When the military seized power in Turkey on 12 September 1980, there was a widespread feeling of déjà vu both within the country and abroad. For this was the third military intervention to the feeble and already restricted democratic regime of the country since its advent in the aftermath of the Second World War. 1960, 1971, 1980: even the regularity of this succession seemed to suggest that the coup of 1980 was in the nature of things.

And yet, this new intervention is markedly original in its nature with respect to the earlier ones. There is, of course, the obvious fact that the 1980 military regime is incomparably more repressive against its political opponents than the earlier ones. But more decisive in their long-term implications are other aspects. For one thing, contrary to earlier episodes which lasted approximately two years each, the 1980 junta intends to continue its control of political life at least until the end of this decade. Thus despite the new constitution promulgated in November 1982 and the November 1983 elections among the junta’s hand-picked parties, there will be no democracy in Turkey in the foreseeable future.

Closely linked, as we shall see, to this political aspect is the radical shift taking place in the pattern of capital accumulation and in the relations of the Turkish economy with the capitalist world economy. What is being witnessed is nothing less than a total break with the specific pattern of capitalist development dominant in Turkey since the rise of industrial capitalism. Militarily and culturally, too, the new era seems to stand for a revision of past tendencies. After having strived, since the foundation of the republic in 1923, to become a fully integrated member of the Western world, the Turkish state is once again turning its face to the Middle East. In short, the coup of 12 September 1980 represents a radical rupture with the earlier tendencies of capitalist development in Turkey.

The fundamentally different nature of the 1980 military regime with respect to the earlier ones seems paradoxical when considered against the background of the periodic regularity of military interventions in Turkey. This seeming paradox poses two distinct questions, which need to be answered if one is to make sense of Turkish history. The first question relates to the recurrence of military episodes. What are the powerful tendencies in the political life of the country that have constantly reproduced the capacity and the willingness of the army to intervene again and again?

The second question arises from the historical originality of the 1980 regime. Why has the 1980 coup become a turning point in the development of capitalism in Turkey? What is at stake in this profound mutation which the society is undergoing at present? If these two questions can be answered adequately, one can come to an understanding of both the specificity of the present military regime, as well as its continuity with the tradition of military interventions. This is all the more important since a widespread superficial approach postulates an identity among the three episodes and, hence, acts as a powerful obstacle to a clear analysis of present-day class struggles in Turkey.

This article will attempt to provide a coherent framework within which to answer these questions. The main body of the article will be devoted to the study of the period since the second war. However, the period of transition from the pre-capitalist era to bourgeois society having left its ineradicable imprint on the subsequent course of Turkish history, the first section will try to bring out the salient aspects of the foundation of the bourgeois republic and of the heritage of the Kemalist period.

All through the article, my main emphasis will be on the process of the rise and consolidation of the capitalist mode of production and the related class struggles and alliances that have gone to shape this development, particularly within the sphere of the state. It is one of the main theses of this paper that Turkey’s position within the capitalist world economy is decisive in the overall pattern of development of its economy. Hence, reference will be made frequently to changes in the world economy. Political and military relations with the rest of the world, however, will be brought into the analysis only to the extent that they are indispensable for an understanding of the specific configurations of class forces within the country itself. I am aware that this is an important limitation. It can, nevertheless, be considered as an antidote to the generally one-sided emphasis on the politico-military role of US imperialism in shaping the history of the Turkish state.

The transition to bourgeois society

The birth of bourgeois society in Turkey was deeply marked by the specific constellation of contradictions that besieged Ottoman society at the dawn of the twentieth century. Through a long process stretching over centuries, the Ottoman economy had increasingly been brought within the circuit of West European capital, commodity relations had taken hold of agriculture in many regions and private property in land had made considerable inroad on public ownership of land, the main pillar of the classical Ottoman state. With the spread of commodity relations new classes came forward: an urban commercial bourgeoisie with organic links to West European capital and a new provincial class which rose on the basis of an amalgam of commercial interests and modern landed property.

The old state certainly did not remain impervious to these changes, but the process of adaptation witnessed in the 19th century was remarkably hesitant and inadequate for the pressing needs of the rising classes. Moreover, reaction set in in the latter part of the century, particularly following the dissolution of the first Ottoman parliament in 1878. The Young Turk movement, which was to lead the 1908 revolution that restored parliament, was a product of this contradiction between the rising commercial bourgeoisie and the precapitalist state.

However, this struggle took place within the context of a multinational empire. From this flowed a second contradiction, grafted on to the first, which is crucial for an understanding of the subsequent history of capitalism in Turkey. This second contradiction was the product of the ethnic structure of the Ottoman bourgeoisie. For various historical reasons, that fraction of the commercial bourgeoisie that was organically linked to the West was predominantly non-Muslim, composed of Greeks, Armenians, former Europeans, and to a lesser extent Jews. This created an ironical situation: while Turks increasingly wielded state power, Turkish landowners and provincial merchants were economically subordinated to the non-Muslim commercial bourgeoisie. The advantageous position of the latter aroused the envy and whetted the appetite of the former, who, it should be emphasised, did not aspire to break from the domination of Western capital but simply yearned to take the place of the non-Muslim elements.

After the 1908 revolution, which had itself brought under its banner the various nationalities in a common front, the contradiction burst forth with colossal violence during the First World War, resulting in the mass massacre of Armenians in 1915, and after the war, the Greek invasion of part of present-day Turkey and the massive exodus of Greeks from Anatolia when Greek forces had to retreat in the face of Turkish resistance in 1922.1 This ethnic division of the Ottoman bourgeoisie was to mark profoundly the second bourgeois revolution of 1919-1923, led by Kemal Atatürk.

This revolution gave birth to a strong and centralised state that actively interfered in every aspect of social life during the following decades. This omnipotence of the state has been attributed to the age-old tradition of Ottoman bureaucratic rule; some have indeed gone further to postulate an identity between the Ottoman state and the Kemalist period. Tradition may have played its secondary role, but the nature of the state born out of the Kemalist revolution was fundamentally a product of the relations among the various classes of Ottoman society. And here, it was the congenital weakness of the Turkish bourgeoisie vis-à-vis the other classes that was the determining aspect.

There was first the interpenetration of the two contradictions already mentioned: the Turkish bourgeoisie struggled not only against a pre-capitalist state structure but also had to contend with the other ethnic components of the Ottoman bourgeoisie, politically the more able wing being the latter. Caught between two fires, its main trump was to join hands with those cadres, exclusively Turkish, of the old state machine that broke away from the Ottoman state. And once the republic was founded, the state was to be the main leverage of the Turkish bourgeoisie in the conquest of the commercial sphere controlled by Greeks and Armenians. It should also be noted that the new ‘nation-state’ was predicated upon a denial of national rights for the Kurdish people who lived within the borders of the new republic.

Secondly, the fledgling Turkish bourgeoisie was entering the historical scene at the beginning of the imperialist epoch and strongly felt the need to resort to state protection for the promotion of its interests in the face of formidable competition from international capital. Last but not least was its fear of subordinate classes. The flimsy proletariat of the big cities and the immense poor peasantry of the countryside posed potential threats, exemplified by the Russian October revolution, to this bourgeoisie which was a specific amalgam of landed and commercial interests.2 This highly vulnerable position of the bourgeoisie resulted in an exclusivist revolution, one in which the subordinate masses of the peasantry and the proletariat hardly participated, and when they did, they did so as reluctant soldiers against the Greek army. Out of this revolution was born a strong, repressive and active state.

Exclusivist though it may have been, it was nonetheless a real revolution: it destroyed irreversibly the political, juridical and ideological bases of the old pre-capitalist state and laid the basis for the construction of a new type of state – a bourgeois republic that paved the way for the subsequent development of the capitalist mode of production. Most of what it did it achieved through coercive means, usually intimidating its opponents, but also resorting to repression and violence against the working class movement and Kurdish nationalism. In this sense, it was a stark bourgeois dictatorship, sometimes referred to as a Bonapartist regime because of the personal powers wielded by Kemal Atatürk himself.

However far-reaching the change in the political and ideological foundations of the state, the revolution had inherent limitations, which were to prove of decisive importance in the future. Foremost among these was the exclusivist nature of the revolution which prevented the consolidation of bourgeois hegemony over the rest of society. Closely related to this first aspect was the undemocratic nature of the state born out of the revolution: here was a bourgeois revolution which was not a bourgeois-democratic revolution.

The tension between the aspirations of the young bourgeoisie to have a say in the political process (which gave rise to the continued existence of a parliament) and its fear of the subaltern classes or of pre-capitalist forces (which resulted in the consolidation of a one-party dictatorship) created a situation where political life would constantly sway to and fro between repressive and more representative forms. Finally, and most importantly from the view point of the future interests of the bourgeoisie, the revolution did not live up to the central task of a bourgeois revolution, i.e. an agrarian revolution which would sweep away the obstacles in the countryside to the rapid development of industrial capitalism. The nature of the bourgeoisie and its organic links to landed interests simply ruled this out. But as the subsequent history of Turkish capitalism shows, the Turkish bourgeoisie, and especially its future industrial fraction, was to pay a high price for this historic failure.

The period between the two world wars witnessed successive reforms in the political, juridical and ideological-cultural spheres, all of them instrumental in constructing a modern bourgeois state and in a forcible divorce from the Islamic cultural-religious world, which had been the dominant ideological environment of Ottoman society. All of this was carried out under an increasingly powerful dictatorship, where the Republican People’s Party (RPP), founded by Kemal Atatürk himself, represented and synthesised the interests of the various propertied classes. The most important feature of this period for the purposes of this article is the original path which the genesis of industrial capitalism took.

The transition from mercantile capitalism to industrial capitalism was predicated in Turkey upon state capitalism. The setting to this development was the Great Depression, resulting in the contraction of the capitalist world market and the collapse of agricultural prices. The Turkish economy was, along with countries with a similar position in the international division of labour, profoundly affected, and experienced a severe crisis, especially in the agricultural sector. Political unrest convinced the government of the necessity of reflation in order to cushion the impact of the world crisis. The commercial bourgeoisie having proved its incapacity to act and foreign capital having remained indifferent to Turkish overtures,3 the state had no choice but to act as the collective capitalist and invest heavily. The details of the construction of a state industrial sector and of the two five-year industrial plans implemented in the thirties need not detain us here.

What is important for present purposes is to emphasise the original form of the genesis of industrial capitalism in Turkey compared to earlier experiences. The state had certainly played an important part in the primitive accumulation of capital, and particularly in the conversion of commercial capital into industrial capital, in those countries like France and Germany which followed England with a delay. This took mainly the form of the protection of ‘infant’ industry against the competition of cheap English manufactured commodities.4 The role of state intervention was even more marked in the development of capitalism in the latecomers of Eastern Europe such as Poland and Russia.5 

However, in the nineteenth century, it was only in Japan that the state went beyond simply intervening in private capital accumulation and took upon itself the organisation of industrial production along capitalist lines. It was this path that Turkey was to follow in the 1930s. Here, as in Japan, state capitalism (which was to come of age in imperialist countries only after the Second World War) was the prelude to the passage to industrial capitalism. The historical order of things was thus reversed: historical product of a long evolution in advanced capitalist countries, state capitalism was the precondition of industrial capitalism in Turkey. Rarely has the combined nature of capitalist development in the twentieth century taken such a striking form.

In this Turkey was not alone. The more advanced Latin American countries, such as Mexico under Càrdenas, Brazil under Vargas and Chile under the Popular Front experienced the same tendency during the 1930s.6 Turkey was only the purest and the most mature expression of this general tendency, not because it was economically more advanced but, paradoxically, because it was the least developed among them, with a negligible industry.

This worldwide development of state capitalism in the new capitalist countries of the twentieth century is a result of the degree to which productive forces have already developed in advanced capitalism. The competition of imperialist capital simply forbids a slow development of capitalist industry in backward countries. The transition to capitalism requires, therefore, that the modern factory system be constructed by a leap over the intermediate stages. The nascent bourgeoisie being incapable of meeting the challenge of the necessary concentration of capital, it is up to the state to step in in order to secure the bases of industrial capitalism.

Towards the domination of industrial capital

The basis for private industrial accumulation in Turkey was thus laid in the 1930s. But another decade passed before commercial capital turned massively towards industry and still another one before it rose to become the dominating power in the ruling bloc. And, in between, Turkish capitalism would go through a detour, when, between the end of the world war and 1960, agriculture enjoyed priority over industry in the orientation of state economic policy and became, indeed, the leading sector of the economy, until the mid-fifties.

As in the case of the turn to state capitalism in the thirties, here too the new direction came in response to the changes that arose in the capitalist world economy in the immediate aftermath of the war. Having gone through the contraction and fragmentation of the world market during the Great Depression and the devastating effects of the war on the European economies, the world capitalist system was finally preparing the ground for a new era of sustained accumulation (for what was later to be known as the ‘post-war boom’). Despite considerable industrial growth in many of the backward countries for fifteen years, imperialism was prone to re-establish an international division of labour along the lines of the pre-Great Depression period.

An additional factor that influenced Turkey in the same direction was the attempt of reconstructing Europe under American hegemony. The Marshall Plan, devised to this end, explicitly required of Turkey a reorientation of its economic policies, by giving priority to agricultural and mineral production. The purpose was to increase Turkish agricultural exports to Europe, where agriculture had suffered even more than industry during the war.7 These requirements of the international division of labour were translated into the concrete terms of Turkish politics through the urgent needs of the economy concerning foreign aid. Already having fallen under US hegemony through the Truman Doctrine of 1947, Turkish governments hesitated little in adapting themselves to the new conjuncture.

This easy readaptation was also a product of the limitations of the state capitalism of the 1930s. Whereas massive investments drained off state revenue, the propertied classes, and in particular the landowners, paid little tax so that quite soon state investment activity came up against financial difficulties. This was the main reason why the Second Plan of 1938 was carried out much more slowly than the first and only at the expense of inflationary financing. After the war there were but two alternatives: either a turn to the primacy of private capital, and therefore momentarily away from industry, or an attack on the propertied classes. The second alternative was, of course, ruled out by the class nature of the Kemalist regime.

There had also occurred during the war important changes in the line-up of class forces inside Turkish society, changes which greatly facilitated the new turn. Successive governments of the ruling Republican People’s Party (RPP) had alienated the big landowners and the rural bourgeoisie through policies which, added to the effects of wartime hardships, greatly damaged the agricultural sector. The urban commercial bourgeoisie had also come into increasing conflict with the RPP since the inception of the so-called ‘statism’.

The clash over the Land Reform Act of 1945, itself quite harmless by international standards, acted as the immediate background to a split within the RPP. The Democrat Party (DP) which was formed on the basis of this split soon came to represent an alliance of the rural bourgeoisie and big landowners with the urban commercial bourgeoisie. This alliance, feeding upon the discontent of the peasant masses and sections of the urban proletariat, would come to power in 1950 and rule the country for ten years.

Thus, the immediate postwar period witnessed a twofold rupture in Turkish history. On the one hand, the power bloc that had ruled the country since the 1920s had burst apart to give rise to a new class alliance in which the rural and the commercial bourgeoisie were, for the first time, the dominating forces. The old bourgeois coalition formed under the iron fist of Kemal Atatürk was shattered and the RPP, which had represented a certain mode of bourgeois domination in line with the exclusivist nature of the Kemalist revolution, was cast aside like an empty shell, and along with it those political forces that represented the dependence of the bourgeoisie on bureaucratic layers and structures in the political direction of Turkish capitalism. On the other hand, this schism in the political representation of the bourgeoisie laid the ground, along with various international factors such as the fall of fascism and the foundation of the United Nations, for a carefully engineered transition to a two-party parliamentary system, meticulously excluding the self-organisation of the working class.

It was this new class line-up that was to be instrumental in Turkey’s adaptation to the requirements of the postwar order. However, contrary to Kemalist mythology, the process of adaptation started much before the rise to power of the DP. Every single element of the new economic programme was initiated, under the pressure of the new balance of international and internal class forces, by the RPP between 1946 and 1948. The new orientation was predicated upon shifting priorities from the state sector to private capital, from industry to agriculture (and to transportation infrastructure in order to facilitate the commercialisation of agricultural products), from protection to foreign trade liberalisation. It also included a more benign attitude to foreign capital, for the encouragement of which successive administrative and legislative steps were taken in 1947 by the RPP, in 1951 by the DP, to be crowned by the Law for the Encouragement of Foreign Capital and the Petroleum Law of 1954, both written up by American ‘experts’.

Hence, with the exception of the idea of planning to which the RPP still clinged, the DP in power did nothing but deepen further an orientation which was well under way by 1950. But in one very significant area the DP did not break with the policies of the 1930s: although it promised, before coming to power, to reduce or even to liquidate the state productive sector (the programme of the first DP government chided earlier governments for having created an ‘interventionist, capitalistic (!), bureaucratic and monopolist’ state)8, it not only kept the old state enterprises but, in effect, expanded the state sector to twice the size in which it had found it! This blatant contradiction of DP policy is additional evidence for the absolute necessity of a large state capitalist sector for the development of capitalism in the twentieth century.

The early years of the postwar boom and high agricultural prices on the world market aiding, Turkey lived through a short period of rapid growth, especially in agriculture, in the early 1950s. But this process of the rapid expansion of commodity production and capitalism very quickly reached its limits. With the end of the Korean war, combined with the recovery in European agriculture, agricultural prices started to decline and Turkey soon found itself in a foreign exchange shortage, to which the DP government reacted by measures of renewed import control. It was in this context that a major contradiction arose, one that would eventually destroy the foundations of DP power.

Despite the relative expansion of private modern industry in the 1930s and during the war, the dominant character of the urban bourgeoisie in the immediate postwar period was still commercial, and with a few exceptions, even those capitalists engaged in industrial production had trade, foreign or internal, as their principal activity.9 Hence the subordinate part played by the industrial wing of the bourgeoisie in the alliance that formed the DP. But during the fifties and especially in the period following the foreign exchange shortage, which created an automatic effect of protection, commercial capital, particularly in Istanbul, turned on a massive scale to industry. This industry was predominantly concentrated in assembly processes in those branches where internal production could be expected to substitute for imports. This, then, was the period when a new independent industrial fraction of the bourgeoisie was to be formed. The subsequent history of Turkey would be profoundly marked by this class fraction.

Notwithstanding the rise of industrial capital, the DP, marked as it was by its origins, its party machine dominated by the rural bourgeoisie, and its electoral audience among the masses of the peasantry, clinged obstinately to its old formula of absolute priority to agriculture over industry. Combined with the general slowdown in economic activity, itself also connected to the stabilisation programme accompanying the 1958 devaluation, this policy dealt industry a severe blow. From 1956 on, private industrial investment declined enormously.10

The ensuing dissociation of the new but well organised industrial wing of the bourgeoisie from the class alliance represented by the DP found its expression in a division within the latter. The off-shoot, a small party, soon joined the ranks of the RPP. A new coalition was thus being shaped around the RPP, with various urban layers and social forces discontented with different aspects of DP rule, and primarily with its ruthless authoritarianism, expressed most graphically, but not uniquely, in its rabid anti-communism.

However, the new alliance was stricken by a congenital defect: here was an urban coalition, led by the industrial bourgeoisie and encompassing the discontented urban petty-bourgeoisie, intellectuals, students and increasingly the working class, trying to challenge a rural based party in power in a country where the overwhelming majority of the population were small-holding peasants. The urban coalition had the backing of international capital – which was becoming increasingly unhappy with the havoc wrought in the economy by the DP leadership – and was stronger in every sense, except one: it could not obtain an electoral majority. However, modern urban politics has other means at its disposal. One component of the urban coalition overstepped the boundaries imposed by the leadership: the widespread student demonstrations of early 1960 convinced the military, in the ranks of which several juntas had already been formed, to strike the final blow to the DP in power.

Mediated through a complex array of social forces, the coup of 27 May 1960 was thus the forcible solution, where other means had failed, of the contradiction between the industrial bourgeoisie and the other, hitherto dominant fractions of this class. The existence of these mediations, as we shall see, was not without its influence on the course of later history. The coup also opened the way to the rise to domination of the industrial bourgeoisie.

This class would remain in power, by means of different alliances, up until the present. Again as we shall see, the form of its rise to domination was not to remain without impact on subsequent events; as in the case of the foundation of the republic, here, too, the birth marks lived on with the grown-up organism.

Finally, the economic policy framework and the political regime that was constructed in the wake of the coup was but a certain contradictory mode of adaptation of the political super-structure to the requirements of the new phase of capital accumulation in Turkey. It is this regime, with its various political, legal and ideological aspects and its economic institutions, primarily planning, that I shall henceforth refer to as the ‘post-1960 system’.

Before proceeding to an analysis of this system and the new phase of accumulation that underlay it, I should like to draw attention in passing to the almost universal interpretation of the 1960 coup as simply a reaction of the ‘military and civilian bureaucracy’ to their loss of status, economic, social and political, after 1950. This superficial characterisation of the 1960 coup does not only abstract from class struggles. It equally distorts the position of the industrial bourgeoisie with respect to this first military intervention of the last three decades, by postulating a contradiction between the army and the entire bourgeoisie en bloc. The consequences are grave: the role and place of the industrial bourgeoisie in subsequent military interventions are, thereby, equally mystified and concealed. It is thus crucial to understand that there was not a contradiction but a unity of purpose between the army and the industrial wing of the bourgeoisie in 1960.

The mode of accumulation based on the internal market

The attempts by imperialist powers in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War to rehabilitate the international division of labour as it existed before the onset of the Great Depression was fully successful only in the newly liberated ex-colonies of Africa and Asia, and some Countries of Latin America. In the case of those countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Chile in Latin America, Turkey and partially Iran in the Middle East, India, South Korea etc., which had undergone a certain amount of industrialisation during the fragmentation of the world market in the period 1929-1945, the postwar boom witnessed a new pattern of integration with the world economy. This was related to the further development of a certain specific mode of capital accumulation within these countries.

This mode of accumulation, generally known as ‘import-substitution industrialisation’, I will refer to as ‘the mode of accumulation based on the internal market’, for reasons which need not detain us here.11 The process which Turkey experienced between the mid-fifties and 1980 conforms closely to this general pattern, with certain specificities which I shall have occasion to mention. The basis of this mode of accumulation, itself a definite stage in the development of the capitalist mode of production in backward countries, lies in the concentration of capital, both foreign and native, in those branches of social production which have as outlets the internal market.

The reason is easy to discover: for the new fledged industrial capital of these countries, competition on the world market with the highly concentrated and centralised imperialist capital is excluded in the initial stages of its development. The home market is a much easier playground, not only because of the proximity of the market to production sites and the much readier flow of information, but also because the state can provide native capital with much higher protection than would be the case on the world market.

In the case of Turkey, as in some other countries, this mode of accumulation was, in fact, a heritage of the state-capitalist stage which had itself been based, with a few exceptions, on the production of consumer goods for the home market. In this sense, apart from the interregnum of the period immediately after the war, Turkish capitalism had a rather stable path of development over the half century that stretched from the early thirties to the late seventies.

There were, however, important differences between the state-capitalist stage and the later period. First, obviously, private capital took precedence over the state sector, if not in absolute quantitative terms, at least in relative weight; and, qualitatively speaking, its orientation was determining in the priorities of economic policies. Secondly, the sectoral composition of industrial production changed: from the primary consumption goods of the thirties, production was gradually extended to consumer durables and transport equipment, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, petroleum refining etc. The share of food and beverages and textiles (the two sectors which develop generally at the initial stages of industrialisation) in total manufacturing had fallen from 57 per cent in 1960 to 30 per cent in 1979, the lowest such share among Islamic Middle Eastern countries.12

In the process, the state turned more and more to infrastructure investment and those industries which produce the widely used elements of constant capital (generally known as ‘intermediate goods’) such as iron and steel, aluminum, petroleum products, paper and pulp etc., where because of the high organic composition of capital and long periods of gestation, private capital did not, and could not, invest. Here was, again, on a different level, an expression of the necessity of state productive activity, which alone could hope to cope with the high degree of development of productive forces on the world scale. A graphic expression of this situation is the fact that average production scales in the state sector are as high as nine times those in the modern private sector.13

Finally, relationships with the world economy had changed considerably between the two periods: relative to the state-capitalist stage, the industrial structure of the later period was much more dependent on foreign inputs (since most of the production in consumer durables and transport equipment rarely surpassed the level of simple assembly processes), there was a greater, though not massive, inflow of foreign productive capital (of which more later) and the economy depended much more heavily on foreign money capital (credits etc.). This was, of course, a result of the radically different nature of the conjuncture ruling on the capitalist world market.

The sixties and the seventies were a period of rapid capital accumulation in Turkey. The overall growth rate of the economy, which was approximately 5.6% in the 1926-39 period and fell to 0.7% under the impact of war between 1939-50,14 rose again to 5-6% in the fifties, though this period was particularly unstable with large deviations from year to year.15 In the sixties and the seventies (until the onset of crisis in 1977) the growth rate fluctuated between the 6-7% range. The growth of the industrial sector was higher, between 9-11 %.16

There was, consequently, a marked change in the respective shares of industry and agriculture within total production. Between 1938 and 1953 agriculture had contributed approximately one half of GNP while industry’s share was around 12%. Between 1953 and 1959 the shift was already perceptible: agriculture fell to 45% while industry rose to 16%. The change was truly dramatic in the 1960s and the 1970s: in 1977 industry had already surpassed agriculture with a share of 24% while the latter had declined to half its share two decades before: a mere 22%.17

One result of the rapid accumulation of capital was the concentration, and the accompanying centralisation, of capital. Although the number of small enterprises is still overwhelming in the Turkish economy, the determining sector as concerns production and employment has certainly become large-scale modern industry. By 1970 already, modern industry produced 88% of value-added (which is only a very rough indicator of new value produced) and employed 61% of all workers in industry. In the 1970s and 1980s big monopolies control most markets and large holding companies – conglomerates active in many branches of industry, commerce, banking etc. – have a disproportionate influence on economic (and political) life.

This rapid accumulation of capital was inseparably bound up with the general expansion of the capitalist world economy and can in no way be attributed to a supposed success of the economic policies pursued by the governments in power during this period. These policies were quite standard when seen in a comparative light. The main elements were: a high rate of protection of the internal market from international competition, through the simultaneous use of tariffs and quantitative restrictions;18 The most graphic evidence to this effect is that every successive plan adjusted the sectoral distribution of investments to tune with the realised rates of investment of the preceding period.19 Hence, the multifold ‘failures’ of planning (e.g. the enormous growth in foreign indebtedness at the end of the first three plans when one of the fundamental objectives of these plans was to do away with dependence on foreign resources) are nothing but the mediated expression of the contradictions of a capitalist economy.

Barriers to the accumulation of capital

Throughout this period of high growth when industrial capital flourished, capital accumulation was gradually and increasingly coming up against certain barriers. These barriers first became apparent in the late 1960s and were increasingly insurmountable by the time of the deep crisis of capital accumulation in the late 1970s. Before going on to a concrete analysis of the development of capital accumulation and class struggles during the period 1960-80, I will point in this section to the various contradictions of the process of accumulation that shaped the struggles of the period.

The post-1960 system

This system was the product of a very specific conjuncture of class struggles. Its origins can be traced, as we have seen, to the struggle of an urban coalition, led by the rising industrial bourgeoisie, to dominate the rural majority represented by the DP. Apart from planning, which expressed the domination of the industrial fraction of the bourgeoisie over economic policy, the system had as its basis the 1961 constitution and the 1963 legislation concerning labour relations.

The specific aspect of the political regime established by the 1961 constitution was the attempt to restrict the powers of the rurally based majority in parliament and the government which emanated from that majority through various checks and balances, such as a Constitutional Court, an innovation relative to earlier constitutions, a high Administrative Court with extended powers, administrative autonomy to universities and state radio and television etc. The constitution also stipulated a quite advanced range of political and civil rights and liberties. It included a directive for future governments for carrying out a land reform. Finally, and most importantly, it constitutionalised the rights to form trade unions, to engage in collective bargaining and to strike, which rights were concretised through the legislation of 1963.

All this should not mislead one to think that, overnight, Turkey had come to possess a full-fledged bourgeois democratic regime. Being the product of a political event controlled by the military, the 1961 constitution had to bear its imprint. Several aspects of the constitution and notably the extended powers granted to the National Security Board (not to be confused with the 1980 military junta, the National Security Council), a body composed of the top army staff and some members of the government, gave the military a real authority over the government itself.

Apart from the limitations inherent in the constitution, the shadow of the military was constantly cast over political life, be it in the form of successive abortive coups in the early 1960s or the formation of seditious military committees including members of the general staff. And, of course, the three presidents of the 1960-80 period, all of them former generals, truly acted as the Trojan horse of the military within civilian institutions. Finally, a Mussolini-inspired Penal Code and a pervasive anti-communist ideological atmosphere acted as a Damocles’ sword over the political self-organisation of the working class. Despite all these drawbacks, the post-1960 system was to be the framework of the most democratic era in the history of the republic. This was fundamentally due to one fact of colossal importance: the massive and active entry of the working class and other labouring strata into the political scene for the first time in Turkish history.

The working class had suffered constant repression at the hands of the Kemalist leadership. Despite its demagogic rhetoric before rising to power, the DP turned out to be no better: the year following the 1950 elections, mass arrests of left-wing leaders and militants dispelled any illusions nurtured by sections of the left as to the ‘liberal’ nature of this party. So the working class entered the post-1960 period politically passive, organised as it was only in a trade-union structure heavily tied to the state and with no right to strike. However, the fact that it was part and parcel of the urban coalition as a passive support class, along with the influence of liberal ideas circulating in petty-bourgeois circles in the late 1950s, was instrumental in the creation of a legal framework conducive to working class activity.

But the legal framework was secondary in importance when matched against the real mobilisation of the working class. The decade of the 1960s witnessed a gradual tendency of the working class to move towards organisational, political and ideological independence from both bourgeois parties and the state. We need not go into the details of this process here.20 Suffice it to say that this growth in strength and militancy, accompanied by the radicalisation of the student movement and of sections of the peasantry, was crowned by the semi-spontaneous demonstrations of June 1970, when an estimated 100,000 workers marched in defiance against plans to restrict trade union liberties. This event was a watershed of decisive importance in the history of class struggles in Turkey. It implied the forceful entry into the scene of the working class and demonstrated to the bourgeoisie (and to the army) that this class was, henceforth, the main antagonist with which it had to contend.

This new strength of the working class was becoming, in the eyes of the bourgeoisie, more and more of a burden for the accumulation of capital. Strikes were growing in number and militancy, new demands were being put forward, and real wages were on the rise. One result was that, by limiting super-exploitation, these developments reduced the competitiveness of Turkish capital on the world market, since low wages are the precondition of such competitiveness for the weak and technologically backward capital of semi-industrialised countries. This, along with other factors, impeded the growth of industrial exports, which fact was to have important consequences, as we shall see. Another result was the dissuasive role that working class militancy played on foreign capital, which, as is notorious, requires a docile labour force, low wages and a politically stable setup in order to invest massively in a country.

Here, then, was an unexpected consequence of the post-1960 system, the historical task of which was to have been the consolidation of the domination of the industrial bourgeoisie over the rural majority. The new situation dictated that the mobilisation of the working class, of sections of the peasantry and of various other social layers be suppressed and a new straitjacket of authoritarianism be imposed on political life. This was precisely one of the missions of the military intervention of 1971-73, which, having amended many articles of the constitution and other legislation, totally failed, however, to destroy the rise of the working class movement. This movement was to experience a renewed ascendancy in the 1970s (which, incidentally, shows that the post-1960 system was not a legal but a political order of things). The resurgence of massive proletarian activity proved to the bourgeoisie conclusively that partial adjustments of the political framework were insufficient and that the entire post-1960 system had to be discarded in the interests of capital accumulation. This awareness was to be decisive in the coup of 1980 and its aftermath.

The problem of rural alliances

The limits of the Kemalist revolution manifest themselves nowhere with more force than in the sphere of agricultural property relations. We have already seen that the Kemalist state was, from the beginning, based on an alliance with the landowning classes. This ruled out an agrarian revolution and left intact the structure of property relations: a massive small-holding peasantry, some modern farms organised along capitalist lines, widespread absentee ownership and, finally, quasi-feudal relations in the Kurdish regions of the East and the Southeast. The result would be a very unequal development in agriculture: while there was a certain overall development, the real breakthrough into modern agriculture came only in the West and the South, Kurdistan and most of the centre remaining quite backward economically and socially.

As a consequence, despite the fact that Turkey has generally been regarded as one of the few countries of the world which are self-sufficient in foodstuffs, the potential in agricultural production has remained far from being exploited to the full and the increase of the productivity of agricultural labour has, on the whole, been poor. This limitation influenced industrial accumulation adversely by keeping agricultural exports lower than they could potentially be, by raising the price of foodstuffs and thereby increasing the value of labour power, by keeping the internal market narrower than it need be etc. Hence, a low agricultural surplus has been one of the essential weaknesses of Turkish capitalism.

This is why the question of a ‘land reform’ has been haunting the Turkish bourgeoisie since the mid-thirties. But successive attempts (in 1945, after the coup of 1960, during the military intervention of 1971-73 etc.) have brought no substantial results. There are two fundamental reasons for these failures. First, as its counterparts in other countries where capitalism developed belatedly, the Turkish commercial bourgeoisie was congenitally tied up with rural property: a merchant was also a landlord more often than not. And secondly, even for those fractions of the bourgeoisie for which such was not the case, alliance with the big landowners against the threat of subaltern classes was too pressing an issue to be overlooked. The price for the industrial bourgeoisie was, of course, quite high in terms of the limits to capital accumulation.

But the problem was not only one of low growth of the agricultural surplus. Equally important were the difficulties the bourgeoisie faced in the transfer of the existing agricultural surplus to the industrial sector. Here the problems were raised to a power [sic] for there was the additional factor of the communality of interests among various rural classes. Leaving aside rural proletarians, whose ranks have been growing over the decades, and semi-proletarians and poor peasants, the other classes and class fractions in the countryside, i.e. agricultural capitalists, absentee landlords, the quasi-feudal propertied classes of Kurdistan, rich peasants and the mass of middle peasants, have put up a common front against those governments which have attempted to use the two arms in their reach for a higher transfer of value from agriculture to industry, i.e. the taxation of agriculture and the manipulation of the terms of trade of agriculture with industry by keeping support prices for agricultural commodities low.

The experience of the RPP, which had tried to use both instruments during the war, taught bourgeois parties a precious lesson. Despite its attempt at regaining the confidence of rural classes by removing the bulk of wartime taxes on agriculture, the RPP was toppled by a predominantly rural coalition. The DP struck the final blow by abolishing the remaining taxes and to this day no civilian government has even attempted to impose direct taxation on agriculture. Henceforth it was to be military regimes alone that dared to take steps which ran counter to the interests of the rural majority.

The last, extremely meek attempt to tax agricultural income came from the 1960 military regime but its import can be gauged by noting that direct taxation in the agricultural sector has remained below 1 per cent of agricultural revenue since then.21 As for the terms of trade of agriculture, from 1946 on these lost all contact with world prices and were, in general, quite favourable to agriculture, while the world terms of trade notoriously moved against primary commodities during the whole postwar boom period. The means used to achieve this singular result by successive governments was to keep support prices high.

The notable exception to this general trend came during the military intervention of 1971-73 when the terms of trade of agriculture fell because of low support prices,22 while, ironically, world prices of primary commodities rose as a result of the speculative over-heating of the world economy on the eve of the recession of 1974. This, as we shall see, was one of the reasons for the failure of this regime. For the rest of the 1970s, coalitions of different political persuasion competed for the favours of rural classes by keeping support prices high, and, during certain years, extremely high. This was certainly one reason why, at the end of the decade, rural masses participated very little in the struggles that shook Turkey.23

As a result of this visceral weakness vis-à-vis rural classes, and especially the big landlords (high support prices serve disproportionately the interests of the large-scale producer and even harm the poor peasant24, the industrial bourgeoisie had to content itself with a low rate of appropriation of the agricultural surplus. (This was effected mainly through the inherent transfer of surplus-value from agriculture to industry due to differences in organic composition and accessorily through the high prices of industrial commodities due to protection.) Necessary for the reproduction of the political domination of the bourgeoisie, its alliance with the landowning classes imposed a serious barrier to the extended reproduction of industrial capital.

The question of foreign capital

One major difference of the Turkish case from those other countries which, in the postwar period, experienced a certain capitalist development oriented to the internal market is the relatively low rate of penetration by foreign productive capital. The highest estimate of the stock of foreign capital within the country at the end of 1979 puts it at US$550 million.25 The figure usually given of $228 million covers only that portion which is invested under the 1954 Law for the Encouragement of Foreign Capital and, excluding other legal forms of the penetration of foreign capital, implies a deceptive underestimation.

However, even this latter figure is not insignificant for our purposes, for it is this that represents the bulk, though not the entirety, of the stock of foreign capital invested in manufacturing industry (the rest being mainly concentrated in the petroleum industry). Compared with an average annual total private investment of well over $2,000 million in the early 1970s,26 this level of foreign direct investment is astonishingly low. It is true that apart from direct investment, other types of relations exist between foreign and Turkish capital, such standard relations as patents, licensing etc. It is also true that in some key sectors such as the automotive, pharmaceutical, petro-chemical, rubber industries, foreign capital, in partnership with Turkish capital, does exercise a powerful domination. Nonetheless, in the light of the experience of other countries, this specificity should not go unnoticed.

This situation is the result of a confluence of various factors. Historically speaking, the initial reluctance of foreign capital can be attributed to the fact that Turkey was one of the first Eastern, non-Christian countries to establish an independent bourgeois nation-state (based on the repression of the other nationalities living on the Anatolian plateau, as we have seen). Not having yet accumulated the astute methods of neo-colonialism, it was natural for foreign capital to regard this strange country with suspicion and this despite the constant reassurances and signs of good-will on the part of its leaders.27

A related factor was the fact that Turkey not having been colonised fully, no specific historical ties existed between it and a particular imperialist country. The postwar period might have changed this situation were it not for several important factors. For one thing, the geographical proximity of Turkey to the Soviet Union, while raising its importance militarily for Western strategic purposes, was a deterrent for would-be investors in the light of the expansion of the Soviet zone of influence in the aftermath of the war. Secondly, these decades witnessed a progressive development of democratic forms in Turkey and later a powerful rise of the workers’ movement and these were not exactly what foreign capital looked for in backward countries. Thirdly, from the sixties on Turkey was much more closely integrated with capitalist Europe, and in particular West Germany, than with the US.28

The European market being a very fast growing one, European capital (excepting the British) did not have the same tendency (until the seventies) to move abroad as massively as did US capital. Integration hence took the form of an opposite flow of labour power from Turkey to West Germany and other countries. Finally, the economic policies pursued in harmony with the pattern of accumulation based on the internal market acted as a disincentive: particularly important was the overvaluation of the Turkish currency with respect to its market rate, which automatically decreased the buying power of foreign money capital within Turkey and hence caused the prospects of profitability to decline.29 However, it should not be forgotten that this latter element was common to all countries which were in a similar position.

The consequences of this situation were numerous, but concerning the discussion with respect to the barriers to capital accumulation two can be singled out. On the one hand, a relatively low penetration of foreign productive capital implied that Turkish capitalism would find it harder than countries in an opposite situation to turn to industrial exports. Foreign firms, and especially multinational ones, have, with their global network of communications, their developed techniques of exploitation and their generally more advanced technology, a greater capacity to export to international markets, at least potentially. On the other hand, lacking foreign resources in the form of direct investments, Turkish capitalism depended to an enormous extent on the flow of foreign money capital, i.e. foreign credits.30 This heavy rate of indebtedness was to be the spark that kindled the crisis in the second half of the seventies.

The Turkish monopoly bourgeoisie felt, of course, quite bitter about its relative deprivation of the opportunity of association with imperialist capital. With the accumulation of other difficulties, the eradication of the causes which created this situation became increasingly urgent for the bourgeoisie.

Internal contradictions of the mode of accumulation

The mode of accumulation based on the internal market has, with the exception of some insular economies such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, been a universally necessary stage in the development of industrial capitalism in backward countries.31 However, as all capitalist development, this mode of accumulation bears inherent contradictions which build up over the years and, at a certain moment, explode with force so as to throw the economy in full crisis. Turkish capitalism was no exception. There, too, the accumulation of capital was, in an unmediated way, also the accumulation of contradictions.

We have already seen that the mode of capital accumulation in question is predominantly concentrated in those branches of industry (whether in Department two, in the initial phase, or in Department one, in the later phase) which have as outlets internal consumption. But the internal market of a single country, whatever its population, is manifestly insufficient, all the more so in an underdeveloped country, for scales of production implied by the modern productive forces as they have been developed on the world scale. Consequently, the productive units established under these conditions are inevitably smaller in scale, more backward technologically, offering much more restricted opportunities for capital’s control over labour, when compared with their international counterparts.

In the Turkish case, for instance, a comparison between average scales of large Turkish private firms and ‘optimal’ international scales showed that the ratio was 1:4 in steel ingots, 1:6 in aluminum plate, 1:12 in electric motors, 1:16 in cement and tractors and 1:25 in passenger cars.32 Only in several branches of the textiles sector did Turkish scales come anywhere close to international scales. The resulting low productivity of labour implied that Turkish capital had a very feeble competitive power on international markets. But whatever the mode of capital accumulation, every capitalist economy is inextricably connected to the capitalist world economy in a definite, albeit specific, way. Therefore, competitiveness on the world market is a sine qua non of the unhampered reproduction of every capitalist economy.

At a certain stage the law of value imposes its rule over every national fraction of capital. The mediations of the national state or of the inflow of foreign money capital can alleviate problems for a certain while. But unless an increase in competitiveness, dependent ultimately upon the productivity of labour, is procured in the meanwhile, a crisis in the end is inevitable. This crisis of the mode of accumulation based on the internal market is a specific expression of a wider truth: that, in this age of imperialism, capitalism in one country is no more viable than socialism in one country. The concrete modalities in which various countries experience this bitter truth may differ. In the case of Turkey, it expressed itself in the contradiction between the low growth of exports and the rapid growth of imports due to the assembly nature of production activities, which therefore required a high importation rate of raw materials and intermediate goods, in addition to means of production, which are usually unavailable internally at the initial stages of capitalist development.

Total Turkish exports increased by 5 per cent annually in the period following 1968, but imports soared ahead at a rate of growth of 15 per cent in the same period. The import/export ratio for the economy as a whole rose from 1.35 in the 1950s, through 1.46 in the 1960s, to 2.40 in the 1970s (an important factor for the latter period being the highly adverse change in the terms of trade, mainly due to the price of oil).33 The result was inevitably a high deficit in the balance of payments, alleviated for a certain while by secondary factors, as we shall see.

There were, certainly, additional factors in the slow growth of exports and especially of industrial exports. One very important factor, generally neglected, was the rise in real wages due to working class struggles, already noted. This made impossible for Turkish capital the alleviation of the disadvantage arising from low productivity and acted as a strong deterrent against its turn to international markets. A change in the mode of accumulation was therefore predicated on the infliction of a defeat on the working class.

Other factors already noted are the relatively low penetration of foreign productive capital and the mediocre development in agriculture. The role of the overall orientation of economic policies, generally put forward as the sole cause of the blockage of this mode of accumulation, should also be mentioned, but only as a dependent and secondary variable. These policies, notably high protection, overvalued currency with respect to the market rate and financial policies that expand the internal market, promoted the perpetuation of the existing mode of accumulation and acted as disincentives against a turn to international markets. Adequate to the needs of industrial capital at a certain stage of its development, they were transformed into so many barriers once the conditions that produced them had been surpassed.

Class struggles and class alliances

The period 1960-1980 was not only marked by the indisputable dominance of industrial capitalism. It was also a period of extremely rapid change in the lineup of class forces and of a fundamental upheaval in the political scene. My purpose here is not to provide a detailed analysis of the complex process through which the country went in these two decades but rather to sketch a general framework in order to understand the evolution of class struggles and class alliances, which culminated in the successful coup of 12 September 1980.

The chaos of political life in this period cannot be made intelligible unless the concrete relations between all the different classes are taken into account. There are, however, two key factors that shaped the evolution of the political struggles and alliances of the period. One is the forceful entry into the political scene of the working class. The other is the relationship of the increasingly dominant element in the ruling bloc, the industrial bourgeoisie, to the other elements of this bloc, in particular the rural propertied classes. The history of these two turbulent decades has been moulded by the oscillating efforts of the big industrial bourgeoisie to sail between the Scylla and Charybdis of these two social forces. The resulting formation and dissolution of class alliances and coalitions have given each phase of the process its particular hue. We shall see that the difference between the 1960s and the 1970s derives mainly from such a revision of class alliances.

The rise in the militancy of the working class, especially marked in the second half of the sixties, called forth two different, and diametrically opposite, reactions from bourgeois political forces. One was the gradual transformation of the RPP into a populist party, exchanging its image of the guarantor of the state for one in which the party posed as the defender of the weak and the oppressed. The avowed project of the new current, led by Ecevit, was the construction of a social democratic party along the lines of the parties of the Socialist International, but various historical factors, relating both to the party and to society at large, acted as powerful barriers to this project. When the coup arrived the RPP had not yet been able to establish durable organisational links with the working class.

The second reaction was reaction, pure and simple. Starting around 1965, there was a proliferation of so-called Associations for the Struggle against Communism, a common front of many right-wing currents. Waging violent attacks on left-wing demonstrations and meetings, these Associations were instrumental in the formation of the nucleus of what was to become the most powerful fascist party in postwar Europe, the Nationalist Action Party (NAP). This party, which was to engage in full-scale violence and murder against trade-unionists, left-wing militants, students, teachers etc. in the 1970s, in fact represented the militant wing of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois reaction against the rise of working class politics. It stood for a frontal offensive aiming at the atomisation of the class and the abolition of the political system, i.e. the post-1960 system.

In fact, the industrial bourgeoisie had joined the other fractions of the class in the second half of the 1960s in criticising the post-1960 system and the 1961 constitution. The main reason was, of course, that the post-1960 system increasingly came to stand for the self-activity of the working masses. Another concurrent factor was the reorganisation that had occurred within bourgeois political forces after the 1960 coup.

Overwhelmed by the rural majority represented politically by the DP, the industrial bourgeoisie had, before the coup, joined hands with the RPP and the military in toppling the former. However, with the formation of the Justice Party (JP) in place of the DP dissolved by the military, and especially with the rise to its leadership of Demirel in 1964, the industrial bourgeoisie had acquired domination within that political tradition which was the historical inheritor of the DP movement. Thus, a decade after its birth, the urban coalition was split, for the main force behind its formation was now the leader of a political movement that brought together the different fractions of the bourgeoisie and dominated the rural masses. The industrial bourgeoisie now had the majority on its side and, therefore, its political representatives came increasingly into conflict with the various checks and balances placed in the constitution of 1961 in order to curb the powers of the parliamentary majority.

But this ‘golden age’ of bourgeois unity under the dominance of its industrial fraction was to be temporary. The rural bourgeoisie could not digest the new priorities of the JP with its wholesale emphasis on industrial accumulation. Demirel’s meek attempts at indirectly taxing landed property in 1970 brought out to the open the contradiction through a major split from the JP. Another fraction of the bourgeoisie, mainly composed of the medium and small capitalists, particularly of provincial towns, came increasingly into conflict with the monopoly capital of Istanbul and other big cities over the distribution of bank credits and import quotas. This conflict would lead to the formation of another political movement, the National Salvation Party (NSP), which was to gain its real momentum in the 1970s. Due to the deep-seated ties of monopoly capital with American and European imperialist capital, the NSP would increasingly criticise Turkey’s relations with the West, advocate the integration of Turkey with the Arab-Muslim world and develop a fundamentalist Islamic ideology.

Thus, in 1970, the industrial bourgeoisie found itself in a contradictory situation. On the one hand, the June events, in which around 100,000 workers had participated, confirmed the serious rise in the working class movement and the general radicalisation of the mass movement. Against this the bourgeoisie had developed the twin tendencies of inflicting a defeat on the working class movement and of rolling back the post-1960 system by revising the constitution. But precisely at this moment when the bourgeoisie needed to gather its strength to impose its solutions, the forces of the bourgeoisie were extremely divided. Not fortuitously: for these divisions were an expression of the relative exhaustion of the rapid accumulation of capital in the 1960s.

The industrial growth rate, which had been around 11 per cent on the average in the years between 1963 and 1969, fell in 1970 to 1.5 per cent. This was also the year of balance of payments problems and of the devaluation of the currency in August. In short, the industrial bourgeoisie had to wage a battle on two fronts simultaneously: it had to attack both the working class and the rural propertied classes. With no strong allies left for the formidable burden of these tasks, it had to take refuge once again under the coercive power of the military. The pronunciamento of 12 March 1971 did not abolish parliament but resulted in the formation of successive governments which were emanations of the will of the military. This second episode of military intervention lasted two and a half years.

Hegel’s famous dictum that the same historical event occurs twice is amply confirmed when one compares the 1971-73 period and the 1980 military dictatorship. With one important proviso: this time it was the first episode that was a farce and the second which turned out to be a tragedy. It is not necessary to go into a detailed analysis of the ludicrous failure of the military intervention of 1971. Suffice it to say that the regime was captured in precisely the same contradictions as the industrial bourgeoisie which it represented. Having momentarily repressed the working class movement, it gradually capitulated to the representatives of the big landowning classes and, therefore, failed to bring any solutions to the emerging crisis of the mode of accumulation (the graphic example of its failure being the frustration of the much-publicised attempt to carry out a land reform). Neither could it roll back the rising tide of working class and urban petty-bourgeois mass mobilisation which reasserted itself with increased vigour once military tutelage over political life was lifted.

The pressure of European institutions was important in the return to parliamentary democracy, for at this stage Turkish capital had its eyes turned exclusively to Europe. So apart from a two-year squeeze of real wages and agricultural support prices, and various amendments to the constitution which however proved insignificant in the face of rising mass mobilisation, the ‘achievements’ of the 1971-73 military intervention were nil. It left the burning contradictions of Turkey intact and turned them over, in exacerbated form, to the feeble parliamentary regime of the rest of the 1970s, which itself was to crumble under the burden of these contradictions.

The twofold task of rolling back working class mobilisation and, simultaneously, rationalising Turkish capitalism in the face of opposition from the big landowning classes and the ante diluvian fraction of merchant capital thus remained on the agenda of the Turkish industrial bourgeoisie during the 1970s. But it found a different expression in the political sphere with respect to the late 1960s. The JP, which had been split as a result of its one-sided emphasis on the interests of the industrial monopoly fraction of capital, turned towards a strategy that aimed at the unity of all propertied classes and at the repression of the renewed militancy of left-wing movements. Its successive coalitions with the NSP and the fascist NAP were an expression of this strategy.

The RPP gradually came to represent the other horn of the dilemma that faced the industrial bourgeoisie: it became more and more a party with a modern image, which, basing itself on the quest for a hegemony over the working class, the new layers of the urban proletariat, the urban petty-bourgeoisie and the poor peasantry, promised the industrial bourgeoisie to deal with the more backward relics of the agricultural and commercial propertied classes. The result was twofold. On the one hand, the industrial bourgeoisie itself was split over the priorities of the moment and therefore over the party to be supported. On the other, the society at large experienced a profound political polarisation around two blocs, the main forces of which were the RPP and the JP.

This polarisation was carried to the brink of civil war by mass political terror, initiated and constantly rekindled by the fascist movement. The massacre of Maraş, where more than a hundred people died at the hands of fascist-led mobs in December 1978, was a culmination of NAP strategy: it was both terror carried to the scale of civil war and a graphic illustration of the rebirth of sectarian strife between the generally conservative majority Sunnis and the generally progressive minority Alaouites in central and south-eastern Anatolia as a result of careful engineering by the fascist movement. Finally, superposed to this dramatic general context was the considerable rise of a nationalist movement with left-wing sympathies in Turkish Kurdistan. The political situation was, hence, already explosive and none of the important questions solved when a profound crisis of capital accumulation set in around 1977.

Crisis and neo-liberalism

This crisis was the synthetic expression of all the major contradictions of Turkish capitalism. As such it combined various aspects, which should be analysed separately in order to have a clear understanding of the situation. The crisis can be considered as the complex unity of three essential moments:

1) A periodic capitalist crisis

The cyclical movement of capital, a universally observed phenomenon in capitalist economies, has also been a marked feature of the Turkish economy since capitalism became the dominant mode of production. The three cycles of the postwar period were between 1947-1961, 1962-1971 and 1972 to the present, marked by recessions respectively between 1957-61, 1970-71, and from 1977 on. All of these periodic crises resulted in stabilisation programmes accompanied by devaluations of the currency, in 1958, in 1970 and continuously from 1978 to the present. The recent crisis was thus a new episode in the lineage of a well-established pattern.

However, every periodic crisis of capital accumulation brings capital face to face with specific contradictions, along with more general ones common to all crises. The 1957-61 crisis was the moment in which the primacy of agriculture was put to trial. The 1970-71 recession was a precocious warning as to the limits of the mode of accumulation based on the internal market. Both caused severe disruptions in economic activity and contributed, in their different manners, to political upheavals. But neither was as profound and pervasive as the present crisis (especially the 1970-71 recession was short-lived). They both occurred within the context of the great postwar boom of world capitalism, whose effects soon gave Turkish capitalism a new impetus. If the periodic crisis that started in 1977 has turned out to be much deeper and long-lasting than the former two episodes, the reason is that it was articulated to, and expressed, new contradictions arising both on a world scale and within the Turkish economy itself.

2) The crisis of a mode of accumulation

It has already been argued that contradictions arising from the very nature of the mode of accumulation based on the internal market and those mediated by the political sphere gradually erected serious barriers to capital accumulation in Turkey. These barriers made themselves felt for the first time during the recession of 1970-71. We have seen that the military intervention of 1971 was an unsuccessful attempt to solve these problems of industrial accumulation. However, in spite of this failure, a host of special circumstances concurred to make the first half of the decade a period of reinvigorated economic growth.

Foremost among these factors was the effect of the overheating of the capitalist world economy, on the eve of the crisis, in the years 1972 and 1973, when the world market expanded by a leap and the prices of primary commodities were given a boost due to speculative stockpiling. This was the period of a record increase in the exports of many semi-industria1ised countries. Turkish capital also benefited from this favourable conjuncture. Its total exports made an important leap, but more importantly, manufacturing exports grew to an unprecedented extent.

The real growth in this specific item was practically nil in the 1960s. Between 1970 and 1973 there was a cumulative 36 per cent real growth.34 In 1973 alone, the dollar value of manufacturing exports almost doubled.35 This increase in exports, spectacular by former Turkish standards, has generally been attributed to the 1970 currency devaluation. Although this may have been instrumental, its effects were only subsidiary, the principal factor being the situation on the world market. The squeeze on wages during this period should not be forgotten either.

A second special circumstance in the early 1970s was the immense increase in the remittances of immigrant workers from Turkey working in capitalist Europe. These remittances, which had amounted to $1.7 billion in the five years between 1968-1972, soared, in 1974 alone, to $1.4 billion, mainly because of the rapid increase in the number of workers who had emigrated.36 These factors alleviated the effects of the 1970-71 recession and gave a new lease of life to the old mode of accumulation. But with the abrupt change in world conditions after 1974, the contradictions of this mode of accumulation resurfaced forcefully.

3) An integral part of the world crisis

The generalised crisis of world capitalism removed the last buttresses to the ailing mode of accumulation in Turkey. The impact of the crisis was felt sharply in Turkey through the drop in workers’ remittances as a result of rising unemployment and stagnant wage levels in Europe, the sharp rise in oil prices in 1973-74 and again in 1979-80, the more general unfavourable change in Turkey’s terms of trade with the outside world, the stagnation of exports due to the slow growth and even the contraction of the world market. But like other countries, Turkey experienced the global crisis of capitalism at a specific tempo and under specific forms. The favourable legacy of the 1972-74 period and the dramatic rise of short-term borrowing37 postponed the appearance of the underlying difficulties but also contributed to the gravity of the final breakdown.

When, therefore, the crisis burst forth with unusual forée in 1977, it took the form of a huge external debt of approximately $15 billion (an amount which was quite exceptional at that time, though amply surpassed by other countries’ debts since then), a large trade and balance of payments deficit and an accelerating rate of inflation. Underlying these monetary indicators was, of course, a marked recession: GNP, which had grown at an average annual 6% in the fifteen years preceding the crisis increased only by 3.9% in 1977, 2.8% in 1978 and dropped for the next two years. The situation is even more striking if one turns to private capital investment, the single most important index of capital accumulation: this decreased constantly from 1977 on, to drop by 1980 to the level which had been reached in 1972.

The determining aspect of the complex character of this crisis was the postponed crisis of the mode of accumulation and the concurrent pattern of integration of the economy to the capitalist world economy. This, as we have already noted, was not specific to the case of Turkey but was, in fact, the general pattern in the postwar era in those backward countries where a development of industrial capitalism had occurred between 1930 and 1945. However, this pattern had been gradually changing and a new pattern of integration of these countries to the world economy coming on the agenda in the 1970s.

The forerunners of the new pattern were the so-called ‘export-led’ economies of South Korea and Brazil (not to speak of the special cases of Taiwan and Hong Kong) in the 1960s. They were followed in the 1970s by many Latin American countries, the most spectacular changes being observed in the countries of the South Cone, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, and other Asian countries. The former mode of accumulation based on the partition of the world market for industrial commodities into well-protected national markets was being surpassed on the world scale. The general contours of a new international division of labour were slowly taking shape.

Within this new division of labour, these semi-industrialised countries came more and more to specialise in certain branches of industry, such as textiles and clothing, electronics, the food industry etc. where the organic composition of capital is low, in certain segments, usually assembly operations, of the production process of other industrial commodities, and in certain branches of agriculture which have wide outlets on international markets. Which branches were to be dominant in which country depended on the special circumstances of the country in question, the principal ones being its specific geographical location and the competitivity of its capital in these branches.

The capitalist world crisis is, among other things, the forceful assertion of this new development in the international division of labour and a process through which the barriers erected by the old mode of accumulation are to be eliminated. These aspects of the crisis are, of course, no more than tendencies and the contradictory nature of the development in various countries is but another expression of the inherently contradictory nature of capitalist accumulation.

Such were the coordinates of the critical situation in which the Turkish bourgeoisie found itself in the late 1970s. The crisis was the expression of the inability of Turkish capital to reproduce itself as a fraction of world capital. Therefore, the internal crisis was also immediately a crisis of the relations of Turkish capitalism to world capitalism. A durable solution to this multi-dimensional crisis pointed to a reorientation in capital accumulation and to a new mode of insertion into the international division of labour. The internal and the external dimensions of the crisis were hence indissociable. This is what created the illusion, popular in left-wing circles in Turkey, that the neo-liberal programme of economic policy adopted in January 1980 was simply the result of the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Certainly, Turkey’s high level of indebtedness did make governments vulnerable to IMF pressures. But the principal social force behind the radical turn in economic policy that came at the beginning of 1980 was not the IMF, but the Turkish financial and industrial bourgeoisie now united around this programme. The IMF was instrumental in transmitting to Turkey the requirements of the new international division of labour. But where it concretely determined the development of events was in its insistence on capitalist discipline over an ailing economy. It thereby tremendously strengthened the Turkish bourgeoisie in its quest for ideological hegemony.

The neo-liberal programme incarnated in the January 1980 measures aimed at a profound restructuring of productive capital in order to render its structure consistent with a new mode of accumulation oriented towards a deeper insertion of the economy within the new international division of labour. This programme, which has been and is being applied to different degrees in many other underdeveloped countries, has several dimensions:

  1. Measures destined to put an end to the agonising life of those industries and capitals which are the legacy of the old mode of accumulation, foremost among such measures being restrictive monetary and credit policies, reduction of the public deficit and the abolition of state subsidies, all leading to a drastic deflation of the internal market.
  2. Policies conducive to the development of those industries and capitals which promise to be competitive on the world market, such policies as incentives and subsidies for exports, constant depreciation of the currency, creation of a more attractive framework for foreign capital and a benign attitude vis-à-vis the rapid centralisation of capitals which is under way. Much remains, in this respect, to be done in such areas as the reduction of customs protection, further liberalisation of the exchange regime and the setting up of free trade and production zones, all of them pet areas of state action in the context of the neo-liberal programme.38
  3. Policies that facilitate the migration of money-capital from the declining branches and firms into those in ascendancy. Basing itself on the categorical assertion that the unhampered working of the market mechanism (i.e. the law of value) is a precondition of the ‘rational’ allocation of resources, the programme has attempted to dismantle the traditionally high interventionism of the state in economic life. Measures that go in this direction include the abolition of price controls over the private sector, the alignment of the prices of the products of public enterprises to their market prices, projects for the reorganisation of public enterprises with a view to render them more susceptible to capitalist rationality, the liberalisation, to a certain extent, of interest rates and the exchange rate, the priority given to the formation of a capital market – an aspect which had lagged hopelessly behind in the development of Turkish capitalism.
  4. Priority given to public investment in manufacturing industry. Despite the glorification of market forces, neo-liberal strategy could certainly not have dispensed with the powerful tool that public investment has traditionally been in Turkey, making for half of all investment, this ratio rising to two thirds in the last couple of years in the context of the sharp decline in private investment. Public investment was, therefore, used as a privileged instrument in the restructuring of the Turkish economy. From 1980 to 1982, while public investment in manufacturing industry fell, in constant prices, by 26%, the corresponding change for agriculture was a rise of 71%. The results are strikingly clear: while in 1979 and 1980 agriculture accounted for 7% of total public investment and manufacturing industry for an average of 28%, the respective shares for 1982 were 11% and 20%.39

Military dictatorship

The January 1980 measures were adopted by the last government accountable to an elected parliament, a minority government of the JP that had come to office in the wake of the partial elections of October 1979. The RPP government which had preceded it since December 1977 had had to resort to stabilisation measures accompanied by currency devaluations successively in April 1978 and March-June 1979. These measures of the RPP government were criticised by spokesmen for the bourgeoisie as being too late, too meek and half-hearted.40

It is true that the RPP policies were not as bold and blatant as the January 1980 measures in responding to the demands of capital. The important point to retain is, however, that the RPP policies, adopted under the twin fires of the IMF and the Turkish monopoly bourgeoisie, already pointed in the direction of the January 1980 measures and constituted a watershed that separated the post-1977 government policies of austerity and the reflationary policies up until the end of 1977.

The JP government applied the new economic policy programme as best it could, under the direction of Turgut Özal, economic adviser to Prime Minister Demirel. But there were certain crucial measures which were integral to the success of the neo-liberal programme which it could simply not push through. Of primary importance was the necessity of the imposition of a harsh austerity on the industrial working class and other labouring strata (unproductive workers, public employees etc.) by keeping money wages under strict control. The resistance of the working class to the austerity programme, manifested in the extent of industrial disputes in 1980, precluded this.

There are varying figures as to the number of strikes and of workers involved in the last few years of the decade. But all concur to show that there was a dramatic rise of trade union activity in 1980. According to one source,41 approximately 85 thousand workers went on strike in 1980, but many [with] strikes being postponed by the government on various ludicrous pretexts, the real figure would be some 150 thousand. This is nearly four times the number of strikers for 1979 and incomparably higher than the quite calm 1978. It was also nearly three times the figure for 1977, which itself was an all-time historical high.

A second aspect difficult to put into effect was the imperative to keep the support prices of agricultural commodities down. This would have been contradictory with the fundamental strategy that the JP had been following in the 1970s: having drawn the lessons of the split at the end of the 1960s, the leadership followed a policy of close alliance with the rural bourgeoisie and big landlords. Moreover the rural petty-bourgeoisie was the vast reservoir of support for this party and could not be alienated only a year and a half before elections.

Finally, the taxation system had to be radically altered. Decades of constant compromise with the rural propertied classes resulting in the practical exemption of agriculture from taxation had finally put industrial capital itself in a difficult situation through the inevitable rise in the taxes paid by wage-earners. This created a heavy burden for private big firms in the form of higher gross wages under the pressure of inflation. But again if this burden were to be alleviated, it had to be shifted to other classes and strata, and agriculture being ruled out, this meant alienating sizeable sections of other fractions of capital and the urban petty-bourgeoisie.

In short, the new orientation of the Turkish bourgeoisie created formidable tensions among the various classes and strata of the society, tensions difficult, if not impossible, to master within the confines of the parliamentary form of domination. In the atmosphere of political turmoil and mass terror of the late 1970s, unpopular measures on such an extensive scale would almost certainly have been suicidal for the government. The last resort within the limits of parliamentary democracy seemed to be a ‘grand coalition’ of the main and ‘responsible’ bourgeois parties, the JP and the RPP. This had the double advantage of uniting the deeply divided forces of the monopoly bourgeoisie and bringing under its hegemony the various classes and strata that were controlled by these parties.

Even this solution was not without its risks: it could have radicalised the electorate and pushed a sizeable portion of the discontented towards either the myriad left-wing movements to the left of the RPP or to the fascist NAP (which never gained the full confidence and endorsement of the big bourgeoisie because of its extremely dangerous strategy of civil war). It could also have strengthened the NSP, by now a nightmare for monopoly capital and for US imperialism.

Uncertain as its outcome may have been, it was nonetheless the only solution in sight and an increasing pressure was brought to bear on the two parties by the representatives of the bourgeoisie. But because of the deep polarisation of the society since the beginning of the decade and of the irreconcilability of the different interests represented by the two parties, notwithstanding their common allegiance to the industrial bourgeoisie, this hegemonic ‘united front’ of the big bourgeoisie turned out to be impossible to realise. This exhausted the possibilities under parliamentary rule. For the third time in its brief historical existence, the big industrial bourgeoisie was thus compelled, under the force of class struggle, to tie its fate to military rule.

The military dictatorship established by the coup of 12 September 1980 can hence be described as the repressive united front of the big bourgeoisie.42 This front was constructed around the coercive organ of the bourgeois state where the traditional political parties of the bourgeoisie had failed. The dictatorship inflicted a heavy defeat on the working class through brutal repression, the suppression of its organisations and bribing the major right-wing American-style trade union confederation into acquiescence. The urban petty-bourgeoisie was also silenced. All of this cleared the ground for the completion of the neo-liberal programme. (Özal, its architect, was, in fact, promoted to deputy premiership by the junta.) But even more important was the fact that with the defeat of the working class, the post-1960 system could finally be demolished. Following the coup, the dictatorship carried out step by step its historical mission: to create a durable framework for the restructuring of capital and to reorganise the entire political superstructure in order to create a regime adequate to the future needs of the accumulation of capital.

I shall return presently to the results attained by the dictatorship in carrying out its objectives. But it should first be noted that the junta was hardly challenged until recently and had a relatively free hand in putting its plans into effect. It is worthwhile, then, to try to answer the following question: what are the factors that worked for the consolidation of the 1980 military dictatorship as opposed to the total failure of the military intervention of 1971, whose political project was much more modest and narrower in scope than that of the present regime? The answer lies in the intrinsically different character of the historical situations in which the two regimes were placed.

1) The working class movement was indisputably on the rise when the 1971 intervention occurred. Despite the fact that there were practically no mass mobilisations during the 1971-73 period, the rise in class consciousness and militancy influenced the course of events, concretely through the mediation of its pressure on the RPP, manifested in the opposition of the latter to the military. And once the period was over, the class movement found a renewed vigour through the years 1974 to 1977, after which a host of factors combined to cause a down-turn of working class activity. Prominent among these factors was the relationship of the mass movement to the RPP. The powerful mobilisations until 1977 having been channeled to the bourgeois populist framework of the RPP, the self-activity of the masses subsided as soon as this party came to power.

A considerable part of the responsibility lay with the trade-union bureaucracy and the tail-ending strategy of the various socialist movements. With the harsh austerity programme of 1980, there was a new up-turn in the activities of the working class but this new recovery lacked a political perspective. Thus when the coup came, the working class movement had not yet shed the deep demoralisation and disorientation resulting from the failure of its RPP experiment, the desolate result of so many years of militant struggles. Hence, no resistance was put up against the coup and the attacks of the dictatorship on the basic rights of the working class. Nor was there any significant opposition from the working class movement from within the country, excepting the resistance of imprisoned militants. (It should be noted, however, that for a very long time, émigré left-wing political groups in Western Europe were the only ones to criticise the junta.)

2) Despite the June events of 1970 and an extremely limited urban guerilla movement in early 1971, the military intervention of the early 1970s came in an atmosphere hardly experienced by the majority of the population as unstable. This reduced much of the credibility of the alarmist discourse of the generals. The 1980 coup was, on the contrary, the culmination of a chaotic social situation in which thousands of people from both camps had lost their lives. (The most significant symptom of the total disorientation of the masses was the remarkable shift of the popular vote from the RPP to the JP in the two years from 1977 to 1979.) In the absence of a clearly formulated socialist alternative as a solution to the burning questions of society, military rule represented for a sizeable section of the population the only feasible framework which could re-establish peace and order and put an end to internecine strife.

3) At the beginning of the 1970s the bourgeoisie was yet slowly groping towards a new programme adequate for the extended reproduction of capital in Turkey. There was much hesitation and confusion among its spokesmen. And as soon as there was an upturn in accumulation, the problems were forgotten. The struggles of the 1970s and the profound economic crisis after 1977 left little doubt within the ranks of the bourgeoisie as to the necessity of a radical solution to the problems on its agenda and, notably, of the replacement of the post-1960 system by another more in line with the needs of capital accumulation. There was, thus, a strong and pervasive tendency within the bourgeoisie towards a more authoritarian form of class rule.

The most striking manifestation of this difference in the orientation of the bourgeoisie is the nature of the reactions of the main bourgeois parties to the military regimes in power. In the first episode, both the RPP and later, and to a lesser extent, the JP put up a considerable opposition to the intervention of the military in political life. After the coup in 1980, on the other hand, both parties implicitly supported the dictatorship until the definitive banning of the former political parties, and indeed even longer, until the details of the new constitution of 1982 made clear that there was no political space in future for the leadership, at least, of these two parties.

4) At the beginning of the 1970s the pressure of European institutions for the restoration of regular parliamentary practice played an important role in curbing the plans of the military. For the Turkish ruling classes had, at that time, resolutely set upon a course of economic and political integration with Western Europe, Turkey being since 1963 tied to the EEC on the basis of an association agreement. But with the rise of oil prices in the early 1970s a new context came into being.

After the 1980 coup Turkish capitalism increasingly turned to the oil-rich countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and Western Europe lost its once privileged position in the eyes of the Turkish bourgeoisie. This is not to say that Turkey has definitively turned its back on Western Europe; indeed, a major problem for the Turkish ruling classes will be the reconciliation of these two sets of relations with very different, and even conflicting, requirements. But the existence of an alternative both acted as a brake on European reaction to the dictatorship and alleviated the impact of European initiatives on the consolidation of the regime in power.

5) But this was not the only, nor even the major, factor which shaped Europe’s relationship to the dictatorship in Turkey. In effect, European reaction was extremely limited because of the growing role of Turkey, after the fall of the Shah in Iran and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, as an outpost of imperialism in the Middle East. Here, of course, the lead role among imperialist countries was assured to the US, staunchest defenders of the dictatorship, but the growing Atlanticism of various European governments was of not inconsiderable help to the Americans. This new conjuncture in the Middle East and the renewed hegemony of the US over Turkey, after two decades of European and particularly German influence, was of tremendous importance in the consolidation of the regime. American involvement in the military intervention of 1971 had not been lacking but its impact had been limited by Turkey’s relations with Western Europe.

Provisional balance-sheet of the military dictatorship

It seems unnecessary, in the context of this article which has attempted to provide a long-term historical overview of the development of capitalism in Turkey, to consider in detail the political and economic developments under the 1980 dictatorship.43 More appropriate would be an assessment of the place of this period in historical development. Yet it is too early for that. What will be attempted in this section will be no more than to indicate the general tendencies of capital accumulation and class struggle in the period following the 1980 coup.

The first important aspect is that the junta has entirely subscribed to the radical shift in economic policy started by the January 1980 measures and has gone a long way since in creating the necessary framework for a transition to a new mode of accumulation. Under the guidance of Özal, it deepened further various aspects of the programme in such domains as exchange-rate depreciation, cuts in public expenditure, interest rates and the encouragement of foreign capital. What really marks its specificity is, however, its ‘success’ in precisely that domain where its elected predecessor, the JP government, had failed: the frontal attack, necessary to the austerity programme, on the subordinate classes. By prohibiting all trade-union activity and entrusting wage settlements to the so-called Supreme Arbitration Board, effectively under its own control, the junta established a strict control over nominal wages and, thereby, laid the ground for a sharp reduction in real wages.44

The petty-bourgeoisie was not spared either. Its urban component (artisans, petty commerce, liberal professions etc.) was hard-hit by the fiscal ‘reform’, which the big bourgeoisie had been demanding for years. This ‘reform’ shifted a significant portion of the burden of taxation from the shoulders of the latter to those of the petty-bourgeoisie. These strata were also impoverished as a result of the activities of the so-called ‘bankers’, wildcat brokers and moneylenders. The petty savings of around half a million people were swallowed up by a number of these swindlers, under the benevolent gaze of the state, which tacitly encouraged their activities in order to force the oligopoly of big banks to relax its control on the interest rate.

As for the massive rural component of the petty-bourgeoisie, the decisive element was the change in agricultural support price policy. Conspicuously above inflation rates during the RPP government in 1979 and the JP government in 1980, support prices have consistently been kept below the rate of inflation since the coup. However, it should be added that even this powerful dictatorial regime that rules in the name of the industrial bourgeoisie has not waged a frontal assault on the rural propertied classes. Witness the fact that after a fall in agricultural production in 1981, due to a ninefold increase in the formerly subsidised price of fertilisers in 1980, the price of this crucial input has been kept practically constant, i.e. this commodity was one of the very few to be subsidised by the state. Witness also the extremely limited tax burden imposed on the agricultural sector during the fiscal reform. I shall return below to the possible future evolution of the relations between the industrial bourgeoisie and the rural propertied classes. It should be noted in passing, however, that this policy of the regime partly explains its popularity with the rural petty-bourgeoisie.

The combination of draconian austerity, monetarism and neo-liberalism in general resulted in the partial mastering of inflation, the meek resumption of economic growth and an enormous increase in exports. This last feature is the most significant in that it has more than conjunctural importance and lays the basis for the transition to the new mode of accumulation. Exports rose twofold between 1980 and 1982 (from $2.9 billion to $5.7 billion) and industrial exports soared even higher, with an increase in value of 120% in 1981 alone. The decisive factor behind this rise, truly dramatic in a time of world recession and of a shrinking world trade, was the specific position of the Middle East and North Africa.

To the extent that the increase in exports was not fictitious (i.e. a turn from illegal channels to legal ones), it was a result of the buoyancy of the Middle East market. The results are striking: while in 1980 the EEC accounted for 43% of Turkish exports and the Middle East and North Africa for only 22%, in 1982 the situation had been reversed, the EEC share declining to 30% and that of the latter region rising to 45%. To this one should add the rapidly growing activities, in the region, of Turkish construction contractors, whose orders have reached an estimated $17 billion. This overall development charts the future tendencies of Turkish capitalism as to its position within the international division of labour.

The economic record of the junta was hailed by the spokesmen of international financial capital as an outstanding success and Turkey was presented as an example of lucid policies to those countries which faced severe crises and balance of payments problems. The world bourgeoisie was, for once, reaping where it had sown; for the Turkish experiment of neo-liberalism had received lavish financial support from the whole capitalist world. Following the implementation of the austerity programme, the IMF granted to Turkey an unprecedentedly high standby credit for three years, which was later extended for another year.45 And in spite of the tergiversations of Europe towards the practices of the junta, imperialist countries provided Turkey with huge long-term credits and grants.46

Despite this massive support and the repressive political regime, Turkish capitalism has not yet been able to extricate itself from the deep crisis that started in 1977. Even in those domains, such as inflation and exports, where ‘success’ was highly praised, the trend has inescapably deteriorated in 1983. But much more important is the dismal condition of capital accumulation. Despite a hesitant recovery in other indicators, private investment has continued its decline since 1977. Even in 1981, that much-praised year, private investment decreased by 8.8% and, according to the provisional figures for 1982, private manufacturing investment rose only by 0.6%. Keeping the strong propaganda bias of provisional figures in mind, it can be said, with little fear of misjudgment, that this figure will equally turn out to be negative.47 As a consequence, unemployment has been rising steadily since the beginning of the crisis. According to official figures, it rose from 2.1 million in 1978, through 2.65 million in 1980 to an estimated 3.6 million in 1983, this last figure representing an unemployment rate of 19-20%.48

Therefore, not even the periodic crisis is over. This is not surprising since this periodic crisis is only an aspect of the crisis in its entirety, intertwined as it is with the crisis of the mode of accumulation. And here, despite important steps, the restructuring of capital has not yet been effected to a significant extent. It is indeed very difficult to expect this restructuring to advance significantly in the near future because of the constraints laid upon the world market by the global crisis of capitalism (and lately the fall in oil prices has, to a certain extent, effaced the privileged position of Turkey’s newly-found markets). Added to this is the extreme financial fragility of many industrial firms, hard-hit by the deflationary spiral into which the internal market was deliberately pushed.

There have been numerous cases of bankruptcy and of mergers and takeovers, and several big firms have been taken over by the state. An immediate consequence of this fragile situation of productive capital is the extreme vulnerability of the banking system. In fact, in the summer of 1982 Turkey lived the beginnings of a financial panic and crash à la Argentine, but the situation was temporarily mastered at the expense of a certain relaxation of previous policies (and the replacement of Özal by another team). In short, Turkish capitalism is far from having overcome the difficulties of capital accumulation and the next deep recession in the world economy may keep in store a debacle for Turkish capital.

However, notwithstanding the uncertainty of the short and medium terms, it can be said that Turkish capitalism has gone a long way in these three years in adapting itself to the prospect of a new mode of accumulation and a new pattern of integration with the world economy. The vital necessity, for the reproduction of capital, of a mobilisation of forces toward export industries has almost gained the status of a dogma for the Turkish bourgeoisie and for most, if not all, of its political representatives. True, the January 1980 measures have recently been increasingly criticised by various sectors of the bourgeoisie (although other sectors still defend them ferociously). It should be noted, however, that the discussion is not over the goal to be reached, i.e. an ‘export-led’ economy, so much as over the methods and policies to be adopted in order to reach this goal.

On the political front, the junta’s rhetoric concerning a return to democracy has, as was easily predictable, turned out to be a mockery. The new constitution adopted in November 1982 attests to the thinly veiled maintenance of the rule of the present junta until 1989. This constitution formally recognises political and civil liberties only to suppress them on numerous vague pretexts, heavily restricts the rights to strike and to form trade unions, prohibits legal socialist activity, equips the president of the republic with quasi-dictatorial powers (including control over the legislature), destroys the independence of the judiciary, and stipulates the full suspension of what remains of democratic rights upon declaration of the so-called ‘state of exception’ on such ludicrous grounds as economic crisis and natural calamity. Since the head of the 1980 military junta, General Evren, will be the first president under the new constitution, it is fair to say that the military still retains control over the political life of the country.

But it is not only the working class or sections of the petty-bourgeoisie which are forcibly excluded from political life and denied their democratic rights. The traditional parties of the bourgeoisie, the JP and the RPP, are also barred, at least for the moment, from participating in the structures of the new political regime. Only three new parties were authorised to run in the November 1983 elections, all of them headed by various figures of the dictatorship period. There have certainly been serious conflicts among bourgeois political forces in the struggle over participation in the new ‘democratic’ regime, but it should be emphasised that what is at stake in these conflicts is not the regime itself but the question of who will represent the bourgeoisie within the framework of this regime. Whether those parties which claim the legacy of the traditional bourgeois parties are later allowed to join the band or not, the new regime can be characterised, according to the old and time-proven Spanish distinction, as a dictablanda (mild dictatorship) replacing a dictadura (strong-handed dictatorship).

Herein lies the most important aspect of the balance-sheet of the military dictatorship. It has accomplished the task that no bourgeois political force was able to carry out in the last fifteen years: it has demolished the post-1960 system which was the very stake of the stormy class struggles of the 1970s. It has, thereby, sealed the victory of the bourgeoisie over the working class and set up the legal and political framework which is meant to perpetuate, to constantly reproduce, this new balance of class forces in Turkey.

But this balance-sheet is necessarily provisional. The new order will last only as long as the present balance of class forces remains unchallenged. A renewed combativity of the working class, carrying in its wake the poor peasantry and oppressed sectors of the urban bourgeoisie, not to speak of Kurdish nationalist movements, can sweep away the regime meticulously constructed by the junta over the years. The preconditions for such a mobilisation are certainly not yet in sight, but if and when it occurs, when working masses take the lead, there is no knowing in advance where the movement will stop. It may then well turn out to be the case that, either way, the post-1960 system has already been irreversibly delivered to the archives of recent history.


This long journey through twentieth-century Turkish history has enabled us to answer the two questions that were posed at the beginning of this article. A synthetic view of the development of capitalism and of the relations among the various classes provides the key elements through which one can understand both the periodic recurrence of military interventions and the very specific nature of the present military dictatorship.

The first feature, the periodic interventions of the military, has commonly been attributed to the ‘autonomous’ nature of the army and the perenniality of the Kemalist ideology of tutelage over society still permeating the ranks of this army. This type of analysis evades the decisive question of the causes of the persistence of the political and ideological phenomena that it evokes. Such forces do not arise in a vacuum but are daily reproduced by class relations, or else they cease to be determining. One has, therefore, to be able to explain both the genesis and the constant reproduction of these ideological and political features of Turkish society.

Historically, the strong and active state that was to accompany the rise of capitalism in Turkey was, first and foremost, a product of the congenital weakness of the Turkish bourgeoisie vis-à-vis other classes and class fractions. Its fragility in the face of competition from international imperialist capital and its violent struggles with the other ethnic fractions of the Ottoman bourgeoisie forced it to rely enormously on the former cadres of the old state. Its fear of the subaltern classes resulted in an exclusivist revolution that produced a non-democratic form of state, in the running of which only the ruling classes could participate. Its interpenetration with, and dependence on the political support of, the big landowning classes precluded an agrarian revolution and hampered future bourgeois governments in their dealings with the rural propertied classes.

All of this made the bourgeoisie viscerally dependent on the state and, in particular, on its coercive organ, the armed forces. This dependence and the ensuing absence of political and ideological hegemony was later taken over by the most modern wing of this class, the industrial bourgeoisie. If this class fraction had recourse to the military enforcement of its interests, both during its rise to domination (1960) and the consolidation of its power (1971 and 1980), this was due both to its continuing weakness and to the feeble tradition of bourgeois hegemony over society.

The absence of an agrarian revolution during the passage to bourgeois society brought the industrial bourgeoisie face to face with increasingly formidable problems. Caught between the backward rural propertied classes and the working class, it was again and again forced to seek shelter in the rule of the military. This abdication of political authority in exchange for victory over much feared opponents usually cost the bourgeoisie dear by unleashing an uncontrolled dynamic within the specific structures set up by the military. But, addicted to such solutions, the bourgeoisie has been an unrepentant recidivist. In short, the continuing weight of the army in political life is constantly reproduced by the political impotence of the Turkish bourgeoisie.

Despite this shared characteristic of the various military interventions of the last three decades, there are radical differences among these episodes, and especially between 1960 and the subsequent ones, which are as important as the similarities. A discourse that imputes these different events to the same superficial motive of the army to restore power to a supposedly independent ‘bureaucracy’ is the hallmark of a certain reductionism. Each military intervention was the product of a different conjuncture of class struggles and of a different phase of the development of capitalism. The historical significance of each is different, as are their immense political consequences.

The 1960 coup was the product of an urban coalition led by the industrial fraction of the bourgeoisie. A coalition that included such subaltern classes as the working class and the urban petty-bourgeoisie was the background to the introduction of many civil and political rights and liberties into Turkish political life with the advent of the post-1960 system. But the fact that this coalition rose to power only through a military coup left its imprint on the post-1960 system in the form of the quasi-constitutionalised supervision of the military over political life. Hence the contradictory nature of the post-1960 system.

The context of class struggles had changed completely on the eve of the second round. By 1971, the working class was on its way to becoming an independent political force, carrying in its wake the poor peasantry, sections of the urban bourgeoisie and the student movement. This explains the paradox that the big industrial bourgeoisie, the eminence grise behind the post-1960 system, tried, only a decade later, to roll back the same system. But the attempt was precocious and it was defeated for reasons already invoked.

It was only in the third round of 1980 that both the contradictions of capital accumulation and class struggles came to a head. The contradictory line-up of forces in 1971, both on the national and international level, was surpassed by the urgent need to find viable solutions for the continued domination of capital in Turkey. The result was a successful repetition of the failed 1971 intervention under changed historical circumstances. If 1980 was the ‘restoration’ of anything, it was the restoration of the unchallenged domination of the bourgeoisie over the working masses – a domination that had increasingly been challenged in the two decades preceding the coup.

The radical difference in the historical significance of successive military interventions owes a great deal to the changing relationship between the bourgeoisie and the army as an institution of bourgeois society. With the development of capitalism and the rise to domination of its modern industrial fraction, the bourgeoisie has increasingly been able to mould the ideological and political tendencies of the army to its specific needs.

A much emphasised aspect of the symbiosis between the industrial bourgeoisie and the army is the rapid growth, in the 1960s and the 1970s, of a large holding company tied to the military officer corps through the mutual assistance fund of the army. OYAK, as it is called, has now become one of the giants of Turkish industry, with stakes in many branches, even engaged in joint ventures with foreign capital. The ups and downs of capital accumulation were, hence, bitterly experienced by the military staff directly. However, a one-sided emphasis on this feature should be avoided carefully. The close relationship between the two social forces in question owes much more to the role of the army as the final guarantor of the survival of bourgeois society – and it is ultimately the massive mobilisation of the working class in the period 1968-1977 that led to the uncritical alignment of the army on the positions of the bourgeoisie.

The fundamentally different nature of the 1980 coup with respect particularly to the 1960 coup comes out all the more strikingly when its implications for the future development of Turkey are considered. This brings us to the heart of our second question: viewed from a long-term perspective, the present period will, in all probability, prove to be a turning point in the history of Turkish capitalism. A turning point with respect to the pattern of capital accumulation: after half a century of accumulation based on the internal market, Turkish capital will now be facing the fierce competition of international markets. Every single aspect of social relations will be profoundly influenced by this new orientation. Most importantly, relations between capital and labour, both on the market for labour power and within the labour process, will be profoundly marked by the new course. A turning point also with respect to the structures of the state, with the demise of the post-1960 system and the rise of a new political framework.

But also a turning point with respect to the relations among the various ruling classes. The former contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the rural propertied classes over the transfer of agricultural surplus to industry is likely to recede to the background, for agriculture and agro-industry are two areas where capital accumulation in the foreseeable future will be concentrated.49 In other words, the Turkish big bourgeoisie is itself on the way to becoming an industrial-financial-agricultural bourgeoisie. This will alter the relations between capital and agriculture, and after an initial struggle over domination in agriculture, is likely to lead to an exacerbation of class differentiation and new forms of class struggle in the countryside.

The relations of Turkish capital with imperialist capital will also be affected. With the new course of accumulation, accompanied by the pacification of the working class and the consolidation of an authoritarian regime, it is not improbable that the flow of foreign productive capital, especially American, should accelerate considerably. There are already signs in this direction, although highly exaggerated by friend and foe alike. The fact that Turkish capital has already penetrated commercially Middle Eastern markets gives it the advantage of being, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, ‘a stable economic gateway to the Middle East’.50

Hence, an entirely new line-up of class forces is likely to mark the future of Turkey. This new situation points to the replacement, in the long term, of old contradictions by new ones. Aided by its increasing alliance with imperialist capital, the Turkish big bourgeoisie may be able to move out of the straitjacket of ‘capitalism in a single country’, but its future fate will be increasingly subordinated to the dictates of the fitful and capricious development of world capitalism. It may finally come to truce with the big landowning classes, but probably at the end of serious struggles over the new setup in the countryside. And the agrarian problem will certainly continue to haunt it by deepening class struggles in the village. But, most important of all, it will have to face, sooner or later, the most fundamental barrier to capital, in all countries and for all times. When the proletariat sheds its temporary quiescence and turns into a living political force again, it may well be the very existence of the mode of production based on capital and the whole social formation that will be on the order of the day.

  1. To give an idea of the extent of this exodus, it can be pointed out that between 1919 and 1926, some 1.3 million Greeks left what is now Turkey. See J.P. Derriennic, Le Moyen-Orient au XXe siècle, Paris, 1980, pp 62-63.
  2. This fear of the bourgeoisie is what explains the cold-blooded murder of fifteen members of the Communist Party of Turkey, among them its top leaders, upon their passage to Anatolia in early 1921, the subsequent formation of an official communist party manipulated by the Kemalist movement, and the suppression of the only independent peasant organisation, the Yeşil Ordu.
  3. It is interesting to note the divergent paths taken by Egypt and Turkey during the 1930s. Foreign capital, which had remained indifferent to Turkish overtures during this period, invested in Egypt. See, for instance, P. Clawson, ‘The Development of Capitalism in Egypt‘, Khamsin 9, 1981 p 89. The difference can be attributed to the fact that while Egypt was still under British domination, Turkey had experienced a long and bitter war and a revolution – which, independent of the intentions of new rulers of the country, discouraged imperialist capital. However, it must be added that it is rather Egypt that seems to be the exception, for Turkey’s experience is much more in line with the general pattern of the 1930s, manifested, for instance, in Latin America.
  4. See, for example, C. von Braünmühl, ‘On the Analysis of the Bourgeois Nation State within the World Market Context’, in State and Capital, J. Hollway/S. Picciotto (eds.), London, 1978, pp 171-174. Even in England the state was highly active in the process of primitive accumulation, be it through coercion applied to the new proletariat or the colonial plunder of foreign peoples. See Marx’s discussion of primitive accumulation in the first volume of Capital.
  5. See M. Capanella, Economia e stato in Rosa Luxemburg, Bari, 1977, pp 15-84. Also relevant in this context is Trotsky’s interpretation of the specific pattern of the development of capitalism in Russia in, among others, Results and Prospects.
  6. Other countries were to take the same route after the second world war, the prominent example being Nasser’s Egypt.
  7. Y. Kepenek, Türkiye Ekonomisi (The Turkish Economy), Ankara, 1983, p 127; Ç. Keyder, Toplumsal Tarih Çabjmalarz (Studies on Social History), Ankara, 1983, p 240; Z.Y. Hershlag, Turkey: the Challenge of Growth, 2nd ed., Leiden, 1968, p 150.
  8. Ibid, p 138.
  9. Y.S. Tezel, Cumhuriyet Döneminin Iktisadî Tarihi 1923-1950 (Economic History of the Republican Era), Ankara, 1982, p 424.
  10. Kepenek, op cit, p 55.
  11. There is a vast economic literature on the subject. For a useful Marxist account in English see A. Lipietz, ‘Towards Global Fordism?’, New Left Review, 132, April-March 1982. See also P. Tissier, ‘L’industrialisation dans huit pays asiatiques depuis la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale’, Critiques de l’Economie Politique, 14, new series, January-March 1981.
  12. F. Yagci, ‘Turkish Manufacturing Industry: A General Evaluation’, 1981, Unpublished Manuscript, Table 2, p 5, and I. El-Zaim, ‘The Industrial Patterns of Islamic Countries’, Unpublished Manuscript, n.d., p 18.
  13. Yagci, op cit, p 4.
  14. Tezel, op cit, p 100.
  15. Kepenek, op cit, p 175.
  16. Ibid, p 353.
  17. Ibid and Hershlag, op cit, p 167.
  18. Though protection in Turkey was by no means as exorbitant as latter-day neo-liberals try to make it seem. A single comparison will show that elsewhere protection was strikingly similar. In Brazil, nominal protection in the mid-60s, i.e. before the neo-liberal assault, has been calculated to be 99%. (See B. Balassa, ‘Incentive Policies in Brazil’, World Development, v.7, 1979, p 1025.) An estimation of average tariffs in Turkey states that nominal tariffs ranged between 30 and 60 per cent but with various surcharges nominal protection reached 100 per cent (See Yagci, op cit, p 16.) a fixed exchange-rate system whereby the national currency was, in general, kept overvalued with respect to its market rate; low interest rates fixed by the state, which provided industrial capital with low-cost financial funds; widespread state investment; large scale state subsidies to elements of both variable and constant capital; heavy dependence on foreign money capital (credit) etc. There was one specific aspect of the Turkish scene, however, about which a few words ought to be said. This was planning.

    A combined result of the experience of the thirties and the demands of the industrial bourgeoisie and of international financial organisations in the fifties against the chaos in economic policy that reigned under the DP, the State Planning Organisation was set up in the wake of the 1960 coup. It was to prepare, under the control of successive governments, four five-year plans in the period 1963 to 1982, of which the fourth was scrapped in the turmoil of the economic crisis that set in in 1977. These plans were wider in scope than the so-called ‘industrialisation plans’ of the 1930s in that they were not restricted to the industrial sector but encompassed the whole range of economic and social activities.

    Turkish planning bore, of course, no resemblance to socialist planning in the context of socialised means of production – for, as is euphemistically put, the plans were ‘imperative’ only for the public sector, but ‘indicative’ for the private. Furthermore, from the very beginning the planning authorities opted for a very heavy dependence on the price mechanism, with the implication that the plans were only second-rate buttresses for the failures of the law of value.

    With this orientation it should come as no surprise that plans in fact did not lead the economy but were, on the contrary, guided by it.[19. Y. Küçük, Planlama, Kalkmma ve Türkiye (Planning, Development and Turkey), Istanbul, 1971, pp 256-61 and Kepenek, op cit, p 300.

  19. Ibid.
  20. For an analysis of the working class movement in Turkey and the Kurdish left, see M. Salâh’s article in this issue of Khamsin. Also, A. Samim, ‘The Tragedy of the Turkish Left’, New Left Review, 126, March-April 1981.
  21. I. Bulmuş, ‘Türkiye’de Tanmsal Taban Fiyat Politikasl ve Etkileri’ (Agricultural Support Price Policy in Turkey and its Consequences), ODTÜ Gelij’ne Dergisi, Special Issue, 1981, p 557.
  22. Ibid, pp 556-57, Tables 3 and 4.
  23. Y. Küçük, Bir Yeni Cumhuriyet Için (For a New Republic), Istanbul, 1980, p 531; Kepenek, op cit, p 332.
  24. See Bulmuş, op cit, pp 562-64, Tables 5 to 7.)
  25. The Economist, (‘Survey on Turkey’), 12 September 1981, quoted in News From Turkey of the Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Turkey, No. 11, July 15 – October 30, 1981.
  26. Converted, it is true, at the official exchange-rate and therefore somewhat over-estimated, this figure gives nonetheless an idea of the situation in the period 1972-1976. Calculated from OECD, Turkey, OECD Economic Surveys, Paris, 1981, p 56, Table B.
  27. There was, however, a considerable amount of foreign capital inflow before the onset of the Great Depression. See K. Boratav, Türkiye’de Devletçilik (Statism in Turkey), Istanbul, 1974, pp 41-4 7; Ç. Keyder, Dünya Ekonomoisi Içinde Türkiye 1923-1929, Ankara, 1982, pp 89-91 (originally published in English as The Definition of a Peripheral Economy: Turkey 1923-1929, Cambridge, 1981); Y. Küçük, Türkiye Üzerine Tezler, (Theses on Turkey), Istanbul, 1978, pp 48-59.
  28. In the fifties, approximately 40% of foreign productive capital in Turkey originated from the US, while the West German share was around 10%. The situation was reversed in the 1960s and 1970s. At the end of 1980, US firms had only a share of 11%, while the corresponding figure for West Germany had risen to 33%. The figure for the EEC nine was 62.5%, an absolute majority. (Figures calculated from Kepenek, op cit, p 141 and Table IX.3, p 278.) The same trend was observable for foreign trade.
  29. Eralp, ‘Türkiye’de Izlenen Ithal Ikameci Kalkmma Stratejisi ve Yabancl Sermaye’ (Import Substitutionist Development Strategy in Turkey and Foreign Capital), ODTÜ Gelişme Dergisi, Special Issue, 1981.
  30. For a useful historical survey of Turkey’s relations with international finance, see I.C. Schick/E. Tonak, ‘International Finance and the Foreign Debt Dimension of Turkey’s Economic Crisis’, The Insurgent Sociologist, v.X, No 3, 1981.
  31. Even those ‘exemplary’ export-led economies cherished by international neo-liberalism, such as South Korea and Brazil, went through this stage for shorter or longer periods. The specialists of the World Bank seem to be confused on the question of whether this stage is necessary or not. While most of them exalt the timeless merits of the so-called export-led growth ‘strategy’, more serious studies published by the Bank seem to feel obliged to grant, albeit elliptically, the necessity of another ‘strategy’ at a certain initial stage of industrialisation. For an example of this latter view, see K. Dervis, J. de Melo, S. Robinson, General Equilibrium Models for Development Policy, Washington, 1982, p 109.
  32. Figures from K. Ebiri et al., Growth and Development of the Turkish Manufacturing Economy, Ankara, 1979, cited in Yagci, op cit, p 14.
  33. T. Bulutay, ‘Türkiye’nin 1950-1980 Dönemindeki Iktisadî Büyümesi Üzerine Düşünceler’ (Reflections on the Economic Growth of Turkey in the 1950-1980 Period), ODTÜ Gelişme Dergisi, Special Issue, 1981.
  34. Yagci, op cit, p 2, Table 1.
  35. OECD, op cit, p 62, Table H.
  36. Kepenek, op cit, p 273, Table IX.1, and OECD, op cit, p 67, Table M.
  37. From US $145 million in 1974, short term credits under what was known as ‘convertible deposits’ rose steeply to $1 billion in 1975 to reach $3.1 billion in 1978. See Kepenek, op cit, p 289.
  38. Quite a lot can be learned through an international comparison of those countries which have adopted a similar programme. Most pertinent is the case of various Latin American countries. There is a vast international literature on the question. To cite only the most compact English-language source, see the special issue of World Development on ‘Economic Stabilisation in Latin America: Political Dimensions’, v.8, 1980.
  39. Calculated on the basis of OECD, op cit, p 10, Table 2, and OECD, Turkey, OECD Economic Surveys, Paris, 1983, p 11, Table 2.
  40. See for instance TÜSIAD, The Turkish Economy 1980, Istanbul, 1980, which is the annual report of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, an organisation established during the military intervention of 1971-73 and propagating the most representative views of the monopoly bourgeoisie.
  41. Y. Koç, ‘Planh Dönemde Işçi Hareketini Berlirleyen Etkenler’ (Determinants of the Workers’ Movement during the Planned Period), ODTÜ Gelişme Dergisi, Special Issue, 1981, p 307.
  42. See T. Taylan, ‘Turkey: NATO’s Dictatorship’, International, v. 7, No. 2, March 1982.
  43. For a detailed analysis of the first year of the military dictatorship, see ibid, passim.
  44.  There are differing estimations of the fall in real wages during the period late 1980 to 1983. Figures given by credible sources suggest that real wages are now back to their level of 1962, the year before legislation was passed establishing free collective bargaining and the right to strike (although it should not be forgotten that part of this was due to the considerable fall in real wages between 1978 and 1980). On the other hand, official estimations quoted by many foreign and Turkish bourgeois sources, point to an increase in real net wages in 1981, due to the reduction of the tax burden on wages. This contention exploits a partial view of things: it is based on Social Security sources which detail only daily wages. But it is quite well-known (and the bourgeoisie constantly reproached the unions for this) that a sizeable part of the workers’ paybill is made up of benefits in kind, family allowances, social allowances etc. It is precisely these that the Supreme Arbitration Board cut down massively. Therefore, overall real net wages did not increase, but, in all probability, seriously declined even in 1981.
  45. See Schick/Tonak, op cit, p 74.
  46. Official capital movements into Turkey leapt from US $0.9 billion in 1979 to $2.1 billion in 1980, and stayed between $1.5-1.8 billion subsequently. See OECD, 1983, p 29, Table 12.
  47. A single example will show the extent of the bias of new-published statistics. At the beginning of 1982, private investment for 1981 was declared to have increased by 0.6%, but later the figure was revised so as to show a decrease of… 8.8%! Compare OECD, Turkey, OECD Economic Surveys, Paris, 1982, Table 2, p 10, and OECD, op cit, 1983 Table 2, p 11. It should be noted that the OECD has used, in this case, the official figures supplied by the Turkish government.
  48. Kepenek, op cit, p 574, Table 21.4b.
  49.  Witness the OECD: ‘…Turkey’s principal human and natural economic potential is still relatively unexploited. In agriculture, where the majority of the people earn a living, productivity is comparatively low and could be raised through a larger endowment of resources, which hitherto have tended to be concentrated on industry. Turkey could become a considerable exporter of food, notably to the Middle Eastern and North African countries.’ OECD 1983, p 48.
  50. Wall Street Journal, April 25, 1983.