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HomeHeadlineThe Collective Responsibility: Turkey's Struggle with Societal Division and Accountability

The Collective Responsibility: Turkey’s Struggle with Societal Division and Accountability

Is the responsibility for irresponsible, corrupt, and disorderly urbanization also on external forces in Turkey? What about the looted nature? And who is responsible for violence against women and the growing prevalence of pedophilia? The tortures, abductions, and unjust judicial decisions, who is to blame for them? Who is responsible for the corruption, bribery, and theft that have spread to cellular levels and become systematic? Is it still external forces? Who is responsible for the marginalized? Who was responsible for the genocide of Anatolian natives, the Christian Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians? Did an external force give orders? Let’s assume it did. Who executed these orders? Did external forces push the Ottoman Empire into the First World War? Did they advise to send soldiers to Sarıkamış, leading to the deliberate massacre of tens of thousands? Who is responsible for the foreign debt? External forces? Should I go on?


Blaming others for responsibility is nothing more than a ridiculous and pathetic defense strategy.

Turkey is a poor, weak country that cannot provide good living conditions for its people and lacks clear direction and objectives. Is it possible for such diverse groups with different worldviews, ideals, lifestyles, goals, “good visions,” cultures, and education to coexist in parallel – or against each other – in a country and live in harmony? Can we call the struggle of these groups, each without any common ground, for pulling the country in their desired direction politics? If we consider the primary purpose of politics as collectively achieving the common good, we can easily observe that neither the collective nor the good exists in Turkey. Parallel collective entities (ideological, socio-economic, religious/belief-based, regional/geographical, class-based, educational, ethnic, cultural, etc.) that have lost the ability to be a society continue to exist along fault lines. They define themselves based on not being like the others. They thrive on conflict. They reproduce the culture of hatred and strive to gain better positions in the future civil war.

The institution called the state, which should be rational, has turned into a tool for these groups. Each group is trying to achieve its group goals with the help of the state. In such an environment, the state loses its neutrality. I don’t think it’s possible to claim that there has been a period in the last 100 years where the state was neutral.

As a result, collective failure becomes inevitable.

We need to find a reason for this.

We need to understand this.

Its legitimacy needs to be indoctrinated to the public.

In all these matters, the parallel society particles I mentioned are compatible. Each of them uses the same methods. They try to prove why they are right. They impose their perceptions and judgments on their target groups using a good marketing strategy. Each group has its own truths, its own realities. Each tribe and neighborhood has its own story. They live according to these truths and stories. They are confident that they are right, without any self-criticism, without change, without transformation, without bonding with others, without listening to them, without empathy, and they continue the cycle.

Each group blames the others for collective failure. They accuse others of being agents of external forces. They feed on the fear of not being able to continue their existence and use collective traumas as fuel. For example, the Treaty of Sèvres has such an impact on Turkey’s intellectuals and decision-makers. Fears of the country being divided, fragmented, losing territory, sovereignty, independence, being occupied, and colonized are kept alive. Other groups are blamed for policies that would lead to these outcomes, which are actually betrayals. In this world of simple and inconsistent distinctions, like black and white, friend and enemy, good and bad, those who take conscious actions to ignore what is happening, other than the masses who do not see (or pretend not to see), might be motivated by the fear of isolation.

Collective responsibilities come at a cost. In order to reverse the course and make Turkey a livable place, you need to take individual positions and disconnect from the collective as much as possible, in other words, achieve personal autonomy.

You are responsible. At least you cannot say, “I’m not part of this anymore,” about developments beyond your control, unable to create distance, and supporting the reproduction of what is happening. Is there a need for an external force to destroy such a “society”? If there are external forces that desire the destruction of a country that can successfully destroy itself, why should they invest time and resources in it?

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Dr. Mehmet Efe Caman is a Scholar of Politics at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). Dr. Caman’s main research focuses on Democracy, democratization and human rights, Turkish politics, the Middle East, Eurasian politics and post-Soviet regions, the European Union. He has published a monograph on Turkish foreign policy, numerous book chapters and scholarly articles in English, German and Turkish about topics related to his research areas.

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