In the mainstream media more and more articles have appeared discussing the existence of polarization in Turkey. While such articles were written on occasion in the past, they are much more noticeable nowadays. Most of the articles indicate that the country has basically convened around two different political views, and that the gap between them is getting wider. Even though these claims are true in a sense, polarization is not a problem exclusive to only Turkey. In many countries of the world, gray areas have disappeared in the fields of politics, economics and culture. Societies have gravitated to two extremes where it seems that it is either black or white as far as issues are concerned. The culture of reconciliation and compromise gave way to extreme ideas where people are less tolerant of opposing idea. This is undoubtedly not a healthy development for the future of the world. It should not be forgotten that the current trend of polarization serves the interests of some power groups that organize revolutions or rebellions such as the Arab Spring known in the Middle East, as events in the world are playing right into the hands of those who want to drag it into ruin.
The April 16th, 2017 referendum is regarded as a consequence of the polarization in Turkey by some political pundits especially as the results were very close and the sharp rhetoric employed by the two sides support these interpretations. Similarly many Western democracies determine their policies based on elections that have also produced very close results. As a result of classical politics, there is often serious controversy between the sides. For example, during the recent Brexit referendum, which will likely affect the next 100 years of Britain, British society was virtually divided into two opposing groups. Before and after the referendum, both sides made serious accusations about one another, and the resulting vote was almost equally divided between the two sides. Moreover, unlike Turkey, mass demonstrations took place on the streets of Britain. Objections have been made in Parliament and to the judiciary to reject the decision.
In the US elections where Donald Trump won, the results were not much different. At the end of the very close race between Clinton and Trump, the winner only became clear in the early hours of the morning. As it will be remembered, after these elections, the streets in the US were in turmoil for days, and the demonstrations became violent. But neither in Britain nor in the United States have these demonstrations changed the outcome of the election, which is a democratic process. It is not expected to in any event.
Thus some British and US media outlets that carry out publications suggesting that Turkey is polarized should understand that the situation in their particular country is far worse. But for some reason, the polarization in Turkey recently has become more interesting for them to criticize. The situation is not very different in other EU countries. In many EU countries, the rise of political parties that are at the extreme ends of the spectrum continues. This is regarded as a sign that the polarization will increase progressively in the short and medium term future. It is a fact that the polarization we see in societies is actually a global phenomenon. In politics, sports, or even social issues, people are easily divided. The most extreme and the harshest speaker becomes the most prominent. Instead of sitting around a table and finding common ground, people try to impose their desires upon the other side by suppressing them and humiliating them. On a small scale, societies have imposed upon themselves a reflection of Huntington’s idea of the “clash of civilizations.” Some dialectic materialists act with the principle that “first, let the societies clash; civilizations will clash as a result of that anyway.”
This is a plot which all societies and civilizations must make the effort to stop. Muslim societies especially must show that this is a false narrative and that societies and civilizations are strengthened through compromise, not conflict.
Polarization is a global problem and the lack of love lies at its roots. The consequences of this can be quite serious for all societies. Moreover, this mindset serves the interests of some warmongers who want the civilizations to clash. In the 21st century if we don’t want to live through the same horrors that cost 100 million lives in the 20th century, we must stop this artificial web of hatred.
—The author is a prominent Turkish writer and activist. He can be reached at: www.harunyahya.com