Column: Democracy crisis in US and Europe

By: İbrahim Karagül

Foreign Affairs magazine published an issue with the cover reading, “Is democracy dying?” Based on the regress and weakening of democracy worldwide, the theme “the end of the period of democracy” is being discussed. According to the magazine, democracy, throughout the world, is at its worst age since the 1930s.

Regardless of content, regardless of the sentences used, this is a subject that certainly requires discussion. But a discussion that can be directed by the intelligentsia, by thinkers will not close this deficit. Because a mental world that they cannot format is forming, and a security world that they cannot balance is being built. I personally think that in this sense, Turkey needs to make an effort to interpret the world and itself.

Did you notice, the US and EU no longer talk about democracy, freedom?

This is not a matter of being anti-democratic, anti-West. This is not an ideological discussion either. This is a matter about how and to which direction rivers flow toward humanity’s common future, about how humanity started to write a new story.

The matter is very important. For almost two decades, I have been one of the first persons to bring part of the new debates in the world to the Turkish public. Certain preparations targeting Turkey and our region, new debate matters were mostly mentioned for the first time in this column. Today I see that matters on which I said efforts were being conducted and most of the projects, which I drew attention to ten years ago, saying that they would greatly impact Turkey and cause great changes in the region, have materialized.

As for the articles I have been writing during the last two years, by asking questions like, “Don’t European Union countries talk about democracy anymore, don’t they talk about human rights? Doesn’t this draw your attention?”, I tried to attract your attention to the new situations I sensed, noticed, tried to make sense of, tried to conceptualize.

June 24 might be the end of history for them…

When I saw the magazine’s cover, I saw was not mistaken, that most people worldwide sensed the same thing. I saw and see that humanity is setting sail to a different area, that many things belonging to the world of the 20th century are disappearing, that while a new world is being established, some of the values that were once sanctified are not going to be given a place at all.

Hence, in all my articles, I made statements along the lines of, “Don’t talk with cliché sentences, don’t take action with memorized political discourses. A brand new wave is coming and taking all countries under its influence. Push aside 20th-century terminology, a new language is forming. Nobody should think power is going to be built in Turkey with 20th-century politics. The lifespan of such discourses is most likely going to expire on June 24. Those who continue to resist on clichés are going to step off the stage. This is why Turkey’s opposition has no chance of coming to power.”

Nobody takes their human rights reports seriously anymore

Because Europe was abandoning terms like democracy, freedoms, coexistence and multiculturalism, which it built post-World War II. The European Union’s values were destroyed. Citizenship laws, state of emergency laws, migrant laws were all changed, and fascism started to rise.

Nobody was taking the EU’s human rights reports seriously anymore. The most important matter for EU countries is to build power, to increase strength, to try and remain standing in the world of the future. They started to seek power in different areas. This started to shrink the area of democracy and expand other security areas.

US democracy packages suddenly disappeared!

The U.S. no longer had the morality to pressure China, Asian and Latin American countries about human rights. Apart from morality, this was a tool for political pressure, but the U.S. abandoned that weapon too and was almost not even mentioning human rights. It no longer had such a claim either. Human rights became a luxury for the U.S., the democratic discourse debilitated to the utmost.

The U.S.’s democracy packages, especially those to the Middle East, had reached its end. There was now open war and certain covert packages were no longer needed. Areas of freedom were shrinking within the U.S. itself; the discourse of democracy and human rights were being perceived as exceptionally luxurious discourses.

In brief, the U.S. and EU had ended their democracy and human rights leadership claims, theories and projects. Why did this happen, what was happening, how did the U.S. and EU come to the same position as the countries they once angrily confronted, and how did they abandon their biggest export items, their pressure tools?

Democracy crisis after economic crisis: Center countries are collapsing

Allow me to share these two notes:

1- The 2008 global economic crisis was not the crisis of developing countries or markets. It was the crisis of the world’s center countries. The bosses of the global economy were failing and could not produce a solution. Their end had come, the economic system they built was in a deadlock. They had to immediately change it and build a new system on sharing with new rising powers.

2- But they didn’t do it. If they did, they would lose their global power monopoly, and this would be the end of the West’s centuries-old global dominance. They did not share, but they changed their world plans. After four centuries, the West has reached the end of its tenure as global boss. It is right at this moment that discussions such as “Is democracy dying, is it the end of democracy?” started in the West.

The regress of democracy or the “democracy crisis” is not in developing countries, but directly in the center of the West. Center countries undergoing economic crises are now being dragged into the democracy crisis. The West is being struck by its own claim.

The end of democracy for the West

There are very serious changes that are common for almost all countries. All states are strengthening their area of central power. All states are strengthening their defense shields. All states are trying to keep and guarantee their power in the economy. All states are making extraordinary efforts regarding public mobilization, and giving strength to social solidarity. All states are bringing their historical theories to the present.

Nobody should be surprised if a while later, the statement, “The end of the democracy period is here” is used very commonly. This discussion seems to have started already. After the economic crisis, we are entering the democracy crisis period in the U.S. and Europe. Be prepared, a great deal is going to change. The West is becoming democracy’s greatest enemy.

Democracy crisis for US and Europe, not Turkey

Those who think they are going to win the elections by wearing a hat, through buffoonery, who seek power with 40-year-old political discourses, who are presented as political figures for security-axis multinational projects are outside this discussion.

I repeat:

A “democracy crisis” is breaking out, investment is being made on the end of democracy, not in our country, not in developing countries, not in new rising countries like Turkey, but in the U.S. and the European Union, in Western countries.


*Ibrahim Karagül is a Turkish writer and journalist. He is the editor-in-chief of Turkish Yeni Şafak newspaper. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkish newspaper on June 8, 2018)