Historical background and current fundamentals of Erdoğan's vision document

Published 11.07.2014 22:49

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced his vision document for the presidency. This is the first time in Turkish politics that a politician has brought forward centenary targets and strategies. To me, even those who withstand the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Erdoğan should hearken to this vision document, as it has current and historic implications both for Europe and Asia.

In the ancient communities that created great civilizations, years-long strategies, which outnumbered the average lifetime of people, were based on policies of expansion and consolidation of systems. This chain of strategies and targets, at the same time, constituted the foundations and basic institutions of the system.

China and the Roman Empire, whose ancient cultures continue their influence, are unique examples of this. In the Ottoman Empire as well, expansionary vision and maintenance of the state went hand in hand, which accompanied the contrast between centralization and decentralization. Rome, which relied on huge armaments and the aristocracy, was the creator of this type of military power and used it to become the first colonialist empire.

In this regard, it is possible to say that Rome was an empire that was based on property. The essence of the system in Rome was such: seizing lands with soldiers and transferring it to the agrarian elite, i.e., to the aristocracy. East Rome expanded in this way and developed its expansion strategy, which exceeded centuries, upon agreements and reconciliation rather than elimination. The decentralization policy in the Ottoman Empire also pursued this strategy to some extent.

The situation in China was quite different than in Rome, or it was perhaps an antithesis to the Roman Empire in a way. In the third century B.C., when China started to come into existence as an imperial, central and bureaucratic state, it did not build itself upon a colonialist and warrior strategy like Rome.

The tax system, which confiscated the goods of emperors and mandarins in a hierarchical order and redistributed them, reinforced the central state; however, it did not allow private property, to equate to holding a position - indicating the beginning of wealth. China is still under the influence of this centralization. This centralist state still proceeds on its way thanks to these centenary strategies. However, we still see traces of the Roman Empire both in Europe's colonialist past and in its current monopolistic private property crisis.

Turkey has neither become a civilization that prioritizes centralization and withstands the formation of personal property like China, nor has it become a civilization that is constructed upon colonialist private property like Europe. Perhaps, it combined the two tendencies with the Republic. The Ottoman Empire only took the reconciliation idea of Rome's expansion strategy and built Islamic justice upon it. However, this strategy and vision were removed by the Kemalist regime in the early 20th century.

Today, China maintains its strategy of expansion and survival by protecting the yearslong centralization and by taking that power of centralization to wherever it reached. There are traces of this splendid past in China's present capital export to Africa and in its purchase of European brands. Europe still strives to maintain a private property understanding of Rome, and this is what we call Roman law.

Today, Turkey readdresses its past that it has denied so far. Based on this denied past, Turkey introduces a new survival strategy that will exceed a century. This is not a concern of Turkey alone; it is also of particular concern to the future of the entire area that lies between Eastern Europe and Asia. We should pay attention to the question of what this civilization is based upon, a question that has started to regenerate today.

Apart from Istanbul-oriented business circles, a new business circle, which relies on exports, has started to form during the AK Party rule. This new circle supports the AK Party.

Denominating this new business class according to geographical lines and calling them Anatolian businessman does not go beyond simplifying and confining them to a narrow space. The capital circles that got rich during the pro-tutelage and pro-coup regimes formed a bureaucratic base in the state. This group of capital owners is represented by the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD). On the other hand, after the transformation in 2008, the entrepreneurial capital owners that supported the AK Party were represented by the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSİAD). While TÜSİAD stands for comprador and statist capital, MÜSİAD represents a competitive and civilian capital and it is more market-friendly than TÜSİAD.

Therefore, we can speak about two different business circles. The first one is capital, which constituted the backbone of the oligarchy in Turkey and came into existence with the Republic and got rich thanks to collaborating with external powers during pro-coup regimes. The second is a new, competitive and non-monopolistic capital that has gathered strength in the economy of Erdoğan's incumbency and has found a place in global markets, and it now tries to catch up with technology and global brands. This new business circle also pioneered the emergence of a new middle class in Anatolia. This middle class, which keeps itself updated on the latest developments and gets involved in politics, also bears the sociological characteristics that have developed during the AK Party rule.

The economy that has been adopted by Erdoğan's rule is based on this new enterprising and competitive capital-owning class and the middle class created by it. This is the material foundation of the new vision that will overpass a century.

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