Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Tue

04

Sep

2007

Turkey and Latin America: Reaction and Revolution
Tuesday, 04 September 2007 09:07
by James Petras

Turkey and Latin America have experienced many similar historical and contemporary political processes and socio-economic changes despite significant cultural and historical differences.
For example, Turkey is the center of a former empire, an Islamic country and member of NATO — Latin America is none of those. For purposes of this article, I want to focus on the contemporary socio-economic and political similarities and differences.
Both Turkey and Latin America have passed form bourgeois-national-statist development models beginning during the 1930s and ending approximately in the latter half of the 20th century. Both Turkey and most countries of Latin America have been ruled by neoliberal regimes. Neoliberalism came to Latin America a decade earlier (1970s) and more intensely than Turkey (1980), but has produced very similar class polarizations. In both areas neoliberalism has led to massive privatizations and the denationalization of banks, industry, telecommunications and other strategic sectors. The process of neoliberalization has passed through three phases in both regions. The first phase of neoliberalism took place shortly after a military coup. Privatization was accompanied by massive corruption, crises, deepening inequalities and the emergence of a kleptocratic state.

The second wave of neoliberalism emerging from the corruption and decadence of the preceding phase was characterized by greater dependence on the IMF and World Bank and attempts to accelerate privatization through stabilization programs to create the bases for the large-scale, long-term invasion of foreign capital.

The third wave of neoliberalism began in the new millennium with the coming to power of neoliberals who combine deepening subordination to foreign capital with ‘poverty programs’ to neutralize popular opposition and incentives to activate the provincial ‘national bourgeoisie.’
In Latin America the first wave of neoliberalism coincides with the military dictatorships of Chile’s Pinochet (1973-1989), Argentine Generals (1976-1984), Uruguay (1972-1985), Bolivia (1971-1984) and Peru (1991-2001). In Turkey the comparable period is the military coup (1980), the military-civilian regime of Turgut Ozal (1983-89) and the unstable coalition regimes from1990-1999.
These regimes laid the groundwork for the neoliberal counter-revolution, by violently suppressing all popular, socialist and militant trade unions, parties and movements. The first wave neoliberals created the beachheads for future large-scale privatization. Because of massive corruption, mismanagement, incompetence and internal political conflicts, combined with inflation and popular revulsion, the first wave neoliberal regimes went into crisis, leading to the second wave of neoliberalism.

The second wave of neoliberal regimes in Latin America combined greater dependence on the IMF, a government of technocrats, finance capital with policies designed to reduce inflation in order to attract foreign capital. In Turkey, the second wave of neoliberalism includes the Bulent-Ecevit-Kemal Dervis regimes (especially March 2001-August 2002) and the first government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2003-2007). In Latin America this second wave coincides with the rise of ex-populists and ex-Marxists turned neoliberals who criticized neoliberalism in their election campaigns but who deepened and extended privatization and de-nationalization once in power. In Argentina, the Peronist President Menem (1980-1989), Brazil ’s Cardoso (1994-2002), Peru ’s Toledo (2001-2006) and Alwyn and Lagos in Chile (1990-2005) represented this trend. The second wave of neoliberalism in Latin America led to a major crisis and breakdown, leading to popular revolts and the overthrow of several neoliberal presidents in Ecuador (2000, 2003 and 2005), Argentina (2001), and Bolivia (2003 and 2005) as well as the election of radical nationalist populist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (1999). In Turkey, the crisis of 1999-2001 led to the election of Ecevit who proceeded to subordinate Turkey to the IMF and appointed former World Bank official Kemal Dervis as Minister of the Economy. Turkey ’s 2001 economic crisis, unlike Latin America, did not lead to a massive popular uprising. Despite this important difference, the crisis of neoliberalism both in Latin America and Turkey led to the rise of pseudo-populist neoliberals (the ‘third wave’), who combined a ‘welfare’ ideology and promotion of the ‘national bourgeoisie’ with the privatization and de-nationalization of all strategic sectors of the economy.

Erdogan in Turkey, Lula in Brazil and Kitchner in Argentina, all combine a rhetoric of social paternalism with right-wing ‘free market’ practices.
The third wave of neoliberalism has benefited from high world market prices for export commodities (metals, agricultural products, energy etc.) and an expanding world economy. But the internal class, ethnic and regional inequalities have deepened.

In Turkey and Latin America the current neoliberal presidents (unlike the past) have several advantages: they have well-organized party apparatuses which reach into popular sectors, have well-funded ‘welfare’ or ‘poverty’ programs to buy the votes of the poorest classes and have been able to disarticulate the left through co-option and selective repression.

Nevertheless, the third wave of neoliberalism faces several severe challenges from within and below and from the appearance of a successful alternative model. In Latin America, the advance of Venezuela’s President Chavez on the road to ‘21st century socialism’ with the nationalization of petroleum, telecommunications and massive free health and education programs has secured widespread popular support from the Latin American masses. Chavez’ progressive socializing policies successfully refute the propaganda that neoliberalism is the ‘only alternative.’ Secondly, major movements of trade unions, urban poor and peasants are on the move again — in Brazil the landless rural workers and public employee unions are now in opposition to Lula. In Argentina and Chile, the teachers and other public sector unions are demanding a greater share of the growing revenue of the state. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales is pressured by the right wing oligarchy and by leftist workers: he must turn left or face defeat by the right. In Ecuador and Peru, the mass movements through massive public demonstrations are challenging the reactionary social democratic regimes.

Equally serious, the financial crises of the US and Europe are having a negative impact on the economies of Turkey and Latin America, weakening the ‘social’ neoliberals.

A new phase of class conflict and social mobilization is challenging the ‘third wave’ neoliberals. In Latin America, it has a bold face in President Chavez, a mass base among the urban and rural poor, and especially with the public employees faced with budget cuts and privatizations.

In Turkey, the left faces the task of winning over the millions of poor migrants in the cities and countryside influenced by Erdogan’s ‘populist’ Islamist image. However as his regime is clearly dominated by urban technocrats tied to financial capital — it is only a question of time when the mask of ‘benign conservatism’ falls and the true face of cruel neoliberalism is revealed.

Despite historical and cultural differences Turkey and Latin America are part of the neoliberal cycle of expansion and crisis. Like Latin America, the response in Turkey will depend on the unity of diverse social forces in a socialist program. In Latin America the wave of popular revolts includes peasant, workers, unemployed workers, indigenous peoples, Afro-Latinos, women, public employees and progressive Christians. In the Turkish context, popular revolts will result from the unity of workers, Kurds, Alavi, peasants, urban poor, People’s Houses, progressive Muslims and public employees. Fundamental to the successful outcome of these struggles is opposition to US, European and Israeli imperialism and their wars against Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Afghanistan and Venezuela. Anti-imperialist struggles can only succeed by confronting their local Turkish and Latin American collaborators — first and foremost Erdogan in Turkey and Lula in Brazil.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). His forthcoming book is Rulers and Ruled (Bankers, Zionists and Militants (Clarity Press, Atlanta). He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.
More from this author:
Texas Versus Tel Aviv: US Policy in the Middle East (8229 Hits)
By James Petras The struggle within the US power structure between the economic empire builders (EEB) and the civilian ...
US-Latin American Relations: Ruptures, Reaction and the Times of the Past (10332 Hits)
by James Petras Introduction Numerous writers, journalists, public officials and academics on the Right and Left have noted changes in...
An Open Letter to the People and Government of the US - James Petras (7965 Hits)
by James Petras (And a Reply to the FARC) On a November 9, 2006, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army, (FARC-EP)...
The US and the Middle East: A “Grand Settlement” Versus the Jewish Lobby (9101 Hits)
by James Petras Chances for a change in the direction of US Middle East policy are extremely unlikely. The reason is the growing power of...
US and Latin America: Overview for 2006 and Perspectives for 2007 - James Petras (7950 Hits)
by James Petras Introduction: Escalation of Warfare To understand US-Latin American relations this year and its likely trajectory ...
Related Articles:
Coming to America: The Disappeared (5107 Hits)
Kissinger and The Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina: America on the Brink of Horror. This blistering Buzzflash editorial deserves to be...
US-Latin American Relations: Ruptures, Reaction and the Times of the Past (10332 Hits)
by James Petras Introduction Numerous writers, journalists, public officials and academics on the Right and Left have noted changes in...
Reclaiming America: Democrats Must Truly Change Course (7591 Hits)
By Ramzy Baroud The Democrats' ascendancy within the US Congress could signal the regaining by the public, of its country's direction. ...
US and Latin America: Overview for 2006 and Perspectives for 2007 - James Petras (7950 Hits)
by James Petras Introduction: Escalation of Warfare To understand US-Latin American relations this year and its likely trajectory ...
A Revolution in a land far away – why is it important to me? (3673 Hits)
by Andy Goodall A Revolution in a land far away – why is it important to me? Over the past few years, a revolution is happening in a land which...


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (1)add comment

a guest said:

0
"People’s Houses"?
Nice shot in the dark. They haven't been around for 40 years, at least.
 
September 04, 2007
Votes: +0

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top