The world is in the age of globalization, as the interdependence of economics, technology, and cultures grow every day. Issues such as economic inequality, discrimination, and the climate crisis are uniting and polarizing different sections of society, with these arguments challenging historic political allegiances. While a certain amount of polarization in a democratic globe is needed, given the variety of beliefs and parties with the right to express themselves, the polarizing effect is reaching a dangerous threshold in most societies, damaging all institutions essential to democracy. Before, democracies managed to reach agreements or agree to organize coalitions that made it possible for them to be able to make decisions and effectively govern. Today, with the rise of social injustice and social media’s tendency to amplify extreme sociopolitical views and the “us vs. them’’ mindset with party slogans, xenophobic attacks, and ethnic clashes, segments of communities are excluded from national belonging, resulting in marginalized groups or communities to become irreconcilable enemies, which renders agreements, compromises, and coalitions impossible.
Especially during these times of crises, polarization has become more prevalent than ever before, with the rise in nationalistic tendencies fragmenting the communities of nations. Intra-state conflicts such as state disintegration, communities within states refusing to be loyal to the government, or culturally rejected parts of a nation reacting against other parts of the society or the government are one of the greatest problems countries face today and is much harder to deal with than inter-state conflicts across borders that can largely be solved with the United Nations providing improved communication. Methods used for inter-state conflicts fail to be effective in the case of polarization, due to shattered norms of tolerance and moderation. Another complexity making the issue even more difficult to tackle is that it is a vicious cycle. For example, the failure to find a common ground increases the depth of the divide frequently, which leads to the abuse of executive powers and promotes the view that the government represents only its supporters, rather than the country as a whole, causing more division.
Political polarization is perhaps one of the leading results of global crises. Times of urgency can reinforce political attitudes to progress toward ideological extremes, especially increasing the gap between the already-existent division of beliefs. The recent COVID-19 public health crisis, for example, has fueled the divergence of views on fiscal matters within countries. In the United States, the pandemic increased the divide between the views of right-wing and left-wing party supporters throughout the world, resulting in reactions in starkly different ways. Differences extended from opinions about the economic fallout and stimulus packages provided by the government to the privatization of healthcare services. Moreover, income inequality and the increase of the racial wealth gap in most countries have continued to widen during the pandemic. Particularly affecting those who are low income and work in the service industry, with the average share of households whose debts exceed the value of their assets for people of color being approximately 35% in the US (The Guardian). On the other hand, in the 12 weeks between 18 March and 11 June, the combined wealth of all US billionaires increased by more than 637 billion to a total of 3.581 trillion dollars.
To expand on the question of the extremely polarized nature of society through times of crisis is imperative to ensuring a safe and just life for everyone around the world. Through closing the gap between polarized groups, we can achieve the cooperation and collaboration necessary to solve the issues imposed on the world by international emergencies. As the delegates of JMUN 2020-2021, you have the responsibility of finding tenable and resourceful solutions to universal issues that relate to Combating Polarization In Times of Global Crises through fruitful debates where you represent United Nations member states.
Ece Doğramacı Nil Zırh
Deputy Secretary-General Deputy Secretary-General
President of the General Assembly President of the Special Assembly Hisar School Junior MUN 2020-2021 Hisar School Junior MUN 2020-2021