When we were living in Buenos Aires with my spouse, we asked one of our close friends to cat sit for our two pets while we were on vacation. During our two-week absence, our landlady was handling the repair of our broken WiFi and would be contacting our friend to sort out the details. One day, the landowner called her to ask for the WiFi password. When our friend replied “evaperon123,” our landlady screamed: “How can this be? I am sure the former tenant set up this password. I would never set such a password.” Realizing how she may have overreacted, she continued: “I don’t know what you think of Eva Peron and I do not want to start an argument about this.” To which our friend replied: “No problem.”
|Monte Vera, Argentina – Mirrored – Diego Müller|
As a Turkish couple that had escaped severe political polarization in Turkey, we were surprised to find out that even a simple password could lead to a political argument. Eva Peron was the wife of Juan Peron, founder of Peronism and the leader of the Argentine working class during the 1950s. She became a phenomenon for her activities regarding economically disadvantaged people, especially for women and children. Millions of people cried during her funeral, while a considerable number of others were glad to see her gone. Those were the ones who believed that Peronism was just another name for a type of populism, which they blamed for everything that was wrong with Argentina.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – Osvaldo Pugliese Monument – NRuArg|
Peronism gained a foothold in the war against communism, but was interrupted by several military coups. The latest coup was directed against Isabel Peron, the wife of Juan Peron on March 24, 1976. Isabel Peron had to deal with her decreasing popularity, financial instability, inflation, international isolation and violence, which led to the 1976 coup. During the so called “Dirty War” between 1976 and 1983, it is estimated that 30,000 people disappeared. Many of them were intellectuals, students and labor union staff. In 1983, the path to democracy was restored. March 24 was declared the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice in 2006, and, since then, thousands of citizens commemorate the victims of the military dictatorship.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – Libertador Avenue – Buteo|
Mauricio Macri was elected as the president of Argentina in 2015 by gaining 51.4% of the vote. This marked the end of a 12-year Kirchnerist period, which based its policies on supporting low-income classes and creating a national and independent economy after the big economic crisis in 2001. Macri promoted himself as the harbinger of change, promising to cut ties with the Peronist history that had entangled Argentina for the last 70 years.
Many of Macri’s supporters, who belong to the middle and upper-middle classes, perceive Peronism to be one of the historical problems for Argentina, as it promoted a populist culture and prevented the revival of Argentina. They severely criticized the economic aid given to low-income classes as well as other countries in Latin America, while they saw Macri as a crucial actor for profound cultural change and a more prosperous economy.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – In the rain – Patricio-Murphy|
However, according to Peronists and leftists, Macri was aligned with the global ruling class, who trusted that he would implement their economic policies. This caused a 1000% increase in public tariffs, decreased retirement pensions, a 100% devaluation in 3 years, and 60% interest rates without any decrease in the 40% inflation rate, and ultimately stagflation. Moreover, the reluctance of the middle class to provide free healthcare and education services to foreigners in Argentina is worrisome, as it would taint Argentina’s image as a country welcoming immigrants.
Deteriorating economic indicators, several mass demonstrations and rumors about a possible return of Peronism in the 2019 elections have ignited deep debates at Argentinian asado (grilled meat) gatherings, as social anxiety increases due to a lack of alternative paths in the short run.
|Ankara, Turkey – Protests – Cagkan Sayin|
This level of polarization is not limited to Argentina. Turkey’s Gezi protests in 2013 were widely supported by the middle class in order to raise a voice against Erdogan’s increased authority. Meanwhile, most of the business world supported him, as well as a majority of the working class, who believe that Erdogan represents their conservative identity. The coup attempt in 2016 and the Constitutional Referendum in 2017, where Erdogan claimed victory by receiving 51.36% of the vote, hastened the deepening of polarization. The economic crisis in 2018 dramatically decreased any hope of re-organizing a stable and harmonious society in the short term.
|Istanbul, Turkey – Clashes – Alexandros Michailidis|
Yet polarization can also be found in the Western world. The UK decided to leave the EU in the Brexit Referendum, and Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the United States. Those results are enough to demonstrate the lack of consensus in societies, with many people starting to question whether gaining 50% of the votes is enough to create a new establishment, without disregarding the concerns of the others.
One of the side effects of polarization is alienation. While those who hold on to power feel like champions in a football game, the other party loses its sense of belonging. Communication problems, lack of trust, the inability to use empathy, prejudices and shaming cause the polarization to deepen while blocking a truly pluralist approach.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – In traffic – Nora Claudia Mazzini|
Polarized societies spend too much energy on a zero-sum game where both parties are negatively affected by the consequences. People, countries, and nature lose precious time for the establishment of a sustainable living environment in such a context. We need to become aware of our limited time and resources and start to appreciate a collaborative mindset. This applies to not just Argentina, but also Turkey, the UK, the US and the rest of the world.
Snapshot 1: Santa Cruz, Argentina – Cave of hands – Adwo (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 2: Monte Vera, Argentina – Mirrored – Diego Müller (Unsplash)
Snapshot 3: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Osvaldo Pugliese Monument – NRuArg (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 4: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Libertador Avenue – Buteo (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 5: Buenos Aires, Argentina – In the rain – Patricio-Murphy (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 6: Ankara, Turkey – Protests – Cagkan Sayin (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 7: Istanbul, Turkey – Clashes – Alexandros Michailidis (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 8: Buenos Aires, Argentina – In traffic – Nora Claudia Mazzini (Shutterstock)
Cinemblem voiceover: Kimberly Camacho
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes – Lebanon. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Pole-arization – Poland. June 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies – Ukraine. May 2019.
Cannarella, Daniela. A Past-Present Dicotomia – Italy. June 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Dastan, S.A. Polarization and the Epidemic of Extremity – Turkey. August 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Gomez, Javier. The Canyon Inside Us – Argentina. July 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019.
Husseini, Maha. Bilingual Par Excellence – Canada. August 2019.
Israyelyan, Mania. Polarized Within Ourselves – Armenia. June 2019.
Julber, Lillian. Difficult to Understand – Uruguay. July 2019.
Kanunova, Nigina. Role of Polarization in the Life of an Individual and Society – Tajikistan. July 2019.
López, Virginia Sanmartín. Why Live on an Edge? – Spain. August 2019.
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Protić, Aleksandar. Linguistic Balkanization as a Means of Polarization – The Balkans. June 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization – Italy. April 2019.
Ray, Sanjay Kumar. At the Crossroads – India. August 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sekulić, Jelena. The Polarizacija of Serbian Culture – Serbia. June 2019.
Sem, Sebastião. Brandos Costumes – Portugal. July 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity – The Balkans. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity – Argentina. April 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children – Peru. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
Williams, Jazz Carl. Unfinished Episodes – Spain. May 2019.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. Feminism – Russia. August 2019.
CW 37 – Armenia – Hayk Antonyan
CW 38 – Italy – Sara Deiana
CW 39 – Montenegro – Nikolina Pavicevic
CW 40 – Columbia – Christian Escobar
CW 41 – Kenya – Kenn Mwangi
CW 42 – Pakistan – Muhammad Kashif Shahid
CW 43 – Tunisia – Sarah Turki
CW 44 – Estonia – Margot Arula
CW 45 – Ghana – Kwasi Amankwah Awuah
CW 46 – Dominican Republic – Aura De Los Santos
CW 47 – Montenegro – Nikolina Pavicevic
CW 48 – America – Talia Stotts
CW 49 – Philippines – Kristian Uusitalo
CW 50 – Hungary – Zoltan Monar
CW 51 – Syria/UAE/Egypt – Ahmed Ibrahim
CW 52 – Nigeria – Ethelbert Umeh
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed