First of all, what do you think the AKP government is trying to do with the economy?
AB: As we know, for today, the word “minister” synonyms “the boss”, and the new Minister of Treasury and Finance Nureddin Nebati carries on this tradition. Yesterday, in an interview with the (pro-government) journalist Sevilay Yılman, the new minister, as a boss himself, said, “You get a salary. What could you lose the most? You would be crushed by inflation, that would be all. But I will lose all my assets if this situation doesn’t improve.” The economic collapse created by the AKP could not have been expressed more arrogantly than this. He says “I am a boss, I look at everything from this perspective.” In summary this is the recap of what AKP has done and tried to do with the economy. Protecting the interests of the bosses, leaving the workers to their fates under the wreckage AKP created.
THEY GAVE AWAY ALL THE MAJOR PUBLIC ASSETS
In this sense, I do not think that there is anything new, that a new “model” has been introduced. However, the new thing is that the massive asset sales and international liquidity abundance that gave AKP roughly 10 years, has coming to an end. These two dynamics helped them to carry on their ship for a long time. While they give away the major public enterprises, which were created with the hard work of the workers and were among the achievements of the Republic, to the capital; hot money was flowing from all around the world. The next is known, for a short time they marketed neo-Ottomanism and managed with the resources from the Gulf Countries. But now the sea is over, they cannot continue to do so. This is the reason why they are pretending there is a new model now. The boss minister almost begs “believe us, trust us”. He is probably saying these to the capital class.
MILLIONS WORK FOR MINIMUM WAGE
What will they do? Supposedly, they will reduce the interest rates and provide growth in the economy through the abundance of cheap loans and incentives. But here, the real return to the cries of “believe us, trust us” is increasing the exploitation that the working class are exposed to. That is what they are doing. The minimum wage is now almost a ceiling wage. Millions working for the minimum wage were condemned to work for longer hours as “the wheels turn”, as they say so much. Add to this the losses incurred by inflation. Inflation is an indirect way of transferring resources from the working classes to the capital. The capitalist class gains from this collapse not only from exchange rates but also from inflation. Erdoğan and his yes-mans talk about “opportunism” shyly but never hesitates to open the door/pave the way for opportunism.
Can a strong industry, a Turkey that is booming in exports emerge from here as they say? Never. Because AKP has undermined both the industry and the agriculture in Turkey for 20 years. Let me give you a very simple equation. Who sells the TÜPRAŞ, Petkim, Telekom etc., cannot control the dollar. The government, who sells these assets to the capital for 3.30, cannot make any moves in the industry. Because in order to make a move in the industry, you first have to provide public control in these areas. Will a state that has nothing left in infrastructure, telecommunications, petrochemistry do this? They can neither control the dollar nor make a development move.
CHINA’S ECONOMIC UPTREND IS AN OUTCOME OF THE HEGEMONY CRISIS
Well, can China really become a model for Turkey? In other words, is there a model?
AB: The economic uptrend of China is an outcome of the hegemony crisis. We are talking about an economy which receives a keen set rush of the capital at the times when imperialism cannot rule as before. In return for that China is a country where the crises let economic development without surrender. I don’t think those dynamics could replicate. In that sense there is no “model China”. China is rather a defect which was born into a hegemony crisis.
In my opinion the conclusion which AKP’s Turkey has learned from the uptrend of China is obvious. They aim to receive share from the opportunity of the contracting of the international value chains by providing cheap labour to the markets. For that, China firstly secured the giant capital accumulation rate in order to meet the cheap labour exploitation with the development rates. In the case of AKP, their only weapon is to cheapen the labour, they do not have accumulation rates to meet. You need to achieve the value from your assets (which I have mentioned in my previous answer) for that, yet, all those have gone forever. If AKP is looking for a model which suits them, I recommend them to lay eyes on Bangladesh.
DEALS WITH EUROPEAN CAPITALISTS HAVE DONE NO GOOD FOR THE WELFARE OF THE COUNTRY
How do you consider the comment saying AKP has taken the opportunity of the limping supply chain taking advantage of providing the West instead of what would have been provided by China? Could Turkey substitute China?
I don’t think China’s position within the global supply chain could be substituted. Because China has tied the value chains back to itself while getting attached. They achieved this via increasing the segments they produce gradually and manufacturing in higher levels of technology products. The imperialist monopolies could not sacrifice this infrastructure and interactions without serious concussion. Therefore it is an illusion expecting AKP’s Turkey would claim a part for itself in that sense.
A rather more realistic scenario would be a restoration of the dealings with the European capitalists, whom Turkey has been part of the conventional hinterland. Yet this seems more possible with a “no Erdoğan” Turkey rather than “with Erdoğan “ one. On the other hand, considering this as an economic salvation would mean idiocy. Because the traditional route for Turkey’s bourgeois class is already the same as this, and has proved to do no good for the welfare and sovereignty of the country for decades.
A shunting in China’s route has been discussed recently, what would you say on this as someone following that country for a while. We notice that this argument of a shunt has been used as a warning for AKP, that tells “Look even China has shifted from cheap labour and export designated development paths to domestic market and sufficient production dependent model”.
China seems to have shunted following the 2008 crisis indeed. Yet once again we have to note the manipulating role of the imperialist crisis regarding this shunting.; China has not only become introverted; but started to consolidate its own hinterland after 2008. In other words, they literally became an imperialist power and started to act accordingly. That would be foolness to understand this as becoming introverted. China is not sacrificing the position within the value chains, but building the chains restoring its position right in the center.
I couldn’t argue about a warning for AKP from this, but we can see that a government with obvious imperialistic dreams will envy China in that sense.
CORRECT POSITION THROUGH THE LENS OF THE WORKING CLASS
Lastly, do you believe in a “correct economic model” for Turkey? The economic situation is obvious, it is rather easy to oppose the government on this. Yet, if we focus on what is recommended as a solution we couldn’t find any proper answer…
What do they present as anti-AKP today? The interest and currency rates should be set free for the sake of independent Central Bank. “Set free” meaning in the guidance of the “free market”. We should rejoin with the European monopolists and return to our appeal for EU membership. We shouldn’t disturb the cash transactions and keep the effort in privatizations.
If all these are the correct moves, then it was all correct in the 1980, the January 24th orders, the September 12 coup… We should accept the twenty year long AKP rule as correct.
Turkey has been struggling with the mangle of currency-interest-cash, for tens of years. This mangle oppresses the labouring classes the most, as we are experiencing recently. So we have to look for the “correct” positions through the lens of the working class. We should discuss how to correctly end poverty, unemployment, exploitation. This is the point to start with, describing the correct class perspective, after this, the politics will surely take over.