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Democrats and autocrats: How did it get to this point?

6 dakika okuma süresi

With the end of the Cold War, the emergence of the United States as the sole superpower was not the end of history, and the single superpowered world order was replaced by a multipolar order. In this multipolar new world order, regional powers have come to the fore and the alliance of regional powers has been shaped by the equation of common interests. That situation opened a door full of uncertainties about how it would evolve.

To understand this new unknown, it is necessary to remember again how the political developments in the world have evolved into this new unknown. From the beginning of the 2000s to the 2010s, it is observed that the influence of China and Russia, two of the 5 permanent countries of the UNSC, in global politics increased in different ways. China has become a potential superpower by surpassing the USA with its purchasing power and exports, Russia has increased its influence in foreign policy again as a military power during the Presidency of Vladimir Putin, and both countries’ approach is to have a common interest perspective to break the global hegemony of the USA. The USA, which lost a very serious reputation in the world by invading Iraq and Afghanistan in this period, took steps to regain its reputation that was lost during the presidency of Obama.

The rise of populism led to the decline of democratic values

In addition to the fact that global problems in the world (migration, climate crisis, inequality in income distribution, gender inequality, energy security, fight against terrorism, etc.) cannot be solved within the framework of an inclusive reconciliation with structural reforms, due to conflicts of interest of global companies and states, populism and nationalism, especially with universal values, the emergence of a new crack in the Western Alliance, where the vision of acting together was partially implemented, led to the beginning of a period in which the virtues of democracy were re-discussed.

Especially in 2016, the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA caused the disagreements between the USA and the EU to deepen, while the perspective of joint struggle and cooperation with the problems was badly damaged. The European Union showed a separation in terms of common values, especially with the refugee crisis, and even the United Kingdom (which was a privileged member state) left the EU after Brexit. In this period of increasing tension and political polarization, the USA, during the Trump era, revealed its intention to pursue a mercantilist policy in its institutional relations (defense and security, economic cooperation) with its traditional allies.

At this point, Trump’s confrontation with the US establishment caused deep breaks in the American society and the 2020 US Presidential Elections were held in a period of increasing polarization and even conflict.

Pandemic reminded the importance of democratic values

While the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of people to die and the global economy to go into recession, it also caused global problems to surface politically. In particular, inequality in income distribution continued as an increasing problem during the pandemic process, and the devastating effects of the climate crisis were seen to threaten humanity in different areas of the world.

In addition, while the states with a strong social structure announced support plans to protect their citizens at the beginning of the pandemic process, the political regimes dominated by the autocracy were insufficient to realize this social protection and that sharpening differentiation was consumed by people very quickly with the global effect of the internet. Thus, demands for a fair share of wealth mobilized societies in different countries of the world.

With the election of Joe Biden as the new president of the USA, the USA went into the process of reorganizing its bilateral relations with its traditional partners, while it went to the process of realizing social reforms in the country, unprecedented in its history. This process, which started in the Trump era, continued with the development of social rights as well as individual freedoms during the Biden era. The reason for these developments is the emergence of social inequalities, which is caused by the US capitalist system’s social limitation of the state, in a way that harms social peace. One of the most important reasons for the emergence of these developments in the USA was the success of the EU countries in this field as a social state.

The new unknowns: What will happen now?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now a topic that is covered especially in the Western media as a new hot conflict area of increasing tension between democracy and autocracy. Almost a month has passed since the beginning of the Russian occupation, to list the elements that emerged to understand the new unknown:

1)US President Joe Biden has been seen to reinforce cooperation with the US’s traditional allies.

2)It has been revealed that Europe’s dependence on Russia in energy is a handicap against Russia in terms of European security policies.

3)Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drew the reaction of world public opinion and Russia lost the psychological war.

4)In addition to the pressure on inflation caused by monetary expansion due to the pandemic, rising energy prices caused inflation to rise even more.

5)President of Ukraine Zelensky, whose popularity was gradually decreasing before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gained a very serious reputation in this country and the world.

6)It is the first time a country has fought for total solidarity and resistance to join the EU and the Western Alliance. As a result, Ukraine was promoted to the status of a nomination candidacy for the EU.

7)The Ukrainian Armed Forces put up a successful resistance against the Russian occupation, showing that Russia’s military technology capacity is behind the weapon systems of NATO countries.

8)Anti-war protesters in Russia held demonstrations in the capital of the country, Moscow.

9)Western countries gradually aggravated economic sanctions on Russia.

10)The assets of the oligarchs, one of the important actors of the regime in Russia, were frozen in Western countries.

11)More than 3 million Ukrainian refugees migrated to EU countries due to the war.

12)Russian President Putin escalated the tension by threatening nuclear and the possibility of nuclear war worried the whole world.

13)EU countries have announced that they will increase their defense spending and the EU Army emergency task force (Compass) will be ready in 2025.

In addition to these developments, US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan showed the signs of the new unknown in a statement at the White House. Sullivan also expressed that difficult days await Ukraine and that this war will not end easily. Sullivan: “First, to help Ukraine defend itself by procuring weapons and military equipment, secondly, to impose serious and increasing economic costs on Russia, together with our allies, and third, by strengthening our stance on the eastern flank, helping NATO, the western alliance, and our allies to avoid the other side of Russian aggression. We focused on making them more resistant to other forms. President Biden’s visit to Europe will include further action for each of these 3 key pillars.”

Is democracy corrupting or being internalized?

According to Marxist critics, who think that democratic values have become bourgeois, the essence and content of democracy is being recoded to correspond to the sovereign. Academician Dincer Demirkent in his article titled “Turkey I in Transition: Calling the Subject of Democracy”: “Nobody talks about preserving democracy when geopolitics imposes itself. There is a simple reason for this, democracy is a class concept; like autocracies fostered by oligarchs, whose names are so popular these days. Democracies and autocracies are not enemies because they have different institutions, but because they are based on different classes. Institutions do not defend democracy. Democracy has a subject, a verb, and a sentence consisting of at least these two. The subject of democracy is demos, and demos is a concept of class.” He adds perspective to this process.

The desire of the Ukrainian people for democratization, which started with the “Orange Revolution” in 2004, resulted in the invasion of the country by Russia. This development was also a price to be paid for democratization. However, the occupation of Ukraine makes us understand the position of Turkey, which has never felt the need to pay this price and has had serious opportunities to democratize many times.

Translate: Medina Velija

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