Regime Change in Turkey: Neoliberal Authoritarianism, Islamism and Hegemony 9780367566180, 9780367744892, 9781003098638

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Regime Change in Turkey: Neoliberal Authoritarianism, Islamism and Hegemony
 9780367566180, 9780367744892, 9781003098638

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Information
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of contents
Introduction: Debating regime transformation in Turkey: Myths, critiques and challenges
A critical political economy of regime change
The cultural political economy of regime change
Moments of resistance against regime change
Part I Political economy of regime change
Chapter 1 Crisis in or of neoliberalism?: A brief encounter with the debate on the authoritarian turn
Crisis of what?
Postscript: living through the pandemic instigated crisis of capitalism
Looking beyond the old?
Chapter 2 A labour-oriented perspective on regime discussions in Turkey
Mainstream approaches to authoritarianism
An appraisal and critique of authoritarian neoliberalism
Trajectory of the regime change in Turkey
Underside of the iceberg in Turkey
Authoritarian labour politics in Turkey
Labour regime under presidential system
Concluding remarks
Chapter 3 Making the new-neoliberal state in Turkey: Beyond the prevailing master narrative
The prevailing master narrative’s assessment of the new-neoliberalism
The limitations of neoliberalism and the making of the new-neoliberal state
Conclusion: The new-neoliberalism
Chapter 4 Global class constitution of the AKP’s “authoritarian turn” by neoliberal financialization
The “global” limits of methodological liberalism
Financialized rule of money under neoliberalism and its implications for state transformation
Concluding remarks
Chapter 5 Transformation of news media: The case of Turkey for the neoliberal era
The primitive character of capital accumulation and the neoliberal transformation of news media
Accumulation by dispossession and difference of the neoliberal era
The transformation of Turkey’s news media in the neoliberal era
State redistribution and the management and manipulation of crisis
Chapter 6 Internationalized class governance and the AKP’s populism: On Turkey’s integration with the European Union
The Copenhagen Criteria – extending Maastricht to the East
Putting Copenhagen into a Turkish perspective
The emergence of disciplinary neoliberalism
Continuing EU reforms under an authoritarian populist aegis
Crisis of authoritarian populism
Accelerating crisis – growing contradictions with the EU
Conclusion: EU-integration, internationalized class governance and the AKP’s populism – contradicting elements?
Part II Cultural political economy of regime change
Chapter 7 Hegemony and privileges: Reproduction of Islamism in Turkey
Hegemony projects and intellectual leadership
Development of the Islamist project in a competitive field
Intellectuals of the Islamist hegemony project
Religious infrastructure
Structure of privileges
Chapter 8 Regime change in Turkey: Old symbols into new settings
The AKP’s gender regime
Regime change in Turkey
Reading feminist: the new mode of patriarchy
Chapter 9 Recent right-wing lurches: What do they have in common for India and Turkey?
Conceptual contours and entry points
The foundation and developmentalist ideas
The neoliberal model and its winners
Rise of Anatolian bourgeoisie and the AKP
Market reforms in 1990s and Indian nationalism
Construction of majoritarian politics and patronage relations
Concluding reflections
Part III Moments of resistance against regime change
Chapter 10 Laicism and the struggle of Alevis against the rise of political Islam
Outline of the political situation
Theoretical definitions and historical background
The current situation of laicism and political Islam
The response of Alevis
Arab Alevi youth responses
Arab Alevis in general
Arab Alevi youth councils
Chapter 11 The politics of legality of the authoritarian liberal regime in Turkey
Overview of the “Metal Storm”
Legal strategies of the authoritarian liberal regime for the disciplining of the labour
Manipulation of the legal landscape and the clear erosion of the right to strike in the labour legislation
Criminal law procedures for the coercion and legal intimidation of workers
Struggles and resistance: challenging authoritarian neoliberalism through law
High courts and the legal struggles over the conceptual mapping of the legitimacy of the authoritarian neoliberal regime
Judicial activism in the lower courts and building the legitimacy on the “right to collective action”
Chapter 12 Constructing a language of peace through women’s struggles: The case of women for peace initiative in Turkey
The resolution process: a brief history from the angle of women’s peace struggle
Where the women from two sides of the river meet
Constructing a language of peace: impossible or indispensable?

Citation preview

“In a collection of original and challenging articles, Regime Change in Turkey critiques the many conventional views about how Turkey’s budding democracy took an ‘authoritarian turn’. Perhaps the two encouraging lessons for the future of a democratic Turkey are that the permanence of authoritarian regimes is never a forgone conclusion, and secondly that in politics, nothing stays the same. In these terms, Regime Change in Turkey is an essential guide to the prospects of political reform.” Prof. Dr. Bryan S. Turner, Australian Catholic University and Potsdam University Germany “This timely and important collection challenges the conventional view of an ‘authoritarian turn’ of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey. It provides ample evidence for AKP’s deep-​rooted authoritarian, patriarchal tendencies that were actualized in the wake of the financial crisis and the electoral success of the pro-​Kurdish party HDP.” Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer, University of Kassel Germany “This is a vigorous book that makes a thought-​provoking contribution to existing scholarship on current regime transformation in Turkey by going beyond ready-​ made terminologies and narratives of an ‘authoritarian turn’ in the AKP era. The editors have brought together a wide range of critical studies on the long-​term economic, cultural and political aspects of regime change as well as possibilities for democratic resistance in Turkey. A must-​read for rethinking the dynamics of rising authoritarianism in Turkey as well as globally.” Prof. Dr. Şebnem Oğuz, Başkent University Ankara Turkey “This volume is a strong antidote to mainstream analyses of Turkey’s dictatorial structure, which unduly romanticize the current governing party’s first ‘liberalizing’ term. Unlike most of the scholarship, it refuses to isolate institutional determinants of the Turkish regime. It contextualizes its repressiveness within the degeneration of global capitalism rather than attributing it to Turkish political culture.” Prof. Dr. Cihan Tuğal, University of California at Berkeley

Regime Change in Turkey

Turkey’s new presidential regime, promoted and shaped by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has become a global template for rising authoritarianism. Its violence intensifies the exigency for critical analysis. By focusing on neoliberal authoritarian, hegemonic and Islamist aspects, this book sheds light on long-​term dynamics that resulted in the regime transformation. It presents a comprehensive study at a time when rising authoritarianism challenges liberal democracies on a global scale. Reaching from critical political economy and state theory to media, gender and cultural studies, this volume covers a range of studies that transcend disciplinary boundaries. These essays challenge the narrative of an “authoritarian turn” that splits the AKP era into democratic and authoritarian periods. Hence, recent transformation is analyzed in a broad historical framework which is sensitive to both continuities and shifts. Studies that explore moments of resistance and relate the political development in Turkey to rising authoritarianism and the crisis-​driven trajectory of neoliberalism on a global scale are included in this effort. Since the advancement of neoliberal policies in conjunction with the religious project that is pushed forward by the AKP suggests that the ongoing transformation may well advance into a more totalitarian regime, this book strives to inform struggles that are trying to resist and reverse this development. By reviewing the dynamics and impacts of recent authoritarian developments, it calls on critical scholars to further seek out potentials and dynamics of opposition in the current authoritarian era. Errol Babacan is a post-​ doc researcher and Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Münster, Germany. He is an associate of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”. His research covers political Islam, migration politics, racism studies and the relationship between economic and cultural transformations, with a special focus on Turkey related issues.

Melehat Kutun is an Einstein Research Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin. Her PhD degree is in politics and social sciences. Her publications focus on ­critical state theories, Turkish politics, migration politics and contemporary political theory. She is currently studying on her habilitation project. She is a member the editorial board of Praksis Journal and signatory of the «Academics for Peace» Declaration. Ezgi Pınar currently carries out her post-​doctoral studies in Philipps-Universität Marburg. Her research interests include theories of state and neoliberal restructuring, critical political economy, labour politics and Turkish Politics. She published on the Integration of Syrian Migrant Workers to the labour market in Turkey, on labour force management and state-​capital relations in Turkey with respect to education policy. Zafer Yılmaz is an Einstein Research Fellow in Comparative Political Sciences and Political Systems of Eastern Europe, Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin. He works currently on the rise of authoritarianism, transformation of the rule of law and citizenship in Turkey.

Routledge Advances in Sociology

COVID-​19 Volume I: Global pandemic, societal responses, ideological solution Volume II: Social consequences and cultural adaptations Edited by J. Michael Ryan Prevent Strategy Helping the Vulnerable being drawn towards Terrorism or Another Layer of State Surveillance? Edited by David Lowe and Robin Bennett Regime Change in Turkey Neoliberal Authoritarianism, Islamism and Hegemony Edited by Errol Babacan, Melehat Kutun, Ezgi Pınar and Zafer Yılmaz The Politics of Europeanisation Work and Family Life Reconciliation Policy Nazli Kazanoglu Internet Dating Intimacy and the Micro-​Politics of Social Change Chris Beasley and Mary Holmes For more information about this series, please visit:​ Routledge-​Advances-​in-​Sociology/​book-​series/​SE0511

Regime Change in Turkey

Neoliberal Authoritarianism, Islamism and Hegemony

Edited by Errol Babacan, Melehat Kutun, Ezgi Pınar and Zafer Yılmaz

First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Errol Babacan, Melehat Kutun, Ezgi Pınar and Zafer Yılmaz; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Errol Babacan, Melehat Kutun, Ezgi Pınar and Zafer Yılmaz to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-​in-​Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-​0-​367-​56618-​0  (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-74489-2 (pbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​003-​09863-​8  (ebk) Typeset in Goudy by Newgen Publishing UK


List of figures  List of tables  List of contributors  Introduction: Debating regime transformation in Turkey: myths, critiques and challenges 

xi xii xiii




Political economy of regime change  1 Crisis in or of neoliberalism? A brief encounter with the debate on the authoritarian turn 

13 15


2 A labour-​oriented perspective on regime discussions in Turkey  32 EZGI PINAR

3 Making the new-​neoliberal state in Turkey: beyond the prevailing master narrative 



4 Global class constitution of the AKP’s “authoritarian turn” by neoliberal financialization 



5 Transformation of news media: the case of Turkey for the neoliberal era  EYLEM ÇAMUROĞLU ÇIĞ AND ÜNSAL  ÇIĞ


x Contents

6 Internationalized class governance and the AKP’s populism: On Turkey’s integration with the European Union 




Cultural political economy of regime change 


7 Hegemony and privileges: reproduction of Islamism in Turkey  123 ERROL BABACAN

8 Regime change in Turkey: old symbols into new settings 



9 Recent right-​wing lurches: what do they have in common for India and Turkey? 




Moments of resistance against regime change 


10 Laicism and the struggle of Alevis against the rise of political Islam 



11 The politics of legality of the authoritarian liberal regime in Turkey 



12 Constructing a language of peace through women’s struggles: the case of women for peace initiative in Turkey  213 MERAL CAMCI




2.1 Number of strikes and strikers between 1984 and 2015 (Ministry of Labour and Social Security)  10.1 Imam-​Hatip school statistics (Egitim-​Sen 2017) 

40 185


7 .1 7.2 7.3 9.1

Diyanet staff 1929–​2017  Quran courses 1980–​2016  Imam-​Hatip schools 1950–​1998  The pillars of the study 

133 133 134 162


Errol Babacan is a post-​doc researcher and lecturer in Sociology at the University of Münster, Germany. He is an associate of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”. His research covers political Islam, migration politics, racism studies and the relationship between economic and cultural transformations, with a special focus on Turkey-​related issues. Pınar Bedirhanoğğlu is an associate professor of International Relations at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. She has published on topics such as Russian capitalist transformation, neoliberal state transformation and financialization in Turkey, as well as corruption. She is one of the editors of Turkey’s New State in the Making:  Transformations in Legality, Economy and Coercion (2020) published by ZED Books. Meral Camcı was expelled from the university in Turkey where she worked as an assistant professor after signing the “Peace Declaration” in 2016. In February 2017, she was banned from public service by a decree. She was a fellow researcher in the Translation Department at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz for two years. She continues her studies as an independent researcher and translator in Istanbul. Eylem Çamuroğğlu Çığğ is a Philipp Schwartz Fellow and post-​doc researcher in the Media Studies Department at the University of Bayreuth. She works at the intersections of Media Studies and Political Theory. She was discharged twice from Mersin University as she was one of the signatories of the “Academics for Peace” Declaration. Ünsal Çığğ is an assistant professor at the Communication Faculty in University of Mersin. He received his BA, MA and PhD in journalism from Istanbul University. His research interests in communication science are in the areas of economy politics of media, public cultural studies and communication theories.

xiv Contributors

Simten Coşşar has a PhD from Bilkent University. She is a visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh. She has published on Turkish politics, feminist politics and political thought. She is the co-​editor (with Hakan Ergül) of Universities in the Neoliberal Era:  Academic Cultures and Critical Perspectives (Palgrave, 2017) and (with Gamze Yücesan-​Özdemir) of Silent Violence: Neoliberalism, Islamist Politics and the AKP Years in Turkey (RQB, 2012). Axel Gehring is an adjunct lecturer at Marburg University. Research areas include Hegemony-​Theory, State Theory, Political Economy, EU Integration, Conflict Studies and Turkish History. A  recent monograph of his is On the Myth of the Strong State and the European Integration of Turkey (Springer 2019, in German), and he has a PhD fellowship from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. İsmail Doğğa Karatepe is a post-​doc researcher at the International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD), University of Kassel, Germany. His publications focus on economic policies, global value chains and the state. Zeynep Kıvılcım is an associate professor of Public International Law. She received her MA and PhD degrees from Université Paris II. Her work deals with migration law and the politics of legality with a gender perspective. She is a guest researcher at Humboldt-​University, Berlin, Germany. Melehat Kutun is an Einstein Research Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin. Her PhD degree is on politics and social sciences. Her publications focus on critical state theories, Turkish politics, migration politics and contemporary political theory. She is currently studying on her habilitation project. She is a member the editorial board of Praksis Journal and signatory of the “Academics for Peace” Declaration. Hakan Mertcan is a Philipp Schwartz Fellow/​post-​doc researcher at Bayreuth University–​ Germany. His PhD degree is on Constitutional Law. He has published a number of scientific articles and books in this field. He was discharged from Mersin University on 29 April 2017 as he was one of the signatories of the “Academics for Peace” Declaration. Ezgi Pınar is a political scientist and currently carries out her post-​doctoral studies in Philipps-​Universität Marburg. Her research interests include theories of state and neoliberal restructuring, critical political economy, labour politics and Turkish Politics. She published on the Integration of Syrian Migrant Workers to the labour market in Turkey, on labour force management and state-​capital relations in Turkey with respect to education policy. Galip L.  Yalman is an associate professor (em) of Political Science in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. His research interests and publications extend from state theory to international and comparative political economy. He is currently the President of the Turkish Social Sciences Association.


Contributors xv

Zafer Yılmaz is an Einstein Research Fellow in Comparative Political Sciences and Political Systems of Eastern Europe, Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin. He works currently on the rise of authoritarianism and the transformation of the rule of law and citizenship in Turkey.


Debating regime transformation in Turkey Myths, critiques and challenges Errol Babacan, Melehat Kutun, Ezgi Pınar and Zafer Yılmaz

Debates around authoritarianism have been flourishing in political analysis related to Turkey, especially since the Gezi Uprising in 2013. These debates found a new momentum right after the April 2017 Constitutional Referendum, when the transition from parliamentary democracy to the presidential regime was legally institutionalized. Rather than providing historically sensitive analysis, scholars have mainly followed the track of recent studies on authoritarianism and opted to conceptualize this regime change in Turkey around ready-​made terminologies such as competitive or electoral authoritarianism. Analysis of the historical process as well as the social and cultural entrenchment of the current regime in Turkey is neglected by these concepts. The most prominent manifestation of such negligence is an obsession with the so-​called “authoritarian turn” of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had been associated with political liberalization for more than a decade. In pursuit of the question of what happened to the liberalization agenda of the AKP, these conceptualizations underestimate the party’s tactical engagement with democracy and pluralism. They mythologize the early period of the AKP by disregarding the party’s judicial and political repression of oppositional forces, the enactment of repressive security regulations and the imposition of authoritarian neoliberal policies in conjunction with a cultural project characterized by paternalist and patriarchal patterns. Even a cursory glance at the legal amendments made during the so-​called democratization period of the AKP reveals that the more recent state of emergency policies have actually advanced through the previous intensification of security policies. These policies gradually induced the erosion of civil rights and democratic checks and balances. In response to increasing “threats” to the party’s rule, the AKP government enacted several major legal amendments, beginning as early as 2004. The enactment of Specially Authorized Courts in 2004, the revision of the Police Powers and Duties Law in 2005, the revision of the Anti-​ Terror Law in 2006 and the enactment to issue decree laws in 2011 are prominent examples (Iğsız, 2014). Indeed, these policies reinforced security-​based legal and judicial governing practices and extended the discretionary powers of the police. The result has been a much broader scope of impunity, particularly for the police

2  Errol Babacan et al.

and intelligence forces (Topak, 2017). The Anti-​Terror Law embraced such a broad concept of terrorism that any oppositional political activity could easily be criminalized as terrorist activity. Hence, instead of searching for moments of “authoritarian turn”, this edited volume aims to reframe the current regime transformation by shedding light on the long-​term political, cultural and economic dynamics that resulted in the current form of authoritarianism, promoted and shaped by the governing party. It attempts to provide a critical analysis which focuses on Islamist, hegemonic and neoliberal authoritarian aspects of the regime change. As the term change already suggests, the guiding argument of this volume is not that nothing has changed. It is rather that change has occurred as the advancement of already existing tendencies. Since the underlying dynamics are still at work, further advancement into a more totalitarian regime appears well possible. Reviewing the dynamics and impacts of recent authoritarian developments in a historically sensitive way therefore also strives to inform struggles that are trying to resist and reverse these dynamics. Accordingly, the critique of the narrative of an “authoritarian turn” that splits the AKP era into democratic and authoritarian periods is a common denominator in all the articles in this volume. They share the claim that the recent transformation should be understood in a broad historical framework which is sensitive to both continuities and shifts. Challenges emerging from the imposition of anti-​democratic policies are discussed in conjunction with economic and cultural dynamics, thereby moving beyond analyzing the political contours of the presidential regime organized around the figure of Erdoğan.1 Studies that relate the political development in Turkey to rising authoritarianism on a global scale are included in this aim. This volume also strives to explore contestations and possibilities for democratic activity –​without raising claims to completeness, of course, since Turkey has a strong and multi-​faceted tradition of right-​seeking activity that could not be represented within this single volume. The volume is composed of three parts. The articles in the first part deal with debates on authoritarianism from the perspective of a critical political economy. The second part is concerned with the cultural transformation project and its implications for gender relations, and the last part deals with resistive and oppositional activities.

A critical political economy of regime change Debating authoritarianism from a critical political economy perspective first and foremost entails the problematization of neoliberalism. In contrast to an understanding according to which authoritarianism entails a disengagement from neoliberal economic management, the studies in the first part of this volume share the analysis that authoritarianism is immanent to the neoliberalization process. The current political transformation is not seen as a divergence from neoliberalism, but rather it is analyzed in relation to the main features of the

Debating regime transformation in Turkey  3

neoliberalization process. The establishment of authoritarian neoliberalism in Turkey can be traced back to the 1980s under the New Right governments that re-​established bourgeois hegemony after the protracted class struggles of the 1970s. Main components of this pursuit were the suppression of the social rights and democratic gains of subaltern classes. The AKP is situated within this right-​ wing tradition, which has articulated the aim of transforming parliamentarian democracy into a presidential regime since the 1980s. That is to say: the presidential system, which is seen as a principal aspect of the so-​called “authoritarian turn” of the AKP, is the culmination of a long-​term project of the Turkish right that occurred through the integration of neoliberalism and conservatism into a new hegemony project. The first article, entitled “Crisis in or of neoliberalism? A brief encounter with the debate on the authoritarian turn”, by Galip Yalman, discusses the crisis-​ driven trajectory of neoliberalism, particularly since the 2007–​2008 global financial crisis. Yalman provides a broad overview of international debates on the relation between neoliberalism and political regime change. He disagrees with the explanation of the current phase as a crisis of neoliberalism that could trigger alternative projects, which is stressed by many other commentaries. Referring to a Gramscian perspective, Yalman argues that crisis should be discussed within hegemonic relations:  since there is no systemic alternative or challenge to neoliberalism in sight, it would be appropriate to talk about various forms of authoritarianization based upon the maintenance of neoliberalism. Ultimately, he extends this discussion of crisis and regime change to the COVID-​19 pandemic in the form of a postscript. The subsequent study, entitled “A labour-​ oriented perspective on regime discussions in Turkey”, by Ezgi Pınar, elaborates upon the working-​class dimension of regime discussions. Pınar advances the argument that these discussions should not be limited to the super-​structural level but should systematically include continuities and shifts in the labour regime. She steadily makes her argument by tackling the literature on authoritarianism, critically engaging with liberal and institutionalist framings, while drawing on an understanding of authoritarian neoliberalism. With respect to the labour regime, according to Pınar, the state of emergency and the presidential system do not mark a break. On the contrary: by shifting the focus to the labour regime, one can recognize the AKP era as a continuation of previous periods. The financialization process can be seen as another characteristic feature of neoliberalization (Akyüz, 2017; Fine, 2010). In the last two decades, in near congruence with the governing period of the AKP, this process has been coupled with easy accessibility of cheap international loans. These loans not only triggered an indebtedness of private corporations and households to an unprecedented degree, they also helped moderate struggles among capital factions in Turkey (Güngen, 2017; Yalman et al., 2018). Since the accessibility of cheap credit hit its limit after the 2007–​2008 global crisis, intra-​class struggles in Turkey have intensified. Various interventions in the economy by AKP governments have triggered

4  Errol Babacan et al.

conflicts around economic management due to the fact that these interventions operate in favour of capital groups organically associated with the AKP. Even though the tendency of centralization was already prevalent, the disempowerment of the parliament and the centralization of political administration in the form of the presidential system occur within this setting, as Melehat Kutun argues in her article entitled “Making the new-​neoliberal state in Turkey: beyond the prevailing master narrative”. She analyzes AKP governments’ response to the global crisis by taking the dynamics of international economic politics into account. She argues that the shifts in economic management do not mark a disengagement from neoliberalism but a struggle to continue neoliberalism by preserving gains from the previous period. Kutun unfolds her arguments on the basis of a critical engagement with the master narrative that conceptualizes the current government’s interventions in the economy and social life as “recalling the state” and “new-​developmentalism”. She brings in the concept of “new-​neoliberalism” to designate the new economic management strategy that came along with the presidential system. Kutun explicates how the AKP instrumentalizes neoliberal policies to create its own resource allocation system. Against this backdrop, she considers protectionism as a significant feature of authoritarianism in Turkey. In her study entitled “Global class constitution of the AKP’s ‘authoritarian turn’ by neoliberal financialization”, Pınar Bedirhanoğlu discusses authoritarianism as an ongoing transformative process. She criticizes liberal studies for analyzing this process in Turkey on an exclusively domestic basis and argues for its global constitution. Accordingly, the reproduction of financial capital reached its limit by the 2010s and paved the way for the acceleration of neoliberal authoritarianism on a global scale –​a process which has acquired some distinctive features in the Global South and Turkey, respectively. In this context, Bedirhanoğlu also discusses the systematic and extensive indebtedness of working class households and its repercussions for the historical conditions of class struggles. The study by Eylem Çamuroğlu Çığ and Ünsal Çığ entitled “Transformation of news media: the case of Turkey for the neoliberal era” complements the studies on regime change from a critical political economy perspective by assessing the role of media in the constitution of the new regime. Çamuroğlu Çığ and Çığ state that the transformation of media, which started with the transition to neoliberalism after the 1980 military coup, has been completed by AKP governments. By using the concept of “accumulation by dispossession”, they localize the dynamic within the financialization of media through global capital markets. According to them, the privatization and financialization process facilitated the collapse of oppositional media in the AKP era. Çamuroğlu Çığ and Çığ delineate how the media has overwhelmingly been transformed into a power apparatus of the AKP, particularly in the course of crucial historical moments starting with the Gezi Uprising and extending to the coup attempt in 2016. The building of “pool media” through monopolization and financial coercion as well as the creation of “media trolls” are used as instruments through which the political ideology of the new regime is widely spread.

Debating regime transformation in Turkey  5

The last study in the first part, by Axel Gehring, is “Internationalized class governance and the AKP’s populism: On Turkey’s integration with the European Union”. Gehring argues that institutions of the European Union have a direct impact on the political setting in Turkey because accession policies have initiated a “disciplinary neoliberalism” and helped to change the balance of power between class forces in favour of capital. Whereas the EU project has been a catalyst in the transnationalization of the Turkish bourgeoisie, the discourse of EU accession, with its emphasis on rule of law, human rights and democracy, helped the AKP to better cope with political and social opposition. “Class governance”, in Gehring’s terms, advanced thanks to the broad societal agreement on EU reforms, especially during the first AKP government, whereas “authoritarian populism” would evolve without prominent critique from EU institutions in the subsequent governing periods. Moreover, the EU supported and legitimized many institutional and legal amendments that provided the groundwork for the deterioration of democratic checks and balances and the centralization of political power. Following this analysis, one could conclude that it was delusional to pin hopes on the EU having a positive impact on the advancement of democracy in Turkey  –​a conclusion whose significance was demonstrated once again by the so-​called refugee deal between Turkey and the EU in 2016, as it revealed the priorities of the latter.

The cultural political economy of regime change The second focal point of this volume is concerned with the cultural transformation project that both undergirds the AKP and is pushed forward by the party. The subject of this project is symbolized by the declaration of intent to raise a “pious and furious generation” (dindar ve kindar nesil), thereby further disrupting secular and republican traditions. The prospects of success for this project have recently been debated in the context of a series of polls that indicated popular resilience. In particular, lifestyle surveys triggered a debate about the failure of Islamization politics by measuring a decrease in the religiosity of the population (e.g. KONDA, 2018a; 2018b). When these surveys were met with the lamentations of some theologians –​according to which, deism was spreading among the youth at theological schools –​commentaries from within oppositional circles as well as by Islamists affiliated with the AKP immediately mushroomed. Accordingly, the youth has become “religion fatigued” (Böhürler, 2017); “many Turks are losing faith in Islam” (Akyol, 2018) and are disillusioned by demonstrations of piety by authoritarian and corrupt figures, which allegedly conflict with the sense of justice and honesty among the “pious” population (Aktan, 2019; Bilici, 2019). The declaration of the political leader of the project  –​State President Erdoğan –​that they have had trouble achieving social and cultural dominance seemed to prove these commentaries.2 Indeed, such an ambitious project aiming for the transformation of the cultural practices of a society that comprises diverse traditions beyond conservative Islam(ism) may well be confronted with setbacks.

6  Errol Babacan et al.

Indications of popular resilience may imply boundaries –​and thus opportunities for political intervention. However, jumping to general conclusions about the failure of Islamization politics may also distract from the goals already achieved and the status quo shaped by 18 years of AKP governments (cf. Babacan, 2020). Moreover, it may obfuscate that the merging of Turkishness with conservative Islam in the shape of the Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis unfolded as a long-​term project reaching far beyond the AKP. Contemporary governments pursue this project through an ever-​growing budget for the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), the opening of a great number of schools with a theological focus (Imam-​Hatip schools) and the promotion of religious organizations of various shades and kinds. In his article entitled “Hegemony and privileges: reproduction of Islamism in Turkey”, Errol Babacan discusses the status quo of this dynamic from a Gramscian perspective. According to Babacan, the neoliberalization process induced several hegemony projects that differ primarily due to cultural and political articulations of neoliberal developmentalism. His study implies that the Islamic hegemony project is quite effective in the suppression of alternative economic policies to neoliberalism in the period of financialization. While taking into account the critical literature on the AKP, his conceptualization strives to build a bridge between class-​oriented approaches, which localize the project within the relations of production, and its exclusionary dynamics directed against dissident cultural practices. Babacan draws attention to religion within the Islamic project as more than an ideological instrument to assert control over the working classes. He argues that the institutionalized sites of Sunni Islam build a “gravitational centre” that integrates economic, cultural and political elements. His article concludes that Islamism constitutes a double-​sided movement that organizes hegemony and advances a religiously articulated structure of privileges. This interdependence of organizing hegemony and granting privileges seems to stabilize the project rather than produce a failure in Islamization, as it raises the attractiveness of adopting a Sunni-​Islamic identity across class positions. It could subsequently be discussed whether the apparent decline in secular-​republican resistance against the empowerment of Islamic-​conservative institutions is rather a failure in secular politics. These politics are still commonly associated with the Republican People’s Party (CHP). However, the political strategy of this party has increasingly been characterized by the abandonment of secular positions against the empowerment of religious institutions as well as by an adaptation to Islamic-​ conservative discourses (Coşar & Özman, 2020). This policy shift suggests that secular politics are under more pressure than ever in republican history. Also heavily pressurized within the same process are women’s rights, as recent objections to the “Istanbul Convention on Preventing Violence against Women and Domestic Violence” by Islamist agents close to the AKP once again has demonstrated. In her article entitled “Regime change in Turkey: old symbols into new settings”, Simten Coşar delineates that such contestations characterize a new mode of patriarchy within the implementation of the presidential regime. She argues that the evolution of the regime could be captured by the term “fascistic

Debating regime transformation in Turkey  7

track”, whose features –​namely, securitization policies, anti-​intellectualism and anti-​feminism  –​particularly shape the ongoing transition from a neoliberal-​ conservative to a personalistic-​religious patriarchy. Coşar argues that the new mode of patriarchy works through women’s involvement in anti-​women’s rights, anti-​gender equality and anti-​feminist policy. Her article concludes with a critical assessment of the prevailing strategy of the women’s movement in recent times. Accordingly, AKP governments have demonstrated the ability to colonize and distort women’s movements’ tactics through the selective and temporary involvement of women’s organizations. A holistic approach involving struggles against exploitation and structural violence, the subsequent conclusion suggests, could have achieved sustainable shifts in power relations in favour of women’s rights. As the conditions for such a struggle did not improve, Coşar’s article raises the question of which kinds of tactics women’s organizations should pursue in order to interrupt or even push back the “fascistic track”. The third study in this part is a contribution by İsmail Doğa Karatepe. His article entitled “Recent right-​wing lurches what do they have in common for India and Turkey?” unfolds from the argument that a comparative approach could serve for a better understanding of the reasons for the rise of authoritarian religious movements in different parts of the world. Karatepe operationalizes the Cultural Political Economy approach by comparing the Islamist AKP in Turkey and the Hinduist BJP in India through political and economic commonalities and parallels. He argues that the rise of both movements can be traced back to the initial nation-​building process, since the foundation for contemporary “majoritarian politics” was laid in this stage. Karatepe also reveals the parallel journey of both countries in terms of their economic policies. Accordingly, this journey played out through a “catching-​up imaginary” that invoked desire for economic development. Karatepe’s contribution underlines that the neoliberal order has facilitated the rise of authoritarian movements that took on a religious character through cultural settings rooted in long-​standing identity politics. His findings on the primary constituencies of both parties, which are made up of an aspiring bourgeoisie that owes its rise to a growth-​oriented economic program as well as patronage relations, parallels Kutun’s findings on protectionism as a characteristic feature of the new regime. The comparative framework introduced by Karatepe may well inspire further elaboration, since the rise of religious right-​ wing movements as a global phenomenon points to the need for analysis on a global scale.

Moments of resistance against regime change The articles in the third part of this volume shed light on various aspects of political opposition and social movements. Whereas the international literature on the institutional and political elements of the new wave of authoritarianism is steadily growing, the moments of resistance have not been examined in a comparable manner. A close inquiry into the dynamics and possibilities of opposition

8  Errol Babacan et al.

in authoritarian regimes has yet to take place. Critical studies on authoritarianism in Turkey follow this general tendency, with the exception of a great number of publications on the Gezi Uprising of 2013.3 In fact, these countrywide protests could easily be seen as the climax of the political opposition against the AKP’s oppressive policies as well as neoliberal commodification policies. While it started as a protest movement against the demolition of a park and the construction of a shopping mall in its place, it turned into a nationwide political movement which displaced the well-​established dualities of Turkish politics and the entrenched configuration of political groups (Yılmaz, 2018). The uprising also led to the transformation of political protest culture in the country, which is anchored in leftist traditions. However, the uprising was neither the only moment of defiance to the AKP’s rule nor the last challenge to rampant authoritarianism. Close scrutiny of recent social movements in the country could reveal that there has been a sequence of political protests organized by the women’s movement, the LGBTQI movement, the Kurdish movement, the Alevi movement and the labour movement as well as by particular groups like lawyers and artists. In this sense, the Gezi Uprising occurred within a sequence of protests which transcend the singularity and spontaneity of this unique event and prepared the conditions for its possibility. At the same time, the repercussions of the uprising in the political field have not entirely disappeared, even if the form of political subjectification and togetherness that accompanied the protest was short-​ lived. Considering their long-​term impacts, several additional occasions deserve special emphasis in this context:  the 7 June 2015 General Elections; the July 2017 “March for Justice” (Adalet Yürüyüşü); the 16 April 2017 Constitutional Referendum; and a series of elections, with the 23 June 2019 Istanbul Re-​run Local Elections  –​which defeated the long-​standing rule of Islamist parties in the biggest city in the country –​being the last one. In this context, the success of the pro-​Kurdish party HDP (Halkların Demokratik Partisi) in the June 2015 election is to be highlighted due to its impact on subsequent developments. The pro-​Kurdish party crossed the election threshold for the first time and provided a new political alternative to the governing party’s program based on the promotion of the presidential system. It would, of course, be misleading to attribute the success of the HDP solely to the Gezi Uprising. However, it should be noted that the party articulated the principles promoted by protesters and successfully mobilized for its new program on a countrywide basis. In reaction to the election results, the AKP and President Erdoğan terminated the so-​called “Resolution Process”, which had advanced negotiations between the government and the Kurdish movement on a peaceful settlement of the so-​called “Kurdish question”. The settlement of this conflict had been the last great hope that was pinned on the AKP. Subsequently, the suppression of the Kurdish movement and the criminalization of political opposition and protests has accelerated and become a fundamental aspect of regime transformation. However, even the comprehensive securitization policies could not prevent the organization of protest movements against the gradual institutionalization of the new political regime. Active

Debating regime transformation in Turkey  9

resistance moments have always accompanied the imposition of these policies, in various forms and levels of strength. In his contribution entitled “Laicism and the struggle of Alevis against the rise of political Islam”, Hakan Mertcan presents one of these contestations of authoritarian policies. After giving a comprehensive picture of the Islamist policies of the AKP, Mertcan reviews the resistance of Arab Alevi (Alawi) youth organizations against Turkification and Sunnification policies. In that context, his contribution expands the discussion on authoritarianism and resistance to one of the most neglected issues in Turkey. As his article is based upon ethnographic research, it delivers unique insights into grassroots activities. It also reveals the challenges for political organizing in an increasingly repressive setting. His discussion of the experiences of Alevi resistance suggests that counter-​movements to the AKP regime will not automatically emerge from (probable) failures in Islamization politics. They need to be organized on the basis of political consciousness and a certain degree of unity. In her contribution entitled “The politics of legality of the authoritarian liberal regime in Turkey”, Zeynep Kıvılcım succinctly analyzes the large-​scale strikes in the Turkish metal industry sector in 2015 within a Gramscian framework. She portrays how the labour movement challenged authoritarian policies by actively using labour courts. Through legal proceedings, according to Kıvılcım, the courts became a place for politicization of labour conflicts. Her contribution comprehensively displays the vivid picture of legal clashes as well as the ways the coercive and consent-​building functions of law are contested, resisted and subverted under authoritarian legal and political conditions. Lastly, Meral Camcı, in “Constructing a language of peace through women’s struggles:  the case of women for peace initiative in Turkey”, elucidates the experiences of the Women for Peace Initiative in terms of feminist peace activism. She lays out how “the long-​term struggles of the women’s movement and feminists have come together with the liberation movement of Kurdish women and arose on the basis of constructing social peace against war and demanding equal distribution of rights against an authoritarian ruling male power”. Her analysis shows how the feminist women’s movement found a way to go beyond both imposed dualities and build an egalitarian alternative against the established security-​ based policies and language around the “Kurdish question”. Consequently, the articles in the last part of this volume succinctly expose the limits of authoritarian rule by focusing on various actors and areas in Turkey. They can be seen as a vivid call to seek out further potentials and dynamics of opposition in the current authoritarian era. This edited volume is in large part an outcome of a series of workshops and conferences that have generously been supported by the International Centre of Development and Decent Work (ICDD) at the University of Kassel. The editors owe special thanks to the ICDD for making these meetings possible, particularly against the backdrop of the repressive setting that forced many scholars from Turkey into exile. The purge not only targeted critical scholars themselves, the repression also deliberately targeted the families of the “Academics for Peace”.

10  Errol Babacan et al.

Children are especially affected by this repressive strategy. We therefore dedicate this book to these children, with the hope of providing them with a democratic and peaceful future.

Notes 1 For a political analysis of the new regime, see Yılmaz (2020). 2 “We still have problems in social and cultural rule:  President Erdoğan”, www., 28 May 2017. 3 The collected volume edited by Özyürek et al. (2019) is also an exception to this tendency. It highlights crucial issues that should be included in any such attempt. However, the volume is composed of interviews and not scholarly works in a strict sense.

References Aktan, S. (2019). “Türkiye’de deizm neden artıyor, dindarlık neden azalıyor?”, tr.euronews. com, 19 March 2019. Akyol, M. (2018). “Why so many Turks are losing faith in Islam”,​, 16 April 2018. Akyüz, Y. (2017). Playing with Fire:  Deepened Financial Integration and Changing Vulnerabilities of the Global South. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Babacan, E. (2020). Hegemonie und Kulturkampf. Verknüpfung von Neoliberalismus und Islam in der Türkei. Bielefeld: transcript. Bilici, M. (2019). “The spectacular fall of Turkey’s Islamist intellectuals“, www.duvarenglish. com, 26 November 2019. Böhürler, A. (2017). “Din yorgunu gençler!”,, 30 September 2017. Coşar, S. & Özman, A. (2020). “Ortanın solundan neoliberal uzlaşıya CHP 1–​3”, bianet. org, 14–​16 August 2020. Fine, B. (2010). Neoliberalism as Financialisation. In A. Saad-​Filho & G. L. Yalman (Eds.), Economic Transitions to Neoliberalism in Middle Income Countries (11–​24). London: Routledge. Güngen, A. R. (2017). Financial Inclusion and Policy Making: Strategy, Campaigns and Microcredit a la Turca. New Political Economy, 23(3), 331–​347. Iğsız, A. (2014). Brand Turkey and the Gezi protests:  Authoritarianism in Flux, Law and Neoliberalism. In U. Özkırımlı (Ed.), The Making of a Protest Movement in Turkey: #occupygezi (25–​49). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. KONDA. (2018a). “What has changed in 10 Years? 2008–​2018”. Retrieved from interaktif.​en/​HayatTarzlari2018/​. KONDA. (2018b). “What has changed in Youth in 10 Years? 2008–​2018”. Retrieved from​en/​Youth2018/​. Özyürek, E., Özpınar, G. & Altındiş, E. (Eds.). (2019). Authoritarianism and Resistance in Turkey. Conversations on Democratic and Social Challenges. Cham: Springer. Topak, Ö. (2017). The Making of a Totalitarian Surveillance Machine: Surveillance in Turkey under AKP Rule. Surveillance & Society, 15(3/​4), 535–​542. Yalman, G., Marois, T. & Güngen, A. R. (2018). The Political Economy of Financial Transformation in Turkey. London: Routledge.

Debating regime transformation in Turkey  11 Yılmaz, Z. (2018). Revising the Culture of Political Protest after the Gezi Uprising in Turkey: Radical Imagination, Affirmative Resistance, and the New Politics of Desire and Dignity. Mediterranean Quarterly, 29(3), 55–​77. Yılmaz, Z. (2020). Erdoğan’s Presidential Regime and Strategic Legalism:  Turkish Democracy in the Twilight Zone. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 20(2), 265–​287.

Part I

Political economy of regime change

Chapter 1

Crisis in or of neoliberalism? A brief encounter with the debate on the authoritarian turn Galip L. Yalman

The last decade since the 2008 global financial crisis has witnessed a series of traumatic changes in the ways in which capitalist societies have been governed as they have struggled to cope with the repercussions of economic, social and humanitarian crises that have engulfed them. This has, in turn, stirred a series of theoretical responses to come to terms with the political outcomes which ensued in the context of the protracted period of crises. From “authoritarian neoliberalism” to “post-​fascism”, these responses aimed to provide an understanding of the transformations in the state–​class relations, as the era concerned is tended to be portrayed as the de-​coupling of liberal democracy and neoliberalism. At the same time, there were debates ensuing about the nature of the crises and their implications for the global economic order on the one hand, and historically specific contexts on the other. In these endeavours, there is also a quest to develop the most apposite concepts so as to establish analogies and differences across different geographical locations and historical time periods. Put differently, as these conceptual categories tend to function as tools of periodization, there arises the need to problematize them so as to assess their saliency to account for their characterization in terms of both continuity and difference.

Crisis of what? As Nicos Poulantzas (1976:  295) reminds us, “the generic elements of crisis (due to class struggle) are always at work in the reproduction of capitalism”. But this should not lead us to think that capitalism is always in crisis, because to do so “dissolves the specificity of the concept of crisis” (ibid.: 296). While he also underlined that “economic crises of capitalism” are “the very conditions of its extended reproduction and perpetuation” (1975: 172), it is noteworthy that, at the same time, he portrayed capitalist states with a declining ability to manage the crises confronting capitalist economies in general, and crises of hegemony of the bourgeoisies in particular (1975:  173; 1976:  320–​1; 1978:  169).1 This would, in turn, lead to the characterization of such episodes as “recourse to the more direct or more concealed forms of authoritarianism and coercion” so as to alleviate the potential consequences of the “developing crisis of hegemony”

16  Galip L. Yalman

(Buci-​Glucksmann, 1980:  58). As Buci-​Glucksmann (ibid.:  72) reminded us in reference to Gramsci, “an economic crisis only develops into a historic and organic crisis if it affects the state and the apparatuses of hegemony, i.e. the state as a whole”. Put differently, a crisis would be characterized as “organic” when the “very foundations of bourgeois hegemony” were put in doubt (Thomas, 2009: 145). Poulantzas had thus been laying the ground for the analysis of the ways in which this particular crisis of hegemony would lead to a change in the form of state without necessarily being accompanied by a regime change, at least for the European capitalist economies. Thus, he would in due course dub this “new form” “for want of a better term” as “authoritarian statism”, to be characterized by “intensified state control over every sphere of socio-​economic life combined with radical decline of the institutions of political democracy and with draconian and multiform curtailment of so-​called ‘liberties’ ” (1978:  203; see also Jessop, 2008: 131). In this regard, this crisis of hegemony would also be characterized as a crisis of the state, not only because the state is being considered an integral part of the power bloc (Poulantzas, 1976: 307) but, more pertinently, it is conceived as experiencing a “crisis of the crisis management” (ibid.: 320). This focus on the relationship between different kinds of crises that ensued in the context of the crisis the capitalist West had experienced during the 1970s at both global and nation-​state levels has had resonance since the 2007–​2008 global financial crisis. An “authoritarian turn” is said to characterize the experience of several countries of the global South in particular, with or without a “regime change”. In fact, there seemed to be an apparent convergence of opinion that this particular economic crisis, though it gained systemic proportions and became protracted, did not produce a crisis of hegemony since it was not threatened by a systemic alternative  –​that is to say, there did not emerge a working-​class challenge to the hegemony of the dominant classes and/​or power blocs. Despite the crisis, it has been held that the political forces in no part of the world have been able to break out of the neoliberal logjam (Albo et al., 2010). Hence, its characterization, generally speaking, as a crisis in neoliberalism rather than a crisis of neoliberalism (cf. Radice, 2010: 37; Saad-​Filho, 2010: 249; Sum & Jessop, 2014:  435). What is pertinent in this regard is Gramsci’s conceptualization of the crisis as a process rather than an event (Filippini, 2017: 88), as the process of neoliberal transformation is driven forward by a series of crises as exemplified by the post-​1980 experience in Turkey (Bedirhanoğlu & Yalman, 2010; Yalman, 2016) as well as those of several countries of the Global South and of the Eurozone. Indeed, this particular conceptualization of the crisis has been reiterated as a “developmental feature of neoliberalism” in reference to the US economy in the wake of the 2008 subprime crisis, too (Gindin et al., 2011: 35). Yet, it has been a characteristic feature of the current period to ponder about the perceived divergence between liberal democracy and neoliberalism to the extent that the latter came to signify the current form of capitalism (cf. Ayers & Saad-​Filho, 2014).2 A “de-​democratization” tendency as a central feature of state

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  17

practices has been observed over the neoliberal period, with more overtly “authoritarian” measures since 2008 (Albo & Fanelli, 2014). This tendency is attempted to be accounted for by two different, but somehow affiliated, arguments. On the one hand, what had much earlier been depicted as “the orthodox paradox” of market-​oriented reforms (cf. Kahler, 1990; Nelson, 1989),3 is being reformulated as “the political paradox of neoliberalism” to the extent that the latter came to signify an ideal depiction of a market-​based order with the proviso that “hegemony of neoliberalism is predicated on the discourse of the reduction of the economic role of the state” (Boffo et al., 2018). Indeed, while there are still many on the left who tend to characterize neoliberalism as a form of capitalism in which non-​market institutions such as the state play a limited role (cf. Kotz, 2015), even some of the IMF economists would acknowledge the need to reconsider whether a smaller role for the state should still be underlined as one of the main planks of “the neoliberal agenda” (cf. Ostry et al., 2016).4 This is all the more noteworthy since it has long been established that neoliberalism is characterized by the systematic use of state power to put into effect a hegemonic project of recomposition of the rule of capital in most areas of social life (cf. Saad-​Filho & Yalman, 2010; Gindin et al., 2011: 28).5 Put in terms of the vocabulary of the regulation school, states would thus be ascribed the key role for the protection and reproduction of the neoliberal “regime of capital accumulation” (Tansel, 2017). Given the conceptualization of financialization as an integral feature of neoliberal capitalism and the characterization of the state as a major agent of finance dependent “system of accumulation” (Fine, 2010), this has given rise, however, to the characterization of the power relations in terms of “state–​finance nexus” with special reference to the Central Banks as part of the state apparatus (Harvey, 2006: 321; 2011a: 76). In fact, a specific role has been attributed to the Central Banks for limiting the ability of governments to run fiscal deficits and accumulate debt as reflected by their depiction as “independent” agencies. What has been at stake from a neoliberal perspective was “the transformation of the debt state” (Streeck, 2014), that is to say, an increasing awareness to the pitfalls of debt-​led strategies of growth (cf. Bahçe et al., 2016; Yalman, 2019). While this could be perceived as providing the criteria to judge the extent to which a historically specific experience of neoliberal transformation and financial liberalization in particular has achieved these objectives, it has another salient aspect which deserves attention. The specific role attributed to the Central Banks implies their constitution as a hegemonic apparatus. It thus becomes clear that the hegemonic apparatus should be conceived as a constitutive part of the relations of production, thus not reducible simply to the super-​ structural level (cf. Buci-​Glucksmann, 1980: 89). On the other hand, there is a widespread tendency to refer to the rise to power of right-​wing parties with idiosyncratic leaders in several capitalist countries in terms of an implosion or collapse of neoliberal hegemony (Fraser, 2017).6 These developments would, in turn, revive an interest in another age-​old concept, namely populism, as there has been a series of analyses that tended to characterize the

18  Galip L. Yalman

period as a “populist moment” which signalled a “crisis of neoliberal hegemony” (Mouffe, 2018). Indeed, it has been argued that “in the absence of a hegemonic aura … neoliberal practices are less able to garner the consent [of the people]”, hence “the emergence of more coercive neoliberalization processes” (Bruff, 2014). While there seems to be a concurrence of opinion that “the world is going through a mounting tide of authoritarian neoliberalism” (Saad-​Filho, 2018), curiously there is a rather different role attributed to the notion of hegemony, or lack of it, as an explanan of the political economy of neoliberal rule. On the one hand, it has been purported that while the hegemony of neoliberalism has been consolidated, simultaneously, its political legitimacy has been eroding as a result of successive crises (Ayers & Saad-​Filho, 2014). Moreover, it has been contended that since the 2008 financial crisis, the world capitalist system has been experiencing a generalized political crisis, a process enhanced with the coming to power of the Trump Administration in the US (Panitch & Gindin, 2018: 1 and 11). Interestingly enough, “the populist moment” has already been identified, at the same time, as “the expression of a crisis of liberal-​democratic politics” (Mouffe, 2016). With the prevalence of TINA among the political organizations comprising the political system notwithstanding differences of regime between them, the policy consensus implies the hegemony of neoliberalism. As the people were constrained, if not totally deprived, to influence crucial policy decisions that have been increasingly placed outside the realm of democratic politics (Madariaga, 2017), it was held that “the hegemony of neoliberalism … has structurally destabilized neoliberal democracy” (Boffo et  al., 2018:  260). However, while this kind of political crisis might pave the road for more authoritarian forms of rule, it has been purported that one could also entertain the idea that this could rekindle an opportunity for reclaiming and deepening the democratic institutions that have been weakened by the long rule of neoliberalism (cf. Boffo et al., 2018: 266; Mouffe, 2018). This is, in fact, in line with the conception of crises as “moments of indeterminacy” (Jessop, 2015) which, in turn, underlines the saliency of the crisis management strategies in coping with the actual and/​ or potential challenges to the existing social order. Yet, in the absence of such a challenge to neoliberal hegemonic rule, however protracted the economic and financial crises might be, they would remain as crises in neoliberalism rather than of neoliberalism (Radice, 2010; Saad-​Filho, 2010), thereby diminishing the prospects for the re-​emergence of a more democratic form of state and/​or regime. It seems, therefore, it may not be apposite to characterize them as organic crises in Gramscian terms. This would, in turn, lead to a refraction from the characterization of the authoritarian turn in reference to the concept of populism on the grounds that the latter is not only “unable to account for the phenomenon in question” but also tends to create confusion (Traverso, 2019a; Löwy, 2019). At the same time, however, it is held that “the concept of fascism seems both inappropriate and indispensable for grasping this new reality” (Traverso, 2019a).7 Hence, the proliferation of the studies to come to terms with the contemporary forms of authoritarianism, which

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  19

is said “to destroy democracy from the inside” by invoking notions such as new/​ late-​and/​or post-​fascism (cf. Toscano, 2017; Traverso, 2019b). While historically, fascism has been conceived as “a ruling-​class solution to the organic crisis of a regime of accumulation confronted by the threat of organized class struggle” (Toscano, 2017),8 a fundamental premise for the rise of post-​fascism is said to lie in the lack of a left-​wing alternative to neoliberalism (Traverso, 2019b). Moreover, it has been asserted that “the classical Marxist analysis of fascism is not relevant in today’s world, where nowhere is there a ‘revolutionary threat’ ” (Löwy, 2019). Thus “new fascism”, that is, “a fascism that is not reacting to the threat of revolutionary politics” (Toscano, 2017) is called upon to sustain “the profound crisis of the traditional forms of liberal-​democratic governance” (Negri, 2019). There is, of course, also the problem of periodization. Whether characterized as “authoritarian neoliberalism” and/​or “post-​fascism”, the question remains as to the extent to which this could signify a new era, and the concepts thus formulated are allowed to function as tools of periodization.9 As stated in reference to post-​ fascism, it is, in fact, “a phenomenon in transition, a movement that is still in transformation and has not yet crystallised” (Traverso, 2019a). By the same token, as justifiably posed for authoritarian neoliberalism, the questions such as the following are yet to be responded in a persuasive manner: “why emphasize the current period as different, when it presents so many continuities with the period that supposedly preceded it?” and “has the context of accumulation and reproduction changed in such a way as to prompt a qualitative transformation of authoritarian statist forms?” (Ryan, 2018). In other words, are we in a situation to say that what “has increasingly become the crux of economic life is in crisis (…) its scale is such that quantity becomes quality [then] the crisis is now organic and no longer conjunctural”? (Gramsci quoted from Buttigieg, 2007:  366, emphasis original).10 Suffice it to say at this stage, what is considered to be the distinctive feature of the authoritarian turn in the current conjuncture, what Jessop (2015) refers as “post-​democratic, authoritarian statism”, begs further theoretical elaboration.11 That is to say, while reflecting a series of commonalities with what Poulantzas had underlined with its influential concept, there seems to be a qualitative shift to the extent that neoliberal hegemony is maintained, notwithstanding the protracted nature of economic and/​or political crises in several historically specific contexts. Put differently, it is better to be portrayed as a specific instance of “hegemony armoured with coercion” as the neoliberal political project is sustained notwithstanding the difficulties encountered and failures experienced in implementing its crisis management strategy in a variety of different instances.

Postscript: living through the pandemic instigated crisis of capitalism With the calamity of COVID-​19 dawning upon humanity, there arose a new round of speculative debates about the future of capitalist system at different

20  Galip L. Yalman

scales of analysis, from the global to the supranational and/​or to the nation state. In a sense, there is an element of déjà vu in these debates, as they are in many ways reminiscent of those that were expressed in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. As the latter has not only been hailed as “the greatest crisis of global capitalism since the 1930s”, but also diagnosed as requiring the return of the state as the lender of the last resort, thus marking “the end of the sort of free-​market capitalism” (cf. Hobsbawm, 2009; Wolf, 2009). By the same token, as it happened in the wake of the 2008 crisis, there is currently a panoply of fortune telling, ranging from the slow death of neoliberalism to de-​globalization, which purports to provide a new set of foresights about the post-​pandemic era characteristics of capitalism (cf. Harvey, 2009; Radice, 2009; Gray, 2020; Rodrik, 2020). While these kinds of analyses might be taken for a glimpse of optimism, there are also those which ring the alarm bells for the spectre of authoritarian capitalism that is said to be haunting the West (Macfarlane, 2020). Curiously, both sets of arguments tend to share an underlying assumption about the changing nature of the relationship between the state and the market on the basis of the immediate policy measures taken by several governments in the wake of the pandemic’s impact on respective economies. Strikingly, the notion of “disaster capitalism”, as the phrase was coined –​in fact, prior to the 2008 crisis  –​to refer to events that put “the entire population into a state of collective shock” (Klein, 2007: 17) gains a renewed saliency with the added emphasis that the pandemic is very much a social and human-​ made disaster (Hanieh, 2020). With the visible failure to respond to the public-​ health emergency, especially in the UK and the USA, basically attributed to the impact of austerity policies on the public services, the British government in particular has been criticized for producing a pandemic version of disaster capitalism because of its shoring up the private sector at the expense of the public health system (Shabi, 2020).12 Concurrently, there is the added proviso that the structural crisis of the system takes on planetary dimensions, hence its depiction as “the emergence of catastrophe capitalism” (Foster & Suwandi, 2020). No doubt, there is also, as could be expected, a renewal of interest in the notion of crisis, particularly if conceived as an opportune moment for “real change” (cf. Klein, 2007: 6; Mirowski, 2013: 53; Bregman, 2020). In this regard, one could be reminded about a prophesy-​like statement made in the wake of the 2008 crisis that the only way to put the genie of financialization back in the bottle may require a “pandemic” (Authers, 2009). Indeed, there seems to be a confirmation of this revelation, as it has been propounded that “[w]‌here the historically unprecedented crisis of 2007–​9 marked the peak of financialization, the equally novel coronavirus crisis crystallizes its deterioration” (Lapavitsas, 2020). If true, that means an unravelling of neoliberalism since financialization, as pointed out above, has come to be considered as an integral feature of neoliberal capitalism. To the extent that the concept of financialization has been employed as a tool of periodization, that is, as a signifier of an epoch of capitalism,13 this would imply “the end of a particular cycle of accumulation on a world scale … via financial

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  21

expansion” (Arrighi, 1994: 236). While there are calls for “a managed retrenchment in international capital freedoms”, albeit under the rather peculiar banner of “multilateralist deglobalization” (Aitchison & Cooper, 2020), it is yet to be seen whether this perceived end of an epoch would be signalling the beginning of a new cycle.14 There seems to be a convergence of opinion that the pandemic will have repercussions on the processes of capital accumulation on a global scale. In the midst of an already initiated US–​China trade enmity by the Trump Administration, the pandemic is said to produce “the first global supply-​chain crisis” with severe consequences for the countries of the Global South in particular (Foster & Suwandi, 2020). Furthermore, “as capital has been pouring out of emerging markets at a breathtaking pace”, it was reckoned that “a deep economic slump and financial crisis are unavoidable” (Rogoff, 2020). For the major capitalist interests which have been the main beneficiaries of the liberalization of trade and capital flows, this might be signalling a new round of relocation of their surpluses. It is worth remembering, however, that the “enigma of profits without accumulation”, that is, a structural surplus of savings over investment originating in the corporate sectors of high-​income countries has been identified as a distinctive feature of the post-​2008 era (cf. Anderson, 2019; Durand & Gueuder, 2018; Bach, 2020). This was, in turn, characterized as giving further impetus to financialization as a way of dealing with the surplus absorption problem, thus producing an “asset economy” (cf. Harvey, 2011b; Adkins & Konings, 2020). Hence, the warnings by the optimistic accounts predicting the so-​called V-​ shaped recovery that the mistakes of 2009–​2010 must not be repeated, since the recovery then “left much to be desired in terms of productivity gains and inclusion” (O’Neill, 2020). Conversely, as anticipations for a slump mount in the post-​ pandemic era, companies are reckoned to be reluctant to invest “not because the cost of capital is high but rather because expected profitability is low” (Roberts, 2020a). On the other hand, an editorial in the same newspaper just over a decade later would reckon that “radical reforms –​reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades –​will need to be put on the table” to cope with the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic.15 Whether or not such a policy reversal is to be realized, the verdict that is quite widely shared seems to be that “the crisis through which we are living is a turning point in history” (Gray, 2020). This gains significance since the pandemic-​initiated crisis is essentially a crisis of social reproduction which has been governed by financialization under neoliberalism. Put differently, the question arises whether the current crisis could pave the way for the emergence of a new regime of social reproduction by putting an end to the commodified, market-​based regime of social reproduction characteristic of the neoliberal era (cf. Fine & Saad-​Filho, 2018; Mazzucato, 2020a; Mezzadri, 2020). Not surprisingly, to achieve “a more inclusive recovery, one that benefits all segments of society” turns out to be one of the favourite themes of the new IMF

22  Galip L. Yalman

managing director as well (Georgieva, 2020a). Indeed, it has been a traumatic experience for the classes of labour worldwide as fiscal austerity, expansionary or otherwise, has been at the centre of economic policy in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, as public debt was to be replaced with ever-​growing private corporate debt. So far, however, the responses to the pandemic have not brought forward what has been contemplated as being “truly global” (Hanieh, 2020). As the pundits had been expecting a recession for the global economy well before the arrival of the pandemic, it had been asserted that “the policy toolbox for responding to a crisis remains limited” (Roubini, 2019). In fact, the idea of initiating “socially inclusive structural change” by striking a balance between efficiency and equity has been around for more than two decades, as reflected in the policy debates about tackling poverty and inequality without necessarily producing the goods (cf. Yalman, 2011). Yet, “equitable access to opportunities” is put forward once again as the key for realizing higher income gains for those who bear the brunt of record-​high unemployment in the wake of the pandemic-​initiated economic and social crises (cf. Georgieva, 2020a; Roberts, 2020b). This seems to underline the fact that there is yet to emerge a paradigmatic shift about the ways in which the capitalist social orders could be contemplated so as to provide the theoretical underpinnings for political strategies, whether to transform or perpetuate them. In regard to the former, there is, as it happened in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, a series of calls for rethinking and problematizing the nature of the crisis so as to pave the ground for the development of appropriate strategies of transformation. As for the latter, there were, nonetheless, a series of attempts on the part of certain governments to put forward “unprecedented measures for unprecedented times”, as the Conservative government in the UK put it. 16 They are meant to provide liquidity to prevent bankruptcies during the lockdowns and maintain links between workers and their firms, which are considered essential, so that workers are furloughed rather than fired. Such job protection schemes, which have the support of the trade unions in providing social safety nets for their members, tended to interrupt, albeit temporarily, the hierarchical order of the markets within which the commodity and labour markets being governed by the financial markets to a great extent in the neoliberal era. In that sense, while these schemes could be acknowledged as conceding the incapacity of the neoliberal forms of governance to secure livelihoods (cf. Saad-​Filho, 2020), they have actually signified what F. Braudel had underlined as an essential feature of the history of capitalism, that is, its capacity for change and adaptation, especially in times of crisis (Braudel, 1985: 433). However, they are, obviously, far from being adequate for the working people in general, in light of the solitude of the workers involved in various forms of precarious work who are left with no means of support once the economic activities have come to a standstill. Or worse, they are forced to make a choice between risking their health and “putting food on the table” (Reich, 2020). Their predicament would, in turn, revive a late twentieth century debate about the pros

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  23

and cons of basic income schemes, whether applauded as a means of crisis management in lessening their economic insecurity or opposed for severing the link between welfare and the labour market (cf. Standing, 2020; Mestrum, 2020; Häusermann & Gingrich, 2020). Indeed, the same Financial Times Editorial has been joining the bandwagon by stating that policies such as basic income, which are “until recently considered eccentric”, will have to be taken on board. The political implications of this debate are also momentous. On the one hand, the proponents of universal basic income tend to portray it as an instrument of freedom as it would transform the political relationship between labour and capital by partially de-​commodifying labour. In fact, its advocates have always underlined that a basic income should not be conceived in relation to employment, since ideally speaking, it should entail “a truly universalistic entitlement without any work requirements” (cf. Nolan & Weisstanner, 2020). But it has also been conceded that it would not necessarily allow people to get out of poverty, since providing a sufficient amount of income to live on would be too costly. Far from endowing everyone with the resources to shape a life of their own choosing, it could, at best, be instrumental in mitigating poverty. Thereby, it becomes rather difficult to advocate it as the right to an adequate standard of living. Nonetheless, a policy of “nationwide minimum income” has been put forward by the left coalition government in Spain in the wake of the pandemic. They will also be reportedly pushing forward a proposal for a pan-​EU minimum income scheme, along with their Italian and Portuguese counterparts.17 On the other hand, the opponents claim that such schemes, if implemented, would make it all the more difficult for the working people to organize collectively, thereby widening the rifts between its different segments (cf. D’Ippoliti, 2018; Zamora, 2017). Thus, there arises calls for a post-​pandemic world that would be contemplated as one in which people have access to work and the dignity it brings, an objective that requires job guarantee schemes that would ensure the right to work.18 As the US Federal Reserve, to be followed by the European Central Bank (ECB) and others, put into effect enormous stimulus packages in response to the economic and social crises aggravated by the pandemic, much larger compared to the post-​2008 era, at least quantitatively, if not qualitatively, the saliency of “state-​finance nexus” becomes professed. More specifically, the largesse of the central banks would not be limited with the purchase of government bonds as it had been in the post-​2008 crisis round of quantitative easing, but this event has necessitated the purchase of corporate bonds too, since the phenomenal increase in corporate indebtedness has been a distinctive feature of the past decade. This has been described as a giant public safety net being stretched out across the financial system so as to avert a global financial meltdown. Consequently, it has been contended that the presumed independence of the central banks has become obsolete, since the policies pursued by the major central banks go well beyond price stability as it is conventionally understood (cf. Kaufman, 2020; Tooze, 2020a; 2020b).19 Yet, the shift from inflation-​fighting to coping with

24  Galip L. Yalman

the deflationary outcome of the pandemic so as to prevent a colossal depression would not necessarily imply a paradigm change, but rather a change in economic policy priorities (cf. Boffinger, 2020; Tooze, 2019). Essentially, this shift not only underlines the indispensability of the central banks as the lender of first resort in the midst of a major crisis, socializing the risks and/​or losses of the bank and non-​bank actors of the financial markets while ensuring that their potential gains continue to be private (cf. Tabb, 2012: 90; Brenner, 2020),20 but also indicates once again their functioning as hegemonic apparatuses. Ironically, this state of affairs has led to criticisms that “capitalism is being rapidly replaced by statism –​a form of political economy in which the state exercises substantial centralised control over social and economic affairs” (Kaufman, 2020). Others would, however, perceive the crisis, as they put it, as an opportunity “to do capitalism differently”. The role of the state, it is reckoned, should not be limited with crisis management or with fixing market failures. While this perspective has certain resonances with the post-​WWII notion of the state functioning as an extra-​market coordinating agency, it is contended that what is additionally required is a “mission-​oriented” approach to policy making. Given its “immense fiscal power”, as proven by the stimulus packages put in place, the state could shape and create markets so as to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. This, in turn, requires a “new fiscal constitution” so that the state can guide, stabilize and “if need be” transform the economic life on a permanent basis “in the interests of the common good”.21 Moreover, it is argued that this is also necessary to prevent a return to financial orthodoxy once the crisis is over (Mazzucato, 2020a; Mazzucato & Skidelsky, 2020). Accordingly, the relations between the state and the capitalist firms are to be redefined so as to ensure that any bail-​outs are going to be with “strings attached”.22 There seems to be a convergence of opinion that bailouts should be designed so as to avoid benefitting existing creditors and shareholders of the corporations per se. Therefore, it is reckoned, there should be conditionalities for the beneficiaries so that the state can steer productive forces in the interest of strategic, broadly shared goals in contrast to the experience hitherto when the liquidity provided is being channelled to the financial markets, thereby driving up asset prices (cf. Becker et al., 2020; Mazzucato, 2020b; Mazzucato & Andreoni, 2020). On the other hand, there appears to be the counterargument that there is “no evidence that state action inherently leads to progressive social outcomes” (Macfarlane, 2020). Indeed, there are concerns that the epidemic will not only increase top-​down control of information and surveillance, but also greater centralization of power and curtailment of civil rights (D’Eramo, 2020; Saad-​Filho & Ayers, 2020). Hence the drift towards “surveillance societies” is fearfully anticipated. And with the pandemic, it is feared that “my country first” national patriotism has been given further impetus (Aitchison & Cooper, 2020; Hanieh, 2020). In fact, it has been held that class divisions have been reinforced by new forms of nativism (Varoufakis, 2020). In short, it is reckoned that the existing trend towards authoritarian government will continue in the post-​virus world, as

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  25

this would be unavoidable so as to support the predominance of the corporations and banks in the governance of a market-​based order.

Looking beyond the old? After all, it need not be necessary to remind us all once again that the idea of a state withdrawn from the economy amidst the globalization of capitalism was a neoliberal myth (cf. Panitch & Gindin, 2010; Yalman, 2009: 2). Although, as indicated above, the states of the Global North have been taking charge of the payroll cost of employees made idle by the lockdown in the early phase of the pandemic, this did not necessarily mean that the ground has been laid for developing “a new lasting partnership between the state, private enterprise, and workers” (cf. Mazzucato & Skidelsky, 2020). Rather, it is suggested that such rescue packages are nothing but an attempt to save the old system (Mason, 2020). In any case, the apparent inability of these states to resort to the imperative of “fiscal austerity” so far should not lead to the conclusion that there would not be any imposition of financial and market discipline on the people as it has been the case in the past, once the health scare is over. Put differently, would it be plausible to suggest that the pandemic initiated crises would be qualitatively different –​that is, in contrast to the previous financial crises –​they would not function as the main driving forces to ensure further neoliberal transformation. Alternatively, it might be worth pondering whether the current systemic crisis might provide an opening for the ways in which an alternative strategy of counter-​hegemony could be developed, given the different forms of resistance in several countries around the globe before and during the pandemic.

Notes 1 Notwithstanding Poulantzas’s rather circumscribed usage of the concept of hegemony that confines it with the power bloc (Poulantzas, 1973: 137, 225), in contrast to that of Gramsci. In an earlier study, his usage of the concept of hegemony was much more akin to Gramsci’s conceptualization. It is noteworthy in this respect that there was an added emphasis on the role of the state in “organizing” hegemony of the “dominant fractions of capital” (Poulantzas, 1965: 103, 110). 2 See, for example, Yıldızoğlu (2019a). 3 The so-​called orthodox paradox highlights “the need for a more effective state” (Nelson, 1989: 10), since “effective adjustment demands a more activist and capable state than is typically envisioned by neoclassical prescriptions” (Haggard & Kaufman, 1992: 18). See also Öniş & Şenses (2007) for the advocacy of “pro-​active states” as a deviation from “neo-​liberal norms” and Yalman (2016) for a critique. 4 While the acknowledgment of this particular policy agenda by the IMF itself as “neoliberal” might be considered as a psychological, if not an ideological, breakthrough on the part of the mainstream economists and policymakers, given the fact that the term itself has come to be part of the lexicon of the critiques of this particular policy agenda, its implications for the robustness of neoliberal hegemony are yet to be seen.

26  Galip L. Yalman 5 Astonishingly, however, there has emerged over the last decade a revival of interest in the role of the state with the rediscovery of the age-​old concept of state capitalism so as to indicate the alleged deviations from the neoliberal model (cf. Bremmer, 2008; Nölke, 2018; Öniş, 2019). 6 “The rise of authoritarian, proto-​fascist strongmen are becoming the new normal across the world” (Poruthiyil, 2019). 7 See Yıldızoğlu (2018) for a parallel reasoning to account for the developments in the current conjuncture; and Yıldızoğlu (2019b) for the characterization of the AKP’s project of political Islam as “new fascism”. 8 Indeed, Gramsci, too, analyzed the emergence of Fascism following the First World War in terms of an organic crisis, that is, of bourgeois hegemony (Thomas, 2006). 9 A similar problem arises in regard to the characterization of financialization as an epoch in the history of capitalist development. See Yalman et al. (2019: 4–​5) for a review of this issue. 10 What has recently been happening in different parts of the world, from France to Chile, and from Iraq to Lebanon, reflecting masses’ growing discontent with the neoliberal onslaught on people’s lives, prospects for radical change may certainly be rekindled. However, whether it would lead to a stage where it may be plausible to say that the crisis is “no longer conjunctural”, is too early to judge. 11 “We do not yet have a global analysis for a phenomenon that is global, and that takes place at a particular historical moment” (Löwy, 2019). 12 See Klein (2020) for the notion of Screen New Deal to refer to what she called Pandemic Shock Doctrine. 13 See Yalman et  al. (2019) for a review of this particular aspect of the debate on financialization. 14 “Silicon Valley had every intention of leveraging the crisis for a permanent transformation” (Klein, 2020). 15 “Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract”,, 4 April 2020. 16 “UK government to pay 80% of wages for those not working in coronavirus crisis”,, 20 March 2020. Similar measures have also been put into effect by other European Governments as well, France and Germany in particular which entailed no less than 80  percent of the wages of the employees of the private sector firms being paid from the public budgets. See also the European Union Commission’s, “EU budget powering for European recovery plan”, which aimed to initiate unprecedented “investment to repair labour markets, through employment subsidies, short-​time work schemes and youth employment measures” etc., which are considered critical for a “balanced recovery” and enhancing “the productivity and resilience” of the Member States’ economies. Retrieved from eur-​​legal-​ content/​EN/​TXT/​?uri=COM%3A2020%3A442%3AFIN, 27 May  2020. 17 “Spain rekindles a radical idea: a Europe-​wide minimum income”, www.theguardian. com, 3 June 2020. 18 See, and also “Humans are not resources. Coronavirus shows why we must democratize work”,, 15 May 2020. The peculiarity of the vocabulary used in such calls is worth noting since guaranteeing employment for all is put as “de-​commodification of work”, i.e. work not dependent on the market. 19 It is noteworthy, however, that the IMF would still consider the independence of the central bank as a key premise, at least for the countries implementing an IMF-​guided

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  27 stabilization program, thus underlining its adherence to the neoliberal logjam (cf. Georgieva, 2020b). 20 This process of socialization of the risks, of course, is not limited to the policies of the central banks, but also involves the governments of the capitalist world. For a recent example, see Monbiot (2020) for allegations against the British government that “secret coronavirus contracts” are being awarded without competition, thereby entailing “breaches of procurement law”. 21 The idea of reorganizing the economy in a way that promotes the common good has a long pedigree, but in the current circumstances, what is really imagined is a new, more environmentally sustainable form of capitalism. 22 Interestingly enough, another Financial Times Editorial was titled “Corporate bailouts should come with strings”,, 28 April 2020.

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Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  29 Kahler, M. (1990). Orthodoxy and its Alternatives: Explaining Approaches to Stabilization and Adjustment. In J. Nelson (Ed.), Economic Crisis and Policy Choice: The Politics of Adjustment in the Third World (33–​61). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kaufman, H. (2020). “US capitalism has been shattered”,, 25 June 2020. Klein, N. (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. London: Penguin  Books. Klein, N. (2020). “Screen New Deal Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-​Tech Dystopia”,, 8 May 2020. Kotz, D. (2015). The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism. Harvard: Harvard University  Press. Lapavitsas, C. (2020). “Covid-​19 crisis has exposed absurdities of neoliberalism. That doesn’t mean it’ll destroy it”,, 2 April 2020. Löwy, M. (2019). “The far right: a global phenomenon”,, 10 January 2019. Macfarlane, L. (2020). “A spectre is haunting the West –​the spectre of authoritarian capitalism”,, 23 April 2020. Madariaga, A. (2017). “The puzzling resilience of neoliberalism: capitalism, democracy, and development in Latin America and Eastern Europe”, Mason, P. (2020). “How to imagine the death of capitalism”,, 15 July 2020. Mazzucato, M. (2020a). “The Covid-​19 crisis is a chance to do capitalism differently”,, 18 March 2020. Mazzucato, M. (2020b). “Capitalism’s triple crisis”,, 9 April 2020. Mazzucato, M. & Andreoni, A. (2020). “No more free-​lunch bailouts”, www.socialeurope. eu, 1 July 2020. Mazzucato, M. & Skidelsky, R. (2020). “Towards a new fiscal constitution”, www.project-​, 10 July 2020. Mestrum, S. (2020). “Social commons: the social protection we want”, www.socialeurope. eu, 18 June 2020. Mezzadri, A. (2020). “A crisis like no other: social reproduction and the regeneration of capitalist life during the COVID-​19 pandemic”,, 21 April 2020. Mirowski, P. (2013). Never let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste. London: Verso. Monbiot, G. (2020). “When secret coronavirus contracts are awarded without competition, it’s deadly serious”,, 15 July 2020. Mouffe, C. (2016). “The populist moment”,, 21 November 2016. Mouffe, C. (2018). “Populists are on the rise but this can be a moment for progressives too”,, 10 September 2018. Negri, T. (2019). “A 21st century fascist”,, 5 January 2019. Nelson, J. (1989). The Politics of Long-​ Haul Economic Reform. In J. Nelson et  al. (Eds.), Fragile Coalitions:  The Politics of Economic Adjustment (3–​26). New Brunswick: Transaction Books. Nolan, B. & Weisstanner, D. (2020). “UBI and the Pandemic: all or nothing changed?”,, 29 May 2020. Nölke, A. (2018). Dependent versus State-​Permeated Capitalism: Two Basic Options for Emerging Markets. International Journal of Management and Economics, 54(4), 269–​282. O’Neill, J. (2020). “A V-​Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen”, www.project-​syndicate. org, 7 July 2020. Ostry, J., Loungani, P. & Furceri, D. (2016). Neoliberalism:  Oversold?. Finance & Development, 53(2), 38–​41.

30  Galip L. Yalman Öniş, Z. (2019). Turkey under the Challenge of State Capitalism: The Political Economy of the Late AKP Era. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies. 19(2), 201–​225. Öniş, Z. & Şenses, F. (2007). Global Dynamics, Domestic Coalitions and a Reactive State: Major Policy Shifts in Post-​War Turkish Economic Development. METU Studies in Development, 34(2), 251–​286. Panitch, L. & Gindin, S. (2010). Capitalist Crises and the Crisis this Time. Socialist Register 2011. Panitch, L. & Gindin, S. (2018). Trumping the Empire. Socialist Register 2019. Poulantzas, N. (1965). Preliminaries to the Study of Hegemony in the State. In J. Martin (Ed.) (2008), The Poulantzas Reader (74–​119). London: Verso. Poulantzas, N. (1973). Political Power and Social Classes. London: NLB Books. Poulantzas, N. (1975). Classes in Contemporary Capitalism. London: NLB Books. Poulantzas, N. (1976). The Political Crisis and the Crisis of the State. In J. Martin (Ed.) (2008), The Poulantzas Reader (294–​322). London: Verso. Poulantzas, N. (1978). State, Power, Socialism. London: Verso. Poruthiyil, P.  V. (2019). Big Business and Fascism:  A Dangerous Collusion. Journal of Business Ethics,  1–​15. Radice, H. (2009). “What kind of crisis?”,, 3 January 2009. Radice, H. (2010). Confronting the Crisis: A Class Analysis. Socialist Register 2011,  21–​43. Reich, R. (2020). “Covid-​19 pandemic shines a light on a new kind of class divide and its inequalities”,, 26 April 2020. Roberts, M. (2020a). “The post-​ pandemic slump”,, 13 April 2020. Roberts, M. (2020b). “Resetting the economy –​for social need not profit”, thenextrecession., 12 June 2020. Rodrik, D. (2020). “Will COVID-​19 remake the world?”, www.project-​, 6 April 2020. Rogoff, K. (2020). “Mapping the COVID-​ 19 recession”, www.project-​, 7 April 2020. Roubini, N. (2019). “The risk of a 2020 recession and crisis is growing”, www.theguardian. com, 14 June 2019. Ryan, M. (2018). Interrogating “Authoritarian Neoliberalism”:  The Problem of Periodization. Competition & Change, 23(2), 116–​137. Saad-​ Filho, A. (2010). Crisis in Neoliberalism or Crisis of Neoliberalism?. Socialist Register 2011. Saad-​Filho, A. (2018). “Privilege versus democracy in Brazil”,, 27 October 2018. Saad-​Filho, A. (2020). “Coronavirus, crisis and the end of neoliberalism”, www.ppesydney. net, 15 April 2020. Saad-​ Filho, A. & Yalman, G. L. (2010). Introduction. In A. Saad-​ Filho & G. L. Yalman (Eds.), Economic Transitions to Neoliberalism in Middle Income Countries (1–​9). London: Routledge. Saad-​Filho, A. & Ayers, A. J. (2020). “A Ticking Time-​Bomb”: The Global South in the Time of Coronavirus. Journal of Australian Political Economy, 85, 84–​93. Shabi, R. (2020). “The pro-​privatization shock therapy of the UK’s Covid response”,, 8 July 2020. Standing, G. (2020). “Coronavirus, economic crisis, and basic income”, braveneweurope. com, 17 March 2020.

Crisis in or of neoliberalism?  31 Streeck, W. (2014). “The politics of public debt”,, 7 February 2014. Sum, N-​L. & Jessop, B. (2014). Towards a Cultural Political Economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Tabb, W.  K. (2012). The Restructuring of Capitalism in Our Time. New  York:  Columbia University Press. Tansel, C.  B. (2017). Authoritarian Neoliberalism:  Towards a New Research Agenda. In C. B. Tansel (Ed.), States of Discipline: Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (1–​28). London: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Thomas, P. (2006). Conjuncture of the Integral State? Poulantzas’s Reading of Gramsci. Submission to the Historical Materialism Annual Conference, SOAS, London, 8–​10 December. Thomas, P. (2009). The Gramscian Moment. Leiden: Brill. Tooze, A. (2019). “What are central banks for?”,, 18 March 2019. Tooze, A. (2020a). “How coronavirus almost brought down the global financial system”,, 14 April 2020. Tooze, A. (2020b). “The Death of the Central Bank Myth”,, 13 May 2020. Toscano, A. (2017). “Notes on late fascism”,, 2 April 2017. Traverso, E. (2019a). The New Faces of Fascism: Populism and the Far Right. London: Verso. Traverso, E. (2019b). “Fascisms old and new:  an interview with Enzo Traverso”, www., 2 April 2019. Varoufakis, Y. (2020). “A chronicle of a lost decade foretold”, www.project-​, 27 May 2020. Wolf, M. (2009). “This crisis is a moment, but is it a defining one?”,, 19 May 2009. Yalman, G.  L. (2009). Transition to Neoliberalism:  The Case of Turkey in the 1980s. Istanbul: Bilgi University Press. Yalman, G. L. (2011). Discourse and Practice of Poverty Reduction Strategies: Reflections on the Turkish Case in the 2000s. In İ. Eren (Ed.), Converging Europe (227–​248). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. Yalman, G.  L. (2016). Crises as Driving Forces of Neoliberal “Trasformismo”:  The Contours of the Turkish Political Economy since the 2000s. In A. Cafruny et  al. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical International Political Economy (239–​266). London: Palgrave-​Macmillan. Yalman, G.  L. (2019). Finansal Krizler ve Sermaye Grupları. In E. Karaçimen et  al. (Ed.), Nuray Ergüneş için Yazılar:  Finansallaşma, Kadın Emeği ve Devlet (127–​151). Istanbul: SAV. Yalman, G. L., Marois, T. & Güngen, A. R. (2019). Introduction:  Debating Financial Transformation in Turkey. In G. Yalman, T. Marois & A. R. Güngen (Eds.), Political Economy of Financial Transformation in Turkey. London: Routledge. Yıldızoğlu, E. (2018). “Faşizmi düşünmek  –​ III”,, 19 November 2018. Yıldızoğlu, E. (2019a). “Kapitalist demokrasi ölüyor mu?”,, 5 September 2019. Yıldızoğlu, E. (2019b) “Siyasal İslam ve dönüşümün iki yüzü”,, 30 September 2019. Zamora, D. (2017). “The case against a basic income”,, 28 December 2017.

Chapter 2

A labour-​o riented perspective on regime discussions in Turkey Ezgi Pınar

World politics, from East to West and South to North, are witnessing the rise of right-​wing populist and authoritarian tendencies. Trump in the USA, Putin in Russia, the BJP (The Bharatiya Janata Party) in India, Bolsonaro in Brazil, the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) and Erdoğan in Turkey –​these are the different faces of authoritarianism all around the world. Moreover, as Appadurai (2017: 5) notes, this “world-​wide package is becoming visible in Europe including Theresa May’s UK, in addition to Victor Orban’s Hungary and Andrzej Duda’s Poland”. Consequently, the rise of authoritarianism has become a world-​wide discussion. In these discussions, the concept of authoritarianism is generally applied to security policies. An increasing visibility of the police force in daily life, changes in Penal Codes and security measures and other kinds of security issues are put forward as evidence of authoritarian tendencies. Foucauldian security studies dominate this kind of analysis. Another mainstream interpretation views authoritarianism, or authoritarian populism, as the rise and growth of the cult of the leader, or one-​man rule. These approaches look at the individual or the institutions and limit their observations to phenomena such as law, political culture and electoral systems. One drawback of these analyses is the elusiveness of the line between description and analysis of the phenomenon. It would be relevant to remember the famous quote of Marx (1894: 592) saying, “But all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided”. Analysis may and can start with the appearances, but it really starts when moving on from simply the appearances. Restricting the analysis to security issues and politics means turning a blind eye to the class dimension of the issue. Starting from this assumption, this chapter aims to go beyond the mainstream explanations and discussions on authoritarianism. Including labour politics into the discussion of regime change builds the focal point in this aim. Turkey is particularly interesting in this respect, as the AKP governments share all the mentioned characteristics of right-​wing movements. Furthermore, the discussion can draw on the broad literature on authoritarianism reaching far beyond the AKP period. In that sense, it should be noted that both for Turkey and as a global tendency, authoritarianism and right-​wing populism is historically a long-​ term consequence of the gradual weakening of the working classes and loss of

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their representation and ability to be heard in politics and the policy-​making area. Right-​wing populist parties rise as the candidates fill the gap in the political sphere, following the decline of working-​class politics. This correlation implies that we should be discussing labour when we are talking about transformation of the regime. Moreover, if the critique of authoritarianism is motivated by the advancement of democracy, which can be achieved by a broadening of the political sphere and involvement of various social actors, it would be essential to address the working class in the first place. If authoritarianism, first and foremost, can be defined as anti-​democratization, it is important to identify the contraction of the political sphere through repressive practices and, especially, pose the question: for whom is the political sphere and means of political representation being contracted? In the first section, I will be dealing with the dominant approaches to authoritarianism in Turkey. There is a need for a theoretical and conceptual contribution to address the gap in the literature and the intention here is to address the drawbacks of the existing interpretations of authoritarianism and to suggest a recall of concepts such as class conflict, capital accumulation regime and labour regime. In addition to the critique of dominant approaches to authoritarianism, I  will also critically engage with the literature of authoritarian neoliberalism, while trying both conceptually and factually to involve “labour” in the relevant literature on authoritarianism. To that end, labour politics and governmental discourse corresponding to the emergency rule in Turkey will be evaluated in the final section.

Mainstream approaches to authoritarianism Centralization and concentration of power, a core aspect of authoritarian regimes, is often characterized as one-​man rule and even as the paranoia and characteristics of that man. In the case of Turkey, one comes across statements like “the Sultan”, or “the New Sultan” in many academic works. Cagaptay (2017: 3) states that Turkey is in a political crisis and explains this situation with reference to Erdoğan’s personality. According to him, any attempt to understand the future of Turkey “is impossible without a full understanding of Erdoğan’s ascendancy and political aspirations” (ibid.). Mansour (2016) sees the process as Erdoğan just pursuing his centralization of power and turning out to be a “sultan from an outsider”. After analysis of the same developments, both authors conclude that Erdoğan became an illiberal democrat and “sultan”. Other scholars prefer to link the recent developments to the conflict “between the Justice and Development Party and the Gülen Movement” and see the 15 July 2016 coup as a milestone in Turkish Politics (Taş, 2018: 2). White and Herzog (2016: 564) place the start of the authoritarian regime in 2011 and argue that the political atmosphere opened the way for “identitarian cleavage structures in Turkish politics, that made the AKP’s consensualist catch-​ all image unsustainable and made it adopt an increasingly religio-​conservative,

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nationalist discourse”. This change in the discourse is the sign of authoritarianism in Turkey. Terms like “New Sultan”, “despotic regime”, “illiberal democracy” (Gol, 2018),1 “electoral authoritarianism” (White & Herzog, 2016) and “competitive authoritarianism” (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2016: 1586) are among the descriptions of the regime in Turkey. Some would define it as a turn, and some would seek the roots of an authoritarian turn in the heritage of tutelary democracy, which resulted in the lack of democratic consolidation in Turkey (ibid.). Somer (2016) makes a distinction between old authoritarianism and the new authoritarian regime. This new authoritarianism is “some kind of a resurgence or reproduction of Turkey’s long-​existing authoritarian features”, and its novelty lies in the new ideological feature –​mainly Islam –​and the personality of Erdoğan (ibid.: 3). In this new authoritarianism, one can observe that the “old authoritarian regime of Turkey, based on a certain state tradition and particular set-​up of the state–​society relationship characterized by the dismissive power of state over society” still prevails (ibid.: 4). Unlike the approaches featuring individuals as agents of authoritarian developments, Öniş (2016) stresses the importance of looking at the so-​called authoritarian and illiberal practices as part of an already ongoing process. He argues that, for Turkey, “the danger that parliament and other democratic institutions could be marginalized was (and is) obvious”. According to him, erosion of the rule of law and judicial autonomy and the rise of the security state can be traced back to the third phase of the AKP, which started after June 2011 (Öniş, 2016:  143). The Turkish road to authoritarianism passes through the presidential system and is allegedly based on a narrow majoritarian understanding of democracy (ibid.). Another common approach is to focus on the policies of security and scrutiny. In this Foucauldian approach, authoritarianism is being defined within the confinements of security practices of state, likewise the state is reduced to the police and court system (Ismail, 2011: 847). The problem with these approaches is not necessarily their specific explanation or description, but the lack of analysis, since their focus is simply on the factual appearance of the regime change; thus, the arguments are not addressed. The rise of authoritarianism has also triggered discussions on the possibility of the co-​existence of democracy and neoliberalism. Tuğal is one of the authors who raises the possibility of this co-​existence in the context of the recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. He claims that he is “going beyond the personalistic and culturalist analysis of Turkey’s recent authoritarian turn, by pointing out the structural and conjunctural dynamic behind it” (Tuğal, 2016:  19). In this “structural” analysis, the outstanding structure is Islam, which is also the distinguishing feature of Turkish authoritarian liberalism, according to Tuğal. It can be said that he traces the roots of authoritarianization in Turkey from within Islam. The “conjuncture” is the Arap Uprisings which have allegedly affected the political conjuncture in Turkey towards authoritarianization. While addressing the need for a structural explanation, Tuğal limits himself to culture and politics.

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His explanations ignore the contradictory relationship between democracy and neoliberalism that is characterized by repression of the working classes, their organizations and rights.2

An appraisal and critique of authoritarian neoliberalism Going beyond these approaches, the authoritarian neoliberalism literature emphasizes the structural setting, which is globalization and the world economic system, paving the way for authoritarian governmental practices. This literature prevails especially after the 2007–​2008 global crisis, when the neoliberal economy paradigm began to be questioned. Accordingly, both the current form of the state and forms of regime3 are responses to the reproduction problem inherent to capitalism (Bruff, 2014: 120). However, the argument that authoritarianism is immanent to neoliberalism had been already covered in the pages of New Left Review in 1984 (Jessop et al., 1984). It is noteworthy that this fact is systematically ignored by liberal accounts that regard every kind of state intervention as conflicting with (neo-​)liberalism. The authoritarian neoliberalism literature4 especially comes to the forefront with its emphasis on the capital accumulation regime:  “Understanding neoliberalism as a mode of accumulation and its adoption in different contexts, as responses to capitalism’s economic and political crises, also offers a contextualization of why neoliberal governance increasingly embodies an authoritarian rule, underpinned by the erosion of democratic politics and the deployment of coercive state power” (Tansel, 2017: 10). This perspective offers a useful and effective starting point, but it regards the action of governments solely as a design of the ruling classes and product of their intra-​class performances. It leaves no room for the existence and actions of the working classes and for the contradiction between labour and capital. The tendency to empirically observe the logic of governance results in overlooking the theoretical existence of labour and inter-​ class conflicts. At this juncture, it is essential to note that “laws of capitalist development cannot be conceived of as laws internal to capital and hence as external to labour, but rather as a movement of contradiction constitutive of and constituted by the mode of existence of labour in capitalism” (Bonefeld, 1993:  118). In addition, realization of capital accumulation is a political process as well as an economic process. This means labour should be involved in the issue, not just as a result of economic forces but also as a political agent, considering the fact that the authoritarian state is ultimately being organized against labour. Neocleous (2000: 69) has already highlighted the organic relationship between law, security and labour politics. He points out that the commodification of labour comes first, then its regulation and control, and that this has been the case for modern bourgeoisie society since the “English Poor Laws” (Neocleous, 1996: 121). Following this line of logic, as a kind of response to the self-​proclaimed securitization

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approaches, Rigakos and Ergun (2013: 176), in their article on pacification, propose that there is a positive correlation between increasing policing measures and inequality, increasing poverty and decreasing trade unionism. Neocleous, who approaches the state of emergency from a Marxist point of view, sees authoritarianism and other exceptional forms of government as immanent to the capitalist state. He prefers to use “state of emergency” to “exceptionalism” by highlighting the meaning of the verb “to emerge”. In his view, it is like an object coming to the surface that was under the water (Neocleous quoted from Oğuz, 2016: 87). Following the points made by Neocleous, it would not be wrong to say that existing discussions on authoritarianism correspond to the tip of the iceberg. Following this analogy, the capital accumulation regime and labour regime can be visualized as the underside of the iceberg. Boukalas (2015) draws attention to capital accumulation while writing on counter-​terrorism and securitization policies in the USA and sees securitization politics as organically linked to the need for the reconfiguration of state structures, to accommodate “crisis-​prone, crisis-​generating and crisis-​dependent modes of accumulation” (ibid.:  59). He adds that this new accumulation mode is based on the devaluing of labour and the management of the economic crisis, which brought about intensified exploitation, deterioration of working relations and increased dispossession (ibid.: 63). Pradella states that “the last 40 years of neoliberal rule have brought about an international lowering of wage shares, leading to a rise in the number of workers who, even after receiving a salary, cannot be lifted above the poverty line” (quoted from Clua-​ Losada & Ribera-​Almandoz, 2017: 29). Regime change is about the response of capitalists to competition enforced at the global level, which involves “reducing costs by lengthening the working day, forcing down wages, intensifying labour and by transforming methods of production” (Clarke, 1992). The Post-​Fordist labour regime hinges on and soars over the information and knowledge technologies, in contrast to the rigidity of mass production of the former “Fordist” methods. It is based on making labour processes and labour markets more flexible (Jessop, 1992; Harvey, 1989) and is an integral part of the neoliberal mode of accumulation. Flexibility and the fragmentation of the labour process came to mean the fragmentation and decomposition of the labouring classes. Combined with the legal –​political –​interruptions, the post-​Fordist labour regime resulted in the devastation of labour and its pacification over the years. All these arguments can be taken to conclude that authoritarianism is about the underrepresentation of labour, individually and collectively, which comes to mean the narrowing down of the political sphere. In the following sections, in the light of this global historical background and theoretical underpinning, the political regime in Turkey and labour politics will be discussed.

Trajectory of the regime change in Turkey The rise of authoritarianism in Turkey is being increasingly discussed internationally after the coup d’état attempt in 2016 and the subsequent declaration

A labour-oriented perspective  37

of the state of emergency. This section mainly draws attention to the logic of the state of emergency; still the term is firstly used in its Turkish context to define the legal order that is the “official” state of emergency.5 However, it will be essential to link the legal and narrow meaning of the state of emergency, or the moment of emergency rule to the logic of the state of emergency and authoritarian state practices. In that sense, the coup d’état attempt was just such a moment, leading to the restructuring of the power bloc and further authoritarianization. Following Neocleous (2006) who uses the term “state of emergency” in a broader sense that transcends the legal definition, emergency rule or state of emergency regime procedures are applied when the threats and risks towards existing order cannot be maintained by the existing rules and legal order. It was both the result of the political crisis and a solution to it at the same time, or as Hall (1979: 15) says in a different historical setting, that state of emergency is not a reflection of the crisis, but more of a response to the crisis. The AKP came to power by building an expansive hegemony. Besides the support of different bourgeois factions, it had the support of different social groups such as different Islamic sects, representatives of the Kurdish movement and left-​liberals. The idea of “moderate Islam” and conservative democracy6 has been internationally supported. The Referendums and steps toward transformation of the regime took place in this political climate of broad support. However, the de facto presidency of Tayyip Erdoğan was not without opposition. The Gezi Uprising in June 2013 was a significant moment that unsettled the hegemony of the AKP. Erdoğan, as prime minister at that time, gave direct orders for the uprising to be quashed. For the government, it was a moment of both weakness and strength. Following that, repressive politics became prevalent. In December 2013, there was one of the biggest cases of bribery and corruption in Turkish history.7 From this moment, the cleavages within the ruling coalition turned out to be an open battle. Both the increasing social dissatisfaction and the battle within the governmental coalition amplified the governing crisis. In regard to resolution or the sustainability of the crisis, the coup attempt has been regarded as a blessing by Erdoğan himself, and under the guise of fighting against “terrorism” and “traitors”, repression expanded for the consolidation of the governing power. In addition, the chaotic political and social climate in Turkey also functioned as a ruling strategy of the AKP government and helped to overcome the governing crisis. Then, the shift towards a violence-​and security-​ based paradigm in the politics of the Kurdish question provided the legitimizing basis for further repression. While nationalist chauvinism was being promoted, the security policies had been the anchor point around which public policies and social regulations revolve. Ultimately, the 15 July coup attempt triggered the legalization and institutionalization of security policies, and an “official” state of emergency was in force between July 2016 and July 2018. During the “official” state of emergency, lots of protests, meetings, strikes and even press releases had been cancelled on the grounds of national security. The discourse of “National Consensus” and “national unity” was formulated

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by the government as the legitimate grounds. To the extent that the discourse of national consensus falls short, the number of those opting out has increased and repression has escalated. In parallel with these developments, by means of executive decrees, all public institutions and policy areas including education, health, municipalities and defence were restructured. The state of emergency enabled the centralization of executive power by authorizing the combination (or grouping) of executive and legislative power (Günday, 2017). The rule-​making power shifted from parliament to the president. The exceptional procedures passed in the context of the emergency have gradually become permanent. The state of emergency has also been utilized as a way of intervention in economics and the labour market. For instance, more than 969 firms had a trustee appointed, and most of them were transferred to the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund. As another way of governing public assets, on 19 August 2016 the Turkey Wealth Fund Management Co. (Türkiye Varlık Fonu Yönetimi Anonim Şirketi)8 was established, which mainly aims to fund the market via utilization of public assets and economic enterprises.9 President Tayyip Erdoğan was appointed as the board chairman of the Fund by a presidential decree in September 2018. The content of the executive decrees of the state of emergency period shows us that the state of emergency is more than establishing security and order but is mainly motivated by establishing a new order. In a sense, Turkey experienced a new form of “Shock Therapy”10 in the form of executive decrees.

Underside of the iceberg in Turkey While highlighting the “underside” of the iceberg of the regime discussions in Turkey, this section aims to associate regime discussions with the capital accumulation strategies, the labour regime and labour-​capital contradiction. “Labour regime” is used here in the sense of the “factory regime” conceptualization of Burawoy (1985). This concept highlights the political and ideological dimension of the production process, includes the labour-​capital contradiction and refers to labour politics and the active role of the state in the production process. As mentioned above, authoritarian neoliberalism literature has already addressed the capital accumulation process to be considered in political regime discussions. Any capital accumulation strategy relies on a particular labour regime. For instance, cheap and informal labour has been part of a capital accumulation strategy for peripheral countries. When the ruling powers of these countries were not successful in managing the labour regime, especially in times of crisis, political pressures increased and force prevailed (Öngen, 2003). The AKP governments and the democratic and authoritarian regime cycles should be evaluated in light of this statement, as the AKP itself was an outcome of a multifaceted crisis situation. After the 2001 crisis, the AKP evolved as a seemingly new agent that could manage this crisis. The “Program for the Strong Economy” in 2001 promised restructuring and stability. Boratav (quoted from Pınar, 2016: 185) characterizes this program as the reinforcement of the 1980 economic program.

A labour-oriented perspective  39

He describes the period up to 2008 as an export-​oriented strategy, accompanied by standard technologies, cheap labour and specialization. Although the AKP could stabilize the accumulation regime in this period, the question of sustainable capital accumulation has always remained pressing. Following the 2008 crisis, there was an attempt for a new accumulation strategy that included reforms in the employment sector, the industrial policy and the education policy. The 2008 global crisis resulted in the corrosion of the expansive hegemony of the AKP. Protracted crises became a characteristic of the AKP governments (Özden et al., 2017: 200). Especially in the post-​2012 period, stagnant economic performance began to threaten the sustainability of the social and financial mechanisms, which were the main factors that had brought about political stability and served for the inclusion of different sectors of society into the accumulation regime (Akçay, 2018: 19). The discourse of political stability continued to be used in a different context after the state of emergency in 2016. According to this discourse, political stability was more important than ever, since the country was under threat. By this, authoritarian measures were legitimized. The discourse of political stability has also been effective in garnering support for the presidential system as well as in the containment of labour. The production process in the factories should be maintained by calling upon the workers to be unified against “threats” to the national unity. The “heroism” of resisting the coup d’état was merged with the sanctification of the production at the factories. This perspective is expressed by the slogan: “People make history at squares and workers in the factories”.11 In his speech to the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and International Investors Association (YASED) on the first anniversary of 15th July coup attempt, Erdoğan says: We declared emergency rule for the business world, to make them work in a comfortable environment. Do you have any troubles in the business world? When we came to power, there was state of emergency. Now we take advantage of state of emergency and do not let any strikes. We use emergency rule for this. The photo is quite clear.12 In April 2018, again while appealing to business circles, he states: Do you remember the days when there were lots of strikes in 20 years ago? You can remember how much harmful those strikes were for the Turkish industry. From that days to this day, if there wasn’t state of emergency (…) Thanks to emergency rule, we just prevented an attempt in Bursa, nowadays.13 (…) We stopped strikes. If our businessman and their associations say the emergency rule should be removed, that will upset us.14 Whenever Erdoğan appeals to business, he underlines how successful his government is in stopping the strikes. This function of authoritarian measures is

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already familiar in Turkish politics, reflected by the famous statement of Halit Narin, head of the Confederation of Employer Associations of Turkey (TISK) in the 1980s: “Without state security courts, production cannot be increased” (quoted from Karahanoğulları & Türk, 2018:  436). It should be noted that there were 14 suspensions of strikes during the AKP period and six of them were during the state of emergency (DİSK-​AR, 2018). The strikes were largely being deferred on the basis of being a threat to national security, regardless of the sector, metal industry being at the top of the list due to the potential of strikes in the sector.15 As mentioned above, the post-​Fordist labour regime resulted in the devastation of labour. In Turkey, the institutional changes caused by neoliberal reforms have dramatically eroded the membership figures of trade unions and their political and ideological influence over society at large (Özden et al., 2017: 195). Its political impact during that time can be seen from the table below:

Number of strikes and strikers between 1984 and 2015

250000 200000 150000 100000 50000

1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

500 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0

Number of strikes (public+private)


Number of strikers

Figure 2.1 Number of strikes and strikers between 1984 and 2015 (Ministry of Labour and Social Security).25

Authoritarian labour politics in Turkey As stated above, neoliberalism is always prone to authoritarianism (Ayers & Saad-​Filho, 2015: 603). It is worth underlining that, like some Latin American countries, Turkey’s transition to neoliberalism was enabled by a specific form of authoritarian regime, or a form of extraordinary regime, that is military dictatorship. In Turkey as elsewhere, neoliberal transformation has put an end to class-​ based politics (Bedirhanoğlu & Yalman, 2010: 109) and resulted in the decline of trade unions and other forms of labour organizations. Starting from the 1960s, the working class was augmenting its power and getting mobilized, and especially between 1973 and 1980, the Turkish labour movement experienced the most

A labour-oriented perspective  41

active period in terms of strikes and other activities (Ozan Aytekin, 2010: 180).16 The motivation of the military was to end this progress and to curb the political and social achievements of the labour movement, gained in the era after the introduction of labour regulations in 1963.17 The success of the coup d’état in this sense has again been explicitly put by Halit Narin, the then-​head of the TISK: “For 20 years it was the workers who laughed enough and now it is our turn to laugh” (quoted from Ozan Aytekin, 2010: 124). The process continued with the change in Labour Law, Trade Unions Law, wage restrictions and prohibition of strikes. After the coup d’état in 1980, labour policies were reinterpreted in the direction of “flexibility” and labour protections were deregulated in favour of big business; thus, the way for the authoritarian reshaping of labour relations had been opened (Çelik, 2015: 619). First reactions to this regime began to appear from 1987 onwards in the shape of a localized wave of strikes, under the very strict rules of the new labour regulations initiated in 1983 (Dogan, 2010).18 This first reaction was followed by one of the historical actions of the Turkish labour movement in 1989, the “Spring Actions” against the decrease in real wages and deterioration of living conditions of the workers (Çelik, 2019:  140; Dogan, 2010). This wave of strikes and actions continued until the late 1990s. They had achievements in the short-​term and maybe in the middle-​term; however, both the deterioration and the decay continued throughout the 2000s. The driving force behind the labour actions in the late 1990s and 2000s was largely the initiation of precarious forms of employment in state enterprises, as a result of privatization. Sub-​contracting and other forms of precarious employment and informalization gradually became the norm for the Turkish labour market. The AKP governments could draw on this established practice of labour containment strategy (Yalman & Topal, 2017: 3). The TEKEL resistance in 2009 was a historical moment against this labour regime.19 The resistance was a serious confrontation between the government and the workers and their supporters. The impact of this was not confined to TEKEL workers but had a far wider effect. It was an impressive struggle and confrontation that was successful in the short-​term, but it became obvious soon that in the medium-​term it was a futile struggle for an already lost cause. In a nutshell, the labour regime and the labour movement we are talking about today is an accumulated and sedimented consequence of the period opened by the coup. Exploitation of a disciplined low-​cost and disposable labour force continued to be central to the model of accumulation (cf. Bozkurt-​ Güngen, 2018). Similar to the world trend, this was an outcome of the “isolation effect in labour relations, which individualizes the labour laws and weakens the collective bargaining processes and institution” (Clua-​Losada & Ribera-​Almandoz, 2017:  30). Furthermore, “any labour market dynamic that increases workers’ sense of vulnerability, be that an increase in part-​time work, short-​term contracts, or outsourced labour, will also increase labour control” (Anner, 2015: 3).

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Labour regime under presidential system Turkey now has a presidential government system, the so called “a la turca” presidential system. The hallmark of this system, which is referred to as a constitutional state of emergency in the introduction, is the concentration of power in the presidency that is also free from legal or administrative control mechanisms. State institutions, ministries and independent institutions are re-​ organized accordingly. While the institutions regulating capital accumulation strategies and the labour regime were being merged on the one hand, new institutions that facilitate state intervention in the economy were added to the model on the other hand. For example, the merging of the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology, the Ministry of Development and the Under-​Secretariat of the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance is geared towards regulating capital accumulation strategies, while the merging of the Ministry of Labour with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies is a step towards regulating the labour regime (Yıldırım, 2018). Following the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as President in June 2018, the adjustment of various regulations took place regarding labour politics. The “Commission of minimum wage determination” was attached to the Presidency and removed from the Labour Law. The head of the State Supervisory Authority, who is appointed by the president, became responsible for supervision of all public institutions and organizations, associations, foundations and trade unions and assigned authority to discharge the administrators of these institutions.20 The “New Economy Program” proposed to change the State Officials Law to facilitate greater flexibility of public work and proposed making the private insurance system obligatory.21 Moreover, the Unemployment Insurance Fund was misused in ways like buying bonds of public banks. With a high current account deficit and foreign debt, huge inflation rate, devaluation of Turkish lira, low production level and rising unemployment, along with huge household debt, Turkey is experiencing an economic crisis. The rising emphasis on the national defence industry, or industry 4.0, may be seen as a potential response to the lingering crisis (Yıldırım & Aykut, 2018). This emphasis on the national defence industry goes hand-​in-​hand with the discourse of national security, which is implemented as a labour containment strategy. As mentioned above, strikes (including two big strike waves of the metal workers in 2015 and 2018) are banned for national security reasons. Real wages that are already low are decreasing and working conditions are worsening. Due to the Syrian migration, child labour is increasing and informal labour is expanding. Statistics show that Turkey is ranked first among European countries and third worldwide in the number of fatal work accidents.22 Dissatisfaction regarding working conditions is increasingly being expressed in labour activism. İZBAN, Flormar, Cargill, TÜVTÜRK, Metro Market, Real, Reysaş and Babacanlar Kargo are among the workplaces where actions are taking place. There are many examples, as a current report on the labour movement

A labour-oriented perspective  43

states: in January 2019, labour activism was the highest of the last two years.23 According to the Working-​Class Protests Report of the “Labour Studies Group”, there is an increase in labour activism over the past three to four years. The number of singular protests, for instance, climbed to 1313 in 2017 from 729 in 2016 (LSG, 2017: 4), and the number of singular protests of workers and officers was 1197 in 2018 (LSG, 2018: 6). One of the striking examples of working-​class resistance was the de facto strike of the Third Airport construction workers in September 2019. The strikers were tortured and some were arrested because they protested against their severe working and living conditions.24 There have been other small-​scale, workplace-​ based protests and strikes, but the strike of the airport construction workers was the symbol of the impact of economic goals on the workers. The airport strike is also significant for its symbolic meaning, arising through the symbolic meaning attributed to the airport itself by the AKP government and President Erdoğan. The airport is one of the mega projects that were the pillars of the hegemonic strategy of the AKP. Those mega construction projects are hallmarks of the discourse of economic growth and global success, with its ideological and political repercussions. For years the construction sector was fundamental in the creation of this hegemonic discourse. The Third Airport construction, which became known for the bad working conditions, workers’ protests, public opposition and technical failings, turned out to be a strong indicator of the protracted crisis situation of the AKP from the labour side.

Concluding remarks The authoritarian labour regime, which is already established with the cooperation of political and economic forces, is immanent to the increasingly authoritarian measures in Turkey, resulting in further suppression and pressure on labour. From a labour-​oriented perspective, this is the authoritarian regime cycle of the “New Turkey”. Workers’ actions and movements are excluded from regime analysis by mainstream approaches, though the decline of these actions and movements since 1980 does not mean that the labour regime is irrelevant for political regime analysis. Overall, this chapter argues that increasing authoritarianism, going hand in hand with the national security politics that are embodied by the state of emergency, is a response to the governing crisis, combined with an economic crisis. Crisis is an outcome of stagnancy in the functioning of the capital accumulation strategy or initiation of a particular strategy. Here the labour regime broaches the subject and reveals that an authoritarian labour regime, including low wages, informal, insecure, unorganized and flexible working conditions and a disciplined labour force, is already there. The state of emergency does not disappear but continues to exist in a different form because it is an outcome of a particular historical conjuncture that requires the state of emergency for the power to rule. At the centre of this situation

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lies the need of a new capital accumulation strategy and the state’s capacity to handle it. In the authoritarianism discussions, where cultural–​political and individualistic approaches are dominant, there is a need to bend the stick in another direction: the direction of the capital accumulation regime and, correspondingly, the labour regime. The aim of this chapter is to give a clearer vision of the relation between economics and politics within the context of authoritarianism. By focusing on the labour politics, it suggests that authoritarianism is not an intra-​class issue among different interest groups, but in fact, ultimately an inter-​class issue. This perspective indicates a way forward and enables us to conclude that the antagonistic nature of the class relations  –​something largely excluded from the authoritarian neoliberalism literature  –​should be re-​emphasized.

Notes 1 Some would describe these regimes as “illiberal democracy”. First and foremost, this definition is based on the separation of liberalism and democracy and argues that a democracy doesn’t have to be necessarily liberal. In theory, liberal democracy assures civil and political rights and rule of law and the principle of separation of power, when these are not guaranteed but there are still elections that would make the regime an illiberal democracy. Some would call this type of regime electoral authoritarianism. 2 At the same time, Tuğal argues that the main contradiction of the Turkish political regime –​specifically during the Gezi Uprising –​was the dissatisfaction of the middle classes with the regime because of their “boring life” (2016: 20). 3 This terminology originates from Poulantzas’ works on state theory. Capitalist state (as a type of state) has normal and exceptional forms. In 1974, in Fascism and Dictatorship, he writes on exceptional state forms and in 1978, in State Power and Socialism, he writes on authoritarian state form as the new normal form of the capitalist state (Poulantzas, 1974; 1978). Türk and Karahanoğulları (2019: 205) summarize Poulantzas’ conceptualization: the modifications of the structure of the state in its relations with the class struggle (…) gives rise to the different forms that state takes. Yet, there are also “variables within the limits set by the form of state” that is to say different forms of regime (Poulantzas, 1975a: 154). In other words, a form of state may appear as, or combine with, different forms of regime, such that the liberal state as a form of state can take the form of regime as constitutional monarchy or parliamentary republic. 4 Since scholars who apply the concept of authoritarian neoliberalism insist that authoritarianism is immanent to neoliberalism, the addition of an adjective for neoliberalism and using “authoritarian neoliberalism” appears redundant. If neoliberalism, which “produces authoritarian, despotic, paramilitaristic and corrupt forms of state” (Tansel, 2017: 3), is the universal space we are talking about, the point of periodization is blurred. Whether the notion “authoritarian” is used as a qualitative or as a quantitative parameter, is lost. This discussion is beyond the limits of this chapter, but is still important to note.

A labour-oriented perspective  45 5 In the 1982 Constitution of the Turkish Republic, state of emergency is regulated in articles 119 and 122, which describe “emergency state” and “martial law” as the two forms of state of emergency regime (Gözler, 2000). 6 Yalçın Akdoğan (2004), who was one of the ideologists and opinion leaders of the AKP, introduced this concept in his book AK Parti Ve Muhafazakâr Demokrasi. 7 This attack from the Gülenist Movement on the AKP government was known as “17–​ 25 December coup d’état” or “economic coup d’état”, and was presented as a phase of the 15 July 2016 military coup attempt. Operations, mainly against AKP ministers and their sons, were based on bribery, abuse of office, misrepresentation, money laundering, gold smuggling and prostitution (“17–​25 Aralık: Yolsuzluk soruşturması mı, darbe girişimi mi?”,, 17 December 2017). 8 The law presents its aim as such: “to make use of the public assets for the market, to procure external sources, to collaborate to the strategic large-​scale investments”. 9 Here are some of the institutions’ shares belonging to Treasury, transferred to the Turkish Wealth Fund:  Republic of Turkey Ziraat Bank Inc.; Pipeline and Oil Transportation Inc.; Turkey Petroleum Corporation; Post and Telegraph Organization Inc.; Borsa Istanbul Inc.; Turksat Satellite Communication and Cable TV and Business Inc; 6.68% of the Turkish Telecommunication Inc.; Eti Mine Operations General Directorate; and Tea Operations General Directorate (“Son dakika: Ziraat Bankası, PTT, BİST, BOTAŞ, Çaykur, Eti Maden, Türksat Varlık Fonu’na devredildi”, www., 5 February 2017.) 10 This concept, originally used by Naomi Klein (2008), is also referred to as “Disaster Capitalism”. It describes the process of creating a state of disaster, or taking advantage of an already existing disaster to introduce new neo-​liberal economic prescriptions. The first and typical example of this is the Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973. It is seen as a method of introducing the state of emergency and a way of deceptively introducing the new economic–​political policies for the new order. 11 “Halk meydanda, işçi fabrikalarda destan yazıyor”,, 24 July 2016. 12 “Erdoğan’dan itiraf:  OHAL’le grevlere müsaade etmiyoruz”,, 12 July 2017. 13 Erdoğan refers to the biggest strike attempt of the recent years. Metal workers in a factory in Bursa –​one of the biggest industrial cities in Turkey –​wanted to go on a strike after the collective bargaining process. 14 “Erdoğan:  Greve tevessül etmek isteyen işçilere OHAL ile müdahale ettik”, www., 21 April 2018. 15 In 2015, there was a wave of strikes in the metal industry as the collective bargaining process continued to be dissatisfying. Lastly in 2018, the call for a strike of the trade unions was deferred (“Metal işçilerinin aldığı grev kararı ‘milli güvenliği bozucu’ nitelikte görüldü”,, 26 January 2018). 16 As a footnote, unlike Latin America’s long lasting military dictatorships, Turkey’s lasted quite a short time, although it was a sham –​in three years there were parliamentary elections. 17 These regulations were the laws of Trade Unions Act numbered 274 and Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-​out Act numbered 275 that were promulgated in 1963 after the 1961 Constitution which bestows the right to strike and collective bargaining. 18 These were the laws of Trade Unions Act numbered 2821 and Collective Labour Agreement, Strike and Lock-​out Act numbered 2822. These acts were drawing the

46  Ezgi Pınar framework of new labour regime, although it was amended throughout time, the repressing spirit was maintained. 19 TEKEL is a privatized former state economic enterprise  –​the state monopoly of tobacco and alcoholic beverages –​which employs 12,000 workers in 43 factories and workplaces in 21 cities across Turkey. British-​American Tobacco, the new owners, sacked thousands of workers at the beginning of 2009. TEKEL workers decided to resist the “4-​C” status by which their average monthly wages were reduced from TL1,200 (roughly US$800) to TL800 (roughly US$550) and the fact that they were offered job contracts of ten months, with no guarantee of renewal. They gathered in Ankara, the capital city, occupied the streets of one of its central squares, Sakarya and lived there in makeshift tents in the freezing cold of winter for 78 days, from 15 December 2009 to 2 March 2010 (Özuğurlu, 2011: 80). 20 “CHP Genel Başkan Yardımcısı Ağbaba’dan Çalışma Yaşamı ve İşçilere Yönelik Hak İhlalleri Raporu”,, 10 December 2018. 21 “Yeni Ekonomi Programı 2020–​2022”,​uploads/​2019/​10/​Yep-​Eylül-​ 1.pdf, September 2019. 22 “Türkiye ve Avrupa’da iş kazaları: En fazla işçi ölümlerinin yaşandığı ülke Türkiye”,, 23 October 2018. 23 “2019 Ocak Ayı İşçi Eylemleri Raporu Yayınlandı”,, January 2019. 24 “24 havalimanı işçisi tutuklandı”,, 18 September 2018. 25 Retrieved from​media/​1257/​grev.pdf.

References Akçay, Ü. (2018). Neoliberal Populism in Turkey and its Crisis. Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy, Working Paper No. 100. Akdoğan, Y. (2004). AK Parti ve Muhafazakâr Demokrasi. Istanbul: Alfa. Anner, M. (2015). Labor Control Regimes and Worker Resistance in Global Supply Chains. Labor History, 56(3), 292–​307. Appadurai, A. (2017). Democracy Fatigue. In H. Geiselberger (Ed.), The Great Regression (1–​12). Berlin: Suhrkamp. Ayers, A. J. & Saad-​Filho, A. (2015). Democracy against Neoliberalism:  Paradoxes, Limitations, Transcendence. Critical Sociology, 41(4–​5), 597–​618. Bedirhanoğlu, B. & Yalman, G. L. (2010). State, Class and Discourse: Reflections on the Neoliberal Transformation in Turkey. In A. Saad-​Filho & G. L. Yalman (Eds.), Economic Transitions to Neoliberalism in Middle Income Countries (107–​127). London: Routledge. Bonefeld, W. (1993). Some Notes on the Theory of the Capitalist State. Capital & Class, 17(1), 113–​121. Boukalas, C. (2015). Class war-​on-​terror: counterterrorism, accumulation, crisis. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 8(1), 55–​71. Bozkurt-​Güngen, S. (2018). Labour and Authoritarian Neoliberalism:  Changes and Continuities under the AKP Governments in Turkey. South European Society and Politics, 23(2), 219–​238. Bruff, I. (2014). The Rise of Authoritarian Neoliberalism. Rethinking Marxism, 26(1), 113–​129. Burawoy, M. (1985). The Politics of Production:  Factory Regimes under Capitalism and Socialism. London: Verso Books.

A labour-oriented perspective  47 Cagaptay, S. (2017). The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey. London: IB Tauris. Clarke, S. (1992). The Global Accumulation of Capital and the Periodisation of the Capitalist State Form. Open Marxism, 1, 133–​179. Clua-​ Losada, M. & Ribera-​ Almandoz, O. (2017). Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Disciplining of Labour. In C. B. Tansel (Ed.) States of Discipline:  Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (29–​46). London: Rowman & Littlefield. Çelik, A. (2015). Turkey’s New Labour Regime under the Justice and Development Party in the First Decade of the Twenty-​First Century: Authoritarian Flexibilization. Middle Eastern Studies, 51(4), 618–​635. Çelik, A. (2019). The Labour Movement. In E. Özyürek, G. Özpınar & E. Altındiş (Eds.), Authoritarianism and Resistance in Turkey (133–​145). Cham: Springer. Dogan, M. G. (2010). When Neoliberalism Confronts the Moral Economy of Workers: The Final Spring of Turkish Labour Unions. European Journal of Turkish Studies, 11. LSG. (Labour Studies Group) (2017). “Report on Working-​Class Protests in 2017”. LSG. (Labour Studies Group) (2018). “Report on Working-​Class Protests in Turkey in 2018”, Esen, B. & Gümüşçü, S. (2016). Rising Competitive Authoritarianism in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 37(9), 1581–​1606. Gol, A. (2018). “Erdogan’s New Turkey:  The Victory of Illiberal Democracy and One-​ Man Rule”,, 26 June 2018. Gözler, K. (2000). “Olağanüstü Yönetim Usulleri”, Günday, M. (2017). OHAL, İhraç KHK’leri ve Hukuki Durum. Ankara Barosu Dergisi, 1,  29–​38. Hall, S. (1979). The Great Moving Right Show. Marxism Today, 23(1), 14–​20. Harvey, D. (1989). The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell. Ismail, S. (2011). Authoritarian Government, Neoliberalism and Everyday Civilities in Egypt. Third World Quarterly, 32(5), 845–​862. Jessop, B., Bonnett, K., Bromley, S. & Ling, T. (1984). Authoritarian Populism, Two Nations, and Thatcherism. New Left Review, 147, 32–​60. Jessop, B. (1992). Fordism and Post-​Fordism:  a Critical Reformulation. In A. J. Scott, M. J. Storper (Eds.), Pathways to Regionalism and Industrial Development (43–​65). London: Routledge. Karahanoğulları, Y. & Türk, D. (2018). Otoriter Devletçilik, Neoliberalizm, Türkiye. Mülkiye Dergisi, 42(3), 403–​448. Klein, N. (2008). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Mansour, R. (2016). “The New Sultan: Erdogan’s Consolidation of Power in Turkey, The Cambridge Security Initiative”,, 26 August 2016. Marx, K. (1894). Capital. A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III. The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole”. Retrieved from​archive/​marx/​ works/​download/​pdf/​Capital-​Volume-​III.pdf. Neocleous, M. (1996). Administering Civil Society:  Towards a Theory of State Power. London: Macmillan Press Ltd. Neocleous, M. (2000). The Fabrication of Social Order: A Critical Theory of Police Power. London: Pluto Press.

48  Ezgi Pınar Neocleous, M. (2006). The Problem with Normality:  Taking Exception to “Permanent Emergency”. Alternatives, 31(2), 191–​213. Oğuz, Ş. (2016). “Yeni Türkiye”nin Siyasal Rejimi. In T. Tören & M. Kutun (Eds.), “Yeni” Türkiye? Kapitalizm, Devlet, Sınıflar (81–​127). Istanbul: SAV. Ozan Aytekin, E. D. (2010). Kriz, Sınıf Mücadelesi ve Devlet:  Türkiye’de Sermaye Sınıfı 1977–​1980. University of Ankara/​Social Sciences, unpublished PhD Dissertation. Öngen, T. (2003). “Küresel kapitalizm ve sermayenin yeni hegemonya stratejileri”, arsiv. petrol-​ Öniş, Z. (2016). Turkey’s Two Elections: The AKP Comes Back. Journal of Democracy, 27(2), 141–​154. Özden, B. A., Akça, İ. & Bekmen, A. (2017). Antinomies of Authoritarian Neoliberalism in Turkey:  The Justice and Development Party Era. In C. B. Tansel (Ed.), States of Discipline: Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (189–​210). London: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Özuğurlu, M. (2011). The TEKEL Resistance Movement:  Reminiscences on Class Struggle. Capital & Class, 35(2), 179–​187. Pınar, E. (2016). Türkiye’de İşgücünün Yönetimi Sorunu: Mesleki Eğitim Politikalarına Devlet-​Sermaye İlişkileri Açısından Bakmak. Istanbul University/​ Institute of Social Sciences, unpublished PhD Dissertation. Poulantzas, N. (1974). Fascism and Dictatorship. London: Verso. Poulantzas, N. (1978). State, Power, Socialism. London: Verso. Rigakos, G. S. & Ergul, A. (2013). The Pacification of the American Working Class: A Time Series Analysis. Socialist Studies/​Études Socialistes, 9(2), 167–​198. Somer, M. (2016). Understanding Turkey’s Democratic Breakdown:  Old vs. New and Indigenous vs. Global Authoritarianism. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 16(4), 481–​503. Tansel, C.  B. (2017). Authoritarian Neoliberalism:  Towards a New Research Agenda. In C. B. Tansel (Ed.), States of Discipline: Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (1–​28). London: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Taş, H. (2018). A History of Turkey’s AKP-​Gülen Conflict. Mediterranean Politics, 23(3), 395–​402. Tuğal, C. (2016). The Fall of the Turkish Model:  How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic liberalism. London: Verso Books. Türk, D. & Karahanoğulları, Y. (2019). A Critical Evaluation of Poulantzas’s Theory of the State. Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 19(3), 197–​214. (DİSK-​AR). (2018). “AKP Döneminde Emek –​DİSK Raporu”,, 29 May 2018. White, D. & Herzog, M. (2016). Examining State Capacity in the Context of Electoral Authoritarianism, Regime Formation and Consolidation in Russia and Turkey. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 16(4), 551–​569. Yalman, G. L. & Topal, A. (2017). Labour Containment Strategies and Working Class Struggles in the Neoliberal Era:  The Case of TEKEL Workers in Turkey. Critical Sociology, 45(3), 447–​461. Yıldırım, K. (2018). “Neoliberal Devlet Biçimine Bir Çivi Daha: Bir Yönetişim Projesi Olarak McKinsey”,, 2 October 2018. Yıldırım, K. & Aykut, E. (2018). “Devlet, birikim rejiminin sancıları ve askeri-​sınai kompleks”,, 12 August 2018.

Chapter 3

Making the new-​n eoliberal state in Turkey Beyond the prevailing master narrative Melehat Kutun

During the 2008 financial crisis, regardless of whether the IMF accepted particular austerity programs or not, the responses of governments were shaped by a reliance on the managing of over-​extended debt. On the one hand, to secure markets, the losses and debts of international export companies and of finance capital were socialized. On the other hand, with fiscal restrictions, cheap privatizations and layoffs in the public sector, the limitations in the economic and political rights of the labour sector were deepened. The purpose regarding economy management was to cover the budget deficits of governments and to reconstruct a market environment predictable for both export companies and financial markets. As a peculiar historical form of social relations, what was expected from the state was an amplifying of macro-​economic stabilization and global coordination. Even though these interventions have country-​specific peculiarities, the process as carried out through the power of far-​right neoliberal governments did not meet even the most basic principles of parliamentary democracy in such countries as Poland, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Turkey, among many others. It has been articulated by neoliberals themselves that Neo-​liberalism has started to pose a danger to both the global economy and democracy too.1 However, the priorities of governments in response to neoliberalism reaching its limits have included a narrowing of the political sphere more to the detriment of the broader masses and an intensification of coercive and centralized political power in economy management. Even though they rely on different conceptual frameworks and methods, many social scientists working in political economy agree on conceptualizing this process as “authoritarianism”. The prevailing mainstream master narrative, which separates the holistic social-​relations into dichotomies such as economy-​politics, assumes that the state is neutral in its regard of conflictual social relations. As in other countries in the global economy, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has diversified its tools of intervention in the economy both to overcome the crisis and to pursue its own political agenda, and this is accepted as a divergence from a neoliberal market rationale.

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An alternative approach, the one this study relies on, defines the state as a sphere of conflictual social relations. In contrast to the master narrative, which takes the state to include laws, contracts, constitutions, policies etc., this approach, as one of its stages, acknowledges the materialization of the state and conceptualizes the state as a form of social relation (Clarke, 1995). It addresses the contemporary political economy of Turkey and assesses this authoritarianism to have been shaped through protectionism as an outcome of the impasses which are created by conflicts arising from the process of capital accumulation (Bedirhanoğlu, 2019; Güzelsarı, 2019; Özden et  al., 2017; Oğuz, 2016). This approach places neoliberalism at its centre as a current form of capitalist social relations. It sees the rise of the contemporary authoritarian form of neoliberalism neither as a transition to a political anomaly nor as an end to neoliberalism. It evaluates this authoritarianism as a crisis within neoliberalism, not as a crisis of neoliberalism because the reproduction of the accumulation mode is not threatened by an alternative system. It explains this authoritarianism as a change in the crisis management strategy, tools and mechanisms in response to the crisis of global capitalism. It does not understand this authoritarianism as a divergence from the neoliberal form; quite the contrary, it comprehends it as the activation of interventional tools to maintain this form, framing it as authoritarianism within authoritarianism (Boffo et al., 2018; Kannankulam & Georgi, 2014; Radice, 2010). The response of Turkish capitalism to the 2008 crisis –​the regulations that the State of Emergency (2016) paved the way for and institutionalized with regime change (2018) –​must be evaluated in this context. In this manner, the focus of this study is post-​2010, the period in which the effects of the crisis started to intensify. Therefore, the study aims to discuss the role of the state in the institutionalization of the new-​neoliberal form and to situate current neoliberal authoritarianism in a historical and relational context. Following this introduction, the second section summarizes the main characteristics of the prevailing master narrative’s arguments, which assert that Turkey’s capitalism has deviated from neoliberalism and has tended towards new-​developmentalism.2 The third section focuses on how and by what means the state managed the conflicts of neoliberalism after the 2008 crisis and on the institutionalization of new-​neoliberalism. The conclusion is devoted to a critique of arguments of the master narrative, emphasizing that the current authoritarianism is not a divergence from neoliberalism and that, on the contrary, it is a struggle to perpetuate neoliberalism, as we will have seen in the third section.

The prevailing master narrative’s assessment of the new-​n eoliberalism The narrative of new-​neoliberalism, which has considerable weight in Turkey, is important due to the role that social scientists define for the state in the process of the institutionalization of neoliberalism and these scientists’ way of defining

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state–​capital relations, and due to its ideological impact since the 1980s. This narrative addresses social problems, particularly military coups, corruption and economic-​political crises, by alienating them from material relations, and its basis in explaining the current authoritarianism is a “the state is back” argument. At the point at which they ignore the role of the state in the process, this argument interprets the current situation as a divergence of Turkey’s capitalism from neoliberalism and as its transition to a “new-​developmentalist model” (Güven, 2016; Esen & Gümüşcü, 2016; Kutlay & Karaoğuz, 2018; Öniş, 2019). According to this view, by the elections of 2011, through which the AKP re-​ strengthened its power, Turkey had started to move away from its free-​market agenda. Illiberal policies have intensified, and politicization and personalization have entered economy management. The structural dynamics of Turkey’s capitalism re-​emerged by 2011 and the country re-​entered an authoritarian process that is defined as “competitive authoritarianism” (Esen & Gümüşcü, 2016)3 and which is reflected as state-​ capitalism or new-​ developmentalism (Öniş, 2019: 149). As Kutlay and Karaoğuz (2018: 289) stated, “the state has made a strong comeback after the global financial crisis in 2008”. This narrative dominates political–​ economic studies in Turkey, and it is important to classify its main arguments regarding the policy of the AKP period with respect to both the role given to the state in the institutionalization of neoliberalism and to the conceptualization of state–​capital relations. These main arguments can be explained through the categorizing of them as concerning (i) international dynamics, (ii) the existence of two AKPs and (iii) state–​capital relations from the perspective of economy management. i) According to this master narrative, the conflicts that emerged in the process of reconciling the new-​developmentalist model with the neoliberal global economy are related to the long-​term structural problems of Turkey: that the state has taken part in the market as the main actor of the economy since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. As they point out, these peculiarities had re-​emerged by 2011. Here, one of the reasons for Turkey’s transition to authoritarianism being equated with the developmentalist-​state is related to changes of international partners. Turkey has strengthened contacts with countries such as Russia, Brazil and India, accepted as strong actors in the global economy. It has been considered that Turkey has been impressed with the notion that new-​developmentalist high-​growth performance is explained by the authoritarianism in these countries (Öniş, 2019; Güven, 2016; Buğra & Savaşkan, 2015). In these countries and Turkey, with the state’s direct intervention in the economy, the invisible hand of the market was replaced by the visible authoritarian hand of the state. A new-​developmental strategy was adopted to become more powerful in the global economy. Turkey has diverged both from EU membership and, as have the other countries mentioned, from many of the basic principles of

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international liberal finance organizations. The increase in contrariety between the supporters of the market and developmentalism as a result of international partner change is another reason for authoritarianism.4 The domestic coalition of new-​developmentalists with a certain capital range (small and medium-​sized, MÜSİAD) forms the components of the new paradigm (Öniş, 2019: 9). ii) According to this approach, the separation between the economy and politics, namely the market standing as if it is far from state intervention, is imperative for the solution of the developmental problems of Turkey. The only periods in the political economic history of Turkey during which the reality even came close to this were periods of one-​party rule such as that under the AKP, and then, thanks to the strong state capacity of these periods, fundamental neoliberal changes could be effected. Nonetheless, the problems in these periods of corruption, the mingling of state–​capital relations, the centralization of the executive branch and clientelism are assessed as a continuation of state-​centred structural peculiarities. Therefore, an autonomous and technocratic bureaucracy in economy management is a basic condition of the strict demarcation between the economy and politics. The first period of the AKP is different in this regard because of its regulations in banking and finance. Turkey’s financial markets would eventually develop from a “clientelist” market environment into a secure one, albeit with certain peculiarities remaining intact, becoming rule-​based, technocratic, predictable and accountable for global capital in the eyes of national and international capitalist circles. The institutions for the operation of a market economy, such as rule of law and rule of money, were established; the state could withdraw from being an active participant in the market, and economic and political crises could be brought under control (Esen & Gümüşcü, 2016: 1584). Because of a straining of national policies and despite this rapid neoliberal institutionalization, dependency on international capital for economic growth remained unchanged, and the growth in this period relied upon budget deficits. Even though, due to international conjuncture, Turkey’s political economy distanced itself from its structural dynamics, beyond a certain point the government could not escape from the structural problems related to the previous stages of liberalism (Güven, 2016: 996). Just as the structural peculiarities were taken over from the pre-​1980 developmental-​state, the AKP has kept the liberalization tradition of the previous period. The AKP renovated structural particularities of liberalization in Turkey by putting them into action in new forms through macro-​ economic stabilization and redistributive policies. Even though it implemented critical regulations for economic and political liberalization, the party continued to play an active role in the market and to affect capital accumulation processes. In the end, the institutionalized structure that was to have provided bureaucratic autonomy and minimized political intervention in economic matters

Making the new-neoliberal state  53

was retracted, and free-​market rationality was withdrawn from again (Buğra & Savaşkan, 2015: 36; Güven, 2016: 1004). iii) In this narrative, another reason for authoritarianism exacerbating clientelism is that the government faltered for a while with regard to economy management strategies after the crisis, retreating from macro-​stability–​based economy management and failing to make an agreement with the IMF. It is a result of new-​developmentalism that conflicts between different capital groups and political crises under control of the government directly intervened in the economy, shaping capital accumulation in accordance with its own political agenda. The funds transferred to the mining, energy and construction sectors through public expenditures made the state the main determinant in the market. Instead of making a new agreement based on macro-​stability with the IMF, the government preferred new strategies and research and institutional arrangements to support economic growth based on industrial production and its national and local elements (Kutlay & Karaoğuz, 2018: 290; Güven, 2016: 1017–​8; Buğra & Savaşkan, 2015: 55). In sum, this approach holds that neoliberalism, which has ruled for forty years, was no longer favoured by the time of the 2011 elections. It is argued that the developmentalist-​state understanding of pre-​1980 is immanent to Turkey’s capitalism, and its structural peculiarities continue to exist. And these peculiarities are being updated contextually in line with the globally self-​regulating market. This is why the state attempted to recover from the effects of the 2008 crisis through state-​centric economy models and conservative solutions. The state intervenes directly both to create a free-​market economy and to eliminate the unwanted effects of this economy. The reasons for market failures were seen as political instability instead of capitalism’s own dynamics; now, Turkey is back to the uncertain politics of twenty years before. Despite the refutation, once more, of the liberal assumption that if the financial markets are left by themselves they will come to an equilibrium, proponents of this approach still think that the solution lies in the establishment of liberal institutions and principles. If we return to the main argument of this study, we can see that the process cannot be comprehended as Turkey’s capitalism distancing itself from neoliberalism as the master narrative explained above asserts. This we can state because neoliberalism has gotten stronger, especially regarding the economy after the crisis, in the last ten years as never before. And this is owed, to a large extent, to the intensified economic pressure on the power of labour, which has been splintered and dispersed in the political field (Radice, 2010; Bruff, 2014; Jessop, 2014; Bedirhanoğlu, 2019). Therefore, a comprehensive contextualization can be reached by examining the imminent conflicts both between labour and capital and within the capital groups themselves, and by exploring the ways in which the government manages these conflicts in line with its own political agenda. Thus, instead of the master narrative’s concept of competitive authoritarianism, the

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following concepts are considered more explicative:  the crisis in neoliberalism (Radice, 2010), authoritarian neoliberalism (Bruff, 2014; Boffo et al., 2018), the fascist form of the state (Oğuz, 2016), the corporate state (Küçük & Özselçuk, 2019; Güzelsarı, 2019) and constitutional dictatorship (Yılmaz, 2020). The main problem in the master narrative is its explanation of economy–​state relations through their structural particularities rather than through historical and social conflicts. In fact, the complex relations between the conflictual economic–​political powers must be placed in a broader historical–​relational context. That the main conflict between labour and capital is immanent to social relations must be taken as central in the face of such a dynamic and changing structure to these relations. Using which tools has it been attempted to solve or supress these conflicts over the last two decades? And what kind of a role has new-​neoliberalism played in the symbiosis between state and capital, which has become more visible since the crisis and which has been institutionalized with the regime change? Contrary to using only the master narrative, a comprehensive understanding is possible with the answering of these questions. Hence, let us go beyond the arguments of the prevailing master narrative in continuing this study, accepting that new-​neoliberalism cannot be comprehended as “new-​ developmentalism”; on the contrary, it must be understood as a struggle to remain within the framework of neoliberalism.

The limitations of neoliberalism and the making of the new-​n eoliberal  state After the 2001 crisis, utilizing its power as one-​ party ruler, the AKP took over the macro-​economic stability program, which could not be implemented during the preceding period of coalition governments as it was.5 The AKP agreed on the conditionality criteria of the international economic institutions as well as policy recommendations based on the demands of different capital groups, such as finance and export capital groups (TÜSİAD and MÜSİAD respectively). The politics of economy management were aimed at establishing the necessary market environment for capital accumulation, which relies on the ensuring of fiscal stability and productive capital flow. It was decided that the AKP would establish regulatory committees compatible with the Central Bank (CB) to regulate relations with global financial markets in sectors like banking and capital. The aim was to prevent the CB from being a resource that provides financing for public expenses through anti-​inflationist monetary policy and price stability.6 This was done in order to solve administrative problems effectively in the view of national and international investors and to increase competition through rational market policies which are dependent on macro-​economic global balances, enabling the management of public borrowings (DPT, 2006). The implementation of neoliberal policies had been attempted in a slow, conflictual and unstable manner starting from the 1980s, and had been institutionalized to a large extent in the period from 2001 to 2008, between two crises. However,

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the 2008 financial crisis erupted because of the limits of easy credit being reached through massive borrowing. The political impacts of this crisis became visible in the current neoliberal authoritarianism that emerged after 2010. It could be explicitly seen that the role of the state in this “new-​neoliberal institutionalization” had its framework set through the State of Emergency regulations between 2016 and 2018, and the concept’s name had been coined by the time of the 2018 regime change. The crisis was taken under control through austerity measures (bailout programs) in many countries. Although Erdoğan –​prime minister of that time –​ said “the crisis touched us slightly”, since most exports are to EU countries this was not actually the case. In this situation, a significant outflow of capital from export markets took place and finance capital asked the state to be a warrantor for exporters’ large borrowings from international markets and for their losses. Financial capital, TÜSİAD, was in favour of a new agreement with the IMF being made to sustain the macro-​economic stability program. It was in agreement with the IMF on the autonomy of tax management, on the retrenchment of public expenses and funding to AKP-​controlled municipalities and on the transparency of such transfers. It did not want the government to arbitrarily destroy price stability and loosen fiscal discipline ahead of the coming elections. For small and medium-​scale companies producing export goods (MÜSİAD) this agreement meant fiscal discipline, additional tax burdens and being deprived of the transfers which were carried out through public spending.7 In the face of this contradictory structure, the AKP remained hesitant regarding the agreement with the IMF due to both the AKP’s trust in the domestic banking sector and the upcoming elections. On the one hand, the government assured the TÜSİAD by continuing the negotiations with the IMF; on the other hand, it reassured MÜSİAD by highlighting that the necessities of real sectoral and national economic development would be neglected by the stability package (Özden et al., 2017). After the 2009 local elections, when capital flow restarted for a while, the AKP withdrew from making the agreement. Instead, it announced that they were working on a law of financial rule which would take over the IMF’s function. The AKP continued to assure TÜSİAD by declaring that public deficits and borrowing would be bounded again by the rules and that the government would not act arbitrarily and clientelistically in the economy management. Erdoğan put an end to this uncertain and conflictual process by saying “we have just gotten rid of the IMF’s tutorship; there is no need to create our own IMF”.8 This represents a radical change in the management of economic strategy that was followed by implementations of AKP governments to reassure international and national finance circles. The aims were to take economy management tools under control and surveillance: i) to conserve the gains of capital made under neoliberalism and ii) to manage the debt and to overcome crises. In fact, in the Tenth Development Plan, it is clearly stated that the crisis will be taken under control and managed not by spontaneously working market mechanisms but by the means of direct state intervention (DPT, 2013). In this regard, the AKP’s

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creation of its third one-​party government after the 2011 elections, thereby consolidating its power, was an important step. Starting from 2013, the possibility for credit started to shrink massively and it further deepened uncertainties regarding the sustainability of both finance and export companies and household incomes. This was accompanied by fundamental political crises including regime changes between 2013 and 2018, which will have long-​term impacts on political life in Turkey.9 The AKP government saw the military coup attempt in 2016 as “a gift from God”, and it turned this crisis into an opportunity through which unlimited authority was given to the executive branch by the State of Emergency Administration. Erdoğan, on behalf of the AKP, won the presidential elections in 2018, held under State of Emergency conditions, and this victory officialized the political regime change. In this period, numerous laws were introduced by decree (Akça et al., 2017), and in this way the organizational structure of municipalities and their way of functioning was restructured, the parliament already being bypassed through new institutions and mechanisms (Kutun, 2020). Because these Decree Laws were followed up with Presidential Decrees and Circulars, the fact that they came in the wake of this political regime change, new-​neoliberal institutionalization was not hindered. In this new system, which has been organized around an executive-​body–​centred administration, the presidency has been equipped with absolute executive power while the power in other areas of state authority has been weakened, and this has been the main characteristic of the new regime (Yılmaz, 2020: 5–​8). The executive body of new-​neoliberalism which is embodied in the “new-​ economy model”10 has taken its form from the personality of and under the control of the president.11 The bureaucratic organization of the state was restructured in accordance with a company rationale to make and implement decisions quickly by skipping legislative procedures (Küçük & Özselçuk, 2019; Bedirhanoğlu, 2019; Güzelsarı, 2019). In this way, the AKP was able to use new-​neoliberal policies in a way that would re-​create its own resource distribution mechanisms. While the state was becoming an economic enterprise, it started to reproduce “its own” capital through public transfers. The neoliberal institutionalization, centralized in the arbitrary management of the executive body, pursued a two-​stage process: i) Economy management was made open to daily political interventions of the executive body (the presidency) through radical changes to existing bodies such as regulatory committees and the CB and through new institutions like the Wealth Fund; ii) The existing symbiotic relationship between state and capital set the basic rationale of the new model.12 The main economy management institutions, which have become subject to radical changes and which have been personalized in the presidency with the new regime, are as follow: i) With the claim that regulatory committees were restricting the government’s room for manoeuvre, they had already been affiliated to the ministries by Decree Law in 2011.13 The regulatory committees, which were open to

Making the new-neoliberal state  57

arbitrary and instantaneous interventions by the executive body, were responsible for additional regulations compatible with debt management during and after the State of Emergency Administration.14 For example, the debts of the real sector to the financial sector were restructured with a regulation in the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) within the scope of a moratorium and debt restructuring.15 It was stated that the Competition Authority would be restructured in such a way that it would lead market conditions, its functionality would be accelerated, and it would run contracting institutions effectively (100-​day action program16). It was a point of longstanding discussion that the CB must be restructured in such a way as to decrease interest rates on the grounds that high interest rates were an obstacle to economic development and growth. After the crisis, it was stated that this intervention should be accepted as a response to external shocks and capital flight. The tension between the government and CB with regard to whether monetary policies should support the government’s political agenda was brought to an end by the leaving of the limit of treasury borrowings to the discretion of the Council of Ministers (Şener, 2016: 144). Official policy interest was actually ended by the State of Emergency Administration in January 2017 and implicit policy interest in monetary policy was introduced instead. The pressure for low interest rates in the new regime resulted in a complete transition of surveillance and control to the executive body regarding both the CB’s institutional organization and its functioning. In this way, the CB’s impact on decisions regarding monetary policies came to an end and its legal and actual independency was abolished.17 In the “new-​economy model”, which was institutionalized in the absolute power of the president/​executive body, all public resources were transferred to the president’s initiative through newly established offices, boards, presidencies and ministries (Kutun, 2020).18 In this way, the basic principles and targets relating to the “new-​economy management” –​such as drawing up the Presidency program, development plans, sectoral plans and reports, budget plans and management –​were formed in accordance with a company rationale.19 For instance, the Directorate of Strategy and Budget, responsible for the basic principles of the country’s economy, including the drafting of development plans and reports and the planning and managing of the budget, was affiliated to the presidency.20 This means that parliament has been bypassed in the drafting of bills concerning the budget and final accounts law. Another institution which has become affiliated to the presidency with the new regime is the Turkey Wealth Fund.21 This fund was established by the State of Emergency Administration to find cheap credit through the privatization or collateralization of big budget public assets such as Turkish Airlines, Halkbank, Ziraatbank or their lands. All public resources in the wealth fund have been affiliated to the presidency, the ministries responsible for economy management have been merged and persons from close circles of the president who are related to the capital groups have been appointed to these

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ministries. In this way, the management and spending of the resources gained from public assets has been left directly to the discretion of the executive body.22 ii) The “new-​economy model” took its shape in accordance with the principles of symbiotic relations (household, companies, banks, state), which originates from financialization and indebtedness related to the construction sector, which is considered the engine of capitalist development over the last ten years, and yet, has reached its limits.23 The aim was defined as the efficient use of resources, forming a competitive, dynamic framework for development and investment banking and for the resolution of conflicts between different capital groups. It was stated that the national and international banking and finance sector would be followed closely, and that Turkey would be made a centre of attraction again for investment. Both the State of Emergency Administration and the new regime stated that the State of Emergency was brought about for the “business world”, and they promised that banks and companies would be backed and that everything in the regime’s power would be done to ease their situation.24 The pivot resulting from these promises of loosened fiscal discipline and borrowing policies meant both that the banks would decrease the credit ratios which they gave to the private sector because of the decrease in external credit and funds after the crisis, and that the banks would want their loans to be paid back, and so interest rates rose. Given the transfers made to MÜSİAD through public spending by AKP governments, it was obvious that the government would not implement an interest policy that was contrary to the interests of this capital group that had created AKP governments and supported them. After the crisis, many indebted companies from this capital group, particularly those in the construction sector, had already informed the government of their demands for the resurrection of the domestic market through public investments, for the increasing of consumer and private company credit and regarding tax privileges (MÜSİAD, 2009). Therefore, high ratio public funding was transferred to the market through consumer and mass housing credits and large-​scale public sector projects. Arbitrary transfers of public funding were generalized through such means as the privatization of natural monopolies, budget transfers through public banks, interest free credit, the extension of due dates for debts and the granting of tax exemptions (Boratav, 2016).25 Out of 14 thousand companies participating in the tenders, 1,203 of them are directly connected with the AKP and 323 with the opposition parties. 1,303 of those that are related to the AKP are also members of MÜSİAD and 376 are of TÜSIAD. Among these companies in or directly connected to the AKP, there are partners and owners at all levels, such as AKP deputies, city council members and party managers. Through new legal changes and regulations, the interdependent relations with these companies have become institutionalized and centralized (Çeviker Gürakar, 2019: 114–​80). During the State of Emergency Administration, too, measures that primarily facilitate access

Making the new-neoliberal state  59

to financing regarding investment finance, especially qualified infrastructure investments, and that minimize costs were taken. Through an amendment in banking law, the obstacles hindering transactions regarding credit drawdown and structuring have been removed.26 Employers were provided with insurance-​ premium and income-​tax support from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It was stated that under the new regime, joint planning together with banks would be conducted for the sake of those companies which were most affected by high interest rates and currency fluctuations. It was announced that domestic production would be supported to ease the pressure on the current account deficit (100-​day action program27). It was also declared that the Ministry of Industry and Technology would provide packages of support and measures,28 and that the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization would fund investments in strategic sectors with the highest foreign currency indebtedness, such as construction, for a long term. MÜSİAD expressed its support for, and its symbiotic relationship with, the “new-​economy model” as follows: We declare that we stand behind our honourable President and economy management until the end at all costs against all attacks targeting our national economy model… As the capital organization of Turkey with the broadest base, MÜSİAD is ready to do whatever on its part in this fight.29 TÜSİAD signalled extensive transfers to, and support for, MÜSİAD as the reason behind the increase in public expenditure. It pointed out that the increase in credit allocated through KGFs and tax reductions had especially deepened the current account deficit.30 It demanded that the government eliminate incompatibility between the international and national levels of the economy and politics. It emphasized that a re-​politicized economy management based on arbitrariness and trade-​offs adversely affects universal democratic values and norms, multi-​ party agreements that regulate global trade and fiscal discipline. It stated that the greatest risk to global economic growth is protectionism, and it warned the government about fiscal discipline, financial stability, the gradual increase of interest rates and the removal of restrictions on trade. It put pressure on the government to construct a new structure which would attract finance capital through continuous reforms instead of an economy that is continuously supported with incentives.31 The response within the “new-​economy model” to this statement was the supporting of monetary policy and financial stability as well as production, growth and employment. It was stated that regulations including those for financial stability, fiscal discipline, the reduction of the current account deficit, high real interest rates, the maintenance of a strong economic structure and an austerity program would be made. It was announced that Istanbul International Finance Centre would be actualized effectively and that capital markets would be developed by creating a mechanism which would provide coordination in the field of interest-​free finance. The share of insurance business in the finance

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sector would be increased and a new national reinsurance structure regarding the personal pension system would be created. It was stated that the first office among the newly established finance and investment offices would run the Istanbul Finance Centre project and the other office would undertake the development of new financial tools in the investment area.32 With the transition to the new regime, TÜSİAD presented its expectations regarding the rule of law, democracy, the solving of the problems of high inflation and current account deficit, fiscal discipline, tax reform and the resurgence of negotiations with the EU. It declared its support for the government’s “new-​economy model”, too: The business world is determined resolutely to support the targets of the economic programme declared by the government and the success of the measures taken.33 The reason the economy management policy of new-​neoliberalism includes a fluctuant, incalculable, flexible and arbitrary discourse is that the new accumulation type is uncertain. In fact, it was uncertain how the cost of the crisis would be split among capital groups and which capital group would pioneer the forming of a new accumulation model (Akçay, 2018). Because various capital groups compete for government support and intra-​class struggles are reflected in economic and political conflicts, the costs are left to larger social groups, to labour. When the self-​operating market order cannot overcome its problems regarding accumulation, the fact that the economy is managed from a single centre and that the costs are socialized becomes an interest of capital in general in order to settle all these conflicts. Ultimately, one party governments have been in power throughout this 40-​year process of neoliberalism (1980–​2020), excepting only the 11-​year period of coalition governments (1991–​2002), and almost half of this 40-​year process –​the last 20 years –​has been managed under the one-​party rule of the AKP. Neoliberalism’s two-​party parliamentary system for stability, which only represents the majority, could not overcome neoliberalism’s inherent conflicts. The institutionalization of neoliberalism, the deepening of conflicts due to the financial crisis and the embodiment of these conflicts in a personalized and centralized executive body are all outcomes of the seeking of stability. New-​neoliberal policies embodied in authoritarianism, too, must be considered in that context; they constitute an authoritarian neoliberalism for the sake of stability.

Conclusion: The new-​n eoliberalism As seen in the second section, the prevailing master narrative confines its analysis to state and capital relations at the political level, assessing the direct state interventions being requested by the market itself during crisis periods to mark a distancing from neoliberalism  –​that is, from market rationale. However, it ignores the fact that, in the processes of restructuring after crisis, the state

Making the new-neoliberal state  61

intervenes directly to secure the markets and generally to create space for the reproduction of capital. To the extent that the analysis is confined to the political level by the exclusion of the economic dimension, it is limited to a definition of authoritarianism which cannot be linked to neoliberalism. i) Explaining the issue through the structural dynamics peculiar to Turkey leads to the ignoring of capitalism as an international system. An analysis which solely focuses on the national level, without relating it to the global context, leaves unanswered the question of why the concept of neoliberal authoritarianism is being talked about in many countries at this stage in history. Since financialization is the core component of neoliberalism, the role of the state in the re-​coordination of the process deepens further: the role of the nation-​state in this process is to support the making of international customs and trade agreements and associated laws, and to provide the problem-​free enforcement of them within national borders (Radice, 2010:  22). Therefore, the fact that Turkey’s capitalism has specific peculiarities does not mean that it is free from the international dynamics of the global economy. The regulations must be understood either in the context of the dynamic which Turkey, as a part of global finance, has adopted to sustain global finance capitalism, or through the means by which Turkey has materialized these regulations at the national level. Because the master narrative rules out the historical phases in which the state has stepped in as an effective actor in periods of crisis to sustain social reproduction, it considers the state’s direct intervention as a divergence from neoliberalism. As a field of social relations, the state’s preference for direct intervention over indirect intervention is a necessity rather than a voluntary decision at certain moments in history –​in times of crisis (Clarke, 1995; Jessop, 2014). Addressing the reason for authoritarianism as the deterioration of the (apparent) separation between economy politics, and thereby alienating this authoritarianism from the crisis inside neoliberalism as the master narrative does, blurs this necessity. In fact, austerity policies, new regulations, bailouts of banks, public transfers to capital groups, tax deductions or the suppression of social opposition could come into effect through far-​right governments not only in Turkey but in many other countries as well, through state-​of-​emergency administrations or through new-​ neoliberal authoritarian state forms. ii) Condemning the period after 2010 –​when the impacts of the crisis became apparent and state intervention gradually became a direct intervention –​as being authoritarian does not evaluate this change as an adjustment to the economy management strategy (re-​politicization) to progressively overcome the crisis which neoliberalism went through. Instead, it explicates this as a transition from neoliberalism to authoritarianism. However, as in many countries, in Turkey too, the political sphere is shaped to provide ideological legitimacy

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for the accumulation system within the new-​neoliberal form. In the AKP’s first period, the closure of decision making processes regarding economic policy to social intervention (depoliticization) underlays the macroeconomic stability program (Kutun, 2020). While the technocratization of economy management through the CB and regulatory boards included representatives of capital and the government in decision and policy making processes, it excluded the demands of large social sectors and labour. Therefore, it should not be forgotten that the AKP’s activities in its earlier periods were carried out in an authoritarian way, too. The centralization of executive power, the transformation of the rule of law through interventions in law-​making and judicial processes and the arrangement of managerial and bureaucratic processes in accordance with the strategic interests of the ruling party could also be actualized through the guidance of an authoritarian state in the process of the institutionalization of neoliberalism (Tansel, 2018; Kutun, 2020). The crisis, which was suppressed through the bailing out of banks and companies, made the transformation to the new-​neoliberal authoritarian form inevitable. The strategical change in economy management must be considered as a political activity to make new space for capital to maintain the neoliberal gains of the pre-​crisis period. Otherwise, bailouts of large-​scale banks and financial institutions by the state, the transfers made from public funds to capital groups, large-​scale tax amnesties and so on cannot be comprehended (Boffo et al., 2018; Bruff, 2014). At the very moment when the state could not succeed in hiding the political character of decision making processes because of the necessity of direct interventions in the CB and regulatory boards, a strategic change became necessary. Just when the state understood that it could not prevent the transformation of the impacts of the crisis to a crisis of the capitalist state and to a general political crisis of society, the new-​neoliberal authoritarian form came into play. The bringing of all the institutions of economy management under the supervision of the executive body and the unification of almost all public assets in the country, such as wealth funds, in a single centre under the new regime must be considered in this context. Therefore, it is not a matter of structure, as the prevailing master narrative asserts, but rather it is a matter of the process of restructuring after the crisis that the deadlocks caused by the conflicts inherent in the capital accumulation process resulted in an authoritarianism in the form of protectionism. The socialization of the losses and debts of the financial and real sectors was enacted to manage the burden of the debt that was undertaken by individuals and the state. As clearly stated in the Tenth Development Plan, the uncertainty in which global financial markets are involved demands new (stronger) neoliberal regulations which are pertinent at the national and international levels. The fact is that strong governments will be needed because multi-​party rules and regulations related to the economy will increase and significant integration and managerial capacity problems will emerge in developing countries. According to the Plan, the

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stability and fiscal discipline will be provided through continuous control and sufficient surveillance of the state and through the existence of re-​arrangement mechanisms (DPT, 2013). Decree Laws issued during the State of Emergency Administration and the Circulars issued by the new regime must be interpreted as the centralization of the management of money and debt for growth and accumulation. In the crisis environment, which became continuous, the need to take both the conflicts in class and the political crises that would emerge from these conflicts under control brought about the centralization and personalization of economy management (Güzelsarı, 2019). In fact, it is for the benefit of the reproduction of capital and the state that the economy is managed from a single centre in those situations in which a “self-​operating market” order cannot overcome the problems of capital accumulation. iii) The centralization of financial resources, debt, expenses and the management of high budget public institutions in the executive body (in one hand) has made the class and authoritarian character of the state visible to the naked eye. The place of these institutions in the executive apparatus and their relations with each other and with the other institutions, as well as their authorities and the characteristics of their representatives have intensified the articulation between state and capital. This can be expressed as the state-​centric character of the new-​neoliberal form of the state being a characteristic of both intra-​class and inter-​class conflicts, with the state constituting a field of these conflicts. The picture becomes clearer when it is considered that the president himself or the persons forming his innermost circles and representing the various components of capital have become the heads of existing or newly-​established economic institutions. The government is aware that it must act together with capital in a partnership under its own control by taking all public resources under its oversight. In the “new-​ economy model”, the government showed this clearly by saying that it will “back the banks and the companies” and by stating that necessary measures will be taken for the capital group (MÜSİAD), which is the most affected by high interest rates and currency fluctuations. All these “new-​ economy” legal–​ institutional arrangements  –​including low-​ taxation policies, the management of public borrowing and the interventions in economy management institutions beginning with the CB –​must be understood as a part of neoliberalism’s struggle to come through the crisis which it is currently in. Contrary to the prevailing master narrative, it is impossible to think that this process would not produce forms of corruption among bureaucrats, politicians, press companies, the executive branch and capital groups. In a post-​ crisis moment in which the articulation between state and capital intensified to such a degree that their destinies became bound together, the explaining of clientelism through structural reasons makes the understanding of the new-​neoliberal form difficult. These interventions, this clientelism, must not be seen simply as

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the political and bureaucratic elites’ taking control of the state for their own individual goals (Boffo et al., 2018). The fact that, in this process, while the state needs to support financial capital by increasing its administrative capacity, it transfers funds to local capital through investment in such sectors as construction, mining and energy does not mean that it is a developmentalist state. This must be understood as the intensifying of intra-​class conflicts between capital groups for dominance in the domestic market. Thus, the reproduction of the state itself also depends on the managing and controlling of these conflicts. It is the reason for the centralization and personalization embodied in the presidency. Ultimately, today, the changed strategy in economy management continues in stricter adherence to its technocratic particularity, which means the closure of decision making processes to society. Since first it came to power, the AKP has continued an economic, political and ideological oppression of labour in a way that satisfies both real and financial capital groups. It is obvious that there is no place for broader society in the relations of the CB, regulatory boards and the offices, boards and presidencies brought about by the new regime, whether in relations with each other, with the representatives of capital or, ultimately, in their tight coordination with the presidency. Therefore, current authoritarianism needs to be understood as a historical moment that is immanent to capitalist social relations or it must be understood in its relationship with the contemporary form of neoliberalism. More specifically it must be apprehended as a response to a crisis in the legitimacy of the capitalist state in particular and to a crisis of capitalism on a more general level, and it must be understood as a variety of neoliberal intervention strategies. A  deepening of economic and political crises, of conflicts that cannot be smothered and of conflicts between capital groups, unveils this authoritarianism –​the other side of the capitalist coin –​immanent to the capitalist state in various political forms. This is the reason for which state intervention in the economy, in intra-​capital conflicts, intensifies simultaneously with the crisis occurring within neoliberalism; the indirect interventions that a state carries out have currently become direct interventions because of a strategical shift.

Notes 1 See e.g. The Economist, 16–​22 June 2018. 2 That is, that Turkish capitalism has become removed from free-​market values by the state’s taking of a major role. For a critique see Oğuz (2013). 3 In competitive authoritarianism, political power is acquired by using the periodical elections. The governing party uses, in an anti-​democratic way, state institutions for its own benefit. 4 The bureaucrats in economy management of this period who were in favour of financial stability and fiscal discipline are in the first group, while Erdoğan and Albayrak, his son-​in-​law, are in the second group.

Making the new-neoliberal state  65 5 This is the “transition to strong economy program” that could not be put into practice in the period of coalition government. 6 Resmi Gazete, 25 April 2001, no:  4651. “Independency” meant that the CB would determine the monetary policy and the means it would use for itself. 7 “Türkiye’nin ihtiyacı stand-​by değil, yapısal reformlar ve yeni Anayasa”, www.milliyet., 9 June 2009. 8 “Kendi IMF’mizi yaratmaya gerek yok”,, 9 September 2010. 9 In the 2014 elections, for the first time the President of the Republic was elected directly by the people, which was a concrete step towards the transition to a presidential system. 10 “Yeni Ekonomi Programı 2020–​2022”,​uploads/​2019/​10/​Yep-​Eylül-​ 1.pdf, September 2019. 11 The president, as both president of the state and government, has gathered all the authority to appoint and to dismiss vice presidents, ministers, senior public executives and officials. 12 Most of the members of the cabinet are from different sectors of capital, such as housing, energy, transportation and agriculture. The president’s son-​in-​law has been appointed as the head of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, Ruhsar Pekcan is one of the ex-​executive board members of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Exchange Commodities (TOBB) and the minister of industry and technology is an executive board member of TÜRKSAT. The deputy of the president, Fuat Oktar, is still an executive board member of Turkish Airlines Technical Inc. “Özel sektörden kabineye atanan bes bakan”,, 10 July 2018. 13 Resmi Gazete, no: 2808, 17 August 2011, Decree Law no: 649; “Bazı bağımsız kurullar faydalı değil, belli bir zaman sonra belki bu kurulları yeniden reforme etmemiz gerekecek”,, 30 April 2011; “Kantarın topuzu kaçtı, bu kurulların bazı yetkilerinin yeniden gözden geçirilmesi ve bazı yetkilerinin hükümete devredilmesi gereklidir”,, 20 August 2011. 14 Resmi Gazete, no: 30510, 15 August 2018, and no: 30602, 21 November 2018. 15 “BDDK, kredi borcu yapılandırması için yönetmelik hazırladı”,, 14 August 2018. 16 “100 günlük icraat programı”, Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, 3 August 2018. Retrieved from​assets/​dosya/​100_​GUNLUK_​ICRAAT_​PROGRAMI. pdf. 17 Resmi Gazete, no: 30473, 10 July 2018. 18 Resmi Gazete, no:  30479, 15 July 2018, Presidential Decree no:  1; “Dev şirketler Erdoğan’a bağlandı”,, 18 July 2018. 19 Resmi Gazete, no: 30473, 9 July 2018; Legislative Decree no. 703. 20 Resmi Gazete, no: 30488, 24 July 2018, Presidential Decree no: 13. 21 Resmi Gazete, no: 30474, 10 July 2018, Presidential Decree no: 1. 22 Resmi Gazete, no: 30474, 10 July 2018, Presidential Decree no: 1; “Varlık Fonu’nun başına kendi geçti, damadını yardımcılığına getirdi”,, 13 September 2018. 23 The share of the tenders of the construction sector in total was 29 percent in 2004, 57.6 percent in 2011 and 51.2 percent in 2016 (Çeviker Gürakar, 2019: 114). 24 “Erdoğan’a göre OHAL’in amacı: İş dünyası için getirdik, grevlere izin vermiyoruz”,, 12 July 2017.

66  Melehat Kutun 25 The Credit Guarantee Fund (KGF) and the Export Promotion Bank became the institutions for the making of transfers by the state. Through high amounts of transfers from treasury resources to the fund, low-​cost credit was granted under the state’s warrantorship. Prime Minister Yıldırım declared that more than 30 thousand companies were rescued from bankruptcy and that transfers from the fund would continue. “KGF firmalara kaynak temin etmeye devam edecek”,, 1 November 2017. 26 Resmi Gazete, no: 29974, 9 February 2017, Decree Law no: 687. 27 “100 günlük icraat programı”, Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, 3 August 2018. Retrieved from​assets/​dosya/​100_​GUNLUK_​ICRAAT_​ PROGRAMI.pdf. 28 See endnote 16. 29 “Yeni ekonomik model hususunda basın duyurusu”,, 28 August 2018. 30 “2017 yılına girerken Türkiye ve dünya ekonomisi”,, 2017. 31 “Türk iş-​dünyasından acil reform çağısı”,, 24 May 2018. 32 Resmi Gazete, no: 30474, 10 July 2018, Presidential Decree no: 1. 33 “8 maddeli seçim sonrası reform talebi”,, 25 June 2018.

References Akça, İ. et  al. (2017). (Eds.). When State of Emergency Becomes the Norm:  The Impact of Executive Decrees on Turkish Legislation. Retrieved from​sites/​default/​files/​ ohal_​rapor_​ing.final_​version.pdf. Akçay, Ü. (2018). “Yeni yönetim ve ekonomik gidişat”,, 26 June 2018. Bedirhanoğlu, P. (2019). Cumhurbaşkanlığı Hükümet Sistemi ve Türkiye’de Ekonomi Yönetiminin Dönüşümü:  Neoliberalizmin Sonu mu?. In E. Karaçimen et  al. (Eds.), Nuray Ergüneş için Yazılar:  Finansallaşma, Kadın Emeği ve Devlet (211–​232). Istanbul: SAV. Boffo, M., Saad-​Filho, A. & Fine, B. (2018). Neoliberal Capitalism: The Authoritarian Turn. Socialist Register 2019, 55, 247–​270. Boratav, K. (2016). The Turkish Bourgeoisie under Neoliberalism. Research and Policy on Turkey, 1(1), 1–​10. Bruff, I. (2014). The Rise of Authoritarian Neoliberalism. Economics, Culture & Society, 26(1), 113–​129. Buğra, A. & Savaşkan, O. (2015). Türkiye’de Yeni Kapitalizm: Siyaset, Din ve İş Dünyası. Istanbul: İletişim. Küçük, B. & Özselçuk, C. (2019). Fragments of the Emerging Regime in Turkey: Limits of Knowledge, Transgression of Law, and Failed Imaginaries. Trans-​Atlantic Quarterly, 118(1),  1–​21. Clarke, S. (1995). The Global Accumulation of Capital and the Periodization of the Capitalist State Form. In W. Bonefeld, R. Gunn & K. Psychopedis (Eds.), Open Marxism (1): Dialectics and History. London: Pluto. Çeviker Gürakar, E. (2019). Kayırma Ekonomisi. Istanbul: İletişim. DPT. (2006). Ninth Development Plan (2007–​2013). Ankara: Prime Minister’s State and Planning Organization.

Making the new-neoliberal state  67 DPT. (2013). Tenth Development Plan (2014–​2018). Ankara: Prime Minister’s State and Planning Organization. Esen, B. & Gümüşcü, Ş. (2016). Rising Competitive Authoritarianism in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 37(9), 1581–​1606. Güven, A. B. (2016). Rethinking Development Space in Emerging Countries: Turkey’s Conservative Countermovement. Development and Change, 47(5), 995–​1024. Güzelsarı, S. (2019). Neoliberal Otoriterleşme, Devletin Şirketleşmesi ya da Şirket-​ devlet: Cumhurbaşkanlığı Hükümet Sistemi. Ayrıntı, 29, 39–​50. Jessop, B. (2014). Political Capitalism, Economic and Political Crises, and Authoritarian Statism. Spectrum Journal of Global Studies, 7(1), 1–​18. Kannankulam, J. & Georgi, F. (2014). Varieties of Capitalism of Relationships of Forces:  Outlines of a Historical Materialist Policy Analysis. Capital & Class, 38(1),  59–​71. Kutun, M. (2020). AKP’s Move from Depoliticization to Repoliticization in Economic Management. In P. Bedirhanoğlu, Ç. Dölek, F. Hülagü & Ö. Kaygusuz (Eds.), Turkey’s New State in the Making. London: Zed Books. Kutlay, M. & Karaoğuz, H. (2018). Neo-​developmentalist Turn in the Global Political Economy? The Turkish Case. Turkish Studies, 19(2), 289–​316. Oğuz Ş. (2013). The Developmental State as an Institutional Construct: A Historical and Theoretical Critique. Review of Public Administration, 7(4), 97–​120. Oğuz, Ş. (2016). Yeni Türkiye’nin Siyasal Rejimi. In T. Tören & M. Kutun. (Eds.), “Yeni” Türkiye: Kapitalizm, Devlet ve Sınıflar (81–​127). Istanbul: SAV. Öniş, Z. (2019). Turkey under the Challenge of State Capitalism: The Political Economy of the Late AKP Era. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 19(2), 201–​225. Özden, B. A., Akça, I. & Bekmen, A. (2017). Antinomies of Authoritarian Neoliberalism in Turkey:  The AKP era. In C. B. Tansel. (Ed.), States of Discipline:  Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (189–​209). London: Rowman & Littlefield. Radice, H. (2010). Confronting the Crisis: A Class Analysis. Socialist Register 2011,  21–​43. Şener, U. (2016). Central Banking and Monetary Policy under the AKP Government in Turkey: The Politics of National Conservatism. Austrian Journal of Development Studies. 32(1/​2), 135–​160. Tansel, C. B. (2018). Authoritarian Neoliberalism and Democratic Backsliding in Turkey: Beyond the Narratives of Progress. South European Society and Politics, 23(2), 197–​217. Yılmaz, Z. (2020). Erdoğan’s Presidential Regime and Strategic Legalism:  Turkish Democracy in the Twilight Zone. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 20(2), 265–​287.

Chapter 4

Global class constitution of the AKP’s “authoritarian turn” by neoliberal financialization Pınar Bedirhanoğ l u

The AKP-​led state transformation process in Turkey, which has always been identified by critical Marxist scholars as authoritarian in continuity with the neoliberalization processes at work since the 1980s, entered into an accelerated new phase in the aftermath of the 2013 Gezi uprisings. After the AKP’s temporary loss of parliamentary supremacy in the June 2015 general elections, the suppression of the media and political opposition through extra-​judicial executions, ascending police operations conducted in the name of combat against terrorism and systematic violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms have become ordinary practices of the Turkish state. The failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016 has further strengthened this oppressive drive as the government used it as an opportunity to put an end to Turkey’s parliamentary republican order in July 2018 after a two-​year-​long emergency rule. Since the passage to the so-​called Presidential System of Government (PSG), a new state practice has been put on trial, challenging the state’s internal as well as international relations of power fundamentally. Turkey’s new state in the making is centralized, personalized, and discretionary with practically all the power concentrated in the hands of President Erdoğan for the moment. This rather depressing political outcome, which was not unexpected for critical Marxist scholars, has forced other researchers who had seen a democratizing potential in the AKP in its early years in power to revisit their analyses (e.g. Barkey & Çongar, 2007; Hale & Özbudun, 2010; İnsel, 2003; Öniş, 2006).1 These researchers have started problematizing the 2010s as an authoritarian “turn” in the AKP rule that moved the country towards “an electoral authoritarianism of a more markedly Islamic character” (Özbudun, 2014), “delegative democracy” (Taş, 2015) and/​or “competitive authoritarianism” (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2016), just to name a few. Arguments on why such a “turn” happened have varied in content due to different focuses of analyses on the AKP leadership, party politics, electoral developments and/​or political coalitions.2 These analyses have also varied over time as more radical political developments observed towards the end of the decade led to revisions in earlier positions. The AKP’s arguable move from a democratic to an authoritarian agent in Turkish politics was justified in the early 2010s with reference to Erdoğan’s or the AKP’s responses to a changing

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electoral atmosphere in Turkey, while more comprehensive questions have been posed towards the end of the decade. Defining the new emergent regime in Turkey as “Erdoğanism”, after the 2014 presidential elections, İnsel (2018), for instance, argued that “this is the second regime in the Republican history after Kemalism that has got fully integrated with the leader”.3 Somer (2016), on the other side, was associating Turkey’s “democratic breakdown” with Erdoğan’s move towards utilizing the Turkish state’s “old authoritarian” practices to remain in power, in addition to promoting some new others. Towards the end of the 2010s, rapid Islamization of Turkish politics, institutionalization of corruption, passage to the PSG to form Erdoğan’s one-​man-​rule and his systematic transgression of even the PSG framework forced these scholars to problematize the question within a wider socio-​political context. Hence, Somer (2019) started emphasizing the transformative effect of political polarizations and Esen and Gümüşçü have reconsidered the AKP’s “strong electoral mandate” (2016:  1584) within a triangular dependency in between the ruling party, crony capitalists and the urban poor (2020: 2). In their efforts to explain why such a “turn” happened, these approaches have indeed asked some very important questions as well. Esen and Gümüşçü (2020: 5), for instance, underline that Turkey’s move towards authoritarianism in the 2010s defies some of the fundamental assumptions of liberal democratization theories that associate democratic collapse with weak party systems, weak civic attitudes, or economic failures as none of these are defining Turkey in the mid-​ 2010s. Having not been satisfied with the leader-​based explanations as well, they maintain that “although democracies are often threatened by autocratic leaders, they rarely collapse”. On similar grounds, Somer (2016: 483) looks for some more fundamental “structural” transformations taking place in “economic and informational societies” rather than focusing on electoral politics only. It is, however, important to note that the “structural” in these works refers to some “variables” such as “[p]‌olitical institutions, culture and economic factors” (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2020: 4) defined only at the domestic level. The neglect of dynamics at other levels does not make these analyses unimportant as they make important contributions to the understanding of the specificities of state–​business, state–​citizen and AKP–​ electorate relations in Turkey in the 2010s. Nevertheless, this neglect indicates the methodological limitations of these studies in making sense of the global determinants of state transformations that work across national boundaries. This methodological limitation has become particularly noteworthy with the concurrent rise of authoritarianism/​populism in many countries since the late 2010s. These scholars have either remained silent on this global development and continued to define the problem as an exclusively domestic one (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2020:  1) or proposed mainly comparative analyses without any questioning of common historical determinants defining different cases (Somer, 2017).4 The first part of this chapter will question the implications of this neglect by paying special attention to Ziya Öniş’s works (Öniş, 2015; 2017; 2019). Öniş constitutes a major exception in these studies as he has always examined state

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developments in Turkey in recognition of the international and global environment and the country’s changing foreign relations. However, as will be argued, the recognition of the global/​international dynamics does not save him from similar methodological limitations, as Öniş, like others, approaches the state as an autonomous political actor that takes position vis-​à-​vis international and internal actors/​dynamics in a self-​contained manner. Hence, while questioning the way the global and international developments affect Turkish state transformation under the AKP rule, he conceptualizes the relationship between the two as an external one, managed mainly by party leadership. Hence, regardless of the politically critical stance of Öniş or other scholars towards the AKP’s “authoritarian turn”, they all share a common limitation derived from their methodological liberalism that takes domestic–​international, state–​society and/​ or state–​market distinctions as given. This chapter will propose an alternative Marxist analysis to problematize the states’ relation to global dynamics as an internal one with due consideration of the “capitalist” form of nation-​states, which is defined globally. Refraining from a reductionist conceptualization of the “global” as a separate field exerting “economistic” pressures over the AKP-​governed state transformation in Turkey, it will suggest a holistic class analysis to rethink this process within the changing historical conditions of class struggles and contradictions at the global level. Analysis proposed here is informed by Simon Clarke’s (1992: 135–​7) argument that the capitalist form of the state is shaped by the state’s necessity to reproduce itself within the contradictory processes of capital accumulation on a world scale, while the political implications of these contradictions should be managed on a national basis. Clarke (1992: 136) identifies two fundamental mediations, namely the rule of money and the rule of law, to problematize the former global process, and maintains that it is at the global form-​giving5 level that class limits confining state strategies and interventions at the domestic level are defined. In Clarke’s own words: Although the modern nation-​state is constituted politically on a national basis, its class character is not defined in national terms. The class character of the capitalist state is most fundamentally determined by the separation of the state from civil society, and the corresponding subordination of state and civil society to the rule of money and the law. However, the capitalist law of property and contract transcends national legal systems, and world money transcends national currencies. Thus the subordination of the state to the rule of money and the law, which is the foundation of the constitutional form of the capitalist state, confines the state within limits imposed by the contradictory form of the accumulation of capital on a world scale. (2001: 79; emphasis mine) This paper aims to problematize the class limits of contemporary capitalist states in relation to the rule of money only, which, as will be argued, has acquired a

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financialized content in the world after a four-​ decade-​ long neoliberal transformation. The “rule of money” is an abstraction proposed to problematize the mediation between the national states and class struggles defining global capital accumulation. It is based on the Open Marxist argument that monetary constraint is a specific form of class domination acquiring different contents in the historical development of capitalism in relation to the changing conditions of subordination/​insubordination of labour by capital (Bonefeld, 1992:  124–​5). By cross-​ cutting the global–​national divide, the rule of money gives state transformation processes their class-​determined character, though this does not mean omitting contingency in analysis; for even though the rule of money defines particular historical class limits for states, there is no structural necessity for any state to reproduce itself within these limits. In their attempts at political consolidation at the national level in response to domestic political struggles and international political pressures, states can go beyond the historical limits set by the expanded reproduction of capital, though at the risk of the breakdown of the state and civil society as a whole (Clarke, 1991: 195). As capitalist relations of production are persistently redefined within crisis-​ridden processes of capital accumulation –​in which states play a crucial role in managing class contradictions while trying to reproduce themselves –​there is always the possibility that moments of concentrated crisis in this process could also give way to new political forms in capitalism. The second part of the chapter will use these critical insights to identify the historically specific class limits of current state transformations worldwide, including the Turkish one. To this end, it will rethink the “rule of money” within the context of the neoliberal financialization processes and question how the financialized rule of money has restructured the class limits of capitalist states today. However, considering that authoritarianism has been a defining characteristic of neoliberal state transformations since the 1980s, a nuanced historical analysis will be proposed to understand the reasons behind the recent acceleration of neoliberal authoritarianism/​populism all over the world in relation to the changes in global credit conditions.

The “global” limits of methodological liberalism The deficiencies of methodologically liberal studies that are complacent about the global determinants of Turkish state transformation is evident primarily through their attraction by the AKP’s arguably democratic stand in the party’s early years in power. Their positive expectations used to be based, besides the AKP cadres’ debatable will for democracy, on the assumed cosmopolitanism of the globalizing market economy, which would dismantle the old power structures and pave the way for the flourishing of ethnic, religious, and national identities (Hale & Özbudun, 2010: 20–​9). Turkey “was on its way to become consolidated pluralistic democracy” (Somer, 2017: 481) thanks to the AKP and globalization in the early 2000s, but to their surprise, the country has ended up with a democratic breakdown in about a decade (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2020: 3).

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This early belief in the democratizing effects of globalization reminds us that we are indeed faced with an ideological presupposition rather than a simple neglect. The political implications of this ideological stand are two-​fold. Firstly, these studies have fallen short of identifying the crisis-​ridden nature and disruptive social implications of neoliberal free market policies associated with globalization. Even though the neoliberal motto that a liberal market economy and democratization are two sides of the same coin collapsed with the crisis of liberal democracy in the 2010s, only a few scholars, like Öniş (2017), have taken notice of the implications of this collapse in their analyses, while most continue to work within the same old liberal paradigm. Hence, as mentioned above, the AKP’s “authoritarian turn” has been interpreted mostly as a Turkey-​specific development that constituted a divergence from the world average. Secondly, there is a positive bias towards the democratic quality of Western political systems, which is identified best in the way the “EU anchor” in particular is problematized. It is now commonplace to explain the AKP’s turn from democracy to authoritarianism through the rise and fall of the EU influence over domestic politics respectively (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2020: 3; Öniş, 2019: 205). Esen and Gümüşçü (2020: 4), for instance, recognize a deterioration in the democratizing effect of the EU on Turkish politics only in relation to the EU’s handling of the Cyprus problem which, for them, weakened the EU’s capacity to influence the AKP governments positively. Hence, having attributed an unquestioned democratizing role to the EU, they problematize only the way this role is affected. Critical of this widespread argument, Yalman and Göksel (2017: 24–​5) argue that not only has the EU accession process complemented the neoliberal economic policies of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the IMF and the World Bank, but it has also provided the AKP with an appropriate ground to implement its authoritarian political agenda.6 Interestingly, a similar positive but exact opposite bias was displayed towards the democratizing influence of the AKP on Middle Eastern countries shaken by the Arab Spring in 2011. As Akkoyunlu and Öktem (2016: 517) remind us, such an influence was particularly welcomed in the West by the US and the UK. This optimism did not last too long however, as police brutality displayed during the Gezi protests just two years later let these hopes down, putting an end to the expectations of Turkey’s becoming “a ‘role model’ for the post-​dictatorship Arab world” (Fisk, 2014 quoted by Taş, 2015: 777). However, despite recognizing the detrimental effects of the AKP’s post-​Gezi authoritarian turn on Turkey’s democratizing influence on the Middle East, Öniş continued to consider Turkey “an important regional actor based on its economic and democratic credentials, especially judged by the standards of the Arab Middle East and the non-​EU members of wider Europe” (Öniş, 2015: 33–​4). The Arab Spring as an important regional development has also been discussed in terms of its direct influences on domestic politics in Turkey. Akkoyunlu and Öktem (2016) have argued that the Arab Spring followed by the Gezi protests contributed fundamentally to Erdoğan’s and the AKP cadres’ perception of an

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existential insecurity, paving the way for their move towards establishing a weak authoritarian regime in the country. Öniş (2019:  217), on the other side, has internalized the crisis-​ridden effects of the Arab Spring with reference to the refugee crisis it precipitated through a more holistic interpretation. Among various arguments that problematize the impact of international developments on the rise of authoritarianism in Turkey, maybe the most assertive one has been developed by Öniş, who associates the AKP’s authoritarian turn with the increasing influence of the Russia–​China axis in world politics at the expense of the West (Öniş, 2017; 2019). According to Öniş (2017: 19), the crisis of liberal democracy, reflected in the rise of populist leaders and the radical right in various Western countries, has led to the relative decline of the West in the international arena, a development that needs to be made sense of together with other “dramatic global shifts” in world politics. Even though he has mentioned the important role of the 2008 global financial crisis and the economic and social inequalities it triggered in precipitating the Western decline, he argues that it is primarily the rise of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) with their “hybrid regimes” or “illiberal democracies” that stands at the heart of these global shifts. For Öniş, [t]‌he shifting global context is relevant not only in terms of influencing the choice of new policy paradigms, but also creating alternative avenues of economic expansion and finance, which render countries like Turkey less dependent on traditional Western institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the EU. (2019: 205) Defining the political order that the Russia–​China axis represents as “state capitalism”, Öniş (2019: 203, 213) has further argued that this model inspires other governments to form “reactive states” to adapt new authoritarian developmental trajectories, following the example of China. On the other side, competitive authoritarian political strategies accompanying this new developmentalism have been derived, in the case of Turkey, from the Russian experience, as there are many parallels in the political economy of the two countries. Whether there is a shift in Turkey’s traditional Western stance in international politics towards the East is a question which cannot be comprehensively discussed here within the limits and focus of this chapter. However, some counterarguments are worth mentioning. Uzgel (2020), for instance, does not see any significant break in Turkey’s relations, particularly with the US in foreign policy, while Kurç (2020) argues that Turkish defence industries’ powerful dependence on the US defence systems makes claims for Turkey’s shift of axis towards Russia quite unsubstantiated, despite the country’s problematic purchase of Russian S-​400 missiles recently. Öniş’s argument on Turkey’s new authoritarian developmental trajectories, on the other hand, still deserves attention even though the methodological

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reasoning behind this argument should be reconsidered. In his analysis, this new authoritarian turn is explained mainly by the domestic actors’ –​the most notable ones being the AKP and Erdoğan  –​internalization and utilization of international or global dynamics only. Authoritarianism, according to Öniş, is hence an outcome of the interaction of global and domestic dynamics where the two are accepted as externally related phenomena with specific features of their own, while the link between them is established by the AKP leadership. It is interesting to note that Öniş (2012) used to propose more holistic analyses in his earlier works, where he had examined the democratic successes of the conservative AKP in relation to the party’s powerful engagement with “regulatory neoliberalism”. He then argued that this engagement helped the AKP to enjoy the benefits of the favourable international liquidity atmosphere and register high growth rates despite the 2008 global financial crisis (Öniş, 2012: 143). Leaving aside this earlier emphasis made on transnational processes, in his recent works, Öniş prefers to develop some ideal-​types from the experiences of the China–​ Russia axis and/​or the BRICS and problematize the adaptation of these ideal-​ types in other countries (Öniş, 2019). These rising powers’ politically relaxed financial support to other Southern countries, such as Turkey, is problematized only as an external dynamic that increases the former’s political influence over the latter. This is, however, only one part of the story, which by itself is insufficient to grasp the cross-​boundary processes defining many states commonly. Öniş’s analyses help us understand how these processes are comprehended and utilized by domestic actors in the definition of their political strategies, but they don’t tell us a lot about the global dynamics exerting similar pressures on different countries. To this end, the next part of this chapter will, in a sense, update Öniş’s earlier arguments on global dynamics through a Marxist methodology and show how these dynamics have changed historically since the early 2010s onwards with the effect of accelerated authoritarianism worldwide.

Financialized rule of money under neoliberalism and its implications for state transformation The “rule of money” as an analytical tool to problematize the states’ conditions of reproduction within the globality of capitalist relations of production is based on the Open Marxist assumption that money is a social relation determined by class struggles (Bonefeld & Holloway, 1996; Picciotto, 1979). As Bonefeld (1992: 122) argues, money is “the richest possible concrete development of the substantive abstraction of class antagonism”. Money’s conceptualization as a social relation firstly implies that the labourers’ alienation from their own labour power is persistently reproduced through the monetary exchange. In the capitalist epoch it is extensively shown that the labourer perceives his/​her own labour power in the form of a commodity to be exchanged in the market in return for a wage and becomes a wage-​labourer. On the other side, capitalists constantly convert the surplus labour they appropriate from the labourer into commodities,

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capital, means of subsistence, money, etc. that ultimately buy the person of the labourer in the market place. This is how money, which is nothing but labourer’s own power in content, turns into a means of class domination in capitalism (Sayer, 1991:  66–​8). Increased dependence on monetary exchange for subsistence in capitalism works to enhance class domination over the labourers through the autonomous “experiential reality” of the capitalist market, as Corrigan et al. (1980) define it. From this level of abstraction, one can move to the concrete historical level and rethink the development of global monetary/​financial standards and regulations as well as credit relations within class struggles, even though conventional liberal studies tend to make sense of them in relation to the international and/​or hegemonic power struggles only (Hampton, 2006). As Bonefeld and Holloway (1996: 1–​3) underline, the money form of capital has disproportionately expanded in the capital circuit since the 1980s in comparison to the productive and commodity forms, turning the “credit” form of money into one of the most “contested relation[s]‌of power”. Problematizing the role of credit in the reproduction of capitalist relations would better explain why this is so. Credit, corresponding to capital’s most mobile form, plays a substantial role in the crisis-​ridden reproduction of capitalist relations of production. It accelerates the capital accumulation process as investment decisions are freed from the requirement of the completion of the capital circuit by the exchange of commodities into money  –​or, by the realization of surplus value. As Clarke (1990/​1991:  460–​2) argues, the expansion of credit also provides capital with extra time and relief in its struggle to overcome the other obstacles in the accumulation process, to be defined here as the relaxation effect. It is, however, inevitable that relaxation ends with a disciplinary moment in which the indebted subject, be it the capitalist or the labourer, comes under the pressure of paying back the credit by the further exploitation of the labourer (Holloway, 1996: 17; Lazzarato, 2011:  104), as it is only by the exploitation of the living labourer, hence the production of surplus value, on an expanded basis that capital accumulation is sustained in capitalism. It is also crucial to note that this whole process ultimately leads to the aggravation of crisis-​ridden overaccumulation and uneven development tendencies within capitalist relations of production. The questions of how capital uses the periods of credit-​sustained relaxation in decomposing and recomposing labour and how labour contests these strategies (Bonefeld, 1996a: 63) become important in understanding the historical specificities of class struggles in capital accumulation processes in time and scale. Financialization, as the complex totality of the financial liberalization, expansion, deepening and inclusion processes since the rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s can be analyzed as a contested relation of power as such. There is an extensive debate on the meaning of financialization among critical scholars (Epstein, 2005; Krippner, 2005; Orhangazi, 2011; Sawyer, 2014), though Ben Fine’s argument that it refers to the spread of finance to the processes of individual and socio-​economic reproduction (Fine, 2010: 18) highlights the distinctive characteristic of today’s credit relations best. Indeed, from the early 1980s to the 2010s,

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Marxist scholars in particular have largely moved away from analyzing financial expansion as speculation only, a view adopted by those endorsing the monopoly capitalism thesis of the 1960s (Foster, 2009), and have started problematizing the crucial constitutive role played by finance in the reproduction of capitalism. Hence, the development of derivative markets and securitization credits in unprecedented complexity and the increased indebtedness of the labouring classes after the 1990s have been critically problematized with this recognition. It is now accepted that financialization provides capitalists with various technical, ideological, political and economic advantages in the capital accumulation processes, the most important being the labour’s increased subordination (Albo et al., 2010: 19, 121; Bryan et al., 2009; Fine, 2010: 19). Financialization, as a form of class domination, has increased the subordination of labour by capital in two ways since the 1990s in particular. Elaborating on Fine’s emphasis further, financialization has firstly led to the systematic and extensive indebtedness of the labourers. All over the world, bank credits started targeting poor households after the 1990s in contrast to the earlier bank practices linked more directly to the productive investments by capital (Lapavitsas, 2009: 128). With the help of their increased indebtedness, the reproduction of the working classes could be sustained, though in more volatile ways, despite stagnant real wages and their increasing expenditures in education, health and housing due to the retreat of welfare states (Crouch, 2009). Indebtedness of the working classes has helped them preserve and even improve their consumption abilities while neoliberalization processes as a whole have taken away their political intervention capability by systematically weakening their organized power vis-​à-​vis the capital (Peters, 2011). Secondly, financialization has increased the subordination of labour by capital by advancing the latter’s structural power over social relations as a whole. This effect has worked through the deepening of the world capitalist market discipline due to the indebtedness of the labourers, capitalists and the states altogether. The workers have experienced it through precarious employment conditions, the capitalists through increased competition and the states through their high financial vulnerability towards the outflow of finance from their territories. Each party has ultimately started experiencing the capitalist market as increased violence, with no definitive agent to blame due to the capital’s deepened structural discipline through market necessity.7 If we rethink this argument in relation to neoliberal state transformation processes, it can be argued that the states’ discipline by the rule of money has become financialized, an outcome which is best exemplified by the states’ necessity to meet their budgetary requirements through borrowing extensively from the global financial markets. That is to say that the class limits for state transformations worldwide are defined by the financialized rule of money today, even though individual states would surpass these class limits at the cost of facing prolonged political and economic crises. The historical role of the US in prizing and strengthening the financialization of world capitalism is also notable. As Panitch and Gindin (2005; 2014) have

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argued, the US has not only contributed to the making of this process, but it has also empowered itself as the most capable country to give direction as well as manage global financial markets with all their complexity. Playing a crucial role in this strategy, FED has started functioning as the world’s central bank since the early 2000s, responding to the 2000 US and the 2008 global capitalist crises with expansionary monetary policies. The resultant monetary glut in international markets for more than a decade has worked to decompose and recompose global power and class relations through the acceleration, relaxation and disciplinary effects of financialization over capitalist relations of production while the continued availability of cheap credits in international markets has mostly postponed the disciplinary moment to come in many cases. A specific implication of financialization on Southern states like Turkey is that predominantly market-​based international credit practices started to define these states’ foreign borrowing conditions from the 2000s onwards. In contrast to the post-​1980 period, when IFIs used to play a crucial role in international borrowing practices due to their earlier involvement in the management of the 1980 Debt Crisis (Langley, 2002:  88–​92; Soederberg, 2007), the 2000s meant the proliferation of credit opportunities in financial markets and the steady weakening of the disciplinary role of IFIs over Southern governments. It was indeed by the circulation of the US-​induced easy credits in the domestic economy that poor households were systematically made indebted, enhancing the legitimacy of the incumbent governments, while ensuring the continuation of this overall debt cycle has become crucial for the economic and political stability of many countries. In other words, political stability in Southern countries has become dependent on their managing international and domestic indebtedness requirements simultaneously. The overall political implication of this credit-​ dependent reproduction of Southern states since the early 1980s has been the authoritarian transformation of their priorities as the financial markets started defining their policy-​making processes. As stated elsewhere, they have become states “stronger vis-​à-​vis labour, but more subordinate, thus weaker, vis-​à-​vis capital” (Bedirhanoğlu, 2020: 28). Why, then, has authoritarianism, constituted by neoliberal financialization processes, acquired a new impetus since the mid-​2010s? For sure, one obvious reason was FED’s declaration to move away from implementing expansionary monetary policies in May 2013 and its following managed increase of interest rates from 2015 to 2019. Together with the election of Donald Trump as the new US President in November 2016, this economic policy change in the US triggered a global tendency for capital flight from the peripheral economies to the advanced capitalist ones. However, the accelerated move of many states towards more coercive and oppressive policies manifests the existence of deeper class controversies, rather than being a simple response to a reversal of global credit flows. Firstly, while the expansion of credit from 2001 to 2013 at unprecedented levels provided capital with extra time and relief in its struggle to overcome the obstacles in the accumulation process. This extraordinary period also led to the

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aggravation of crisis tendencies in capitalist accumulation worldwide, turning global capitalism into a “crisis capitalism” more than ever. Moreover, due to the uneven and combined development of capitalism in general, this global “crisis capitalism” has led to much deeper political controversies in the South in comparison to the North. Akyüz (2018) reminds us that neoliberal financial crises since the mid-​1980s have always been managed in favour of the creditors and at the expense of the debtors, be it labourers, capitalists or the states. Hence, the long relaxation period in world capitalism ensured by financialization has led to more severe disciplinary processes in the South today. Secondly, the political implications of the reversal of global credit flows have varied, depending on how the extraordinary credit expansion in the 2000s was used to decompose and recompose working classes in different countries with the effect of new class contradictions. Within the never-​ending crisis atmosphere of the 2010s, these contradictions have posed existential threats to many governments in the South, effected not from outside but through globally constituted class relations internally. To reflect on Öniş’s argument on China above, it has been China’s turning into a powerful production giant over the decades with significant control over finance as well as over its own labour force that has led to its rise as an alternative power centre in capitalist world politics. It is, however, rather questionable whether countries like Turkey can follow the Chinese way, particularly after liberalizing their capital accounts fully since the 1980s and redefining their internal class balances through financialization. Imitating China after all these transformations now requires the harsh disciplining of the labour force, plus the necessity to bring back capital controls, a measure that would lead to increased capital flight from these finance-​dependent countries with further disastrous social, political and economic consequences in both domestic and international terrains. Turkey under AKP rule has been a prototype of Southern financialization with all the problematic political and class implications discussed above. Very briefly, the AKP came to power after the 2001 crisis, which was itself an outcome of the earlier financial liberalization and neoliberalization processes. The failure of the preceding governments to implement the conditionalities set by the 1999 IMF stand-​by agreement also had been constitutive of Turkey’s 2001 economic crisis. It is impossible to examine in detail here how the AKP managed to put into effect these rather contested conditionalities, which included the neoliberal transformation of agriculture, large-​scale privatizations and legislation of neoliberal social security and labour laws (Bedirhanoğlu & Yalman, 2010:  120; BSB, 2006:  6) without losing power. But it is true that within the favourable global financial atmosphere of 2002–​2007, these achievements worked as confidence-​building measures for global finance and enabled the AKP to utilize the opportunities of this atmosphere in full. Turkey experienced a strong inflow of finance in the early 2000s, which reached $30 billion per annum in average in 2002–​2007, while this figure was only $4 billion in the 1990s (Sönmez, 2015:  22). This success, which is also reflected in the 7.3  percent growth rate in 2003–​2007 (Boratav,

Global class constitution of AKP’s “turn”  79

2015: 141), rested on a very vulnerable economy, though, the fate of which has become increasingly more dependent on the persistent inflow of hot money. The appreciated Turkish lira, deteriorating current account deficits, cheap foreign credits, relatively high real interest rates, low inflation rate and the resultant deindustrialization8 defined the post-​2002 Turkish economy until the 2010s, leading to the characterization of its growth pattern as “jobless growth” (Bakır & Öniş, 2010: 96; Yeldan & Ünüvar, 2016: 12–​3). Turkey started facing economic risks that reached such high levels in 2013 that even the IMF identified Turkey among the five most financially vulnerable countries of the world, together with Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa, due to its record level current account deficit and net foreign liability ratios vis-​à-​vis its national income as -​7.9  percent and -​49.8 percent respectively (Boratav, 2014). These vulnerabilities were not translated into serious economic crises until 2013, however, as the persisting availability of the dollar in international financial markets due to the quantitative easing policies of the US enabled the Turkish economy to continue growing with an annual rate of 3.8 percent from 2008 to 2014 despite the global capitalist crisis (Boratav, 2015: 141; Tyson & McKinley, 2014). The same period also saw a shift from state to private indebtedness in Turkey, a trend that has indeed continued up until the global pandemic crisis. In this shift, the increased indebtedness of labourers can be assessed by the rise of household debt ratio in GDP from 3 to 23.8 percent from 2003 to 2013. In the same decade, the ratio of debts to households’ usable income also rose from 7.4 to 55.2 percent (BSB, 2015: 169). It is in this period that the AKP’s arguable “golden” age was experienced, with the progressively rising private indebtedness in Turkey, financed by the global monetary glut. This was a “golden” age that prepared the ground for its own catastrophe by seeding new political and class controversies but postponed their contested resolution to the future, deepening the crises. Hence, having been affected by all the negative developments in international financial markets after FED’s 2013 decision, Turkish lira (TL) devalued against the US dollar (USD) more than twofold from 2013 to 20179, while inflation rose from around 8.3 percent in 2006 to 11 percent in 2017 (Özatay, 2017). The peak in this process before the spread of the COVID-​19 pandemic was experienced in August 201810 when almost all the political and class controversies in the making by then at domestic and international levels were laid off as the AKP government pushed the class limits drawn by the rule of money to the bitter end to remain in power. Detailed investigation of these controversies would reiterate why the radical state transformation after 2013 in Turkey needs to be problematized not as a “turn” but in continuity with the Islamist AKP’s powerful integration to the global neoliberal agenda with its own specificities since 2002. In the post-​2013 period, the credit-​financed AKP hegemony started fracturing, pushing the AKP to move to the disciplinary phase in global credit relations. This has required the party to attack its own poor electoral base, a contradiction that could hardly be managed within the historically established political limits of Turkey’s modern parliamentary state structure.

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Concluding remarks Methodologically, liberal studies narrate the current radical state transformation in Turkey as an “authoritarian turn” in AKP rule as they lack the necessary analytical tools to identify the authoritarian processes at work during the party’s arguable initial democratic phase from 2002 to the early 2010s. Proposing an alternative class analysis, this chapter has rethought this process as one constituted globally by neoliberal financialization, which is defined here as a historically specific form of class domination in the long-​term development of capitalism. The main argument of the chapter is that the AKP’s recent fear-​rending search for a new political state form by the sui-​generis PSG is a response to the transition to the disciplinary phase in global credit relations. This transition has possibly been more compelling for the AKP, as the party enjoyed the political advantages of the extraordinary monetary glut in global credit markets in full as its rise to power in 2002 overlapped nicely with the start of this relaxation phase in neoliberal financialization. The US-​induced transition to the disciplinary phase after 2013 has been now urging finance-​dependent Southern states such as Turkey to make their labourers start paying the price of the preceding relaxation phase by developing new forms of political domination to ensure their expanded exploitation by capital.11 The AKP’s so-​called “authoritarian turn” is hence nothing but an attempt to do this without losing political power. This is a political experimentation, confined now by the global class limits redefined through the financialized rule of money in the neoliberal era. This chapter could not problematize how these financialized class limits have also been redefining the political room for manoeuvre of Southern states like Turkey vis-​à-​vis domestic and global capital as well as internationally. A closer look at the AKP’s specific domestic and foreign policies after 2013 with such a critical vision would help us understand better the contested reproduction of finance-​dependent Southern states in today’s crisis capitalism with novel capacities and restrictions of their own. Such an investigation would also help us understand why the AKP’s political experimentation, if it becomes successful, might have significant repercussions beyond Turkey.

Notes 1 This optimism used to be based on a centre-​periphery analysis, where the AKP and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were presented as the voice of the peripheral masses oppressed for long by the patronizing Kemalist cadres at the centre. A similar antagonism was also reproduced in the economic sphere between the so-​called Anatolian entrepreneurs and the Istanbul-​based big bourgeoisie (Kahraman, 2008). 2 For a detailed critical discussion on these arguments, see the chapters by Kutun and Pınar in this book. 3 Later Yılmaz and Bashirov (2018) attempted to identify the historical differences of “Erdoganism” from Sultanism, Khomeinism, or Kemalism by the former’s four specific determinants: electoral authoritarianism, neopatrimonialism, populism and Islamism.

Global class constitution of AKP’s “turn”  81 4 Esen and Gümüşçü (2020) seem to justify their silence on other cases by Turkey’s negative divergence from them. They argue that Turkey has surpassed other cases of democratic breakdown since the early 2000s. 5 Bonefeld (1996b: 180) reminds us of this conception Marx proposed to underline the constitutive role of “living labour” in social relations. I use it here to underline the constitutive role of aggregate class struggles in state forms. 6 See also Gehring in this book for a critical discussion on the role of the EU accession process in defining the AKP’s populism. 7 See Bedirhanoğlu (forthcoming in 2021) for a detailed theoretical discussion on how financialization has increased the violent discipline of the capitalist market, particularly on labourers. 8 The share of industry in the creation of national income steadily declined to 16 percent in 2008 and to 15.5 percent in 2014 from the level of 20 percent that prevailed in the previous years. See Yeldan, E. (2015). “Döviz Kuru Nereye?”, www.cumhuriyet., 9 September 2015. 9 The exchange rate of the USD to TL rose from 1.78 TL on 1 January 2013 to 3.54 TL on 10 August 2017. See​kurlar/​kurlar_​tr.html. 10 See Bedirhanoğlu (2019) and Bedirhanoğlu (under review) for a detailed examination of the political and economic implications of the August 2018 crisis. 11 For a detailed analysis on how the AKP responds to these pressures, see Pınar in this book.

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84  Pınar Bedirhanog˘ lu Peters, J. (2011). The Rise of Finance and the Decline of Organised Labour in the Advanced Capitalist Countries. New Political Economy, 16(1), 73–​99. Picciotto, S. (1979). The Theory of the State, Class Struggle and the Rule of Law. In B. Fine, R. Kinsey, J. Lea, S. Picciotto & J. Young (Eds.), Capitalism and the Rule of Law (164–​177). London: Hutchinson. Sawyer, M. (2014). What is financialization?. International Journal of Political Economy, 42(4),  5–​18. Sayer, D. (1991). Capitalism and Modernity: An Excursus on Marx and Weber. London and New York: Routledge. Soederberg, S. (2007). The Transnational Debt Architecture and Emerging Markets: The Politics of Paradoxes and Punishment. Third World Quarterly, 26(6), 927–​949. Somer, M. (2016). Understanding Turkey’s democratic breakdown: old vs. new and indigenous vs. global authoritarianism. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 16(4), 481–​503. Somer, M. (2017). Conquering versus democratizing the state:  political Islamists and fourth wave democratization in Turkey and Tunisia. Democratization, 24(6), 1025–​1043. Somer, M. (2019). Turkey:  The Slippery Slope from Reformist to Revolutionary and Democratic Breakdown. The ANNALS, 681, 42–​61. Sönmez, M. (2015). Ak Faşizmin İnşaat İskelesi, İstanbul: NotaBene. Taş, H. (2015). Turkey –​from tutelary to delegative democracy. Third World Quarterly, 36(4), 776–​791. Tyson, J. & McKinley, T. (2014). Financialization in Developing Countries: “Mapping the Issues”. FESSUD: Financialization, Economy, Society and Sustainable Development, Large Collaborative Project, Social Sciences and Humanities, D6.03.​wp-​content/​ uploads/​2015/​01/​Working-​Paper-​38-​FESSUD-​Financialization-​in-​the-​developing-​world-​ mapping-​the-​issues.pdf. Uzgel, İ. (2020). Turkey’s double movement: Islamists, neoliberalism and foreign policy. In P. Bedirhanoğlu, Ç. Dölek, F. Hülagü & Ö. Kaygusuz (Eds.), Turkey’s New State in the Making: Transformations in Legality, Economy and Coercion (64–​79). London: ZED Books. Yalman, G. L. & Göksel, A. (2017). Transforming Turkey? Putting the Turkey-​European Union Relations into a Historical Perspective. Uluslararası İlişkiler, 14(56), 23–​37. Yeldan, E. & Ünüvar, B. (2016). An Assessment of the Turkish Economy in the AKP Era. Research and Policy on Turkey, 1(1), 11–​28. Yılmaz, İ. & Bashirov, G. (2018). The AKP after 15 Years: Emergence of Erdoganism in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 39(9), 1812–​1830.

Chapter 5

Transformation of news media The case of Turkey for the neoliberal era Eylem Çamuroğ l u Çığ and Ünsal Çığ

To all imprisoned journalists in Turkey

The landscapes of journalism and the news media have undergone great changes in recent years in Turkey. Since coming to power in 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has used various means of suppression of media and journalists, including legal and financial pressures, prosecution of journalists, closing down media outlets, dispossession of assets, remuneration or punishment of media organizations with state redistributions (subsidies, tax breaks, advertising, privatization deals or investment chances, etc.). On the path to regime change, the media have been used as an important political tool by Erdoğan’s regime. Although the transformation of the media began prior to it, it is obvious that in the era of the AKP, this transformation has accelerated (and maybe been completed) and that despite their privatized structure, the media now belong entirely to the state apparatus. News media and journalism are of capital importance for the new regime. The new media system established by the Erdoğan regime strictly controls the news, ideas and opinions communicated to the masses. The reconstructed media groups formed out of public resources by means of the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (SDIF/​TMSF) and the aligned mainstream media, by means of state redistribution, play one of the main roles in maintaining the Islamic neoliberal system and the resultant political regime. The neoliberalization of Turkey was the cornerstone of this regime change and began in the 1980s. The structure of media ownership has also changed since the 1980s. Therefore, the transformation of the media in Turkey is closely related to the global transformation and neoliberal turn. The political economy of the mass media has undergone a great transformation in the last 50 years. This transformation, involving the internet and globalization, has accelerated since the 2000s. The financialization and conglomeration of the media in global capital markets have been accompanied by digitalization, precarization and extensive usage of robot technologies. Therefore, it is a very urgent matter to critically revaluate and discuss the relationship between the economy, culture and media and the consequences of this relationship. The phase

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of neoliberal capitalism we are experiencing now is described by many thinkers as a big disruption and a threshold of radical change (Wallerstein et al., 2013; Zizek, 2010). From Trump to Erdoğan, Orbán and Modi, the political axis has shifted to the radical right and the rise of fascism throughout the world has verified those thinkers. If times of radical change leave us suspended within a widening gap between the past and the future, as Arendt states, then we need new methods of understanding (Gambetti, 2009: 144). When past answers are not sufficient, it is time to remember how to once again ask questions: “We have lost the answers on which we ordinarily rely without even realizing that they were originally answers to questions” (Arendt, 1977: 174). In order to comprehend the transformation of the political economy of the mass media and its consequences, we must first conceptualize what kind of transformation neoliberalism foresees. As Gambetti (2009: 144) emphasizes, if this is not done, we may not even notice that our conceptual and analytical tools have lost their validity. Interdisciplinary conceptualizations and hybrid readings are the best possible ways to ask new questions facing the gap neoliberalism has created. It is important today that the relationship between the press and democracy is again discussed from the perspective of economic pressure or, in the USA, after Trump. The mass media should be at the centre of these discussions because of their contributory role to profit maximization and the capital accumulation processes of neoliberal capitalism. This is the way to explain the similarities in the transformation of the mass media and democracy in different countries from the USA to Hungary, Turkey, Poland and India, which indeed have very different cultural and historical backgrounds. The assassination of the journalist Gauri Lankesh in India, welcoming in the new year of 2019, the imprisonment of 123 journalists in Turkey1 or the declaration of war on the press just after the election of Trump  in the USA are closely related. In addition, the constructed myth of “social media against dictatorships” as in the so-​called Arab Spring is not independent of these developments. However, as long as the profit mechanisms of social media platforms are analyzed, the discussions about the corporation–​state surveillance and contradictory aspects of this relation will be clearer. Violence lies at the heart of such interconnected tendencies created globally by neoliberalism, and has become a structural element of the profit maximization process. This process, which Harvey called “accumulation by dispossession” (2007:  33–​9), has made ambivalence and uncertainty into a rule. In this case, the transformation of the media should be reconceptualized through consideration of how the relationship between the market and the state has been transformed, with violence as part of the profit maximization process. Therefore, we will use Harvey’s concept of “accumulation by dispossession” here, which stems from Marx’s notion of “primitive/​primal accumulation”. Here we use the concept of accumulation by dispossession not only to mean a basic dispossession process of land, public property or wealth but also as a complex process in which press freedom, freedom of expression, the right to access information, the right to the city or casual online activity are also suppressed. Press freedom and freedom of

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expression are vital for journalists, and the suppression of these freedoms detaches journalists from their occupation and means of production. Therefore we will understand accumulation by dispossession in a broader sense in this article.2 Understanding the nature of the relationship between neoliberalism and violence is necessary for analyzing the scale and consequences of the transformation of the media industry. To explain the transformation of the media in Turkey mentioned above, we will look into the structural changes in its media system that are related to accumulation by dispossession. If neoliberalism, rather than postmodernism as Gambetti argues (2009: 146), is the end of universality then we claim that recent experiences in Turkey are not about “disassociation from the West” (which is a widespread discourse), but on the contrary, that the main problem is Turkey’s deep involvement in the global market system. Rather than holding state-​controlled media responsible for the transformation of the media industry in Turkey and seeing it as its main difference with Western media systems, we will analyze the market-​driven system as the source of the problem. The start of the regression of press freedom in Turkey is its involvement in the global market system after the military coup of 1980. From this point of view, the roots of Turkey’s drift to Islamic fascism by the AKP under the leadership of Erdoğan becomes clear. We argue that the dispossession of Turkey’s media by the state is not an anomaly, but one possible consequence of the process of accumulation by dispossession. Briefly stated, we will analyse the collapse of mainstream media in Turkey starting from the 2013 Gezi uprising together with the apparent regime change moves and violent oppression of news media after the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, as parts of a process that regards neoliberal transformation. This analysis might help readers comprehend the relationship between the new regime and the transformation of the media in Turkey. Finally, based upon the transformation of the media industry in Turkey, we will seek to problematize some of the basic categories and discussions in media theories so that they can be applied to an understanding of neoliberal transformation.

The primitive character of capital accumulation and the neoliberal transformation of news media The transformation of the media landscape in Turkey is exemplary of the terrible consequences of the neoliberal transformation of the media industry. The Islamist conservative AKP, which almost entirely established neoliberalism in Turkey, seeks to complete the process that started with the 1980 military coup by building a new regime (Gambetti, 2009:  166). Using the concept of accumulation by dispossession in order to explain this process, Harvey means that the accumulation practices, which Marx called primitive/​primal accumulation, increasingly continue in the neoliberal era (2007: 34). According to Marx, primitive accumulation appeared in a historical process in which producers were turned into wage labourers by violent and bloody methods. This process is a primitive phase of accumulation because it prepared

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the conditions of capital and the capitalist mode of production (Bonefeld, 2011). On the one hand, this historical process loosened the ties of feudalism (serfdom, guilds, etc.) and created free wage labour, but on the other hand, it annihilated the assurances feudalism provided and took away the means of production from the producers (Marx, 2011: 688). Foucault (2000: 396–​8) states that the period of primitive accumulation fundamentally transformed the definitions of illegality and ownership. Violence was made imperceptible in the daily practices which the law made possible (Read, 2014: 52–​3). The fact that violence became natural, was lost in daily practices and was turned into state violence, has to be taken carefully into consideration in terms of analyzing the transformation of the news media. There are two aspects to this consideration. First is the fact that financialized media structures effect the ideological component of media content. In the accumulation process of neoliberal capitalism, news media, together with the state, play an important role in easing and naturalizing the transition between violence and basic rights, for the benefit of the market. Harvey mentions this point while discussing over-​accumulation.3 Capitalism has suffered from an over-​accumulation crisis since 1973, which means that everything has become a target for privatization in tandem with the neoliberal project. As well as privatization, the second solution is to provide the market with cheap raw materials, namely reducing oil prices. In this perspective, newspaper baron Rupert Murdoch’s observation is correct: the solution to today’s economic problems is to reduce oil prices. Therefore, it is not surprising that all the Murdoch newspapers enthusiastically supported the war against Iraq (Harvey, 2014: 149–​50). The second aspect is that the news media use big data to analyze and process the capacity of social media in order to accelerate the capital accumulation process. The commodification process in the news media continuously dispossesses internet users and their data (Ekman, 2014: 99). Additionally, the news media is one of the fields in which the progress of automatization effects and increases technological unemployment. The news was reported that the Google-​financed RADAR project, which creates artificial intelligence, would be completed in 2018. With the help of this artificial intelligence, it is predicted that 30,000 news reports can be written in a month by only five employees.4 The problem becomes clear when all these developments are evaluated from the perspective of the trends which neoliberal capital accumulation is creating. The fact that the dispossession process disconnects journalists from their news and news-​making tools accelerates alienation even more. Besides precarization, with the help of digitalization and automatization, the news media also play a role in dispossessing internet users of their data. What binds corporations and states together here is the role of practices of accumulation by dispossession in capital accumulation. Therefore, in order to explain the current trend towards the erosion of democracies, it is necessary to look into the dispossession of knowledge by states and corporations (Çamuroğlu Çığ, 2016: 105). The news media’s own neoliberal transformation is also important in this assault. With its financialized structure and as an actor in the market, the news

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media are both an ideologue and perpetrator of accumulation by dispossession. A clear example of this is that the big financiers of the media in Turkey have investments in the building trade, which has been the locomotive of the Turkish economy during the AKP period. During the 2013 Gezi uprising, there were protests not only against the transformation of the cities but also against news media organizations such as CNN Turk, NTV, ATV and Sabah Newspaper. The Gezi uprising revealed that the dispossession of the common grounds of the city is accompanied by the dispossession of the right to demand news. Most of the news media avoided the protests, which spread throughout the country in all but two cities and continued for many days. After Gezi, a data collecting and mapping network was established by a collective effort of volunteers in order to document the processes of accumulation by dispossession in Turkey. “Networks of Dispossession” clearly show the role of capital, the government and the media in the process of accumulation by dispossession.5 Before further elaborating on the role of the news media in the process of accumulation by dispossession, we need to briefly explain the difference between accumulation by dispossession, which is the main accumulation strategy of neoliberalism, and primitive accumulation.

Accumulation by dispossession and difference of the neoliberal era According to classical political economy, after the completion of primitive accumulation, capital accumulation would develop as expanded reproduction into peace, welfare and equality. The dialectical method of Marx shows that market liberalization cannot create a harmonious state in which everybody lives better. Like the global tendencies of neoliberalism, it always creates great inequalities. At the same time, it triggers large and important instabilities that lead to chronic crises of over-​accumulation. As Harvey claims, what we experience in neoliberal capitalism is the phase Marx foresaw. The fact that primitive accumulation has been re-​analyzed historically and geographically has revealed that it may have a continuous characteristic (Harvey, 2005: 143–​4; De Angelis, 2001). One can say that there is primitive accumulation wherever the privatization of common properties is seen or the conditions for the commodification of the production and the reproduction of existence are available (Read, 2014: 50–​1). The hypothesis that capitalism always needs to have something outside itself for its own stability is important for today’s discussions about continuous primitive accumulation practices. As Harvey could foresee, by contracting space, the expansion of neoliberalism increases competition regionally and globally but causes disadvantaged countries and regions to suffer the worst consequences (Harvey, 1997:  208–​ 9). Such consequences are, for instance, connected to the fact that developing countries like Turkey and India have adopted neoliberalism and lurched towards authoritarianism. As Arundhati Roy states, India will colonize itself because it cannot colonize others anymore. India will target

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its internal population, forests and space; it will eat itself.6 These practices, which have distanced the state and the law from the liberal rationale, have also transformed the media landscape and are still transforming it. As Arendt states, if “endless accumulation requires endless accumulation of political power” (Harvey, 2005: 140), then the media industry, alongside the state, is also part of this transformation. Harvey explains this strategy of accumulation, which has crystalized in the neoliberal capitalist era, becoming integral to it, with the concept of accumulation by dispossession. There are four main elements that characterize the process of accumulation by dispossession:  privatization, financialization, the management and manipulation of crises and state redistribution (2007:  35–​9). These four main elements also explain one of the main arguments of this article: that the near state-​control of the news media in Turkey has emerged as a result of the market-​driven system. Harvey thinks that accumulation by dispossession is more destructive in terms of creating long term hopes, expectations and an impoverished population (2005: 164): the difference with neoliberalism is that it perpetuates “creative destruction” (ibid.: 22–​44). We will discuss the main elements and consequences of accumulation by dispossession below, in the context of the political–​economic transformation of the mass media in Turkey. In this way, we will show the theoretical promise of the revaluation of mass media theories in the context of interdisciplinary approaches that focus on the distinctive features of neoliberalism.7

The transformation of Turkey’s news media in the neoliberal era Privatization The neoliberalization of Turkey started with the “24 January decisions”, just before the 1980 military coup. Privatization was the main means of carrying it out. In the 1990s, the Özal government started the transition of public and cultural places into places of consumption through big construction projects. The second and most intensive period of this construction and shopping mall rush began under the AKP since their coming to power in 2002. The Gezi uprising started in June 2013 by just a couple of environmentalists in order to prevent the cutting of trees for the construction of Topçu Kışlası Shopping Mall in Inönü’s Gezi Park. The Gezi uprising gathered opposition to environmental massacre, the wiping out of the common spaces of the city by shopping mall construction and the government’s desire to replace a symbol of the Republic (Inönü’s Gezi Park) with a symbol of the Ottoman Empire (Topçu Kışlası). These three foci of opposition by protesters constitute the basis of the neoliberal project the government carried out, intertwined with its project of Political Islam. In a short period of time, the Gezi uprising united and revealed reactions against all aspects of social destruction created by accumulation by dispossession. As well

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as this, during Gezi, the main elements of accumulation by dispossession –​privatization, financialization, manipulation of the crisis and state redistributions, as well as their effects on society –​became clearer. The mainstream news media were among the most protested targets. The messages written on the burned broadcast truck of NTV, which later became one of the symbols of the Gezi protests, gave a clear idea of what the demonstrators thought about the media: “Fabricated news for sale”, “media for sale by owner”, “Tayyip Loves NTV”. Penguins became a symbol of media censorship after a documentary about penguins was broadcast by CNN Türk during one of the biggest protests of the Gezi Resistance at Taksim Square. The Gezi Protests revealed media–​government relations and the media’s role in accumulation by dispossession. Also during the protests, journalists and media workers who tried to protest or at least to offer solidarity to the protestors, immediately lost their jobs. At this time, simply producing the news became a dangerous act of heroism committed by journalists. The mainstream media dramatically collapsed during Gezi, but the start of the decay began after the 1980 coup when neoliberal policies were carried out in Turkey (Adaklı & Aydoğan, 2018). The deunionization of the media, technological developments, conglomeration and concentration of media ownership and the emerging star system were the premises of the breakup before Gezi. Except for a few resignations and protests, the commodification of intellectual creativity and the precarization of journalistic labour through dispossession carried out by the state and corporations were received silently by mainstream news media employees. The state of the mainstream news media in Turkey is related to privatization. The privatization of the news media in Turkey resulted in the concentration of media ownership. The concentration of media ownership led to three very problematic issues regarding the freedom of the press. Firstly, the media moguls, with a lot of different investments in other businesses like energy and construction, were easily influenced by the government, especially in the neoliberal era. State redistribution happened to be effective political tools for Erdoğan in the matter of controlling and dominating the media. Secondly, contrary to liberal belief, privatized media networks became useful for state control. Wanting to protect their investments and profit rates, media moguls have used the hierarchical structures of the news media to suppress journalists in two intertwined ways. First, they broke unionization among journalists. As a result of de-​unionization, journalists have become fragmented, weak and precarious (Keten & Aydın, 2018). It was very easy for media moguls to control and suppress them. The star system in the media and unemployment were the carrot and stick used to silence journalists. In the meantime, media moguls, editors or big media stars have internalized self-​censorship, which renders government interference mostly unnecessary. Thirdly, journalists have also internalized self-​censorship, and have willingly given up the freedom of the press in order to keep their positions. A freelance journalist working in Turkey has described self-​censorship as a panopticon applied by journalists to themselves (Narin, 2019). This journalist

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has stated that the insecurity of freelance working, lack of unionization and lack of Press Labour Code protections can lead to fear and fear can turn into self-​censorship. Fatma Yörür, a reporter from Artı-​TV, claimed that journalists are performing self-​censorship to not just the government, but also the opposition. According to her, the process that leads journalists to self-​censorship is related to government oppression, but firstly and most importantly, to the structural oppression of media outlets (ibid.). Self-​censorship creates a very dangerous atmosphere for the freedom of the press and is also very hard to uncover. One journalist from the mainstream media, who doesn’t want to give their name, noted that their colleagues try to anticipate events that would anger the government as news and they won’t cover them at all. According to this journalist, self-​censorship is spreading like a virus among journalists in Turkey.8 However, even these aspects of media domination are not satisfactory for Erdoğan’s regime because he seeks total control, which is, of course, impossible. In this chain of domination, no one is protected against the waves of creative destruction that neoliberalism creates. The norms are determined by the capitalist system itself (Gambetti, 2012: 37), which is, in Turkey’s case, Islamic neoliberalism. So, every single individual who makes up this system is expendable, irrespective of their power. The only decision to be made is to liberate market equilibrium, which will decide who to eliminate (ibid.: 31). The leaked telephone conversation in 2014 between Erdoğan and Demirören, with the latter crying on the phone, creates a vivid example of such media censorship and control. The phone call strikingly demonstrated that the most powerful media moguls are themselves also expendable and afraid of President Erdoğan. On 28 February 2013, Milliyet Newspaper carried news of the “İmralı Tutanakları” (İmralı Proceedings) in its headlines. The news was about the “Çözüm Süreci” (Peace Process), aimed at resolving the long running Kurdish problem. In 2012, Erdoğan stated that the government was in negotiations with jailed rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan. Milliyet revealed that Öcalan was in talks with the Kurdish Party at that time. In the phone call with Demirören, the owner of Milliyet, President Erdoğan insulted the editor in chief Derya Sazak and the reporter Namık Durukan, who covered the İmralı Proceedings news. President Erdoğan wanted them to be dismissed. After the president’s scolding and insults, Demirören can be heard crying and saying, “how did I get into this, for whom?”9 Based on examples like this, the privatization and corporatization of the news media in Turkey can be seen to have ended up in a tangled and distorted relationship with the government. Privatization is used not only as an economic tool but also as a political tool to establish new power relations. According to Ekman (2014: 99), the mainstream news media play a very important role during the processes of accumulation by dispossession. The media support privatizations, enable financialization and provide ideological legitimation for both. In some cases, the media also perpetuate privatization and financialization.10 Privatizations have accelerated during the AKP era. In 1995, the number of public utilities was 278. Through privatization, the number in the early 2000s has reduced to 240. During the AKP era, there are

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only 71 utilities left that are owned by or associated with the state.11 One of the privatizations affected newspapers particularly badly: the sale of the SEKA paper mill in 2018. After privatization, newspapers became dependent on the import of paper and the foreign exchange rate. And after the exchange rate fluctuations, newspapers have made a loss on both sides.12 The Gezi uprising was a breaking point that saw the collapse of the mainstream news media and since then the AKP has rapidly intensified its authoritarian policies. The fact that as soon as they came to power Erdoğan and his government began to clash with the military bureaucracy was seen by many as an attempt at democratization. However, the main reason for this clash, besides the obvious power struggle, was to get the bureaucracy out of the way, since the bureaucracy had the power to hinder or at least slow down the privatization of public properties. Privatizations started in the 1980s, but were not that fast until the AKP came to power (Yeşil, 2016: 72–​88). The 12 September 2010 referendum on the amendment of the constitution, which had also been supported by the Gülen movement before it entered a war of hegemony against Erdoğan, was designed to get the judiciary out of the way so that it would not be an element slowing down the accumulation by dispossession process. The change to the constitution was heavily supported by the mainstream news media. It was presented as a great attempt at democratization and an opportunity to get rid of the constitution the military had written after the 1980 coup. The rule of law in Turkey owes its failure today to this change. Financialization In 2012, Erdoğan clearly stated that the separation of powers was preventing his big construction investment, the city hospitals project. He also stated that because of the bureaucratic oligarchy and the judiciary, the project could not be put into practice.13 He mentioned several times afterwards that he wanted the presidential system because the separation of powers was the biggest obstacle confronting economic development and causing a bottleneck in executive power. Therefore, Erdoğan and his party have completed the ongoing neoliberal project and constitutional change since the 1980 military coup by synthesizing Islam with neoliberalism and arriving at the authoritarianism of today.14 Accordingly, they abolished bureaucratic obstacles one by one and privatized public enterprises and natural recourses to a degree never seen before in Turkey. As well as this, they promoted foreign capital investment to enter the country and made labour laws protecting both national and foreign employers (Yeşil, 2016: 72–​88). While unlawfulness was becoming ordinary and authoritarianism was becoming increasingly visible, the mainstream news media legislated this process as “democratization”. The news media also made every social movement and struggle for rights against this process invisible, called them “coup plotters”, “enemies of democracy” or “terrorists” and delegitimized their political standpoints. The reasons for the mainstream Western news media’s avoidance of this process until the Gezi

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uprising are the same as well: Erdoğan and his party have been providing every opportunity for capital, such as low-​cost labour and investment promotions and eliminating the barriers to capital flow, since they came to power. Because of this, their increasing violence and unlawfulness have been made invisible. The main reason for this, as Ekman (2014:  103–​7) emphasizes, is that the financial ties and dependencies of news media corporations have increased in the twenty-​first century. The increasing number of internet-​based financial actors, computer-​based trade, secret hedge funds, derivatives markets, asset stripping and so on has enlarged the financial sector since the 2000s. In the meantime, the relationship between actors from journalism and the financial sector has been blurred in terms of the ownership of the mass media and the personal interests of journalists. With its corporate structure, the news media exists in an ambiguous relationship with financial actors, and there is a complicated network of relationships based on mutual interests between the news and financial sectors. This means that financialization, which is one of the main elements of accumulation by dispossession, has changed the news media in terms of political economy. “The Media Owners in Turkey” in “Networks of Dispossession” clearly shows the role of news media corporations in the process of changing the media landscape, cities and the regime. During the privatization process, the mainstream news media and the pool media have legitimized the abolition of the bureaucracy and the transition between violence and law, and have supported Erdoğan’s party.15 This has happened because nearly all big projects have included the involvement of news media financiers. The network of intertwined relationships between the state, national and foreign finance sectors and the news media is the reason why the AKP has conquered the mass media. Turkey was ranked 154 out of 180 countries in the “Reporters without Borders” (RSF) 2020 world press freedom index. It was 99 in 2002, when the AKP came to power.16 Although press freedom was almost completely destroyed by Erdoğan’s regime, Turkey’s record of press freedom was very problematic before the AKP era as well. It has deteriorated during this era but the seeds of the collapse of the mainstream media were planted in the 1980s and 1990s. The primary reason for the decline in press freedom and for the collapse of the mainstream media was the change of press ownership structure. This change began in the 1980s after the military coup and accelerated in the 1990s. “The press” has turned into “the media” in this process, and for the media moguls, the media have become a business rather than a public service (Yücel, 2015). In the 1980s and 1990s in Turkey, just like in Europe, public broadcasting monopolies have left their place to private monopolies; big capital groups have begun to integrate horizontally, transversely and vertically; deregulation has taken place and, most importantly, media groups have begun to dominate the banking and finance business (Adaklı, 2010: 75). Financialization has created an intertwined relationship between government control, corporate pressures and media freedoms in Turkey (Yeşil, 2018: 240–​1). The investments of media groups like Bilgin, Çukurova, Uzan and Doğan in banking business were one of the cornerstones of the transformation of the media,

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the collapse of the mainstream media and the capture of the media by Erdoğan’s regime. New banking regulations were introduced after the financial crisis in 2001, and media monopolies faced state intervention. Most of the banks owned by media moguls were confiscated by the Saving Deposit Insurance Funds (SDIF), and as Adaklı has said, in the mid 2000s, the Turkish Republican State became de facto the biggest media mogul in Turkey (Adaklı, 2010: 77–​8). SDIF were used as a widespread means of state redistribution in the media sector as explained in the third chapter, and they completed the task of accumulation by dispossession in the media sector. International capital is also a part of this accumulation by dispossession process. International corporations (including Canadian company Canwest and Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp) also wanted to possess SDIF-​owned media outlets like pro-​Erdoğan regime corporations. In the first phase of the AKP era, which was labelled a “democratic phase” by liberals but on the contrary was compatible with the neoliberal labour regime, restrictions on international media investments were loosened. AKP executives legitimized their interventions in media ownership using SDIF as a means of state redistribution with discussions on the mainstream media’s prevalent political power and influence. As emphasized by Eres and Yüksel (2018), the sales under the SDIF were presented as a means of establishing diversity and strengthening competition and were welcomed by the European Union as a step towards democratization. This process has instead created a new phenomenon in the media sphere in Turkey, drastically changing the relationship between media, politics and democracy on an unprecedented scale: Erdoğan regime’s media, known as the pool media (Adaklı, 2009). As a very good example of the changing relationship between media, politics and democracy and as a reminder of the speculative and predatory style of financialization (Harvey, 2007: 36–​7), we can look closely at Doğan Media’s sale to the Demirören Group in 2018. This sale represented the largest change in media ownership in Turkey’s history. The most important detail in this sale was the role of the government-​owned Ziraat Bank.17 The Demirören Group also used credit from Ziraat Bank in order to buy Doğan media. The sale transaction was $1.2 billion USD. Finally, the political character of financialization was shown in the 2019 local elections. After the Republican People’s Party (CHP, the main opposition party) won 11 metropolitan municipalities, including the Istanbul municipality, from the AKP, two newspapers, Star and Güneş, owned by the Türkmedya Group, ended their print versions.18 The reason was, allegedly, the suspension of advertisement revenue, which the Türkmedya Group was taking from the Istanbul municipality during the AKP era –​a monthly amount of ten million Turkish lira.19 State redistribution and the management and manipulation of crisis State redistribution, the third main element of accumulation by dispossession, has been used effectively by the AKP to dominate the mainstream news media

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and to take over media corporations. The process offers successful examples of crisis management and manipulation. The second neoliberal transformation of Turkey began with the AKP’s accession to power after the 2000–​2001 financial crisis in Turkey. The financial crisis caused the collapse of the centre parties at the following general elections. In this crisis environment, the AKP headed by Erdoğan won the elections and gained political power. The winner in the media industry was Aydın Doğan, who managed to get through the crisis with relatively little damage. After the crisis, bankrupt media companies were transferred to the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund of Turkey. They were ready to be auctioned off by 2005 and 2006. Thus, a competitive environment was constituted in the market for media moguls who had survived the crisis, like Aydın Doğan and other rich entrepreneurs who wanted to be in the media industry. With the application of neoliberal policies, the conglomerate owners used the media industry as a means of gaining political and economic power from the 1990s on. This was the starting point on the path that would lead to the “pool media”. Aydın Doğan carried out very successful crisis management and manipulation while the SDIF auctions were approaching. First, he began lobbying to eliminate legal barriers to media ownership, which had been preventing him from buying new television channels and newspapers. According to Aydın Doğan, unrestricted media ownership could provide media outlets with financial freedom and that freedom could be translated into transparency, consumer choice and press freedom. But on the contrary, this logic was the start of the dispossession of the freedom of press in Turkey. Ten years later, the effect of this logic can be seen much more clearly. At that time, benefitting from a legal loophole, he applied for ownership of Star TV although he could not convince parliament to amend the law –​but eventually the amendment he wanted was approved in 2011. Basically, he tried to protect his dominant position in the media industry by applying crisis management. After the financial crisis in 2001, Aydın Doğan laid off around 1000 employees from a total of 5300 employees. Here he very successfully managed to turn crisis into an opportunity for the second time. Financial difficulties were the perfect excuse for him to forcefully convince the remaining employees to give up their union membership. That was the condition for them to be able to keep their jobs. Along with digitalization and atomization, precarity has rapidly become a widespread and central part of the structural transformation of the news media. The almost total dispossession of freedom of information and freedom of the press has become a reality. This dispossession was a relatively easy, quick and steady process because of the succumbing of the precarious and disorganized journalists. Their disorganization and precarization also played a big role in the silencing of the Doğan media by Erdoğan. The AKP could instrumentalize the SDIF by taking advantage of the experiences they gained from the process of wealth transfer after the 2001 financial crisis. The party transformed it into a political means of crisis manipulation. Pro-​government tycoons, who tried to win the contracts of big construction projects and were supported with state redistributions, were directed to invest in

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the mass media sector. SDIF’s confiscation and sale of financially troubled media enterprises to cronies of the ruling party became a constant means of accumulation by dispossession. After a while, SDIF was transformed into a means of political manipulation in order to confiscate ownership of the media outlets which opposed the government, and to silence and lay off critical journalists. The top four media owners in Turkey, Turkuvaz/​Kalyon, Ciner, Demirören and Doğuş Groups, share 71  percent of the cross-​media ownership.20 The owners of the media in the top ten have close relations with the Erdoğan regime. The Turkuvaz/​Kalyon Group has undertaken important infrastructure projects over the years, including Istanbul Airport, Istanbul D-​100 Highway Metrobus Line, Taksim Square Pedestrianization Project, Erbil Duhok Water Supply Project etc. Demirören Group is an important investor in oil and industry. Ciner and Doğuş Groups are active in the energy and mining sectors. Erdoğan’s struggle to create a loyal news media bloc by using state redistribution was extremely successful. As Harvey emphasizes, once the state was transformed into a neoliberal set of institutions, it became the prime agent of redistribution policies. Reversing the flow from upper to lower classes that had been implemented during the preceding social democratic era is the main reason for the transformation of the state (Harvey, 2007:  38). By channelling state advertising to friendly media outlets and handing out government contracts and cheap credits via state-​owned banks, the ruling party helped certain media companies prosper. That is how the Gülen Community’s media outlets prospered before the confiscation of their media outlets once they became Erdoğan’s enemy. The most terrifying patterns of the AKP’s crisis management and manipulation occurred in the November 2015 elections and the failed coup attempt on 15 June 2016. After losing its majority in the parliament after the June 2015 elections, Erdoğan’s party ended the so-​called Kurdish Peace Process. Immediately after this, acts of violence accelerated and the discourse of the war against terrorism was used as a practical means to manage and manipulate the crises. After 101 people died in explosions at a Peace Rally in Ankara on 10 October 2015, the prime minister said that his vote increased. And after the failed coup attempt, Erdoğan claimed that the coup attempt was a gift from God. Both phrases were admissions of political crisis manipulation and the application of the “shock doctrine”.21 The news media’s support for crisis manipulation and legitimation was a strict continuation of the alliance between mass media and the military. Five days after the coup attempt, the state of emergency was declared and lasted for two years. In this period, the regime changed; with the 16 April referendum in 2017, the parliamentary system in Turkey turned into a presidential system that has no precedent in Turkish history.22 And just before the state of emergency officially ended, Aydın Doğan sold his entire Doğan Media at a price below its market value to Demirören Group, which is a component of Erdoğan’s “pool media”. The fall of Aydın Doğan as a powerful media mogul clearly shows the meaning of “creative destruction”. He was the one who set the norms of the capitalist accumulation strategy, and nobody is exempt from the waves of creative destruction. When

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the day comes (and it came very quickly for Aydın Doğan), everybody, even the most powerful actors, can be expendable. The “pool media” and “AK trolls”, who have been hired to restrain social media, belong to the neoliberal set of institutions that constitutes the state.23 They are also agents of the process by which crisis management and manipulation are made highly effective.24 Between them, the pool media and the AK trolls are the main agents of the pattern of violence accompanying Turkey’s media landscape. But they are not the ones who set the norms. Like Aydın Doğan, those in the pool media and the AK trolls who have power are still not excluded or protected from the waves of creative destruction. Nowadays we can see the creative destruction process very clearly in the power struggles between the AKP and its media. Despite all this, the news media in Turkey, or what remains of it, still endeavours to make itself heard on the internet, especially via social media and YouTube. It is growing and has a serious audience. But it remains to be seen if it will survive or produce the serious news needed for a public sphere and a healthy democracy.

Conclusion The transformation of the corporate news media in Turkey has almost been completed in the AKP era. The mainstream media has collapsed and the mass media landscape in Turkey has become that of the totalitarian dream of all far right leaders around the world such as Trump, Bolsanario, Orbán and Modi. Only in 2019, according to Barış Yarkadaş’s report on violations of media rights, 13 journalists were imprisoned, 82 journalists were taken into custody and 76 journalists were punished, with a total of 249 years 11 months and 15 days’ prison time, and 32 journalists were sued.25 One journalist has been sued in 14 different cases. Forty-​two journalists have been served with 217,520 Turkish liras in fines. Twenty-​two journalists have given depositions. Eighteen journalists were attacked and beaten. Five journalists were threatened. Eleven printing house workers have been punished with 56 years and two months’ prison time. One television channel was liquidated. One hundred fifty journalists and their institutions have been blacklisted in the SETA Foundation report. Five journalists’ houses were raided by police. One hundred forty internet sites and social media accounts have been suspended. One journalist escaped the country because of pressure. One journalist was punished to read a book. Four journalists have been subject to international travel bans. Despite the very bad situation of the mass media in Turkey, there remain journalists who are trying to maintain their profession using developments in digital media. Therefore, contrary to the wishes of Erdoğan’s regime, hope continues for the future of press freedom of Turkey. But in the meantime, the digital world is not separate from the global neoliberal media order, and Erdoğan’s regime constantly tries to control the internet and social media with new regulations. Fahrettin Altun, the head of the directorate of communications, stated that they

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are working to achieve a “clean” social media by May 2020. A close look at global developments in political–​economic transformation will provide hints about the new struggles between global social media companies and states. Therefore, in order to comprehend and foresee the features of the news media in the future, it is necessary to discuss the transformation of the news media in Turkey in relation to neoliberalism. In order to discuss the political–​ economic transformation of the media industry, it is thereby essential to use the economic, sociological, political and philosophical readings that concentrate on the novelty and distinctive features of neoliberalism. In this article, we discussed the transformation of the media industry and the news media in Turkey mainly in relation to Harvey’s idea of “accumulation by dispossession”. In this way, we emphasized that the transformation of the media landscape is not only a result of national but also of global dynamics. Both the consolidation of executive power and the handing over of economic management to independent committees, which may appear to be contradictory tendencies, have occurred in many countries that are articulated to the global market economy. The transformation of the news media is closely related to the transformation of democracy. Therefore, media studies and communication studies must discuss this transformation and its results while urgently thinking about possible new alternatives. Because, as Harvey emphasizes, “it is an obligation to write the poetry of our own future against the background of the rapidly evolving contradictions of capital’s present” (2014: 90).

Acknowledgement We gratefully thank Louis Bayman for proofreading and his comments.

Notes 1 “BİA medya gözlem 2018:  Habercinin & medyanın bir yılı”,, 19 February 2019. 2 For a detailed discussion, see Çamuroğlu Çığ & Çığ (2015). 3 The reasons and types of systematic crisis of capitalism are the topic of ongoing discussion. According to Harvey, today’s crisis of capitalism is an overaccumulation crisis. Overaccumulation within a given territorial system means that there is surplus labour in the form of unemployment and surplus capital at the same time, but there is no way to bring them together because there are no profitable opportunities for capital to expand. There are three ways to solve the overaccumulation crisis: “(a) temporal displacement through investment in long-​term capital projects or social expenditures (such as education and research) that defer the re-​entry of capital values into circulation into the future, (b) spatial displacements through opening up new markets, new production capacities, and new resource, social, and labour possibilities elsewhere, or (c) some combination of (a) and (b)” (Harvey, 2005: 109). 4 “Press association wins google grant to run news service written by computers”, www., 6 July 2017.

100  Eylem Çamurog˘ lu Çıg˘ and Ünsal Çıg˘ 5 “Networks of Dispossession” is a network/​mapping activism that was already underway during the Gezi resistance. People from different backgrounds came together and created a collective data compiling and mapping project in order to pursue the relations between capital and power. One of the maps the network consists of is media owners and their other investments. This map, together with partnership of media conglomerates Doğuş Group and Doğan Holding, and a lot more maps like İçtaş Project and Partners and Istanbul’s, Mega Projects Third Bridge and Third Airport, reveal the media owners’ role in the new regime of Turkey and accumulation by dispossession. See:  “Media ownership network”,​turkey-​media-​ ownership-​network/​. 6 “Beni Nazım’la tanıştıran Türk umarım bu romanı okur”,, 26 August 2017. 7 Besides Harvey, see also:  Dardot & Laval (2012), Wacquant (2015), and the neo-​ Foucauldian approach (e.g. Bidet, 2016), which discusses the concept of governmentality and Foucault’s sovereignty, disciplinary and security paradigms in the context of neoliberalism. 8 “Türkiye’deki gazetecilerin sansür ve otosansürle imtihanı”,, 3 May 2018. 9 “Erdoğan fırçaladı, Demirören ağladı”,, 6 March 2014. 10 For examples from media perpetuations, see:  “Media ownership network”,​turkey-​media-​ownership-​network/​. 11 “İşte AKP döneminde satılanların listesi”,, 17 September  2018. 12 “Fabrikayı müze yaptık … Gazete ve kitap basacak kağıt bulamıyoruz!”, www.sozcu., 27 August 2018. 13 “Kuvvetler ayrılığı eleştirisi”,, 17 December 2012. 14 Against the poverty the neoliberal transformation created; charity, Islamic solidarity and Islamic fatalism come to help and dissemble class inequality. But as Fatih Yaşlı (2017) states, it would be wrong to think that Islam is a tool only to sustain neoliberalism in the perspective of the powers constructing the new regime. For them, Islam is a worldview, a “Weltanschauung”. 15 Pool media is an expression in Turkish to describe the corporate owners whose media properties are in service of the government. On 17 December 2013, a lot of tape recordings were released online. In some of the conversations in the recordings, the owners of major construction firms were seeking to win the contracts to build Istanbul’s multibillion-​dollar third airport. The leaked conversations showed that the owners were directed by a government minister to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars of their money to a “pool” to buy one of the largest and the most important media companies, Sabah-​ATV. This has created the expression. 16 “World press freedom index”, 17 “Doğan Medya Grubu’nun Demirören’e satışında Ziraat Bankası kredisi de kullanıldı”,, 22 March 2018. 18 “Star Gazetesi son baskısını yaptı:  ‘Artık 24 saat sizlerleyiz’  ”,, 31 December 2019. 19 “Doğan Medya Grubu’nun Demirören’e satışında Ziraat Bankası kredisi de kullanıldı”,, 22 March 2018. 20 “Who Controls the Media in Turkey?”,, 6 May 2019. 21 Shock doctrine is a term used by Naomi Klein (2008) to describe crisis management and manipulation and the violence it contains.

Transformation of news media  101 22 For a detailed discussion of regime change, see in this book the contributions of Kutun, Kıvılcım and Pınar. 23 “AK trolls” are government supported social media trolls. The designation refers to “AK Party”, which is the preferred spelling of AKP by its supporters (Saka, 2016). 24 After the collapse of the conventional mainstream media since the Gezi uprising, social media has become the main means of obtaining information. And with the help of trolls, the government can control social media by manipulation, surveillance and arrest threats. 25 “2019 medyaya yönelik hak ihlalleri raporu: Gazeteciler 733 kez hakim karşına çıktı”,, 30 December 2019.

References Adaklı, G. (2009). 2002–​2008:  Türk Medyasında AKP Etkisi. In I. Uzgel & B. Duru (Eds.), AKP Kitabı: Bir Dönemin Bilançosu (559–​613). Ankara: Phoenix. Adaklı, G. (2010). Neoliberalizm ve Medya: Dünyada ve Türkiye’de Medya Endüstrisinin Dönüşümü. Mülkiye Dergisi, 34(269), 67–​84. Adaklı, G. & Aydoğan, A. (2018). “The historical background of AKP’s media:  A chronicle of neoliberal media architecture (1980–​2002)”,, 5 April 2018. Arendt, H. (1977). Between Past and Future:  Eight Exercises in Political Thought. London: Penguin Books. Bidet, J. (2016). Foucault with Marx. London: Zed Books. Bonefeld, W. (2011). Primitive Accumulation and Capitalist Accumulation:  Notes on Social Constitution and Expropriation. Science & Society, 75(3), 379–​399. Çamuroğlu Çığ, E. & Çığ, Ü. (2015). Gazetecilik Emeğinin Prekarizasyonu: Yeni Medya Çağında Habercilik Etiğini Tartışmak. İş Ahlakı Dergisi, 8, 197–​232. Çamuroğlu Çığ, E. (2016). Dijital Çağda Bakışın Politikası:  Panoptikon ve Aleniyet İlkesi. Toplum ve Demokrasi, 21(10), 91–​113. Dardot, P. & Laval, C. (2012). The New Way of the World:  On Neo-​liberal Society. London: Verso. De Angelis, M. (2001). Marx and Primitive Accumulation: The Continuous Character of Capital’s “Enclosures”. The Commoner, 2, 1–​22. Ekman, M. (2014). Birikimi Anlamak:  Marx’ın İlkel Birikim Kuramı’nın Medya ve İletişim Çalışmaları Açısından Önemi. In F. Başaran. (Ed.), Marx Geri Döndü: Medya, Meta ve Sermaye Birikimi (83–​119). Ankara: Nota Bene. Eres, B. & Yüksel H. (2018). “The changing media capital in the AKP era”, www., 31 May 2018. Foucault, M. (2000). Hapishanenin Doğuşu. Ankara: İmge. Gambetti, Z. (2009). İktidarın Dönüşen Çehresi:  Neoliberalizm, Şiddet ve Kurumsal Siyasetin Tasfiyesi. İ.Ü. Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Dergisi, 40, 145–​166. Gambetti, Z. (2012). Foucault’dan Agamben’e Olağanüstü Halin Sıradanlığına Dair Bir Yanıt Denemesi. Cogito, 70–​71,  21–​38. Harvey, D. (1997). Postmodernliğin Durumu. Istanbul: Metis. Harvey, D. (2005). The New Imperialism. New York: Oxford University Press. Harvey, D. (2007). Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 610(21), 22–​44.

102  Eylem Çamurog˘ lu Çıg˘ and Ünsal Çıg˘ Harvey, D. (2014). Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. London: Profile  Books. Keten, E. T. & Aydın, U. U. (2018). “Media Report (June-​2018):  Labour regime and unionization in the media industry”,, 30 June 2018. Klein, N. (2008). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Marx, K. (2011). Kapital Cilt 1. Istanbul: Yordam. Narin, E. (2019). “Gazetecilerin otosansür ile imtihanı: Yazsam mı yazmasam mı?”, journo., 07 February 2020. Read, J. (2014). Sermayenin Mikropolitikası:  Şimdiki Zamanın Tarihöncesi ve Marx. Istanbul: Metis. Saka, E. (2016). Siyasi trollük örneği olarak aktroller. Birikim, 322, 17–​21. Wacquant, L. (2015). Bordieu, Foucault and the Penal State in the Neoliberal Era. In D. Zamora & M. C. Behrent (Eds.), Foucault and Neoliberalism (114–​134). London: Polity Press. Wallerstein, I., Collins, R., Mann, M., Derluguian, G. & Calhoun, C. (2013). Does Capitalism Have a Future?. New York: Oxford University Press. Yaşlı, F. (2017). “Anayasa değiştiği için rejim değişmiyor, rejim değiştiği için anayasa değişiyor”,, 11 April 2017. Yeşil, B. (2016). Media in New Turkey:  The Origins of an Authoritarian State. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Yeşil, B. (2018). Authoritarian Turn or Continuity? Governance of Media through Capture and Discipline in the AKP Era. South European Society and Politics, 23(2), 239–​257. Yücel, Y. (2015). “Kutsal üçlü: Medya, iktidar ve sermaye”,, 13 August 2015. Zizek, S. (2010). Living in the End of Times. London: Verso.

Chapter 6

Internationalized class governance and the AKP’s populism On Turkey’s integration with the European Union Axel Gehring

With the acceleration of the political and economic crisis in Turkey, it has been disputed whether the European Union (EU) should take democratic influence on the developments in Turkey by stricter membership-​conditionality, or via “dialogue”. Those conflicting accounts share the same bias: European integration is seen as a promising framework to “overcome” Turkey’s democratic deficits and to “stabilize” its economy. In the 2000s, many observers saw Turkey on the right path with regards to the project of EU-​accession (Keyman & Öniş, 2007). More recently, the focus has shifted to debating the political and economic crisis in Turkey as the result of a populist trend. As populism heavily exploits the “double articulation of the political discourse” (Laclau, 1979: 167) –​namely the contradiction between the people and the power-​bloc, as well as the domain of class-​struggle, there is no sound understanding of populism without considering the dimension of class. Class constitutes a social relation of two antagonist poles (capital and labour) in a hierarchical, but antagonist mode of (capitalist) production of commodities. This mode of production greatly influences societal relations, whilst also not being able to reproduce itself without a societal frame. The state plays a crucial role in providing this frame: it provides a set of formal and informal institutions, laws to define the commodity form, rights and obligations, the state apparatuses needed to enforce them and various channels to process, intermediate and supress interests and differences. In capitalist societies, and particularly in liberal democracies, there is no direct state-​control over the classes. Class relations are to a huge extent self-​regulated between the class-​actors, but within the frame the state provides –​we call this class-​governance. Nowadays, the constitution of class and the political governance of class relations are not merely taking place in a national frame. If a frame, with a certain set of characteristic patterns, is reproduced over the time, in multiple national frames, we can call it an order. This article focuses on a largely unaddressed issue: the relations between populism and transnationalized class governance in Turkey, with a focus on capital actors. This will be assessed with a historical reconstruction of Turkey’s ties with the EU, based on the empirical and theoretical insights of the regulation school, (Neo-​)Gramscian theory (Cox, 1981; Gill, 2000) and Stuart Hall’s concept of

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populism. I  will argue that neither the EU Project nor the AKP governments were fundamentally challenging the post-​1980 socio-​economical order, which can take the form of a tightly regulated disciplinary neoliberalism, underpinned by EU-​accession policies, or of a neoliberal populism. The latter is based on expansive economic policies and is (nowadays) politically framed by an authoritarian populism with deeper roots than the acquisition of governmental power by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002.1 The current political and economic crisis in Turkey might be understood as a deep crisis of the societal contradictions emerging within that order. Due to its complex relationships with the European-​ Transatlantic order, it cannot be sufficiently understood without a critical perspective on the EU-​integration project and its impact on class governance.

The Copenhagen Criteria –​ extending Maastricht to the East The Presidency Conclusions of Copenhagen European Council June 21/​22, 1993 are commonly described as the Copenhagen Criteria. Shortly after the end of the Cold War, the European governments agreed to extend the EU towards the former socialist states in East-​Central Europe to underpin the transformation process in the region (Bohle, 2003). However, with its decisions, the council defined the general requirements for states entering the EU –​and therefore for Turkey as well. References to democracy and fundamental rights mark a prominent ideological and discursive dimension of the EU’s enlargement politics. Therefore, the Copenhagen Criteria are primarily read as a program enhancing fundamental rights and political freedoms in accession states. In fact, the European Council of Copenhagen 1993 not only dealt with enlarging the EU. It addressed a broad range of issues (including, for instance, unemployment, economic stagnation, the Economic and Monetary Union, custom politics and foreign politics). The council took place half a year before the Treaty of Maastricht (signed in 1992) came into force. The Treaty of Maastricht can be best described as an attempt to deal with the problems of economic stagnation and unemployment in many of the EC/​EU2 member states by further neoliberalizing the mode of European integration (Deppe, 1993). Therefore, the treaty intended to stimulate economic competition among the member states by making the national monetary policies more convergent through collectively introducing Monetarism as a guiding paradigm, completing the European Single Market, introducing the Schengen Area and preparing the European Monetary Union. Last but not least, independent regulatory bodies, depoliticizing the economic decision-​making, were strengthened. Preparing the next rounds of EU-​enlargement, the 1993 Copenhagen European Council laid down the juridical foundations for extending the neoliberal mode of integration to (potential) membership states. The Copenhagen Criteria are tying the criteria related to democratization to the agenda of accelerated neoliberalization:

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Membership requires that candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate’s ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union. (European Council Copenhagen, 1993, 7.A.III) To understand how Copenhagen’s double-​bias of democratic criteria and an agenda of accelerated neoliberalization impacts the societal relations in Turkey, we need to put the Turkish experience in neoliberalization into a historical perspective.

Putting Copenhagen into a Turkish perspective The neoliberal paradigm historically emerged from the (structural) limitations of Fordist growth, as well as from changes within the balance of power between class forces from labour towards capital, which became virulent from the late 1960s (Aglietta, 1979). From the late 1970s, the new balance of power had begun to align the juridical form of European integration with the emerging neoliberal paradigm (Ziltener, 1999). Laws written to give the neoliberal paradigm a juridical form started to codify the (new) social relations of power, enhancing the influence for capital and limiting it for labour. In developing and semi-​peripheral countries, neoliberalism materialized itself most powerfully within the agenda of the Washington Consensus, set up by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1980. Different local variations of neoliberalism became the new hegemonic compromises between different social forces.3 Once in force, laws shaped by neoliberalism began to affect subsequent struggles between the societal forces –​including those between labour and capital. In these struggles, capital was increasingly employing the transnational scale framework for pursuing its interests. Indeed, with the rise of neoliberalism, adopting legislation from supranational bodies gained new momentum in many states of the capitalist (semi-​)periphery as a part of local class struggles: adopting foreign laws, or laws coming from supranational or intergovernmental bodies, excludes popular forces and classes from the process of law making, as they are less capable to enter the international stage. Such an adoption can be the option of choice for domestic capital actors aiming to further institutionalize their local neoliberal order externally. EU reforms in accordance to the Copenhagen Criteria became an important external anchor for Turkey. When the Turkey–​EU Customs Union came into force in 1996, they contained more than just the reduction of customs tariffs between two parties of the treaty as well as third parties. It also implied the adoption of the EU’s most basic economic laws by Turkey.4 It is not enough to

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mention the neoliberal bias that dominated the Copenhagen Criteria in general, but to assess how they correspond with the interests of the leading classes in Turkey, who made European integration a project to further their own class struggles. Since the aftermath of the 1960 coup, the leading capital factions in Turkey (i.e. holding companies constituting the core of the domestic bourgeoisie) supported the import-​substitution policies in general, but tried to interpret them as liberally as possible. In close alliance with the parties of the conservative spectrum, the leading capital factions were trying to intensify Turkey’s relations with the European Community (EC), which was demanding a higher degree of economic liberalism within the import-​ substitution regime (Gehring, 2019a:  155–​ 60). Finally, it was the dissolution of the import-​substituting development strategy at the end of the 1970s that turned out to be the breakthrough in Turkey’s economic relations with the EC. By the late 1970s, Turkey’s peripheral Fordist5 development compromise and the import-​substituting development strategy as its institutional form had reached their internal and external limitations. Major efforts to overcome low productivity had failed in the early 1970s  –​not only due to pressure by trade unions and popular unrest, but, crucially, through the unwillingness of capital bourgeois factions to sacrifice their individual profits for the coordinated modernization of the Turkish industrial chain. Under these internal conditions, the rising oil prices and the triumph of neoliberalism in the capitalist centres were the external factors leading to a balance of payment crisis and to the de facto collapse of Turkey’s import substitution policies in 1979. From that moment, neoliberal policies were seen by the leading class factions and conservative political elites as the only means to overcome the organic crises of bourgeois hegemony in Turkey (Dikici-​Bilgin, 2009). Widespread popular resistance against neoliberalization and general social unrest radically questioning the legitimacy of the whole social formation blocked a neoliberal transformation by parliamentary means. Thus, neoliberal policies were introduced in 1980 by a military junta, supported by wide segments of the bourgeoisie as the only institution capable of initiating such a transformation toward neoliberalism. It is no exaggeration to state that the military coup paved the way to deeper economic integration with the EC. The price for making Turkey’s path of economic development compatible with the EC on behalf of the domestic bourgeoisie, was the severe curtailment of political and fundamental freedoms in Turkey, alongside the widespread abuses of human rights during the junta rule and in its aftermath. Executed by the military, the coup restored the unity of the state apparatuses and served the goal for providing a repressive frame for neoliberalization. On a discursive level, it appeared not as a class project, but as a project to save the Turkish nation. In its aftermath, the liberal–​conservative discourse depicted the 1980 military coup as the sole work of state elites staying above societal and class interests (Gehring, 2013: 95). The widespread denial of its class dimension helped to reframe the question of democracy as not related to the question of class. Once the institutions of

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bureaucratic and military guardianship disappeared, the foundations for democracy would be laid down (Gehring, 2013). Even the grounds for processing the interests of lower classes would be prepared by those means (Uzgören, 2012: 168–​ 69). This change in the hegemonic discourse paved the way for the positive perception of the Copenhagen Criteria during the 1990s. Following the experience of military coups, they seemed an adequate tool to overcome the shortcomings of Turkey’s democracy. Some leftist trade unions, feminists and even socialists, as well as the Kurdish movement started to advocate democratization by means of adopting the Copenhagen Criteria. In public debates, the class-​ content of the Copenhagen Criteria had been replaced by a supra class discourse that only acknowledged the contradiction between the people and the power-​bloc (Gehring, 2019a:  314). The discursive disappearance of the class content (i.e. openly framing class-​interests as class-​interests) in EU integration politics can be regarded as an indicator for firmly established neoliberal hegemony. Although instabilities on a narrow political and economic level were characteristic of the 1990s, they were managed within the neoliberal framework, and every crisis helped to deeper entrench that framework.

The emergence of disciplinary neoliberalism With the transition to neoliberalism under the 1980–​1983 junta, the international donors restored Turkey’s access to credit, whilst the enforcement of wage repression helped to increase Turkey’s exports. Access to credit and growing exports contributed to an economic recovery during the 1980s. But the neoliberal framework failed to deal with the structural reasons of Turkey’s deficits, as the Turkish bourgeoisie did not see it necessity to take the risk of a costly modernization of its (highly import-​dependent) industrial chain (Yalman, 2009:  267). The process of urbanization created more lucrative fields for investments in housing and construction related industries. Under the newly established neoliberal regime, the room for introducing effective taxation remained very limited. By the end of the decade, the gradual political liberalizations opened the room for trade unions fighting for wage increases (largely in the public sector). Furthermore, increasing party competition lead to growing public expenditure, whilst the liberalization of the Turkish capital market in 1989 made the rising Turkish national debt the backbone of a new model of capital-​accumulation. Taking credits from international markets and borrowing them at higher rates to the Turkish government became a highly profitable practice of Turkish holding companies. This form of state-​demand-​driven financialization (Ataç, 2013: 96) became the driving mode of capital accumulation at the expense of the modernization of the industrial chain, which was promising lower profits. In consequence, Turkey’s macroeconomic imbalances were growing alongside the national debt. Turkey became increasingly dependent on portfolio investments, making the economy ever more vulnerable to internal and external shocks. During the 1990s, the country was hit by a couple of financial crises, cumulating in the crash of 2001.

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The leading capital factions knew about Turkey’s macro-​economic vulnerability, but they did not want their profits to be dependent on Turkey’s integration into the international financial markets. They were therefore advocating for the separation of economic policies form electoral accountability in order to make Turkey a reliable destination for investments. This was not unique to Turkey, but followed a global trend which has been described as disciplinary neoliberalism (Gill, 2000), based on the technocratic management of the economy. Turkey’s leading business association, TÜSİAD, was advocating the transnationalization of economic policies. Ever-​closer relations to the IMF and the EU  –​the most powerful agents of disciplinary neoliberalism  –​were at the core of TÜSİAD’s political agenda. The IMF programs that Turkey agreed to in order to cope with the frequent crises were calling for more budgetary discipline, privatization and independent regulatory bodies. Officially depicted as neutral measures in response to the crises, the IMF programs were in line with demands voiced by the leading capital factions since the mid-​1990s. As these economic policies lay at the heart the Treaty of Maastricht, since the 1990s the Turkish domestic bourgeoisie pushed not only for EU membership in order to gain better access to the European market, but to shape the regulation of the Turkish economy on behalf its own class interests. Attracting international investments became more and more relevant for the leading Turkish holdings, not only for access to credits, but also for modernizing the industrial chain without taking too many risks on their own. The 1996 Customs Union with the EU (Assoziationsrat EG-​Türkei, 1995) had already helped to create a more predictable economic and political environment. This step in the transnationalization of Turkey’s economic regulation towards disciplinary neoliberalism was not only a gift to transnational investors, it was also the interest of the Turkish domestic bourgeoisie. The next milestone came in 2001 with the EU-​Turkey Accession Partnership Agreement. Economically, it resembles the disciplinary-​neoliberal agenda of the 2001 stand-​by-​agreement with the IMF, but it does not contain a termination date (Europäischer Rat, 2001). To date, it has been the latest pillar of disciplinary neoliberalism in Turkey. Within this new regulatory setting, private debt became the engine of the financialization process. In the following years, the EU-​Turkey Accession Partnership Agreement served as the basis for the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis communautaire, which became predominately known as an agenda of liberal-​democratic EU reforms, gradually being implemented until the mid-​2000s.

Continuing EU reforms under an authoritarian populist aegis The National Programme was initiated by a broad coalition government at the peak of the economic crisis in 2001. Although it lost the 2002 elections due to its austerity policies, a broad societal consensus for the National Programme remained. The winner of the elections, the AKP, took on the agenda of EU

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reforms and gained a high economic and democratic reputation almost overnight. But to fully understand how the AKP came to be perceived by elites as well as large segments of the intelligentsia in Europe as a forerunner of economic reform and advancing democracy (Tuğal, 2017), it is necessary to deal once more with the constitutive elements of hegemonic ideology in post-​1980 Turkey. As a consequence of the political and discursive transformation(s) taking place after the 1980 military coup, the closely interrelated dimensions of state rule and class rule were debated as two separated entities. The notion that a secular centre was governing Turkish society from above whilst the non-​secular represented the people (Mardin, 1973; Heper, 1977) was even more prevalent in Western discourses on Turkey than in Turkey itself. Nevertheless, the origin of that paradigm might be tracked back to older discourses of Turkish right-​wing populism: throughout the 1960s and 1970s, left wing forces trying to enact policies of redistribution via the use of the state apparatuses, were denounced to represent “the bureaucratic-​secular centre”. Over the course of the 1990s and 2000s, this paradigm helped to render the class contend of political Islam (in fact highly connected with capital interests) invisible (Gehring, 2019a: 277–​88). The AKP claimed to be a popular democratic force, breaking with the oppressive heritage of Turkish politics. It described its actions as part of a popular anti-​state tutelage struggle for democracy, but on the class level its politics predominantly represented the interests of the ruling classes. This strategy can be described with reference to Stuart Hall (2014 [1980]: 108) as authoritarian populist. Its culturalist cross-​class discourse helped to demobilize the antagonistic potentials Turkey’s neoliberal transformation. While presenting itself as a culturally “authentic” actor of the periphery, the party kept its grip on the definition of what is “authentic”. Particularly abroad, the AKP was identified as the voice of the subalterns, which were stereotyped by the majority of Westerners as the deeply religious antipode to the centre. That highly orientalist discourse was compatible with neoliberal anti-​statist interpellations in Western societies, as well as with influential conservative and Islamist discourses in Turkey (Gehring, 2019a: 277–​88). In consequence, Islamism could no longer be labelled as Islamism and the majority of analysts were labelling the party as “Islamic-​conservative”. An Islamist party with longstanding right-​wing traditions became identified as a new political force and as the agent of articulating a deeply pious population into the (global) market (and North Atlantic security architecture) through a commitment to “EU-​ization” politics (Hermann, 2008). In general, the AKP continued the economic policies of all preceding governments since the 1980 military coup  –​and particularly the 2001 IMF program. Under the conditions of accelerating global liquidity in finance, the external anchoring of the domestic economic policies by the IMF program and the agreement with the EU helped the AKP government to achieve stable growth rates. Large inflows of foreign capital contributed to a significant growth (Akçay, 2018b:  627). Nevertheless, a sufficient modernization of the industrial stock (helping to reduce the trade deficits) did not take place, as most investments

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went into more lucrative fields, like the acquisition of privatized providers who offered high rates of return for investors, or into construction and housing. In consequence, the structural deficits of the Turkish economy were not sufficiently addressed, but the quantitative economic growth reproduced it on an even higher level. Under these conditions, maintaining the inflow of foreign capital became ever more crucial. Therefore, the privatization policies had to be pursued without public interference and trade unions had to remain under tight restrictions (Akçay, 2018b:  622). From the earliest days following the 2002 election, the AKP government stuck to that repressive line. Apart from class policies, the AKP was widely regarded as the driving force in Turkey’s democratization. Particularly EU actors tended to highlight a process of democratic reforms under the leadership of the AKP. In the brief period between October 2003 and July 2004, 261 new laws passed the parliament and another 166 passed in the following parliamentary year. Much emphasis was given to laws regulating press freedom, civil liberties, the procedure and accessibility of the judiciary, as well as on reforms of the penal code (including abolishment of the death penalty) (Zürcher, 2017: 340).6 But substantial reforms of the governmental system were not legislated within the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis communautaire until its completion in 2006. Notable exceptions were legislating to grant parliamentary control over the defence budget and the redesign of the National Security Council, limiting the military’s influence over politics. Nevertheless, the amendments of many symbolic preambles of the constitution were shifting the objective of the state away from its Turkist, modernist and Kemalist connotations, dismantling the legitimation of Kemalists in the juridical apparatus. Whilst the wave of EU reforms had helped to substantially weaken its Kemalist–​Nationalist opponents, the AKP placed with Abdullah Gül its own Islamist candidate for presidency –​an institution important for the appointment of high (judicial) cadres. In reaction, Kemalist cadres in the judiciary and military were plotting openly against the government in 2007 and 2008, supported by rallies of the oppositional Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi/​Republican Peoples Party (CHP), which, for that reason, found itself internationally isolated (Gehring, 2019a:  360–​4). The AKP government successfully managed to turn that situation into an advantage. Following its 2007 re-​election, political reforms were no longer legislated in consent with the opposition. Until the early 2010s, the AKP’s reform policies can be described as: weakening oppressive Kemalist checks and balances without creating new democratic ones (Solmaz, 2015). Although using a liberal democratic language, these reforms helped to tighten the AKP’s grip on the state. By the end of the decade, the opposition found itself under tremendous pressure. Even reforms openly attacking the separation of powers found euphoric support amongst international actors:  the constitutional amendments of 2010 were welcomed by the European Commission as steps toward further democratization and compliance with the Aquis (European Commission, 2010:  14). Around 2010, opposition to the AKP government was generally viewed with suspicion in the hegemonic Western academic discourses (Tuğal, 2017). But as

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popular dissatisfaction grew, the hegemonic relations in Turkey were more fragile than hegemonic Western discourses on Turkey indicated.

Crisis of authoritarian populism Below the surface, popular anti-​ neoliberal and secular resistances against the AKP’s policies had been taking place in Turkey for many years, but such occurrences were locally isolated and short-​lived. A small and highly symbolic gentrification project led to an escalation of societal tensions in May 2013. The attempt to build a shopping mall in the style of Ottoman artillery barracks in Gezi Parkı, in front of Istanbul’s Taksim square, would have eradicated a place which represented key events in Turkey’s secular and left history. A police attack on the initially small protests against the project led to an almost nation-​wide revolt in May and June 2013 (Akça et al., 2014). After this revolt, it became an ever-​more challenging task for the governing AKP to uphold the populist claim to be an oppositional force. The anti-​ establishment discourse was increasingly replaced by an anti-​ Western discourse. Furthermore, the public, brutal and well-​documented repression of the Gezi-​Revolt by the government led to a fundamental change in the hegemonic Western discourses (Amnesty International, 2013). In theory, the Copenhagen Criteria and the successive agreements between Turkey and the EU provided a sound legal basis to freeze the EU’s relations to Turkey due to serious contract violations. But the liberal democratic aspect appeared as the subordinated dimension in the complex relations with Turkey. For EU elites, the general complementarity of economic (and security) interests between the EU and Turkey prevailed. Furthermore, no reliable counter-​hegemonic alternative to the leadership of AKP was identified. In consequence, the EU took a largely passive stance by postponing the opening of the chapter Regional Policies in the accession negotiations for a couple of months (Gehring, 2019a: 419–​21). In October, the annual Turkey Progress Report, published by the EU Commission, described the centrally coordinated repression of the protests as isolated “scenes of police violence”. Regarding the general developments in Turkey, a positive picture was drawn. According to the report, Turkey experienced “progress on fields like security or rule of law” (European Commission, 2013). Over the following years, the AKP’s manifest crisis as an agent to organize hegemony further accelerated. The EU decided to support the supposedly liberal forces within the AKP by bringing the accession perspective back into the public discourse through the opening of a new negotiation chapter (on regional policies). The party did, however, no longer rely on EU accession politics to win popular consent. Politics of nationalist polarization within the nation as well as in competition with other nations were genuine tactics to radicalize the core followers of the party and to win the nationalist camp. European strategies to appease the AKP failed, as the foremost goal of the latter was to remain in political power through pursuing politics of polarization. Since 2013, Turkey has

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remained in a permanent crisis of hegemony and a de facto state of emergency. Depicting the Kurdish movement, which was in a negotiation process with the AKP government, again as the ultimate national enemy helped to maintain high levels of polarization. But international repercussions were already serious before negotiations collapsed in 2015: Turkey was not seen by the US as a reliable partner in the fight against the Islamic State because of its hostile approach to Kurdish self-​administration structures in Northern Syria and as Turkey hosted Jihadi structures within its borders. The instabilities resulting from this crisis and the growing tensions with Western states further destabilized the unity of the state apparatuses, leading to an attempted coup in July 2016 (Gehring, 2019b). After the unsuccessful coup, the state of emergency was formalized, enabling the president to govern by decree. Important elements of the decree rule became parts of the constitution after a rigged referendum in April 2017 and entered into force with the 2018 elections. Overall, the political practices and the changes in the constitution began to materialize in a decisionistic form of government (Tokatlı, 2019: 50). Decisionism fetishizes the state of emergency and strong rule of the head of the executive as the sovereign. This implies in its very logic extra-​ constitutional competences for the head of the executive (Schmitt, 1932). While decisionism dominated the political and juridical field, the AKP government was still tolerated by the ruling classes, albeit increasingly begrudgingly. The AKP still seemed to be the only force that could hold the state together under the conditions of the crisis  –​for the naked preservation of the wage relation, any state is better than no state. However, on the more concrete level of class governance, the contradictions grew.

Accelerating crisis –​ growing contradictions with the EU More fundamental than recurring disputes in daily politics (which receive wide media coverage) were structural economic tensions and issues of economic regulation in the aftermath of the global economic crisis starting in 2007–​ 2008.7 While measures of austerity and enhanced measures of disciplinary neoliberal crisis management were put into force, particularly in the debt-​ridden Mediterranean EU states, Turkey’s economic policies took a different path. Expansive neoliberal-​populist policies –​from populist extension and marketization of healthcare to public assistance schemes and the incorporation of labour into the financialization process of the economy (Akçay, 2018a: 11–​14) or big public–​private partnerships projects –​gained increasing importance. Particularly, extra budgetary funds and public–​private players, like the mass housing administration TOKİ (directly responsible to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan), stimulated demand to prop up the accumulation process (Karatepe, 2013:  3). Whereas significant reforms to align the Turkish legislation further with the Aquis Communautaire were not undertaken since the completion of the Turkish National Programme for Adoption the Aquis (see section 3), the highly codified relations with the EU

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remained the most important anchor of Turkey’s neoliberal economic regime. And there were no serious attempts to change that. Relations with the IMF were de facto downgraded in 2008 when the Turkish government decided against a new Stand-​By-​Agreement –​ignoring the preference of the Turkish leading capital fractions. That policy mix helped the AKP-​government avoid the trap of deflationary austerity-​monetarist policies, whilst signalizing that Turkey generally continued to follow its neoliberal orientation (Gehring, 2019a). Even though the authoritarian populism of the AKP constituted itself in its early days within a disciplinary neoliberal framework, the growing concentration of political power helped to bypass the institutional bodies of disciplinary neoliberalism to re-​politicize the regulation of the economy. Neoliberal populism and authoritarian populism constituted one nexus:  the extension of clientelist social policies and huge public–​private partnership projects stimulated the economy and contributed directly to the charisma of the elected executive (Gehring, 2018). Whilst neoliberal populism helped to postpone tendencies of over-​accumulation, a declining lira exchange rate had been leading to growing inflation since the beginning of the 2010s. The costs for keeping the accumulation process running by means of expansionist politics were shouldered by large segments of the labouring population through decreasing real wages. With the tightening of the US monetary policies in 2013 and the political instabilities in the aftermath of the attempted coup in 2016 (cf. Akçay, 2018a: 13), the decline of the Turkish lira did however begin to negatively impact large segments of the business world. As a consequence of Turkey’s intensified integration into the international circuit of finance following the reform politics of the late 1990s and early 2000s, many capital holdings are indebted in foreign currency. The costs for servicing the debts soared while the capabilities to increase the customer prices vice versa remained limited. Desperate measures, like the State Guarantee Fund (cf. Akçay, 2018a: 25), helped to counteract some symptoms of the crisis. However, they could not prevent its full escalation during the spring of 2018 –​ months before reaching its symbolic peak in August with a currency crash. The AKP’s expansionist policies postponed the crisis of over-​accumulation, but they were unable to prevent it. By summer 2018, large proportions of Turkey’s debts (which surpassed more than 200 billion euros) were held particularly by European banks  –​namely Spanish with 82.8, French with 34.4, British with 16.8 and German banks with 12.7 billion euros. Furthermore, the Spanish BBVA held 50 percent of the shares of the Turkish Garanti Bank and the Italian UniCredit held 41 percent of Yapı Kredi (Zschäpitz, 2018). A  further escalation of Turkey’s currency and debt crisis was not in the interest of the leading European actors, implying little interest in too many confrontations with the Turkish government with regards to political freedoms. On the other hand, they did not make any attempt to support the policies of neoliberal populism in Turkey. Therefore, the EU was not responding positively to Turkish efforts to find solutions for solving the lira crisis without assistance from the IMF. Over the course of the summer of 2018, the

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AKP government failed to attract foreign investments, which would be sufficient for solving the currency crisis. As a consequence, the Turkish Central Bank had to increase the interest rates sharply to stabilize the exchange value of the lira. Turkish policy makers already began to implement selected monetarist policies, without going to the IMF, before the municipal elections concluded in spring and summer 2019 (cf. Gehring, 2019c). Whilst a low level and rather fragile stabilization of the Turkish lira took place at the end of 2018, the price for that limited result has been a deflationary downturn –​companies and customers were now subjected to a low exchange rate and a high domestic interest rate. Considering the wave of bankruptcies, the pressure to officially ask for an IMF-​program or to continue de facto IMF policies was increasing. On the other side, the governing AKP could not simply switch back to the disciplinary neoliberal mode of economic governance without dismantling its populist legitimation. Therefore, public banks started to play an increasing role in financing private actors, and currency swap transactions are increasingly used to take influence on the lira exchange rate. Meanwhile, the first measure aims to bypass the deflationary effects of high interests; the second instrument can be seen as a short-​time measure to stabilize the lira with alternative instruments to high interest rates. Both measures contradict the paradigm of disciplinary neoliberalism, but their resilience against external shocks is at least questionable.

Conclusion: EU-​i ntegration, internationalized class governance and the AKP’s populism –​ contradicting elements? For decades, the regulation of the economy has been carried out through a neoliberal framework impacting the EU’s internal and external relations as well as its relations to membership candidates. Before the AKP’s authoritarian populism slid into a deep and ongoing crisis, Turkey had a strategic importance, not only from a geopolitical point of view, but as an ideologically important role model: giving the rather abstract neoliberal order a local colour, creating a vision for other Middle Eastern states (Uzgel, 2009). References to democracy and fundamental rights, as laid down in the Copenhagen Criteria, mark a significant ideological dimension of the EU’s enlargement politics. Throughout the late 1990s, this helped to gain support for the EU-​integration politics among factions of Turkish society that cannot be identified as natural allies of neoliberal politics (Gehring, 2019a: 312–​4). The EU played that role by providing a certain model of democratization, which binds certain liberal (democratic) rights to a regulatory paradigm of neoliberalized class governance that was attractive for leading class actors in Turkey. One may argue that the intensively codified Turkey–​EU project constitutes a (transnational) material condensation of power relations among classes (Brand et al., 2007). As any form of class rule needs a political frame, the frame itself needs capable political agents:  in its early years, the AKP merged the disciplinary

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neoliberal agenda of EU accession with its own authoritarian-​populist project of organizing societal hegemony. The material and discursive reality of post-​ 1980 Turkey –​with all its blind spots in defining democracy –​provided the AKP with many opportunities to sell its authoritarian populist project as a program of genuine democratization. The widely known 2013 Gezi revolt did not mark a rupture from a democratic project towards authoritarian transformation, but radicalized the AKP’s authoritarian populism towards a decisionistic form of government. The EU took a largely passive stance during the 2013 protests, hoping to strengthen a supposedly liberal wing within the AKP with politics of appeasement. With the acceleration of the political crisis in Turkey, politics of polarization grew and the EU actors articulated more prominent critiques of authoritarianism, but without questioning the political–​juridical frame of the relations (Gehring, 2017). Nevertheless, below the façade of interchanging phases of political conflicts and political appeasement between Turkey and EU, the AKP dismantled the disciplinary neoliberal mode of class governance in the context of the 2007–​2008 world economic crisis. This dimension is worth further investigation through future research. Whilst there is a political desire to preserve the populist notion of neoliberalism, the AKP is facing structural limitations to uphold these policies due to Turkey’s entrenchment into the European–​Transatlantic order and the emerging debt and currency crisis. Economic reorientation towards non-​Western economies has not taken place and could not easily be enacted against the will of leading class actors. The constitutive character of the EU project for the development and regulation of class relations in Turkey is more important than its direct impact on the (political) development of the AKP (government). The EU did not intentionally support the authoritarian transformation under the AKP’s political rule; the union had been regarding the anti-​statist authoritarian populist narrative as a liberal-​democratic agenda towards adopting the Aquis Communautaire. During the 2000s, the EU actors did not track how the EU reforms were utilized by the ruling AKP to enhance its grip on the state apparatuses. Ironically, the latter development enabled the AKP government after 2007 to counter the economic stagnation tendencies with neoliberal populism, bypassing the generally deflationary orthodox-​neoliberal framework (economically represented by EU and IMF paradigms) with expansive economic policies. But the authoritarian-​ populist political framing of this neoliberal populism led to a deep and ongoing political crisis and its economic contradictions to a deep economic crisis. This reduces the capability to provide a stable framework for class governance, as the AKP draws its legitimation from performing neoliberal-​populist alternative to tightly regulated disciplinary neoliberalism and faces difficulties to leave this path. The dissatisfaction of leading class actors with the national government is therefore growing (TÜSİAD, 2019) because Turkey’s internationalized mode of class governance and the populism of the ruling party are losing their complementary relationship under the conditions of an accelerating crisis.

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Notes 1 These economic policies have been originally conceptualized by Akçay (2018a) with the term “neoliberal populism”. In order to understand the political and ideological dimensions of populist politics, the term “authoritarian populism” as employed in Gehring (2018) is used. The latter refers largely to a populism of the ruling which presents itself on the discursive level as oppositional. Its claim to “authentically” represent the subalterns constitutes the foundation for its oppressive approach towards oppositional forces, which are depicted as illegitimate when “the opposition” is already governing. 2 The changing names of the European Union (EU) are reflecting the respective stages of European Integration: after merging the Paris Treaty and the Treaties of Rome, which founded the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, the institutional structure was called, from 1967 onwards, European Community (EC). After the Treaty of Maastricht united different pillars and policies of European Integration into a single framework, this was, and still is, called the European Union (EU). Turkey processed its relations to the EEC/​EU by The Agreement Creating An Association Between The Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community (also known as 1963 Ankara Agreement), which was replaced by the EU–​Turkey Customs Union in 1996. 3 Winning and exercising hegemony is a dynamic process of cultural, political and economic leadership for the consent of the masses. This constitutes itself not as a simple negation of coercion, but in dialectical relation with coercion: as no hegemony is total, or harmonic, there is always at least some opposition that does not accept the given framework. Those forces are contained with coercion and that coercion also needs at least some societal consent. Nevertheless, neoliberalism has been seen in the scientific debates often as a non-​hegemonic formation. Generally, the widespread denial of hegemony within neoliberalism implicitly tends to take the concrete form of the historical Fordist class compromise in the societies of the capitalist centre as synonymous with hegemony. Hegemony can, however, take various forms in time and space. As already argued by Gramsci, social and cultural heterogeneity as well as deep societal cleavages are not necessarily ruptures in hegemony, but can constitute anchor points for hegemony (Babacan & Gehring, 2013). 4 Turkey had to adopt three out of the four freedoms of the EU Single Market, namely the free movement of goods, capital and services. This deeply effects Turkey’s legislation, not only in narrow fields like competition law or intellectual property laws, but also in the field of social policies. The free movement of persons has been left outside the Customs Union Agreement (EC-​Turkey Association Council, 1995). 5 As in the states of the capitalist centres, Fordism in the (semi) periphery is based on the separation of conception and production, intensive accumulation as well as the growth of the markets for consumer goods. But the conceptional work and the use of the latest technologies took place in the centres (Lipietz, 1997: 17), and Fordism became not so comprehensively introduced in the (semi-​)periphery as in the states of the centre. 6 The political reforms taking place from 2002 to 2006 are documented in detail by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2007). 7 In this context, the so called EU–​Turkey Migration Deal received a high degree of media coverage. It would be misleading to debate this agreement as a genuine part of Turkey’s integration with the EU, as Turkey plays here only the role of an ordinary third-​party-​state blocking the influx of migrants to the EU.

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References Aglietta, M. (1979). A Theory of Capitalist Regulation. London and New York: Verso. Akçay, Ü. (2018a). Neoliberal Populism in Turkey and its Crisis. Institute for International Political Economy –​Berlin School of Economics and Law, Working Paper No. 100. Akçay, Ü. (2018b). Die Krise der türkischen Wirtschaft und die Grenzen abhängiger Finanzialisierung. PROKLA, 193(4), 617–​639. Akça, İ., Bekmen, A. & Özden, B. A. (2014). A Postscript: #resisturkey. In İ. Akça, A. Bekmen & B. A. Özden (Eds.), Turkey Reframed. Constituting Neoliberal Hegemony (247–​260). London: Pluto Press. Ataç, I. (2013). Ökonomische und Politische Krisen in der Türkei. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot. Amnesty International. (2013). “Gezi Park Protests: Brutal Denial of the Right to Peaceful Assembly in Turkey”,, 2 October 2013. Assoziationsrat EG-​Türkei. (1995). Beschluss Nr. 1/​95 des Assoziationsrates EG-​Türkei vom 22. Dezember 1995 über die Durchführung der Endphase der Zollunion (96/​142EG). Babacan, E. & Gehring, A. (2013). Hegemonie in Zeit und Raum. Zur Dekonstruktion des Zentrum/​Peripherie Gegensatzes am Beispiel der Türkei. Peripherie, 130/​131, 197–​219. Bohle, D. (2003). Imperialism, Peripherical Capitalism and European Unification  –​ Some Preliminary Reflections. In M. Beckmann, H.-​J. Bieling & F. Deppe (Eds.), The Emergence of a New Euro Capitalism? Implications for Analysis and Politics (99–​113). Marburg: Forschungsgruppe Europäische Gemeinschaften FEG. Brand, U., Görg, C. & Wissen, M. (2007). Verdichtungen zweiter Ordnung. Die Internationalisierung des Staates aus einer neopoulantzianischen Perspektive. PROKLA, 147(2), 217–​234. Cox, R. (1981). Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 10(2), 85–​123. Deppe, F. (1993). Von der ‘Europhorie’ zur Erosion  –​Anmerkungen zur Post-​ Maastricht-​Krise der EG. In F. Deppe & M. Felder (Eds.), Zur Post-​Maastricht-​Krise der Europäischen Gemeinschaft (EG) (7–​62). Marburg:  Forschungsgruppe Europäische Gemeinschaften FEG. Dikici-​Bilgin, H. (2009). Civil Society and State in Turkey. A  Gramscian Perspective. In M. McNally & J. Schwarzmantel (Eds.), Gramsci and Global Politics (107–​118). London: Routledge. EC-​ Turkey Association Council. (1995). Decision No 1/​ 95 of 22 December 1995 on implementing the final phase of the Customs Union (96/​142/​EC). Europäischer Rat (2001). Beschluss des Rates vom 8.  März 2001 über die Grundsätze, Prioritäten, Zwischenziele und Bedingungen der Beitrittspartnerschaft für die Türkische Republik (2001/​235/​EG). European Commission (2010). Commission Staff Working Document, Turkey 2010 Progress Report. Brussels. European Commission (2013). Commission Staff Working Document, Turkey 2013 Progress Report. Brussels. European Council Copenhagen. (1993). Presidency Conclusions. Gehring, A. (2013). “Militärische Vormundschaft” in der Türkei oder Kontinuität zur türkischen Militärjunta des 12. Septembers 1980? Hegemoniepolitik mit Erzählungen über die türkischen Streitkräfte. In M. Hawel, S. Beyer, A. Dietrich, M. Kellermann, D. Pöschel & S. Wölck (Eds.), Doktorand_​innen Jahrbuch 2013 der Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (87–​101). Hamburg: VSA.

118  Axel Gehring Gehring, A. (2017). Rote Linie Ökonomie –​ Die deutsch-​türkischen Beziehungen stecken in der Krise, ihr Kern bleibt davon aber unberührt. ak –​analyse & kritik, 630, 10. Gehring, A. (2018). Auf den Schultern des EU-​ Projekts gegen den “Status Quo”. Autoritärer Populismus in der Türkei und seine Krise. PROKLA, 190(1), 137–​154. Gehring, A. (2019a). Vom Mythos des starken Staates und der europäischen Integration der Türkei  –​ Über eine Ökonomie an der Peripherie des euro-​ atlantischen Raumes. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Gehring, A. (2019b). Crisis of Hegemony, but no counter-​ hegemonic Project  –​ Understanding the failed July 15th coup in Turkey. In N. Christofis (Eds.), Erdoğan’s ‘New Turkey’:  Attempted Coup d’état and the Acceleration of Crisis in Modern Turkey (140–​155). London: Routledge. Gehring, A. (2019c). Zu instabil für IWF-​Reformen? Nach den Kommunalwahlen steigt der Druck auf die AKP, die führenden Segmente der Unternehmenswelt zu bedienen. ak –​analyse & kritik, 648, 11. Gill, S. (2000). Theoretical Foundations of Neo-​ Gramscian Analysis of European Integration. In H.-​ J. Bieling & J. Steinhilber (Eds.), Dimensions of a Critical Theory of European Integration (15–​ 32). Marburg:  Forschungsgruppe Europäische Gemeinschaften (FEG). Hall, Stuart. (2014) [1980]. Popular-​demokratischer oder autoritärer Populismus. In V. R. Diaz, J. Koivisto & I. Lauggas (Eds.), Stuart Hall –​Populismus Hegemonie Globalisierung –​ Ausgewählte Schriften 5 (101–​120). Hamburg: Argument. Heper, M. (1977). Türk Kamu Bürokrasisinde Gelenekçilik ve Modernleşme. Istanbul: Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Yayınları. Hermann, R. (2008). Wohin geht die türkische Gesellschaft? Kulturkampf in der Türkei. München: DTV. Karatepe, İ. D. (2013). Islamists, State and Bourgeoisie:  The Construction Industry in Turkey. Conference paper submitted to World Economics Association Conferences, Neoliberalism in Turkey: A Balance Sheet of Three Decades. Keyman, F. & Öniş, Z. (2007). Turkish Politics in a Changing World. Global Dynamics and Domestic Transformations. Istanbul: Bilgi University Press. Laclau, E. (1979). Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory –​Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. London and New York: Verso. Lipietz, A. (1997). Die Welt des Postfordismus. In Forschungsgruppe Europäische Gemeinschaften (FEG). (Eds.), Labour Markets and Employment Policy in the European Union (9–​48). Marburg. Mardin, Ş. (1973). Center-​Periphery Relations:  A Key to Turkish Politics?. Daedalus, 102(1), 169–​190. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2007). Political Reforms in Turkey. Ankara. Schmitt, C. (1932). Der Begriff des Politischen. Berlin: Duncker & Humbolt. Solmaz, K. (2015). Die türkische Verfassung unter dem Einfluss des EU-​Reformprozesses. Der Staat, 54, 159–​199. Tokatlı, M. (2019). Präsidentialismus alla Turca und kurdophobe Aspekte des Weges dorthin. In İ. Küpeli (Eds.), Kampf um Afrin, Kampf um die Türkei (49–​63). Münster: edition assemblage. Tuğal, C. (2017). Das Scheitern des türkischen Modells. Wie der Arabische Frühling den islamischen Liberalismus zu Fall brachte. München: Verlag Antje Kunstmann. TÜSİAD. (2019). “Yüksek İstişare Konseyi Başkanı Tuncay Özilhan’ın açılış konuşmasına”. Retrieved from​watch?v=EUjOUxCzxnc.

Internationalized class governance  119 Uzgel, İ. (2009). Dış Politikada AKP: Stratejik Konumdan Stratejik Modele. In İ. Uzgel & B. Duru (Eds.), AKP Kitabı: Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu (11–​39). Ankara: Phoenix. Uzgören, E. (2012). Globalisation, the European Union and Turkey: Rethinking the Struggle over Hegemony. University of Nottingham, PhD dissertation. Yalman, G. (2009). Transition to Neoliberalism. The Case of Turkey in the 1980s. Istanbul: Bilgi University Press. Ziltener, P. (1999). Strukturwandel der europäischen Integration. Die Europäische Union und die Veränderung von Staatlichkeit. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot. Zschäpitz, H. (2018). “Europas Banken fürchten den türkischen Kollaps”,, 29 May 2018. Zürcher, E. J. (2017). Turkey: A Modern History. London & New York: I.B. Tauris.

Part II

Cultural political economy of regime change

Chapter 7

Hegemony and privileges Reproduction of Islamism in Turkey Errol Babacan

How religion is related to the political project of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey has already been a matter of much controversy and debate, especially in the party’s early years. The dominant take was to regard the AKP as an outcome of a moderation process mediated by neoliberal reforms and parliamentary procedures (Atasoy, 2009; Yavuz, 2009). Islamists had allegedly converted into “conservative democrats” (Özbudun, 2006) or “Post-​ Islamists” (Bayat, 2013) who interpreted Islam in conformity with liberal values. A  countering interpretation was brought forward by class-​oriented analyses, which identified the AKP as the political executor of an economically driven authoritarianism (neoliberal authoritarianism). Religion was primarily understood as an ideological instrument of the bourgeoisie used to organize hegemony and assert control over the working classes (Akça, 2014; Balkan et  al., 2015; Coşar & Yücesan-​Özdemir, 2014; Yıldırım, 2009). Between these opposing approaches, a synthetic interpretation was formulated in the form of a secularization thesis, according to which the AKP was made up of pious elites who curbed the radical aspects of religion and subordinated it to political institutions and economic interests (Tuğal, 2009). Since the ostensible liberalization of the AKP has proven to be a delusion, observers have indicated a re-​ conversion of “conservative democrats” into populist-​authoritarian Islamists who use religion for the retention of power (Yavuz & Öztürk, 2019). Hence, the project of the AKP is now overarchingly regarded as authoritarian, whereas the controversy about the significance of religion has abated. There are still fundamental discrepancies between these approaches to the question of how economic, political and cultural dimensions are related to each other (cf. Tansel, 2018). But the understanding of religion as an instrument in the hands of an elite or the bourgeoisie –​whose interests are constituted outside of religion –​is now widely shared. In this article I will argue that such an instrumental conceptualization leaves the religious dynamics of the project under-​defined. The establishment and expansion of a religious infrastructure in the form of public institutions as well as private organizations that shape religious dynamics must be grasped as more than an ideological phenomenon. Affiliation with this infrastructure grants certain privileges to a growing stratum of religious

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agents, which renders it a structure of privileges that integrates political, economic and cultural elements. To assess the composition of this structure and the positionality of these religious agents in relation to the political project, I will draw on a Gramscian approach. This allows us to define the project beyond the horizon of the political party by assessing affiliated religious practices and their adherents. For a more precise apprehension of the scope of the AKP project, this approach will be supplemented by reflections on the social reproduction of religious agents. While the Gramscian approach allows relating religious practices to hegemonic relations, it neglects the reproductive aspects of these practices for their adherents. My arguments will draw on the empirical delineation of the historical development of this religious infrastructure within the political context of Turkey. The discussion will then conclude with a definition of Islamism as a double-​sided movement that both organizes hegemony and establishes a religiously articulated structure of privileges.1

Hegemony projects and intellectual leadership To build a theoretical base for these arguments, I will start with some substantial and conceptual definitions. In the present conceptualization, hegemony refers to a relation of leadership by which the reproduction or transformation objectives of a certain class or faction are universalized in consensual ways and bolstered through a balance of political as well as economic compromises among classes (Demirović, 1992; Jessop, 1982). The term leadership designates the efforts of a class to build a cross-​class bloc by gaining the consent of other classes. A particular emphasis of hegemony theory lies in the cultural formation of leadership through the ideas and practices that help to achieve consent and compromise, as well as the mediums across which they are transmitted. Although political parties occupy a pivotal role in organizing leadership in bourgeois societies (Tuğal, 2009), the Gramscian perspective draws on a superordinate point. In relation to the methodical separation of “civil society” from “political society” (Thomas, 2009:  68–​71), party formation is analyzed as the formation of a collective will which extends like a web of elementary agreements through “civil society”, with a variety of agents involved in its formation. The political party as a specific type of organization ascends on the basis of this collective will. In this analysis, party formation is not limited by organizational and institutional forms or to the sphere of “political society”. This view of party formation as a process that traverses the whole society is related to the premise that leadership has to be political and moral-​intellectual. Hence, a class must be organized in every field of society to constitute leadership; it has to universalize its leadership by achieving a consensus to the effect that its objectives are widely accepted as benefitting society. For this process of universalization, a huge mass of social agents, which are referred to as intellectuals by Gramsci (1971: 5–​23), is needed. Intellectuals in a

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Gramscian framework are classified neither according to their self-​conception nor their objective class position, but rather their function within the existing division between manual and intellectual labour and alongside the question of how their activities and their attendant effects unfold in a given relation of forces (Buci-​Glucksmann, 1980: 36–​8). They discharge formative activities in relation to the leadership of a class:  “What matters is the function, which is directive and organisational, i.e. educative, i.e. intellectual” (Gramsci, 1971:  16). “The capitalist entrepreneur”, according to Gramsci, “creates alongside himself the industrial technician, the specialist in political economy, the organizers of a new culture, of a new legal system, etc.” (ibid.: 4). Whereas certain members of the ruling classes can be categorized as intellectuals depending on the activities they undertake, for instance within the membership of a political party, this conceptualization in particular allows the inclusion of different groups of professionals in political analysis who can be subsumed within the middle classes:  teachers, scientists, journalists, lawmen, functionaries of associations, political and bureaucratic staff and a variety of agents engaged in the production of culture like priests, popstars and artists. They operate as intellectual brokers of hegemony in different fields of society. Applying a Gramscian perspective to the AKP means, then, asking about its functional linkage to the social classes and their multifarious efforts to become leading. This means that although the AKP is actively organizing hegemony, it is not the party’s own hegemony, but the hegemony of certain classes and factions, that takes on a political and cultural character in the form of a hegemony project.2 The term hegemony project takes account of the circumstance that on the basis of existing relations of production, different projects of leadership can emerge that give rise to different articulations of economy, politics and culture related to certain classes/​factions and their objectives (Buckel et al., 2017: 16–​9).3 Defining projects according to their political and cultural character, in particular through the “civil societal” elements upon which a cross-​class bloc is built, allows one to designate the project led politically by the AKP as authoritarian according to its political character and as Islamist in its cultural character. Islamism is then a designation for a movement that places religious conceptions and practices in the centre of its efforts to build consensus and mediate compromises under the structural leadership of a class. Judging by the “civil societal” mediums and contents they apply towards the composition and universalization of a collective will, the intellectual brokers of the project  –​those agents who perform an intellectual activity related to the project –​can be named as religious intellectuals or –​more specifically –​as Islamists.4 Ultimately, this conceptualization allows one to conceive the Islamist dynamic in relation to other political and cultural dynamics. The struggle for power, which is described as a cultural conflict between religious and secular agents in the literature, can then be comprehended as a rivalry organized around different hegemony projects and their intellectual brokers to achieve leadership in society.

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Development of the Islamist project in a competitive field As the range and the pursuits of the Islamist project are only comprehensible within its relation to other projects, it is necessary to give a concise overview of its historical development within these relations. The controversy around the question of “Laicism” ever since the founding of the Republic of Turkey reveals that the confrontation between religious and secular intellectuals in the field of hegemony has never stood still. Recognizing the historical origins of this confrontation helps one to grasp the profundity of the current Islamist project as well as its location within ongoing struggles. The confrontation can be traced backed to the nineteenth century, when secular hegemony projects and associated intellectuals evolved over the course of transition to the capitalist mode of production and under the impact of bourgeois enlightenment (Bein, 2011; Savran, 2015). They challenged religious intellectuals’ far-​reaching monopoly on exerting cultural leadership in the pre-​ bourgeois society, and achieved –​after protracted struggles –​a detachment of the religious infrastructure (mosques, schools, courts and a variety of foundations) from the regulation of social relations in the educational, jurisdictional, administrative and social-​reproductive spheres (Kuran, 2001; Lord, 2018b: 38–​40, 85–​ 9).5 The self-​location of religious intellectuals within a continuity of the Ottoman Empire, as well as their notorious contestation of the Republic, derives from this process of disempowerment and disarticulation. The reference to Ottoman splendour that finds plain expression in the discourses and practices of the AKP is not an empty obsession or mere carnival. It reflects a collective will to restore a monopoly based upon the primacy and supremacy of Islam in organizing and leading society, a monopoly whose loss was consummated by the founding of the Republic. Since then, religious intellectuals have enunciated opposition against secular intellectuals as the embodiment of an alien way of life and against the republican state as a synonym for westernization and alienation of a cultural self. In order to illustrate the combative spirit that claims the exclusive authority of authenticity, consider a quotation by the prominent Islamist intellectual Mehmet Akif Ersoy (1873–​1936), author of the Turkish national anthem. Objecting to the republican-​secular reforms at the time, he wrote: The body of a nation whose religion is a rip-​off, whose world is a rip-​off, whose customs are a rip-​off, whose habits are a rip-​off, whose speeches are a rip-​off, which is entirely a rip-​off, therefore a mere facsimile of humankind, will not be able to build a real community, hence, to survive. (cited in Yücekök, 1977: 90, author’s translation) The backlash of religious intellectuals against the scepticism which dominated the early republican period took place in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although secular intellectuals, who had taken the lead in organizing the

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hegemony of the developing bourgeoisie, maintained their scepticism, they could not suspend the massive expansion of religious activities in the long run by an ever-​growing group of Islamic intellectuals aligned with the commercial and agrarian bourgeoisie as well as parts of the petit bourgeoisie (craftsmen, small merchants and landowners) (Yücekök, 1977). Their integration into the anti-​communist campaign and, more generally, into the task of exerting control over the movements of the subaltern classes ensured that religious intellectuals obtained a growing weight within the bourgeois power bloc.6 It is to be emphasized that Islamists received considerable support from secular intellectuals in this process, as this support reveals that the confrontation between Islamists and Secularists –​or “Laicists” as they are commonly called in the Turkish context –​is overlain by class struggles. In confrontation with emancipatory movements of the subaltern classes, secular intellectuals aligned with the bourgeoisie frequently opted for Islamization as a counter-​strategy.7 Over the course of the 1970s, religious intellectuals joined with small business owners and organized themselves in the form of an independent political party, whose development was from then on characterized by internal conflicts within the power bloc. Its alignment with different classes and factions, the dynamism of capitalist development, and the leftist and secular challenges it has faced explain most of the programmatic and discursive shifts of the Islamist party over the years, including its alliance with different sectors of society such as liberal intellectuals, until recently (Akça, 2014; Yalman, 2016; Yıldızoğlu, 2009). Regardless of shifting alliances and alignments that have helped it garner greater support, the core element that defines the Islamist hegemony project –​namely, the contention of the primacy and supremacy of Islam in organizing and leading society –​has remained stable over time (Açıkel, 1996; Çoban, 2015). Due to the accelerating repression of social democratic as well as socialist movements by the military intervention of 1971 followed by the 1980 coup d’état, the confrontation between secular and religious intellectuals became a crucial element in the field of bourgeois politics. Overall, the neoliberalization process induced the advancement of culturally diverse hegemony projects that emanated from various alliances of the bourgeoisie with the middle classes (cf. Balaban, 2013). Looking at the 2000s, these projects can be labelled according to their cultural character as (Neo-​)Kemalist, Turkic ethno-​nationalist, Kurdish-​liberal and Islamic-​conservative. Although these projects and affiliated organizations correspond more or less to existing political parties, the lines become blurred in the course of concrete struggles. With reference to the Islamist project, it can be stated that the “Turkish-​Islamic Synthesis”, which integrates Islamic-​ conservative and Turkic ethno-​nationalist elements, constitutes its ideological core. However, the balance between these elements can shift heavily depending on regional factors as well as the political conjuncture, which is in turn mainly conditioned on the Kurdish dynamic (Saraçoğlu, 2011). The projects furthermore differ according to stronger or weaker affinity with certain factions of the bourgeoisie. In that sense, it has become increasingly difficult to undertake an

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exact assignment of each project to certain factions under the dominance of the financialized accumulation regime.8 For the present discussion, it is sufficient to understand that they differ primarily due to political and cultural articulations of neoliberal developmentalism.9 Alongside the marginalization of the movements of the subaltern classes, a major source for this cross-​cutting neoliberal orientation is located in Turkey’s semi-​peripheral mode of integration into the global process of capital accumulation, creating a path-​dependency that has ever been deepened by the financialization process. Against this backdrop, the repression of alternatives to neoliberal economic policy and the tendency to restrict political competition to the cultural field has also been recognized as having put an end to the class-​based politics of the 1970s, replacing it with identity politics as part of a new hegemonic strategy of the bourgeoisie (Akça, 2014; Yalman, 2002; 2012). However, the dominant mode of struggle could be better captured by the term “Culture War” or “Clash of Cultures”, since the dynamics reach beyond the culturalization of social conflicts for the sake of building cross-​class blocs. “Culture War”, or Kulturkampf by its German designation, designates practices of exclusion, discrimination and assimilation integrating cultural, political and economic dimensions.10 The closer examination of the intellectual brokers of the Islamist project in the following sections will explicate this argument and provide more concrete insights into the range, dynamics and characteristics of Islamism.

Intellectuals of the Islamist hegemony project With reference to the undertaking of intellectual activities, two distinct groups within the Islamist project can be identified. First, there is a group that occupies a dual position. This group is both the holder and intellectual broker of hegemony at the same time. It combines the dual character of the Islamist project by organizing the leadership of the bourgeoisie and boosting the combative dynamic of Kulturkampf. It consists of members of the bourgeoisie who are organized in associations and in the political party, who finance and discharge religiously articulated intellectual activities, in direct contact to their employees or via various media. Up until the apparent authoritarian turn of the AKP, members of this group have mainly been labelled as Anatolian bourgeoisie. More accurate, in reference to their intellectual activity, is the term Islamic-​conservative or Islamist bourgeoisie (Öztürk, 2015; Sönmez, 2009). The cultural aspect reflects that this segment of the bourgeoisie deploys and promotes religiously articulated ideas and practices while organizing its leadership over the subaltern classes. A number of studies reveal that not only the dominant but also the subaltern factions of the bourgeoisie –​rentiers, workforce recruiters, small merchants and entrepreneurs  –​have woven a thick web of cultural control over the working classes, reaching beyond factories and workshops and extending into the sphere of reproduction: dwelling places, free-​time activities and sites of consumption. This network enables the brokering of material compromises, in the

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absence of powerful organizations of the working classes, within an informal and individualized framework that lowers the expectations of their employees (Balaban, 2013; Cengiz, 2013; Durak, 2011). Private mechanisms of charity, which constitute paternalistic relations, belong to the established practices of this bourgeoisie. Islamic ethics of charity and poor relief that oblige the rich to care for the poor legitimize these mechanisms on a theological basis (Buğra & Candaş, 2011; Doğan, 2009; Yılmaz, 2018). These established mechanisms put pressure especially on the huge mass of informal and precarious workers, forcing them to adopt Islamic-​conservative habits in order to receive aid (Bakırezer & Demirer, 2009; Doğan, 2007: 275). In addition to charity activities, this bourgeoisie has set up a private network of social welfare and education, which includes schools, dormitories, scholarships and healthcare facilities. As it thereby holds decisive power over whom those benefits are to serve, it can further consolidate its influence in society. The Islamist party stands in organic proximity to this bourgeoisie, which is predominantly organized within –​ although not confined to –​ the business association MÜSİAD (Öztürk, 2015). This proximity is reflected by systematization of the practice of charity at the political level. The Refah Party, an antecedent of the AKP, had already established this practice at the municipal level in the 1990s, where it pushed the combination of material assistance with religious ceremonies and political agitation (Eder, 2010). In the course of implementing the IMF program that followed the economic crisis of 2000/​2001, the AKP ultimately expanded this practice from the municipal and corporate level to the national level. As a result, a “neo-​liberal poverty regime” (Bahçe & Köse, 2017) has been installed, which rests upon selective and informal transfer mechanisms turning huge parts of the pauperized population into supplicants. These mechanisms obviously strengthen the conservative-​preserving image of the AKP among its beneficiaries. They shape their perception of religion, which is associated with charity, and evoke a sense of indebtedness and gratitude, which converts into political support (Kutlu, 2015; Tuğal, 2011: 96). It can reasonably be reconstructed from the literature on the AKP that Islamic conservatism is embedded in the spheres of production as well as reproduction, bolstered by a practice of charity. Hence, it is located in the practical knowledge of a certain faction of the bourgeoisie which is organized within and through the political party. In reference to this bourgeoisie, Kulturkampf appears as a mode of reproduction of its own hegemony under neoliberal conditions. Meanwhile, the second group of religious intellectuals has so far not been discussed in the literature in a comparable manner. Still, a glance at the executive boards of the AKP already reveals that members of the middle classes –​small merchants and shopkeepers, building contractors and estate agents as well as different kind of professionals –​are strongly represented there (Doğan, 2016: 73–​83, 103–​13; Uysal & Topak, 2010: 194–​201). Members of this group are responsible for the wide dispersion of Islamic-​conservative perceptions and practices in different realms of social life. This group encompasses functionaries of religiously articulated

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organizations (associations, foundations, unions etc.), teachers and educators at religious dormitories and schools, and also professional politicians, academics, artists, writers and journalists who perform intellectual activities in association with the Islamist project. Out of this group emerges a special type of religious intellectual, the professional cleric, who is organized in the bureaucracy, in schools and universities, and in religious communities (also labelled as brotherhoods or sects). Contrary to the perception that it is “modern” middle class agents rather than “traditional” clerics who occupy a key role in contemporary religious movements (Bayat, 2013), the cleric occurs as an archetype of the Islamist intellectual in Turkey. The formation of the Islamist collective will definitely passes through his organizations. His direct dependence on the performance of religious services for his own material reproduction distinguishes him from other intellectuals of the Islamist project, and gives reason to categorize him within a special group (although still within the category of the middle class). Compared to other intellectual groups in bourgeois society, the reproduction of the clergy is not only coupled with a specific ideology and profession but also with a relatively independent infrastructure, whose significance for the dynamics of the Islamist project will be outlined in the following section.

Religious infrastructure The theological schools and faculties subordinated to the Ministry of National Education and the Directorate of Religious Affairs subordinated to the State Presidency occupy the centre of the religious infrastructure together with a range of private organizations mostly affiliated with religious communities. Clearly conflicting with the principles of Laicism, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, henceforth Diyanet for short) operates like a state church. It defines the legal framework for religious practices and claims a monopoly on organizing religious activities. It follows a Sunni interpretation of the Quran and claims to educate the whole population on the “genuine” rules and principles of Islam (Lord, 2018b; Şen, 2019). Due to the continuity of the Sunni institutions of the Ottoman Empire, it is appropriate to call the staff of the Diyanet by the traditional Ottoman designation ulema, although this term is not officially used anymore. According to the doctrine the ulema follows, Islam is not a faith but a superior knowledge that shows the way to truth (Yıldızoğlu, 2016). The claim to leadership by the clerics derives from the self-​ascribed duty to carry forward this knowledge, thereby instructing society about the true path and protecting it against internal and external threats (cf. Çakır et al., 2004: 125–​30; Ozgur, 2012: 59). In the directives of the Diyanet, this complex is circumscribed as “enlightenment”. The doctrine justifies missionary activities directed against irreligious and secular segments of the population and particularly against Alevis, a group that encompasses heterodox interpretations of Islam outside the

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Sunni orthodoxy. Alevis are considered infidels, apostates, and are occasionally described as perverts whom the ulema are charged to protect the society from (Mertcan, 2012:  153–​60). It is also on this basis that religious instruction was introduced to general schools, initially as elective courses and since 1982 in the form of compulsory classes. The most prominent representative of this doctrine is State President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who passed through the educational institutions of the ulema as a student. Addressing the secular opposition, he justified a bill his party passed banning alcohol from public life by announcing: No matter which one, every religion commands not the wrong but the right. As it commands the right, you oppose it, just because it is commanded by religion? A law which was made by two pissheads11 is mandatory for you, but a truth, a given fact which is commanded by religion, faces your opposition.12 The combative dynamic of Islamism in suppressing cultural difference, which has also been discussed as “sectarianized securitization” (Lord, 2019), is particularly grounded in this theological perception of treading the path of truth (Yıldızoğlu, 2016). It prepares the ground for legitimizing pressure toward conformity with regard to “un-​Islamic” practices, like failing to wear a headscarf, not fasting at Ramadan or practicing gender equality (Ozgur, 2012: 148–​54; Toprak et  al., 2009). Matters of sexuality are a special obsession within this doctrine. Not following heteronormativity is frequently targeted, as recently came up in a speech by the head of the Diyanet, who insinuated a correlation between homosexuality and the COVID-​19 pandemic during a Friday sermon: Islam considers adultery one of the most severe sins. It condemns homosexuality. What is the hidden meaning of it? It brings about illnesses and decay to the lineage.13 A considerable proportion of the literature obscures the status of the Diyanet. It is persistently stressed that the Diyanet is arranged as an administrative body whose staff is part of the bureaucracy providing neutral services (Gözaydın, 2009). However, the Diyanet is shaped by certain interpretations of Islam whose reproduction and dispersion make up its objectives. It can neither be neutral nor function according to the constitutionally fixed principles of equidistance and equality of all citizens. The Diyanet is, on the contrary, a relatively autonomous institution. Its relative autonomy derives from its specific character as an institutionalized site of reproduction for clerics, whom it allows organized action. For instance, when a government formed by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) attempted to establish a Department of Religious Denominations in 1963, this was opposed by clerics who were organized in the Diyanet. They invoked the indivisibility of Islam and the artificial prospect of a cleavage between Sunni

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and Shia that would be provoked and that would threaten national and religious unity. Simultaneously, the rightist media initiated a smear campaign against Alevis. Confronted with such organized protest, the project was ceased (Mertcan, 2012: 157–​8). The Sunni clerics had successfully defended their position as the country’s religious authority. The Diyanet also resisted political pressure to release a fatwa that would declare the headscarf a matter of individual choice instead of recognizing it as an Islamic norm (Lord, 2018a). The ulema are obviously capable of organized action. They are capable of articulating a group interest which is essentially constituted by their command over their institutions, even in conflict with a democratically elected government. Their claim of autonomy corresponds with the striking interpretation of Laicism as sovereignty over religious affairs.14 Policymakers should not interfere in religion, goes this reasoning  –​for instance, by recognizing non-​Sunni denominations. This means that although the Diyanet is instituted as an administrative body, it claims to stand beyond democratic decision-​making. However, the religious administration is not only a genuinely political institution but it is also active in core areas of politics. It shapes the national identity defined as conservative, Sunni and Turkic, and it is increasingly involved in educational practice that reinforces these constraints. The distinct educational institutions of the ulema at the centre of this practice are the religious vocational schools (Imam-​Hatip Schools) and the theological faculties at universities which build the second institutional pillar of the Islamist movement.15 These institutions were initially implemented only to educate clerics. Despite the protracted resistance of secular forces, the Imam-​Hatip Schools were gradually transformed into general schools qualifying for higher education, while maintaining their theological core. The schools reinforce the leadership claim of the clergy, as they have endowed generations of students with the consciousness of being morally and intellectually superior and destined to lead the nation. They mediate a perspective on social and individual development as the flowering of a superior Islamic identity (Çakır et al., 2004; Tuğal, 2009: 117). The peculiarity of Imam-​Hatip Schools is that they have, like no other educational institution, manufactured a specific and concentrated collective consciousness in affiliation to a political movement. Thus, religious identity determines graduates’ political preferences in favour of Islamist parties (Ozgur, 2012: 84, 131–​2). It is noteworthy that the Islamist bourgeoisie promotes these schools in a programmatic way. For the bourgeoisie, the schools represent the core opportunity to educate a “homo islamicus” who embodies claims to moral-​intellectual superiority and spreads the Islamic ethics that legitimize existing social hierarchies (cf. MÜSİAD, 1994). A glimpse at the quantitative and qualitative development of Sunni institutions provides a better comprehension of their magnitude and range. Under the governments of the AKP, the staff of the Diyanet increased by approximately 35,000 new jobs to 109,332. Actually, the real number is even higher as the institution also employs many thousands of personnel on temporary contracts (Şen, 2019).

Reproduction of Islamism  133 Table 7.1 Diyanet staff 1929–​2017
















* Formation of the first AKP government

Parallel to the Diyanet staff, the number of mosques increased in the AKP era alone by an average of 827 per year to a total of 88,021 in 2017. Accordingly, the share of the Diyanet in the state budget continuously increased, from 0.2  percent in the early 1950s to 0.8 percent in the 1990s and 1.1 percent in the 2010s (ibid.). This expansion finds extraordinary expression in the number of Quran courses provided by the Diyanet. Although their number continuously increased for decades (except a short period after the anti-​Islamist military intervention of 1997), the increase under AKP governments up to nearly 16,000 courses per year is striking. In 2012, the number of participants had tripled, up to 908,589, with an extraordinarily high proportion of women (95 percent).16 Table 7.2 Quran courses 1980–​2016 1980 Courses 2,610 Participants (men) 25,513 Participants 34,293 (women)







4,998 51,852 94,744

5,241 47,291 111,155

3,664 9,363 70,473

14,676 8,963 281,855

15,457 15,796 43,010 107,012 865,579 567,691

Overall, the year 2012 marked a jump in the educational activities of the Diyanet that also transferred personnel to the Ministry of National Education.17 In that year, a reform of the school system took place, accompanied by the declared goal of educating a “pious and furious generation”, which is a slogan going back to the Islamist pioneer Necip Fazıl Kısakürek (1905–​1983). The slogan is embedded within the educational objective of “curing the moral degeneration and deviance” of the youth allegedly caused by secularism (cf. Lüküslü, 2016). Since 2013, the Diyanet has furthermore expanded its educational practices to preschoolers (4–​ 6 years), with 150,000 children attending Quran courses in 2018.18 The political character of these courses was plainly described by the head of the Diyanet in the context of the invasion of the Kurdish enclave Afrin in Syria by the Turkish military in collaboration with paramilitary units of international jihadists: I beg God’s mercy for our martyrs and quick healing for our veterans. They fight there; we open up Quran courses here. They lead the jihad there, we here. May God embrace our jihad.19

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The Imam-​Hatip Schools have undergone a similarly dynamic development. Since the schools qualify for higher education, the proportion of Imam-​Hatip students compared to all students increased from 2.6 percent in 1965 to 8 percent in 1985 and 10 percent in 1991. In conjunction with the education reform of 2012, the AKP reopened middle schools that had been suspended in 1997. As a result, the number of schools and students immediately skyrocketed. In 2017, the proportion of students who received a theological education had increased to 12 percent.20 Only a small portion of these students will pursue a theological profession, the largest portion will pursue other professions, but all of them will achieve the education of a cleric. Under AKP governments, new theological classes have enhanced the religious education also at non-​theological schools. Finally, the number of theological faculties at universities increased from 22 in 1999 to 92 in 2017. Table 7.3 Imam-​Hatip schools 1950–​1998

Schools Students








7 876

26 7,040

72 48,475

710 216,864

761 309,553

1202 511,502

1224 192,786

* First year after the shutdown of middle schools by the military intervention Imam-​Hatip schools 1999–​2017

Schools Students







504 134,224

450 71,100

490 235,000

1,807 475,238

2,215 714,111

4,891 1,350,611

* Reopening of the middle schools

The massive increase in the number of these schools coincides perceptibly with promotional and advertising efforts. The strategy of the junta in the aftermath of the 1980 coup d’état to staff the bureaucracy with conservative and nationalist personnel in order to counter social democratic and leftist actors ensured that Imam-​Hatip graduates advanced to privileged candidates (Ahmad, 1993:  194; Tuğal, 2009: 91; White, 2008: 363). Imam-​Hatip graduates already occupied top positions at many administrative levels towards the end of the 2000s.21 Similarly, Islamist municipalities promised jobs for graduates, supplied scholarships and awards for students, and created special funding streams to enhance the appeal of the schools. Some Imam-​Hatip Schools even publicly advertised the promise that graduates would obtain privileged access to police and military schools.22 The third pillar of the Islamist hegemony project is made up of the aforementioned Islamic communities that are partly organized within theological institutions. Islamic communities are illegal but tolerated private associations that have generated different kinds of legal entities like foundations, unions and educational organizations, as well as corporations and other commercial enterprises.

Reproduction of Islamism  135

The existence of these communities demonstrates that the reproduction of Islamism and of Sunni intellectuals is not confined to the “political society” or the “state”. These communities provide the project and its associated intellectuals with a broader purview. They expand the group interest of religious intellectuals within the sphere of private organizations. These communities vie for the support of entrepreneurs; they organize the bourgeoisie and operate –​just like the Imam-​ Hatip Schools –​as a field of recruitment for public institutions, where they build power bases (Cengiz, 2013: 362–​87). They build informal factions within political parties, channel investments and donations to “political” as well as “civil societal” activities and sites like charities, mosques, schools, universities and dormitories (Doğan, 2009: 297). They also constitute institutions of inclusion and exclusion based upon Sunni identity, since affiliation with a religious community opens access to certain private services as well as to public funds and jobs.23

Structure of privileges Although it is mainly financed through general taxes, this religious infrastructure exclusively serves Sunnis. This special status renders the infrastructure a structure of privileges that works in two directions: it grants authority and exclusive income opportunities to clergy and associated professionals like teachers of religion on the one hand, and offers exclusive access to public resources and religious services to those segments of the population that accept the authority of Sunni intellectuals on the other. Moreover, the structure is not confined to the religious sphere, since theological education and the adoption of Turkic-​Sunni customs have successively become a precondition to achieving certain positions that had hitherto been accessible by those without this education or these customs. That is to say, Turkic-​Sunni views and practices have been valorized as a means of mediating both professional opportunities as well as more basic access to political power and economic means. In the process of promoting Imam-​Hatip Schools, the position of the ulema gradually advanced from the cultural enactment of hegemony to the position of educator and mediator of resources that provide access to higher education and, therefore, all kinds of professional opportunities. Graduates can act as journalists, editors, writers, academics, politicians, administrators, bureaucrats and so on. As a result, they can perform practical intellectual activities in every field. The broad dispersion of Turkic-​Sunni habits and perceptions into every field of intellectual activity has been achieved by this process. In other words, that the Islamist movement in Turkey is broadly composed of “middle class agents” is a result of the long-​term promotion of theological education. In fact, the AKP itself is a long-​term outcome of the almost uninterrupted expansion of the religious pillars of the project over the course of seven decades. A countervailing effect of this dynamic is the devalorization of secular and non-​Sunni perceptions and habits. This comes along with the exclusion, persecution and repression of non-​ Sunni cultural production. Quantitative

136  Errol Babacan

investigations about the effects of this tendency on the general field of professional opportunities  –​besides the field of state administration  –​are not available. However, there is qualitative evidence of a pressure toward conformity in different fields, including workplaces, as well as of the emergence of an awareness that belonging to the societal party of Islamism and having religious ties should translate into career opportunities (Cengiz, 2013: 415; Doğan, 2009: 299 Fn. 5; Tuğal, 2009: 220–​1). As an outcome of the expanding structure of privileges, the formation of a gravitational centre can therefore be posited, whose power has increased significantly under AKP governments. In light of this analysis, the religious dynamic can be understood within a competitive struggle for power integrating economic, political and cultural dimensions. The dynamic plays out in favour of Sunni intellectuals who are embedded within the Islamist hegemony project. Although this dynamic traverses every field of society, it is members of the middle class in particular whose reproduction is embedded in an institutionalized structure. The structure supplies access to public resources and special opportunities  –​public tenures, jobs, funding streams, educational institutions, a countrywide organization and network –​only for those who adopt the Sunni confession. In other words, religion is situated within a structure of privileges composed of career and income opportunities as well as network-​based opportunities. Concerning the position of Islamist intellectuals, it can therefore be concluded that they do not only perform hegemonic tasks in place of the bourgeoisie. They also fight for the reproduction of their status, which procures access to political power and economic means.24 Islamist intellectuals who are not themselves members of the bourgeoisie are therefore not political agents, elites or functionaries who fight alongside the social classes. They do not fight in place of the bourgeoisie, they (also) struggle for their own reproductive means, which have taken on the form of privileges. Whereas those middle class agents who do not practice a theological profession could most likely reproduce themselves in other cultural surroundings, it is particularly the ulema whose dependence on the advancement of the cultural project is absolute. The retention and extension of religious perceptions and habits occurs therefore as an objective group interest of the ulema. It is this struggle for group interest that manifests itself as a competitive battle among members of the middle classes and their various intellectual practices associated with distinct hegemony projects.

Conclusion The need for organizing hegemony in a society traversed by antagonisms and contradictions is connected to the emergence of a broader stratum of brokers –​ intellectuals in Gramscian terms  –​performing this task. Proceeding from this assessment, I have argued that the neoliberalization process in Turkey has boosted the advancement of culturally diverse hegemony projects which are built upon various alliances of the bourgeoisie with the middle classes. This conceptualization

Reproduction of Islamism  137

allows us to grasp the power struggle between religious and secular agents as a rivalry organized around hegemony projects and their intellectuals to achieve leadership in society. In regard to the Islamist project, the pivotal role of theological institutions and religious communities has been outlined as constructing a collective will asserting the primacy and supremacy of Islam for organizing society. The relationship of this will to contemporary capitalist development is mediated by the political party and members of the bourgeoisie who are organically interconnected. It finds plain expression in the establishment of a practice of charity at different levels. While the capacities of religious institutions to intervene in the regulation of social life have been steadily expanding, the supreme position of the clergy in the task of exerting leadership has been reinforced. Ascertainable indices of this pursuit are the expansion of Quran courses, theological schools and faculties, the advance of religious pedagogy in all educational institutions, the promotion of Turkic-​Sunni staff in state administration, and the distribution of state funds in favour of Sunni communities. Taking account of the intellectual brokers and their means of reproduction allows one to identify Islamism as a double-​sided movement that organizes hegemony and establishes a religiously articulated structure of privileges. Kulturkampf, therefore, also operates in a twofold manner: as a mode of reproduction of bourgeois hegemony under neoliberal conditions and as a modus operandi by which Islamist intellectuals assert their claim to leadership in society and reproduce themselves at the same time. Exerting hegemony, pushing forward the group interest of religious intellectuals and valorization of religiously articulated resources occur therefore together, as an integrated process. Exclusion, persecution and repression of non-​Sunni cultural production unfolds as a countervailing outcome of the very same process. As a result, Laicism, which had been installed in Turkey a century ago, has eroded under the AKP to an unprecedented degree.

Notes 1 The main arguments within this conceptualization draw on my PhD thesis based on a field study in Turkey (Babacan, 2020). 2 In contrast to the more common term hegemonic, the term hegemony underlines that the extent to which a project has already succeeded in implementing its characteristic mediums and contents can vary. Hence, a hegemony project does not necessarily have to be hegemonic in the sense of having achieved societal primacy. 3 Articulation in this context designates an active work towards the integration of disparate elements (Hall, 2016: 121; Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). 4 The study by Cihan Tuğal (2009) elaborates the “civil societal” entrenchment of the political party (AKP). However, Tuğal’s framing of the political field as well as his conceptualization of religion and secularism are quite distinct, leading him to conclusions concerning the long-​term dynamics and likely consequences deriving from the AKP regime that mine contradict. Tuğal posits a secularization process; I am positing an Islamization process.

138  Errol Babacan 5 Two major factors that were decisive for the detachment of religious intellectuals from organizing leadership in the pre-​bourgeois society were the reluctance of a significant portion of them to assimilate with the requirements of capitalist developmentalism and the fact that they took a stance against the deploying alliance of the ruling classes in the formative struggles of the Republic (Bein, 2011; Kuran, 2001). 6 The term power bloc designates a contradictory unity of the dominant classes and factions (Poulantzas, 1978: 229–​34). 7 The most striking example of this is the massive promotion of Islamism by the secular junta following the 1980 coup d’état (Tünay, 1993). 8 See the studies of Utku Balaban (2013), Özgür Öztürk (2015) and Sungur Savran (2015) for attempts that reflect the difficulties of making exact assignments. 9 Especially the Kurdish-​liberal project is characterized by a significantly greater preponderance of liberal elements in the spheres of culture and politics. It operates from a culturally subaltern position and its combative spirit is considerably less pronounced. Furthermore, there are also socialist, libertarian and communitarian dynamics in Turkey conflicting with neoliberalism, as the June Uprising in 2013 demonstrated. None of the existing hegemony projects cover the latter; they are more or less politically vacant. 10 The German term Kulturkampf is particularly suitable, as it is originally associated with a secularization process. It refers to the conflict between the Prussian government and the Roman Catholic Church in the nineteenth century over the limitation of ecclesiastical power in different realms like education and welfare provision. A similar process unfolded in the late Ottoman era when the religious intellectuals’ far reaching tasks were gradually pushed back. 11 Pissheads (“ayyaş”) is an allusion to the alcohol consumption of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his companion İsmet İnönü. 12 “Erdoğan’dan Flaş Açıklamalar”,, 5 May 2013, author’s translation. 13 “Korona günlerinde Diyanet’e ‘nefret suçu’ tepkisi”,, 27 April 2020, author’s translation. 14 See the declaration by Ali Bardakoğlu, a former head of the Diyanet:  “Başörtüsü müslümanlığın ön şartı değil”,, 18 October 2010. 15 Imam means prayer leader and hatip means preacher. In practice, both functions are usually unified in one person who is commonly called an imam. 16 Compiled from data by the Statistical Agency of Turkey ( and the Ministry of National Education ( 17 “Diyanet’ten Milli Eğitim’e 5 bin 50 kişi geçti”,, 1 November 2017. 18 “Diyanet İşleri Başkanı: 4–​6 yaş grubu Kur’an kursu programında 150 bine ulaştık”, tr., 6 September 2018. 19 “Diyanet İşleri Başkanı Erbaş’tan Afrin yorumu: Onlar orada, biz burada cihada devam ediyoruz”,, 29 January 2018, author’s translation. 20 The annual details refer to the start of a schoolyear. I have counted the middle and high schools separately, since the middle schools were not open throughout. The total number therefore appears higher than in other statistics. Compiled according to Çakır et al. (2004) and by data of the Ministry of National Education ( 21 One prominent example is the Ministry of National Education (Ozgur, 2012: 147). Also see Okçabol (2018). 22 “Asker-​polis okullarına imam hatip ayrıcalığı”,, 12 June 2017.

Reproduction of Islamism  139 23 The Gülen community was commonly regarded as a special broker for career opportunities for a long time. Since the community has been expelled from the AKP as well as the state administration, other religious communities have replaced it: “İşte Gülenciler sonrası ülkeyi saran tarikat ağları”,, 29 October 2016. 24 With reference to a historical-​materialist framework, this struggle can also be grasped as a struggle for a (greater) share of surplus value (Babacan, 2020: 115–​7; Yıldızoğlu, 2016: 121–​3).

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140  Errol Babacan Staat. Kapitalistische Regulation als Projekt und Prozess (128–​157). Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot. Doğan, A. E. (2007). Eğreti Kamusallık. Kayseri Örneğinde İslâmcı Belediyecilik. Istanbul: İletişim. Doğan, A.  E. (2009). İslamcı Sermayenin Gelişme Dinamikleri ve 28 Şubat Süreci. In İ. Uzgel & B. Duru (Eds.), AKP Kitabı. Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu (283–​306). Ankara: Phoenix. Doğan, S. (2016). Mahalledeki AKP. Parti İşleyişi, Taban Mobilizasyonu ve Siyasal Yabancılaşma. Istanbul: İletişim. Durak, Y. (2011). Emeğin Tevekkülü. Konya’da İşçi-​işveren İlişkileri ve Dindarlık. Istanbul: İletişim. Eder, M. (2010). Retreating State? Political Economy of Welfare Regime Change in Turkey. Middle East Law and Governance, 2(2), 152–​184. Gözaydın, İ. (2009). Diyanet. Türkiye Cumhuriyet’inde Dinin Tanzimi. Istanbul: İletişim. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Q. Hoare & G. Nowell Smith (Eds. & Trans.), New York: International Publishers. Hall, S. (2016). Cultural Studies 1983. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Jessop, B. (1982). The Capitalist State. Marxist Theories and Method. Oxford:  Martin Robertson & Company Ltd. Kuran, T. (2001). The Provision of Public Goods under Islamic Law: Origins, Impacts, and Limitations of the Waqf System. Journal of the Law and Society Association, 35(4), 841–​898. Kutlu, D. (2015). Türkiye’de Sosyal Yardım Rejiminin Yapısal Boyutları, Disiplin Oluşumu ve Yardım Alan Yoksul Tipolojisi. Submission to the 14th Congress of the Turkish Social Sciences Association. Laclau, E. & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso. Lord, C. (2018a). “The story behind the rise of Turkey’s ulema”,, 4 February 2018. Lord, C. (2018b). Religious Politics in Turkey. From the Birth of the Republic to the AKP. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lord, C. (2019). Sectarianized Securitization in Turkey in the Wake of the 2011 Arab Uprisings. Middle East Journal, 73(1), 51–​72. Lüküslü, D. (2016). Creating a Pious Generation: Youth and Education Policies of the AKP in Turkey. Southeast European Blacksea Studies, 16(4), 637–​649. Mertcan, H. (2012). Bitmeyen Kavga Laiklik. Türkiye’de Din-​Devlet-​Diyanet. Ankara: Maki Basın Yayın. MÜSİAD. (1994). İş Hayatında İslâm İnsanı (Homo Islamicus). Istanbul. Okçabol, R. (2018). “Bakanlıktaki kadrolaşma”,, 5 January 2018. Özbudun, E. (2006). From Political Islam to Conservative Democracy: The Case of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey. South European Society and Politics, 11(3), 543–​557. Ozgur, I. (2012). Islamic Schools in Modern Turkey. Faith, Politics, and Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Öztürk, Ö. (2015). Islamist Big Bourgeoisie in Turkey. In N. Balkan, E. Balkan & A. Öncü (Eds.), The Neoliberal Landscape and the Rise of Islamist Capital in Turkey (117–​ 141). New York/​Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Reproduction of Islamism  141 Poulantzas, N. (1978). Political Power and Social Classes. New York: Verso Books. Saraçoğlu, C. (2011). İslami-​muhafazakar Milliyetçiliğin Millet Tasarımı:  AKP Döneminde Kürt Politikası. Praksis, 11(2), 31–​54. Savran, S. (2015). Class, State and Religion in Turkey. In N. Balkan, E. Balkan & A. Öncü (Eds.), The Neoliberal Landscape and the Rise of Islamist Capital in Turkey (41–​88). New York/​Oxford: Berghahn  Books. Şen, M. (2019). The AKP Rule and the Directorate of Religious Affairs. In N. Christofis (Ed.), Erdoğan’s ‘New’ Turkey. Attempted Coup d’état and the Acceleration of Political Crisis (40–​57). London: Routledge. Sönmez, M. (2009). 2000’ler Türkiye’sinde AKP, Hâkim Sınıflar ve İç Çelişkileri. In İ. Uzgel & B. Duru (Eds.), AKP Kitabı. Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu (179–​191). Ankara: Phoenix. Tansel, C. B. (2018). Authoritarian Neoliberalism and Democratic Backsliding in Turkey: Beyond the Narratives of Progress. South European Society and Politics, 23(2), 197–​217. Thomas, P.  D. (2009). The Gramscian Moment. Philosophy, Hegemony, and Socialism. Leiden/​Boston: Brill. Toprak, B., Bozan, I., Morgül, T. & Şener, N. (2009). Being Different in Turkey. Religion, Conservatism and Otherization. Research Report on Neighbourhood Pressure. Istanbul: Boğaziçi University, Open Society Foundation. Tuğal, C. (2009). Passive Revolution. Absorbing the Islamic Challenge to Capitalism. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Tuğal, C. (2011). The Islamic Making of a Capitalist Habitus: The Turkish Subproletariat’s Turn to the Market. In D. Brady (Ed.), Comparing European Workers Part A. Research in the Sociology of Work (85–​112). Tünay, M. (1993). The Turkish New Right’s Attempt at Hegemony. In A. Eralp, M. Tünay & B. Yeşilada (Eds.), The Political and Socioeconomic Transformation of Turkey (11–​30). London: Praeger. Uysal, A. & Topak, O. (2010). Particiler. Türkiye’de Partiler ve Sosyal Ağların İnşası. Istanbul: İletişim. White, J.  B. (2008). Islam and Politics in Contemporary Turkey. In R. Kasaba (Ed.), The Cambridge History of Turkey. Volume 4:  Turkey in the Modern World (357–​380). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Yalman, G. (2002). The Turkish State and Bourgeoisie in Historical Perspective:  A Relativist Paradigm or a Panoply of Hegemonic Strategies? In N. Balkan & S. Savran (Eds.), The Politics of Permanent Crisis:  Class, Ideology and State in Turkey (21–​54). Huntington: Nova Science Publishers. Yalman, G. (2012). Politics and Discourse under the AKP’s rule: The Marginalisation of Class-​based Politics, Erdoğanisation, and Post-​secularism. In S. Coşar & G. Yücesan-​ Özdemir (Eds.), Silent Violence. Neoliberalism, Islamist Politics, and the AKP years in Turkey (21–​41). Ottawa: Red Quill Books. Yalman, G. (2016). Crises as Driving Forces of Neoliberal “Trasformismo”: The Contours of the Turkish Political Economy since the 2000s. In A. Cafruny, L. S. Talani & G. P. Martin (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical International Political Economy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Yavuz, M. H. (2009). Secularism and Muslim democracy in Turkey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

142  Errol Babacan Yavuz, M. H. & Öztürk, A. E. (Eds.). (2019). Islam, Populism and Regime Change in Turkey. Making and Re-​making the AKP. London: Routledge. Yücekök, A.  N. (1977). Türkiye’de Örgütlenmiş Dinin Sosyo-​Ekonomik Tabanı (1946-​ 1968). Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Yayınları No. 323. Yıldırım, D. (2009). AKP ve Neoliberal Popülizm. In İ. Uzgel & B. Duru (Eds.), AKP Kitabı. Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu (66–​107). Ankara: Phoenix. Yıldızoğlu, E. (2009). AKP ve Liberal Entellektüellerin Yavaş İntiharı. In İ. Uzgel & B. Duru (Eds.), AKP Kitabı. Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu (108–​125). Ankara: Phoenix. Yıldızoğlu, E. (2016). Laiklik Savunulmalıdır. Istanbul: Tekin Yayınevi. Yılmaz, Z. (2018). Yeni Türkiye’nin Ruhu. Hınç, Tahakküm, Muhtaçlaştırma. Istanbul: İletişim.

Chapter 8

Regime change in Turkey Old symbols into new settings Simten Cos ̧ar

Turkey’s political landscape has recently been marked with incessant fluctuation between increasingly authoritarian measures and democratic proclamations. The fluctuation is symbolic of the governing style of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) since it came to power in 2002. Authoritarian measures were accelerated by the Gezi Resistance (2013). The background to the acceleration is observed in the crisis-​ridden unfolding of the “Democratic Opening” process, which was given a rhetorical start in 2010 and terminated in 2014. The process was presented in terms of government’s search for peaceful negotiations to settle the “Kurdish issue”. The link between the Gezi Resistance and the termination of the Democratic Opening was that authoritarian policy preferences exclusively defined the AKP governments, advancing to a new phase of regime change. This chapter starts from the assumption that the regime change in Turkey has unfolded through a fascistic track. I rely on a gender litmus test to substantiate this track, as well as to delineate the basics of the regime change. By regime change, I mean change in the rules and basic political resource allocations according to which actors exercise authority by imposing or enforcing collective decisions on a bounded constituency  –​i.e., the re-​building of public order. I  approach the fluctuations –​i.e., seemingly contradictory rhetoric and measures –​as significant variables in the last stage of regime transformation in Turkey. Here, I  rely on Eley’s (2016: 104) reading of contemporary fascism: by the term fascistic track, I  refer to a type of relations to politics, defined not on a reading of the overlaps between Nazi and fascist rule of the interwar period and World War II and the current tide of discriminatory, oppressive, rights-​violating measures put into use by the governments that proclaim popular democratic credentials. I rather define the current fascistic relation to politics as a matter of regime crisis, displayed in political rhetoric and related practices. The three consistent features of the current fascistic track are the securitization of socio-​political opposition, arbitrary targeting of opponents as traitors, criminals and/​or terrorists and anti-​intellectualism. All of these three features have their precedents in the first half of the twenty-​first century: securitization operates through individual and national claims; arbitrariness in the pattern of

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criminalization of the opponents runs through the monopolistic claims on the righteous way of opposition; and anti-​intellectualism runs through the marginalization and defamation of the critical academe and thinkers, attesting to monopolistic claims on knowledge. In considering fascism as a type of relation to politics, I refer to the style of political involvement embraced by the representative figures of the political party in question, the construction of the leadership profile and the rhetoric that the leading cadres use in relating to the populace. This chapter is composed of three parts. First, I offer a brief account of the AKP’s terms in government with a view to the accompanying gender regime. Second, I delineate what I mean by regime change with a view to the re-​organization of public order. I connect the regime transition to the change in the mode of patriarchy. Third, I discuss the current mode of patriarchy in Turkey. Here, the mode of patriarchy refers to the gendered aspect of exploitative material relations of everyday life –​i.e., the ordering of gender relations (German, 1981; Eisenstein, 1977). I focus on gender relations as an integral part of the political regime –​not as an exclusive site for critical inquiry.

The AKP’s gender regime Feminism has so far benefited no one, neither will it in the future.1 It is significant that this quotation is from Fatma Şahin, the Minister of Family and Social Policies (Aile ve Sosyal Politikalar Bakanlığı, ASPB), known for her relative openness to dialogue with women’s rights and feminist organizations. Reading it through a feminist lens links the case to the broader anti-​feminist consistency that runs through the AKP’s rule. It also offers an alternative scheduling of the AKP’s rule in the past 16 years. The malestream reading takes the general elections and/​or the turning points in the parliamentary–​presidential power balance as its basis. In either case, it parallels the AKP’s preference of framing its term(s) in power through the leader’s rhetoric2: [Our investments in the past 16  years were] works of our apprenticeship. Then followed the foremanship and then mastership. Today, (…) we are coming to the end of foremanship. (…) Are you ready to award us with the diploma for grand mastership?3 The alternative scheduling that I use relies on the major shifts and relocations in the venues of rights-​based political participation.4 In this timeline, the AKP’s first period falls between 2002 and 2010 and is defined in terms of neoliberal negotiation preferences. The second period is relatively shorter –​2011 to 2013. The third period starts symbolically with the Gezi Resistance in 2013.5 This last stage symbolizes the first phase of the new regime in Turkey. In the first eight years of its rule, the party pursued an array of strategic alliances and tactful negotiations. The alliance that the party forged with secular business circles and its pro-​negotiation

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attitude toward women’s rights/​feminist organizations were instrumental in dislocating the established power of the Kemalist (republican) regime that marked Turkey’s almost 100 year-​long political history. In this phase, reforms were pursued in dialogue with women’s rights/​feminist organizations, as in the amendments to the Turkish Penal Code (2004), the Amendment to the Law on Municipalities (2005) and the establishment of the Parliamentary Commission for the Equality of Women and Men (2009). Another instance of such tendency was the 2010 referendum process. This phase is also marked with Turkey’s EU membership candidacy, when the AKP pursued an instrumentalist tactic and stated the government’s compliance to the acquis communautaire (Yeşilyurt-​Gündüz, 2012). The women’s movement could manipulate this tactic, relying on their already established transnational feminist links, as in the case of the European Women’s Lobby (Aldıkaçtı-​Marshall, 2013). The same period also hosted the Democratic Opening attempt, which was also named as the “Kurdish Opening”, later to be replaced by “The Project of National Unity and Fraternity”. The process proved to have a short life (2010–​2014). The invitees to the dialogue included forerunning women’s rights/​feminist organizations6 and prominent capital circles7 as well as the Women’s Activities Centre of the Turkish Religious Foundation, the Ladies’ Association for Lore and Culture and the Turkish Foundation of Family Health and Planning. The ambiguity in the messages can be observed in the mixing of the call for peaceful settlement in the “Kurdish issue” with propaganda for the 12 September 2010 referendum (ibid.) –​a follow-​up to the 2007 referendum that ruled the election of the president by popular vote. As the 2010 referendum marks the end of the first phase, the change in the name of the State Ministry Responsible for Women and Family (Aile ve Kadından Sorumlu Devlet Bakanlığı, AKSB) to the ASPB signals the start of the second stage of the AKP’s rule (2011–​2013). This phase corresponds to the fourth AKP government (61st government) and can be characterized with the counter-​positioning of women’s rights to a feminist stance and the colonization of women’s rights demands and feminist claims by increasingly conservative moral politics. Here, the term colonization addresses the distortion of feminist policy proposals for gender equality by turning the related policies into a means for the pursuit of anti-​feminist agendas. The transformation of the Ministry from the AKSB to ASPB took place when Şahin was in office, an exemplary actor evincing the ironic coexistence of positive developments for women’s rights and the colonization of feminist claims. Şahin is known for her relative openness to dialogue with feminist organizations, as well as with LGBTIQ+ organizations. Considering that the preceding AKSB Minister defined same sex partnership as sickness that needs medical treatment,8 appointing Şahin as the minister to see the transformation to a more conservative structure was a tactful move. This helped to pre-​empt unified opposition from the civil societal sphere, which would have had international implications. Şahin’s appointment also spoke to one of the long-​voiced demands of the women’s movement: having more women MPs and ministers with experience in women’s

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branches and in working with women’s rights organizations. Şahin came from within AKP’s women’s branches. She had an elective affinity with the women’s right organizations, especially with those active in matters of women’s political participation. During her term in 2011, Turkey was the first to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing violence against women and domestic violence –​i.e., the Istanbul Convention –​which was put into force in 2014. Yet these assets, promising a more lucrative institutional setup for gender equality, fell short of leading the way to a working cooperation between the governments and organizations for rights-​based politics. On the contrary, this period pushed policy-​making toward familialization of gendered questions and the mainstreaming of the rhetoric of gender justice as the counter-​reading of gender relations –​against demands for equality. For example, the drafting of the amendments to the Law on the Protection of Family (No. 4320) was pursued under Şahin’s ministry in collaboration with the invited women’s rights/​feminist organizations. However, after initial consultation, these organizations were denied a say. The end product exemplifies the fluctuations in the AKP governments’ approach to democratic rights-​based claims:  the tendency to engage related civil societal organizations in the initial stages of policy-​making as proof of democratic stance and their abrupt exclusion in the following stages. In this case, demands coming from women’s rights/​feminist organizations to ensure the government’s responsibility in establishing and operating Centres to Prevent and Monitor Violence and eliminating the (bureaucratic) hurdles for women to seek protection from domestic violence were met (Hacısoftaoğlu, 2012). Women’s/​feminist organizations’ participation in due procedure  –​in both legal amendments and the monitoring process –​were left totally to the arbitrary manoeuvres of the government, and those organizations with experience in and through the field were tactfully set aside.9 The contestation over the name of the law signals the colonization of women’s rights demands. The draft law was meant to function as an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Family. Women’s rights organizations had fought for a different name that spoke to women’s empowerment rather than that of the (heterosexual) family; they failed. In this latest amendment, they opted for keeping the number of the law the same and changing its name so as to reflect women’s individual rights to seek protection from (domestic) violence. Their demand to that effect was manipulated by the government to change the initial Draft Law on the Protection of Women and the Individual Members of the Family from Violence into the Law on the Protection of Family and Prevention of Violence against Women to be enacted as such (Law No. 6284). The third and the last phase of the AKP’s rule starts with the 2013 Gezi Resistance. Post-​ 2013, this phase hosted the increasing hostility of AKP governments towards rights-​based socio-​political opposition. As a follow-​up to the colonization of women’s rights demands in the previous phase, this stage is characterized by the pervasion of anti-​feminist discourse into gender politics in general and women’s rights in particular. The gradual exclusion of the women’s

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movement from the related policy spheres that had already begun in the previous stages, the delimitation of the ASPB’s policy sphere to familial politics and the cooperation forged between the Ministry and the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, Diyanet for short) were the adjacent developments. 2013 also hosted the formation of Women and Democracy Centre (Kadın ve Demokrasi Merkezi, KADEM) as the AKP’s GONGO for women’s rights. In this setting, women as a socio-​political category lost their relatively autonomous space on the policy agendas to re-​appear from within the increasing tide of familialistic policy packages. An earlier such package was the “Being Family Project” (2013/​2014), preceded by the Conference on Being Family, organized by the ASPB in 2012. The Project would be supported by a program to facilitate “the marriage of young people who cannot marry due to economic hardships” and offering young couples marriage counselling –​both were presented as assets of social state.10 This program would be paralleled by almost the same rhetoric and arrangements by the Davutoğlu government in 2015 in the Program to Protect Family and Population. The same can be observed in the cooperation between the ASPB and the Ministry of Justice by making it compulsory to take family counselling before going to court. As noted above, the third partner to this cooperation is the Diyanet through Family and Religious Counselling Desks as well as Family Spiritual Guidance and Counselling Desks. 2013 also hosted repetitive emphasis in official discourse on family as a matter of national security. Starting with the opening speech of the “International Summit of Family and Social Policies” in January and continuing with the introduction of the Being Family Project in July, Erdoğan  –​then Prime Minister  –​ expressed the consistent theme(s) that ran through the AKP’s rule: They operated birth control mechanisms in this country for years. (…) caesarean is as such, abortion is as such. (…) They wanted this nation to decrease in population and to lay back in the race of nations. (…) I especially call to our women. You are the first to give this game away.11

Regime change in Turkey In observing the current regime change, I  start from the contention that this phase does not define an idiosyncratic turn. The 1980 military coup d’état laid its origins, and the following military interim regime (1980–​1983) framed the fascistic route that would surface in times when the ruling blocs opted for emergency rules to pacify socio-​political opposition  –​in the late 1980s, 1990s and most recently, between 2016 and 2018.12 The interim regime was functional for containing opposition via massive imprisonments, torture and death penalties. The members of the political parties who were active in the past decade as well as those who were active in alternative socio-​political movements were banned from political activity for almost a decade. The narrowing down of the political space eased the process of excluding the accumulated oppositional experience of

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the 1960s and 1970s from the political scene. This was especially the case for the left (Atacan, 2005). The 1980s also witnessed the rejuvenation of an independent feminist movement in the country (Sirman, 1989). This is certainly linked to the early-​republican feminist attempts, as well as to women’s activism in the leftist organizations during the 1970s. The movement first took shape in a gradual, silent and low-​profile style, waiting until the march against violence against women (VAW) in 1987 to have public visibility –​the first mass demonstration after the coup d’état. It was controversial for an independent feminist movement to emerge in the authoritarian milieu of post-​coup politics. It hinted at the feminist strategies that would be pursued in the coming decades, while also marking the hardships that feminist organizations would encounter, especially in the last phase of regime change. This dialectic –​the counterbalancing of authoritarian rule by the rise of feminist politics –​is important for understanding the current mode of patriarchy. Considering it is also important to set in place the AKP governments’ seemingly contradictory practices that sometimes resonate with women’s rights-​based demands, while most frequently dismissing feminist claims. Today, feminist movement in Turkey faces the narrowing down of the political space. Yet it is still possible to find the niches in the institutionalization of the new regime –​through mostly fascistic tactics: arbitrariness, personalistic politics and fear as the decisive feature of the ruler–​ruled relations. The institutionalization of the new regime has been pursued along four layers. The first layer relates to the dissolution of the social into the familial and the individual. The second layer is observed in the restructuring of the decision-​making procedure that incapacitated the parliament, endowing the executive in the person of the president with broad powers. The securitization of socio-​economic and political spheres forms the third layer. The last layer hosts a contentious development –​ Islamization of the norms of the connection between the ruler and the ruled. The dissolution of the social refers to the dismissal of rights claims to public services –​especially in the case of social security, health insurance, retirement rights  –​and the redefinition of these rights claims (e.g., the right to work) in individualized terms –​i.e., all citizenship rights are transferred to individualized liabilities.13 For example, the amendment of the Labour Law (2003) in the first AKP government signified the tendency to design the labour market in line with the notions of workfare and flexibility. It also tried to establish a legal structure that would curb the possibilities for opposition to the transformation of work life (Adaman et  al., 2009; Buğra & Yakut-​Cakar, 2010). Another example is the legal arrangements for social security and public services. The new legal regulations recognize the state’s responsibility to contribute to the individual social security schemes while bringing in the privatization-​cum-​individualization of social security in particular and of public services in general. The new social security model was based on pay-​ as-​ you-​ go system (Buğra, 2018; Buğra & Keyder, 2006). The new legal arrangements also rely on a religio-​familialistic discourse that envisages Turkish family as an ideal locus for social solidarity –​thus,

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turning a matter of social rights into a subject of the intimate sphere (Coşar & Yeğenoğlu, 2011). Alongside this familialism runs an emphasis on the notion of charity, whereby citizens are invited into religio-​communitarian liabilities. Thus, the AKP’s conservative-​neoliberalism, embroidered with Islam, is reflected in the sphere of social policy-​making by the individualization of rights claims, familialism and religious charity as social assistance (Atalay, 2017). As for the re-​arrangement of the decision-​making procedure, the initial steps were taken in 2007 by the referendum that put the option of the election of the president directly on the people. By 2010 referendum, significant constitutional amendments were approved by the majority of the voters. Lastly, by April 2017 referendum, the transition to presidential governing system was approved. The changes incapacitated the parliament, and introduced regulations for the personalistic rule of the president. Here, certain points come to the fore. First, the reorganization of state structure was mostly managed by referenda and by decrees in force of law. The referenda have been used to that effect since 2007. The decrees in force of law were the main tools of decision-​making during Turgut Özal’s prime ministry in the second half of the 1980s. The AKP governments used the Özal model especially within the scope of the state of emergency. The amendments eliminated the parliamentary checks as well as the judicial review on the executive and nullified the balance of power to the advantage of the latter. These changes were further circumscribed by the dissolution of the Council of Ministers: in Turkey’s new decision-​making mechanism, there is no Council of Ministers. There are ministers directly affiliated to the president, nominated and appointed by him. In its current form, the president has personal control over the main judicial organs, as the Constitutional Court and the Higher Commission of Judges and Prosecutors (Yılmaz, 2020; Grigoriadis, 2018; Kalaycıoğlu, 2012; 2014). Personalistic politics is an asset of the neoliberal order of things. In Turkey, throughout the 1980s, left without the main organizational tools (e.g., student organizations, political parties and unions), the citizens were easily called into assuming personal roles that would cut across the familial, public and market/​ places. The rulers gradually adopted an informal style in addressing the people. In the post-​1980 era, this style was mainstreamed, introducing new ways of linking the spaces of the familial, private, public and the state. The third layer –​the securitization of socio-​economic and political spheres –​ can be traced to the coding of any phenomenon and measure in terms of national security and justification of security measures via socio-​economic benefits. The first axis of securitization is most manifest in policies that are related to women’s employment and/​or women’s social benefits whose goal is to protect the family. In a rather contradictory parallelism, the familial sphere is presented as a place where individuals should seek security to endure the necessary insecurity in labour markets. This safe place-​setting speaks directly to the presentation of the family as the main unit of solidarity in Turkish society. The availability of women’s labour for informal-​cum-​domestic labour to comply with the requisites of flexibilization fits well into the national imagery that permeates into the familial sphere in

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terms of national security and the imagination of the family as a means for social security. Thus, women’s (flexible) participation increased in the workforce in the second decade of the 2000s, accompanied by significant unemployment and precarious working conditions for women (Oğuz, 2020; Toksöz, 2016) and in the midst of calls for motherhood-​as-​national duty.14 The second axis is observed in coding acts of social and political opposition in relation to terroristic activities, and/​or the justification of rights violations on the grounds of national security. One such instance can be observed in the accusation of opposition parties that their voters were involved in terroristic activities.15 Another example can be observed in Erdoğan’s address to the business circles in the commemoration for the first anniversary of 15 July 2016 coup d’état attempt: we implement even the state of emergency for the sake of our business circles, so that they can operate more comfortably. (…) When we first came to power 15 years ago, there was also a state of emergency, but all factories were under the threat of strike. Now, thanks to the state of emergency, we immediately step into those places where there is the threat of strike. We say, we do not allow strike here; you cannot disrupt our business world.16 The case of Peace Academics vividly illustrates the thread of de-​securitization through securitization. The ruling circles immediately turned the pacifist claims into threats against national security.17 They consistently violated the citizenship rights of these people to social security, including the right to work and the right to academic freedom, along with individual rights such as the right to movement and the right to privacy. All three cases evince not only the rise in authoritarianism but also the fascistic track through which the regime change has been operated. As for Islamization, the AKP has consistently denied that it embraced Islamist politics, while the leading members emphasized religion as a matter of individual belief. In its early stages, the party declared that it had cut its ties with the National Outlook Movement  –​the main representative of the thread of Islamist political parties for more than five decades. However, looking at three socio-​spatial examples, one might observe a different performance of religious political preferences:  national education, mosques and women’s rights. One of the most recent examples is the omission of evolution theory from national education textbooks on the grounds of Sunni Muslim religious sensitivities. Another one is the pervasion of Sunni Muslim principles and values into primary and secondary school textbooks. Likewise, the AKP’s prominent spokespersons have never refrained from explicitly acknowledging their prioritization of raising religiously conscious youth and lately, “pious generations”, with direct implications for the national education policies (Lüküslü, 2016; Coşkun & Şentürk, 2012; Türkmen, 2009). In terms of Islamization in everyday life, a significant development can be observed in the aftermath of the 2016 coup d’état attempt when calls to prayer

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in the form of knelling persisted on a daily basis. These knellings were regulated by the Diyanet with the slogan “From the Coups that Silence the Calls to Prayer to Knellings that Silence the Coups”. They exemplified the symbolic and material bond between the securitization discourse and the pervasion of the socio-​political space by Islamist moralism. The knellings merged well with the discourse of national reconstruction and national liberation. The discourse was first introduced visually in the 2014 presidential election commercials, as well as in Erdoğan’s “balcony speech” after he was elected president. The campaign was imbued with Islamist sentimentalities and faith in Erdoğan’s victory as the divinely designated president –​“Whatever they do is futile; there is a celestial verdict”18  –​as well as references to national liberation war.19 They also merged well with the construction of the righteousness of the AKP’s ruling through the personal sanctification of Erdoğan’s leadership. Most representative in this respect is his account of an instance during the 2016 coup d’état attempt: they arrived Dalaman [Airport] before us. They investigated our airplane. But very interesting things happen (…) We learned later that they came and went. (…) It was in (…) Cave, wasn’t it? That incident when they went to the cave and our beloved Prophet is there (…) But the spider spins the entrance of the cave; and as they approach the cave they see that it is spinned. They conclude, “since it is spinned, most probably no one is around”. And these polytheists [do not attempt to enter the cave] and turn back. And now, they came and look around and as they cannot see anyone in the airplane they turn back and go. 20 After the coup d’état attempt, the sanctification of Erdoğan’s persona found its place in the claim to a new national liberation war with a remarkable increase in the frequency and intensity of reference to enemies inside and outside the country. Thus, the theme of national liberation war as a recurring historical point of reference was brought into the present, inviting exceptionalism to ease the hands of the AKP governments to regulate the regime transformation.

Reading feminist: the new mode of patriarchy The gender regime that surfaces through the first two stages of the AKP’s rule was defined in terms of neoliberal-​conservative patriarchy –​as a transitory mode (Coşar & Yeğenoğlu, 2011). The third stage hosts the institutionalization of a new regime in Turkey and, hence, it requires considering possible modes of patriarchy that fit into the new conditions. The institutionalization of the new regime is facilitated by the accompanying modifications in the mode of patriarchy. As the regime transformation has involved those moments when and where the feminist initiatives could manipulate for gender equality, the ruling AKP resorted to increasingly aggressive measures to monopolize its institutional power. Today, it is

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apt to note the emergence of a new mode that complies with the basics of the new regime. The anti-​rights social and political measures were less acclaimed at the party level until 2014. It was mostly the head of the party, Erdoğan, who would voice anti-​feminist and anti-​women’s rights priorities with rather provocative rhetoric –​as it happened in his likening of abortion to murder (2012) and in his open denial of gender equality more than once. Such provocative rhetoric was accompanied by the prominent party members’ anti-​feminist statements. A feminist perspective helps one to relate this pattern to the institutional changes –​ both nominal and policy-​oriented. Thus, it brings in the symbolic importance of nominal changes from the AKSB to ASPB and most recently (2018) to the Ministry of Family, Work and Social Services (Aile, Çalışma ve Sosyal Hizmetler Bakanlığı, AÇSHB) in understanding the anti-​feminist, anti-​women and anti-​ equality policy preferences that define the new regime. Erdoğan’s speech at the AKP’s First Extraordinary Congress (August 27, 2014) –​when his presidency officially started –​is representative of the historicist claim to national liberation that has increasingly been voiced in the post-​2013 period. The claim omits women and non-​heteronormative gender identities from the national imagery: We have been walking for centuries, we have been struggling to protect our fatherland, our nation and those oppressed [peoples] whom we can reach and to make the world a better place to live. (…) This movement carries in itself Sultan Abdulhamid’s [Abdulhamid II] acumen, Mehmet the Conqueror’s heroism, Osman Ghazi’s prudence, Nureddin Zengin’s courage, Sultan Alparslan’s faith. This movement carries in itself the horizon, vision, imagination of Ghazi Mustafa Kemal. This movement carries in itself the life of Adnan Menderes (…) the great effort of Necmettin Erbakan (…) the efforts of our late President Turgut Özal. This movement has embraced the God’s word, brought onto Mecca’s steep mountains 14 centuries ago and the Prophet gracefully sent to the universe as its guide. This movement has been nourished by those rich springs that extend from Ahmet Yesevi to Mevlana, from Hacı Bektaş-​ı Veli to Hacı Bayram-​ı Veli, from Yunus Emre to Fuzuli, from Ahmedi Hani to Melaye Ciziri, from Nazım Hikmet to Necip Fazıl, from Mehmet Akif to Sezai Karakoç.21 This claim has been in the vocabulary of the rightist nationalist political parties in republican Turkey. What distinguishes the AKP is that it encompasses all the male representative figures, embraced by different religious and/​or political stances in not only Ottoman–​Turkish history, but also in the pre-​Ottoman –​presumably –​Islamic history of Turkey. It is more a holistic and syncretic culturalist claim to redefine a nation’s present through the selective integration of politically and culturally symbolic persona. It fits into the pattern of the AKP governments’ gender policies, as well as into the reference to the mastership, which the party uses to define its current state.

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As noted above, the AKP’s rule until 2013 hosted neoliberal-​conservative patriarchy (Coşar & Yeğenoğlu, 2011), which was different from the Republican mode since it appealed to the Sunni Muslim sentimentalities and conservative family values in addressing women’s socio-​political status (Yılmaz, 2015). It was different from the liberal mode since it embraced the rhetoric of women’s right to work with a view to their traditional familial roles and not as individuals. The neoliberal flexibility priorities worked in tandem with this transitory mode of patriarchy. Labour market related measures that the AKP governments have taken so far were fit to its conservative agenda, juxtaposing the delimitation of the social universe with the glorification of the heterosexual family. Starting in 2014, the identification of the individual with the male person, the boiling down of the social into the familial and the Sunni Muslimization of women’s rights claims, especially in the social realm, turned out to be decisive features in Turkey’s socio-​political space. In the meantime, Erdoğan’s and other AKP spokespersons’ vociferous statements against gender equality claims were gradually turned into a matter of party politics. A parallel development was in place at the level of newly emerging civil societal formations, sharing the conservative priorities. This is not to say that Erdoğan gave up his anti-​feminist and anti-​equality stance. On the contrary, it is possible to underline the consistent overturning of the feminist equality claims for anti-​equality: You cannot push the weak and the strong into a race. Some insist on equal[ity], but shall we run 100 meters the same, women and men? (…) Woman runs against woman; man runs against man. (…) Because this is what is in line with creation, nature [fıtrat]. This is why there is no such practice anywhere in the world. You cannot keep the oppressor and oppressed in the same circle. 22 Erdoğan’s anti-​feminist performance turned out to be mostly a repetition of what he had already said, this time in such occasions as his opening speeches, delivered to the AKP’s women’s branches’ meetings and to the events on 8 March, organized by GONGOs and/​or the government. His claims were backed up by a pro-​government civil societal networking process. At the governmental level, Ahmet Davutoğlu’s family projects during his prime ministry (2014–​2016), accompanying the ASPB’s Family Project (2013), are exemplary. A  survey of the Family Bulletins published by the Ministry between 2013 and 2015 also attests to the propagation of heterosexual Sunni Muslim families with ample space reserved for the cooperation between the Ministry and Diyanet. In parallel, the Parliamentary Commission to Survey/​ Inquire the Factors that Negatively Affect the Unity of the Family and the Divorce Incidents and to Depict the Necessary Measures for Strengthening the  Institution of Family published a report in May 2016.23 The report voiced the priorities of the religious patriarchy, privileging the heterosexual family with reference to Sunni Islamic Turkish culture. As also underlined in two of

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the three statements of opposition, the way the commission run the process, the civil societal actors invited to participate in the process and those that are explicitly excluded are also telling of the new mode of patriarchy. Prominent feminist experts and/​or organizations involved in the struggle against VAW for decades were excluded from the discussions on the report. Instead, initiatives such as the Platform for Divorced People and Family, the Association of Children Left without Fathers, Fathers without Children and the Platform for Divorced Fathers were considered as partners. The report contains proposals such as decreasing the restraining period to 15 days, enforcing negotiation and moderation before starting the divorce process and bringing in a five-​year-​long surveillance period for child abusers in case of “unproblematic” and “successful” marriage with the victim(s). It also implicates enabling to locate theologians in family counselling services (Elçik, 2016).24 In this last stage of the religion-​based conservative attempts to monopolize gender equality-​related laws, the government seems to step back, to leave the room to either GONGOs and/​or short-​term civil–​societal organizations. We see first KADEM as representative of the AKP’s conservative practices. Initiatives such as the Platform for Divorced People and Family and/​or Family Platform act against the already enacted legal amendments for gender equality. In the same process, a number of women’s rights/​feminist organizations, which have long been involved in activist work in various policy spheres, are banned and/​ or closed, while feminist activists and experts encounter criminal restrictions. Ayata and Candaş (2019:  180) read this development as a matter of “de-​ institutionalization” that marks the reactive phase, following the “proactive” phase when women’s movements in Turkey have had relative leverage in effecting legislation (ibid.: 183). Familialism with immediate connection to religious morality is an important aspect of these conservative attempts (Yılmaz, 2015). The new mode of patriarchy is distinct in that it is not only advocated by the AKP cadres and/​or by Islamist political actors. Its carriers comprise those AKP members and/​or electorate who represent a wide range of socio-​cultural profiles, especially among women. One can relate women’s involvement in the backlash and the mode of patriarchy it defines to Şahin’s dismissal of feminism (see p. 2) and the aversion to a feminist stance among women politicians who came to occupy the same position. In fact, this anti-​feminist positioning can be considered a persistent theme in the discourse, adopted and reproduced by the ASPB/​AÇSHB ministers that evolved from a relatively less conservative familialistic identity to a directly religious–​moralistic one (Ayata & Candaş, 2019: 183). Exemplary is Ayşenur İslam’s attempts  –​ASPB Minister in the 62nd AKP government (2013–​2015)  –​to withdraw Turkey’s signature from the İstanbul Convention. Her successor in the 65th AKP government –​the last government of parliamentary regime in Turkey –​Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, continued with the familialist preferences in which women outside the heterosexual family attachments are not considered in policy-​making. As the regime transformation unfolded, this moralistic tendency is further reinforced within the frame of religio-​nationalistic

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discourse. Kaya’s swinging between the statements for having 50 percent parliamentary representation for women, ensuring improvement in women’s employment on the one hand25 and reservations for “the narrow and insufficient version of equality”26 on the other hand, hints at the religious conservative attempts to hijack women’s rights claims: [Our] most important goal is that woman gains the reputation that fits to her truth. The mentality that considers woman as independent from knowledge, production, family and children has prepared the grounds for an irreparable social downfall. (…) This is one of the main delusions of the modern world. The above account on the unfolding of anti-​feminism through the institutions that are presented as the venues for women’s rights is a micro representation of the new mode of patriarchy in the emerging regime in Turkey. This new regime works through personified encounters with the parties to the policy spheres that are being remoulded by the AKP governments. In this respect, the new mode of patriarchy emerges through personalism, religion-​based conservatism and a fascistic style of ruling –​in line with the regime change that the country has been experiencing. Personalistic, religious patriarchy is different from the Islamist, liberal and republican modes in that it merges the two versions of patriarchy in Sylvia Walby’s (1989; 1990) classification  –​public and private patriarchy  –​into personalistic politics. The consolidation of a familialistic frame in a variety of policy spheres extending from governmental setup to social policies and (national) security evinces this merge. So do the concurrent attempts on the part of AKP governments to monopolize the say in the making of the family laws. As Ertürk (2019) puts it, the familial sphere works as the site of contestation between different modes of patriarchy. A personalistic, religious mode of patriarchy works through the reframing of the familial relations and, as such, it is related to what Ertürk (2019: 16–​22) defines as “patriarchy adorned with Islamism”, relying on “backlash and political authoritarianism, which is systematically co-​opting and marginalizing feminist agenda and activism”.

Conclusion A feminist look at regime change in Turkey tempts one to conclude with the state, forming immediate and intimate connections with women, inviting them to heterosexual family via marriage for claiming rights. This reading attests to the fascistic track that is pursued in the constitution of the new regime in the country. It brings in the nexus of manly, personalistic ruling and the accompanying construction of the state-​ruled relations through an emergency rhetoric and legislation under extraordinary conditions. Feminist perspective also emphasizes the role of manly –​not necessarily all male –​civil societal initiatives in countering women’s rights advocacy. It considers women’s active role in the construction of

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the new mode not solely as individuals with claims to motherhood-​as-​performance but also as actors in institutional politics, counterposing gender justice to gender equality. The ongoing rights violations by the hand of the government since 2013 parallel the reconfiguration of the civil societal sphere by GONGOs –​thus, the pervasion of the social space by the institutional power-​holders. In its current state, the new regime hosts a personalistic/​religious mode of patriarchy that calls for intimacy between citizens and governing units in general, and between women and the president’s persona in particular. This mode of patriarchy works through women’s involvement in anti-​women’s rights, anti-​ gender equality and anti-​feminist policy processes. It re-​invents the vocabulary for women’s rights, turning rights into a matter of one’s procreational capacities, thus re-​producing the maleist argument for the impossibility of gender equality. It does so through women’s agency and with reference to the achievements of women’s movements in post-​1980 Turkey. The major strategy of women’s movements, especially starting in the latter half of the 1990s –​the period when women’s rights demands started gaining recognition at the institutional level (Özkan-​Kerestecioğlu, 2004) –​was manipulating the patchwork style of policy-​ making in the neoliberal order of things (Coşar & Özman, 2000), lobbying for policy-​specific, rights-​based claims rather than pursuing a holistic approach that would involve relying on struggles against structural violence. The new mode of patriarchy originates from within the same setting. The history of feminist struggle in Turkey evinces the dialectics countering this new mode of patriarchy and, thus, the personalistic rule that is being instituted.

Notes 1 Şahin quoted from Yazıcı (2011). 2 “Şimdi Büyük Ustalık Dönemine Hazırlanalım”,, 29 May 2018. 3 In a speech for the 2011 general elections, Erdoğan merged the mastership with grand mastership: “Başbakan Tuzla’dan halka seslendi”,, 11 June 2011. 4 By rights-​based political participation, I simply refer to the claims to various forms of political participation within the scope of citizenship rights. On the pros and cons of rights-​based approach for feminist claims, see the special issue of Third World Quarterly on “The Politics of Rights: Dilemmas for Feminist Praxis”, 27(7), 2006. 5 Here, neoliberalism refers to the reordering of the socio-​political sphere in accordance with the post-​Fordist accumulation regime, characterized by the preference for transnational financial activity over production and private investment over public investment (Harvey 2003; 2005). Neoliberal order of things relates to the discursive working of such reordering. 6 Association for Supporting [and Educating] Women Candidates (Kadın Adayları Destekleme [ve Eğitme] Derneği), Flying Broom (Uçan Süpürge), Association of Women Entrepreneurs (Kadın Girişimciler Derneği), Women’s Platform for the Constitution (Anayasa Kadın Platformu), Başkent Women’s Platform (Başkent Kadın Platformu), Women’s Rights Association for Anti-​ Discrimination (Ayrımcılığa Karşı Kadın Hakları Derneği). See “Açılımı kadınlara anlattı”,, 18 July 2010.

Old symbols into new settings  157 7 Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association (Türkiye Sanayici ve İşadamları Derneği –​from January 18, 2018 onwards on the official website of the Association the following English name is listed: Turkish Industry and Business Association), Ankara Entrepreneur Businesswomen and Support Association (Ankara Girişimci İş Kadınları ve Destekleme Derneği). 8 See also “Kavaf’a tepki yağdı: Utanç verici, istifa etmeli”,, 8 March 2010. 9 “Şahin kadın örgütlerini yanlış anladı”,, 6 March 2012. 10 “18-​24 yaş arası çiftlere 10 bin TL evlilik kredisi”,, 2 November 2013. 11 “Doğum kontrolü oyununu artık bozuyoruz”,, 18 June 2013. See also “Erdoğan: Bir çocuk iflas, iki çocuk iflas, üç çocuk ancak yerinde saymak!”, www., 2 January 2013. 12 Turkey’s experience with systematized State of Emergency marked the post-​1980 period. It started with the Martial Law that was first partially initiated in 1978 and routinized by the 1980 military coup d’état. It was terminated in 1987. The State of Emergency was applied in the greater part of the Eastern and Southeastern regions throughout the 1990s and until 2002. The State of Emergency between 2016 and 2018 was extended seven times. It is well documented that periods of State of Emergency host conspicuous human rights violations. Retrieved from​ bugun-​icinde-​bulundugumuz-​olaganustu-​durumla-​27-​ekim-​1983-​tarihinde-​yani-​dogrudan-​ 12- ​ e ylul- ​ a skeri- ​ d arbe- ​ d oneminin- ​ b ulend- ​ u lusu- ​ h ukumeti-​ t arafindan-​ b izzat-​ d arbeyi-​ pekistirmek-​amaciyla-​cikarilan-​olag/​, 21 July 2016. 13 In their account of developmentalist discourse, defining one phase in the history of the neoliberal order of things, Patel & McMichael (2004: 249) note the inegalitarian and repressive implications of the individuating conceptualization of social rights. They underline the counter-​conceptualization of rights “where the state remains a guarantor of rights, but where it plays no role in the authorship of those rights”. Two recent works on the making of the labour market in its formal and informal forms attest to the responsibilization of the unemployed and/​or underclass in finding work and in making one eligible for the right to work. See Işıklı (2018) and Dinler (2016). 14 “Davutoğlu Aile ve Nüfusun korunması programını açıkladı/​Video”, www.memurlar. net. 8 January 2015. 15 “Erdoğan işaret etti: Parlamentoya girsinler diye destek verenler de hesap verecek”,, 4 August 2018. 16 “OHAL’den İstifade Ederek Anında Müdahale Ediyoruz”,, 12 July 2017. 17 “Erdoğan:  Sözde akademisyenlerin haddini bilmesi lazım”,, 12 January 2016. 18 “Erdoğan’ın cumhurbaşkanlığı seçimi reklam filmi ‘Milletin Adamı’ yayında”, (1.24˝-​ 1.30˝),, 4 August 2014. Alternatively phrased as “there is a plan beyond calculations; there is a trap beyond traps” by Erdoğan in one of his campaign speeches. See “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan –​ Diyarbakır mitingi –​27 July 2014”, (10.31˝),​watch?v=5pejR5Zp-​jA. 19 “Erdoğan:  Türkiye yeni bir kurtuluş savaşı veriyor”,, 26 November 2016. 20 In colloquial Turkish, the pronoun “we” is sometimes used to connote “I” in personal accounts. Here Erdoğan talks about himself as “we”. “Gençlerle büyük buluşma -​11 April 2017”, (33:18˝ –​ 34:30˝),​watch?v=XeXrtBxu8n8.

158  Simten Cos¸ ar 2 1 “AK Parti 1. olağanüstü büyük kongresi”,, 27 August 2014. 22 The quotation here is about the arbitrary logic that runs through the personified rhetoric in government. It is also about the inner contradictions of religio-​conservative views of feminist demands for gender equality. “Erdoğan ‘cinsiyet eşitliği’nin fıtratını anlattı: Kadın kadınla, erkek erkekle koşar”,, 23 November 2018. 23 Commission report “Aile Bütünlüğünü Olumsuz Etkileyen Unsurlar İle Boşanma Olaylarının Araştırılması ve Aile Kurumunun Güçlendirilmesi İçin Alınması Gereken Önlemlerin Belirlenmesi Amacıyla Kurulan Meclis Araştırması Komisyonu”. Retrieved from​xmlui/​handle/​11543/​3122?locale-​attribute=en. 24 Also see p. 402 in the commission report cited in endnote 23. 25 “Yakın bir gelecekte kadının temsil oranı yüzde 50 olacak”,, 5 December 2016. 26 “Uluslararası kadın ve adalet zirvesi başladı”,, 25 December 2016.

References Adaman, F., Buğra, A. & İnsel, A. (2009). Societal Context of Labor Union Strategy. Labor Studies Journal, 34(2), 168–​188. Aldıkaçtı-​ Marshall, G. (2013). Shaping Gender Policy in Turkey:  Grassroots Women Activists, the European Union and the Turkish State. Albany: SUNY Press. Atacan, F. (2005). Explaining Religious Politics at the Crossroad: AKP-​SP. Turkish Studies, 6(2), 187–​199. Atalay, Z. (2017). Partners in Patriarchy: Faith-​based Organizations and Neoliberalism in Turkey. Critical Sociology, 45(3), 431–​445. Ayata, G. & Candaş, A. (2019). Turkey. In M. Afkhani, Y. Ertürk, & A. E. Mayer (Eds.), Feminist Advocacy, Family Law and Violence against Women:  International Perspectives (178–​197). London & New York: Routledge. Buğra, A. (2018). Social Policy and Different Dimensions of Inequality in Turkey:  A Historical Overview. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 20(4), 318–​331. Buğra, A. & Keyder, Ç. (2006). The Turkish Welfare Regime in Transformation. Journal of European Social Policy, 16(3), 211–​228. Buğra, A. & Yakut-​Cakar, B. (2010). Structural Change, the Social Policy Environment and Female Employment in Turkey. Development and Change, 41(3), 517–​538. Coşar, S. & Özman, A. (2000). 1990’larda Türkiye’de Sağ ve Sol Siyasetin Öncülleri. Birikim, 139, 111–​120. Coşar, S. & Yeğenoğlu, M. (2011). New Grounds for Patriarchy in Turkey? Gender Policy in the Age of the AKP. South European Society and Politics, 16(4), 555–​573. Coşkun, M. K. & Şentürk, B. (2012). The Growth of Islamic Education in Turkey: The AKP’s Policies toward Imam-​Hatip Schools. In K. İnal & G. Akkaymak (Eds.), Neoliberal Transformation of Education in Turkey (165–​177). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Dinler, D. Ş. (2016). New Forms of Wage Labour and Struggle in the Informal Sector: The Case of Waste Pickers in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 37(10), 1834–​1854. Eisenstein, Z. (1977). Constructing a Theory of Capitalist Patriarchy and Socialist Feminism. Critical Sociology, 7(3), 3–​17. Elçik, G. (2016). “Boşanma komisyonu ne iş?”,, 17 June 2016. Eley, G. (2016). Fascism Then and Now. Socialist Register 2016, 91–​117. Ertürk, Y. (2019). Feminist Advocacy for Family Law Reform. In M. Afkhani, Y. Ertürk & A. E. Mayer (Eds.), Feminist Advocacy, Family Law and Violence against Women: International Perspectives (11–​29). London & New York: Routledge.

Old symbols into new settings  159 German, L. (1981). Theories of Patriarchy. International Socialism, 2(12). Grigoriadis, I. (2018). The Rising Ride of Populist Majoritarianism in Turkey. In I. Grigoriadis (Ed.), Democratic Transition and the Rise of Populist Majoritarianism: Constitutional Reform in Greece and Turkey (53–​72). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Hacısoftaoğlu, Ç. (2012). “Şiddet” yasa taslağı ne getiriyor? Interview by Çiçek Tahaoğlu”,, 1 February 2012. Harvey, D. (2003). The New Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Işıklı, E. (2018). İşe Alım Endüstrisinin İşsizliği Yönetmedeki Rolü. In M. Ertan & O. Savaşkan (Eds.), Türkiye’nin Büyük Dönüşümü:  Ayşe Buğra’ya Armağan (501–​526). Istanbul: İletişim. Kalaycıoğlu, E. 2012. Kulturkampf in Turkey:  The Constitutional Referendum of 12 September 2010. South European Society and Politics, 17(1), 1–​22. Kalaycıoğlu, E. 2014. The Challenge of à la Turca Presidentialism in Turkey. Istanbul Policy Center, Sabancı University Turkey. Retrieved from​sites/​default/​files/​gte_​c_​ 18.pdf. Lüküslü, D. (2016). Creating a Pious Generation: Youth and Education Policies of the AKP in Turkey. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 16(4), 637–​649. Oğuz, S. (2020). İşgücü Anketlerinden Türkiye’de Ücretli-​ücretsiz Kadın Emeği üzerine Gözlemler: 2008 krizinin etkileri. Praksis, 52, 35–​68. Özkan-​Kerestecioğlu, İ. (2004). The Women’s Movement in the 1990s:  Demand for Equality and Democracy. In F. Berktay (Ed.), The Position of Women in Turkey and in the European Union: Achievements, Problems, Prospects (75–​98). Istanbul: KA-​DER. Patel, R. & McMichael, P. (2004). Third Worldism and the Lineages of Global Fascism: The Re-​grouping of the Global South in the Neoliberal Era. Third World Quarterly, 25(1), 231–​254. Sirman, N. (1989). Feminism in Turkey:  A Short History. New Perspectives on Turkey, 3(1),  1–​34. Toksöz, G. (2016). Transition from “Woman” to “Family”:  An Analysis of AKP era Employment Policies from a Gender Perspective. Journal für Entwicklungspolitik, 22(1/​ 2),  64–​83. Türkmen, B. (2009). A Transformed Kemalist Islam or a new Islamic Civic Morality? A  Study of “Religious Culture and Morality” Textbooks in the Turkish High School Curricula. Comparative Studies of South Africa and the Middle East, 29(3), 181–​191. Walby, S. (1989). Theorizing Patriarchy. Sociology, 23(2), 213–​234. Walby, S. (1990). From Private to Public Patriarchy: The Periodization of British History. Women’s Studies International Forum, 13(1–​2), 91–​104. Yazıcı, G. (2011). “Kadından sorumlu olmayan kadın bakan: Fatma Şahin”,, 7 July 2011. Yeşilyurt-​Gündüz, Z. (2012). The EU and the AKP:  A Neoliberal Love Affair?. In S. Coşar & G. Yücesan-​Özdemir (Eds.), Silent Violence: Neoliberalism, Islamist Politics and the AKP Years in Turkey (269–​294). Canada: RQB. Yılmaz, Z. (2015). “Strengthening the Family” Policies in Turkey: Managing the Social Question and Armoring Conservative-​ neoliberal Populism. Turkish Studies, 16(3), 371–​390. Yılmaz, Z. (2020). Erdoğan’s Presidential Regime and Strategic Legalism:  Turkish Democracy in the Twilight Zone. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 20(2), 265–​287.

Chapter 9

Recent right-​w ing lurches What do they have in common for India and Turkey? İsmail Doğ a Karatepe

The political development of Turkey has become a major discussion among Indian intellectuals. Why is a country like Turkey, geographically distant from India, significant in this regard? Peer (2017) reveals the parallel developments in both countries, looking closely at their most influential political figures. Similarly, Amitav Ghosh’s essay plainly demonstrates the “parallel journeys” of the Indian People’s Party (BJP) and Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). For him, “[t]‌hat political developments in India and Turkey have occasionally mirrored each other is in some ways surprising, since the historical trajectories of the two republics have little in common” (Ghosh, 2014). Indeed, it is surprising considering the empire heritage of Turkey and colonial past of India –​ which may lead some to conclude that there may be little in common between the two countries. The victory of the religious right-​wing powers in Turkey and India happened with a time lag. Thanks to the electoral support of circa one-​third of the voters, the AKP and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the election and got the majority in 2002. Likewise, the religious right-​wing BJP in India got 31 percent of the total votes polled in the General Elections of 2014 and got the majority in the Lower House of the Parliament and Narendra Modi, who is remembered as having a collective pogrom against the Muslim community (the Gujarat Riots), became the Prime Minister. The AKP, like the BJP, first succeeded in defeating the political groups representing secular ideas. Both parties have forged larger electoral alliances with different regional parties/​groups, both are organically connected with religious communities (brotherhood organizations and other religious networks). Large promises were made to fight against the corruption in which the secular order was accused of being entangled in. More importantly, both parties billed themselves around important pillars of economic growth and development, which encouraged millions to vote these parties into power. The analysis of the development of the cultural political economic landscape of both countries can shed light on the reasons behind the parallel journey between these two countries, which historically seem to have very little in common. I adopt the “most different systems” design –​a comparative

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method which focuses on the dependent variable:  the shift in power in favour of religious right-​wing parties that we have witnessed in both cases (Anckar, 2008). In contrast to other comparative methods, it does not strictly determine and apply independent variables. The purpose of this adoption is rather a productive-​cum-​pragmatic: I aim to find similarities that allow me to explore the phenomenon of the victory of religious right-​wing politics in both countries. This article is theoretically informed by the Cultural Political Economy (CPE) approach, which allows one to go beyond conventional boundaries of the political economy. Yet it will not fully operationalize the CPE to analyze two case studies in a fully-​fledged manner. Drawing on the CPE approach, this article rather reveals relevant actors, structures, institutions and discourses (ASID) in a historical context. The ASID model considers the developments of agency-​, structure-​, institution-​and discourse-​relevant factors in a specific spatio-​temporal context and “provides a generic toolkit applicable to all social engagement with the natural and social worlds” (Moulaert et al., 2016: 174). I also employ the term “imaginaries” to denote coherent semiotic ensembles. Sum and Jessop argue: this term is inspired by French use of l’imaginaire to designate an imaginary relation to the real world or, alternatively, lived experience; but we also pay more attention than much French work to the material dimensions of this imaginary relation and its implications for lived experience. (Sum & Jessop, 2013: 164) Hence, the concept does not merely pertain to sense-​and meaning-​making. It also sheds light on its material backings, as well as its results.

Conceptual contours and entry points This article provides three entry points, which open up a terrain to explore significant historical ASID-​relevant factors that explain the resemblances between the two countries’ recent political developments. They are heuristically chosen after the desk study reviewing the existing literature. The first entry-​point is the Listian “catching-​up” imaginary. This imaginary invokes a desire to “reach the level of contemporary civilization” –​symbolizing the desire to achieve western values and venerating the idea of progress. During the foundational process of these two countries, the influential cadres benefitted from rapid development, as other third world elites did at the time. I argue that this idea has never faded away and that Islamists, as well as Hindu nationalists, have heavily utilized developmentalist imaginaries. The second entry point is the transition to neoliberal economic models and their winners. I will demonstrate that champions of right-​wing politics found an economically lucrative environment in the neoliberal period. The third entry

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point is the multi-​ethnic structure and the construction of majoritarian politics, which have privileged the constituencies of the parties in question. The table below summarizes the key elements in the study that will be unfolded while discussing the historical development of these countries predicated upon these three entry points. Table 9.1 The pillars of the study Time frame Scale and Space Turning points



Discourses/​ representations The concepts brought to the fore Sources

Historical context to demonstrate the continuities in the discourse and structures Overwhelmingly national scale in a comparative manner Turkey: -​1 980 The neoliberal turn/​military junta: The rapid rise of the Anatolian bourgeoisie –​a fraction that can be perhaps best be defined as the business branch of Islamist politics in Turkey. -​Islamists filling the political void, as the left was wiped out by the junta -​2 002 The parliamentary election victory of AKP. India: -​1 990 Neoliberal turn: Socio-​economic upward mobility of the petty bourgeoisie with the liberalization in the 1990s. -​2014 Election victory of BJP. Actors situated in civil and political society: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Karamchand Gandhi, Narendra Modi as eccentric/​powerful actors that can change the course of the discourse and polity. -​The state building in the first half of the twentieth century which sows the seeds for the right-​wing swing in the political landscape. -​The neoliberal period which has given financial and political power to core supporters of religious right-​wing parties in question. -​The grand discourse of developmentalism (catching up ideas). -​Discourses/​representations venerating markets. Imaginary; hegemony; patronage relations Primary and secondary data sources, including texts written by influential political figures such as Jawaharlal Nehru

Author’s own compilation. Adapted from Baark et al., 2015: 129; Sum, 2015: 149.

The foundation and developmentalist ideas Bullet trains, four-​ lane highways connecting less populated cities and new airports mark the urban landscape as well as the political debates in both countries. The desire for development has been a cornerstone of both the BJP and the

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AKP. In recent years, showy presentations for “megaprojects” are made shortly before elections, satisfying not only the desire for development, but also demonstrating the mounting activities of the government in the construction industry. The commitment of the AKP and the BJP to development has contributed to forge their electoral success as it resonates with the masses. In this section, I argue that the desire for development is already embedded in the very foundational ideas of both republics. The idea of development and the imagined nation building process have been considerably entwined. The development idea has therefore played an important role in shaping the common sense, as well as forging alliances between different social forces. In contrast to India, the Ottoman Empire has never been entirely colonized, even in a narrow economic sense. Nonetheless, the articulation of both entities in the world economy display similar trade patterns since the beginning of the nineteenth century: they exported primary products and imported manufactured goods (Drèze & Sen, 2013: 21). Equally significant, both countries bore the marks of the bourgeoisie in the formation of the political landscape and concomitantly in the building of the nation state. The political power of the bourgeoisie stems not only from its economic power, but also from its ability to act on behalf of a collective interest. The power of the bourgeoisie in the young Turkish Republic as well as in India was not comparable with its European counterparts. The lack of capital accumulation at the time posed a challenge for these two newly independent states, whose developmental strategies were intrinsically connected to the development of the national bourgeoisie. The prominent figures of the independence movements, such as Nehru or Mustafa Kemal, were heavily influenced by the philosophically modernist and economically Listian imaginaries. Concomitantly, the economic imaginary was fashioned by an appetite of longing to catch up with the industrious Western Countries. This imaginary was highly supported by the propertied classes, who tried to align with Western counterparts. They shared the approach to develop their own industrial base, which would follow the objectives set by national governments. To achieve capital accumulation on an unprecedented scale, the economic imaginary was fashioned by the maxim that the state could strongly guide the process through several economic measures; these measures included the establishment of huge state enterprises as well as regulative elements (like subsidies). Dirigiste measures, as such, created a favourable environment for the bourgeoisie, where it could develop and enlarge its capacities. In the case of India, the scale of the collective interest was co-​constructed by colonial power, which united the Indian subcontinent not only judicially, but also through infrastructure, and which allowed the Indian bourgeoisie to grow and operate on a large scale (Anderson, 2013:  15). This allows us to partially explain on which ground the idea of the united India was upheld by the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisies’ organization at a regional scale (prince states) was politically and economically somewhat weak. A  stronger bourgeoisie organized at

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the local level might have developed a distinct regional or national identity that could have challenged the idea of a united India. The division of British India in 1947 can be partially read as a result of the scale of the collective interest of the bourgeoisie. The partition itself was preferable for the bourgeoisie as having “pan-​Indian identity” in so far as their Muslim counterparts would not compete on the large terrains of the subcontinent (N, 1989). It is noteworthy that the anti-​modernist imaginaries of Gandhi and his strong legacy did not dramatically impede on the commitment to development. Gandhi’s Swaraj aimed to dismantle the British institutions and discourses, yet it was not only a political imperative but also a cultural one, suggesting self-​rule in different spheres of life (Gandhi, 1921). With its utopian and religious embellishments, it essentially rejected the following of a western development path. Nonetheless, inserting such elements into the independence movement did not become a problem for the secular cadres of the Indian Congress Party (often just called Congress), as it made the movement more popular, especially in the rural areas of India. Although Gandhi’s prominent status lasted after having achieved independence, his anti-​developmentalist ideas were shelved-​off. The influential cadres of the Congress were grasped by the developmentalists, and modernist ideas were shaped by means of enhancing capital accumulation at a larger scale. Unlike India, Turkey arose from the dissolution of an Empire. The foundation of the Republic of Turkey coincided with the end of the First World War. In the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, the economic landscape was moulded primarily by the commercial bourgeoisie, which largely consisted of non-​Muslim segments of society who later perished and or were expelled from Anatolia and Thrace during the First World War and the following period. The new Turkish Republic’s territorial demand was relatively moderate and attainable: it strove to keep the territories that had not been occupied by the Entente Powers just after the First World War, drawing on a National Pact (Misak-​ı Millî) that gathered different sectors of society behind the goal of independence. In the post-​Second World War period in both India and Turkey, developmental plans emerged, addressing ways out of poverty. Planning, at the institutional level, was seen as a remedy for all social and economic problems, and the quickest way to develop. This planning and this type of development were not unique to India or Turkey. The third world elites of the time, including ostensibly socialist members, promoted the idea of planning, although to different extents. In the case of Turkey and India, the developmental plans were designed to support the bourgeoisie by not radically shattering local power structures in the countryside, where the right-​wing powers had dominance. The role of the domestic industrial bourgeoisie, in both cases, was confined to the production of consumer and intermediate goods. Conversely, the role of public enterprises was envisaged as being a supplier of inputs for the private sector, whose production requires a capital-​intensive and expensive investment. The parallel journey of these two countries continued with the crises of the accumulation regime, which manifested itself during the planning stages, as

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experienced in India in the mid-​1960s and in Turkey in the 1970s. The solution against this crisis was to shift to the neoliberal model, aimed at liberalizing trade in the name of promoting export. In both cases, neoliberal programs were prepared under the auspices of IMF and the World Bank. Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the resemblances between the content of programs and the way these programs were presented by the ruling classes. The political landscape in Turkey in the 1980s and a bit later in India was fashioned through a similar discourse, ascribing blame for the delay to state intervention and the idea of a developmental state. The popularity of the developmentalist ideas and desire to “catch up” remained during the neoliberal period in both countries, yet existed in different ways. At the discourse level, state intervention to the economic sphere started to be associated with scarcity. The history of Turkish and Indian underdevelopment was rewritten: Fons et origo of economic crises began to be treated as the state’s arbitrary interventions into the economy. In the case of Turkey, the notion of “tutelage” was heavily utilized: because the state has hitherto kept the bourgeoisie under tutelage, Turkey did not catch-​up the developed states. Thus, in order to further develop, according to such discourse, the market should be left alone. In the case of India, it was and still is the efficient and small state discourse, which is utilized to venerate the idea of market. The idea of development with nationalistic ideas became a source of status in both cases. In the case of India, BJP’s 2004 election campaign “India Shining” is perhaps the most striking example. The campaign hailed the high growth levels and a booming stock exchange with nationalistic pride. The campaign denotes economic optimism and the desire for development in a country mired in poverty. The slogan “my India” evoked nationalistic sentiments to engineer an imagined harmony in a country where class, caste, ethnicity and gender disparities is quite pronounced. In the case of Turkey, the AKP’s large scale construction projects are presented as a point of national pride. The idea of development was somewhat relegated to extravagant projects such as the Canal Istanbul project. Perhaps the construction and inauguration of the third airport of Istanbul is the most striking example, as none of the other projects are more expensive or ambitious than the airport, which was inaugurated as a “monument to victory”. All arguments in this section can be taken to conclude that the developmentalist ideas and the desire for catching up¸ whose seeds had been sown by the founders of both republics, were adopted by BJP and AKP. The popularity of the developmentalism has been politically and fruitfully harvested by the parties in question. Even so, developmentalist ideas and the desire to “catch up” remained varied, and were adapted to the current needs of the national bourgeoisie in each country.

The neoliberal model and its winners In this section, I argue that the social initiatives championing religious right-​wing forces found an economically lucrative environment in comparison to previous

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periods. I will first look at Turkey and then India by comparing class structure and relevant political forces. Rise of Anatolian bourgeoisie and the AKP Turkey has witnessed the rise of the Anatolian bourgeoisie in the age of neoliberalism (Demir et al., 2004: 167). The term “Anatolian” refers to spatial fixes, including cities such as Konya, Kayseri and Denizli, which are identified “as the traditional strongholds of Islamist politics in Turkey” (Öniş, 2009:  26). This bourgeoisie was also named “Green Money”, “Islamic Capital” and “Anatolian Tigers” (Beriş, 2008; Demir et al., 2004). The AKP’s electoral successes since it came to office and the rise of the Anatolian bourgeoisie have gone hand in hand. The Anatolian bourgeoisie became an integral part of the AKP and supported it to win the elections through both supportive discourse and financial aids (Beriş, 2008: 42). The Anatolian bourgeoisie emerged within the networks of Islamist linkages. These linkages constituted a sort of a business network that has been conducive to enhancing the lucrative business of the Anatolian bourgeoisie (Dönmez, 2015: 88). What is behind the strength of the linkages is mutual trust backed by religious values, codes, and political companionships. Concerning these linkages, it should be stressed that the Anatolian bourgeoisie has been heavily involved in patronage relations. However, the involvement of the Anatolian bourgeoisie in patronage relations is more than an action resting on a “take there, give here” principle, a principle that delivers mutual benefits for the participants of actions. The religious and political objectives –​ e.g. expanding the influence of Islamist politics –​play an important role in binding political and economic relations. The businessmen within the circles of the Islamist movement have engaged heavily in politics and vice versa. The close connections, due to the interconnectedness of business and political realms within the Islamist circles, have been conducive to enhancing patronage relations (Çeviker Gürakar, 2016). Liberalization of international trade and financial accounts –​ lifting control over capital accounts and the lax regulation of trade accounts –​ has been conducive to the rise of the Anatolian bourgeoisie. Concerning the liberalization of international trade, the Anatolian bourgeoisie found the opportunity to join global production networks as first and second tier suppliers. Reduced labour costs, and thus price advantage obtained by the Anatolian bourgeoisie, were partially a result of religion that helped to cement and institutionalize cohesive relations between capital and labour. The labour-​capital accord has been seamlessly established, especially in those SMEs engaged in Islamic circles. Islamist discourse has played an important role in reconciling the interests of the working class and conservative businessmen. As Adaş discusses: while workers have religious obligations to work hard, avoid idleness, respect their employers and must show utmost care not to harm the means

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of production, the employers, in turn, must be just and fair toward their employees and should give their due rights before their sweat is dried. (Adaş, 2003: 162) Religion as a vigorous “source of network” has established mutual trust among different economic groups by adhering to moral values (Buğra & Savaşkan, 2014:  16). As Buğra argues, “[i]‌n this Islamic context of industrial relations, mutual trust replaces the need for a formal labour code and labour union” (Buğra, 2002:  189). As Özdemir argues, the Anatolian bourgeoisie perceives trade unions as an obstacle that might have challenged the harmony of the production system. According to them, it is the trade unions that might divide the society into different classes (Özdemir, 2010), which is presented as a product of the “western world” (Hoşgör, 2011: 350). That is to say, the Anatolian bourgeoisie has profited from the favourable political and cultural environment, as well as public bids, as the analysis of the distribution of the public procurement contracts among different factions clearly demonstrates (Çeviker Gürakar, 2016). All these arguments can be taken to conclude that the rise of the Anatolian bourgeoisie is owed to neoliberal measures in the post-​1980 period. Both Islamist politics and the Anatolian bourgeoisie, as an entwined part of the AKP, became the winners of the neoliberal period. Market reforms in 1990s and Indian nationalism The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, National Defence League) was founded in 1925 as an underground, religious and paramilitary Indian right-​wing movement. RSS or RSS family (or better known as Sangh Parivar1) has thus far been the most influential organization in several political parties, including the Jana Sangh and the BJP. The influential cadres of the early RSS were in favour of liberalism, as the movement reflected its base, which was mainly comprised of upper castes and bourgeoisie –​namely industrialists and traders. They were generally portrayed as the Indian middle class, yearning for a better economic position.2 The high caste merchants or moneylenders strongly believed what their counterparts in London had faith in. Through market mechanisms, they thought they could expand their economic power. The RSS in return presented itself as the defenders of Hindu trading and commercial interests (Gooptu, 1997). Its power, however, relies on the incorporation of the popular classes into its political project. Therefore, the BJP’s commitment to liberalism is not historically exclusive to Indian nationalist movements (Gopalakrishnan, 2006). Yet, the cadres of the RSS and its doctrine have always been heavily influenced by the common sense of the time. In the post-​World War II period, the influential cadres of RSS adopted an interventionist and protectionist economic discourse by defending the economic interests of small businessmen. The intervention of the state in expanding infrastructure and heavy industry was not considered as a factor that might negatively impact the Indian middle classes (Mukhopadhyay, 2019; Vanaik, 2017). In fact,

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it was venerated and justified, as it was believed to bring about a rapid growth for the inner areas of Hindu lands. The state intervention was thus shaped in the discourse to fit the nationalist ideology (Schwecke, 2015). In contrast to its ancestor, the Jana Sangh, the BJP abandoned protectionist and interventionist economic imaginaries in the mid-​1990s. The inconsistencies in the economic policy can be attributed to the ideological flexibility in the ranks of the Hindu nationalist parties, especially in Jana Sangh and the BJP. As put by Chacko, this policy flexibility has been possible because of the ideological vagueness of Hindu nationalism when it comes to economic and social policy, and it was necessary by the desire of Hindu nationalist political parties to broaden their support base and capture state power. (Chacko, 2019: 400) Such a change in the economic policy course sought to broaden the electoral base and went beyond the urban petty bourgeoisie that comprised the core constituencies of the Hindu nationalist parties and the RSS (De Leon et al., 2009). The socio-​economic upward mobility of the cross-​class coalition, denoted as middle classes in the literature, into the cultural political landscape of India could not have been possible without liberalization in the 1990s. Until the introduction of liberal economic policies, the public mobility was sluggish due to preferential distribution of the public resources in favour of heavy industry and infrastructure (Schwecke, 2015):  accessing the public resources was the only way for socio-​ economic growth. However, the scarce public resources were not distributed in favour of the core constituencies of the Indian nationalist movement. Against this backdrop, the BJP could launch a campaign against the Congress in the complexion of pro-​market reforms. The success of the BJP and the economic prosperity of the middle classes in the urban areas went together, especially in the new millennium. The lift on the controls on the international trade and finance, and the concomitant wave of consumerism in the urban centres, created support for the BJP.

Construction of majoritarian politics and patronage relations This section highlights the adaptation of majoritarian politics with which, I  argue, the constituencies of the AKP and the BJP are entitled to a certain degree of primacy. The Sunni Turkish and Hindu identities are re-​constructed to consolidate the power of the political parties in question over Indian and Turkish polity. In the absence of the politics for alternative voices, there is little surprise that relying on the identity of the majority (Sunni Turk and Hindi) renders the elections as expected. India and Turkey are both good examples showing that once politics has been reduced to the religious/​ethnic identity by the political parties in power, the election may become a plebiscite for the party who represents the majority.

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All of the arguments presented in this section should be taken to conclude that majoritarian identity politics are a major factor in the success of the political parties in question. From the CPE perspective, the majorities cannot be seen as fixed since they are outcomes of cultural-​cum-​political projects. The historical course here demonstrates that the construction of the majority is very implicit in the state building processes of India and Turkey. This is to imply that the success of the BJP’s and the AKP’s majoritarian political lines stems from the tenets of the foundation of both republics. Those who suffer from the ongoing majoritarian identity politics are minorities, against whom coercion, intimidation and violence has become normalized. In the 2014 elections, few Muslims were nominated from the BJP and none of them were elected. As underlined by Chatterji et al., “consequently, for the first time in Indian history, the winning party in general elections had no Muslim in its parliamentary group in the Lok Sabha” (2019: 4). Similarly, minorities in Turkey are defined vis-​à-​vis an Islamic-​conservative identity. Those who do not identify with the Islamic conservatism are disadvantaged in several frontiers of political relations. Above all, they are selectively underprivileged in their access to the state under AKP rule (Babacan, in this volume). The change of the status of the Alevis could be taken as an example: the relevant literature suggests that their rights and power have been curbed under AKP rule (Karakaya-​Stump, 2017). The project of a nation state of Turkey was predicated on an imagined Muslim Turkish identity as a political outcome of the late Ottoman era (Keyder, 1987:  65). Within the project of the nation state, only those who adopted a Muslim Turkish identity were accepted as equal citizens. It is noteworthy that Islamists have always been a part of the landscape of Turkish politics, even though secular reforms were carried out in the foundational years. Islamists had a reasonable constituency base and they have been occupying positions in the state apparatus from the very beginning (Lord, 2018). However, the rapid rise of Islamist politics corresponds with the political settings of the post-​1980 coup d’état, which attempted to root out leftist organizations from the popular classes, hereby paving the way for neoliberal reforms. As Öniş discusses, “[t]‌he key element in the strategy of the military was to weaken the political power of left, which they regarded as the major source of potential conflict and disorder in the post-​1980 context” (Öniş, 1997: 750). The tanks rolled through and created a political void, especially in the squatter settlements, which would be later filled by Islamist activists. The decline of class politics in the post-​1980 period brought about a political setting in which political parties and organizations constructed consistencies of those whose ethnic or religious identities have been imagined by exhibiting a homogenous character. It is no wonder that right-​wing conservative parties began to compete for the support of those who identify as Muslim/​Sunni Turks. Sectarian and national conflicts became salient in this period. Yet, the coup was an attempt to go beyond coercion (Yalman, 2002: 22–​3). The newly designed power bloc was motivated to gain consent by provoking a discourse based upon the “Turkish–​Islamic synthesis”, which was efficacious in

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consolidating the power of the junta regime. The dominant discourse opened up a political space for Islamists, whose ideas resonated more broadly in political and civil society (Bose, 2018:  9). Islamist politics in general have especially benefited from the proliferation of Imam-​Hatip schools since the 1970s. These schools are vocational schools allegedly designed to train government employed imams, but have become sites where Islamist parties and organizations recruit activists. Today, key positions in state institutions are swarmed by their alumni who are politically and ideologically close to the AKP (Babacan, in this volume). In the case of India, the BJP’s Hindutva (Hinduness) imaginary has been predicated upon the construction of the Hindu imaginary embellished with religious values. The Hindu imaginary has been largely fashioned by Hindu reformers in the late nineteenth century. As put by Arundhati Roy, “until then, they had been used by the British as well as the Mughals, but it was not the way people who were described as Hindus chose to describe themselves” (Arundhati, 2014: 55). The Indian National Congress Party became the uncontested leader of the Indian independence movement and the dominant party after achieving independence in 1947. Most of its influential cadres were secular. Jawaharlal Nehru, for instance, demonstrated his distaste in The Discovery of India, writing “with all goods they [religions] have done, they have also tried to imprison truth in set forms and dogmas, and encouraged ceremonial practices which soon lose all their original meaning and become mere routine” (Nehru, 2010: 567). Yet the Hindu identity has been an integral part of the Indian National Congress Party, regardless of the secular character of Congress leadership. The construction of the Hindu identity has also been promoted by Congress in order to widen its local support base. Congress has never been hesitant to provoke sensitivities with regards to religious identities (Vanaik, 2017). The influence of religion on the party was largely due to Gandhi. This influence made the party popular, especially in rural areas of India. Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj (later translated in English as Indian Home Rule) could be seen as an articulation of religion in regard to the independence movement. The injection of religion into the independence movement in India broadened the support base of the movement. Additionally, Gandhi’s articulation of religion contributed to the nation state building process: a single consolidated territorial entity of India was ascribed with a certain identity built on religion. As dexterously put by Anderson, At a personal level, he was perfectly sincere in holding that all religions were equal before the Lord. At a political level, one religion was, inevitably, more equal than the other. Hinduism was indigenous to the subcontinent, and peculiar to it. Islam was neither. (2013: 23) The Congress shared (and is still obdurately sharing) nationalistic and religious ideas with the BJP. As noted by Chatterji et al., “the sense of Hindu majority being

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the dominant force at the heart of the Indian nation has been evolving throughout the twentieth century and has also found support among Congress leaders even as they refrained from speaking of it openly” (2019: 10). Yet this nationalism was less aggressive in comparison to the BJP, considering Congress’ attitude towards minorities. Similar statements can be made for Congress’ attitude towards secularism. Enthusiasm for the Nehruian way of secularism has been abandoned by the Congress party as they have already broken the rule of dharmnirpekshta, the State’s equal treatment of all religions. As put by Jaffrelot, “even before Hindutva forces began attacking India’s secular tradition, the Congress Party had already started undermining secularism by cynically jockeying for the support of different voting blocs and by stoking divisive issues of social identity” (2019: 51). Even though the Congress has never been equally distant to all religions, it cannot compete with the BJP, which never shies away from rhetoric that polarizes communities. Congress’ political course and favourable attitude towards the Hindu majority has never been seen as sufficient by Indian nationalists who are craving discernible preferential treatment for Hindus. Saffron, the colour of Hindu nationalism, has become more attractive among upper castes since the rise of the anti-​Muslim sentiments, and these upper castes have provided a political atmosphere with which they can identify themselves. Yet the more upper castes have deserted the Congress, the more it has relied on lower castes and Muslims. Lower class support of the Congress has continued during the post liberalization period of the 1990s, despite the Congress’ neoliberal economic policy orientation against the economic interests of the lower classes. The radicalization of upper castes –​Brahmas and other forward castes –​was necessary but by no means a sufficient means to win the majority in parliament; the support of the lower classes was central to winning the majority. In the 2014 election, Modi’s BJP managed to get roughly one-​fourth of Dalits’ votes. In 2019, it deepened its popularity among Dalits and received more than one-​ third of the Dalits’ vote. Similar to the Imam-​Hatip school example in Turkey, the current popular base of Hindutva relies on education, something that the RSS has heavily invested in. Sangh Parivar has organized several schools with Scheduled Tribes in order to articulate the tribal population (popularly known as Adivasis) to their political project. The curriculum covers typical subjects, but also includes Hindutvaized history and language. As discussed by Vanaik, “the Sangh sees its mission as not just Hinduizing but ‘civilizing’ tribals, which means inculcating lifestyle standards which represent a break from tribal practices and traditions, and more in tune with the upper-​caste Hindu-​inflected ethos of the Sangh” (2017: 46). All of the arguments above should not be taken to imply that majoritarian politics are all about cultural/​religious preferential treatment. They are predicated upon the distribution of the domestic income among different societal groups. In this context, what is salient in India is that religious identity has been highly backed by patronage relations which are largely, but not exclusively, constructed by the Sangh Parivar. This creates a broad network,

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the survival of which becomes highly dependent on the BJP’s success. Business and state relations open up a terrain on which redistribution mechanisms can enlarge the patronage network in question by integrating large masses in the urban and rural areas. Patronage relations are not novel to India or specific to BJP government. Such relations have always been present in Indian politics, and the distribution of public resources in return for political support has been documented by several observers (e.g. Chandra, 2004: ­chapter 6). During the BJP period, identity, politics and economic interests have become entangled to form new patronage relations. The most striking example is perhaps the provisions to Dalit and Adivasi communities, which have consequently extended the RSS network. Gearing towards welfare provisions in the age of neoliberalism has led to large numbers of underprivileged communities becoming more dependent on the social provisions. The social provisions can be, for instance, in the form of schools for low castes and Adivasi communities as well as student hostels.3 In the case of Turkey, public housing is a striking example. It provides enormous opportunity for patronage relations, which have brought a win-​win situation for all actors involved therein: public housing has enhanced its political power  –​indeed, the handover ceremonies of the houses have been organized as AKP rallies. The Housing Administrations’ (TOKI) activities have been presented as a success of the incumbent party during the election campaigns; more houses have been promised for lower income groups before the elections as well. Distributive policies in the form of TOKI housing projects appear strong predictors of the AKP’s election successes (Marschall et al., 2016). The recipients of the aids, mostly the urban poor, are less aware that they continue to sink into poverty. Clients in the patronage relations appear to be felicitous for these gifts4 and, in exchange, loyal to the party, which musters the electorate support primarily from the popular classes. Polls and surveys clearly show that, as household income decreases, support for the AKP increases (see KONDA, 2015, for an analysis on the June 2015 election).

Concluding reflections Instructed by the CPE approach, this study reveals relevant actors, discourses, institutions and structures in a comparative manner to explore the parallel journeys of India and Turkey’s political economic landscapes. Through three heuristically-​drawn entry points, I have highlighted historical courses that have paved the way for long-​lasting political change in Turkey and India. I  neither suggest that the design and entry points yield the best results, nor do I suggest that there is no other common factor that explains the political change in question. Nonetheless, some major common factors can be explored with this comparative approach. It leads us to conclude that the current political resemblances are unmistakable; this may pave a way for a more elaborate comparative research design with more control variables.

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I have traced the origins of majoritarian ideas and demonstrated that they are largely embedded in the foundation of both republics. The imaginaries for nation building in both cases, to an extent, are comprised of the nationalist elements in their discursive fabric. This helped to bring Hindu nationalists in India and Islamists in Turkey into power, who in return indisputably undermine secularist ideas. These secular ideas have been gradually and constitutionally eroded by the unprecedented power of the AKP and the BJP. For several observers, the legacy of Atatürk and Nehru is over due to the political change in question. I claim that it is more complicated than coming to such a clear-​cut conclusion, considering the continuity in the history of the majoritarian politics. Yet the continuity in question does not hinder the BJP’s or the AKP’s attempt to present themselves as a break in history. In the case of Turkey, the imagined new signifies economic development and pride. In the case of India, the new emphasizes on “opportunity and achievement” (Palshikar, 2019: 107). In both cases, the desire for development can be traced back to the foundations of the Republics. Erdoğan or Modi’s developmentalist ideas can be found in Kemalist or Nehruian discourse. Yet the developmentalist discourses have been refashioned by neoliberal ideas in both cases. Neoliberalism is not a simple idea with regards to both cases, as it has provided a very lucrative environment for the classes and other social forces who supported the AKP and the BJP.

Notes 1 It also consists of student’s union Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, religious organization Vishva Hindu Parishad, paramilitary group Bajrang Dal and the worker’s branch Bharatiya Kishan Sangh. 2 Middle class in Indian political discourse denotes a loose sociological category that refers to income capabilities. The concept is not defined vis-​à-​vis means of production. That means that a middle class member can be also a landlord or a lawyer or a white-​ collar IT specialist. 3 The Vidya Baharati, the educational branch of RSS, operates 12,000 schools, 3.2 million students (“PM MODI urges Vidya Bharati schools to aim for excellence”,, 13 February 2016. The network sees the “education as an artifice to educate the young generation according to Indian values and culture” (“About Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan”,, 2020). 4 Charity activities and social assistance programs, as discussed elsewhere, are conceived “as if they were a personal gift from Erdoğan or AKP” (Özdemir, 2015: 17).

Bibliography Adaş, E. B. (2003). Profit and the Prophet: Culture and Politics of Islamic Entrepreneurs in Turkey. University of Illinois at Urbana-​Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, PhD thesis. Anckar, C. (2008). On the Applicability of the Most Similar Systems Design and the Most Different Systems Design in Comparative Research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 11(5), 389–​401.

174  İsmail Dog˘ a Karatepe Anderson, P. (2013). The Indian Ideology. London: Verso. Arundhati, R. (2014). The Doctor and the Saint: Introduction to Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. London: Verso. Baark, E., Chen Yun-​chung, Pun, N. & So, A. (2015). Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta in China:  Cross-​border Integration and Sustainability. In F. Martinelli (Ed.), Urban and Regional Development Trajectories in Contemporary Capitalism (127–​147). New York: Routledge. Beriş, H. E. (2008). Türkiye’de 1980 sonrası Devlet Sermaye İlişkileri ve “Parçalı Burjuvazi”nin Oluşumu. Ekonomik Yaklaşım, 19(69), 33–​45. Bose, S. (2018). Secular States, Religious Politics: India, Turkey, and the Future of Secularism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Buğra, A. (2002). Labour, Capital, and Religion:  Harmony and Conflict among the Constituency of Political Islam in Turkey. Middle Eastern Studies, 38(2), 187–​204. Buğra, A. & Savaşkan, O. (2014). New Capitalism in Turkey:  The Relationship between Politics, Religion and Business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Chacko, P. (2019). Marketizing Hindutva:  The State, society, and Markets in Hindu Nationalism. Modern Asian Studies, 53(2), 377–​410. Chandra, K. (2004). Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Head Counts in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chatterji, A. P. Hansen, T. B. & Jaffrelot, C. (2019). Introduction. In A. P. Chatterji, T. B. Hansen & C. Jaffrelot (Eds.), Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India (1–​15). Oxford: Oxford University Press. De Leon, C., Desai, M. & Tuğal, C. (2009). Political Articulation:  Parties and the Constitution of Cleavages in the United States, India, and Turkey. Sociological Theory, 27(3), 193–​219. Demir, Ö., Acar, M. & Toprak, M. (2004). Anatolian Tigers or Islamic Capital: Prospects and Challenges. Middle Eastern Studies, 40(6), 166–​188. Dönmez, A. (2015). 25 Yılın Hikayesi. Istanbul: Imak Ofset. Drèze, J. & Sen, A. (2013). An Uncertain Glory:  India and its Contradictions. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Gandhi, M.  K. (1921). Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. Madras:  GA Natesan and Company. Ghosh, A. (2014). “Parallel Journeys? Turkey’s experience of AKP rule and its portents for India under the BJP”,, 22 November 2014. Gooptu, N. (1997). The Urban Poor and Militant Hinduism in Early Twentieth-​Century Uttar Pradesh. Modern Asian Studies, 31(4), 879–​918. Gopalakrishnan, S. (2006). Defining, Constructing and Policing a “New India”:  Relationship between Neoliberalism and Hindutva. Economic and Political Weekly, 41(26), 2803–​2813. Çeviker Gürakar, E. (2016). Politics of Favoritism in Public Procurement in Turkey: Reconfigurations of Dependency Networks in the AKP Era. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Hoşgör, E. (2011). Islamic Capital/​Anatolian Tigers:  Past and Present. Middle Eastern Studies, 47(2), 343–​360. Jaffrelot, C. (2019). The Fate of Secularism in India. In M. Vaishnav (Ed.), The BJP in Power:  Indian Democracy and Religious Nationalism (51–​61). Washington:  Carnegie Endowment. Karakaya-​Stump, A. (2017). The AKP, Sectarianism, and the Alevis’ Struggle for Equal Rights in Turkey. National Identities, 20(1), 53–​67.

Right-wing lurches in India and Turkey  175 Keyder, Ç. (1987). State and Class in Turkey:  A Study in Capitalist Development. London: Verso. KONDA. (2015). “June 7 election and electorate analysis”. Retrieved from www.konda.​en/​raporlar/​KONDAJune7ElectionandElectorateAnalysis.pdf. Lord, C. (2018). Religious Politics in Turkey:  From the Birth of the Republic to the AKP. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marschall, M., Aydogan, A. & Bulut, A. (2016). Does Housing Create Votes? Explaining the Electoral Success of the AKP in Turkey. Electoral Studies, 42, 201–​212. Moulaert, F., Jessop, B. & Mehmood, A. (2016). Agency, Structure, Institutions, Discourse (ASID) in Urban and Regional Development. International Journal of Urban Sciences, 20(2), 167–​187. Mukhopadhyay, N. (2019). The RSS: Icons of the Indian Right. Chennai: Tranquebar. N, D. (1989). Indian Big Bourgeoisie and the National Question: The Formative Phase. Economic and Political Weekly, 24(9), 454–​456. Nehru, J. (2010). The Discovery of India. Modern Classics. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Öniş, Z. (1997). The Political Economy of Islamic Resurgence in Turkey: The Rise of the Welfare Party in Perspective. Third World Quarterly, 18(4), 743–​766. Öniş, Z. (2009). Conservative Globalism at the Crossroads: The Justice and Development Party and the Thorny Path to Democratic Consolidation in Turkey. Mediterranean Politics, 14(1), 21–​40. Özdemir, Ş. (2010). İslami Sermaye ve Sınıf: Türkiye/​Konya MÜSIAD örneği. Çalışma İlişkileri Dergisi, 1(1), 37–​57. Özdemir, Y. (2015). “Turkey’s Justice and Development Party:  An utmost case of neoliberal populism”. Retrieved from​Filestore/​PaperProposal/​1afd5880-​af7d-​4232-​ a8ca-​97da30743db6.pdf. Palshikar, S. (2019). The BJP Beyond Electoral Dominance. In A. P. Chatterji, T. B. Hansen, & C. Jaffrelot (Eds.), Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India (101–​115). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Peer, B. (2017). A Question of Order:  India, Turkey, and the Return of Strongmen. New York: Columbia Global Reports. Schwecke, S. (2015). The Trivialisation of Hindu Nationalism and the Reconfiguration of the Indian Bourgeoisie. In H. Elsenhans, R. Ouaissa, S. Schwecke & M. A. Tétreault (Eds.), The Transformation of Politicised Religion:  From Zealots into Leaders (34–​54). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. Sum, N.-​L. (2015). Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta as Cross-​border Region: The Politics of Repositing and Rescaling. In F. Martinelli (Ed.), Urban and Regional Development Trajectories in Contemporary Capitalism (148–​173). New York: Routledge. Sum, N.-​L. & Jessop, B. (2013). Towards a Cultural Political Economy: Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Vanaik, A. (2017). Hindutva Rising:  Secular Claims, Communal Realities. New Delhi: Tulika Books. Yalman, G. (2002). The Turkish State and Bourgeoisie in Historical Perspective:  A Relativist Paradigm or a Panoply of Hegemonic Strategies? In N. Balkan & S. Savran (Eds.), The Politics of Permanent Crisis:  Class, Ideology and State in Turkey (21–​54). Huntington: Nova Science Publishers.

Part III

Moments of resistance against regime change

Chapter 10

Laicism and the struggle of Alevis against the rise of political Islam Hakan Mertcan

In Turkey, especially during the single-​party rule of the early republican period (1923–​ 1945), the founders stressed the secular nature of government and society. Religious practices, especially those of religious minorities, were strongly discouraged. Under the rule of the Democratic Party (DP), which took over from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the 1950 general elections, religion gradually came to be seen as part of the governing process. This instrumentalization intensified in the aftermath of the military interventions of 1971 and 1980. The new direction was bolstered by the so-​called Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis, which was soon to become an official ideology. The current dominance of political Islam under the AKP has emerged from this process of deviation from the principle of laicism. Its outcomes became more apparent after the AKP’s victory in the 2002 elections, even though the party was widely considered moderate and expected to preserve laicism since it displayed a liberal discourse. The shift from liberal discourse towards an increasingly authoritarian mindset occurred in the post-​ 2011 period. This shift has affected all elements of society: from the composition of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the educational system, to daily life in general.1 Nowhere has it been more apparent than in its treatment of the Alevis. The tipping point occurred with the attempted coup of 2016. At that time, the AKP declared a state of emergency, followed by hundreds of thousands of public employees being dismissed from their positions and many institutions closed by decree. This resulted in the concentration of virtually all administrative power in the executive and in the dominance of political Islam to an unprecedented degree. This article aims to understand how the rise of political Islam in the post-​ 2011 period affected the principle of laicism. The question, “What stance has the AKP government taken against Alevis?” constitutes a particular focus, since the position of the Alevis as the largest religious identity group outside of Sunni Islam deserves special attention. The Alevis have always been a target of political Islamists, and they will most likely be increasingly targeted due to the ongoing dissolution of laicity in Turkey. This is compounded by the ongoing war in Syria. While a main focus of Turkey’s foreign policy is to control Syrian land adjoining

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its border, this policy also has repercussions for its internal affairs. The political Islamist regime in Turkey and the Islamist terrorist organizations backed by the regime2 jointly defined the Syrian regime as an “Alevi state”, pointing out Alevis as oppressors. In this process, hate speech against Alevis gained momentum and went hand-​in-​hand with attacks. In addition to the general experiences of Alevis in the current situation, this article examines the socio-​political context of Arab Alevis (Alawis), with the aim to help better understand the general situation of Alevis under political Islam. Arab Alevis have been subject to various threats, attacks and a widespread hate discourse, especially in the wake of the Syrian war. Their responses to these pressures will be discussed by shedding light on Arab Alevi Youth Councils as a new organizational experience in the history of the Alevis. The discussions are based upon ethnographic research conducted between 2012 and 2016.

Outline of the political situation The specific situation of the Alevis within the general political development in Turkey will be first briefly outlined. As mentioned above, the AKP came to power with a liberal discourse underlined by various harmonization laws and reforms towards the EU membership, in the early periods of its rule. Moreover, it put forward a number of projects related to the Kurdish issue, which is one of Turkey’s most severe problems, and which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people. In the period starting in 2009, known as the “resolution process”, a hope for social peace emerged.3 However, along with several other reasons, the “resolution process” was abandoned, mainly because it benefited the opposition, especially the Kurdish political movement and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Meanwhile, the AKP government rushed to put an end to the de-​escalation of conflict in the summer of 2015. With the end of the “resolution process”, the government started long-​term military operations that completely suspended the law in predominantly Kurdish-​populated cities.4 This unlawfulness deepened with the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, which allegedly was organized by the Islamist Fethullah Gulen community, a former ally of the ruling party. Afterwards, the transition to the state of emergency was achieved through various legal arrangements. In fact, as Kaboğlu (2018) stated, the de-​facto state of emergency had already been put into effect on 4 April 2015 by the internal security law numbered 6638. This de facto situation was transformed into a de-​jure state of emergency on 21 July 2016. Over time, even the minimum requirements of the rule of law and democracy are no longer guaranteed. The “political Islamist mindset”, which sees the coup attempt as a “blessing from God”, obtained a great opportunity to rebuild the regime and reorganize the administrative structure, the bodies of bureaucracy, judiciary and education by issuing a large number of decrees.

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The “sticks and stones” constitutional amendment in April 2017, which was based on the unity of power and left the door ajar for a possible dictatorial regime, consolidated this process (Akdeniz & Altıparmak, 2018).5 Although it was officially declared that the state of emergency was abolished on 18 July 2018, it has been sewed into the law and has become effective in practice. Furthermore, even though the state of emergency has been abolished, its outcomes still exist. In fact, an administration of the state of emergency has been legalized to persist though it is not mentioned. Today, severe human rights violations are normalized; oppositional activists, students, scientists, writers and journalists are detained and arrested. After laying out the general picture, the following sections will focus on the issue of laicism and the situation of the Alevis within this picture.

Theoretical definitions and historical background We find the etymological roots of the word laic in Greek and Latin. In Greek, “laos” means non-​clergy, and laikos means related to the people/​regarding the public. In Latin, “laikos” means not interested in religious affairs. In French laic/​laique refers to things unrelated to religion (Tanör & Yüzbaşıoğlu, 2001: 85). In short, laicism is a concept that means separation of church and state, so that believers of different religions, non-​believers or atheists all have equal rights before the law. The roots of laicism as a social movement are found in the eighteenth century and in the philosophy of the enlightenment. Laicism’s first concrete response can be found in the 1905 Law in France (Mertcan, 2013: 62–​3). The basic features of a laic state can be briefly listed as follows (Mertcan, 2013: 46): 1 . Institutional separation of religion and state. 2. Not having an official state religion and the absence of compulsory religious education. 3. No legitimization/​justification of the state’s actions by religion. 4. Impartial/​neutral state towards religions: the state does not recognize, privilege or promote any religions. 5. Guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience and worship. Moving from this definition, it can be argued that Turkey has always faced serious obstacles in the process of laicization. The founders of the republic claim that the laicism they followed was mainly based on French laicism. Actually, the implementation of laicism in the constitution of the Turkish Republic in 1937 occurred even before its implementation in France, where it was first adopted as a constitutional principle through the 1946 Constitution. Nevertheless, laicism in Turkey was implemented in a considerably different way than in France.

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The founders were well-​aware of the influence of religion on the masses. The dominant concern was that religion could be used by those forces opposed to the newly established form of secular government. Thus, religion was not to be given free reign, but rather kept within the purview of the governing authorities (Shively, 2008:  684). Accordingly, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (hereafter Diyanet, by its Turkish name), which was shaped according to a Sunni-​Islam interpretation, would have the mission of controlling and governing religion in society. With this, religion became a part of the official ideology of the state, and the Diyanet was positioned as one of the ideological tools of the state. Against this backdrop, the Republic of Turkey cannot be considered as a real laic state from the very beginning (Mertcan, 2013: 95–​140, 147–​97). Instead, the construction could only be defined as a state-​governed religious model. During the single-​party rule (1923–​1945), the practices were mostly directed at religious suppression or were intended to reduce the social appearances of religion. These practices began to change with the multi-​party regime. In the 1950s, under the DP governments, the use of religion as a political tool was widened, and especially in the aftermath of the 1971 and 1980 military interventions, significant deviations occurred in the construction of laicism. The direction of the new path was towards the so-​called Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis (TIS), which had already been introduced and developed in the 1970s, mainly by a group of right-​wing thinkers organized within the association “Aydınlar Ocağı”, which had already been founded in the 1960s under the name “Aydınlar Kulübü”. The main aim of this association or club was combating leftist and socialist ideologies and movements that were spreading among the population (Aydınlar Ocağı, 1973:  207; Mertcan, 2013:  210–​1; Timuroğlu, 1991; Copeaux, 2000). Since the beginning of the early 1980s, the influence of the TIS has continued to rise in different fields of social life. According to this ideology, the main components of the “national culture” are “Turkishness” and “Islam”. These two components cannot be separated from each other. Since the conjunction of Turkishness and Islam are accepted as an ideal state of society, the reconstruction and dissemination of these ideologies were assigned to the state. Thus, the state and, subsequently, society should be protected and strengthened. A clear reflection of this understanding could be seen in the new constitution from 1982, which was introduced after the 1980 military coup. One of the documents showing the acknowledgement of the TIS at the official level is the “National Culture Report”, prepared by the State Planning Organization. The report mentions the unifying power of religion and the importance of Islam for the Turkish nation and as a means to strengthen national consciousness. It also emphasizes the importance for the state to have integrative religious and moral policies (Mertcan, 2013: 223–​7). The table below illustrates the main developmental stages of laicism in Turkey between 1921 and 1982.

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Constitution Period •  1923: Adaptation of the official religion •  1924: Abolition of the Caliphate and Religion Ministry (Şer’iyye ve Evkaf Vekâleti) •  As a paradox: The Presidency of Religious Affairs was established.

Adoption of laicism as a constitutional principle

Constitution Period •  It is forbidden to change the three articles. •  Article 1 is about the form of the state: “the State of Turkey is a Republic”



Constitution Period •  1928: Removal of official religion •  Secularization of parliamentary oaths: the parliamentarians would no longer swear on God; they could swear on their honour

Constitution Period •  The Presidency of Religious Affairs became a constitutional institution

The current situation of laicism and political Islam As Amin explains, political Islam does not have a progressive and democratic solution to today’s social and economic issues (Amin, 2001: 3–​6). Political Islam is not necessarily anti-​capitalist or anti-​imperialist, but it uses these topics rhetorically in an opportunistic and pragmatic manner. Islamic organizations aiming at seizing power use Islam as an ideological tool. These groups have no further relationship with “liberation theology”. They argue that Muslim believers must live only under the rule of an Islamic state. They value the idea of submission, not the idea of emancipation of the people. Başkaya (2016) also stresses that political Islamists do not have a consistent, progressive, trustworthy and promising project or perspective for society. They seek the solution in the grandeur of past eras. In other words, they try to mesmerize people with the fictional glory of history. In particular, political Islam completely opposes secular lifestyles and has a hostile attitude towards the principle of laicism. The AKP, as the current representative of political Islam in Turkey, has built on the historical and ideological ground outlined above. Following the AKP’s victory in the 2002 elections, shortly after one of the most severe economic and political crises in Turkey, political Islam started to become more powerful and dominant in public life. In its first period, immediately after taking over the government, the AKP started to campaign for democratization of the country through extensive reforms. Backed up by liberal intellectuals, business circles

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and external agents, including the European Union and international financial institutions, the AKP promoted a liberal discourse. However, as it became more and more obvious in the following years, the aim of this liberal discourse was to create a stronger legitimacy for its real agenda. The main aim of the AKP was to strengthen its power while weakening the strongest opposition, the power of the Kemalist establishment. The Kemalists were traditionally strong in varying institutions, from military service to bureaucracy and the media. They were socially rooted in the urban middle class. After weakening the Kemalism, the AKP accelerated its authoritarian agenda while further demolishing the principle of laicism, which has been on shaky ground since the establishment of the Republic. Besides its anti-​laicist direction, the AKP also tried to re-​establish “Turkishness” as the dominant national identity in Turkey. However, even in the reestablishment and the empowerment process of “Turkishness”, the AKP deployed religious discourse, practices, rituals and symbols as reference points. One example of this discourse that serves to consolidate the authoritarian rule, is the declaration of State President Erdoğan in August 2018, when the Turkish lira depreciated against the US dollar. The president portrayed the currency crisis as “an attack on our economy, no different from a strike against the azan and flag”.6 Since Erdoğan and the AKP identify themselves as defender of the homeland, they cast any critique against them as a threat and an attack on the unity and integrity of Turkey. The general attempt of the AKP can be characterized as further institutionalization of the Islamist mindset, by applying methods, tools and institutions of the previous periods, such as compulsory religious lessons, the Presidency of Religious Affairs and Imam-​Hatip Schools, in an eminently pragmatic manner. The 1980 coup brought structural changes to the educational system in terms of religious education, in addition to many other measures. Following the coup, integrated compulsory religion courses were integrated into to the national curriculums, a direct contradiction to the principle of laicism in the constitution. As mentioned before, the AKP followed a relatively liberal attitude in the first few years following 2002. Yet it gradually took steps towards a more religious educational scheme, especially in the aftermath of the implementation of the 4+4+4 educational system in 2012. Starting in 2012, there began a significant increase of religious schools (Imam-​Hatip schools), with more and more students required to enrol, whether they wanted to or not.7 At the same time, compulsory religious classes have also been extended in the general school curriculum, along with optional religion-​based courses having been introduced. In brief, compulsory religious courses in schools have become stricter and a Sunni religious education is imposed on students from every kind of religious, secular or irreligious backgrounds. Students are forced, in one way or another, to take these courses that were meant to be optional.8 A similar policy applies in the appointment of teachers. Compared to the allocation of teachers for other school subjects, the portion of teachers of religion has significantly

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Imam-Hatip school statistics (Egitim-Sen 2017)





1200 1000








200 0


02 20 −03 03 20 −04 04 20 −05 05 20 −06 06 20 −07 07 20 −08 08 20 −09 09 20 −10 10 20 −11 11 20 −12 12 20 −13 13 20 −14 14 20 −15 15 20 −16 16 −1 7


The number of schools

The number of students


Total number of students

The number of school

Figure 10.1 Imam-​Hatip school statistics (Egitim-​Sen 2017).

risen on a national scale. Religion teachers are privileged by appointments, promotions, as well as on the level of administrative positions. Considering these developments, it can be claimed not only that the number of the religious courses have increased but that the whole education system has been going through a remodelling phase towards religious doctrine (Eğitim-​Sen,  2017). At the same time, the Ministry of Education has signed protocols for cooperation with many religious foundations and organizations like TÜRGEV, IHH, Ensar Vakfı, Birlik Vakfı, Hizmet Vakfı and Hayrat Vakfı.9 Children from poor families are especially attracted by these types of schools, courses and dormitories run by religious communities, as they offer educational opportunities without charge. Even kindergarten students are under the siege of religious ideology. For example, the Diyanet organizes special Umrah tours for elementary students. The President of the Diyanet, Ali Erbaş, stated: “we started the Qur’an course program five years ago, for 4–​6  year old students, with about 3000 students. We have reached 150 thousand now”.10 The Diyanet is a giant (Sunni Islamic) public institution that is growing and getting stronger. In 2018, according to the statements of Erbaş,11 the Diyanet had more than 144  thousand staff (Imam, preacher, teacher, etc.), running more than 88 thousand mosques, more than 18 thousand Quran courses,12 together with a giant budget exceeding 10 billion TL.13 The government has recently made legal arrangements to sweep away mixed education in schools, and it has been defending these reactionary practices in the name of democracy.14 The “Bylaw on Opening, Closing and Naming Institutions” entered into force on 24 June 2017.15 Through this bylaw, schools have been obliged to open Muslim prayer rooms for men and women separately. In summary, there is a great effort to reconstruct education with religious ideology rather than

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towards scientific approaches or critical thinking. This is also a concrete reflection of the “religious and vindictive/​revengeful generation” project aiming to indoctrinate little children with Islamist mindset and militant sentiments.

The response of Alevis As explained above, with the AKP, political Islamist ideology increasingly dominates the public sphere. Alevis are one of the groups most affected by these conditions. In the following section, we will discuss the situation of Alevis under the authoritarian regime of the AKP, their reactions to the policies of this authoritarian regime, and the forms of their struggle. When we closely analyze the case of Alevis, with a population of over 15 million today, it can be easily seen how grim the political picture is. “Cemevi”, the prayer place of Alevis, is not accepted as an official worship centre since the Turkish State has adopted a Turkic-​Sunni-​Hanafi identity. This Sunnism is a state-​supervised version. Alevis are frequently the recipients of hate speech, and this hostility towards Alevis has only been increasing in the AKP period. The AKP and Erdoğan have often targeted Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP (the main opposition party), because of his Alevi origins.16 Today, children of Alevi and pro-​secular families are either forced to enrol in religious education institutions or are faced with the obligation to take religious courses that are supposedly “elective” as well as the compulsory ones in the “4+4+4” education system mentioned above, and cannot complete or continue their education process without learning Sunnism. Compared with the period previous to AKP, it could be stated that Turkish students have never faced such an oppressive and assimilative educational policy. Although some Alevi families applied to the court to protect their children from compulsory religious courses, they could not achieve any gains in Turkey. They brought these cases to the European Court of Human Rights, which took a decision in favour of freedom of religion for Alevis. But the Turkish government did not implement the court’s decision. Instead, the AKP further fortified Sunni studies throughout the whole education system. Alevi NGOs organized huge demonstrations directed against compulsory religion courses and the Diyanet and the government’s hatred discourse in the context of the war in Syria. The fears and frustration of Alevi communities especially increased during this war, due to provocations and threats by vandals. Alevi homes were marked with a cross. As a threatening reminder of previous Alevi massacres, during which Alevis’ houses were marked with crosses to indicate where they lived before they were killed, it has become a daily routine for Alevis to once again find their homes marked. It has also become more challenging and even dangerous for Alevis to express themselves. Although the Alevi community lived in “silence” for many years in Turkey, they began expressing themselves in the public arena more frequently in the 1990s. In particular, Alevi communities became visible for demanding

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rights after the Sivas Massacre, which had been carried out by political Islamist groups against a meeting of Alevi organizations in 1993. Although the Turkish governments never acknowledged the political demands of Alevis, many Alevi NGOs were established, allowing Alevi communities to consolidate political and electoral power. Alevis are predominantly lower class members; hence, they are economically poor. Nonetheless, they have built at least one thousand Cemevi by their own efforts without any state support. These Cemevis serve almost all Alevi communities to practice their religion. Alevi NGOs also established their own institutions for conducting research and studies about Alevi beliefs and culture and to organize national and international academic conferences and training programs for Alevi NGOs and the Alevi Youth. However, current political conditions in Turkey have again undermined the Alevi communities’ confidence to safely express themselves. Alevi NGO leaders are occasionally arrested for their activities and political opinions.17 Striking examples for the assimilation policies directed against Alevis are the so-​called Alevi Workshops held between 2009 and 2010, which were organized by the AKP in the framework of the EU membership process. Most of the Alevi NGOs and Alevi opinion leaders participated in those workshops. As a result of these seven workshops, a report was prepared and published. In the beginning, the aim of those workshops was claimed to be defining, discussing and developing a methodology to solve the problems of Alevis. However, as in other ostensibly democratization efforts, such as the Kurdish issue, rather than solving the problems as claimed, these aims were blocked and transformed into oppressive implementations (Ecevitoğulları & Yalçınkaya, 2013: 18). The report was clearly not based on finding solutions to the Alevis’ problems, but on disrupting the structure of their existence, as well as dissolving their already weak organizations and creating “the Alevi” of the state. Alevi communities were again confronted with assimilationist policies. Many Alevi NGOs protested against these policies. They organized a big demonstration in İzmir in March 2011. Thousands of people participated in this demonstration, which was named “Equal citizenship for laic and democratic Turkey”. Although the Gezi Uprising in 2013, which was the largest protest in recent Turkish history, was joined by all democratic groups, there are many indications that the main group was composed of Alevis. The Uprising was a very strong reaction against political Islam and the AKP government. Many protesters were killed by the police during this uprising and almost all of them were Alevis (Lord, 2019: 63–​6). Yalçınkaya’s statement (2014: 21) points out the feeling of many Alevis in an illustrative manner: “When it comes to Alevis and similar minority groups, the [Turkish] State, with all known classical [tyrannical] features, appears with its well-​known dragon girth”. In December 2013, Alevi NGOs organized another huge demonstration called “Equal citizenship demonstration”.18 In May 2014, Uğur Kurt, an Alevi person who participated in a funeral in a Cemevi (place of worship) at Istanbul Okmeydanı, was killed by the police. This case made it very clear that Alevis

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are not safe anymore even in their own place of worship. After this terrible case, Alevis carried out demonstrations all over Turkey.19 Alevi NGOs held a long meeting to come up with a common policy and practice. To protest government policies, Alevis gathered in many big cities. Furthermore, Alevi NGOs participated in many democratic platforms emphasizing democracy and laicism in the following years. One of these was a platform which was settled after the military coup attempt in July 2016, including unions, political parties and NGOs. This platform prepared a declaration to support freedom of speech, democracy and laicism. Unfortunately, it could not be very effective because of the harsh and undemocratic atmosphere characterizing the period after the failed coup attempt. In 2016, Alevi media channels such as TV10 and Yol TV, together with leftist media channels like IMC and Hayat TV were closed; some staff who worked for TV10 were arrested.20 Despite the state of emergency and the massive threats against Alevis and their representatives, Alevi communities and NGOs did not stop protesting and commemorating Alevi massacres in the history of Turkey. Last but not least, in the context of the struggles for laicism, it is a requisite to mention Egitim-​Sen (Education and Science Workers’ Union) as it merges the struggle for modern, civil and laic public education with the struggle for social rights and democracy.21 So, Alevis have been struggling determinedly. By gathering around the Alevi identity, they could raise the awareness of other democrat-​progressive groups in Turkey for the increasing conflict atmosphere created in the country by political Islamists. Although they could not achieve significant gains vis-​à-​vis the AKP governments, they still were able to organize themselves under most unfavourable conditions. They were able to build solidarity networks and they have demonstrated a strong will to hold on to their culture and traditions. All in all, they built the main backbone for democratic and progressive struggles throughout the history of Turkey, which also holds true for the AKP era. Arab Alevi youth responses Since the violence in Syria started in March 2011, a hate speech has increasingly been deployed against Alevis, particularly against Arab Alevis. The Syrian regime has been referred to as an Alevi-​Nusayri dictatorship, and the problems attributed to this regime have been attributed to Alevis as the alleged owners of the power in the region. An almost instant reflection of this political attitude and discourse started to be felt in Turkey, when the language addressing Alevis frequently took on an insulting, offensive and threatening tone. This tone also implied that Arab Alevis living in Turkey were followers of the Syrian regime and had ties to the Syrian Intelligence Service and paramilitary organizations. Arab Alevis were portrayed as a group that could easily stab Turkey in the back in case of any conflict between Turkey and Syria. The uneasiness and the fear resulting from such a threatening tone has led some Arab Alevis to believe that

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it is necessary to organize within themselves first, and then to act more closely with other Alevi communities in the country. Despite an increasing focus on the identity and politics of Arab Alevis since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011, there is still little scholarly work on Arab Alevis as a special sub-​group among the Alevi community in Turkey. Examining their socio-​political situation and the responses against the pressures and threats in front of political Islam will shed light on grassroots organizational processes. It will also help to better understand the overall situation of Alevis vis-​ à-​vis political Islam. The following section is based upon ethnographic research by the author among youth organizations of Arab Alevis. It reports the results of participant observations and interviews conducted between 2012 and 2016.22 It should be seen as preliminary research that could pave the way for further research about the situation of Arab Alevis in Turkey. Arab Alevis in general Arab Alevis comprise a significant minority population scattered across the Middle East. They are mostly located along the Mediterranean coastline. Arab Alevis in Turkey are estimated to comprise around one million people, although no official census data is available. Arab Alevis are an ethno-​religious group, also referred to as Nusayris, describing themselves as Arab ethnically and as Alevi in terms of their religion. Characterized as a heterodox Islamic community, they are known as the Batiniyya, which refers to an esoteric interpretation of sacred texts. Their history and collective memory is shaped by the experience of persecution in the Ottoman Empire, massacres and forced migration together with several instances of resistance to the political authority. Composed of significant minority populations chiefly located in Syria and Turkey, with varying political trajectories, the community is legally recognized in Lebanon, where it is represented in the parliament. Although Arab Alevis are dispersed across various other Middle Eastern regions where they often maintain their existence by hiding their identity, significant populations of Arab Alevis can also be found across the globe, from Europe to the USA, to Australia, as a result of forced or voluntary migration movements since the nineteenth century. Within Turkey, Arab Alevi populations are traditionally concentrated in the provinces of Antakya, Adana and Mersin, although over the years many Arab Alevis have migrated to larger cities such as Istanbul and Ankara in search of better economic opportunities and access to education. Yet the Arab Alevis have never been legally or constitutionally recognized in the Republic of Turkey, despite the country’s multicultural reality. As with other Alevi groups, the Arab Alevis’ religious freedom has been largely curtailed, while their sacred sites are not recognized officially. In this manner, they are a community that exists in name but not in form, given that they have often had to hide their identity. State authorities mostly regard them with suspicion; they have been seen as a potential threat to “national unity”. Just like other ethno-​religious groups that don’t fit into

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the Turkic-​Sunni scheme, Arab Alevis have been targeted with assimilationist (Turkification and Sunnification) and repressive policies throughout republican history. In the one-​party era between 1923 and 1945, the Culture Committees (Hars Komitaları) were the key engines through which the Arab Alevis were targeted with Turkification policies. Tied to the CHP and People’s Houses (Halk Evleri), the Culture Committees were established as cultural associations headquartered in Ankara with organizational branches in Adana, Tarsus and Mersin. In the multi-​party era, Sunnification policies targeting the Arab Alevis gained pace, particularly with the Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis agenda. The introduction of compulsory religious education classes adopted in the 1982 constitution has fortified these assimilative pressures in subjecting school children to Sunni Hanafi indoctrination and has intensified the “othering” of Arab Alevis. Yet, despite these intense and partially successful assimilationist politics, the Arab Alevis continue to demand recognition and respect for their ethnic and religious identity, together with equal citizenship rights (Mertcan, 2014). Arab Alevi youth councils In the aftermath of their first appearance in the Alevi meeting in Izmir in 2011 with Arabic posters, the Arab Alevi youth gathered under the Arab Alevi Youth Councils in 2012 (Mertcan, 2011). Their main mood can be characterized as “Enough of assimilation”, which is already an achievement when we consider that the Arab Alevi community had been facing intensive pressure and assimilation policies since the Ottoman period without developing collective forms of protest. In the following years, they fought hard to resist assimilationist pressures. They engaged in intensive and productive discussions about Alevism and the history of Alevism. They studied many topics related to Arab Alevism, such as art, literature, cinema, music, folklore, history and beliefs. On many distinct levels, commissions were created, and several workshops and courses were organized in many cities. These activities could be interpreted as a kind of inner enlightenment. Although these young people represented a certain intellectual segment, they were not alienated from the overall community thanks to the advantage of speaking the native language. This advantage provided an opportunity for a sincere and close relationship with the community. Even though they were struggling against jihadist groups that were active in Turkey as well as in Syria, they revealed positive attitudes and solidarity towards the activities of Syrian refugees. There were efforts to establish relations with Alevis in different countries, especially Syria and Lebanon. They also developed associations with different leftist groups, democratic associations and other Alevi associations by organizing common activities, including numerous marches related to social issues, like the problems of Alevis in Turkey and the Alevi massacre in Syria. Most importantly, they tried to convey their message to the whole of society. They gained attention with their original discourses, visual materials

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and activities, including press statements, marches, rallies, commemorations, meetings, youth camps, forums, panels, conferences and campaigns (Mertcan, 2014:  338–​41).23 By building up alternative sites of communication, information and education, these activities served Arab Alevis to resist Turkification and Sunnification policies, particularly when these policies were intensified after 2011. For the first time on 1 May 2012 in Ankara, the Arab Alevi Youth Councils participated in demonstrations with a poster that defined and introduced them. Later, their synergies spread, and many councils were established in many big cities such as Ankara, Istanbul, Adana, Antakya, Mersin, Eskişehir, Muğla and İzmir. They participated with their original styles, banners and slogans in the struggle. Together with a group of Arab Alevi intellectuals, members of the Councils started to publish a magazine called “Ehlen” (Welcome) as the first magazine of the Arab Alevis in Turkey. The aim of Ehlen as an independent magazine is to pass on the Arab Alevi heritage. Many articles and stories have been published about the cultural, artistic and political heritage of the Arab Alevi community in Turkey trying to preserve the cultural heritage of their ancestors, who have been subject to devastating forced assimilation. Commonly, “Ehlen” has been distributed by Councils. In certain areas, the distributors came together on the streets, opened up magazine stands and tried to create an awareness of certain issues also by distributing declarations. Visiting shopkeepers and undertaking special efforts to organize high school as well as college students have been prominent activities to spread their message. They have managed to draw attention by innovative activities related to their own beliefs and cultural characteristics, as well as using classic forms of propaganda. They celebrated special days and holidays of Alevis in modern ways. For example, in some marches, they carried traditional symbols of the Arab Alevis, such as basil flower and incense. In this sense, these activities can be seen as a synthesis of tradition and modernity. Furthermore, the Arab Alevi Youth has tried to popularize collective production to share culture by cooking and delivering various special meals and desserts, such as “ashoura”, which is a special meal commonly served on certain holy days. The main aim of these activities was to reproduce and rebuild the culture in a collective way. They organized many activities in holy places by visiting and protecting them against assimilation. In this manner, these places were defined and accepted as main sites of cultural revival. Particularly in Antakya, hiking and picnics were arranged periodically. Another important aspect of these gatherings was to raise awareness toward the ecological surrounding. The main motto of the bush walks was: “we are going to protect our habitat and our history!”. Overall, the Councils acted with a democratic consciousness. They emphasized the importance of grassroots organization conjoined by an anti-​fascist and anti-​ imperialist discourse. They showed solidarity with different social groups and were involved in struggles related to human rights and environmental issues.

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Even though many members from different leftist political parties and groups were part of these Councils, the Councils acted independently as a new form of democratic organization in the Arab Alevi history. In the broadest sense, they were intended to be a component of the struggle for democracy. It could be concluded that this youth movement provided an important experience in the history of the Alevis, in their struggle for recognition and equal rights. They were noticed by almost all Arab Alevi institutions, and they were appreciated by the community in general. They have continued their debates over the course of action for more than five years and been in action to rebuild their identity. These activities have reached many young people, especially college students. However, many internal and external obstacles prevented this movement from leaping forward. Unfortunately, the activities of the Councils have slowed down after 2016, due to several reasons summarized as follows:

• Failure of institutionalization process, lack of centralization or a strong

coordination. • Pragmatist, sectarian and disruptive attitudes of some members who came from radical leftist groups. • Lack of experience because of being the first model for this kind of organization. The most important reason was the pressure and the fear environment created by the state of emergency in the wake of the coup attempt, which has silenced almost every oppositional activity in Turkey. Grassroots activities carried out in public spaces in particular became very difficult to follow up. Nevertheless, the slowing down does not rule out the originality and the influence of the councils. In terms of having built a resistive and oppositional experience, the youth movement may well serve as an important basis or catalyst for an oppositional potential in the future.

Conclusion During the early modernization process of Turkey, despite serious contradictions and obstacles, many adjustments in political and legislative systems implemented laicist elements and stimulated a laicization process. Nonetheless, the separation of religion and state has always remained incomplete. The existence of the Diyanet as a public institution, exclusively serving Sunni Islam, is the greatest proof of this. Not officially, but practically, Sunni Islam has always been in the position of the official religion. Religions and beliefs outside of Sunni Islam have not been treated equally at any time; on the contrary they have been subjugated to assimilation policies. Although this situation endures from the first days of the Republic, there is an accelerated devolution from the laic implementations, beginning with the 1950s and reaching to present times.

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From the 1970s onwards and boosted by the military coup of 1980, political Islam has become more and more effective and consolidated throughout state institutions. As outlined, the main domain of this general frame is the educational system, which exposes the whole society to assimilative policies based on the “Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis”. While undermining the already weak laicism gains and trying to create a political hegemony over political bodies and social life, the AKP has sometimes used the discourse of “religious freedom”, though this discourse was merely the result of opportunist tactics. It has used the discourse of “freedom” to strengthen its political presence, and to attain and preserve political power. In practice, the AKP has not intended to pave the way to religious freedom, but toward an authoritarian political regime. We have argued that the position of Alevis within the current political situation illustrates the characteristics and prospects of the regime. Today, Alevis are extremely worried about the assimilative policies that gained momentum with the rise of political Islam. The proxy war launched in Syria in March 2011 was just opening another door to hell for Alevis. During this process, there appeared a rapid rise of hate speech towards Alevis in general, and towards Arab Alevis in particular. The fear and the uneasiness created by this discourse have led Arab Alevis to better realize the need to organize and to act together with the whole Alevi community. In this political mobilization, Arab Alevi Youth Councils, being the first in Turkish political history, have represented a prominent youth movement. As a very recent development, the 31 March 2019 election has caused a potential setback for the rise of political Islam. However, political Islam has strengthened its position at the local and national level as well. The disruption of democratic institutions caused by the rise of political Islam has reached an unprecedented degree. Of course, this condition also affects other cultural groups outside of Turkic-​Sunni Islam. Furthermore, pressures and restrictions on secular lifestyles, plus scientific, intellectual and artistic freedoms affect huge parts of the population beyond cultural boundaries. In this context, Alevis and their organizations pursue their struggles, including street protests and juridical quarrels. Although the current situation renders these struggles more difficult than ever before, they could not be stemmed completely. Alevis continue to raise their claims for human rights and freedoms, democracy and laicism, in persistent ways, side by side with other democratic-​progressive forces. Overall, these struggles still constitute a significant potential to reconstruct democratic institutions as well as a truly secular state.

Notes 1 Many policies of the AKP in the early period led to a stronger executive branch of the state through the use of decree laws and therefore a more centralized decision-​making process, which is the one of the most important indicators of authoritarianism (Tören, 2019: 5–​6; Oğuz, 2016).

194  Hakan Mertcan 2 The government’s relationship with radical Islamist groups fighting in Syria is much debated. Some of these groups have made bloody attacks, most of them in 2015, including 5 June in Diyarbakır, 20 July in Suruç, 10 October in Ankara and 20 August 2016 in Gaziantep. 3 See Topçuoğlu (2012) for a comprehensive study on the Kurdish issue and its solution discussions. 4 Following the Ceylanpınar attack in 2015, the government announced that the “resolution process” was suspended. Pressures, arrests and purges on the Kurdish political movement have been intensified. 5 As a result of the emergency decrees, 116,250 people were dismissed from public service and their passports have been revoked. One hundred forty media organizations, including television, radio and periodicals, and 30 publishing houses were shut down. It is estimated that at least 2,500 media workers have become unemployed. 6 “Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan:  Ekonomimize saldırının, ezanımıza ve bayrağımıza saldırılardan farkı yok”,, 20 August 2018. 7 “ ‘Dinde zorlama yoktur’ derken zorla imam hatip”,, 23 July 2019; “Zorla Imam Hatip”,, 29 March 2018. 8 “Seçmeli dersler de zorunlu oldu, din dersi 6 saate çıktı”,, 29 September 2018; “Seçmeli değil zorunlu: Dini içerikli olmayan dersleri seçmek isteyen öğrencilere ‘Öğretmen yok’ yanıtı”,, 8 February 2018. 9 “2015–​2016 Eğitim Öğretim Yılı Sonunda Eğitimin Durumu /​Sunum”, tr, 16 June 2016. 10 “Diyanet Başkanı: 4–​6 yaş grubu Kur’an kursunda 150 bine ulaştık”, www.cumhuriyet., 6 September 2018. 11 “Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığının Personel Sayısı Belli Oldu”,, 31 January 2018. 12 See for official statistics: 13 “Diyanet’e dev bütçe! 29 kurumu solladı”,, 11 October 2018. 14 “Karma eğitimin sonlandırılmasına kim ne dedi”,, 11 September 2018. 15 “Millî Eğitim Bakanlığı Kurum Açma, Kapatma ve Ad Verme Yönetmeliği”, www., 24 June 2017. 16 “ ‘Sizin inancınızı binlerce kişi aynı anda hiç yuhaladı mı?’ ”,, 18 June 2012; “Kılıçdaroğlu, Alevi olduğunu söyleyemiyor!”,, 8 August 2014. 17 “16 PSAKD üye ve yöneticisi ‘örgüte yardım ve yataklık’ iddiasıyla tutuklandı”, www., 24 March 2018. 18 “Kadıköy’de Alevi mitingi yapıldı”,, 3 November 2013. 19 “Aleviler, Uğur Kurt’un öldürülmesini protesto için yürüyüşler düzenledi”, www., 25 May 2019. 20 “TV10: Alevilerin sesi susturulmak isteniyor”,, 29 September 2018; “TV10 yöneticilerinin de aralarında bulunduğu 15 kişi, 1 yıldır tutuklu”, www., 3 January 2019. 21 “Kamusal ve Laik Eğitimi Savunmaya Devam Ediyoruz”,, 9 April 2019. 22 These observations and interviews are based on my PhD field research as well as being a member of the Ehlen Journal advisory board. 23 “Bir arada olduğumuz günlere Ehlen”,, 20 August 2014; “İstanbul Arap Alevi Gençlik Meclisi 18.00’de Kadıköy Boğa’da”,, 13 January 2015; “Mersin’de Alevi katliamı protestosu”,, 26 May 2016.

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References Akdeniz, Y. & Altıparmak, K. (2018). Turkey:  Freedom of Expression in Jeopardy. Violations of the Rights of Authors, Publishers and Academics under the State of Emergency. Retrieved from Amin, S. (2001). Political Islam. Covert Action Quarterly, 71, 3–​6. Aydınlar Ocağı. (1973). Aydınlar Ocağı’nın Görüşü:  Türkiye’nin Bugünkü Meseleleri. Istanbul: Aydınlar Ocağı Yayınları. Başkaya, F. (2016). “Emperyalizm, Politik İslam, AKP ve İflas”,, 25 December 2016. Copeaux, E. (2000). Tarih Ders Kitaplarında (1931–​1993) Türk Tarih Tezinden Türk-​İslam Sentezine. İstanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları. Ecevitoğulları, P. & Yalçınkaya, A. (2013). Aleviler Artık Burada Oturmuyor. Ankara: Dipnot Yayınları. Eğitim-​ Sen. (2017). “Örgün eğitim istatistikleri:  eğitimde yaşanan çöküşün temel göstergeleri”. Retrieved from​wp-​content/​uploads/​2017/​04/​Eğitimde-​ Çöküşün-​Temel-​Göstergeleri-​Raporu.pdf, 4 April 2017. Kaboğlu, İ. (2018). “Yasa yoluyla OHAL: 2015–​2021?”,, 18 July 2018. Lord, C. (2019). Sectarianized Securitization in Turkey in the Wake of the 2011 Arab Uprisings. The Middle East Journal, 73(1), 51–​72. Mertcan, H. (2011). “Yekfi!”,, 20 March 2011. Mertcan, H. (2013). Bitmeyen Kavga Laiklik. Türkiye’de Din-​Devlet-​Diyanet. Adana: Karahan Kitabevi. Mertcan, H. (2014). Türk Modernleşmesinde Arap Aleviler (Tarih, Kimlik, Siyaset). Ankara: Maki Basın Yayın. Shively, K. (2008). Taming Islam:  Studying Religion in Secular Turkey. Anthropological Quarterly, 81(3), 683–​711. Oğuz, Ş. (2016). “Yeni Türkiye”nin Siyasal Rejimi. In T. Tören & M. Kutun (Eds.), “Yeni” Türkiye? Kapitalizm, Devlet, Sınıflar (81–​127). Istanbul: SAV. Tanör, B. & Yüzbaşıoğlu, N. (2001). 1982 Anayasasına Göre Türk Anayasa Hukuku. İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları. Timuroğlu, V. (1991). Türk-​İslam Sentezi. Ankara: Başak Yayınları. Topçuoğlu, S. (2012). Dezentralisierung und Selbstverwaltung: Eine Herausforderung an den Nationalstaat als Antwort auf die Kurdenfrage in der Türkei. Baden-​Baden: Nomos. Tören, T. (2019). Documentation report: Syrian refugees in the Turkish labour market, ICDD Working Papers, Paper No. 22. Kassel: Kassel University Publications. Yalçınkaya, A. (2014). Kavimkırım İkliminde Aleviler. Ankara: Dipnot Yayınları.

Chapter 11

The politics of legality of the authoritarian liberal regime in Turkey Zeynep Kıvılcım

“Authoritarian Liberalism” is a concept introduced by German legal scholar Hermann Heller in 1933 and it refers to the liaison between the strong state and economic liberalism (Heller, 2015:  295–​301). More recently, the concept has been used in order to capture the move away from seeking consent for hegemonic liberal projects (Bruff, 2014). It serves as a conceptual reference for the analysis of the regimes in different parts of the world that adopt politically authoritarian measures for implementing “free market economics” and reinforcing market-​ based liberal objectives at the cost of social protection (Wilkinson, 2019). The critical literature refers also to “authoritarian liberalism” for the analysis of the response of the European Union to the recent Euro-​crisis through the procedures of de-​democratized governance. Commentators propose “to perceive authoritarian neoliberalism as a spectrum of disciplinary strategies, ranging from the more explicit demonstrations of coercive state power to more diffuse yet equally concrete manifestations of administrative and legal mechanisms” (Tansel, 2017: 6). It is asserted that neoliberalism is “even productive of authoritarian, despotic, para-​militaristic, and corrupt state forms” (Brown, 2009: 38) and that “contemporary neoliberalism reinforces and increasingly relies upon coercive state practices that discipline, marginalize and criminalize oppositional social forces and the judicial and administrative state apparatuses which limit the avenues in which neoliberal policies can be challenged” (Tansel, 2017: 2). In this context, the current forms of “authoritarian liberalism” signify a preservation strategy of economic liberalism where authoritarianism plays an ancillary role to economic liberalism (Somek, 2015: 355–​6). The authoritarianism embedded in the Turkish neoliberal experience mainly started with the 1980 military coup that put long-​term limits on popular democratic empowerment and the autonomous collective involvement of the labouring classes in policymaking processes.1 The 1982 Constitution enabled the framework for the introduction of political and legal practices of authoritarian neoliberalism that encompass the technocratization of economic and social issues, centralization of decision-​making processes and domination of the executive over the legislative and judiciary (Özden et al., 2017: 190).

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The process of authoritarian liberalization in the field of labour relations was not completed during the “civilian” post-​military regime governments until the end of the 1990s. The critical labour literature argues that the reasons were that the counter-​attack and revival emerged in the labour movement in the late 1980s (Çelik, 2015: 621–​2) and that the mostly short-​lived consecutive coalition governments were not able to fully implement the neoliberal policy agendas in legal terms (Bozkurt-​Güngen, 2018: 225). The Justice and Development Party (AKP), as the longest uninterrupted ruling party in the history of modern Turkey, except for a period of single party rule during the early Republican era, inherited this authoritarian liberal legacy and heavily built upon it. The AKP governments diversified and expanded the authoritarian repertoire in the aftermath of the 2001 economic crisis with the technocratic insulation of economic policy-​making from alternatives, followed by a more intense strategy with overt coercion and repression against oppositional social forces (Bozkurt-​Güngen, 2018). This chapter aims to investigate the functions of law within the authoritarian liberal regime of Turkey. Law does not operate only as a coercive instrument for discipline but has also a consent building function. The legal system works at many different levels to shape popular consciousness toward accepting the political legitimacy of the regime, to shape the way that people understand the existing political order and to persuade people to accept both the legitimacy and the apparent inevitability of the existing political and social arrangements (Gabel & Harris, 1982: 372). Law also depoliticizes social issues through the universal form of many legal rules and provides a consistent and coherent legitimation of the key institutions and principles that are central to the smooth operation of the system (Hunt, 1976). Turkey’s authoritarian regime is run by a democratically elected government and president, and it continues its rule with the popular consent. In this context, it is important to discuss the role of law and courts for fashioning this popular consent, to investigate their functions for shaping the popular consciousness toward the acquiescence or obedience to the regime’s rule through the manipulation of legal symbols, concepts and ideas.2 This study is an attempt to grasp both instrumental and symbolic, or coercive and consensual dimensions of the authoritarian legal phenomena. I make use of the Gramscian analytical framework for the analysis of the role of law, its functions, and the ways and means of its operation within the authoritarian liberal regime in Turkey. According to Gramscian terminology, law works both coercively and consensually within the state for disciplining and educating the subaltern into the ideology of conformity; it performs an educative role, “turning necessity and coercion into ‘freedom’ ” (Cutler, 2005). My aim is also to critically discuss the possibilities of making use of law and courts, both substantially and instrumentally, in resisting the coercive and consent-​building functions of the authoritarian law. Gramsci explains that the counter-​hegemony is the process by which subordinate classes challenge the dominant hegemony by deploying the concepts and symbols constitutive of the prevailing hegemony (Gramsci, 1971: 387–​8). My contention is that legal

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discourse and courts can constitute elements of a counter-​hegemonic strategy of political action. As Moustafa (2014: 282–​7) points out, courts rarely serve as mere pawns of their regimes. They open new avenues for activists and lawyers to challenge the authoritarian state, they become lively arenas of contention, sites of active resistance. The legal disciplining of labour is an important aspect of the authoritarian neoliberal regimes with the clear erosion of collective bargaining systems and of the right to strike in the labour legislation (Clua-​Losada & Ribera-​Almandoz, 2017). The critical literature on neoliberalism puts forward that “it is impossible to separate, analytically or politically the emergence of neoliberalism from the retreat of the labour unions” (Albo, 2009:  4). Neoliberalism pushes forward labour market deregulation and eliminates constraints on capital’s discretion through the removal of legal or contractual restrictions and involves a shift from higher levels of collective bargaining to lower ones (Baccaro & Howell, 2011: 527). The collective agreement system is considered closely linked to the power relations in an industrial society, and the right to collective action constitutes the most effective and progressive power of workers. Studies from different countries demonstrate that the neoliberal industrial relations agenda dismantles workers’ rights (Trif, 2013). It involves state intervention and prescription for attacking collective bargaining and trade unions (Cooper & Ellem, 2008). In this study, I focus on the case study of the large-​scale strikes in the Turkish metal industry sector in 2015, named “Metal Storm” in the media. This case could help to disentangle the ways in which authoritarian neoliberalism finds expression in law, in which ways it is played out, contested, resisted and subverted. My research methodology rests on documentary analyses of the Turkish legislation concerning the right to strike in its evolution in the authoritarian liberal regime during the last ten years. The “Metal Storm” gave rise to a multitude of court cases. In my research, I use both the documentation relating to the exemplary court cases and the semi-​structured interviews with a lawyer who is actively involved in the concerned litigations.

Overview of the “Metal Storm” In Turkey, the metal industry is one of the leading industries, known as locomotive and trend settler in terms of labour relations. According to the official statistics of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, 1.5 million workers, that is to say 11 percent of Turkey’s workforce, is employed in this sector (Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family, 2018). The unionization rate in the metal sector is 18 percent, which is above the membership rate in the other sectors in the country.3 The Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries (MESS) is one of the most powerful employer’s organizations in Turkey. The major trade unions active in the metal sector are Turkish Metal Union (Türk Metal) and United Metal Workers Union (Birleşik Metal İş). The collective agreements in the sector are concluded every three years. Many studies reveal that Turkish

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Metal Union cooperates with the employer association MESS at the expense of workers’ interests (Nichols et al., 2002; Koçer, 2007; Birelma, 2018). In January 2015, the United Metal Workers Union started strikes with the participation of several thousand metal workers from 22 work places. On the 30th of January, the government took the decision for the postponement of these strikes on grounds of national security. In accordance with the Turkish legislation, during the suspension, the High Board of Arbitration settled the dispute. The Board decided that the conditions agreed upon with the Turkish Metal Union would also cover the members of the United Metal Workers Union. Following the postponement of the strike by the government and the decision of the High Board of Arbitration, widespread workers’ protests emerged in the metal industry. Workers who were protesting the agreed salaries and wages started resistance in many factories, including the leading factories of the automotive sector. They were not only targeting their employers, but also the Turkish Metal Union of which they were members and which concluded the three year-​ collective agreements with MESS. It was reported by different sources that over 15,000 workers in 20 cities participated in protests, widespread wildcat strikes and work stoppages (Tokol & Güler, 2016). In addition to their request for wage rise, workers also requested free choice of unions, and many of them resigned from the Turkish Metal Union. In some factories, workers ended the strike and started their work after approval of some of their demands. However, some enterprises fired workers by arguing that their protests were illegal. More than 1500 workers were fired during and following the Metal Storm. Since 2015, different courts, including labour courts, criminal courts, the Court of Cassation, the Council of State, the Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights were involved in the multidimensional legal conflicts surrounding the “Metal Storm”. Several cases are still pending.

Legal strategies of the authoritarian liberal regime for the disciplining of the labour The Turkish authoritarian regime is interested in intervening in the legislation in order to create and strengthen the legal discipline of the labour. Its strategies for the manipulation of the legal landscape include limiting the rights to strike and collective bargaining in the legislation, engineering constraints on the institutional structure of judicial review and weakening the legal protection against unlawful dismissals. The regime also deploys criminal law procedures for the coercion and legal intimidation of workers. Manipulation of the legal landscape and the clear erosion of the right to strike in the labour legislation The Turkish Constitution provides a very limited right to strike. According to article 54 of the Constitution, workers have the right to strike only during the

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collective bargaining process if a disagreement arises. The Law on Collective Agreement, Strike and Lock-​out, enacted in May 1983, provided that any lawful strike called, ordered or commenced may be postponed by the order of the Council of Ministers for 60 days if it is prejudicial to general health or national security.4 The Law stipulates that the parties can lodge an appeal with the Council of State for the cancellation of the Council of Ministers’ order for the postponement. Article 54 of the Constitution originally included the prohibition of “politically motivated strikes and lockouts, solidarity strikes and lockouts, occupation of work premises, labour go-​slows, and other forms of obstruction”. This prohibition was removed with a constitutional amendment in 2010. A new law on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements was adopted in 2012. This new law prohibited the strikes and lock-​outs in various sectors, i.e. production, refining and distribution of city water, electricity, natural gas and petroleum as well as petrochemical works; banking services and hospitals, workplaces operated directly by the Ministry of National Defence, General Command of Gendarmerie and Coast Guard Command, fire-​fighting and urban public transportation services carried out by public institutions.5 In line with the Constitution, the law also provides that “a lawful strike or lock-​out that has been called or commenced may be suspended by the Council of Ministers for sixty days with a decree if it is prejudicial to public health or national security”.6 The law on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements that is adopted in 2012 came before the Constitutional Court for constitutional review. The Court ruled in 2014: it has partially accepted the unconstitutionality of the article dealing with the prohibition of strikes in some sectors and annulled parts of the concerned article that provided prohibition of strikes in the banking services and in urban public transport services.7 In July 2016, the state of emergency was declared. The government intervened intensively on the legislation during the two-​year period of the state of emergency. More than thirty decrees were promulgated, and they amended more than one thousand articles in different codes of the country. They substantially affected the legislation, including the labour regulations. The decrees also introduced normative and permanent structural changes to the legal institutions, procedures and mechanisms. The state of emergency provided to the government the legal instruments for further restriction of the right to strike. The Decree-​ Law No. 678 has amended the Law on Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining. According to the Decree-​Law, a legal strike or lockout, whether planned or already initiated, can be postponed for 60 days by the Council of Ministers if it risks disrupting general health, national defence, the public transport services of municipalities or the economic and financial stability of banking services.8 As such, the legal grounds for postponing the strikes, which was limited to risks against “general health, national defence”, has been expanded. Additionally, the strike bans in public transportation and banking sectors, which were revoked by the Constitutional Court two years ago, have been brought back under the name of “strike postponement”; by this way, the Constitutional Court’s decision has been by-​passed (Akça et al., 2017).

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The postponement of the strikes has been and is currently a regular practice of the successive AKP governments. According to the report prepared by the main opposition party, the number of strikes between 2001 and 2015 decreased by 85 percent compared to the number of strikes between 1985 and 2000.9 Since 2002, AKP governments postponed sixteen strikes. The report puts forward that starting from July 2002 with the Petlas strike, AKP governments intervened and postponed strikes involving several thousands of workers. In many cases, the postponement decision is taken before the strike started.10 During the state of emergency, the AKP government intensified their interventions for the prevention of almost all strikes.11 Seven strikes were postponed during the two years of the state of emergency.12 Given the rising number of strike postponements and arrests of union leaders, the International Trade Union Confederation declared that Turkey was among the ten worst countries for workers in 2018.13 The intervention of the Council of Ministers for suspending a strike has, in fact, the factual consequence of a ban. The law stipulates that during the 60 day period when the strike is suspended, a mediator, a private arbitrator or the High Board of Arbitration should settle the dispute. Otherwise, the competence of workers’ trade union shall be void. In order to not lose its competence in the concerned factory, the trade union is forced to accept the settlement by a mediator. With the regular postponement of the strikes, the government guarantees that the wages and working conditions are not decided according to collective bargaining and by means of collective agreements between workers and employers but are imposed by the mediator, and mostly by the High Board of Arbitration. The weakening of the legal protection against wrongful dismissals constitutes another legal strategy of the authoritarian regime. The dismissal of all workers who are members of a trade union in order to de-​unionize a given factory is a common practice in almost all sectors in Turkey. The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled regarding the wrongful and large-​scale dismissals in Turkey. According to the Strasbourg Court, the Turkish legislation does not impose sufficiently deterrent penalties on the employers, who, in carrying out wrongful large-​scale dismissals of trade-​union members, de-​unionize the companies and annihilate the trade union’s right to collectively bargain.14 Criminal law procedures for the coercion and legal intimidation of workers The new authoritarian state form was constructed through a series of legal changes in the Penal Code (2005), the Criminal Procedure Code (2005), the Counterterrorism Law (2006), and the Police Powers and Duties Law (2007) in a way to include many legitimate acts of political and social protest in the broad definition of terror crimes. The regime makes excessive use of criminal law as an instrument of coercion and legal intimidation. According to official data released by the Ministry of Justice, between 2006 and 2017 there was an increase of 307 percent in the

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number of Turkish citizens who were under criminal investigation.15 The numbers demonstrate that in Turkey, on average, every single minute the prosecutors are engaging criminal procedures against 23 citizens, accusing them of criminal offences.16 Data released in an annual report by the Council of Europe has revealed an explosion in the prison population of Turkey, with a record increase of 161.7 percent from 2006 to 2016 (SPACE, 2016) Turkey also had a very high ratio of detainees who had not received their final sentence –​43 percent of the total prison population (World Prison Brief, 2017). The Turkish regime employs coercive measures provided by criminal law against resisting workers and trade union representatives who organize their members. Criminal measures are also employed against citizens who share social media messages in support of the workers or who visit them at their sites of strike. The measures for disciplining labourers’ ranges from short-​term custody to longer-​ term pre-​trial detention and to prison sentences.17 During the “Metal Storm”, the police intervened several times in the sites of spontaneous workers’ assemblies around the factories. Many workers, trade union representatives and supporting citizens were taken into custody. The accusations included “violation of the right to work”, “causing damage to the employer’s property”, “organizing, leading or participating to an unlawful assembly or demonstration”, “terrorist propaganda” and “membership to a terrorist organization”.18 In some cases, the prosecutors decided there were no ground for prosecution and dismissed the charges against the workers.19 However in other cases, the accused workers were sentenced to prison sentences.20 During and following the state of emergency, the criminal measures deployed against the workers’ collective actions intensified and hardened. The mass detention of workers and trade union representatives in September 2018 following their protests on the construction site of Istanbul’s third airport is an important example. Workers were protesting against arbitrary dismissals, late pay, poor working and living conditions, poor workplace safety standards and high numbers of fatal accidents at the construction site. Sixty-​one of the workers were tried before the criminal courts for their involvement in the protests, of whom 31 remained in detention for around two months until the first hearing of the trial took place (Amnesty International, 2019). We can expect that the brutality of police interventions and the severity of the criminal measures deployed against the workers will be further amplified in the future, since the regime depends on the efficiency of cruel means for disciplining all opponents.

Struggles and resistance: challenging authoritarian neoliberalism through law The literature puts forward that law can provide both substantial and instrumental potentials for resisting authoritarian rule (Ginsburg & Moustafa, 2008). The competition for legal instruments is unfair but real. Empirical studies on authoritarian regimes demonstrate that judges that have different aspirations

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and conceptions of the law occupy a strategic position in the interpretation and sometimes review of the authoritarian legislation (Moustafa, 2014:  287–​ 9). Consequently, the courts are not only the site of active resistance against the coercive measures, but can also provide important symbolic resources to challenge the legitimacy of and the popular consent to the regime. Turkey’s labour movement has a tradition of making use of law as discourse and tactical tool (Kıvılcım, 2009). Trade unions and the labour movement both have high courts and lower courts as avenues for challenging the conceptual legitimacy the regime’s labour policy and specific measures deployed for its implementation. High courts and the legal struggles over the conceptual mapping of the legitimacy of the authoritarian neoliberal regime The courts have an important role disciplining labourers within the authoritarian neoliberal regime of Turkey. The restructured labour legislation is itself a building block for the neoliberal transformation of the labour relations, but even this legislation cannot accommodate the constantly widening range of precarious work conditions in the country. In this context, the high courts fulfil multiple operational roles. The Council of State is the site for review of the orders of the government for the postponement of strikes, and the Constitutional Court receives individual applications both by trade unions and individual workers who exhausted the lower courts, the Court of Cassation and the Council of State. The Court of Cassation does not function only as the high court for the review of decisions of lower labour courts. It acts as the authority that fills in the gaps in the Turkish labour legislation and as the de facto lawmaker that tunes the existing legislation in a way to further comfort the employers (Uysal, 2019). The workers’ lawyers make use of all these high courts and employ counter-​hegemonic strategies not only for preventing the implementation of the concerned measures in the specific cases, but also for challenging the legal concepts employed by the regime for building the legitimacy of the authoritarian labour rule. The Council of State that reviews the government orders for the postponing of the strikes never delivers its rulings within the 60-​day period. Consequently, the trade unions are aware that the judicial review before the Council cannot enable them to revitalize an already postponed strike. Nevertheless, they always apply to the Council of State against every order for the postponing of a strike and challenge the arguments of the government on the lawfulness of the workers’ actions. The Council of State can be seen as an important site for the ongoing re-​interpretation of the concepts of “national security” and “necessities of the democratic society” according to new meanings needed for legitimizing the labour policies of the authoritarian regime. These central concepts can potentially provide the coordinates in the mapping of the legal scenes for the authoritarian system. In this context, the high court also opens avenues to the

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counter-​hegemonic struggle of trade unions for challenging the legitimacy of the regime’s policy against the labour. As explained above, according to Turkish legislation, it is not possible to suspend a lawful strike on any other grounds than public health and national security. However, in its arguments for legitimizing the postponement of strikes before the Council of State, the Council of Ministers referred often to “economic security” (Gürsel, 2016). The case law of the Council of State has traditionally observed a narrow interpretation of the concept of “national security” as grounds for the postponing of the strikes. The Council annulled the decisions of the government that were motivated by economic reasons or by the “future of some economic sectors”. The commentators and the trade unions note that the Council of State shifted from its case law and left this narrow interpretation in 2014 (Gürsel, 2016: 634; Birleşik Metal İş, 2018). The decision of the Council for the review of the postponement of the metal strike is one of the first decisions that represent this dramatic shift in the interpretation of the concept of the “national security”. Following the Committee of the Ministers’ order for the postponement of the strike on grounds of national security, the trade union applied to the Council of State on 2 January 2015 for stay of execution and the annulment of that order. Its arguments for challenging the legality of the government’s order relied on the concepts of “national security”, “public interest” and “necessities of the democratic society”. The trade union asserted that “to preserve the labour peace is in the public interest” and that labour peace can only be achieved through collective bargaining processes. It has also put forward that “national security” cannot be defined as “employers’ security” and that the struggle of workers for their legal rights does not endanger national security. The trade union claimed that the decision of the Council of Ministers to postpone the strike impairs the essence of the right to strike, so it constitutes a breach of the “necessities of the democratic society”. The 10th Chamber of the Council of State declined the request of the trade union with three votes against two dissenting judges. The decision was very shortly reasoned. The Court made the simple statement that “economic security is an integral part of the national security” and found that the strike is harmful to national security because “the Ministries of Economics, of National Defence, National Security Council and General Directorate of Security submitted their opinion on the negative impact of this strike on the national security”.21 The trade union appealed against that decision of the 10th Chamber before the Plenary Session of the Administrative Law Chambers. The Plenary Session ruled on 30 April 2015 with eight votes against seven dissenting votes and rejected the trade union’s appeal. The controversy that split the judges in the 10th Chamber and in the Plenary Session of the Administrative Law Chambers concentrated on the interpretation of “national security” as the legal grounds for the postponement of the metal strike. This controversy is formulated in the court decisions and in the dissenting opinions over the concepts of “economic security” and the “necessities in the

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democratic society”. Following the decision of the Plenary Session of the Council of State, United Metal Workers Union applied to the Constitutional Court. The literature puts forward that constitutional courts could have a potential coordinating role in authoritarian regimes, where the court can interplay with different factions and organs of the regime and vehicles public opinion and public consent according to the level of society-​wide conflict (Ip, 2014). Turkish Constitutional Court had a long-​dated status of coordinator in regime conflicts. It was qualified as “the remaining bastion” in the judiciary for the defence of a “Kemalist founding ideology” and of “secularism” (Özbudun, 2015: 141). It has been also a platform for judicial activism following the introduction of the system of individual complaints in 2002. In the context of the labour regime, Turkish Constitutional Court exercises the constitutional review of the labour legislation. As mentioned above, the law on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements that was adopted in 2012 came before the Constitutional Court for constitutional review. The Court annulled the provision, stipulating the prohibition of strikes in the banking services and in urban public transport services. The Constitutional Court also has the competence to rule on the implementation of labour legislation in specific cases through individual complaints submitted by affected trade unions and workers. Through the application of the United Metal Workers Union, the Constitutional Court had the opportunity to deal once again with the legal limits of the strike postponements by the government. On 9 May 2018, during the state of emergency, the Court ruled that the postponement of the metal strike constituted a breach of the right to a trade union.22 The reasoning that led the Constitutional Court to that decision is articulated on the same set of the concepts of “national security”, “economic security” and “necessity in a democratic society”. But contrary to the Council of State, which radically reversed its previous case law and proceeded to establish legal grounds for the authoritarian labour regime, the Constitutional Court followed its well-​established jurisprudence and decided that “the economic security is not part of the national security”.23 Consequently, the Constitutional Court ruled that the decision of the Committee of Ministers for the postponement of the metal strike is in breach of the right to trade union guaranteed under the Constitution. The Court has also awarded compensation to the trade union. However, this decision of the Constitutional Court did not prevent the government’s future decision to postpone a strike. After the end of the state of emergency on 18 July 2018, the government continued with the almost systematic postponing of all strikes. The strike at İzmir Urban Transport (İZBAN) was postponed in January 2019 by a presidential decree. According to the decree, the reason for postponement is “the disruption that the strike has caused to urban public transportation services”.24 In this way, the strike bans in public transportation, which were revoked by the decision of the Constitutional Court in 2014 but were reinstated by the state of emergency in 2016, are operationalized by the government.

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Judicial activism in the lower courts and building the legitimacy on the “right to collective action” Lower courts and litigation can represent crucial avenues for trade unions to challenge authoritarian policies and measures. In Turkey, workers make active use of labour courts, and they try also to make labour cases visible to the general public. Public calls are made for solidarity so that the hearings are observed. The trade union representatives and their lawyers often organize press conferences where they react to court decisions and inform the general public about the progress of the legal processes.25 The labour litigation and its media coverage enable the trade unions to engage in a discussion on the legality of the measures adopted against workers concerning specific cases. They also provide the opportunity for lawyers to explore new legal concepts for legitimizing workers’ actions before the courts as well as in the eyes of the general public. Because of the above-​explained restrictive legislation and the almost systematic postponement of the strikes by the Turkish government, the workers carry out alternative actions of work stoppages and factory occupations in order to preserve their power in the collective bargaining processes. These actions often result in the dismissals of the workers taking part or supporting the concerned action. Before the labour courts, lawyers claim the unlawfulness of the dismissals and search for legal protection for these wildcat strikes by referring to the right to “collective action”. The right to collective action is not guaranteed under Turkish legislation, but is protected under the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Turkish lower labour courts and the Court of Cassation acknowledge the right to collective action with some restrictions. In the case of the “Metal Storm”, many labour courts in various cities were engaged in litigations relating to the dismissals of workers who participated in the work stoppages. I  have studied a group of exemplary lower court decisions among dozens of others delivered. The cases concern more than 170 workers who were working in the same factory (Arçelik LG Factory in Gebze) and who were dismissed for participating in the work stoppages. The same lawyers represented this group of workers, but the cases are distributed between seven different labour courts in the same courthouse in Gebze. All courts, with the only exception of the 2nd Labour Court of Gebze, found in favour of the dismissed employees, referring to the right to collective action.26 They decided that, since the concerned actions engaged by the workers were proportional and stayed peaceful, they were within the protected right of collective action.27 The Turkish Court of Cassation had an almost consistent case law on the right to collective action, in which the court acknowledged this right with reference to international treaties to which Turkey is party and with some procedural and substantive restrictions. The Court evaluated each case according to the principle of “proportionality” and to whether the collective action is engaged as a “last resort”.28 Concerning the dismissed workers during the Metal Storm, the

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Court ruled that their action fails to meet the criteria of proportionality given the duration of the action and the number of workers who participated. The Court decided that the action of the workers could not be protected under the right of collective action and, consequently, their dismissals were conforming to law.29 Our review of the Court’s jurisprudence for the last five years revealed that this decision is not an exception but is situated in line with many other cases where the Court interpreted the principles of “proportionality” and “last resort” in a very restrictive way and ruled unlawfulness of the concerned collective actions of the workers. Its jurisprudence indicates also that the Court’s reasoning for the interpretation and implementation of the principles of “proportionality” and “last resort” are in most of the cases unevenly grounded, but it motivates a highly restrictive frame for the right to collective action.30 The cases of 150 dismissed workers from the Arçelik LG factory are pending before the Constitutional Court. The Court has so far made a decision for only four cases and rejected the claims of the workers.31 Since they exhausted all local remedies, the workers applied to the European Court of Human Rights. Their cases are still pending.32

Conclusion The legal mechanisms are situated within the spectrum of diffuse but efficient disciplinary strategies deployed by the authoritarian neoliberal rulers. The AKP governments inherited Turkey’s authoritarian liberal legacy and heavily built upon it. Thanks to their uninterrupted rule, over the course of a decade they were able to efficiently implement their neoliberal policies in legal terms. The AKP authoritarian liberal governments intervened with the labour legislation in order to strengthen the legal discipline of labourers and to restructure the power relations between the employers and the workers in further advantage of the former. The legal protection against unlawful dismissals is weak, and it secures the de-​unionization of the companies through large-​scale dismissals of workers and members of trade unions. By means of widening the bans in the legislation and the regular practice of postponements of the strikes, the right to strike is de facto annihilated. Legal institutions and the courts as hegemonic institutions produce and mobilize consent for particular economic and political order for advancing the neoliberal objectives and disciplining the workforce into conformity and submission. The judicial apparatus limits the avenues in which the neoliberal labour policies and practices can be challenged by building the legal protection of the politically authoritarian measures adopted for the implementation of the liberal objectives. The jurisprudence of the Turkish high courts contributes to the definition and strengthening of the conceptual basis for the construction of the legitimacy of the authoritarian liberal regime. The definition of the concept of “economic security” of the business world as a new and integral part of the “national security” and the re-​interpretation of the “necessities of the democratic

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society” contribute to the key principles that are central to the operation of the regime. The study of the Metal Storm case has demonstrated so far that law and courts have a functional role in the production and maintenance of the authoritarian liberal regime in Turkey, but they also provide the possibility to resist against it and challenge its conceptual references. This study provided the evidence as to how and to what extent the labour lawyers challenge the judges in lower courts as well as in the high courts for their different interpretations and review of the authoritarian labour legislation. Through legal proceedings, the courts become the place for the politicization of labour conflicts. Litigation before the labour courts provides the opportunity for tactical attempts for securing the bargaining power of the workers, even when the right to strike is annihilated by the government, and for building legal protection by reference to new legal concepts. Our study, in line with emerging literature on the role of law and courts in authoritarian neoliberal regimes, confirms that law and litigation in courts can constitute elements of counter-​hegemonic strategies against authoritarian neoliberalism.

Notes 1 The 24 January 1980 structural adjustment program aimed to radically change economic and social policies. The implementation of this program against the labour was only possible thanks to political changes realized following the military coup of 12 September 1980 and the new constitution adopted in 1982 (Çelik, 2015: 619). 2 For an analysis of the role of law and courts in building of the legitimacy of the regime and fashioning of the “democratic consent to an inhumane social order” see Gabel & Harris (1982, 370–​4). 3 According to the statistics of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, in Turkey the unionization rate is 12.76 percent of the total workforce (Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family, 2018). 4 Article 33, Law on Collective Agreement, Strike and Lock-​out, Law No. 2822. 5 Article 62, Law No. 6356 on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements, Date of Enactment: 18 October 2012, Unofficial English translation is available at www.​dyn/​natlex/​docs/​MONOGRAPH/​91814/​106961/​F2018685492/​TUR91814%20 Eng.pdf. 6 Article 63 of the Law. 7 Constitutional Court, Decision on 22 October 2014, Resmi Gazete on 11 November 2015, 29529. 8 Article 35 of the Decree-​Law No. 678 of 22 November 2016. 9 “AKP hükümeti 16 grev yasağı ile işçilerin grev hakkını gasbetti”,, 12 January 2019. 10 Decisions for postponing the strikes by AKP governments since 2002:  1 July 2003 postponing of Petlas Lastik Sanayi Ticaret AŞ Strike; 8 December 2003 postponing of Paşabahçe strike; 30 January 2004 postponing of Paşabahçe second strike; 21 March 2004 postponing of Lastik Iş strike; 1 September 2005 postponing of the strike at Erdemir Madencilik; 27 June 2014 postponing of Şişecam strike; 30 January 2015

Politics of authoritarian liberal legality  209 postponing of the strike organized by the trade union Birleşik Metal-​İş in 22 factories; 21 July 2014 postponing of the strike organized by Türkiye Maden İşçileri Sendikası. 11 President Erdoğan made an open statement on their interventions for the prevention of the strike at the meeting with the capital representatives at the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) in 2017. He explained clearly that they used the state of emergency against workers’ struggle for rights. He said, We are enforcing the state of emergency, so our business world can work better. I am asking, do you have any problem or disruption in your business world? (…) We are interfering immediately in the places that are under the threat of strike. We say no, we do not tolerate strikes here because you cannot shake our business world. (Altuntaş, 2018) 12 They include the strike at Asil Çelik that was supposed to start on 18 January 2017, the strike organized by Birleşik Metal-​İş started on 20 January 2017, Akbank strike postponed on 20 March 2017, Şişecam strike postponed on 22 May 2017, strike at Mefar Pharmaceuticals postponed on 5 June 2017, postponing of strike on Metal Sector on 2 February 2018, postponing of strike at Soda Kromsan on 23 May 2018. 13 The ten worst countries for workers in 2018 are Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (ITUC, 2018). 14 ECtHR, Tek Gıda İş Sendikası v. Turkey -​35009/​05, Judgment 4.4.2017 [Section II]. 15 According to Human Rights Watch, the sharp rise in the number of people prosecuted and convicted for insulting the President (article 299 of the Turkish penal code) is in particular striking. This number has dramatically risen since 2014 from 132 to more than 6,000 in 2017 (Human Rights Watch, 2018) 16 “Dakikada 23 Şüpheli”,, 9 December 2018. 17 Human rights and labour rights organizations reported many cases of arrests of union leaders and heavy prison sentences for conducting regular unionizing activities among workers (ITUC, 2018). 18 “Bursa’da 10 kişi işçileri kışkırttığı iddiasıyla gözaltına alındı”,, 22 May 2015; “Renault İşçisi: 30 Kişi ‘Liderlik Etmekten’ İfade Vereceğiz”, m.bianet. org, 21 May 2015. 19 See i.e. the case against 144 workers, prosecution by Gebze Cumhuriyet Başsavcılığı, no. 2015/​11515. Decision of non-​ground on 23 February 2016. 20 The case before Bursa 21. Criminal Court of First Instance against a group of workers and trade union representatives who participated at the demonstration in front of the Renaut factory in March 2016 is concluded in November 2018 with a sentence of five months of prison. Prison sentences were handed down to 35 workers and trade unionists from United Metal Workers Union for violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations. See: “Judicial Harassment of Workers and Trade Unionists from Birleşik Metal İş”,, 12 November 2018; “Mahkemeden ‘İşçiye istediğin baskıyı yap’ kararı”,, 11 November 2018; “Oyak Renault davasında işçilere hapis cezasına BMİS’ten tepki: Meşru değil”, www.haber., 9 November 2018. 21 Council of State 10th Chamber, 5 March 2015, E. 2015/​294. 22 Constitutional Court, Application no. 2015/​14862, Decision on 9/​5/​2018, R.G: 20/​7/​ 2018-​304842015/​14862. 23 Ibid., para. 49–​51.

210  Zeynep Kıvılcım 2 4 Presidential Decree No.556, R.G:07/​01/​2019. 25 For the media coverage of the press statements by workers and their representatives concerning the legal proceedings following the Metal Strike, see i.e. “Yargıtay’dan işçilere “Gözdağı” gibi karar”,, 2 September 2016, and “Renault işçilerine sendikal tazminat kararı”,, 12 December 2016. 26 The only exception was the 2. Labour Court of Gebze. The judge at this court explained to the lawyers that she has decided to postpone her decision until the judgements already given by the other six labour courts are reviewed by the Court of Cassation (Uysal, 2019). Just after the Court of Cassation reversed the lower courts’ decisions and ruled on the legality of the dismissals, the 2. Labour Court of Gebze decided on the cases and declined the claims of the workers for the unfair dismissals by referring explicitly to the Court of Cassation’s decision in its reasoning. 27 See i.e. Gebze 3.  İş Mahkemesi, E.2015/​634, K.2016/​163, 09.03.2016; Gebze 3.  İş Mahkemesi, E.2016/​641, K.2016/​448, 13.05.2016, Gebze 1. İş Mahkemesi, E. 2015/​ 718, K. 2016/​828, 15.06.2016. 28 See i.e. the decisions of the Court of Cassation Y22HD, 14.05.2013, 7515/​10949, Y7HD, 11.06.2014, 7358/​13005. 29 See i.e. Y9HD, 11.03.2016, 5562/​ 5737, Y9HD, 11.03.2016, 5530/​ 5723, Y9HD, 29.06.2016, 16997/​15557. 30 Among more than four hundred decisions delivered by different chambers of the Court of Cassation on the right to collective action since late 2015, the very vast majority are unfavourable to the workers engaged in the collective actions. 31 See i.e. Decision Hasan Uzun (no no.2016/​16261, 1 December 2016). 32 See i.e. Applications no 52051/​17 Sabri Alparslan Ateş v. Turkey, 52053/​17 Hasan Uzun v. Turkey, 52054/​17 Murat Tıngöz v. Turkey.

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Politics of authoritarian liberal legality  211 Brown, W. (2009). Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bruff, I. (2014). The Rise of Authoritarian Neoliberalism. Rethinking Marxism, 26(1), 113–​129. Clua-​ Losada, M. & Ribera-​ Almandoz, O. (2017). Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Disciplining of Labour. In C. B. Tansel (Ed.), States of Discipline:  Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (29–​45). London: Rowman & Littlefield. Cooper, R. & Ellem, B. (2008). The Neoliberal State, Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining in Australia. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 46(3), 532–​554. Cutler, A. C. (2005). Gramsci, Law, and the Culture of Global Capitalism. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 8(4), 527–​542. Çelik, A. (2015). Turkey’s New Labour Regime under the Justice and Development Party in the First Decade of the Twenty-​first Century: Authoritarian Flexibilization. Middle Eastern Studies, 51(4), 618–​635. Gabel, P. & Harris, P. (1982). Building Power and Breaking Images: Critical Legal Theory and the Practice of Law. N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change, 11, 369–​411. Ginsburg, T. & Moustafa, T. (Eds.) (2008). Rule by Law:  The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Q. Hoare & G. Nowell Smith (Eds. & Trans.), New York: International Publishers. Gürsel, İ. (2016). İdari Kararla Greve Müdahale. Dokuz Eylul University The Journal of Graduate School of Social Sciences, 18(4), 617–​653. Heller, H. (2015). Authoritarian Liberalism?. European Law Journal, 21(3), 295–​301. Human Rights Watch. (2018). “Turkey: End prosecutions for ‘insulting president’ ”, www., 17 October 2018. Hunt, A. (1976). Law, State and Class Struggle. Marxism Today, 20, 178–​187. Ip, E. C. (2014). The Democratic Foundations of Judicial Review under Authoritarianism: Theory and Evidence from Hong Kong. International Journal of Constitutional Law, 12(2), 330–​353. ITUC. (2018). “Global Rights Index, International Trade Union Confederation”. Retrieved from www.ituc-​​IMG/​pdf/​itucglobal-​rights-​index-​2018-​en-​final-​2.pdf. Kıvılcım, Z. (2009). İnsan Hakları ve Karşı Hegemonya. Gazi Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi Dergisi, 13(1), 217–​240. Koçer, R. G. (2007). “Trade Unions at Whose Service?” Coercive Partnerships and Partnership in Coercion in Turkey’s Metal Sector. Industrielle Beziehungen: Zeitschrift für Arbeit, Organisation und Management, 14(3), 245–​269. Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family. (2018). “Communication on the trade union membership. Statistics”. Retrieved from​media/​1694/​ 28072018-​resmi-​gazete.pdf. Moustafa, T. (2014). Law and Courts in Authoritarian Regimes. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 10, 281–​299. Nichols, T., Sugur, N. & Demir, E. (2002). Beyond Cheap Labour:  Trade Unions and Development in the Turkish Metal Industry. The Sociological Review, 50(1), 23–​47. Özbudun, E. (2015). Pending Challenges in Turkey’s Judiciary. Global Turkey in Europe,, January 2015. Özden, B., Akça, İ. & Bekmen, A. (2017). Antinomies of Authoritarian Neoliberalism in Turkey. In C. B. Tansel (Ed.), States of Discipline: Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Contested Reproduction of Capitalist Order (189–​209). London: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Chapter 12

Constructing a language of peace through women’s struggles The case of women for peace initiative in Turkey Meral Camcı The aim of this paper is to examine the discourse used and produced by women against war by regarding the language, which has especially been performed by the Women for Peace Initiative in Turkey. I  will observe how these women’s discourse has differentiated from a warmongering patriarchal language use. Naturally, women’s peace-​demanding discourse has shaped their actions and the ways they call for peace or vice versa. In this study, I will focus on the language that constructs the way women react against war politics. Since the documents used in the study will be analyzed with the “critical discourse analysis” or with its abbreviation, CDA, it should be mentioned briefly in this introductory section how and for which content this analysis will be used, how this analysis will be operated in the study. It would be possible to define it as “the social analysis of discourse” in the shortest way, as Norman Fairclough states that “it differs in theory, methodology, and the type of research issues to which they tend to give prominence” (2012:  452). In this light, I  would like to give prominence to analyze mainly the question of how women, the women from the Women for Peace Initiative in specific, construct a language of peace by regarding the ways in which we analyze discourse socially. I will try to analyze the effect and contribution of the subjective language use created by these women to social change in the peace process. These efforts still have not come to a conclusion after the peace or re/​solution process was disrupted in terms of the Kurdish–​Turkish case. Based on this question, I will try to observe the effect and contribution of feminist perspective on language use and thus on social change by applying CDA and taking the written outputs produced by women into consideration, as Fairclough puts it, in the light of a transdisciplinary perspective to observe the influence of language in “social change” (2012: 452–​3). In other words, I will try to form an intersection of the feminist approach with the peace struggle by means of discourse that women used. The main documents which will be examined in the study can be more specified as written forms like reports, press releases and social media threads issued by the Women for Peace Initiative in Turkey. These choices are causally related to the problematic of the study, considering the fact of how important the place of the language established is in the struggle of women for social peace. Thus,

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we may follow the manifestations of the above-​mentioned discursive difference between female and male parties through women’s struggle against the politics of a male-​dominant authoritarian ruling body by analyzing the publications like the above-​mentioned reports and press releases shared or published by the Women for Peace Initiative and through social media sharing and threads. I would also like to briefly mention the representations of the conceptual dualities like “West–​East”, “Male–​Female”, “Ankara–​Diyarbakır”, which will frequently be used in and will form the basic concepts of the paper. When I  use the East, I  mean the east of the Euphrates, the Kurdish provinces and people and a process that has been demanding the recognition of the Kurdish identity and language in a certain social-​historical era, equal citizenship rights and social peace and a kind of self-​organizational, representational recognition in the public/​political sphere. The West, in the same sense, means west of the river. The concept refers the Turkish Republic’s founding power’s hegemonic manipulation, representing the nation-​state ideology as in the widespread ways of thinking and weighted as in the metropolises like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir and reflected in the social life and the dominant social perception towards the east of the country. The Ankara–​Diyarbakır duality points exactly to the similar areas of meaning in the same order. All three binary oppositions point to a hierarchically privileged position, having an explicit or implicit set of privileges. I use the concept of privilege in the sense of “the material and psychological advantages that the person acquires thanks to the race/​ethnicity, gender and social class that s/​ he is a member of, and the reproduction of these advantages for generations” as defined by Barış Ünlü (2018: 35). However, I choose to refer to the Male–​Female duality as the basis of the study above all other dualities I mentioned. I am trying to find the difference between the two parties’ language uses in terms of the War–​Peace duality and in a way, trying to expose the one-​to-​one matching in the same order between the Male–​ Female and the War–​Peace dualities. Although I  am aware of the mutual and relational construction of the attitudes of the two parties of the dichotomies that are oppressive and privileged on one hand, and that are hierarchically oppressed and non-​privileged on the other, I still need to limit it because the duality of this study concentrates on the differentiation of the discourse produced by women on a certain subject matter. I will proceed with a preliminary acceptance that “the interrelationship between knowledge and power is related to masculine language and discourse”, and “masculinity is a social and political performative area which draws the boundaries of knowledge, thought and hence discourse” as Serpil Çakır defines (2007: 467). It is quite an obvious fact that women have a significant role on de/​ re/​constructing language performed by male dominant parties that has been long before constructed and is still in the process of construction in favour of a self-​ righteous, neglecting, classifying and stigmatizing way of thinking and exhibiting attitude or acting on social and political spheres. It seems clear that women bear it as a responsibility to re-​build a new language of peace, constantly emphasizing

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the possibility of it upon this kind of male-​dominant language manifestation. Male discourse, on the contrary, constantly re-​generates a pro-​war, pro-​violence and authoritarian politics, even during the peace periods. Peace itself has been considered one of the taboo/​dangerous words in Turkey in these increasingly authoritarian times which we have been through. Demanding peace has been referred to and has been regarded as being related to terrorism, and the people or groups who are demanding and struggling for peace have been faced with charges of terrorism, or of accused of being related to terrorist organizations, or at the very least as of supporters of terrorist propaganda by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its institutional organs of the state apparatuses. It is obvious that not only the meaning of the word itself is distorted and discharged semantically but also that it has been reconstrued in an irrelevant semantic field which is totally on the contrary of the genuine one, of what has been intended and sought after by the seekers of a social peace. It seems that getting the word’s real meaning back through the struggle against these dominating authoritarian and, although they once claimed that they were against military trusteeship and that they were on the side of civil democracy in order to gain the elections, nowadays not-​so-​civil discourse of the ruling bodies in power has been one of the representative qualities of the women’s movement –​a movement that is one of the strongest leading components of the Kurdish–​Turkish peace process or so-​called “peace or re/​solution process” in Turkey. Since all three dichotomies mentioned are used, all three uses will be included in this paper as appropriate and in context. For a more detailed account of the reflection of the AKP’s attitudes and plots in the political arena during the start and interruption of the peace or re/​solution process, it is noteworthy for my own point that in her article, Toktamis emphasizes that the aforementioned process “was insistently called as ‘resolution process’ by the AKP whereas the expectation of the Kurds or some progressive Turks that should be used with the word ‘peace’ or at least with ‘nonviolence’ as qualitatively” (2018: 696). She refers to Erdoğan’s “public declaration to end the negotiations that clearly stated the end of the resolution process as the beginning of a new regime” by quoting him: As far as I am concerned the resolution process is in the freezer. Yet, as of now the National Unity and Brotherhood Project is active on the agenda and we are willing to walk with those who are here to support us. (quoted by Toktamis, 2018: 699) This declaration can be given as an explanation, which outlines the approach of the ruling party or the male viewpoint that holds the political power to the process of ending the war and building a social and sustainable peace. He says between the lines that they are the ones who have the power, who started and finished the process. Even he is, himself, the sole power as one can observe it from his own words: “as far as I am concerned”. With this kind of discursive argumentation, the ruling body ignores both the HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and

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the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), who once sat at the same table, as well as the other political subjects and all the other subjects from different social layers of the society that are demanding social peace. However, the women who are the subject of our own study were not considered at all. As a matter of fact, it would not be wrong to say that women are the only social subjects who demand “peace only” and focus on “peace politics” at all costs. The ending of the process to find a solution and the immediate transition to the historical, social conservative, nationalist unity and solidarity scheme, while women continued with a persistent attitude in the demand for peace, is an indication of this hypothesis and constitutes the main axis of this study. From here, I aim to discuss that what Kurdish and Turkish women talk about together when they talk about stopping the war and establishing peace. My initial questions are as follows: what are the language manifestations of women for a sustainable and perpetual social peace in Turkey? What steps of building social peace in both language use and struggle and resistance against male politics have women parties taken so far? I will start by trying to expose the true nature of the word “peace”, especially for women who are against pro-​war authoritarian practices and follow the steps and attempts of the Women for Peace Initiative for conflict resolution, resolution processes, peace-​making and peacekeeping in Turkey. Of course, these questions must always be asked from at least the two different perspectives of the process in the context of Turkey, the East and West of the Euphrates, regarding the asymmetrical power relations between them. Even though it was terminated by the government itself and has remained unfortunately unrealized, the resolution process defines a process directly related to the Kurdish insurgence and the ongoing Turkish–​Kurdish conflict.1 Because of this fact, there are always two aspects affecting the stages of it, let us say, from the beginning to the interrupted end. These two aspects are based not only on geographical distinctions but also on other vital components of this long-​lasting conflict on ethnic, cultural, linguistic and conflict related, gender-​based differences which are determined by the West and for the benefit of the West, and which resulted in an on and off war for about 35 years so far. As Sibel Arkonaç states, besides the subject matter researched, which has been admittedly constructed ideologically, there is an ideology on which the researcher bases her analysis, so there is a danger that every CDA research will work with the prerequisites of the ideology. In order to deal with the effects of criticism and working on ideological ground, the researcher must approach both herself and her research reflexively. (2014: 171–​2) Thus, I  would like to mention at this point that as the researcher, I  am from the West of the river and I am looking at women in the East from where I am.

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It should not be forgotten that no matter how much I try to be stripped of my rather privileged position of remaining unpressured about my ethnic, religious, linguistic identity or about other assets shaping my life, material or not, in Ünlü’s terms “my whiteness” thus “my being in a privileged position” (2018: 30–​7), my view will be somehow lacking. I will try to express an honest and non-​silent testimony of my observations as much as possible, taking the fragility and sensitivity of my subject matter into consideration to the end from a feminist perspective. In light of this perspective, I will try to be interpreting and explanatory on the rather “indirect connection between texts and the society” by regarding “the dialectical relationship between language practice and the fact(s), institution(s), social structure(s) and environment(s)” as quoted and summarized by Arkonaç from Fairclough and Wodak (2014: 172; 1997: 162–​86). However and above all, the essential question that summons my curiosity most and that hopefully may pave the way for many further researches to be done in order for both understanding the truth of the Turkish, Kurdish and many other peoples living in Turkey and finding a peaceful way for them to be able to live together with all the diversities of their traditions, beliefs, cultural and ethnic heritages, their cultural codes and languages, is the question of where the intersection of the peace struggle with the women’s struggle lies, and how these two struggles have gotten closer and strengthened each other. Constructing a language of peace from women’s perspectives seems to be the common ground at first glance. In that respect, it is fairly obvious that the Women for Peace Initiative (WfPI) holds an incredibly unique place at this vitally important convergence point. They act on the final declaration of the large-​scale conference organized on 4 May 2013, that women are the party to the solution process in their report. Accordingly, Women are affected by war differently than men; they experience different forms of conflict and violations of various rights. In order to create the peace processes that will ensure gender equality and strengthen women by eliminating their victimization, documenting women’s truths in all areas of the process, documenting women’s rights, developing politics that will ensure the humanitarian security of women, and promoting women in public space, in politics, in social and economic development the drafting of laws must be priorities of the peace process; these should be implemented in a national plan framework and by developing a participatory and transparent method. (WfPI, 2013: 13) This quote from the report shows the convergence point that I mentioned above in terms of the feminist approach and activism’s impact on the social change. In addition, throughout the paper, time to time, especially while I  am talking about the experiences of the Women for Peace Initiative in terms of feminist peace activism and the process of writing and translating the report, I will also

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be turning to the accounts excerpted from an interview I did with Feride Eralp who has long been an active member and one of the spokeswomen of the Women for Peace Initiative.2 This meeting with her has guided me in many ways. She showed me where I could look for answers for the first question I asked, with a first-​hand testimony and direct information of the experience. Listening to the observations and experiences of a woman from the West during her various visits to the region made this intersection area clearer in my mind. When I asked what social impact the report targets and who the report was addressing, she stated that she was involved as the English translator, although not physically, of the discussions in the process that prepared the report. She explained that the report was made up of collective and participatory discussions of Western feminist women (women from the Women for Peace Initiative), not directly addressing women (in the West or in Kurdistan), and that they had the intention of being involved in the peace process. To summarize, this call was not directly to women; they say that “we, women, as a part of this process, were able to produce appropriate and specific information and data on the women’s condition”. This call was to the ruling power and parties sitting at the peace process table. This information could not be obtained from anyone other than women, even if they have done various studies on the subject, their acceptable policies and their languages etc.; it was the information the parties could not access by themselves. This was another set of information and data specific to women, produced by women going through withdrawal processes and talking to women there, carrying the vehicles gained through the international women’s struggle here. The women wanted to be a third eye, or a third party, and they wanted to produce concrete tools for it. As one of the tools, this report also addressed international women for peace movements that these women are part, and therefore the literature takes concepts from the international movement, but adds the conceptual framework formed by the struggle here. From this conversation, I would also like to summarize what we talked about during the Five Facts Truth Commission of the Women for Peace Initiative. This commission has been very enlightening in terms of the questions I  initially asked about the situation of differentiating and authenticating women’s experiences in the war and peace processes and their discourses. These five can be listed as the truth of the state, the doer’s truth, the West’s truth, the victim’s truth and the women’s truth. Of these, the aim is to observe the points of women’s truth in the West and East and disseminate these truths in a mutual dialogue. It is the determination of the partnerships regarding the experience. As an example of these interventions, there was a simultaneous women’s night watch in Berçelan Plateau and Taksim with the demand to stop operations. Solidarity is important not only for solidarity, but of course, as the actions that discuss the question of how women in the West take the war, what kind of peace demands they have, why and what kind of peace they want in the West for their own sake, and their creating of the demand for social peace are also very guiding in this study.

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The resolution process: a brief history from the angle of women’s peace struggle On one hand, on the male side, peace means being in a de-​conflict zone or time period of ceasefire, which seems quite an ill-​defined and politically loaded and one-​sided concept that is generally used by the ruling bodies, the mainstream media and by the spokespersons of almost every other superstructures including education, law and even science, and which was ideologically manipulated by a masculine mentality that may be called the Turkish–​Islamic synthesis or conservative-​nationalist. One can say that this situation has been going on since the military coup in the ’80s until right after the coup attempt in July 2016 and so on. On the other hand, on the female side, in its broad sense which women prefer to use, it seems that peace cannot be separated from social rights and freedoms. It is like a trivet for them. They depend on and support each other. They are “sine qua non” for each other. In this sense, peace as a notion cannot be separated from other social dynamics. Peace should transform these social dynamics, which generally occur as unequal distribution of power during the war. In Turkey, as I mentioned in the introduction, it is also necessary to evaluate geographical, ethnic, cultural and linguistic terms of the Kurdish community and the white Turkish society living in the West as separate public spaces. As Handan Çağlayan states that “not only as a situation limited to the world of emotions and meanings or cultural patterns, but also by covering the field of concrete practices and results” (2009: 15). In this study, when I talk about this distinction, I will go on to generalize the East and the West with very rough lines rather deliberately because the subject of this study does not require us to go into the profound details of the historical, ethnic, cultural and political processes that reveal this distinction diachronically. According to the limitations of the subject of the study, the demands and struggles of Kurdish and Turkish women regarding the ending of a war that has spread over the last 35 years will be mentioned by looking at the calls for peace by women after the 2010s. This will be highly representative enough to deserve a much wider discussion by itself. I will focus on the discourse and action produced by women from both sides. Women’s approach to the resolution process and their recommendations for a lasting peace are compiled in the above-​mentioned report. In this report, how the perception of the resolution process of both of the parties and the public changed is summarized as follows: A new era has begun in Turkey since January 2013. The parties to this process define this new era as “the resolution process”. However, what the public and the parties to the process understand of a “resolution” are radically different from one another. What the Kurds and their allies expect is an end to the war between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been continuing for the past 30 years, and a solution to the problems that

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have resulted from the denial of Kurdish identity –​which is also the cause for the war. Whereas the AKP government declares that its expectation in terms of a resolution is an end to “terror”. This report aims to consider the resolution process from the perspective of women. (WfPI, 2013: 7) As can be seen from the above quote, the perception of the two main parties involved and the public opinion, which is also divided between the East and the West, have been differentiated from the very beginning of the process. To solve a problem and achieve the resolution as a goal, one’s intention to get there must be firm, must be strong enough. One must evaluate the situation with all its aspects and backgrounds. What I mean is, the AKP as the ruling party has not approached the process as one of the equal components to take all necessary steps to end the war but as the powerful participant who holds the hegemonic state apparatus in order to manipulate the process as it sees appropriate. As stated in the above quotation, the ruling party has been pertinacious in defining what we can name as a proper war of 35 years with all of its results/​outputs directly affecting peoples, such as deaths, injuries or dislocations or expropriations of the local peoples under the pretext of one phrase: “anti-​terrorist cleaning operation”. From this point of view, those who raised the demand for peace against war both during and after the process were interrupted and have been accused of being terrorists and spreading terrorist propaganda. It should not be too difficult to see that a social peace process could be disrupted if the definitions cannot be reconciled from the beginning. If that is one of the reasons why the process could not achieve the resolution in the end, the other would be that there have not been enough women participants throughout the process. Although the Kurdish side has involved more women in it than the Turkish side, the fact of the lack of women is undeniable for both parties, like in many other examples around the world. The peace struggle of Kurdish women, which especially gained visibility with the Peace Mothers Initiative and the actions of the Women’s Initiative for Peace, which strives to establish the basis for integrating Western women’s peace demands with Kurdish women’s, are of particular importance in this regard. As Alev Özkazanç also states, between 2010 and 2015, the contact between the Kurdish women and the feminist movement had strengthened considerably in the peace process, and women started to play a highly active role in it. In the peace movement, women from different ethnic identities, religious beliefs and left-​wing political views came together and became effective after 2010. Even after 2015, women excelled as the only social force resisting war. (2018: 31) It would not be wrong to say that one of the best examples of this intersectionality is the Women’s Initiative for Peace; therefore, it is chosen as the object of this study. They say in the aforementioned report that

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their aim is to make politics of women and peace directly; that they set their own side as the side of women: that, as a matter of fact, in the process since January 2013, they have been taken actions for women to carry out peace politics, to take place as an equal subject in the construction of the peace, to be seen and strengthened. (WfPI, 2013: 11) We may observe from this declaration that these women want peace no matter what, that they want to be visible and active and responsible parties of the process. This sense of responsibility will remove, strengthen and free them from being victims of men’s politics or violence. In the same report, they state the Women for Peace Initiative has tried to create the common word and action of women by overcoming the discriminations among women that war and conflicts, patriarchal, capital-​oriented and nationalist social orders inflicted upon. All their efforts aim at organizing and increasing the interlocutory and active participation of women in the peace process. (ibid.: 11) The resolution processes should include representatives of many segments of society as well as direct sides of the war. Inter-​equal word producing and decision-​ making processes should be run. Women’s demand in this sense can be read as a demand for being the third component or “the third eye” during the discussions and meetings and within the process of constructing social peace at every level of societal life. In other words, this request can be read as an attempt for recognition as a legitimate political subject whose experiences during the war and expectations of peace are of different qualities than men. Nazan Üstündağ puts a strong emphasis on this matter as well. She states, “as a matter of fact that most of the peace processes taking place in the world excludes women is shown as the reason for both the failure of the processes and the failure to prevent social violence even if peace is established” (2014: 357). It would be possible to link the demand of women to become a third eye or a third party to the subjectivity of their demand for peace, located outside the two existing parties, in other words, predominantly male parties. Yet the problems experienced by women during and after the conflict/​war due to being women constitute a very unique data set on the knowledge of experience in order to be used for solving problems and constructing an equally distributed and rights-​based peace. Therefore, the reason to demand to be the third party of the peace/​resolution processes is to convey these specific data and to find solutions to these specific problems of women, on a larger scale, leading to social transformation, i.e. the construction of all aspects of a social peace. This originality is ignored in many stages of social life, even in peace conditions. Women’s experiences pre-​, during and post-​war periods contain many clues for the nature of the social transformation, which is necessary for the socialization

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and permanence of the peace process. Because women continue to hold on to life no matter what, both during and after the war, they continue to re-​build and re-​build life in the neighbourhoods and cities they live in. In other words, they reproduce life again in their living spaces. Even though women are displaced from their homes, neighbourhoods and even cities in a war environment, despite all deprivations in the ruins of war (electricity, water shortages, hunger, material deprivation and a constant death threat under permanent assaults), they still undertake the responsibility and the obligation to sustain life for the children, the elderly and the injured people. During this period, they are faced with the inability to access health care for their menstrual periods, birth, and even in acute health situations both for themselves and their relatives, and they also experience loneliness, insecurity, isolation, language barrier etc. due to displacement or loss of familiar environments and protection of familiar networks. Yet they never give up standing for life and demanding peace, as in the case of the Mothers for Peace Initiative. As stated by Alıcı and Daşlı, their demands show that the line established by women in the struggle for peace is based on a deep political understanding beyond stopping violence. Women who were directly affected by the war in Kurdistan and often came together as those who felt responsibility on it were the ones who raised the call for peace the most. (2018: 9) For instance, as quoted in the same introduction from a press meeting held at Diyarbakır in 2010 by the Peace Mothers, these women declared that “Because we know very well where the Kurdish problem started, why this struggle was started and how to be solved. We want to see the face of peace, not the corpses of Turkish and Kurdish young people” (ibid.). We may easily observe an honest deliberation to put an end to the war and begin a lasting peace process from these words declared by women who have positioned themselves on the side of life against death, which are the most crucial binary oppositions of all, such as life and death, peace and war, resolution and conflict etc. Women in Kurdish–​Turkish conflict most generally give utterance in favour of the formers from the beginning to the interrupted end.

Where the women from two sides of the river meet The visit of women from Diyarbakır to Ankara with white cheesecloths and roses from the Mothers for Peace Initiative, which was established with the demand for an end to the war and for peace, can be shown as one of the first representative examples of Kurdish women’s call for peace. Forty women went from Diyarbakır to Ankara with the slogans “For the love of those who are left behind”, “We are the mothers, and we are on the side of peace”. However, they were prevented by

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the police from entering Ankara” says Özlem Aslan in a news article “Mothers Walking to Peace since the 90s” (2007).3 I will continue without problematizing the point of motherhood here since it is not the subject of this article to discuss women’s demand for peace through the identity of motherhood or what differentiates motherhood as acceptable or unacceptable, just like their feminine status. However, I will emphasize that discrimination expressed by the ruling and pro-​media organs with the definitions of “mothers of martyrs” or “mothers of terrorists” is one of the means for women in the region to be affected by the war and to be subjected to discrimination.4 Alas, the phenomenon of motherhood, “which is a gender role loaded on women, is also politicized in the public sphere during the war and peace struggles against war” as it is stated by Daşlı et al. (2016: 80). And hence, as a political subject, the mothers have evolved as effective parties that demand peace. What I would like to emphasize is that Kurdish women have increased their attitude and demand for peace even in the ’90s when the war’s effects and oppression were felt most harshly. Of course, there were other means of struggles of either Kurdish or Turkish women groups against war (Azizoğlu Bazan, 2017: 2–​ 4). Yet, the Mothers for Peace Initiative’s acts or discursive attitudes mentioned above show that the mothers who were trained in the similar pain as in the loss of their children showed the people that a more equitable and different perception of the world was possible. They were the most representative in terms of raising awareness and visibility in the eyes of especially the women living in the West about what women had really been through and wanted in the East. As Özkazanç writes, “intersectionality has become a fundamental concept of the field (of the gender and women’s studies field) in the ’90s” (2018: 24). Then, I wonder where this intersectionality between identity-​, rights-​and peace-​based Kurdish women movement’s and women movement’s interests in the West have come together. Özkazanç answers this question by stating that the interaction of being Kurdish and woman led to a very high level of politicization and feminist subjectivation […] and in the 90s and early 2000s, when the peace process continued, the interaction between the two movements was increasing. Between 2010 and 2015, the contact between Kurdish women and the feminist movement strengthened considerably during the peace process, and women began to play a highly active role in this process. Within the peace movement, women from different ethnic identities, religious beliefs and left political views came together and were effective after 2010. Even after 2015, women have distinguished themselves as the only social force to resist the war. (2018: 31) We will be able to make such an inference that the long-​term struggle of the women’s movement and the feminists have come together with the liberation movement of Kurdish women raised on the basis of constructing social peace

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against war and demanding equal distribution of rights against an authoritarian ruling male power who has discriminated, put limits, formed barriers, demolished bridges, polarized and isolated peoples in order to envision a total liberation and visibility on all stages of social life for all women in Turkey. In this case, I would like to remark that the establishment of a social and lasting peace and the founding role of women in this process have formed the intersection point. Feride Eralp summarizes as follow: The most important thing that women do in peace struggles is to bring two segments of the existing social fault lines together (and especially women) through common problems (problems which enslaving women’s lives such as sexual violence, impoverishment which are often ignored by the men of both sides) in order to organize a will for peace in the society and to take part in high-​level peace negotiations. […] in doing so without covering the existing differences, or making them invisible, on the contrary, by clearly recognizing the experience-​truth differentiation, but without establishing their political lines through this polarization. (2018: 162–​3) Meeting point is to stand together without marginalizing the other’s truth and experiences. In other words, to be able to utter different truths and experiences of women for a common purpose. This common purpose is in this case, to regenerate and reconstruct subjectivities in a transforming society through socialization of peace.

Constructing a language of peace: impossible or indispensable? The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said “it is impossible to continue a peace process with Kurdish militants and urged parliament to strip politicians with links to ‘terrorist groups’ of their immunity from prosecution”.5 This quote shows a good quality of representation of what I have been trying to put an emphasis on under the subtitle of my paper. The ruling parties use words and phrases as tools of pressure, not of tools of communication, by using the manipulative aspect of the political language and asymmetrical power relations to the end. The power of language lies in ideological manipulation of the truth. When one calls the other side terrorists and foes and gives up admitting them or never admits them at all as equals on the negotiating table, peace from the beginning of the process becomes impossible. As Turgay Kurultay explains, this power of the manipulative and demagogic aspect of language results in his statement: most of the time, the stereotypes that language activates are not noticed. By taking advantage of this situation, distortions can easily be made to mobilize

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the masses. Where once there is linguistic conditioning, other different and broad horizons seem marginal. […] There is a linguistic and mental dilemma; “whether you adopt our policy and language, or we will put you in the opposite camp” they say.6 So, in this way, it would be impossible for different perspectives to be voiced and for differences to coexist in a medium of social peace. Therefore, one would claim that this attitude of the ruling bodies, which is crystallized in their discourse recently, would be one of the most exposing qualities of a more and more increasing authoritarian conception of the regime in Turkey. I would like to share some excerpts from another representative example of the declarations of the president –​who is of the AKP –​on the resolution process or rather on the possibility to make social peace. Erdoğan called Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) “treason network”, and for “parallel state” he used “malice network”, and said media has taken part in treason of separatist and parallel organizations’ and “a group” from business world has supported it. […] Resolution process is improbable. […] Resolution process has been abused. Unfortunately, we could not reap the fruits of it. We also saw the bad examples of it during the general elections. […] There is a truth out there. I  think to keep resolution process with the ones who threaten our national solidarity is improbable but what should we keep? National unity and brotherhood. They are precious things. There is no such thing as retreat. […] They will pay the price one by one. […] I do not approve to close political parties. However, deputies of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) should pay the price one by one. The parliament should do what is needed and rip them off from their parliamentary immunity shields. If people collaborate with a terrorist organization, they pay the price.7 Words and phrases like “treason network”, pointing out that they as the state have been betrayed, “parallel state” pointing out that Kurds and all opponents to the government are secret alliances of the Gülen Sect, so-​called Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), who was allegedly in charge of the 15 July Coup Attempt, “separatist and parallel organizations” pointing out that the peace negotiations have been carried so far that day is in fact means for separation for the Kurdish side (most probably as a secret intention), are the exemplifying antagonistic expressions of this paper’s main argument about women’s expressions and actions to construct a language of social peace upon its genuine meaning. This reconstruction has been based on deconstructing these male warmongering, hostile, self-​righteous, neglecting, classifying and stigmatizing ways of using language by being constantly on the side of peace, equality and rights and freedoms. Not “national unity and brotherhood” as the most signifying and useful tools of hierarchical, superior to inferior, manly

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“brotherhood” and nationalistic “unity”, but “equality and equal distribution of rights” the women are seeking after. Being on the side of life and regenerating life are essential in women’s discourse on the contrary to the rulers’ glorifying death, destruction and pillage by taking shelter of a comfort zone of religion and power as you may observe from the tweets and hashtags tweeted by the Women for Peace Initiative, @barisicinkadin, in different times during recent years as follow: “No matter which side women belong in war, they both losing and objectifying. The way to overcome this is to be able to say #peace, to establish #WomenSolidarity first” #1September #WorldPeaceDay, “Peace is a must” call to say! Yes, peace is a must:  It is also a condition for women to live in an equal and non-​violent  world. “What do we understand from life? We can decide our own today and tomorrow, it is an order in which we do not have to give birth and donate children who will work cheaply for anyone, or fight for anyone, and that we can live equally and free, where our rights and needs are not called as “betrayal, murder” #WomenVoteforLife “They want us to give birth, but let’s not imagine a future for our child otherwise. It’s not enough, they separate one mother from the other. Some of them are heaven is under their feet and some have no place to sleep. #AKP’sMaternityReportCard “It’s not a crime to say, ‘no to war’ and to say, ‘do not let children die’. It is a good thing that people like #AyşeTeacher do not terminate in this geography where we are surrounded by all kinds of death” “In a world where borders are drawn on our bodies, we insist upon for peace with women’s solidarity crossing these borders #MyMarch8Slogan “So many deaths, for the sake of what?” #DefendingPeaceIsNotACrime “When face to face with the #RealitiesOfWar, the things they get from us, women ask:  We, this society, women, men, young people, the elderly, the believers, the unbelievers, the wealthy, the poor, really #WhatDoWeWant?” “Defending equality against violence; peace and life against war” #Wome nStruggleCanNotBeProsecuted “Sur means women solidarity at the same time. Against TOKİİ’s where women isolated #WeWillNotLeaveSurAlone” “We as women claim life by #NotLeavingSurAlone against the war targeted our lands, trees, homes, streets we have constructed our own”

Constructing a language of peace  227

“As women #WeWantLife, not the stability of war or male violence, we will voice up for the “stability of peace” “Saying ‘Bombs are falling on our lives’, ‘No peace in İstanbul, when Cizre at war’ women on the streets will win” #ResistanceWillWin (The highlights are mine) Hundreds of slogans, hundreds of calls for protests, press releases, campaign announcements, of which I  could list a few of the above. As I  listed them in sequence, it may be possible to follow the discursive scheme of them. When we look at the scheme through the CDA perspective, which observes the contribution and transformative effect of language use towards social life, and when we observe the vocative effect of the linguistic elements, namely words, word phrases and sentences: peace, life, equality, solidarity, peace is a must, women vote for life, so many deaths, for the sake of what?, defending equality against violence; peace and life against war etc. (the highlights are mine), we can observe how these women are refusing to be the prisoners of male-​dominated war politics, how they create a language of life and peace policy against death politics (thanato-​politics) of the ruling parties and how high their potential for changing the social life is. We can also observe the language level that we traced above in the press release read at the Berçelan Plateau and Taksim night watch held by the Women for Peace Initiative. It is reported as follows in the news in the feminist web-​site Çatlak Zemin that the women who said, “We have a Word to Say, We Have the Power to Improve the Solution” set up a tent at the Hakkari Berçelan Plateau and Taksim at the same time. Women kept watch for peace until dawn. In a press statement made in Berçelan as the women in Turkey, they said they came together because they wanted the development of peace. They expressed that peace is necessary for women more than anyone else. They stated that male domination is getting stronger every day with war and militarism, that women have lived through years of violence, they are in Berçelan to share their testimony and feelings about these experiences, to touch each other’s hearts and to understand each other”. (the highlights are mine)8 Besides favouring the notion of peace against war, this example above presents another important discursive practice in the West and the East in terms of demanding a common area of women’s differentiating and unique experiences, namely the environment of conversation of different truths. Quoted from their own report on the Resolution Process, The Women for Peace Initiative was founded by women from many different backgrounds in 2009, after a large number of Kurdish women struggling for

228  Meral Camcı

peace and women’s freedom in Turkey were arrested. Between 2009 and 2012 the Initiative worked to expand and increase demonstrations for peace in Turkey, and to discuss and document the many ways in which women were made to suffer from war and conflict. […] the membership of WfPI includes the spectrum of different political positions, class, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations in Turkey. (2013: 9) The point that makes WfPI one of the most prominent and devoted peace-​ making societal actors in Turkey, as one can see so far from the excerptions of their quite extensive discursive and actual compilation, is that their persistency and prospect for the possibility of peace, an equal life for women and therefore for the rest of society. Some of the contents like “Why Should Women Take Part in Processes of Resolution and Peace-​Making?”, “The Participation of Women in the Resolution Process in Turkey”, “Women are Taking an Active Role in the Peace Process Conference”, “Action Plan and Methods, Women’s Approach to Resolution”, “Meetings with the Political Parties Conducting the Negotiations” in the 2013 Report also manifest their honest intentions to make a proper contribution to the Kurdish–​Turkish conflict resolution process by emphasizing again and again its indispensability and real maintainability.

Conclusion While reading for this study in newspapers, social media means, reports or academic writings, I thought that when women and men spoke about war and peace, what is reflected in the language is actually an indication of how they approach life and death. Of course, I  am aware that the issue should be evaluated in a common denominator crossing many historical, cyclical, ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic axes. However, I would like to leave it to our colleagues who study political science and sociology. Striving to reach the ways of thinking reflected in the language paved the way for reading this study. In these days, when we try not to hear or see the image and the discourse of male dominant power, which is often encountered everywhere at any time, it was sometimes difficult to trace the reflection of the masculine mentality to the language. But it gave me hope at times when I observed the women’s persistence to reconstruct a language of peace reflecting their love and passion for life. The power and potential of women to build a social life is reflected in their language and struggle. For themselves, children, young people and elderly, for animals and for nature. To conclude, I would like to address Julia Kristeva’s words: Therefore, as the third millennium begins, I say that the lack of a discourse on life is the reason why peace entered a deadlock in Gaza, Jerusalem, Paris, New York, in a different manner but at the same time connected to each other. (2005: 168)

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We can also add Turkey to these regions where the social peace processes got deadlocked. Of course, it is understandable why she is so pessimistic about imagining the possibility of peace, considering what is going on in the world: wars, destructions, right-​populist, male-​dominated, war-​prone policies are rising as a result of a new crisis of capitalism. But I can see her dignified hope for the future because she leads the way for finding it: a discourse on life. So, as long as there are the people, as in the case of our study, women, who have the courage to raise their voices for peace and the will to reverse the course of recent events, there is hope. As Çağlayan states, it is clear that building peace is more than the “brotherhood of war”. […] The only way that all those who are excluded from history must apply is to continue on their way by believing and trusting each other and what they have done and to persist their struggles. (2009: 18) This quote was uttered at the beginnings of the peace process, though it still remains valid even during this time of authoritarian discourse, as the actions of the governing body have been escalating remarkably after 2015 when the process was interrupted and shelved.

Notes 1 For a detailed assessment of the “Resolution Process” and the history of the Turkish–​ Kurdish conflict, see Yeğen (2015) and Hughes (2016). 2 Interview with Feride Eralp. April 2019, Istanbul. 3 “90’lardan bugüne barışa yürüyen anneler”,, 15 December 2014. 4 For a detailed discussion on this, see Aslan (2007) and Üstündağ (2019). 5 “Turkey says Kurdish peace process impossible as Nato meets”, 28 July 2015. 6 “Turgay Kurultay’ın beyanı”,, 7 May 2019. 7 “Erdoğan: Resolution process is improbable, we call everybody to account”,, 28 July 2015. 8 “8 Ağustos 2009:  Kadınlar, barış için Taksim ve Berçelan’da nöbet tuttu”, www., 8 August 2009.

References Alıcı, N. & Daşlı, G. (2018). Toplumsal Cinsiyet ve Barış. Geçiş Dönemi Adaleti, Hafıza ve Barış İnşası. Ankara: Dipnot. Arkonaç, S. A. (2014). Psikolojide Söz ve Anlam Analizi. Niteliksel Duruş. Istanbul: Ayrıntı. Aslan, Ö. (2007). The Politics of Motherhood and Mothers for Peace in Turkey Experience. Unpublished MA Thesis, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Boğaziçi University Istanbul. Azizoğlu Bazan, M. (2017). “‘Türkiye’deki kadın hareketlerinin farklı şehirlerde karşılaştırılması’. Araştırma projesi raporu”, www.uni-​, September 2017.

230  Meral Camcı Çağlayan, H. (2009). Çözüm Sürecine Toplumsal Cinsiyet Perspektifinden Bakmak. Kültür ve Siyasette Feminist Yaklaşımlar, 9, 13–​18. Çakır, S. (2008). Feminizm:  Ataerkil İktidarın Eleştirisi. In H. B. Örs. (Ed.), Modern Siyasal İdeolojiler (412–​475). İstanbul: Bilgi Universitesi. Daşlı, G., Alıcı, N. & Flader, U. (2016). Kadınların Barış Mücadelesinde Dünya Deneyimleri: Sırbistan, Kosova, Sri Lanka, Suriye. Ankara: Demos. Eralp, F. (2018). Türkiye’de ve Dünyada Kadınların Barış Hareketi. In N. Berber (Ed.), Duvarları Yıkmak, Köprüleri Kurmak. Yeni Küresel Feminizmin Yükselişi ve İmkanları (162–​ 168). Istanbul: Heinrich Böll Stiftung Turkey. Fairclough, N. (2012). Critical Discourse Analysis. International Advances in Engineering and Technology, 7, 452–​487. Fairclough, N. & Wodak, R. (1997). Critical Discourse Analysis. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction (162–​186). London: Sage. Hughes, E. (2016). “Resolution of Turkey’s Kurdish Question: A Process in Crisis”, www., June 2016. Kristeva, J. (2005). Barış Mümkün mü? In F. Baret-​Ducrocq (Ed.), Evrensel Kültürler Akademisi, Barışı Hayal Etmek (165–​174). Istanbul: Metis. Özkazanç, A. (2018). Türkiye’de Kadın Hareketi ve Kesişimsellik Yaklaşımı, Kesişimsellik Tartışması. In N. Berber (Ed.), Duvarları Yıkmak, Köprüleri Kurmak. Yeni Küresel Feminizmin Yükselişi ve İmkanları (24–​36). Istanbul: Heinrich Böll Stiftung Turkey. Toktamis, K. F. (2018). A Peace that wasn’t: friends, foes, and contentious re-​entrenchment of Kurdish politics in Turkey. Turkish Studies, 19(5), 697–​722. Ünlü, B. (2018). Türklük Sözleşmesi:  Oluşumu, İşleyişi ve Krizi. Ankara:  Dipnot Yayınları. Üstündağ, N. (2014). Feminist Bir Bakış Açısından Barış Süreci. In M. Aktaş. (Ed.), Çatışma Çözümleri ve Barış (357–​381). Istanbul: İletişim. Üstündağ, N. (2019). Mother, Politician, and Guerilla:  The Emergence of a New Political Imagination in Kurdistan through Women’s Bodies and Speech. Differences, 30(2): 115–​145. Yeğen, M. (2015). “The Kurdish Peace Process in Turkey:  Genesis, Evolution and Prospects”,, May 2015. WfPI. (2013). “Women for Peace Initiative:  Report on the Process of Resolution”. Retrieved from​assets/​media/​baris_​kadin_​ingilizce_​baski_​2.pdf.


Note: Tables are shown in bold type and figures are in italics. The Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party) is generally referred to as “AKP”. Academics for Peace 9–​10 accession, to European Union 5, 72, 81n6, 103, 104, 108, 111, 115 accumulation, capital see capital accumulation accumulation by dispossession 4, 86–​87, 89–​90, 90–​91, 92, 93, 94, 95–​96, 97, 99, 100n5 accumulation process 38, 62, 75, 77, 88, 112, 113 accumulation regime 33, 35, 36, 39, 44, 128, 156n5, 164–​165 accumulation strategy 38, 39, 43, 44, 89, 97 Acquis Communautaire 108, 110, 112–​113, 115, 145 activism 100n5; feminist 9, 155, 217–​218; judicial 205, 206–​207; labour 42–​43; peace 9, 217–​218; women’s 148 actors, structures, institutions and discourses (ASID) 161 Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi see AKP (Justice and Development Party) Aile ve Kadından Sorumlu Devlet Bakanlığı (AKSB) 145, 152 AKP (Justice and Development Party): authoritarian turn of 68–​81; gender regime of 144–​147, 151–​152; and political Islam 179–​194, 184; populism of 103–​116; trolling by 98, 101n23 AKSB (Aile ve Kadından Sorumlu Devlet Bakanlığı) 145, 152 Alawis 180, 188–​190, 191, 193 Alevis 8, 130–​131, 132, 169; and political Islam 9, 179–​194, 184

Anatolian bourgeoisie 128, 162, 166–​167 Ankara–​Diyarbakır duality  214 anti-​democratization  33 anti-​equality  7, 153 anti-​feminism 7, 144, 145, 146, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156 anti-​intellectualism 7, 143–​144 anti-​modernist imaginaries, of Gandhi 164 Anti-​Terror Law  1, 2 anti-​women’s rights 7, 152, 156 Arab Alevis 180, 188–​192, 193 Arab Spring 72–​73, 86 arbitrary criminalization, of opponents 143–​144 Arçelik LG factory 206–​207 ASID (actors, structures, institutions and discourses) 161 ASPB (Aile ve Sosyal Politikalar Bakanlığı) 144, 145, 147, 152, 154 assimilationism 128, 187, 190, 191, 192 Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal 138n11, 152, 163, 173; see also Kemalism attempted coup see coup attempt (2016) austerity 20, 22, 25, 49, 55, 61, 108, 112, 113 authoritarian capitalism 20 authoritarian labour politics 40–​41 authoritarian legal phenomena 197 authoritarian liberalism 9, 34, 196–​210 authoritarian neoliberalism 3, 15, 18, 19, 54, 60; labour-​oriented perspective 33, 35–​36, 38, 44, 44n4; politics of legality 196, 198, 202–​207, 208 authoritarian populism 5, 32, 104, 111–​112, 113, 114, 115, 116n1

232 Index authoritarian religious movements, rise of 7 authoritarian statism 16, 19 authoritarian transformation 115 authoritarian turn 1, 2, 3, 4, 15–​27, 34, 68–​81, 128 authoritarianism: competitive 34, 51, 53–​54, 64n3, 68; electoral 1, 34, 44n1, 68, 80n3; mainstream approaches to 33–​35; neoliberal 4, 50, 55, 61, 71, 123; new-​neoliberal  62 authoritarianization 3, 34, 37 Aydınlar Ocaği 182 bailouts, of banks and companies 24, 27n22, 61, 62 Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) 57 Berçelan Plateau and Taksim night watch 218, 227 Bharatiya Jana Sangh 167, 168 Bharatiya Janata Party see BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) Birleşik Metal İş 198, 199, 204, 205, 208–​209n10, 209n12, 209n20 BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) 7, 32; right-​wing lurches 160, 162, 163, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170–​171, 172, 173 bourgeois hegemony 3, 16, 26n8, 106, 137 bourgeoisie, Turkish 5, 7, 106, 107, 108; and reproduction of Islam 123, 127, 128–​129, 132, 135, 136–​137; and right-​wing lurches 162, 163–​164, 165, 166–​167, 168 BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) 73, 74 Çakır, Serpil 130, 132, 138n20, 214 capital accumulation 17, 21, 107, 113, 128; and authoritarian turn of AKP 70, 71, 75, 76; and labour-​oriented perspective 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44; and new-​neoliberal state 50, 52, 53, 54, 62, 63; and news media transformation 86, 87–​89; and right-​wing lurches 163, 164; see also accumulation by dispossession capital factions 3, 106, 108 capital markets 4, 59, 85, 107 capitalism: authoritarian 20; crisis of 19–​25, 64, 78, 80, 99n3, 229; disaster

20, 45n10; neoliberal 17, 20, 86, 88, 89; state 26n5, 51, 73 capitalist developmentism 26n9, 35, 58, 127, 137, 138n5 capitalist social relations 50, 64 capitalist state 36, 44n3, 62, 64, 70 castes, in India 165, 167, 171, 172 “catching-​up” imaginary  7, 161 CB (Central Bank) 54, 56, 57, 62, 63, 64, 65n6, 114 CDA (critical discourse analysis) 213, 216, 227 Cemevis 186, 187 Central Bank (CB) 54, 56, 57, 62, 63, 64, 65n6, 114 central banks 17, 23–​24, 26–​27n19, 27n20 centralization: of decision-​making processes 196; of economy management 63; of political administration 4, 52; of power 5, 24, 33, 38, 62; in presidency 64 cheap credit 3, 55, 57, 77, 97 checks and balances 1, 5, 110 children 10, 133, 154, 155, 185, 186, 190; and Women for Peace Initiative 222, 223, 226, 228 China–​Russia axis  73, 74 CHP (Republican People’s Party) 6, 95, 110, 131, 179 civil rights 1, 24 civil society 70, 71, 124, 170 Clarke, Simon 36, 50, 61, 70, 71, 75 Clash of Cultures 128 class domination 71, 75, 76, 80 class governance 5, 103–​116 class limits 70–​71, 76, 79, 80 class relations 15, 44, 77, 78, 103, 115 class rule 109, 114–​115 class struggles 3, 4, 15, 19, 44n3, 60, 127; and authoritarian turn of AKP 70, 71, 74, 75, 81n5; and European Union integration 103, 105, 106 clerics 130, 131, 132, 134 clientelism 52, 53, 63–​64 coercion 4, 15–​16, 19, 116n3, 169, 197; of workers 199, 201–​202 collective action, right to 198, 206–​207, 210n30 collective bargaining 41, 45n13, 45n15, 45n17; and politics of legality 198, 199, 200, 201, 204, 206 collective interest 163–​164 collective will 124, 125, 126, 130, 137

Index 233 colonization 7, 89–​90, 145, 146, 163 commodification 8, 26n18, 35–​36, 88, 89, 91 competitive authoritarianism 34, 51, 53–​54, 64n3, 68 concentration of power 33, 42 conceptual contours 161–​162, 162 conditionalities, of corporate and state bailouts 24, 78 Confederation of Employer Associations of Turkey (TISK) 40, 41 conservative democracy 37, 123 Constitution 45n5, 45n17, 93, 110, 112; and laicism and Alevis 181, 182, 183, 185, 190; and politics of legality 196, 199–​200, 205, 208n1 Constitutional Court 149, 199, 200, 203, 205, 207 constitutional referendums 1, 8, 37, 93, 97, 112, 145, 149 construction sector 43, 90, 100n15, 107, 110, 163, 165; and new-​neoliberal state 53, 58, 59, 64, 65n23 consumption 76, 90, 128 Copenhagen Criteria 104–​107, 111, 114 corruption 5, 37, 44n4, 51, 52, 63, 69, 160, 196 Council of Europe 146, 202 Council of Ministers 57, 149, 200, 201, 204 Council of State 199, 200, 203, 204, 205 counter-​hegemonic strategies 198, 203, 208 coup attempt (2016) 4, 56, 68, 87, 97, 150–​151; and European Union integration 112, 113; and labour-​ oriented perspective 36–​37, 39, 45n7; and laicism and Alevis 179, 180, 188, 192; and Women for Peace Initiative 219, 225 coup d’état (1960) 106 coup d’état (1980) 4, 33, 41, 169–​170, 196, 208n1, 219; and European Union integration 106, 109; and laicism and Alevis 182, 185, 193; and news media transformation 87, 90, 91, 93–​94; and old symbols into new settings 147, 148, 157n12; and reproduction of Islam 127, 134 Court of Cassation 199, 203, 206–​207, 210n26, 210n30 COVID-​19 pandemic 3, 19–​25, 79, 131

CPE (cultural political economy) 5–​7, 161, 169, 172 creative destruction 90, 92, 97–​98 credit 3, 95, 107; and authoritarian turn of AKP 71, 75, 77–​78, 79, 80; and new-​neoliberal state 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 66n25 criminal law 199, 201–​202 crises: of authoritarian populism 111–​114; currency 114, 115, 184; economic see economic crisis; financial see financial crises; management and manipulation of 90, 91, 95–​98, 100n21; and neoliberalism 15–​27 crisis capitalism 19–​25, 64, 78, 80, 99n3, 229 crisis in neoliberalism 16, 54 crisis management and manipulation 90, 91, 95–​98, 100n21 crisis of capitalism 19–​25, 64, 78, 80, 99n3, 229 crisis of hegemony 15–​16, 112 crisis of neoliberalism 3, 16, 50 critical discourse analysis (CDA) 213, 216, 227 cultural political economy (CPE) 2–​7, 161, 169, 172 cultural practices 5, 6 cultural production, non-​Sunni 135, 137 cultural transformation 2, 5 culture 8, 32, 69, 85, 125, 138n9, 153; and laicism and Alevis 182, 187, 188, 191 Culture Committees 190 Culture War 128 currency 42, 79, 95, 113, 114, 115, 184 current account 42, 59, 60, 79 Customs Union, with European Union 105–​106, 108, 116n2, 116n4 Davutoğlu, Ahmet 147, 153 debt 17, 22, 42, 77, 79; and European Union integration 107, 108, 112, 113, 115; and new-​neoliberal state 49, 55, 57, 62, 63 Decree-​Law No. 678 200 de-​democratization  16–​17 Demirören, Yildirim 92, 95, 97 democracy: conservative 37, 123; illiberal 33, 34, 44n1, 73; liberal 15, 16, 18, 19, 44n1, 69, 72, 73, 103; parliamentary 1, 3, 49 democratic breakdown 69, 71, 81n4

234 Index Democratic Opening 143, 145 Democratic Party (DP) 179 democratization 1, 16–​17, 33, 93, 95, 183, 187; and European Union integration 104–​105, 107, 110, 114, 115; liberal 69, 72 de-​unionization 91, 207 developmentalism 52, 53, 64, 157n13; capitalist 26n9, 35, 58, 127, 137, 138n5; neoliberal 6, 128; new-​ 4, 50, 51, 53, 73; and right-​wing lurches 161, 162, 162–​166, 173 “dindar ve kindar nesil” 5, 133 Directorate of Religious Affairs see Diyanet disaster capitalism 20, 45n10 disciplinary moment 75, 77, 78, 79, 80 disciplinary neoliberalism 5, 104, 107–​108, 112, 113, 114–​115, 196 disciplining of labour 199–​202 dispossession 36, 85, 88, 89, 96; accumulation by see accumulation by dispossession Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı 6, 147, 151, 153; and laicism and Alevis 182, 185, 186, 192; and reproduction of Islam 130, 131–​132, 132–​133, 133 Doğan, Aydın/​Doğan Media 94–​95, 96, 97–​98, 100n5 DP (Democratic Party) 179 easy credit 3, 55, 57, 77, 97 ECB (European Central Bank) 23 economic crisis 16, 36, 42, 43, 78, 129, 197; and European Union integration 103, 104, 108, 112, 115 economic development 7, 55, 57, 93, 106, 173, 217 economic governance 114 economic growth 43, 52, 53, 59, 110, 160 economic imaginary 163 economic liberalism 106, 196 economic policies 6, 7, 62, 72, 77, 128, 197; and authoritarian turn 22, 24; and European Union integration 104, 108, 109, 112, 115, 116n1; and right-​wing lurches 168, 171 economic recovery 21–​22, 26n16, 107 economic reform 17, 21, 39, 59, 60, 109 economic security 204–​205, 207–​208 economy management 2, 4, 99; and new-​ neoliberal state 49, 51, 52, 53, 54,

55, 56–​57, 57–​58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 64n4 education reform 39, 133, 134 Ehlen 191 elections 44n1, 51, 64n3, 172, 215; general see general elections; Indian 168, 169; local 8, 55, 95, 114; presidential 56, 65n9, 69 electoral accountability 108 electoral authoritarianism 1, 34, 44n1, 68, 80n3 elites 64, 106, 109, 111, 123, 136, 161, 164 employment 39, 41, 59, 76, 149, 155; and authoritarian turn 23, 26n16, 26n18 Enlightenment 126, 130, 181, 190 entry points 161–​162, 172 Eralp, Feride 218, 224 Erdoğan, Recep Tayyip 2, 5, 8, 69, 112, 131, 209n11, 224, 225; and authoritarian turn of AKP 68, 74, 80n1; and labour-​oriented perspective 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 39–​40, 42, 43, 45n13; and laicism and Alevis 184, 186; and new-​ neoliberal state 55, 56, 64n4; and news media transformation 85, 86, 87, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97; and old symbols into new settings 147, 152, 153, 156n3; and right-​wing lurches 160, 162, 173, 173n4 European Union (EU) 95, 184, 196; Central Bank of 23; Court of Human Rights of 186, 199, 201, 206, 207; Customs Union of 105–​106, 108, 116n2, 116n4; reforms of 5, 105–​106, 108–​111, 112, 115, 180; Turkey Progress Report of 111; integration of Turkey with 5, 103–​116, 116n2 EU-​Turkey Accession Partnership Agreement 108 executive body 56–​57, 58, 60, 62, 63 executive power 38, 56, 62, 93, 99 exploitation 7, 36, 41, 75, 80, 144 familialism 147, 148–​149, 154, 155 fascism 54, 86, 87, 143, 144, 191; and authoritarian turn 15, 18–​19, 26n6, 26n7, 26n8 fascistic track 6–​7, 9, 143–​144, 146, 147, 148, 150, 155 Federal Reserve (FED) 23, 77 feminism: and old symbols into new settings 144–​147, 148, 151–​155, 156, 156n4, 158n22; and Women for

Index 235 Peace Initiative 7, 213, 217–​218, 220, 223, 227 feminist activism 9, 155, 217–​218 feminist movement 148, 220, 223 financial capital 4, 64 financial coercion 4 financial crises 3, 73, 74, 78, 95, 96, 107; and authoritarian turn 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25; and new-​neoliberal state 49, 51, 55, 60 financial liberalization 17, 75, 78 financial orthodoxy 24 financial sector 57, 94 financialization 3, 4, 6, 58, 61, 128; and authoritarian turn 17, 20–​21, 26n9; and European Union integration 107, 108, 112; neoliberal 68–​81; and news media transformation 85, 90, 91, 92, 94, 95 First World War 26n8, 164 fiscal discipline 17, 22, 24, 25; and new-​ neoliberal state 49, 54, 55, 58, 59, 60, 63, 64n4 Five Facts Truth Commission 218 Fordism 36, 40, 105, 106, 116n3, 116n5, 156n5 foreign policy 73, 179–​180 Foucault, Michel 32, 34, 88, 100n7 free-​market economy 20, 51, 53, 64n2 Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand 162, 164, 170 gender equality 7, 131, 217; and old systems into new settings 145, 146, 151, 152, 153, 154, 156, 158n22 gender regime, of AKP 144–​147, 151 general elections 8, 68, 96, 97, 144, 179, 183, 225; and European Union integration 108–​109, 112; and new-​ neoliberal state 51, 53, 56; and right-​ wing lurches 160, 163, 166 Gezi Uprising 1, 4, 8, 37, 44n2, 111, 115, 187; and authoritarian turn of AKP 68, 72–​73; and news media transformation 87, 89, 90–​91, 93–​94, 100n5, 101n24; and old symbols into new settings 143, 144, 146 global capitalism 4, 20, 50, 52, 71, 78, 80, 85 global credit 71, 77, 78, 79, 80 global dynamics 70, 74, 99 global financial crisis 3, 15, 16, 20, 22, 51, 73, 74

global financial markets 54, 62, 76, 77 Global South 4, 16, 21; see also Southern states globalization 20, 25, 35, 71, 72, 85 GONGO (government-​organized non-​ governmental organization) 147, 153, 154, 156 governance 19, 25, 114, 196; class 5, 103–​116; economic 114; neoliberal 22, 35 government-​organized non-​governmental organization (GONGO) 147, 153, 154, 156 Gramsci, Antonio 3, 6, 9, 103–​104, 116n3, 197; and authoritarian turn 16, 18, 19, 25n1, 26n8 Gramscian intellectuals 124–​125, 136–​137 Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP) 8, 180, 215–​216, 225 Harvey, David 17, 20, 21, 36, 156n5; and news media transformation 86, 87, 88, 89–​90, 95, 97, 99, 99n3 hashtags tweeted by Women for Peace Initiative 226–​227 hate speech 180, 186, 188, 193 HDP (Halkların Demokratik Partisi) 8, 180, 215–​216, 225 hegemony: bourgeois 3, 16, 26n8, 106, 137; crisis of 15–​16, 112; Hindu 170, 171; ideology of 109; Islamic 6; neoliberal 17–​18, 19, 25n4, 107; of neoliberalism 17, 18 hegemony projects 3, 6, 125, 127, 137n2; Islamist 128–​130, 134, 136 High Board of Arbitration 199, 201 Hind Swaraj 164, 170 Hindu nationalism/​Hindutva 161, 168, 170, 171, 173 housing industry 76, 107, 110, 112, 172 human rights 5, 68, 105, 106, 157n12, 209n15, 209n17; and laicism and Alevis 181, 186, 191, 193; see also European Union (EU), Court of Human Rights of identity politics 7, 128, 169 ideology 4, 6, 25n4, 72, 76, 88, 92, 197, 205; and European Union integration 104, 109, 114, 116n1; Hindu nationalist 168, 170; and labour-​oriented perspective 34, 38, 40, 43, 45n6; and laicism and Alevis 179, 182, 183,

236 Index 185–​186; and new-​neoliberal state 51, 61–​62, 64; and reproduction of Islam 123, 127, 130; and Women for Peace Initiative 214, 216, 219, 224 IFIs (international financial institutions) 72, 77, 184 illiberal democracy 33, 34, 44n1, 73 imaginaries 7, 161, 162, 163, 170 Imam-​Hatip schools 6, 170, 171, 184, 184, 185; and reproduction of Islamism 132, 133–​134, 134, 135 IMF (International Monetary Fund) 49, 53, 55, 129, 165; and authoritarian turn 17, 21–​22, 25n4, 26–​27n19, 72, 73, 78, 79; and European Union integration 105, 108, 109, 113, 114, 115 import-​substitution  106 indebtedness 3, 4, 23, 58, 59, 76, 77, 79, 129 Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association see MÜSİAD India: elections 168, 169; home rule 164, 170; market reforms 167–​168; nationalism 167–​168 “India Shining” 165 Indian National Congress Party 164, 168, 170–​171 Indian People’s Party see BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) individualization 148, 149 inequality 22, 36, 73, 89, 100n14 inflation 23–​24, 42, 54, 60, 79, 113 information, freedom of/​right of access to 86, 96 insurance 38, 42, 59–​60, 85, 95, 96, 148 integration, of Turkey with European Union 5, 103–​116, 116n2 intellectual brokers 125, 128, 137 intellectual leadership 124–​125 intellectuals: Arab Alevi 191; Gramscian 124–​125, 136–​137; Islamic 127, 135, 136; Islamist 128–​130, 136, 137; liberal 127, 183–​184; religious 125, 126–​127, 129, 135, 137, 138n5, 138n10; secular 126–​127; Sunni 135, 136 interest rates 57, 58, 59, 63, 77, 79, 114 international capital 21, 52, 95 international dynamics 51, 61, 70 international financial institutions (IFIs) 72, 77, 184 International Monetary Fund see IMF (International Monetary Fund)

internationalized class governance, and AKP populism 5, 103–​116 Internet 85, 88, 94, 98–​99 intra-​class struggles 3–​4, 60 investment 21, 26n16, 45n8, 75, 76, 135, 144, 156n5, 164; and European Union integration 107, 108, 109–​110, 114; and new-​neoliberal state 58, 59, 60, 64; and news media transformation 85, 89, 91, 93, 94–​95, 99n3, 100n5 Islam 6, 87, 127, 129, 135, 136, 169: political see political Islam; Sunni 6, 153, 179, 182, 192, 193 Islamism 80n3, 109, 155; reproduction of 6, 123–​139, 133, 134 Islamist hegemony project 128–​130, 134, 136 Islamist intellectuals 128–​130, 136, 137 Islamist politics 150, 162, 166, 167, 169, 170 Islamist project 126–​130, 137 Islamization 5, 6, 9, 69, 127, 137n4, 148, 150–​151 İZBAN (İzmir Urban Transport) 42, 205 Jana Sangh 167, 168 jihad 112, 133, 190 judicial activism 205, 206–​207 Justice and Development Party see AKP (Justice and Development Party) Kaya, Fatma Betül Sayan 154–​155 Kemalism 69, 80n3, 184 knellings 151 Koran 130, 133, 133, 137, 185 Kulturkampf 128, 129, 137, 138n10 Kurdish movement 8, 37, 107, 112 Kurdish Peace Process 97, 229n5 Kurdish question 8, 9, 37, 143, 145, 180, 187, 194n3 Kurdish women 9, 220, 223–​224, 227–​228 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) 216, 219–​220 labour, disciplining of 199–​202 labour activism 42–​43 labour courts 9, 199, 203, 206, 208, 210n26 labour force 41, 43, 78 labour market 22, 23, 26n16, 36, 38, 41, 198; and old symbols into new settings 148, 149, 153, 157n13

Index 237 labour movement 8, 9, 40–​41, 42–​43, 197, 203 labour politics 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 40–​41, 42, 44 labour regime 3, 95, 205; and labour-​ oriented perspective on regime change 33, 36, 38, 40, 41, 42–​43, 44, 45–​46n18 labour relations 41, 197, 198, 203 labouring classes 36, 76, 196 labour-​oriented perspective, on regime discussions 3, 32–​46, 40 laicism 9, 126, 130, 132, 137, 179–​194, 184 language of peace 9, 213–​229 Law on the Protection of Family 146 legal intimidation, of workers 199, 201–​202 legality, politics of 9, 196–​210, 210n25 legitimacy of authoritarian neoliberal regime 203–​205 LGBTIQ+/​LGBTQI  8, 145 liberal democracy 15, 16, 18, 19, 44n1, 69, 72, 73, 103 liberal intellectuals 127, 183–​184 liberal studies 4, 71, 75, 80 liberalism: authoritarian 34, 196; economic 106, 196; methodological 70, 71–​74; neo-​ see neoliberalism; new neo​ 50–​54, 56, 60–​64 liberalization: authoritarian 197; of AKP 1, 123; of capital 21, 107; financial 17, 75, 78, 166; in India 168, 171; market 89; neo-​ see neoliberalization; political 1, 52, 107; of trade 21, 166 liquidity 22, 24, 74, 109 lira 42, 79, 95, 113, 114, 184 lived experience 161 living conditions 41, 43, 202 local elections 8, 55, 95, 114 Maastricht Treaty 104–​105, 108, 116n2 mainstream news media 91, 92, 93, 94, 95–​96 majoritarian politics 7, 162, 168–​172, 173 male politics, resistance to 216–​222 Male–​Female duality  214 market, the 20, 26n18, 38, 45n8, 74–​75, 165; and new-​neoliberal state 51–​52, 53, 58, 60; and news media transformation 86, 87, 88–​89, 90, 96 market liberalization 89 market mechanisms 55–​56, 167

market reforms 167–​168 Marxism 19, 36, 68, 70, 71, 74, 76 mass media 85, 86, 90, 94, 97, 98 master narrative, of new-​neoliberal state 4, 49–​66 mastership 144, 152, 156n3 media: news 4, 85–​101; pool 4, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100n15 MESS (Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries) 198, 199 “Metal Storm” 198–​199, 202, 206–​207, 208 methodological liberalism 70, 71–​74 methodology 69–​70, 73–​74, 187, 198, 213 middle classes 44n2, 167–​168, 173n2, 184; and reproduction of Islam 125, 127, 129, 130, 135, 136–​137 military coup d’état (1960) 106 military coup d’état (1980) see coup d’état (1980) Minister of Family and Social Policies 144, 145, 147, 152, 154 Ministry of National Education 130, 133, 138n16, 138n20, 138n21 “moderate Islam” 37 Modi, Narendra 86, 98, 160, 162, 171, 173, 173n3 monetary policy 54, 57, 59, 65n6 monopolization 58, 76, 94–​95, 126, 130, 46n19; and old symbols into new settings 144, 151–​152, 154, 155 “most different systems” method 160–​161 motherhood 150, 156, 223 MÜSİAD (Müstakil Sanayici ve İşadamları Derneği) 52, 54, 55, 58, 59, 63, 129, 132 Muslim Turkish identity 169 Müstakil Sanayici ve İşadamları Derneği (MÜSİAD) 52, 54, 55, 58, 59, 63, 129, 132 Narin, Halit 40, 41 National Consensus, discourse of 37–​38 National Defence League 167, 171 National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis Communautaire 108, 110, 112–​113, 115, 145 national security 1, 78, 100n7, 180; and European Union integration 109, 110, 111; and labour-​oriented perspective 32, 34, 35, 37, 38, 40, 42, 43; and old symbols into new settings 147, 149, 150, 155; and politics of legality 199, 200, 203, 204–​205, 207–​208

238 Index national unity 37–​38, 39, 145, 189, 215, 225–​226 nationalism: Hindu 161, 168, 171, 173; Indian 167–​168 Nehru, Jawaharlal 162, 163, 170, 171, 173 Neocleous, Mark 35, 36, 37 neoliberal authoritarianism 4, 50, 55, 61, 71, 123 neoliberal capitalism 17, 20, 86, 88, 89 neoliberal developmentalism 6, 128 neoliberal economic models, transition to 161 neoliberal era 21, 22, 80; transformation of news media in 4, 85–​101 neoliberal financialization, and authoritarian turn of AKP 68–​81 neoliberal governance 22, 35 neoliberal hegemony 17–​18, 19, 25n4, 107 neoliberal model 26n5, 165–​168 neoliberal populism 104, 112, 113, 115, 116n1 neoliberal reform 40, 123, 169 neoliberal transformation 16, 17, 25, 40, 71, 106, 109, 203 neoliberal-​conservative patriarchy 151, 153 neoliberalism: authoritarian see authoritarian neoliberalism; crisis in 16, 54; crisis of 3, 16, 50; disciplinary 5, 104, 107–​108, 112, 113, 114–​115, 196; hegemony of 17, 18 neoliberalization 2–​3, 6, 18, 85, 90, 127, 136–​137, 162; and authoritarian turn of AKP 68, 76, 78; and European Union integration 104, 105, 106 “Networks of Dispossession” 89, 94, 100n5 “New Sultan” 33, 34 “New Turkey” 43 new-​developmentalism 4, 50, 51, 53, 73 new-​economy model 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 new-​neoliberal state 4, 49–​66 news media transformation 4, 85–​101 NGOs (non-​governmental organizations), of Alevis 186, 187–​188 non-​Sunni cultural production 135, 137 Nusayris 180, 188–​190, 191, 193 Oğuz, Şebnem 36, 50, 54, 64n2, 150, 193n1 old symbols into new settings 6–​7, 143–​158

Öniş, Ziya 25n3, 26n5, 34, 51, 52, 103, 166, 169; on authoritarian turn of AKP 68, 69–​70, 72, 73–​74, 78, 79 opponents, arbitrary criminalization of 143–​144 orthodox paradox, of market-​oriented reforms 17, 25n3 Ottoman Empire 90, 126, 130, 163, 164, 189 Özal, Turgut 90, 149, 152 Özkazanç, Alev 220, 223 pandemic (COVID-​19) 3, 19–​25, 79, 131 paradoxes 17, 25n3, 183 parliamentary democracy 1, 3, 49 paternalism 1, 129 patriarchy 6, 7, 144, 148, 151–​155, 156 patronage relations 7, 162, 166, 168–​172 peace, language of 9, 213–​229 Peace Mothers 220, 222–​223 penal codes 32, 110, 145, 201, 209n15 People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 8, 180, 215–​216, 225 periodization 15, 19, 20–​21, 44n4 personalistic rule 149, 156 “pious and furious generation” 5, 133 PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) 216, 219–​220 pluralism 1, 71 polarization 69, 111–​112, 115, 171, 224 police 1–​2, 98, 111, 134, 187–​188, 223; and authoritarian turn of AKP 68, 72; and labour-​oriented perspective 32, 34; and politics of legality 201, 202 Police Powers and Duties Law 1, 201 political economy, of regime change: critical 2–​5; cultural (CPE) 5–​7, 161, 169, 172 political experimentation 80 political Islam 26n7, 90, 109; in AKP era 9, 179–​194, 184 political liberalization 1, 52, 107 political reform 110, 113, 116n6, 145, 183–​184 political regime change 3, 56 political society 124, 135, 162 political stability 39, 77 politicization 9, 51, 61, 208, 223 politics: authoritarian labour 40–​41; identity 7, 128, 169; Islamist 150, 162, 166, 167, 169, 170; labour 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 40–​41, 42, 44; of legality 9,

Index 239 196–​210, 210n25; majoritarian 7, 162, 168–​172, 173; male 216–​222; national security 43; religious right-​wing 160, 161, 162, 165–​166; right-​wing see right-​ wing politics pool media 4, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 100n15 popular consent 111, 197, 203 popular resilience 5, 6 populism: authoritarian 5, 32, 104, 111–​112, 113, 114, 115, 116n1; neoliberal 104, 112, 113, 115, 116n1; and transnationalized class governance 103–​116 post-​fascism  15, 19 post-​Fordism 36, 40, 156n5 postmodernism 87 poverty 22, 23, 36, 100n14, 129, 164, 165, 172 power: centralization of 5, 24, 33, 38, 62; concentration of 33, 42; discretionary 38, 56, 62, 93, 99; executive 38, 56, 62, 93, 99; relations of 7, 17, 92, 114, 198, 207, 216, 224 presidency 56–​57, 58, 60, 62, 63 Presidency Conclusions of Copenhagen European Council June 21/​22, 1993 104–​107, 111, 114 presidential elections 56, 65n9, 69 presidential regime 1, 2, 3, 6–​7 Presidential System of Government (PSG) 68, 69, 80 press freedom 86–​87, 94, 96, 98, 110 privatization 4, 41, 57, 58, 108, 110, 148; and news media transformation 85, 88, 89, 90–​93, 94 privileges 6, 58, 123–​139, 133, 134, 181, 214 production, relations of 6, 17, 71, 74, 75, 77, 125 profit 86, 91 Program for the Strong Economy 38–​39 protectionism 4, 7, 50, 59, 62 PSG (Presidential System of Government) 68, 69, 80 public housing 172 Quran 130, 133, 133, 137, 185 radical change 26n10, 55, 56–​57, 86 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh 167, 171 recovery, economic 21–​22, 26n16, 107

redistribution, state 85, 90, 91, 95–​98, 109, 172 referendums, constitutional 1, 8, 37, 93, 97, 112, 145, 149 reform: economic 17, 21, 39, 59, 60, 109; education 39, 133, 134; European Union 5, 105–​106, 108–​111, 112, 115, 180; market 167–​168; neoliberal 40, 123, 169; political 110, 113, 116n6, 145, 183–​184; republican-​secular 126; secular 169; social 21 refugee deal, between Turkey and European Union 5 regime discussions, labour-​oriented perspective on 3, 32–​46, 40 regime transformation 1–​10, 33, 37, 143, 151, 154–​155 regulation 54, 56–​57, 62, 64: of class relations 115; economic 17, 57, 166; and European Union integration 103–​104, 108, 112, 113, 114, 115; of labour 35; of social life 126, 137 relations of production 6, 17, 71, 74, 75, 77, 125 relaxation effect 75, 77, 78, 80 religion 5, 6, 149, 150, 154, 155, 226; and laicism and Alevis 179, 181, 182, 183, 185, 186, 187, 189, 192; and reproduction of Islamism 123–​124, 126, 129, 131, 132, 135, 136, 137n4; and right-​wing lurches 166, 167, 170–​171 religious communities 130, 135, 137, 139n23, 160, 185; see also Gülen community religious dynamic 123–​124, 136 religious education 185, 186, 190, 134, 181; see also Imam-​Hatip Schools religious ideology 185–​186 religious infrastructure 123–​124, 126, 130–​135, 133, 134 religious intellectuals 125, 126–​127, 129, 135, 137, 138n5, 138n10 religious movements, rise of authoritarian 7 religious right-​wing politics 160, 161, 162, 165–​166 reproduction of Islamism 6, 123–​139, 133, 134 Republican People’s Party (CHP) 6, 95, 110, 131, 179 republican state 68, 69, 95, 126, 145, 152, 179, 190, 197

240 Index republicanism 5, 6, 69, 153, 155 republican-​secular reform  126 resistance 6, 25, 43, 132, 189, 198, 199; Gezi 91, 100n5, 143, 144, 146; against male politics 216–​222; to neoliberalism 106, 202–​207; against regime change 7–​10; TEKEL 41 Resolution Process 8, 180, 194n4; and Women for Peace Initiative 215, 216, 219–​222, 225, 227–​228, 229n1 resource allocation 4, 143 restructuring 37, 38–​39, 57, 60–​61, 62, 148 right to collective action 198, 206–​207, 210n30 right to strike 45n17, 198, 199–​201, 204, 207, 208 rights violations 150, 156, 157n12, 181 right-​wing politics 17, 32–​33, 109, 182; and lurches in India and Turkey 7, 160–​173, 162; religious 160, 161, 162, 165–​166 RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) 167, 171 rule of law 5, 34, 44n1, 70, 93, 105, 111, 180; and new-​neoliberal state 52, 60, 62 rule of money 52, 70–​71, 74–​79, 80 Russia–​China axis  73, 74 Şahin, Fatma 144, 145–​146, 154 Sangh Parivar 167, 171 Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (SDIF) 38, 85, 95, 96–​97 Second World War 126, 143, 164, 167 sectarianized securitization 131 secular intellectuals 126–​127 secular reform 169 secularism 133, 137n4, 171, 205 securitization 7, 8, 35–​36, 76, 131; and old symbols into new settings 143–​144, 148, 149, 150, 151 security: economic 204–​205, 207–​208; national see national security; social 78, 148–​149, 150 self-​censorship  91–​92 shock doctrine 97, 100n21 single-​party rule 179, 182 Sivas Massacre 187 social media 202; and news media transformation 86, 88, 98–​99, 101n23, 101n24; and Women for Peace Initiative 213, 214, 228

social movements 7, 8, 93, 181 social peace 180; see also Women for Peace Initiative (WfPI) social reform 21 social relations 49, 50, 54, 61, 64, 76, 81n5, 105, 126 social reproduction 21, 61, 124 social security 78, 148–​149, 150 social transformation 221–​222 socialization: of financial losses and risks 27n20, 62; of peace 221–​222, 224 Southern states 77, 78, 80; see also Global South Stand-​By-​Agreement, with IMF 78, 108, 113 state capitalism 26n5, 51, 73 state interventions 35, 42, 95, 165, 168, 198; and new-​neoliberal state 52, 55–​56, 60–​61, 61–​62, 64 State Ministry Responsible for Women and Family 145, 152 state of emergency 1, 3, 97, 112; administration of 56, 57, 58–​59, 61, 63; and labour-​oriented perspective 36, 37–​38, 39, 40, 42, 43–​44, 45n5, 45n10; and laicism and Alevis 179, 180, 181, 188, 192; and new-​neoliberal state 50, 55, 56, 58; and old symbols into new settings 149, 150, 157n12; and politics of legality 200, 201, 202, 205, 209n11 state redistribution 85, 90, 91, 95–​98, 109, 172 state relations 51, 52, 54, 60–​61, 172 state transformation 68, 70, 71, 74–​79 statism 16, 19, 24 strikes 9, 209n11; and labour-​oriented perspective 37, 39–​40, 40, 41, 42, 43; in metal industry 42, 45n15, 198, 199; postponement of 200, 201, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208–​209n10; prohibition of 200, 205 subaltern classes 3, 127, 128–​129, 138n9, 197 Sunni Islam 6, 9, 135, 136, 153; and laicism and Alevis 179, 182, 186, 190, 191, 192, 193 surpluses 21, 74–​75, 99n3, 139n24 surveillance 24, 55, 57, 63, 86, 101n24, 154 Swaraj 164, 170 Syria 179, 180, 186, 188, 193

Index 241 TEKEL resistance 41 Tenth Development Plan 55–​56, 62–​63 theological education 5, 6; and reproduction of Islamism 129, 130, 131, 132, 134, 135, 137 Third Airport 43, 100n5, 100n15, 165, 202 TIS (Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis) 6, 127, 179, 182, 190, 193, 219 TISK (Confederation of Employer Associations of Turkey) 40, 41 TL (Turkish lira) 42, 79, 95, 113, 114, 184 TOBB (Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey) 39, 65n12, 209n11 TOKI (Housing Administrations) 172 Topçu Kışlası 90, 126, 130, 163, 164, 189 totalitarianism 2, 98 trade unions 22, 167; and European Union integration 106, 107, 110; and labour-​oriented perspective 40–​41, 42, 45n15, 45n17, 45–​46n18; and politics of legality 198–​199, 200, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208n5 Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements law 200, 205, 208n5 transformation 19, 22, 62, 104, 124; authoritarian 115; neoliberal 16, 17, 25, 40, 71, 106, 109, 203; of news media 85–​101; regime 1–​10, 33, 37, 143, 151, 154–​155; social 221–​222; state 68, 70, 71, 74–​79 transnationalized class governance, and populism 5, 103–​116 Treaty of Maastricht 104–​105, 108, 116n2 trolls 4, 98, 101n23, 101n24 Trump, Donald J. 18, 21, 32, 77, 86, 98 Tuğal, Cihan 34, 44n2, 109, 110; and reproduction of Islamism 123, 124, 129, 132, 134, 136, 137n4 Türk Metal 198, 199 Turkey Progress Report, of European Union 111 Turkey Wealth Fund 38, 45n9, 56, 57 Türkiye Varlık Fonu Yönetimi Anonim Şirketi 38, 45n9, 56, 57 Turkification 9, 190, 191 Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries (MESS) 198, 199 Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) 54, 55, 59, 60, 108, 115

Turkish lira (TL) 42, 79, 95, 113, 114, 184 Turkish Metal Union 198, 199 Turkish National Programme for Adoption the Aquis 112–​113 Turkish Republic 45n5, 51, 163, 181 Turkish–​Islamic Synthesis (TIS) 6, 127, 179, 182, 190, 193, 219 Turkishness 6, 182, 184 TÜSİAD (Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association) 54, 55, 59, 60, 108, 115 tutelage 109, 165 tweets, by Women for Peace Initiative 226–​227 ulema 130, 131, 132, 135, 136 unemployment 22, 42, 59, 88, 91, 99n3, 104, 150 Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) 39, 65n12, 209n11 unionization 91, 92, 198, 207, 208n3 United Metal Workers Union 198, 199, 204, 205, 208–​209n10, 209n12, 209n20 universalization 124–​125 unlawfulness 93, 94, 180, 206, 207 US Federal Reserve (FED) 23, 77 Üstündağ, Nazan 221 variables 44n3, 69, 143, 161, 172 violence 6, 7, 37, 76, 111, 169, 188; and news media transformation 86, 87, 88, 94, 97, 98, 100n21; and old symbols into new settings 146, 148, 156; and Women for Peace Initiative 215, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227 wages 26n16, 76, 113, 199, 201; and labour-​oriented perspective 36, 41, 42, 43, 46n19 war 9, 88; First World 26n8, 164; Second World 126, 143, 164, 167; in Syria, 179, 180, 186, 193; see also Women for Peace Initiative (WfPI) Washington Consensus 105 Wealth Fund Management Co. 38, 45n9, 56, 57 West–​East duality 214, 222 Women for Peace Initiative (WfPI) 9, 213–​229

242 Index women’s movements 7, 8, 9, 215, 223–​224; and old symbols into new settings 145–​146, 148, 154, 156 women’s rights 6, 7, 217; and old symbols into new settings 144–​147, 148, 150, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156 women’s struggles, constructing language of peace through 213–​229

workers, coercion and legal intimidation of 199, 201–​202 working conditions 42–​43, 150, 201 working class 3, 6, 16, 76, 78, 123, 128–​129; perspective on regime discussions 3, 32–​46, 40 World Bank 72, 73, 105, 165 World War I 26n8, 164 World War II 126, 143, 164, 167