Saturday, May 31, 2014

Turkey, Resistance and the Common Good

The Gezi Occupation: for a democracy of public spaces | openDemocracy

Taksim, June 2013
Last year's Gezi Uprising echoed other "OCCUPY" movements of the past several years.  Centered around a large (and threatened) public space near Taksim Square, the uprising linked several communities of resistance.  And it was met with powerful and sometimes brutal force by authorities here.  In "Open Democracy", Nilufer Gole put it this way:

"This urban movement, started by young people, supported by the middle classes and featuring a strong female presence, has not weakened in the face of impressive displays of force by riot police who use tear gas without hesitation. Clouds of gas cover the sky in town centres, making breathing difficult; but these clouds, symbols of pollution and the abuse of power, have only bolstered the anger of ordinary citizens."

Just today, Saturday, protesters have gathered on the anniversary of the uprising, near the square.  And once again, official Turkish forces have moved swiftly--this time to prevent anything like last year's occupation from even getting started.  Al Jazeera reports on today's clashes here.

I'd be foolish to pretend that I understand the complexity of Turkey's crisis (or Egypt's, or Syria's, or Israel's for that matter).  But one thing at least seems clear.  There is a price--a social price--to be paid for the great imbalances in our global economy.  And the violence with which these inequities are often enforced.  The common good suffers when the very, very wealthy control whole economies and subservient politicl institutions, and the policies that make one feed the other.  And young people (a good many of them, it turns out) are not satisfied with gadgetry and limited opportunity.  Life is more than Twitter and a new iPhone.  They insist on being heard.

It's been that way for a long, long time.  And tonight, I pray to God for these young voices in Turkey: for their courage and creativity, for their nonviolent commitments to real and meaningful change.