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Updated: May 28, 2021

Between oppressions and violence, President Erdogan's Turkey continues its drive towards an authoritarian and violent regime. The violent arrests of 1st May, police raids targeting intellectuals such as the one against the Belge publishing house, founded by Ragip Zarakolu, confiscating more than 2000 books, judicial persecution against personalities in exile, such as sociologist Pinar Selek, the requests for the expulsion of Turkish or Kurdish militants, notably addressed to France, can only question us, especially since all this is done under the gaze of a Europe, which seems to have forgotten the "values", which it constantly preaches to others on other occasions.

All these acts are in no way consistent with an ethic worthy of the name. Once again, and as in the past, exacerbated nationalism, combined with social Darwinism and religious conformity, leads this government to take dangerous options. Obsessed as it is by the question of the survival of the State and the order, which is consubstantial to it, it is increasingly committed to an institutionalized dictatorship.

We are not only talking about the rejection of cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, or ethnic diversity, but about a shift towards authoritarian populism and territorialized identity nationalism.

So how can one explain that despite the arrests of thousands of people, the muzzling of the press, the injunctions and even the threats made to European countries (and the safety of their citizens), the European political class remains so "conciliatory"?

Of course we can advance "the casuistry of decisions", the need for compromise. We can even say, since we are talking about ethics, that this is only a "pastoral" for the devotees of human rights, but this spiral of violence is of primary interest to all of us since the process of integrating Turkey into Europe is once again engaged and well.

Is it necessary to recall that the history of the Turkish Republic is not based on that of democracy, but above all on that of the State? And this State still hasn't given birth to a proper rule of law. The silence or the "sottovoce" reprimands of the European authorities question the ethics in politics and the possibility of no longer separating "a morality of conviction" and a "morality of responsibility", which would be defined by what's realistic in a given context. More than the gap between politics and ethics, should not we insist on the intersection of ethics and politics, as Paul Ricoeur pointed out?

Taking stock of the phenomena of power that characterize international relations must not mean that ethics is irrelevant, but should lead us to rethink the way in which its demands are articulated with the realism of given situations.

The diktat of blind pragmatism and the normative logic of international relations can no longer regard the moralization of these international relations as a mere utopia.

The question was clearly asked by Stanley Hoffmann, a professor of political science: "Given the nature of international politics and the constraints on any foreign policy, what are the moral limits that actors (States, international organizations, regional organizations, transnational actors, etc.) must respect and, on the other hand, the moral objectives they must set for themselves?". As a reminder, this figure of political science and international relations was one of the first advocating for an ethics of international relations.

In Europe, we should not doubt the "moral resources" of States. Accepting without complaint the contradictions of a State, which wants to become a member of the EU, and which, in order to assert its power, relies among others on ethnolinguistic fractures, between Turks and Kurds, confessional fractures, between Sunnis and Alevis, or socio-cultural fractures, would lead to question the very idea of what Europe considers to be a democracy, a political system which, it should be remembered, it proclaimed to have universal value.

One can also use the term "post-democracy", a term formalized and popularized by Colin Crouch, a British sociologist, who applies it to a political system, which behind the appearance of democracy, deprives the people of their political role, a pseudo liberal democracy deprived of any substance.

Perpetual renegotiations in the face of the constraints of reality, if not tempered by an ethics of politics, may lead to a purely instrumental representation of democracy and of those who embody it. It is not a question of having a naive conception of human nature that would defend a finalism of values, but it must be noted that the game of geopolitical, economic, energy and other interests leads to a growing separation between the order of the market and the order of human rights.

By ceasing to conceive politics as irremediably deriving from a-morality, we might consider a body (in Europe) capable of promoting ends and not merely a technique for the elaboration of rules and norms.

Political systems which pride themselves on being democratic but which constantly violate their values in fact weaken the legitimacy of democratic systems and promote the rise of populism.

Let us hope, as Jean Ziegler, in "the insurrection of consciences".

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