Turkey article (fwd)

Spoon Collective spoons at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Sun Jun 30 05:20:00 MDT 1996

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 16:43:44 +0300
From: Zeynep Tufekcioglu <zeynept at turk.net>
To: Gary MacLennan <g.maclennan at qut.edu.au>,
    owner-marxism-digest at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Cc: owner-marxism-digest at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Subject: Turkey article

Dear comrade Gary,

I did write the article you asked for. But, the kind of readership you
describe is a bit beyond me. So, I did you a favour (No, don't thank me now,
just cast a yes vote for my Dacha when the time comes). I wrote a 900ish
word article, keeping information about Turkey and other rather general
statements I can't help make in separate clusters. I think if you need to
tailor, you may easily go down to 500 words by cutting out whole paragraphs.
Do what you want, you won't hurt my feelings. Hope it is helpful. I don't
mind if it is not published, rest easy!

If you need changes, more detail, info about anything else, e-mail. I can do
that pretty quick.

Oh, yes, I might as well CC it to the M list, I guess you wouldn't mind.
I've promised myself blue that I'd write more Turkey to so many people.
Throw a piece to the wolves, keep 'em busy until I have the time.



Turkey is a country on the edge - of Europe and Asia, of turmoil and
collapse. It has a story that is familiar, that is often repeated in many
countries around the world.

During the post-war policies of import-substitution under the ever
watchful eye of the US, Turkey acted as a front-post of NATO
imperialism as it neighboured the Soviet Union and the Middle East.
With the 70s, as the economy inevitably headed towards a wall, like many
Latin American, African, Asian countries, the country collapsed into an
undeclared civil war. Towards the end of the 70s, in a world which
Imperialism was shaken by the loss of Iran and fall of Nicaragua, Turkey
was paralysed by strikes, torn by daily clashes between the government
supported fascist forces. As predictable, a military coup was staged in
1980 which the US ambassador informed Washington with the
unforgettable phrase "Our boys have done it".

Their boys had done it alright. As tens of thousands of communists and
revolutionaries were rounded up, a period of murder, torture, repression,
brutality the scale of which might shame Pinochet into modesty ensued.
All basic democratic, collective bargaining, free speech rights were
suspended, and elections, for the want of a better word, were held for a
new constitution. The "no" vote was denoted by blue. Newspapers were
shut down for publishing cartoons in which a young man told his
girlfriend, her eyes were "so," well, "blue".

Turkey was a show-case for IMF and Imperialism. It was one of the first
countries in which the then yet unnamed neo-liberal policies were
implemented. A sharp turn was taken in the economy towards export-
orientation. The economy was liberalised. Liberal economies, liberal
politics we often hear from apologists of neo-liberalism. To export, you
need to be competitive in some sectors. Since, Turkey was lacking
infrastructure thanks to the pre-80 imperialist division of labour, there
was only one commodity that Turkey could be competitive in. No
suspense, the commodity was cheap labour. Politics of repression are a
prerequisite to keep labour cheap, as working people of the world know
very well, a simple equation that seems beyond the grasp of many-a-
bright economists with Ph.D.s.

Real wages fell dramatically, unemployment rose, trade-unions were
cornered into submission, and the left was repressed. The pressure burst
through the seams. In 1984, the long suppressed Kurdish minority rose up
in arms, another civil war that still continues to this day, as Turkey has
one of the biggest armies in the world, and often tops the lists of countries
most "defense" spending. Some of the opposition found its voice in the
demagogy of the religious right. From 1989 on, through spontaneous,
populous action that was prompted not from perspective but despair, the
working class also started once again in engaging in mass struggles.

Did Turkey become an powerful export-house? Of course not. It was
never meant to be. It was meant to stay as a cheap labour pool. As
Mexico, India, Chile, Indonesia and others. IMF and World Bank policies
of neo-liberalism are uniform throughout the world, with the same
unspoken aims. Privatise social security, not to make it more efficient, but
so that the money accumulated in those funds can also enter the frenzied
roller coaster ride of the financial markets. Privatise health-care so another
sector can be exploited for profits, not to improve services and cut costs.
Introduce sub-contracting, de-unionising and "flexibility" to the labour
market, not to make the labour market effective, but to flex the worker to
the whims of capital. The gospel of neo-liberalism is the universal
language of injustice, poverty, repression, brutality, of blood and pain.

Currently, Turkey is in the midst of another government crises. All
political parties have become IMF and austerity package parties. Any real
opposition is met with violence and murder. The war in the Kurdish
south-east continues at full swing. As a game of musical chairs is played
by the bourgeois political parties, a well established state machinery
continues the low intensity civil war on its own. The lack of a government
and the impotent joke called parliament does not really matter. The
economy is structurally deranged. Turkey collapsed into a crises in 1994,
similar to the Mexican one, caused by the accumulation of results of the
decade long policies. Nothing has yet changed substantially in terms of
the economy.

The details of the current political and economic crises of Turkey are not
really very relevant. It is hard anyway, even in Turkey, to keep track of the
palace fight that is taking place in the government echelons.

There is talk of another economic crises. It won't be a surprise. There is
talk of another military coup. It is not really necessary, as the country is
already run according to IMF dictates enforced by the police and the
military. Of course, the plunder is very profitable as many corporations
continue to break profit records and foreign investment continues to come
in - of course in more liquid forms so that it will be easy to pack up when
the ransacking can't be sustained any more.

As noted in the enduring verses of a Turkish poet at beginning of the

Continue to devour gentlemen,
Devour until you burst, until you blow up and explode...

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