Bad times bring us together

Inferno
Inferno
Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:17 pm by Inferno

I’m sure most people will have heard of the protests in Turkey. A friend of mine is Turkish so I always get updates, however reliable they might be, through her.

A recent message on her FB recently said the following:

Sehr geehrter Herr Ministerpräsident; heute hast du uns einen Gefallen getan, dessen du dir noch nicht bewusst bist.

Ich habe heute einen Fenerbahce Fan gesehen, der vor den Polizisten, denen du den Befehl zum Angriff gegeben hast, zu Boden gestürzt ist und dem – von einem Galatasaray Fan – auf die Beine geholfen wurde. Schüler, die ihr Brot und Wasser teilen, kurdisch- und türkischstämmige Menschen, die Hand in Hand laufen. Das habe ich heute gesehen.

Frauen, die Sie als Prostituierte bezeichnen sind mit Milch und Zitrone in der Hand, aus den Bordellen, den Verletzten zur Hilfe geeilt. Ich habe gesehen, dass Menschen, die Sie als Travestien bezeichnen, ihre Hotelzimmer für Menschen geöffnet haben, die Zuflucht suchen, Ärzte und Rechtanwälte haben ihre Telefonnummern mitgeteilt, Medizinstudenten haben Erste Hilfe geleistet.

Ich habe ältere Frauen gesehen, die Essigtücher verteilen. Händler, die ihre Netzwerksicherheitsschlüssel freigeben, Hotelbesitzer, die die Verletzten in ihre Lobby nehmen.
Das habe ich heute gesehen.

Ich habe gesehen, dass ein Fahrer der Gemeinde die Straße mit seinem Bus versperrt hat, damit ja kein Panzer eindringen kann. Apotheker, die ihre Apotheken in der Nacht öffnen habe ich gesehen.

Und sei dir sicher, heute Nacht waren nicht die Gasbomben der Grund für die Tränen in unseren Augen – es war unser Stolz !!

 

That’s quite the wall of text and in German too. Here’s a google-translated version with some corrections on my part:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister, today you have done us a favour, which you are not aware of yet.

Today I have seen a Fenerbahce fan who was thrown to the ground by the police, whom you have given the order to attack on the ground and said fan was raised to his feet by a Galatasaray fan. Students who share their bread and water, Kurdish and Turkish-born people who run hand in hand. I’ve seen it today.

Women who you call a prostitute with milk and lemon in hand, from the brothels, rushed to help the injured. I saw that the people you refer to as travesties, opened their hotel rooms for people seeking refuge, doctors and lawyers have posted their phone numbers, medical students have given first aid.

I have seen older women who spread vinegar cloths. Traders who share their network security key, hotel owners who take the injured in their lobby.
I’ve seen it today.

I have seen that a driver of the municipality has blocked the road with his bus, so it can not be penetrated by armour. Pharmacists who open their pharmacies in the night, I’ve seen it.

And rest assured, tonight it weren’t the gas bombs which were the reason for the tears in our eyes – it was our pride!

 

In itself, that’s a very nice letter sent to Mr Erdogan by Mr Akyut G.

What stands out though, at least to me, is the sharp contrast between “normal” times and “problematic” times. Generally, the football (and by that I mean soccer) fans would beat each other to a bloody pulp. The prostitutes would be shunned by large parts of the society, only to be required later on.

I don’t think this is at all unusual. For example, Germany was heavily shelled in WW2 (and in turned shelled others quite severely) but when a common enemy, the Soviet Union, was declared, other Western powers fairly quickly allied themselves with the Germans.

Yet as soon as this common enemy faded away, nationalist feelings would tend to grow and allies would once again become… well, not quite enemies, but relationships faded.

I’ll draw on one example to explain what I mean: In a recent blog post about right wing parties I introduced the Austrian party FPÖ. They’re probably the most right-wing party you can currently find in Austria. Looking at the results of national votes in Austria one can see a curious trend: With very few exceptions, the FPÖ had fewer than 10% in most counties, but in 1988, just as the fall of the Berlin Wall was imminent (as we now know in hindsight), the FPÖ suddenly made a tremendous jump in votes. (In some counties earlier, see Oberösterreich, in some a bit later)

Now there might be any number of reasons for that, but I’ll only focus on the two main reasons: In 1986, Jörg Haider took over the FPÖ, which may have caused votes to soar.
I don’t think so, however. If he were the reason for the jump, you’d have expected votes to go down after he split from the party in 2004 and after he died in 2008. The opposite is true: Though a slight dip can be seen in 2004 (after Haider created the BZÖ, the second right-wing party in Austria), the numbers rose again a few years later and the total right-wing voters consistently rose.

 

This leaves, in my opinion, only one conclusion, which incidentally is the second reason I said I’d mention above: Nationalism, at least in Austria, is on the rise. I think the same holds true for many other countries: The Front National (FN) in France has constantly gained votes in the presidential run since its inception in 1974. Both the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alantie (NV-A) and the Vlaams Belang (VB) have gained votes and would currently hold over 50% if they worked together. Even the British National Party (BNP), by the way the only party that Wikipedia claims is “right-wing extremist”, has gained votes, even though they currently barely reach 2%.

I think the trend is clear: Nationalism. right-wing tendencies and euro-scepticism is on the rise and with it a sort of “fight for yourself” attitude. I think that’s all fairly undeniable.

There are two questions I would like to pose:

1) What can be done to counter that movement? It seems a fair number of people who would have voted centre-right are now voting left, simply because they’re frightened by a right-wing takeover or a cooperation. (Lefties would never work with right-wingers… right?)

2) Seeing the post in the context of the above letter: Do you think it’s true that we will only fight side by side if there are common enemies, as opposed to common goals? I can’t shake the horrible feeling that there might be something to it.

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