Can Turkish capitalism be saved?

The president said "They have their money, we have our God." The Minister of Treasury and Finance announced a "new economic model". While Turkey is experiencing the 'crisis of capitalism', all those who say "the problem is the Turkish AKP government, not capitalism" contribute greatly to push the severe consequences of the crisis off on the country
Traders walk on the floor of the Borsa Istanbul in Istanbul, Turkey, Feb. 29, 2016. (Reuters Photo)
Wednesday, 15 August 2018 20:41

While the exchange rate of dollar rallied up to 7 Turkish lira, the depreciation in the lira since the beginning of 2018 has been over 65 percent. Last week's depreciation also reached 22 percent. This extraordinary increase in the rate shows how quickly the poor have been impoverished and how the economic and industrial infrastructure of the country is facing the risk of destruction. 

In the context of capitalism, the crisis implies a "rebirth" for capital, although some members of the capitalist class are put "out of play". For the working class, however, it implies an absolute impoverishment and heavier exploitation. Every crisis that does not lead to the fall of capitalism, the destruction of the capitalist order, is a process lost by the working class and won by capitalists

Those looking at the increase in the exchange rate and saying "the debt of the companies increased so much" constantly remind the workers what they will face other than a rapid decrease in wages while ignoring the profits that the capital has already saved and took out of the company, and that they have already recovered. But more importantly, it is also possible to be pushed through the solutions, like in the experiences of Argentina and Greece, in which all the productive potential is destructed by the control of international capital. 

It can be with or without the International Money Fund (IMF). Turkey's ties with the international capital, relations with the EU, the economy's dependence level can make it possible for more subtle mechanisms to assume the role the IMF assumed in the past. But the essence does not change; a "mechanism" can be put in front of the working class where the "austerity" program is imposed, the resources of the country are more directly plundered and transferred to capital.


Turkey is experiencing the collapse of "excessive liberalisation", the "heaven without rules" created in favour of the capital. Yes, one of the primary actors that are responsible is the AKP government, which is in the position of being the performer in the whole process and even making important moves to deepen the situation with its intermediate inventions.

However, the international and national capital together, especially larger capitalist groups should be put on top of the list. We are about to enter into a big disaster and those who do not stop shouting "another capitalism is possible" and still try to narrow everything down to the AKP government deserve to be hated as much as the AKP is hated.

Those who do not, or do not want to, think beyond raising buildings while looking at the Eurasia Tunnel, Osmangazi Bridge, the roads ever-lengthening everywhere like teasing the poverty in the country are the biggest gain for the capitalist class today. 

It is a gain even bigger than the AKP itself. They have recognised only the local building contractors rather than the international health technology monopolies while looking at the city hospitals worth millions of dollars; they have insisted on recognising the pro-AKP capitalist Cengiz while ignoring the Koç group.

They have persistently tried to impose this perspective on the society; they knew the truth, but they especially worked on narrowing this with the AKP government.

There is a simple rhyme about how the Turkish economy entered into a crisis. BBC, Bloomberg, Financial Times are picturing the "abnormality" of the Turkish capitalism by using similar narratives and "professional" economists are contributing: There was plenty of liquidity in the world in the 2000s. 

The AKP has benefited from this amount of money. It extended the middle class by expanding credits. Consumption was not supported by production. Money was invested in construction; no resources were allocated to productive investments.

It is difficult to find money today, and it is also the end of the growth based on the credits. It was possible to prefer a "growth based on production", but they preferred an "economic rent". There is no capitalism in this picture. No classes. The country’s dependence on the imperialist-capitalist system is not mentioned. In the end, they say "while it was possible to have a productive and good capitalism, they preferred to have a capitalist system based on economic rent". These analyses try to protect the existing capitalist order including the AKP government and to distort the facts without questioning the market, capitalism and class relations.

The solution turns out to be a very simple one when the story is narrowed down. Another government can be formed or the existing government can start behaving. They can simply say "we are all in the same boat" with technocrats who are more "competent", "well-educated" and "faithful to the imperialist centres". They can persuade the working people to make sacrifices and savings in order to make "more productive investments". The anti-working class attitude of this approach is visible.


This story does not tell about the "liberalization" in fundamental sectors such as energy, education and health as well as privatization of factories, and how the IMF Program has taken over by the in 2002 has reduced the role of the state in the economy with privatisations and deregulations. 

It also does not tell how the floating rate regime means for Turkey and similarly-developed capitalist countries that they have to stop producing everything that is not competitive enough in the markets. 

Turkey stops producing various intermediate goods that constituted the basis for the Turkish industrial productions after the “liberalization” moves of the imperialist-capitalist system in the 1990s and 2000s. Turkey has become an importer country not only for consumer goods, but also for intermediate goods.

A simple example: Petkim in the 2001 crisis was still under public control and able to meet half of Turkey's need in chemical intermediate goods. Today, we are talking about one of the most important sources of the increase in the exchange rate. Petkim was one of the important mechanisms that made the effect of exchange rate increase be felt less than today. In the case of a sudden exchange rate increases, the price fixed on Turkish lira could be applied.

One part was a state subsidy. But one part of it was made possible by using crude oil for bargaining power not for profit but for the benefit of the country. It would be obvious for some economists if they could calculate the burden on Turkish economy because Tüpraş-Petkim chain had inadequate capacity increase and these two institutions were totally transferred to private capital for profit instead of repeating the already-known facts as Turkey's dependence on external funds, how the debt structure changed by time and how Fed's interest rate policy effects the exchange rates in Turkey.

They do not ask the AKP government why it sat at the table with Tüpraş, the biggest crude oil importer, and other groups that dominate the fuel market and made negotiations over exchange rate and price increases. 

Everyone knows that the AKP government is so "pro-market" that it cannot do it. Instead, they talk about the Central Bank's "intervention" and what forms the intervention may take.  However, it is possible to take a series of measures to limit the effects of the exchange rate increase, none of which are included in the agenda. 

It is possible to fix the rate. It is possible to prioritize and arrange the biggest import items. But it is clear that "intervention in capital" or "control of capital movements" will disturb the capitalist circles. Those seeking intervention are seeking it for "the capital's interests". 

The main theme of today's "skill" debate is to create solutions that will damage the interests of international capital or large capitalist groups as little as possible. If the AKP government has this ability is one question. But, more importantly, if the form of Turkish capitalism and the congestion in the imperialist-capitalist system would allow any "skilful moves" is another big question. One thing is very clear: 

The president trusts in the "common sense" of the international capital that the country has been handed over; he does not trust in his God. What is discussed today is whether Turkish capitalism will recover or not. 

Those who say the economic growth was based on hot money, not on production, and those who spread this lie under the mask of being anti-AKP are all trying to protect the capitalist system. 

Since 2002, under the irrational preferences of the capitalist class, the working people have each year increasingly exposed to more exploitation. You should look at the profits of the individual large capitalist groups. 

"Capitalism can be saved" to be prepared for a new and bigger crisis if we do not ask where these profits went, if the wealth is not expropriated, if the rate of exchange is not fixed, if the banking system is not taken under state control and if the economy is not organized for the interests of the working people.