing the implosion of the system in slow motion. And not only the warring parties, but also the public itself has become extremely polarized.

Yet the world outside is in a totally different mood. The recently elected mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, is a real contrarian and an opponent of the establishment. He is going to “head” the center of the capitalist system, New York City, but he was an active participant in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which could be labeled as an “anti-capitalist” phenomenon targeting the U.S. system.

Decades ago, he also actively supported the Communist Nicaraguan Sandinista movement against contras backed by the CIA. So he is literally the symbol of the “anti-American system.”

The U.S. and Russia, on the other hand, have almost become close allies. Following the suicide attacks in the Russian city of Volgograd last week, Washington announced that it stands ready to assist with security for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Not to mention the recently signed deal between the two countries on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. Following the rapprochement with the U.S., Putin domestically granted amnesty to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, his biggest political rival who had been in prison for 10 years due to his opposition, as well as the punk band Pussy Riot, which had been behind bars because of their anti-Putin songs.

Another surprising compromise came from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is globally known for his authoritarianism. In his New Year’s message, he called for peace and an end to confrontation with their decades-old rival, South Korea.

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is another leader who surprised us with both his domestic and international initiatives. First, he became the first Iranian leader to engage in dialogue with the U.S. since the Islamic Revolution 35 years ago. Then he became Washington’s ally on Syria. And domestically, in line with his promises during the presidential campaign, he presented a draft Citizens’ Rights Charter to the public on Nov. 26, 2013.

This all reminds us of the fact that people and countries can embrace each other even after the most brutal wars. This is the only way Turkey can now extract itself from the ongoing destructive vicious cycle. It has never become this urgent for Ankara to re-establish societal peace. To this end, it needs to take steps to embrace all segments of society. There are strong signals that a “gradual amnesty” is under way which would affect the Ergenekon, “Balyoz” and KCK trials and their convicts. In addition, five jailed Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies have been released in the last three days upon rulings from the High Criminal Court. These recent developments are very promising, yet can only serve as a good start.

This all reminds me of Schumpeter’s famous coin: “Destructive creation.” Accordingly, while old structures are incessantly destroyed, new ones are instead incessantly created. What we are going through is only destruction. Let’s hope this will transform into creation soon.