Editor’s Note: Prof Kozanoglu is one the leading left-wing intellectuals of the “older generation” in Turkey, whose columns at BirGun daily command large audiences. PA Turkey thought his criticism of CHP’s Vision initiative from a left-wing, rather than Islamist- conservative perspective (as pro AKP intellectuals are doing) is important to share with our global audience.
This is our translation of his Turkish article with minor additions to text to clarify expressions which have a different meaning in Turkey.
Enthusiasm, excitement and high expectations were dominant at the CHP’s Second Century Vision (initiative) meeting held on Saturday. Turkish society really needs hope and optimism. In that sense, the positive atmosphere of the convention hall spread not only to the CHP voters, but also to the whole country. I can say that this meeting instilled confidence in our people, whose spirit has been weakened, that CHP is out to get rid of the AKP regime.
I couldn’t help thinking that the message “We are coming to compete with the world” would be more elegant if the key concept of market society for a social democratic party was to express “merging with the world”, “integrating with the world” instead of competition. The slogan “First relief (From the autocracy of Erdogan), then prosperity” has a pleasant tone to the ear. However, an alternative approach promising both the at the same time would be more correct.
The first guest appearance at the gathering, the American author Jeremy Rifkin, expressed his well-known, intrinsically meaningful views on global climate change and technology. It is true that Rifkin has advised Germany, China and the European Commission. But it’s an exaggeration that he played a decisive role steering the energy policies of these entities. Frankly, he merely repeated his well-known themes such as Zero Carbon Emission, Ecological Capital, which we are familiar with from his books and conferences. He did not give the impression that he was aware of Turkey’s problems. In fact, his key concept “Third Industrial Revolution” has been turned into Industry 4.0, in the presentation of CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak, representing the same idea. To add, Öztrak’s “Due Diligence Committee” proposal regarding the finances and performance of Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects will be a very necessary step similar to the ” Public Debt Monitoring Committee” example I mentioned.
CHP’s proposal to solve poverty
(Ms) Hacer Foggo, Poverty and Solidarity Office (NGO) Coordinator, is someone who really has firsthand experience in the field, knowing very well the misery of the poor in the country, and can offer realistic solutions in this sense. Three points were very important in her speech. Firstly, the Family Support Insurance is designed based on citizenship rights and has a content that is the opposite of AKP’s charity culture, which presents an entitlement as a gift from Erdogan. Second, in a Brazil-like scheme payments will be made to the female leader of the household, thus, ensuring that the resource reaches its target and strengthening the role of women in the family. Third, it guarantees free food delivery in schools. In this way, CHP can show its will to strike a social problem that hurts the conscience.
CHP’s new advisory team of economists
The 4 young academics who contributed to the CHP, Daron Acemoğlu, Refet Gürkaynak, Hakan Kara and Ufuk Akçigit, are all names of caliber with international reputations, all with a very good education and astonishing CVs. It is admirable that they decided to take responsibility to reverse the bad fortunes of the country.
As a matter of fact, they offer solutions from their own windows and ideological frameworks. These colleagues have a mainstream, neoliberal view of economics, with minor differences. Therefore, they speak a common language such as an independent central bank, fiscal discipline, competitiveness in exports. We cannot get out of the current mess the Turkish economy is in, simply by reducing inflation and maintaining macroeconomic equilibria. It is quite difficult to achieve, let alone overcome, the sharp income and wealth distribution distortions in the country, with their economic model. Let me put it this way: TÜSİAD, the flagship NGO of Istanbul Capital will be pleased with their proposals. Of course, this framework is better than today’s arbitrary, nepotistic, ignorant economy mentality. But we can ask the question whether a party claiming to be a social democrat should be content with this framework.
In addition, in their previous articles and comments, these academics considered AKP’s Golden Years between 2002 and 2012 as a great success. They ignored the rapid privatizations in this period, the increase in foreign debt and the escalation of the current account deficit, as well as the weakening of industry and agriculture as a result of intense capital inflows and the appreciation of the lira. In this sense, it was valuable that Hakan Kara underlined the vulnerabilities accumulated in the first 10 years of the AKP.
Daron Acemoğlu is one of the leading names in institutional economics with Dani Rodrik, an academician from Turkey. It is as if he depicts Turkey today with its despotic, oppressive, arbitrary and uncontrolled administration, when he refers to the “Despotic Leviathan”. His views can be very instructive for the revival of parliamentary democracy in our country where institutional structures have been destroyed and merit and knowledge are disregarded. However, it is useful to keep in mind that the framework he draws is based on a free-market fiction.
The concept of “clean funds”, underlined by both Kilicdaroglu and Selin Sayek Böke, is probably the Turkish translation of “environmental social governance”, abbreviated as ESG in English. It does not give the impression that it is an initiative that can have an impact in the sense that Kilicdaroglu hopes for (as an accelerator of economic development). It was important for Böke to supplement it with the concept of public interest. The promise of YÖK (Turkey’s dreaded and pro-Erdogan Higher Education Council, which runs all universities) to be abolished, led Bosporus U, all universities to be liberated from the tyranny of YÖK. Peace Academics (a group of college professors removed from their posts for advocating peace with PKK) being pardoned to meet with their students was perhaps the most meaningful message of the meeting, which received the most applause from the hall.
WATCH: Can The Opposition Rescue Turkish Economy?
No remedy for hot money addiction
Kilicdaroglu’s promise that hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign capital will come, frankly, does not seem very realistic. He is probably talking about Norway or Singapore wealth funds investing into Turkey. These funds either buy government bonds or enter the stock market. The depth of the stock market and the bond market in Turkey is too shallow to absorb large financial flows, and in any case such funds do not increase production and employment. We also know that rapid money inflows not only upset the current account balance of the country, but also increase foreign dependency.
WATCH: Erdogan Will Never Win An Election, Ever Again
Although the CHP’s New Vision meeting went a little too long, it was a successful organization in general terms, which was exciting and enthusiastic for its own base. It was also positive in terms of drawing a utopia of Turkey where education would improve, technology would advance, and knowledge and experience would be rewarded for the young people who are trying to get abroad as soon as possible.
It is possible to criticize that the proposed program is not egalitarian and independent enough. While putting such a program before the public; it should also be our duty to present a left, socialist vision document.
Follow our English language YouTube videos @ REAL TURKEY: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKpFJB4GFiNkhmpVZQ_d9Rg
And content at Twitter: @AtillaEng
Facebook: Real Turkey Channel: https://www.facebook.com/realturkeychannel/