ON “RETURNING TO NORMAL”
There are many who say that our lives will not return to normal, to how it was before the earthquake disaster on February 6. As if the period referred to as normal was indeed normal.
Normal, by definition, means in accordance with rules, regular. It could also be defined as conforming to a norm. Well then looking at it from this angle, would it not be abnormal to say that the period before February 6 was normal?
Just recently I found the opportunity to listen to Bekir Ağırdır, one of Turkey’s most influential and experienced public opinion researchers, speaking on a television programme. He was talking about the longing of the majority of Turkish people: To live with Western rules and institutions. Ağırdır arrived at this conclusion through the regular opinion polls he conducts.
It is impossible for political party representatives not to know about this longing of people. Well then, if they know, why are they not including this in their discourse? It could be helpful to find the answer to this question by starting from the issue of normal or abnormal.
Those who claim that life in Turkey was normal before February 6, are ignoring the fact that the earthquake is a natural disaster that reminds us that we have been living an abnormal life without rules. Putting everything aside, everyone has witnessed how rules concerning urban planning and construction have been ignored for a long time. The contractors whose buildings withstood the earthquake and the mayor whose district did not sustain any damage all because they followed the rules are being treated as heroes. On the other side of the medallion, there are hundreds of contractors, whose buildings collapsed, and mayors and other state officials who kind of approved this destruction by allowing the violation of the rules. If the period before February 6 was truly normal, the picture would have been completely the opposite. In other words, we would only be talking about a handful of contractors whose buildings collapsed and perhaps a few mayors who had turned a blind eye [to the breaking of the rules]. After all, if we were to turn back to its definition, the word normal means in accordance with the rules or conforming to a norm.
We face other problems here. How was it that these abnormalities were passed on to the public as normal for all these years? Let’s say that those in power found it easier to govern without rules, why did the opposition not lift a finger? Because everyone in that great oasis of normality acquires their position and status by normalising what is mediocre.
The opposition papers are in a justified uproar as to how no one who is accountable for this disaster has resigned. Twitter is full of arguments starting with “If something like this happened in the West…” But if you’re starting with the sentence “If something like this happened in the West…” you need to be able to make other assessments as well. For example, in countries that are governed according to the rules, including western countries, politicians who lose elections resign immediately. Besides a few exceptions dating back to the distant past, why does this not happen here? Because the institution of politics, which the public expects to address its longing for a life governed by Western rules and institutions, is somehow part of this abnormality.
It is essential to establish a political understanding that will contribute to ensure that people live a dignified and just life, that is to say, it is necessary to change the way we conduct politics. The understanding of the opposition, which opposes one-man rule in the simplest form, tries to reconstruct “one-man” [rule] in reverse, with the thesis that “our people do not like parties, they like leaders”. It is possible to describe the overwhelming majority of the parties as a set of structures, like the Shepherd’s Star, that orbit their leader. Terms such as transparency and democracy are not even the subject of parties. However, politics should be about building and strengthening mechanisms that will allow people to live a just and dignified life.
To repeat, whatever was done or accepted as normal before February 6 was not normal, it was abnormal. I’m saying this without discriminating between those in power and those in opposition. Let’s accept this fact, and construct the institution of politics of this beautiful country on the true aspirations of the people. Build this, not via polarization but via the oppressed, who are the main victims of poverty, injustice, impoverishment and corruption. Such a policy does not seek to profit from polarization but rather deals with the real problems of the people. If we believe those who try to pass on what is abnormal as normal, we will not be able to get out of this maelstrom of ordinary evil!
Source: ON “RETURNING TO NORMAL”