It would be surprising if Turkish capitalism retained its “submissive” and “congruent” position within the alliance system of the US in the post-1991 period in the world.
1991 witnessed the dissolution of the USSR, creating a condition in which it became more difficult to control the internal contradictions of the imperialist system led by the US. Even the foreign policy of the USSR before its dissolution, which was obsessed with peace and moved rather away from a revolutionary perspective, was a problem for the imperialist world. There were two social systems after all, and the influence of the socialism on the international arena repressed the rivalry among the individual capitalist countries. The US was obviously making use of this “threat” to keep its hegemony, and it was regulating the imperialist system under the pretext of this “threat”.
That is why the US and the NATO controlled by the US tried to prevent a void in the system by fabricating a new threat at once. Following the counter-revolution, dreadfully submissive and unprincipled Russian Federation did never hold the same role as the Soviet Union. On the contrary, various channels were opened before Russian Federation to integrate it in the Western alliance. Terrorism, rogue states and radical Islam were some pretexts the US used to secure its alliance system in that period.
The US soon realised that Russia was a much far-reaching country than an easily manageable one, and the strategic analysis regarding the concerns about the rise of the Peoples’ Republic of China were included in its official state policies.
Although the US found a perfect threat that it was searching for, there was a great problem about that. Both Russia and China were not “external” elements in terms of the imperialist system! Both countries were obviously the “new” rivals in the capitalist world, but this rivalry was not taking place among different social systems since the dissolution of the socialist block added new actors to the imperialist system. While the international capital settled greedily down on the areas previously occupied by the socialist system, the rivalry and contradictions within the system became deeper.
The US had directed Germany for a long time in the past in line with its aims by making use of the Soviet threat, thus Germany played a role in the dissolution of the Soviet socialism as much as the US. German reactionism was obviously acting with anti-communist motivations in addition to its strong determination to subsume the nearby German Democratic Republic.
However, the struggle of the US against China and Russia was not that appealing for Germany and other European countries. What matters here is the interests and rivalry within the system.
It was obvious that previous alliances would inevitably disintegrate and be reformulated in an imperialist system that was not regulated by anti-communism. Naturally, this reorganisation enabled each country more freedom of movement compared to its more “concrete” nature in the pre-1991 period.
Other countries changed their habit of following the US’s free world lies unconditionally when anti-communist struggle became an internal issue of each country rather than an international one. All the capitalist countries sought after more “advantageous” alliances while trying to retain their freedom of movement.
We are certainly in a period where alignments within the imperialist system have not gained a ripe formation yet. As leading countries in these alignments, the US, Germany, Russia and China are not able to secure consistent clustering around themselves due to some reasons.
We have been noting for a long time that the US hegemony is faltering but no new actor has risen yet to displace it. We can conclude that this bizarre condition will not last longer since imperialism, due to its rationale, cannot reach a multi-centred “stability” in which areas of influence are shared fraternally.
Almost all the foreign policy moves of the US remained inconclusive in recent years, countries have started to question why the US dollar is used as the standard unit of currency internationally, and these countries have been undergoing huge chaos regarding their priorities of international politics.
Since a new actor has not risen yet to displace the US, the rivalry within the imperialist system does not gain more rigid forms. Since China, theoretically the first rival that comes to mind, does not assume an “aggressive” stance apart from a few regions, retains a defensive position against the moves of the US and settles quickly down on areas where the US cannot reach, the seemingly inescapable end is being postponed.
This is one of the reasons why dominant imperialist countries are not able to secure consistent clustering around themselves: There is no actor as yet to replace the US that is having difficulty to keep its position at the top of the hierarchy.
Countries at the top of the hierarchy can create definite and consistent clustering around themselves, for one thing, by developing a strategy consistent with the current and medium term needs of the considerable number of international monopolies in the regions they dominate. The gaps created due to the crisis of hegemony within the imperialist system direct international monopolies to move in line with the “state power” on the one hand and to make use of the opportunities provided by the “rival” states. Although such an autonomy was also true during the period between the two world wars, different capitalist groups are certainly less sensitive today towards the international moves of the dominant countries.
This condition can also be regarded as one of the reasons why minor capitalist countries are unwilling to totally engage with the dominant imperialist countries.
Current period is that of a transition one, rampant with uncertainties in terms of the imperialist system. All the actors within the system try to get maximum advantage from these uncertainties on the one hand and aim to create some sub-clustering they can dominate on the other hand.
Given all these facts, the dynamism of the imperialist system is not surprising at all. None of the countries on a certain level act totally subordinate to a single power, but they both try to make use of the gaps and position themselves within an alliance system in more favourable terms, using time effectively in that sense.
We will come to Turkey but when we look at our neighbour Greece, or the Balkans, East and Central Europe (Hungary for example), or focus on Iraq or Pakistan, we see that they take initiative and employ unstable foreign policy practices. This condition is not the result of a decision but an objective condition because the necessities of the capital require this. In addition to this, the internal dynamics of each and every country is directed not by a single but more than one “great power”.
Yes, it would be surprising if Turkish capitalism retained its “submissive” and “congruent” position within the alliance system of the US in the post-1991 period in the world.
There is no such alliance system anymore.
The first years of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in Turkey witnessed the attempts of Turkey to hold on to the initiatives of the US to secure its faltering hegemony and to make use of the EU, which Turkish capitalism considered a means of stability, as a force to realise the internal transformations of the country. The neo-Ottomanism in foreign policy aimed to generate economic, ideological and political zone of influence by making use of the moves of the US in the Middle East. This policy was the result of an interaction between the choices of [Turkish President] Erdoğan and his team and the needs of Turkish bourgeoisie.
Neo-Ottomanism failed. Turkish capitalism was not that powerful to carry the burdens the AKP rule assumed. In addition to this, none of the actors acceded to welcome the daring attempts of Turkey. The US, who created such an opportunity for the AKP, was also not able to set the rules of the game, faltering in its moves. The “Arab Spring” that seemed to be effective at first ended as a nightmare in Syria both for the AKP and the US.
However, those who expected that the Turkish capitalism would rewind and assume a more coward tendency proved wrong. The Turkish bourgeoisie who had attempts in the 1990s, some of which failed, in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasia directed its attention towards the Far East, Africa and Latin America during the rule of the AKP. Such a daring step could have met some restrictions but giving up all the ambitions was never an issue. The capitalist class of Turkey had grown so big that it would never retreat into itself by getting afraid of international political scandals in a world where even the moves of the toughest imperialist countries failed. New moves of Turkey and a confliction between of some of them and the US policies was also inevitable.
Turkish capitalism, who strengthened its negotiating power with the US by means of the political credits given by Russia, understandably tried to make use of some opportunities by capturing the zeitgeist correctly. However, it is wrong to assume that Turkish capitalism took the risk of a friction with the US and generally the NATO that would result in a rupture. After all, such an idea does not accord with the “zeitgeist” I have been trying to explain above. If Erdoğan’s personal adventures makes such a rupture inevitable, it will mean the rupture and end of Erdoğan, not Turkey’s. The bourgeois opposition that has been gaining strength against Erdoğan day by day has gathered enough power indeed to step in if (though seemingly week) such a development occurs.
Then, whether with or without Erdoğan, is it possible that the intentions of Turkish capitalism regarding several issues in the East Mediterranean and Syria, which has caused tensions with the US and even the European imperialists, will give way to absolutely congruent policies again?
It is absurd to consider that the past relations of Turkey with the US was just and only an “external” imposition and a result of the personal whims of some servile rulers of the country. The basis of that relation was defined by the class interests of the bourgeoisie and anti-communism. Moreover, the international balance was not favourable for Turkey to assume a different position than that of the US.
What defined the relation was not an “absolute congruence” even under those circumstances. Today, an absolute congruence is totally impossible. However, it is apparent that Turkey has some trump cards that are proper for Turkey to go on an adventure along with the US. Doubtlessly, such a development is expected to coincide with a period in which today’s disorder come to an end as the blocks within the imperialist system become much apparent.
Yet another thing to be expected is that the Turkish capitalism can no longer stand aside during an intra-imperialist system conflict. The Turkish bourgeoisie would follow an active foreign policy even after the rule of Erdoğan in order to assure the continuity of its gains as far as possible. And, it should be noted that an active foreign policy under capitalist conditions stands for a militarist foreign policy.
In this context, considering our country’s geographical location, it is highly possible that the Turkish capitalism can play a “provocative” role in case of a new comprehensive conflict.
A TÜSİAD [The Association of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen] delegation visited the US in July 2019 so as to make some contacts.
Under these circumstances, the communists of Turkey should struggle against all the collaborationist and “tailist” tendencies that separate the fact of imperialism from the hegemony of capital and international monopolies and reduce it to a practice of foreign policy, that regard this or that imperialist centre as the lesser evil under the guise of “independence”, “democracy”, “liberty”, “development” or “national liberation”; and should lead the workers of the country to position against imperialist wars or should try to reverse the dynamics of war in order to focus on leading the country to social emancipation. All of these tendencies serve to the mission of putting the toiling masses under the control of the capitalist system by means of nationalist or cosmopolitan disinformation. Patriotism and internationalism are great weapons against them, the weapons that find their real expression in the struggle for socialism; we should learn how to use them in the most efficient way, and, in the presence of the people, we should unmask those who abuse such concepts as independence, liberty, democracy, development, national liberation and sovereignty for their disgusting demagogy.
By knowing that a class movement that sweeps issues under the carpet or holds its assertions back in foreign affairs would not have any chance…