Issue 18 – Historiography II

Editors:  Ateş Uslu, Attila Aytekin, Burak Gürel, Fatih Yaşlı, Ferdan Ergut, Fuat Özdinç, Güçlü Ateşoğlu, Sinan Yıldırmaz

Democrat Party and its Period: In Search of the “Lost” Times in the Left Historiography
Sinan Yıldırmaz

Except some keywords, which are mostly used to define the period, the post-World War II years do not hold much place in the left historiography of Turkey. This period is mainly characterized with the severe obstruction of the organized socialist opposition and with the dominance of a systematic anti-communism. But our knowledge on the existence or on the general characteristics of the social movements of the period is still limited. This limitation creates a deficiency for left historiography, especially in defining the social movements of the 1960’s in Turkey. In this study, it will be asserted that in order to understand the 1960’s the Democrat Party period is needed to be reconsidered with a new perspective. This paper will try to present some of the social movements of the period in question, which are not taken into consideration by left historiography in Turkey.

Keywords: Democrat Party, Turkey, Historigraphy, post-World War II, Social Movements.

Hungary, 1918-1919: Passage from the Bourgeois Revolution to the Dictatorship of Proletariat and Count Mihály Károlyi
Ateş Uslu

Count Mihály Károlyi was among the leading hungarian politicians of the first quarter of 29th century: leader of the opposition party of Hungary during the last years of Austria-Hungary and the First World War, he led the bourgeois revolution of 1918, and served as Prime Minister (then, as President) of independent Hungary. With the support that he provided to the Hungarian Republic of Councils (1919), he contributed to the establishment of a relation continuity between the bourgeois revolution and the dictatorship of proletariat. In this article, the author proposes a biographical framework based on the personality of Karolyi, in order to study political transformations and social dynamics of Hungary during 1918-1919. A first chapter provides a description of the pre- and post-war Hungary, and of the bourgeois revolution of 1918. The second chapter focuses on the Republic of Councils. The whole paper is intended to accentuate the limits of the eventual alliances between aristocratic or bourgeois politicians and
political movements, and the socialist movement.

Keywords: Hungary, Bourgeois Revolution, Mihály Károlyi, Republic of Councils, Socialist Movement.

From Totalitarian Paradigm to Post-revisionism: New Developments in Soviet Russian Historiography
Yiğit Akın

This article discusses Soviet Russian historiography which has dramatically transformed since the end of the Second World War. Through the analysis of representative academic studies that reflect the characteristics of each period, this article examines important milestones through which Soviet Russian historiography has passed. This article also aims at relating the developments in Soviet Russian historiography with the global political conjuncture and parallel developments in Western historiography. Finally, this study elaborates the processes that Soviet Russian historiography has experienced in its trajectory from an elite-centered, political/ diplomatic history perspective to the one that has centered on social, cultural, and economic aspects of peoples’ experiences.

Keywords: Totalitarianism, Postrevisionism, Soviet Russian Historiography, Elite-centrisim, Western Historiography.

What is Living and What is Dead in the Marxist Theory of History
Vivek Chibber

The classical marxist theory of history has been vigorously defended as a kind of technological determinism. This defense, however, has come under criticism in recent years, which in turn has generated a spirited response by defenders of the classical technological determinist interpretation. Chief among these theorists are the team of Erik Wright, Andrew Levine and Elliott Sober, and in a separate body of work, Alan Carling. This article takes up the reformulated classical theory, as presented by these theorists. İt argues that the more recent versions are either unsustainable, or in the case of Wright and his colleagues, end up with a version of the theory in which the basic claims are so weak as to have little explanatory force.The defense of the classical version of the theory thus fails. But this doesn’t mean that marxism lacks a plausible theory of history. I propose that, in its place, we are left with a robust theory that is based on class struggle, and not on the functional reguirements of the productive forces.

Keywords: Marxist Theory of History, Erik Wright, Andrew Levine, Elliott Sober, Alan Carling.

Political Strategy Question in Marxism: From Marx to Comintern
Mustafa Şener

A series of social and political changes occurred in some Latin American countries in recent years has resulted in the renewing of the debates concerning the ways of coming to political power and the sorts of revolutionary strategies among the leftist cycles. The socialist-oriented governments, especially in Venezuela and Bolivia, have adapted redistributive policies, and due
to these developments Marxist theses on revolution and strategy -once more- have been put on the agenda. The article, taking these changes as a starting point, aims to provide an overview on political power and revolutionary strategy within the Marxist theoretical framework. The paper, paying a special attention to its historical process and major themes, revises the Marxist approach to the question of seizing political power, and particularly tries to clarify the issue that whether the orthodox Marxist texts have envisaged a ‘transition period’ between the capitalist and socialist stages. The paper, then, deals with theoretical insights proposed by Marx and Engels on this matter, and gives a brief account of the theoretical heritage left by the Second International, Lenin,Trotsky and the Communist International.

Keywords: Marx, Political Strategy, Lenin, Trotsky, International.

 Immanuel Wallerstein and Marxism
Güllistan Yarkın

Immanuel Wallerstein has become increasingly well-known over the last two decades in Turkey among certain academicians and activists who have long been familiar with Marxist approaches. This article discusses the perspectives of Immanuel Wallerstein and Marxism a) by analyzing Wallerstein’s ideas on Marx, Marxism and antisystemic movements, b) by presenting Marxist critiques of Wallerstein, and c) by contrasting the two thinkers’ basic points of departure in analyzing capitalism. The key difference is that while Marx and Marxists mainly focus on production relations, Wallerstein focuses on circulation relations. This article argues that these two points of departure not only affect their historiographies but also their understandings of the process by which capitalism will ultimately be abolished. While Marxists seek the creation of communist world by workers as revolutionary subjects, Wallerstein suggests the formation of a democratic and egalitarian system through the construction of non-profit enterprises. In reference to this final point, Wallerstein diverges from the historical materialist approach.

Keywords: Immanuel Wallerstein, Circulation Relations, Anti-systemic Movements, Marxism, Capitalism.

Did it All Start With Words: Structuralism, Poststructuralism And History
Mustafa Kemal Coşkun

It can be said that the structuralism has affected a number of the social scientists. The structuralists claim that the unconscious activity of mind is more important than the conscious one for understanding social phenomena. The task of structural method is to reach these deep, unconscious structures. The task of the historical method is to provide descriptive material for the structural procedure.Therefore, the relations between structuralism and history have always
been problematic. Poststructuralists and postmarxists do not also care about historical subject.
Therefore, if the subject is history and historism, somebody who seeks Marxist characteristics in
structuralism, poststructuralism and postmarxism will find very little thing.

Keywords: Marxism, Postmarxism, Poststructuralism, History, Historism.

The Stress and Oppurtunity of Modernite: Benjamin and Lukâcs in The Discussion of Realism and Avangardism
Kubilay Hoşgör

In this paper, transformations that can be described as “modern” will be analyzed through aesthetical and political issues. Thus, a different method of a critical approach to the social change is emphasized. In this framework, the argument between realism and avant-garde art and literature will be discussed in general terms. This argument will then be concretized on Lukács and Benjamin for a better understanding. The ultimate aim of this paper is to grasp the political content and significance of these arguments for the present.

Keywords: Modernite, Walter Benjamin, Gyorgy Lukács, Realism, Avadgardism.

Is The Psychoanalytical Treatment of Capitalism Possible?
Ebru Alp

This article aims to discuss Slavoj Zizek’s approach of Leninist act who revives Lenin’s question of “What is to be done?”and cricitizes postmodern political concept severely in today’s world where capitalism has been increasingly globalizing and deepening. In this article, the works of Zizek who broadens the principles of psychoanalytic treatment around the analysis of capitalism will be dealt with analitically and hence an answer will be seeked to the question “Is psychoanalytic treatment of capitalism possible?”. For Zizek, what must be done at first for this
treatment is to identify with “symptom”, while the second step to take is to realize the “Leninist
act”, the negative gesture which annihilates ideological coordinates of the system.

Keywords: Slavoj Zizek, Leninism, Psychoanalysm, Capitalism, Capitalism.

Issue 17 – Historiography I

Editors: Ateş Uslu, Attila Aytekin, Burak Gürel, Fatih Yaşlı, Ferdan Ergut, Fuat Özdinç, Güçlü Ateşoğlu, Sinan Yıldırmaz

Major Controversies in Materialist Historiography
Şebnem Oğuz

Marxist historiography is dominated by the idea that the motor of historical change is the conflict between forces and relations of production.This idea, which was most clearly articulated in Karl Marx’s Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, has been widely used by Marxist historians to explain social transformations in general, and the transition to capitalism in particular. The major methodological implication of this understanding is the prioritization of forces of production over relations of production in explaining historical change. This understanding was first criticised by British Marxist historians in the 1950s, especially in the writings of E. P. Thompson. In recent years, the critique of this understanding came forcefully back to the agenda through the works of authors like Robert Brenner, Ellen Meiksins Wood and George Comninel, whose approach came to be collectively known as “political Marxism”. This paper aims to discuss the contributions of political Marxism to materialist historiography. It reaffirms the basic argument of political Marxism that the motor of historical change is not to be found in the conflict between forces and relations of production, which is a construct specific to capitalism, but class struggle itself, which is central to both pre-capitalist and capitalist societies.

Keywords: Marxism, Historiography, Class Struggle, E.P. Thompson, Robert Brenner.

The Cold War and the Soviet Union-Turkey Relations in the Historiography of Turkish Foreign Policy
Cenk Saraçoğlu

This paper aims to examine how the history of the Soviet Union and Turkey relations just after the Second World War has been examined and interpreted by different and contradictory perspectives held by different historians and researchers. The paper will assess a bunch of different texts, which were written throughout the 1980s and 1990s and which retrospectively analyse the early Cold War period.This assessment will involve an attempt to classify these texts, based on the nature of discourses, concepts and rationalization they employ. This classification will show that the different narratives of the history of Turkish foreign policy emerges due to not only academic and scientific discussions but also political and ideological struggles ongoing in Turkish society. Following this discussion, the paper, in the end, will highlight the role and merit of the class-based explanations of the Turkish foreign policy in deciphering the real ideological functions of the narratives based on the concepts of national and national interest.

Keywords: Turkish Foreign Policy, Cold War, National Interest, Historiography, Soviet Union.

Main Traditions and Marxist Tracks in the Peasants’ War and Thomas Muntzer Historiography
Vefa Saygın Öğütle

This study does not aim to narrate the history of Peasants’ War and the biography of Thomas Muntzer in detail. Our intention is to compare main traditions in historiographies of the Peasants’ War and Thomas Muntzer, to criticize them and to deepen Marxist paths. İt can be said that there are two main traditions in historiography of the Peasants’War and Muntzer: On the one hand the tradition initiated by Luther and Melanchthon and continued by Leopold von Ranke, on the other, the tradition initiated by young-Hegelian Zimmermann and adopted by Friedrich Engels and Marxist Peasants’ War historiography in general. Therefore this study is, in a sense, a descriptive one. To outline these traditions will provide materials that are necessary to criticize them from the standpoint of Marxist conception of history. İn another sense, it is argued that classic Marxist Peasants’ War historiography (especially, in the matter of Muntzer’s position in the Peasants’ War) needs to have some serious revisions. What is required to be revised is primarily Zimmermann’s bad inheritance, that is, idealistic trans-historical status attributed by Zimmermann’s understanding of history to Thomas Muntzer. For this reason, it is attempted to present objective and subjective dimensions, peculiar circumstances and qualitative distinctions of the Peasants’ War and to expel some ‘myths’ and misunderstandings about Muntzer that weaken Marxist Peasants’ War historiography. In conclusion, it is argued that Marxist conception of history has very important possibilities; both because it contacts the past and ‘historical dislocations’ realistically and strongly without mystifying them, and because it provides the possibility of self-reflexivity in order that historians and historiographers realize their social and historical context and participate in ‘today’ actively and politically.

Keywords: Friedrich Engels, Thomas Muntzer, Peasants’ War, Marxism, Historiography.

Hungarian Historiography in the Light of Two Debates (1945-1956)
Ateş Uslu

This essay examines the origins of Hungarian historiography and its development between 1945 and 1956. The first section identifies main currents of Hungarian history-writing in the nineteenth century and between the two World Wars, and explores the “Stalinisation” of historiography in the late 1940’s. The following sections describe and analyse two debates on Hungarian historiography. The first debate, the so-called “Erik Molnár Debate”, occurred in 1950, as a series of critical points were raised against historian Erik Molnâr’s book about mediaeval Hungarian history. The “Molnár Debate” reflects the main arguments of the Marxist conception of historiography in the Stalinist era. On the other hand, the debate that took place in 1956 within the Petöfi Circle, a discussion club of young Marxist intellectuals, attests to the rise of a critical point of view in Marxist historiography. Through the analysis of these two debates, it is possible to comprehend the changing concepts of history writing, and their ties with political and social changes in Hungary.

Keywords: Hungary, Historiography, Stalinisation, The Molnár Debate, Petöfi Circle.

Historiography as an Element of History: Some Arguments in the Context of Home-Based Work
Dilek Hattatoğlu

If history of a social movement is written by the members of this specific movement, what will be the effects and conclusions of this specific kind of historiography? This article aims at discussing this question in the context of home-based work and the examples of home-based workers’ organizations. The article relies on two main arguments: first is that organising is a kind of historiography in itself, and the second is that this specific kind of historiography in which agents and commentators are the same, has some important advantages.The second argument implies that history of a social movement differs depending on who the writer is and it is also formed in this writing process. In other words, this article tries to discuss the meaning of “writing history” and the differences between “history” and “historical materials”.

Keywords: History, Histoiography, Historical Materials, Home-Based Work, Social Movement.
The Peculiarities of Historical Knowledge: Time and Path Dependency
Ferdan Ergut

Historical knowledge has its own peculiarities which differentiate it from other forms of knowledge, such as philosophy, mathematics, logics, physics etc. The time is the most crucial element of this peculiarity. After discussing some of the intricate problems related to the perception of “time” the article attracts our attention to”path dependency” and warns us to resist
“presentist” temptations. İt argues and illustrates through several examples that the temporal and spatial dimensions of a particular phenomenon are crucial to understand its basic characters and dynamics. In order to understand “how it happened”, we have to understand “when and where it happened”.

Keywords: Historical Knowledge, Time, Path Dependency, Peculiarity, Presentism.

Benjamin, Thesis on (the Philosophy of) History and Historiography
Bora Erdağı, Mehmet Evren Dinçer

Departing from Walter Benjamin’s prominent work Theses on History, this article evaluates his contribution to historiography. In order for this task to be accomplished, the authors have preferred directly to focus on Benjamin himself, rather than engaging with the huge literature on
the thinker. With a historical materialist perspective, Benjamin considered reviving the tradition of the oppressed to be the major obstacle in front of “the continuation of the defeat of the oppressed” Benjamin resorted to ali his linguistic and cultural build-up so as to convey this thought of his. The very intensity of his writings has resulted in a huge literature of comment and writings on Theses and these comments have taken various directions. Thus; Benjamin’s references and observations in Theses have been discussed by taking his own corpus into consideration. This method has facilitated to reveal Theses’ significance with regard to its place in historiography; because Benjamin has managed to expose the reconciliation of everyday life experiences and historical materialism.

Keywords: Walter Benjamin, Philosophy of History, Historiography, Theses on History, Everyday Life.