The primary causes of the Soma mine disaster and what should Turkey do?

Published 19.05.2014 19:16
Updated 19.05.2014 19:19

Turkey has experienced one of the most catastrophic occupational accidents in its history, more precisely, a tragedy. Such a high number of casualties in a coal mine show us what to do or not to do from now on in developing countries like Turkey concerning industrialism, privatization, labor efficiency and growth.

First of all, we have to note that this deplorable accident in Turkey is a consequence. It is the consequence of an industrialization process which started with IMF policies just after the World War II. Turkey and many similar Asian countries were not industrialized as Britain and central Europe were. The process of industrialization in those lands proceeded in a technologically dependent way on the West, in fact, as a satellite of the West. Capital accumulation in Turkey, differently from the West, was not based on intense labor exploitation emerging after the mercantilist looting. Rather, capital accumulation in countries like Turkey was enabled by the advantage provided by the state within the frame of statist economy. AK Party governments have been attempting to create a new bourgeoisie that will realize the transition to an industrial and information society instead of a "lumpen bourgeoisie" based on state advantage. However, this attempt was delayed due to the introverted statist economy coming from the past and the lumpen looting bourgeoisie dependent on this kind of economy. Moreover, with faulty privatizations added, Turkey faced the Soma disaster.

Particularly England and the so-called "developed" Western world created the industrial revolution through relentless exploitation of labor after the mercantilist looting which started in the early 15th century and lasted until the middle of the 18th century. Western industrialization is a product of the vicious exploitation of mainly the people's labor. This process was crowned with an "excellent" colonialist pillage at the same time, before and after, of which the most original example is Britain. As a matter of fact, World War II and other market sharing wars arose from the fact that "developed" countries without any colonies or with insufficient ones far away from energy sources had an eye on colonies of other countries with relatively more colonies and energy sources. If Hitler had not attacked the Soviet Russia, he probably would not have been defeated and the reign of fascism in Europe would have lasted for a long while. However, Hitler attacked Soviet Russia running the risk of being defeated. Conventional German capital holders put Hitler in power to bring the Russia's infinitive sources of petroleum, coal, timber and other mines under control of Germany. For Germany to be able to compete with Britain and a rapidly- ascending U.S., it needed to militate for not only the East, but also to reach the infinite woods and mines of Russia in Siberia and then penetrate into the Caspian and Far Asia.

Hitler probably knew that he would actually commit suicide in a way by attacking Russia, however, he did not have any other options because if he had not attacked, he would have lost his cause of existence.

At the present, two kinds of development paradigms which started in the 15th century and lasted till the 20th century emerge. The first one is a Britain-type development depending on intense exploitation of labor as a result of looting and colonialism and on lawlessness. The second one is German statist development based on fascism, war and violence due to being late to develop. Yet, both are woven with a cruel exploitation of labor and persecution. The first seems more democratic while the second seems less democratic because it has fascism in it. Still, both come to the same thing: Western-type development.

This process, I think, is going on in central Europe and Germany and this is the source of the European crisis. Still, the process started to disentangle in Britain with Thatcherizm from the mid-1980s. Margaret Thatcher, known as Iron Lady, closed down all coal enterprises except for a few strategically important ones in 1984. Trade unions rose against this decision, yet the U.K. was determined as it had a symbolic meaning. Britain was about to finish the "magnificent" historical process which it started with plunders and intense labor exploitation. It meant, "I made the industrial revolution, so I am the one ending it and transitioning to the information society." However, this did not really pan out as planned. The mines that were shut down, the traditional kilometers-long disassembled factories were being opened up in the south, Asia and Latin America. The relentless labor exploitation was being launched in those areas. However, soon after the south woke up. Especially developing Asia was both producing in the efficiency of industrial revolution and reaching the technology of information society. Germany and the U.K. could not achieve the same success at transition to the information society as they did in transition to the industrial society. Inasmuch as, the technology was caught in Asia and the rant was shared.

Turkey reached this fork late. Still, by making no agreements with the IMF and with AK Party being able to evade the threats of a closed case / coup after 2008, Turkey caught up with the point where developing Asia remained behind in the 1990s. Yet, Turkey could not make privatizations that were done "wisely" by U.K. in the 1980s within the framework of a rational strategy similar to Thatcher's England. The privatization processes in Turkey were deemed just an issue of "property." Thus, privatization was conducted as the transition of inefficient state institutions unconditionally, more frankly, in the form of a plunder. The disaster in Soma is the consequence of this wrongful, crippled and marauding approach. Giant institutions of the state were plundered through royalty tenders and privatizations with the pretention of "ineffectiveness." Then, the subcontracting process, which was confessed by the minister, started as a huge labor exploitation. Well, what should Turkey do from now on? Actually, the AK Party government has always been in an attempt to put into effect the suggestion listed below. In fact, just because it has strived to realize them, it has been the target of a monopoly capital oligarchy. Those oligarchs are now blaming Erdoğan regarding the Soma tragedy. This fact illuminates the opportunistic side of what is happening.

Turkey can not develop with same methods of the U.K., U.S. or Europe, where methods were depended on plunder and abuse of labor. Those methods are completely useless in a modern world and Turkey does not take tradition and history as references. In that case, Turkey is supposed to do what is necessary in line with the conditions of the 21st century's industrial society. The Turkish state should retrieve the privatized companies which are guilty of abusing labor and offer those companies to public at a more productive level. Turkey needs to abolish the subcontracting from the business environment and sign the international agreements regarding occupational security.

Turkey has to sychronize the information society and industrialized society transactions and it has both potential and human resource to achieve these goals. The 10th Five-Year Development Plan can be regarded as guide while working on these tasks. Turkey is determined to realize these reforms.

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