On reality of a tragedy in Soma!

soma_enman

On reality of a tragedy in Soma!

 

Wahida’s man went down 2,000 feet underground every day: Every day for 11 years and he received 706 USD a month for it. Now he’s dead. He did not want to work in the mine, but there are no other jobs, says widow Wahida.  An elderly woman collapses over a grave and screams out her grief. A man is sitting on a plastic chair and stares blankly. One man is dead silent in front of the graves while the tears flowing down on his cheeks. A child is holding her mother’s hand convulsively. She will never hold his dad’s any more. Coffin after coffin is carried in while a voice reads out the names of the dead through a bad microphone. Everywhere on the grave site in Soma, where they carry a chain burial, is a person whose life is changed forever. He or she has lost her husband, son and father. (1)

The mining industry in Turkey has up to 92 000 employees. Industry consists primarily of coal mines and it is one of the country’s most important assets. The mining industry has also created many jobs and the working class has been Erdogan’s AKP most faithful voters. But the securities in the mining industry have been considered among the world’s worst. The numbers speak for themselves:

–         More than 3,000 miners have died in Turkey since 1941.

–         More than 100 000 people have been injured in the same period

–         Since 2000, 1308 people died in the mines, of which 263 pieces in the major mining accident in 1992 in Zonguldak mine.

–         According to the Statistical Institute of Turkey, 13 000 people injured just since 2013.

–         10.4 percent of all workplace accidents in the mines.

The most common cause of accidents is gas and fires , as in Soma where most believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Many of these accidents could have been avoided with better security, says the union for mining employees:

–         It is pure ignorance, says miner Durmus Abayden.

The coal mines are considered among others as one of the reasons that Prime Minister Erdogan managed to reverse the country’s economic situation upward for several years. (1)

Boundless rage and devastating Sorrow, as a result of reading the few news lines occupies ones heart and mind, so strongly that the escape form the depth of this dark tragic fact seems to be next to impossible. These few lines are so descriptive in giving a perspective of what could be the meaning of life for a worker, i.e. a laborer, and his/her beloved on the human planet earth: daily supply of labor power and probably dying on the production point or beyond the point of production to re-mobilize the cycle of capital accumulation: for sustaining the valorization of capital and generation of profitability of the capitalist production.

What the ruling class and its ideological- media apparatus defines and reports as a tragic “accident” is in reality a conditional part of  living by working for the major part of the proletarian class globally, particularly in the periphery of the capital due to its historically deformed structure of the capitalist formation.  A sudden physical end of life, i.e. death, and/or a lengthy but unhealthy, unhappy and miserable existence could be delivered through the system as an attribute of buying and selling of labor power through ruling classes’ setup of the globalize labor market.

The ruling class with its political Islamist elite with the AKP in the lead, are well aware that without the enormous supply of cheap labor power from the proletariat and consequently the massive extraction of surplus value by the dominant class since the shift of millennium, the Turkish and AKP “achievements” on the economics of the country should be next to zero. However, the ruling class has to see the tings completely different from we the proletariat. Any tragic “accident” of this caliber as a part of the social contract written or unwritten in the framework of labor market laws/policy is basics in the class society organized on capitalistic terms of the buying and selling of labor-power.

Turkey‘s capitalistic development and the World War I

To understand the capitalistic capital and labor relation and its synchronization in the Turkish labor market, we need a glimpse of history to move on.

The World War I realized capital’s first sign of world wide dominance by two distinct appearance in its intrinsic motion: the total war destruction and parallel to that, further development and integration of capitalist system globally with socioeconomic and political structure constructed on the center-periphery principle.(2) The major capitalist center and  power of the time, Britain, Germany, France, Russia, USA, were practically preparing for a re-division of the periphery of capital, e.g. colonies in Asia, America, and mainly in African continent. The militarism and building of alliances in the form of triple alliances: the Central Powers, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and the Allies: the United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire had already established preconditions for a war which marked the beginning of an new epoch of imperialism. Although the starting shots was fired by Austria-Hungary to invade Serbia, at the end of the war by 1918, imperialist powers by application of total war involved the whole planet through the colonial outposts. The re-division of the planet realized through a destructive process of re-organization of the geopolitical map of the world.

The full manifestation of nation-state appeared at the turn of 19th century, of course mainly in western Europe, in coherence with the dynamism of capital’s essential movement to capture more market and or export capital to the periphery, including pre-capitalist and capitalistic countries and regions. The conquest, trade, and accumulation constitutes main attribute of nearly all wars that are fought over control of territory, and sometimes over specific economic resources such as minerals, farmland, or cities. . By applying this theory to an insatiable appetite of great-powers, who drive installation of an imaginary infinite course of a surplus value to hold up and maintain the cycle/s of capital accumulation floating capitalistic on organizing nationally and internationally through state powers structures. The real establishment of the capitalist world takes the form of monopolistic finance capitalist hierarchy and through the application of capitalist state’ mechanisms, it dominates what it has created: The capitalist world.

The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War preconditioned the establishment of the organizational structure of the nation- state while it had to take shape after the end of the First World War. The process of imperialist plundering of the Ottoman empire began before the unleash of the war when France had occupied Tunisia in 1881, Britain had occupied Egypt in 1882 and in a prelude to the first world war signing the Treaty of London in 1913, the Ottoman Empire lost virtually all of its possessions in the Balkans, after five centuries. A construction of Turkish nationalist state initialized by the General Kemal Ataturk, took the form in opposing the Ottoman dynasty’s decomposing rule and at the same time refusing the Entente’s terms of surrendering and complete dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. (4) The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on October 29, 1923, and the first president became Kemal Ataturk.

One of main feature of the Turkish nation state in the building process was to functionalize the process of capital accumulation after disruptive intervention of the First World War and Ottoman Empire’s socio-political break  up because of internal contradictions and external pressure; The Ottoman Empire trapped by an emerging political elite of Turkish bourgeoisie intervention in the political scene, e.g. the young Turk’s 1908 constitutional revolution, and externally losing major part of its imperial territory to the European imperialist powers, Britain, Franc, Germany, Italy or emerging nationalist movements. Organizing the unity of nation state and facilitation of the capitalist based of production and society became a statehood and militaristic issue for the Kemalist doctrine in during building up the Modern Turkey’s capitalistic society. The absences of classical bourgeoisie class because the historic latency in the cycle of capital accumulation, in the period before the World War I, obliged Turkish capitalist accumulation to restore the primitive accumulation form.

Formation of State Capitalism

There was no other option than centrally organization and control of what was left of the Ottoman Empire’s core area, today’s Turkey, in a chaotic and an unstable socio-political situation in the course and aftermath of the World War I and plus incomplete or absences of real class relations bourgeoisie/proletariat structures.

Furthermore, the ruling political elite with Kemalist in leadership were well aware of the unfinished project of imperialist powers to divide between themselves what was remaining from the core of Ottoman era. (5)

Thus, the disadvantageous conditions brought about by fall of the Ottoman Empire and the world economic crisis at the end of the 1920s and in the early 1930s made it necessary for the Turkish State with Kemalist as its designer to take a direct role in the national economy to counteract the impact of the world capitalist crisis on the domestic economy. It thereby took a leadership role in the industrialization and capital accumulation process by replacing the small, weak and incapacitated national industrial bourgeoisie.

In order to organize the capitalistic accumulation cycle, i.e. extraction of surpluses by the economic means, the new political elite lay the foundation for a new state apparatus to organize initially the primitive accumulation and accede and control national resources and its application within a nationalist market framework.

In this way, the Kemalist assumed organizing a state capitalism model for efficiently allocation of economic resources, through maximizing political control over society and the economy. The state management had to grab all productive resources and control access to them.

In this context, the primitive process of accumulation characterizes the social history of Turkish capitalistic society’s genesis from the ashes of the collapsed Ottoman Empire in early 1910s. Thus the Turkish socio-economic development and parallel to its political apparatus is marked by this systematic weakness of capitalistic social fabric of modern Turkey. Implication of this systematic characteristic reflected through the relation of capital with the labor, i.e. the massive supply of cheap labor power internally, and with the relation to the center of capitalist world system, as a center-periphery statue; The calculus of creating surplus value, become the dominant factor governing the mobilization and deployment of the social labor by the state-capitalist management.  In main, The relationship between the capital and labor power become subject to States centrally organized and developing plan, e.g. five-years plans, as it was the case with Stalinist model of capitalist economy planning of Russia after the October revolution of 1917 was lost in 1920s. The synchronization of industrial/technological development and its requirements with the labor power was prim objective of the Turkish sate.

Thus the state capitalism in Turkey, from a historic outlook, has been a cog in the dominating machine of center-periphery capitalist world order, that is in turn a sociological and political structure for the finance capital; The state capitalism in Turkey, with the consolidation of the state’s role in the national industrialization process in the early 1930s,after Turkey had gained control over its customs and established a protectionist customs-policy to encourage domestic production. Following the initial restructuring of the local economy through the regulation of commerce (by which control over the inflow-outflow of currency was to be assured). The state formulated a national industrial development policy that should put the state in the forefront of planning and implementing its development programme. This entailed the nationalization of foreign firms, the formulation and adoption of five-year development plans, the establishment of new state banks and agencies to finance and carry out development projects, and external financial and technical assistance to help accelerate the industrialization process.

Its military semi- integration through subordination into the NATO’s military perspective, with the cold war era as a background did not contribute much in improving its status toward the core of capitalist world system. Despite the rapid industrialization of Turkey after 1930’s, economically and technologically in the sphere of industrial world, compare to industry, services and particularly the agricultural production, it has maintained its periphery status; The uneven process of capitalist development of the mode production on a world-wide scale engulfs the advancements made in the sphere of socio-economic production outcomes through the center- periphery structure of capitalistic/imperialist relationship. The Turkish capitalism is birth marked by historically major aspect in capitalistic era of 20th century:

– Age of Finance capital: Over the last century, capital has abstracted upwards, from production to finance.

– Age of Center-Periphery imperialist structures; its sphere of operations has expanded outwards, to all the corners of the world.

– Age of historic decline of capitalist mode of production, expressed on self destruction dynamism: total war/s tendencies.

These characteristics of the modern capitalist world have been visible in the inner corridors of state power in Turkey since its rise 1920s. Thus the state capitalism in Turkey, from a historic outlook, has been a cog in the dominating machine of finance capitalist world; In the final analysis the state capitalism in Turkey, with state’s clear role in the national economic development process since the early 1930s, has been a compositional part of the global finance capital through the globally dominant superstructures and infrastructures of the capitalist world system:  the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

 

 Unmasking the Turkish Miracle

The end of post-Cold War era, in 1990s, and eulogy about the global rise of socio-economic and political improvements in the periphery of capitalist world system has ended up a sham. The bitter truth is that the so-called “developing countries” enforced economic growth policies not only at expense of more social-economic inequality and worsening working conditions, but also at the expense of human life: wars ( regional and civil) or industrial disasters. Some of the shining examples of post-Cold War “economic miracles” are also examples of “social misery” and “political malady,” from major China, Russia… to minor Greece, Singapore… Not to mention the out come of so called the Arab spring, as another promise for a socio-economic miracle that has delivered social misery from Damascus to Tripoli.

Hit and confused by the shock wave of economic crisis of the capitalist world in early 1970s, the Turkish capital moved into a period, from 1980s to the early 2000s, socio-economic and political instability and uncertainty; Witnessing how its neighboring and military western alliance, i.e. Iran, in challenging one of The Middle East far-reaching worker’s movement, as country-wide general strikes, workplace occupations, street demonstrations and confrontations…, in the modern time forced Shah’s ruling elite to make reluctant political re-composition of the political and state power structure in accordance with US’s cold war era approval; Shah was ordered to leave the country and his military stayed ideal to take over of the state power by Khomeini’s  anti proletarian Islamist regime in 1979.  Learned from the harsh combatant proletarian events in Iran, the military coup d’état of late 1980s was delivered by the Turkish army; The 12 September 1980 military coup, headed by Chief of the General Staff General Kenan Evren with its permanent interference and engagement in political structures and state apparatus functioned as an only grant to prevent socio-political disintegration of a poor performing Turkish capitalist system in aftermath of economic crisis of 1970s and toward the dismemberment of Shah’s regime and his army-military configuration in the geopolitically strategic zone, Persian Golf. The cold war era’s Western block lost one its main allay in the region. Thus, the Turkish army that was formed and developed with in close assistance of NATO militarist strategy after the end of the Second World War, played again its decisive role in keeping the country from, not external but internal political chaos: a total political collapse.

After the OECD, the Western block’s economic structure, direct economic aid (6), eased the socio-economic affect of crisis for a short period, the disturbances of the crisis were back 1990s; The dramatic of socio-

economic crisis invoked again political incapability of the ruling elite, including the whole bourgeoisie political spectrum, i.e. from right to left of the political structure. However, this time the political instability reflected in a comic chain of building and rebuilding of coalition governments during 1990s until the entry of the Islamist AKP to the chamber of state machinery power.

Islamism as a sign of traditional ruling class’ political crisis in the capitalistic periphery

 The restructuring of the socio-economics of Turkish social system in following the privatizing programs designed, demanded and applied through the IMF and the World Bank did not move with the necessary speed in improving the competitiveness of the Turkish capitalist system; Main focus of restructuring as privatization program moving from the core towards periphery was on how to slow down the falling rate of profit  after outbreak of crisis that took its main manifestation in the oil  crisis 1970s. From UK to Turkey the privatization schemes as technical mechanism for valorization of capital was on the world-wide agenda;  A comprehensive privatization program from the center outwards its periphery was to be implemented world-wide: Ironically this included even the entire Eastern block model of state capitalism too.

 The traditional ruling political elite in Turkey because of the historical weaknesses, i.e. fragmented on socio-economic, cultural issues and basically incapable politically to get unified and moreover disabled within the corruption-riddled traditional structures of its corrupted system,  failed to finalize what the IMF and the World Bank demanded on proceeding with the privatization.

The political turbulence inside Turkey’s traditional ruling elite reflected in the collapse of the last coalition government build with DSP( Democratic Left Party)-MHP( Nationalist Movement Party )-ANAP( Motherland Party) led by Bülent Ecevit, 2002.

The Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi – AKP) won the elections of November 2002 against a background of recurrent economic crises (in 1994, 1999, 2000 and 2001). AKP’s victory was only impressive not because of its scale, but also because it was underpinned by an election manifesto that committed the party to extensive policy reforms in the context of IMF and EU conditionality. Naturally, these commitments have lent credibility to arguments that AKP government’s economic policies have been instrumental in achieving macroeconomic stability and high levels of economic growth in Turkey.

The AKP campaigned on the basis of a pro-EU, pro-reform and pro-stability platform. The AKP government embraced the pre-established stabilization policy framework and structural reform agenda supported by the IMF and the World Bank. By doing this, the AKP lent crucial support to the fledgling instituted after the February 2001 crisis. This program was put in place upon IMF advice by technocrats such as Kemal Dervis (transferred from the World Bank to become the Minister of Economic Affairs from May 2001 to August 2002) and a number of key economic policy actors such as the new Central Bank Governor and senior Treasury staff. The AKP, the IMF and World Bank were concerned with this newly-instituted stabilization program and the reform process to avoid a situation similar to the aftermath of the Argentine crisis should develop in Turkey.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Turkish economic policy framework was driven by a symbiotic relationship among discretionary policies and rent-seeking behavior. Thus the Islamist AKP, with Erdogan on the lead managed to stabilize the country’s economy following the IMF and Word bank directives in implementing the privatizing programs and above all stabilizing and reestablishing a central banking system. Reliable and functional banking system prepares necessary financial transactions and activities for advanced movements of finance capital; past unpleasant experiences mainly the crises of 1990s had revealed severe deficiencies in the Turkish banking system. The burden was so large that all of the financial regulations and policies designed in the last 10 years targeted a strong, stable, and credible banking system so as not to face similar catastrophic experiences again. Having this strong banking system in the background, the negative effects of the 2008 crisis only have been transitory, sector-specific, and moderate.

However GDP growth, that reached an annual 9% in 2010 and 2011, was largely driven by debt-fuelled private consumption and property investment that included awarding big contracts to fast-growing and highly leveraged Turkish construction firms. Investment in industry, on the other hand, has languished. The government has shown little interest in encouraging the building of new plants and attracting big industrial investment from abroad.

What is more, too much easy money (thanks to America’s “quantitative easing”) flowed into Turkey. Quicker returns were to be had in financing infrastructure and property than from investing in industry. Superficially, the country “modernized” rapidly, but underneath the old habits of government-by-favor (systematic corruption), that AKP had once opposed, is back in business cycle again.

Thus, it seems the signs of 2008 global financial meltdown appearing in Turkey’s economical and political surface, of course with some latency:

Inflation is running at over 7%, the currency is sliding and the current-account deficit is around 7% of GDP. Private savings, foreign investment and exports are shrinking. (3)

Thus, the reality of tragedy rests upon relationship between the capitalistic system of buying and selling of labor power and the proletariat relation to the naked truth of how capitalism needs hourly, if not minute based, to valorize capital. In the era of unfinished economic crisis which is constantly endangering the substantiality and sustainability of desirable rate of profit, when this is mapped to Turkish capitalistic periphery status of production means: The feasible extraction of absolute surplus vale in every sector of industry if possible.

And when this is, in turn, mapped to objective reality of capitalistic mining industry, the tragic reality of proletariat’s working for living situation implies an inevitable risk of losing life at a point of production: a state of the barbaric mining production and industrial culture in general and particularly  in the periphery of capitalist world system.

It is undeniable that large layers of workers, deprived of their real organizations and perspectives, blinded by the Islamic-capitalist ideology of the Turkish ruling elite, i.e. AKP, have allowed themselves to be taken in by Islamist mythology, just as happens with the  large layers of lumpenproletariat, petty bourgeoisie. For the time being the ruling elite, i.e. the AKP appears to have attained its objective: Religion constitutes the most characteristic example of an ideology. Its true motive forces must be sought in the very prosaic domain of the material interests of a class, but it is in the most ethereal spheres that its apparent motive forces are found.

Historically, the success of Islamism means that Islamic capitalist periphery has managed to channel the anti-capitalist consciousness of the masses into a form that antedates capitalistic word order and which no longer exists except in a vestigial state; Representing the last vestiges of the previous orders. The future of  a past Islamic world. This vestige is nevertheless still sufficiently great to give a certain appearance of reality to the myth. Nevertheless, this religious mythology is challenged with its idealistic limitations.

The Islamist ideology must appear as an absolutely homogeneous “doctrine.” Islamism serves precisely to cast all classes into the crucible of a “Muslim community” opposed to other ideologies-religions. The Islamist myth strives to appear as a whole, having only vague connections with its origins which are often very different. It endeavors to fuse its different elements together in perfect fashion. In reality, Islamism ideology, like all ideologies, is only the distorted reflection of the interests of a class. In main, it is the ideology of the Islamic periphery with its ruling classes and petty bourgeoisie, suffocating within ruins of the socio-economic crisis in the age of capitalistic crisis and decay. Thus Islamism as the product of the center-periphery-imperialist era rose in twentieth century and is a direct consequence of the decline of capitalism on one hand. It reflects also the troubled and confused souls of the Islamist ruling classes in the periphery, on the other hand; In relation to the economic crisis of the capitalist word order that began at the end of reconstruction period, connected to the II World War crisis-destruction project, in 1970s.

The proletarian masses will begin to understand that Islamist/AKP not only could not seriously improve their working and living situation, but that it is furnishing the social fabric to more open capitalistic exploitation, e.g. mass pauperization of the proletariat, barbarism on the production line and society, facilitating the cycle of capital production through the application of mechanisms for extraction of the absolute surplus value from the labor power processed in the production-line. Erdogan’s sadistic comment: “Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time.” expresses what consciousness of the ruling Islamist elite can deliver to us: After more than 300s life has been lost in a barbaric way for the procedure of the capitalistic production requirements, with an Islamist ideology inside the state machinery, the proletarian class, surplus labor provider, must know that death on the line of production can happen all the time!

Eventually, the proletariat in the Islamic world will finally realize, as Marx pointed out centuries ago: Religion is the opium of the masses. However to achieve this goal, the proletariat needs badly its, unity, identity, struggles and organizations to begin both theoretically and practically re-engineering a new perspective of non-capitalistic world; A setup of classless world system in socialistic-communistic order.

“You’re like a scorpion, my brother,
you live in cowardly darkness
like a scorpion.
You’re like a sparrow, my brother,
always in a sparrow’s flutter.
You’re like a clam, my brother,
closed like a clam, content,
And you’re frightening, my brother,
like the mouth of an extinct volcano.

And if we’re hungry, tired, covered with blood,
and still being crushed like grapes for our wine,
the fault is yours–
I can hardly bring myself to say it,
but most of the fault, my dear brother, is yours.“

(Nazim Hikmet: The Strangest Creature On Earth)

 

Hamid Moradei  20140520

Footnotes:

1-      http://www.ibtimes.com; The daily Zaman 19, May 2014; Expressen 18 May 2014.

2-      http://www.encyclopedia.com/

3-      IMF (2003), World Economic Outlook

4-      http://www.istanbulanalytics.com/

5-      After the occupation of Constantinople by British and French troops in November 1918, the Ottoman government collapsed completely and signed the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. However, the Turkish War of Independence forced the former Allies to return to the negotiating table before the treaty could be ratified. The Allies and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey signed and ratified the new Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, superseding the Treaty of Sèvres and solidifying most of the territorial issues.

6-      On 24 July 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed by the Powers with the GNA( General National Assembly),  thus recognizing the latter as the government of Turkey: History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, 1977, Shaw:s.

7-      http://www.oecd.org/

 

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