The Façade vs. the Nature

Behind_the_facade_of_an_old_building_-_geograph.org.uk_-_663540That is how I explain and build all my theory about everything in authoritarian regimes hidden, although quite transparent, under the cover of democracy. It is labeled by many as hybrid regimes or Competitive Authoritariyanism by S. Levitsky and L. Way. The latter is defined as regimes which “are civilian regimes in which formal democratic institutions are widely viewed as the primary means of gaining power, but in which fraud, civil liberties violations, and abuse of state and media resources so skew the playing field that the regime cannot be labeled democratic“. I have no intention to claim for a better definition here in this small post but I am suggesting the “The Façade vs. the Nature” approach to the understanding of the phenomena with an assumption that such a simple and dialectic approach would help us unleash more our understanding of it. This approach is partially built on the basis of the definition provided above that on the one hand there are formal democratic institutions which issue legitimacy for the regime, mirroring, to a certain extent, the governance in democracies, while the practices of power struggle are not going through them but corruption, violence and abuse of state apparatus and thus, resources of the nation. In other words, the politics is shaped by the fight over the balance between the façade and the nature.

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People are starving in Syria

People are starving, dying of hunger in Syria. There is a just cause for humanitarian intervention in Syria. Yet, the countries are divided over their ‘right intention’ and thus, legitimacy of doing so. The question of determining country(s) with ‘right intention’ (with no political stake in Syria) who is(are) eligible to the legitimacy of undertaking such humanitarian intervention remains open. Nevertheless, the problem is not only about finding a right (with no political interest) country to intervene but also in this or that way the involvement of other countries with a political stake in Syria. Almost, the whole country has become fight fields for the proxy wars of those stakeholders. The United Nations which is the only global mechanism for giving legitimacy to intervene has become useless, as those key stakeholder countries simply cannot come to a common decision. It seems as a deadlock. Yet, the humanitarian crisis has been worsening each day over the last few years taking lives of many. The price of 1 kg rice (which is an important ingredient in the menu of Syrian people) has risen to 100 USD. People are cooking soup of olive leafs and sticks. The situation necessitates an urgent action to end or soften the disastrous humanitarian crisis. Waiting for one or the other of involved countries to win the proxy war would take more and more lives.
The minimum solution could be an agreement of involved countries to draw back from further increasing the tension and open a corridor for humanitarian aid. There is also a lesson to be drawn from the case. The world should establish a strict control over informal, hidden interventions as it potentially leads to proxy wars which is difficult to end. The current situation in Syria is a good example of what could happen when informal intervention is allowed.

All this does not question the concept of humanitarian intervention in general. Rather, it emphasizes the importance of limiting to legitimately determined humanitarian intervention. However, the fact that the current situation is worse than the situation before 2011 and that those countries that supported opposition groups to overthrow Bashar Assad also contributed to the emergence of current situation (this is not to attribute the whole current situation totally to the intervention of those countries) put responsibility on those involved countries to immediately end the crisis either peacefully or through directly involving and changing the regime, and then, ensure the transition of Syria in the post war period. This responsibility lies with the US, the UK, Turkey and those European and Arab countries engaged in from the very beginning of the processes.

childrens-day-syria

Photo Credit: International Business Times (Getty)

Freedom of Speech vs Hate Speech?

Following the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, many have argued that those cartoons published on the pages of the magazine fall into the category of hate speech and it is represented as a category which worth to care about. With this approach, Muslims, Jews, Christians and all other groups as well as those in authority can identify what fall into their own categories of hate speech and thus, all can deprive each other from talking about certain issues. And there would be no end to this tendency. I suspect there would left very few issues to talk about. Once we had such kind of categories, groups would tend to think constantly about what includes in their categories of hate speech. Could you imagine such a situation?

Freedom of speech is like a free market. Through trading and bargaining humans learn what is worth selling or buying and thus, they generate their own values from the market individually. Similarly, only through talking people can create their own values out of the free speech market, and the responsibility of deciding what to talk about or not should only be at the individual level. The prophet is ridiculed? You also ridicule the values of those people. Is not it Islam that calls all non-Muslims infidel and prohibit Muslims to marry with non-Muslims? Does not it fall into the category of hate speech?

This is what, I think, liberal democracy tells us. Nothing is more important than the human life and no group of humans are more valuable than others with their beliefs,

On the arguements of “this is not true islam” and “too sensitive”

Following the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, i have hear many claiming that this is not true Islam. I felt I need to comment on this arguement. Religions are not static, they are, like all other cultural elements, social constructions, constantly constracted and reconstracted. They change as the society changes and they are like their societies. It is the society that defines what kind of religion they want and with what kind of rules they want to live. For various reasons, some societies may have taken a certain religion up as a tool for the achievement of its objectives -.realisation of itself. Thus, like any other ideology, religion is a tool. It is the level of development of the society that identifies for what will the religion practiced in that society be used for. In this sense, in regard to the terror attack in Paris, I would say, yes this is true islam but all islams are true.

Meanwhile, many argue that what Charlie Hebdo publishes is too sensitive. There is a thin line on which we need to go. On the one hand, muslims, and all others, should be able to accept that those who do not hold the same views can talk differently and learn not to punish others for this. On the other hand, individually we need sometimes assess how much important is what we say or do and how could it affect others feelings. Yet, in the case of Charlie Hebdo, after the attack it is very important to show that terror as a way of punishment of people whose views are different from Islam will never be effective.

Foreign funded NGO sector: Is it really what we want?

Large group of happy hands vector.Before answering the question set in the heading, I think, it is important to look at why we want/have to associate for a cause.

Associating generates power in different forms (financial, legal, social, etc). More general is the cause of association, higher is the possibility of the embezzlement of power. State is one and the most general form of association. With a huge range of functions and responsibilities, it also creates a lot of chances for the embezzlement of power despite the existence of advanced mechanisms of accountability and participation of the modern period. Moreover, the system of representation does not always help all raise their voices properly and timely and influence on decisions concerning them (in an extent it concerns them). It does not save room for flexibility. Yet, some (group of) people may need to associate with certain people in certain issues but with other people in different issues. Thus, from a liberal point of view a better democracy is where people associate for different concrete causes and with different people and advocate for their causes through legal mechanism. Associating at medium or lower levels means the possibility of having wider variety of groups with specific attitudes and interests advocating for concrete causes. Existence of mechanisms for associating and fighting for different causes through legal means increase the acceptability of the results of decision-making processes and gives greater opportunity to interested people to influence upon decisions. Participation of the same group of people or organisations in a number of networks could ease the flow of information but also increase interdependence between different groups which in result creates a complex system of highly mutually-interdependent groups, eliminating the possibility of taking violent actions. Continue reading “Foreign funded NGO sector: Is it really what we want?”

Democratisation posing challenges to the right to self-determination

The principles of territorial integrity and right to self-determination are just two most important norms of international law. Many articles have been written on how these principles emerged and how they are referred to in histories of different nations. Many scholars, political commentators and politicians have argued in favor of the superiority of one of the these principles over the other. Avoiding commenting on any of these discussions, here I will only argue how democratisation pose challenges to the right to self-determination.

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To be a rational and morally driven actor? 1

The arguement is that a rational actor is more dependent on the environment than a morally driven actor. Or how many can paraphrase it irrationals are more independent than rationals. And, the main reason for this is that a rational actor makes calculations of its (and others’) actions based on what are given by the environment. This is, the environment gives choices to and put restrictions on the actor. Thus, a rational actor is the one which conform to its environment, playing with the rules of the game. However, it is difficult to argue about the possibility of being fully independent from the environment. In this sense, morally driven actors also have some dependence on their surrounding environments. Continue reading “To be a rational and morally driven actor? 1”