Issue 5 – Turkey: Historical Process and Class Relations

Editors: Mustafa Şener and Faruk Ataay

Turkish State And Bourgeoisie in a Historical Perspective: A Relativist Paradigm or Hegemonic Strategies
Galip L. Yalman

Turkey provides an interesting case for analysing the changing fortunes of different forms of mythical thought, not only because it has had a long experience o f state-led economic development which has provided ample opportunities for the rise and decline of any mythical thoughts concerning the State, but also, it has emerged since 1980 as one of the test-cases for a rather savage experiment of wholesale economic and political restructuring under the rubric of structural adjustment policies. It is also noteworthy that a particular reading of the Turkish historical development would be instrumental in reproducing new variants of mythical thinking, by giving rise to a discourse that could be described as having increasingly gained a dissident but hegemonic quality in the Turkish public opinion during the last two decades of the twentieth century. This paper does take issue with this relativist tendency which would, in its institutionalist moment, concur that institutional structures of the States are to be given explanatory primacy. Thus, it will attempt to provide the guidelines for an alternative reading of the history of the Turkish Republic by making use of Antonio Gramsci’s key concepts, thereby depicting several phases of the historical process in question as entailing a panoply of hegemonic strategies, albeit not all of them quite successful.

Keywords: Turkish State, Turkish Bourgeoisie, Relativism, Gramsci, Hegemony.

Capital Accumulation as a Contradictory Process-1
Fuat Ercan

Two main methodologies can be distinguished in the analysis of capitalist dynamics. The first one is the market-oriented neo-liberal paradigm and the second one is the development-oriented neo-Ricardian approach. Though they differ at many points, the State/market duality is reproduced by both approaches. For a genuinely Marxist understanding of the capitalist dynamics, however one needs a methodology overcoming the duality and trying to uncover the underlying social relations behind these dynamics.

Keywords: Capital Accumulation, Contradiction, Neo-liberal Paradigm, Neo-Ricardian Approach, Social Relations.

Neo-liberal Stabilization and Structural Adjustment Programs: Capital Accumulation and Crises in the Turkish Economy
Metin Altıok

Economic policies implemented by developed countries to overcome the long-term crisis of world capitalism during the 1970s resulted in International debt crisis for under developed countries. Following this crisis several neo-liberal stabilisation and structural adjustment policies advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have been put into effect in underdeveloped countries to re regulate the capital accumulation process.
This paper studies the neo-liberal stabilisation and structural adjustment programs implemented in Turkey to overcome debt crisis caused by declining profit rates tendency during the I970s. These programs are concrete policies that: regulate in stages the production and circulation
process. This paper also analyses the stages of the re-structure of capital at which these programs are carried out and how the transitions between these stages are regulated. These stages can be listed as liberalisation of trade and financial Capital, downsizing of the state (deregulation), making the labour market flexible and re-regulating the social policies. Thus, the surplus value created by these neo-liberal stabilisation and structural adjustment policies will be distributed among the social classes in a way that favours the capitalist class and therefore, the tendency for declining profıt rates will be prevented.

In conclusion, to prevent from the crisis caused by the self exposed paradox of the capitalist accumulation process, the stabilization and structural adjustment policies first regulate the circulation process (demand orientated). These policies than regulate the production process. However, until now, the neo-liberal stabilisation and structural adjustment policies that implemented in the under-developed countries and specially in Turkey mostly regulated the circulation process. Consequently, these policies could not create sufficient surplus value and also accomplish the technological developments required to modernise the competitive production. Therefore, the conditions tor the crisis in the real sector of Turkish economy still exist.

Keywords: Neo-liberal Stabilization, Structural Adjustment Programs, Capital Accumulation, Crises, Finance.

Working Class and Trade Unionism in Turkey
Yüksel Akkaya

Although the late periods of the Ottoman Empire witnessed significant progress in terms of both in activism and organisation of working class and flourishing of modern industrial workers beside traditional industrial workers. This heritage could not be transmitted to the Republican Era because of its important handicaps. Reasons like independence wars, migration, ethno-religious differences, high number of peasant and military workers, temporary women workers together with disregarding being worker as a permanent profession can be cited as limitations underlying the mobiliıy of workers to transmit theır experiences to the forthcoming period. Despite all pressures and such constraints workers in the Ottoman period put forward a struggle for betterment in working conditions that can not be ignored. To attain this objective they havee intended to become organised even thought it can not be attributed to permanence. Republican Era by 1960 possesses the characteristics of a period in which newly emerging working class without any significant experience and accumulated heritage strives obstinately to achieve an organisation structure despite ali difficulties. Working class was forced to adopt a nationalist identity depended on anti-communinist politics. In this period, political formations stimulating worker class ideology were put under pressure and even abolished but working class insisted on being the vanguard organised power and accumulated a significant heritage for the forthcoming period.

Keywords: Working Class, Trade Unionism, Ottoman Era, Republic Era, Class Formulation.

Crises of Neo-Liberalism and Parliamentarian System in Turkey
Faruk Ataay

In Turkey, a deep political representation crisis has been experienced parallel to economic crisis and how to define the crises has become one of the significant tides of struggle for hegemony. Having evaluated the dominant explanations on the crisis, this study aims to develop an alternative analysis. Fundamental view, this study adopts political crisis stems from the weakening of the hegemony of bourgeoisie due to the economic and social policies form ed around the interests of domestic and foreign monopolies and an alternative mode of polıtics has not yet been developed.

Keywords: Crisis, Neo-Liberalism, Parliamentarian System, Turkey, Bourgeois Hegemony.

From Constitutional Monarchy to the Republic: Prussian-Type Transition to Capitalism
Mustafa Bayram Mısır

This analysis which argues whether the era that begins with the announcement of the Republic: in Turkey can be explained within the historical category of bourgeois revolution asserts that each transition to capitalism, though it bears distinct peculiarities for each specific social formation – for the principle of historical specificism no else can happen transition to capitalism is historically observed essentially ın two types: First, the type of transition in which the revolutionary changes that can be observed are realised by the intervention of the basic social classes of the capitalism incarnated – the one in England and France (America can also be
accepted) the second, the Prussian-type transition. In the Prussian-type transition, the compromise between the ruling classes of the Ancien Regime and the ruling-to-be classes of the Nouvelle Regime, “impulsive power” of the state structure which turned into a historical subject as a specific consequence of the class struggle, rat her than the struggles of the basic
social classes of capitalism (both internal and against aristocracy) intervene as transitory dynamics. Struggle between the ruling classes of the Ancien Regime and the ruling-to-be classes of the Nouvelle Regime happens as a struggle within the state structure. In this model of transition, the intellectual emerges within the state classes and produces the “transitory” ideology, depended to the state; sometimes appearing as the executive of transition as military and civilian bureaucracy. Bourgeois class develops both co-existence with the state and dependence on the capitalist centers as collaborationist. This is the most important peculiarity of this type of transition; in general, whilst the transition is executed by the internal dynamics – that is to say the “state structure”- on dıe extra-economic levels of social relationships, on the
economic level it is executed by the external dynamics -that is to say the “economic colonization”, even more appropriately, the imperialist intervention. The Prussian type transition, with these basic qualities added, is observed more obviously in social constructions which advance in an Asiatic – centralist feudal – capitalist (dependent, colonial capitalism) historical line, such as the Ottoman Empire, than in Prussia. Common -that is to say, observed also in Prussia- economic peculiarity observed in the Prussian type transition is that the development advances on the line of mercantile-manifactural line instead of producer-merchant line. The traditional structure of the Ottoman social formation, centralist feudality is argued in order to conceive the thesis asserted in this analysis. It is asserted that in countries like Turkey, where the transition to capitalism is Prussian type, the concept of modernisation can be used, deprived of its ideological content, without denying the historical category of the bourgeois revolution, for ıt refers to a bourgeois programme and policies of modernisation have been applied in Turkey since 19th century in continuity with the Ottoman Empire and the early years of the Republic can be qualified as a time of bourgeois Enlightenment practices.

Keywords: Transition to Capitalism, Prussian-Type, Turkey, Ottoman Empire, Bourgeois Enlightenment.

The ‘Deceived’ Revolutionary in Karpiç
Gökhan Atılgan

In the present study, I aim show the close interrelation between the political movements strategy to be in power and its analysis of the historical processes and class relations. Within this perspective, the aim of this paper is rather to analyse one of the most important left movement in the 1960’s Turkey; that is Direction-Revolution Movement [DRM] (Yön Devrim Hareketi). The main argument supported here is to claim that DRM’s approach to analyse the process of establishment of the Turkish Republic and class relations within this period was to pave way for the movements strategy to com e to pow er through actions of intellectuals, both civilian and from military service.

Keywords: Strategy, Historical Process, Class Relations, Turkey, Direction-Revolution Movement [DRM].

1945 Land Reform Law: Reform or Counter Reform
Ecehan Balta

The Land Reform Law which had been put forward nearly after the Second World War in 1945 is critical turning point in terms of agricultural policies of Turkish State. The law is generally evaluated as a late extension of protectionist-statist policies of 1930’s. The main thesis of this essay the law concerned is not the extension of these policies, on the contrary, it is one of the first signs of abandonment of protectionist-statist policies. The Land Reform Law could not be evaluated as a reform based on the social justice that aims to divide big agricultural companies and land distribution to landless farmers. The Land Reform Law had not divided big agricultural
companies, and enlarged medium agricultural companies in order to expand the small good production.

Keywords: Turkey, Land Reform Law, Big Agricultural Companies, Small Good Production.

The Politics of Fascism: Changing Strategies and Positions of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) vis-a-vis Turkish Power Bloc
Emre Arslan

Following the great success of the MHP in the 1999 election and it’s ganing the power as a part of the coalition, there emerged an extra-ordinary curiosity on the MHP. However, it is not possible to argue that such a notice could give rise to a comprehensive body of work on the party and Turkish fascism in general. In my view, concentrating on the Turkish power bloc and the political strategies of the fascist party can provide us a all embracing assessment of objective and subjective factors that open the way of Turkish fascism with their various aspects. In this paper, the aim is to periodise the MHP-type politics or the fascist politics in Turkey by focusing on it’s strategies and positions vis-a-vis Turkish power bloc. In accordance with the leader cult characteristics of fascist parties, Türkeş’s political activities even before the party are taken into account. He was one of the military officers who initiated the first military takeover in Turkey in 27 May, 1960. Following the coup, Türkeş tried to increase his influence to actuate a fascistic regime. However, his fascistic and authoritarian plans were not complied with the interests of the existing power bloc that depends on an „urban alliance“ and 14 soldiers including Türkeş were eliminated from the National Unity Commitee, formed after the coup. Following this failed attempt, Türkeş employed yet another strategy to gain the power. Between
1965 and 1980 the fascist party could mobilise the masses and convey almost ali the typical characteristics of classical fascism. During this period, Turkish fascism tried to initiate a sudden raid to the Capital city to gain the power by various strategies such as penetrating into the bureaucracy and military, creating a civil war, building cell-type secret organisations. Although the Turkish power bloc was quite ready to an exceptional regimes during this period, the MHP could not complete the pre-conditions of such a strategy. In the disappointment of the party, the role of the anti-fascist struggle of the socialist movements should be mentioned. Instead of a fascist regime, the military could reply the need of an exceptional regime of the existing power bloc. In the 1990‘s, the war between Turkish state and Kurdish movement, the fitting circumstances for a pan-Turanist policy of Turkish power bloc following the collapse of Soviet Union, and representation crisis of Central right parties created quite encouraging conditions for the MHP type politics. In addition to these objective conditions, the party could initiate a successful election strategy that depends on a liberal, consensual and democratic image. Unlike 1970s, the lack of a strong anti-fascist resistance 1990s has been another factor that helps for the rise of the fascist party in Turkey.

Keywords: Turkey, MHP, Nationalist Action Party (MHP), Alparslan Türkeş, Fascist Party.

(In)Ability to Overcome Waves: Thoughts on Theories that Periodise Capitalism
Kurtar Tanyılmaz

Recent transformations in the world economy seem to enforce the ideas that capitalism is entering into a new “stage”. This work attempts to evaluate critically the main contributions to the periodisation of historical development of capitalism. If capitalism is not out of crisis so far, as “stage theorists” argue, then, it is supposed that concentrating on “new” characteristics o f the period will not help so much to understand the real and conflictual developments we are confronted with.

Keywords: Capitalism, Waves, Periodisation, Stages of Capitalism.