Issue 21 – Looking through the Agenda: Beyond Neoliberalism

Editors – Mustafa Kemal Bayırbağ, Erden Atilla Aytekin

Implications of the International Crisis (The Opening Lecture of Ankara University for the year 2009/10)
Korkut Boratav

In this short article, Boratav presents a multifaceted analysis of the economic crisis that broke out in 2008. The author, first, points out the nexus between the actual crisis and some structural
tendencies that have been present in the economy of the United States of America, qualified
as a “dangerous state of senility” by the author. In the following sections of the article, Boratav
puts the emphasis on the fact that any system of economic relations that is based on financial
capital is prone, by the very nature of this system, to produce a crisis. Moreover, according to
Boratav, crisis tendencies that appeared in the metropolitan (centre) countries will affect several
countries (Latin America, Turkey, some countries of Eastern Europe, and Russia, among others), and will exert a negative effect on the take-off process they have recently entered. The author criticizes the insensitiveness of the policy-makers, and questions to what extent this insensitivity is a result of unawareness. If crisis remedies are merely concerned with a change in the nature of those actors/institutions that are supposed to regulate economy (including a re-configuration of global power balance) not a single change in the socio-economic system or a shift in the type of policy instruments to intervene with/regulate the economy seem possible, argues the author.

Keywords: Economic Crisis of 2008, financial capital, policy-makers, metropolitan (centre) countries, Turkey.

Middle Class Perception of Kurds in İzmir: Space, Class and Urban Life
Cenk Saraçoğlu

This article aims to investigate the social origins of recently increasing anti-Kurdish sentiments
among middle class citizens living in Izmir. Based on a field study and 90 in-depth interviews
conducted in this city in 2007, this article argues that the middle-class perception of Kurds can
be conceptualized as “exclusive recognition” (tanıyarak dışlama). Exclusive recognition implies
that in middle class discourse Kurds are recognized as a separate and homogenous ethnic
group; however this recognition necessarily includes a discursive exclusion, as middle class
citizens construct what it means to be a Kurd through pejorative stereotypes such as “ignorant”,
“separatist”, “invaders”, “living by ill-gotten gain” and “disrupters of urban life”. These stereotypes have been long used in Turkish society for different purposes and in different contexts; but what is distinctive in exclusive recognition is the ethnicization of these stereotypes, that is, the deployment of these stereotypes to identify and construct what it means to be a Kurd. As the logic of exclusive recognition is at odds with the mainstream assimilationist discourses of the state and nationalist political parties, it cannot be seen as a typical extension of Turkish nationalism in society. Nor is it a sporadic reaction to the recent political developments in Turkey. A close examination of the narratives collected through the in-depth interviews indicate that such perception carries the traces of the social and spatial relationships between the Kurdish migrants that flooded into Izmir since the mid 1980s and middle-class citizens that live in this city for a longer period. This does not mean that urban social life in Izmir is the cause of exclusive recognition; it is rather the locus of these anti-Kurdish sentiments, that is, the context on which they take their particular form. Therefore, a comprehensive investigation of these sentiments should include an endeavour to unravel the processes and mechanisms through which such a context has been historically formed. In view of this, this article turns its attention to forced migration of Kurds and neo-liberal transformation of urban economy as the structural factors that help us to explain the formation of the urban context of exclusive recognition. The article claims that the specific middle class experience of this transformed urban context is embedded in their prejudices against Kurdish migrants. While establishing such linkages between macro and micro level of analysis, the article examines, one by one, how middle class interviewees justify identifying the Kurds with “ignorance”, “living by ill-gotten gain”, “separatism”, “invasion” and “disruption of urban life”.

Keywords: Kurds, İzmir, recognition, middle class, urban economy.

Positive Perspectives on Kemalism from the Socialist Left (1920 – 1971): Reasons, Possibilities, Periods and Consequences
Gökhan Atılgan

The aim of this article is to analyze the relation between the Turkish Socialist Movement and
Kemalism and to establish its political outcomes. The period that is taken into consideration
starts with the year 1920, when the Communist Party of Turkey was born, and ends with the
1971 military coup, organized by some Kemalists and targeted the working class movement and
socialists. The main problematic of the article is how the socialist movement looks positively to
Kemalism, despite the fact that Kemalists, aside exceptional periods, adopted a harsh attitude
against the workers’ and socialist movements, assuming that these would bring nothing but
division to the nation, while Kemalism itself aimed the creation of a national bourgeoisie
and capitalism through the hands of the state. The article analyses the reasons behind this
contradiction, looking at both the reasons emanating from the special features of Turkish
Socialist Movement and also the characteristics of Kemalism that allowed such a positive
outlook. The analysis, on the one hand, is conducted at a discourse level. At this level, it discusses the conditions of possibility of the articulation between socialist thought and Kemalism. At another level, it studies how the positive relations between Kemalism and socialism were shaped under various historical and political conditions. The article also deals with the outcomes for the Turkish Socialist Movement of lending positive connotations to Kemalism, supporting it politically in some periods and expressing itself through the language of Kemalism.

Keywords: Turkish Socialist Movement, Kemalism, 1971 military coup, 1920, national bourgeoisie.

Some Observations and Considerationson Ergenekon Trials and Left Wing Approaches
Mustafa Bayram Mısır

Polarisation between Turkish bourgeois political forces that has deepened during the time
of Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments is continuing with rendering Ergenekon
trials as its subject. This article will provide a concise overview of the judicial process and assess various left wing stances that tend to side with respective parties of the procedure, and in particular, will analyse the socialist left’s independent position with its pretexts. By a factual
view, it can be observed that ‘paramilitary gangs’ and ‘coup attempts’ are prosecuted in the
course of this unfinished process of investigations and trials. Nevertheless, it becomes obvious that the process goes beyond prosecution, in order to form a sort of ‘martial law’ and target
all opponents of AKP as part of a process of political and social reconstruction. Liberal left
that views AKP’s electoral victory as a ‘conservative revolution’ deems AKP governments’ main
goal as weakening the military mandate through prospects of European Union membership
and democratisation and consider Ergenekon trials as a part of these prospects. Nationalist
left, on the other hand, is arguing that AKP governments’ major direction is determined by regional interests of the USA and the project of a moderate Islamic state, considering the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as the guarantor of the Republic’s democratic achievements, secularismin particular, against AKP governments’ moves to deteriorate them, therefore, reaching the conclusion that TSK should be kept exempt from criticism. The proponents of this current view Ergenekon trials as an assault to destroy TSK and republican forces. According to the socialist left, both approaches lack an analysis of class struggles and do not harbour the potential to give way to political consequences on behalf of workers and the oppressed. Although socialist left’s approach, based on a generalised analysis of class struggle, methodologically underlines a common and tactical ‘third party’ policy, particularist readings of class struggle bear the potential to contemplate different analyses such as viewing the process as an internal conflict of the bourgeoisie or perceiving AKP governments as a long-term hegemonic project of the capitalist class.

Keywords: Ergenekon trials, Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), socialist left, ‘third party’ policy.

March 2009 Elections and the JDP: An Evaluation on the Political Geography of Turkey
Ali Ekber Doğan

This article addresses political and socio-spatial consequences of the local elections in the
framework of four main questions: How can election results be evaluated in terms of the party
in power, the JDP (Justice and Development Party), which turned the election into a sort of
referendum for its policies? Given that the election results indicate a downward trend in the
electoral support for the JDP, how could the election results be interpreted as long as we are
concerned with the policy positions of three major opposition parties (the Republican People’s
Party, the Nationalist Movement Party, and the Party of Democratic Society) in the parliament?
Other key questions covered in this article are as follows: Among the opposition parties, which
one came to the fore and had an upper hand (And, in that regard, how to interpret the political
map of Turkey drawn after the elections?; Was there any relationship between the dropping JDP
votes and the social effects of the economic crisis that broke out 5 months before the election?

Keywords: March 2009 local elections, JDP (Justice and Development Party), economic crisis, political map of Turkey, opposition parties.

New Regionalism and Denizli: Rethinking Local Industrial Development and Transformation
Mehmet Penbecioğlu

In the last two decades it has been widely argued that local/regional scale has become
a strategic site for local competitiveness and economic development within the capitalist global economy. Such New Regionalist accounts neglect the role of class relations and tensions, uneven development and political conflicts in the construction of competitive local industrial structures. This study develops a critical political-economic perspective to challenge arguments and assumptions of the New Regionalism approach. Drawing on the local industrial development and transformation processes of Denizli, this article attempts to shed some light
on the tensions and political conflicts between different classes by investigating intra-firm
and inter-firm relations, conflicts and tensions between different discourses of powerful local
business communities and industrial unions. Within the context of this article, investigated
aspects of local industrial restructuring are; different mechanisms in articulation to increasing
global competition, industrial performance, employment, working conditions and local
industrial policies in the post-2000 period. The qualitative survey method, which had been made
through in-depth interviews with different firms, local governments, local business associations
and industrial unions, is taken as the basis of inquiry in the study. This article suggests that New Regionalist accounts have neglected and obscured tensions and political conflicts between
different classes. Such class tensions and conflicts could be analyzed through investigating the
hegemonic activities of local capital, changing power relations in inter-firm relations and survival
strategies of uncompetitive small firms and working classes.

Keywords: New Regionalism, Denizli, local industrial development, power relations, social classes.