Shortly after the presentation of the Athens Declaration on May 13, Ece Temelkuran spoke at the MeRA25 Congress.
The Turkish journalist outlined some of the key global challenges today, as well as reflecting on her personal experiences and insisting on action rather than hope.
Her upbringing in Izmir, Turkey, taught her to always look on the bright side, despite the chaotic history of the region, which became a metaphoric basis of her insistence on good values and human dignity.
There, she understood “the meaning of beauty” while “the blood and the sparkles of the sea blended together” represented “the good and the evil merging together”.
“And among those who stared at Mediterranean, we are the descendants of those who decided that the north star of humankind should be the determination to stand by human dignity regardless of the price.
“Not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it makes us beautiful. We are the descendants of those who choose, above everything else, to stand together with friends, for the dream of a just world. Many times, it wasn’t because the final victory was certain, but there was this unmatched joy of standing for dignity.”
She relates this life lesson to the current crises we face today, particularly in regards to the migrant crisis in Europe.
“Also, there was the fact that the ruthless powers were too disgusting and too humiliating to sign with. And once again, today, history asks us to make our stance clear. We have multiple crises at hand, madmen have abducted the political establishment all around the world. Refugees are pushed back to the sea, to their death.
“Entire nations are fleeing for their lives,” she said.
“The banality of evil is now transformed into evil of banality and most painful of all is that we are every day asked to develop a numbness while watching these things. The world weighs heavy. And this is because the planet is about the give birth to the new.
“The old is long dead and the birth will be happening sooner than we expected.”
Ece went on to discuss her experience with people across the world regarding the rise of fascism.
“There are many who ask for hope and I’ve met many people throughout the last years, all around Europe, United States, Australia, and several other places who ask for hope,” she stated.
“So, in 2016, I started talking to the Europeans telling them right-wing populism. Or now we call it fascism. Fascism is not specific to those crazy countries like Italy, India, or Turkey. It is a global phenomenon and it is coming for them too.
“In 2016, Trump was just elected and Americans really believed that they could get rid of him in one year and they wouldn’t ever hear of him again. In 2016, Britain voted for Brexit. And there were many, many people that really believed that Brexit wouldn’t happen, even though it was voted. For France, people did not think that Le Pen would be a serious rival to Macron. And several other right-wing populous fascist leaders with fascist intentions. I told them that democracy in its current form is dead. It is only the theatrics of itself, because if there is no social justice, the fundamental promise of democracy is invalid.
“The fundamental contract of capitalism is in contradiction with the fundamental promise of democracy, which is equality. There still are many people who think that we can get rid of this madness that we either call right-wing populism or fascism by just, you know, fixing a few things, by supporting the centrist governments.
“No, it won’t be like that because fascism is embedded in this neoliberal system. And it’s going to be more and more clear as the system crumbles. The real phase of this understanding of the world and understanding of politics will become more and more apparent.”
But rather than simply hoping for things to resolve themselves, Ece insisted on the importance of action.
“Hope is an inconsequential word,” she said. “If there are any among you who asked this question, I would say that hope is too fragile a word for our times, because if I ask you these two questions, you’ll understand why I’m saying about these things. What if there is hope, what would you do differently tomorrow? Or what if there is no hope, what would it change in your political actions tomorrow? It doesn’t really change anything.
“And this idea of waiting for hope and asking for it takes our urgency away. It steals our urgency as political actors. It turns us into a congregation of sheep who that are waiting for a divine light.
“And I’m sure that they are asking you for hope as well. So I am telling you to tell them, actually that hope is already bought by free market economy.
“Capitalism is already exploiting and capitalising on the anxiety of bad times. And it is also producing gurus, in Ted speeches or several other places, talking about the hope big business is recruiting young people with serious concerns, telling them that they are going to do good jobs. They’re going to do ‘responsible’ business.
“And that is where the hope is. Capitalism is trying to deceive us into believing that the system can fix itself without any rupture without us.”
Watch Ece Temelkuran‘s full talk below
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