Issue 22 – Historical and Social Authenticity of Contemporary Crisis

Editor – Şebnem Oğuz

Crisis from the Perspective of the Country Which is Merely Grazed by it: Naivety of Theory, Crudeness of Reality
Serdal Bahçe – Ahmet Haşim Köse

The elaboration of the recent crisis necessitates a concrete analysis besides a theoretical framework. Capital accumulation links national, international and class-based concrete dimensions. This study aims to assess the recent crisis through an analysis of these concrete dimensions in the Turkish case. Macro imbalances at national and international levels correspond to income-consumption imbalances at class level. For workers, this imbalance means a new form of exploitation. Deficits financed by borrowing raises the social minimum of workers, and the demand for real wage increases. With the declining real labor productivity, this poses a pressure upon profit rates. While workers are forced to work longer, operational and non-operational surplus increase for productive capital, and profit rates increase for big capital. Financialization, which is aggravated by increased borrowing, eases the profit constraint upon capital and constitutes a new form of dominance over labor. The same process, via public borrowing, results in value transfer among particular capitals and from labor to capital.
Keywords: Turkey, crisis, social classes, borrowing, labor time.

Rethinking on Financialisation and State within the Context of the Global Capitalist Crisis
Pınar Bedirhanoğlu

Marxist crisis perspectives that provide significant conceptual tools to make sense of capitalist crises have been developed by the lessons derived from big capitalist crises burst in the development of capitalism besides the interpretations of Marx’s own texts. This article overviews the main arguments made by those Marxist perspectives that explain current capitalist crisis on the basis of the underconsumption, falling rates of profit and overaccumulation tendencies of capitalist accumulation by focusing on financialisation and state. Through a critical analysis of overaccumulation arguments on crisis, it attracts attention to the fact that contemporary capitalism, within which financialisation has acquired permanent character, has increased its capacity to prevent the articulation of economic instabilities to sharp political conflicts by the help of the international coordination mechanisms developed since 1945 and the restructuring the states have passed through in the neoliberal period.
Keywords: Marxism, crisis, overaccumulation, financialisation, state.

Making Sense of the Crisis with Giovanni Arrighi
Efe Peker

This article discusess the current global crisis through Giovanni Arrighi’s conceptualisation of the history of capitalism and neoliberalism. Arrighi conceives of the history of capitalism within successive “systemic cycles of accumulation”, each led by a particular hegemonic state. Each cycle consists of a “material expansion phase” (characterised by high profits and increasing production and trade); which eventually finds itself in a bottleneck of low profit rates. The response to crisis initiates a “financial expansion phase” (where capital is directed towards the speculative liquid form). Historically, it is in these phases that crises have deepened, and inter-class and inter-state competition increased to challenge the position of the hegemonic power. Neoliberalism, therefore, is the financial expansion phase of the latest systemic cycle of accumulation of capitalism. Its “terminal crisis” coincides with that of the American world hegemony; as witnessed disastrously in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is within this background that the article aims to read the current global crisis and provide suggestions for further research based on the reconfigured and significantly empowered G-20, and the economic renaissance of China.
Keywords: Giovanni Arrighi, neoliberal financialisation, crisis, world hegemony, G-20, China.

Financialisation: A Troubling Concept and a Fruitful Research Agenda
Ali Rıza Güngen

The overaccumulation problem in global capitalism has led to the proliferation of financial transactions and underpinned the formation of new “fictitious capitals”. This transformation has been critically investigated within the literature of financialisation. Three main problems, however, remain: The analysis of the attempts for periodisation via financialisation indicates that many scholars tend to demarcate alleged golden age from the changes in the aftermath of the collapse of Bretton Woods. In addition, the literature does not pay attention to the financialisation in “emerging markets” to the same extent as it pays to the stylised facts of advanced capitalist countries. Last but not least, there is an implicit agreement that the financial innovations of the last decades signify new instruments not only in form but also in essence. The study reviews the literature and claims that a critical use of the concept of financialisation that builds on the insights of Marxian critique of the political economy can overcome the mentioned problems and help understanding major transformations in global capitalism.
Keywords: Financialisation, periodisation, fictitious capital, crisis, financial expropriation.

Understanding the 2008 Crisis through the Crossword Puzzle of Money – Commodity – Money -Finance
Gaye Yılmaz

An analysis of micro and macro levels of capital is crucial for understanding the 2008 crisis as a crisis of devaluation resulting from over-accumulation. In the case of failure to transfer money-capital into new valuation spheres, the only way to preserve the value of capital is to channelize it to financial instruments. However this alternative is limited by private property of productive assets and competition between capitals. In societies based on commodity production, over-accumulation of money-capital is a reflection of overproduction of commodities. Accumulation of money-capital is overmuch comparing to the total volume of financial instruments in capital markets, which represents only a small part of all produced assets – as each individual capitalist tries not to transfer control over production to others. Therefore under conditions of over-accumulation, the actual supply of financial instruments fails to absorb money left over from circulation and awarding loans remains the only way out for capitalists to escape from the crisis of devaluation of money-capital.
Keywords: over-accumulation, crisis, money-capital, financial-capital, labour.

Strategies of Developing Countries in the Era of Financialisation: The Turkish Case
Nuray Ergüneş

This study examines the strategies of developing countries in the era of financialisation based on the Turkish case. Developing countries witnessed financialisation through capital inflows in the form of foreign direct investment or portfolio equity investment. To promote capital accumulation domestically, these countries facilitated capital inflows. To regulate capital inflows and avoid vulnerability, they adopted reserve accumulation and inflation targeting policies. Turkey implemented inflation targeting in the wake of the 2000-1 crisis, and entered a period of rapid growth. The structure of production also changed; with intermediate and investment goods production becoming the most dynamic sectors. In that sense, 2000-1 crisis was a turning point for Turkish capitalism. However, today, this growth path has come to an end. Turkey is experiencing its crisis in the productive sphere which is highly integrated with international capital. The huge amounts of external debt of the real sector, the liquidity and credit problem and the narrowing of international markets form the main problematic areas.
Keywords: Financialisation, Crisis, Turkish Economy, Inflation Targeting, Reserve Accumulation.

A New Turning Point in Class Struggle: 2008 Crisis in Turkey
Özgür Müftüoğlu – Yasemin Özgün

The articulation of Turkish economy with global capitalism was mostly carried out in the context
of economic crises. The question of whether 2008 crisis will serve as a new “opportunity” in this
direction or resisted by the working class remains to be answered. This paper tries to make a
small contribution to the answer of this question that will determine the shape of Turkish social
structure in the near future. For this purpose the conditions of the Turkish working class and the
course of class struggles during the 2008 crisis is examined within the framework of the positions of workers and unions in the face of the crisis and also government policies. The paper focuses on the motives behind the inadequacy of the union movement in Turkey in resisting the processes of marketization, growing job insecurity etc. The policies against the crisis and the reactions of different classes cannot be isolated from the global policies and reactions so the paper will try to relate these processes to global developments.
Keywords: 2008 crisis, Turkish working class, Turkish labour movement, union
movement, social dialogue.

Labor Actions in Turkey in the First Year of the Crisis: An Overview of Occupations, Strikes and Other Forms of Resistance
İrfan Kaygısız

This paper analyses labor actions in Turkey in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis with a focus on
the workplace actions between October 2008 –September 2009. The paper argues that workplace occupations were the most important form of resistance against the lay-offs in this period. Although the occupations did not result in re-employment in most cases, they had a triggering effect on other worker actions, limiting further assault by employers in other workplaces. Strikes were rare in this period, as most of the unions preferred concession bargaining to strikes. Traditional union bureaucracies viewed the actions of employers as natural and inevitable consequences of the crisis so they did not pursue an active struggle against the employer offensives.
Keywords: 2008 crisis, Turkish labor movement, labor actions, unions, workplace occupations