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Ideology’s dance with the economy

Güray Öz wrote...
06 Eylül 2018 Perşembe - cumhuriyet.com.tr
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How is the economic crisis, the ever-deepening crisis, to be classified? Are we encountering one of the system’s classical periodic crises, or else a meltdown of a different order or one that is a structural appendage of this crisis? One way or another, it is obvious that the crisis is different from its predecessors and is pursuing a different course.

There can be various triggering factors of crises. They speak of a Holy Book and a Pastor. No matter. It would be more correct to speak not of triggering factors, but of the ruling entity’s general strategy having created fertile ground for the crisis to grow. Put briefly, I am talking about subordinating the economy to ideology and an ever-present strategy that would give rise to crisis.

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The date on which neo-liberal policies began to be effective in Turkey simultaneously with Western countries was the 24 January 1980 decisions, the 12 September coup and the Özal period and thereafter. Neo-liberal policies in turn reached their peak in the period, remembered for privation and high inflation, of the coalition government in which Bülent Ecevit served his final stint as prime minister.

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 The “remedy” to the intensifying crisis came from America and World Bank expert Kemal Derviş was appointed. Tight monetary policy was strictly implemented. The way the crisis was overcome was by making the working classes shoulder the burden, with the ensuing political crisis spelling the end of the Ecevit government.

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What came next was interesting. The plot that Derviş was included in did the trick. The coalition partners fell foul of the electoral threshold. The “initially democratic” – just like Adnan Menderes’s DP – AKP, which had broken away from the party of “Islamist Erbakan,” filled the resulting or created gap. It became apparent before long that the claim of being “democratic” was the veneer over a serious ideological preparation.

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 There followed the process lasting from 2002 until today when, following two small crises, a serious meltdown is taking place. One of the reasons for the process ending in crisis is the subordinating of the economy to ideology. Even the stubbornness over interest rates by itself can be deemed proof of this. The pretension of changing the regime and turning Turkey into an Islamist country, this ideological standpoint, determined the AKP’s economic policy from the outset.

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What was needed for this was the support of a capital group. There was none. If so, it had to be and was created. As opposed to the “imaginary heavy industry drive” of the Erbakan period, the “practical construction sector” was chosen and the channelling of capital to the new rich who upset the economy’s balances was brought about with state support.

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The quite hefty financial support or loans that flowed in the form of external funds into the economy that had undergone relative improvement following Derviş was used to finance the new ideological structure. The funds were channelled without further ado to contractors connected to religious orders, not least the Fethullah gang. Special funds were created for the Islamification of education. The emergence was facilitated of a set of wealthy Islamists in almost every area, including fashion.

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It is a long story. The Westernized economy interrelated with the West, configured for its components to operate under the rules of quite a wide system, came under serious ideological attack. Even if the bourgeoisie, inclined to profit from all situations and lacking culture, lent its support, ideology’s intervention in the economy deepened the crisis. It is now wished to revert from the deviation inspired by US policies and return to the classical course of the imperialist capitalist system.

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The AKP is on the verge of bankruptcy despite the forcibly attained “victories”. It may lose its power. But, for this, in place of an opposition that is seeking salvation in Islamist ideology’s wake, what is needed is a serious opposition that attaches priority to relieving the workers and popular classes of the burden of crisis and whose horizons stretch to socialism.

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Is there no such opposition party, block, union? If not, what are we waiting for? Let us bring it into being.

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