by Maksud Djavadov (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 2, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1435)
Unfortunately, accurate statistics about a country’s economy are always hard to come by. Whatever data is available, however, can be used to analyze its true situation. We start this series by looking at Turkey.
In a series of articles, Maksud Djavadov will examine the economic condition of various Muslim countries in order to determine the underlying reasons for their lack-lustre performance.
When evaluating any country’s economy, it must be viewed as a continuation of its socio-political orientation and situation. The economic weakness and dislocation of Muslim countries is the direct result of their socio-political and military subjugation by imperialist-Zionist powers. That is the reason why economics alone is not sufficient to explain economic problems. Thus, economists invented the discipline of political economy. The current series of economic evaluations will analyze this in light of political economy. Our political economic evaluation does not aim to produce concrete economic solutions. This requires access to real data which governments themselves often find impossible to collect. The aim is to present the existing conditions without hiding behind economic jargon and offer general options of a political economic nature that can create a more just, peaceful and prosperous world.
Since the time Turkey joined NATO, the Western imperialist regimes have been projecting it as the so-called role model for the Muslim world. Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) was elected to power in 2002, the marketing campaign of Turkey as a role model of what an Islamic government should look like went into overdrive. Since 2003 the main emphasis has been on the economic improvement achieved under the AKP government. Therefore, let us take a look at some of the economic data we consider to be crucial in evaluating the economic future and conditions of Turkey.
The assessment of the above-cited data strictly from a classical economic point of view in terms of cost and benefit analysis cannot present an accurate picture of Turkey. What does this mean in practice? In September 2012, the US Census Bureau released its data on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage for 2011. The report attempted to present the economic situation as improving (what else could it say?), mainly through complex technical jargon that most Americans would not understand. For example, many people worldwide do not know that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not consider people unemployed if they have not looked for work in the past four weeks. The economic labyrinth of the US state apparatus is full of similar technical fraud schemes. The reality is that the modern economic mindset is an approach enforced and regulated by the US and its Western allies. Therefore, states and regimes strategically allied with the US use the same or similar approach to economics for intellectual, political and economic reasons. Simply put, due to the manipulative nature of capitalist economic dogma, economic data means different things to different people and can be easily twisted for all sorts of purposes.
It cannot be denied that Turkey is one country in the Muslim world that economically is doing better than others. It is not because Turkey is in great economic shape; it is because other localities in the Muslim world are in worse condition due to foreign meddling that takes different shapes, whether through a proxy war as in Syria or the imposition of a corrupt and inefficient regime like in Jordan or Saudi Arabia.
Taking into consideration the “service” Turkey has done to Western regimes during the Cold War and since, Turkey’s inclusion into contemporary economic game is necessary for Western powers as they want to utilize Turkey as a strategic asset in the Muslim world. Western powers have to make sure that Turkey is in a functioning economic state in order to continue benefiting from its hard and soft power. Turkey will remain within the Western power orbit in the near future and if it ever attempts to significantly distance itself from the Western power circuit, it will be turned into what Syria is today. Therefore, realistic alternative economic options for Turkey today are limited within the Western economic thought. Any sort of alternative economic policy resembling Venezuela will unleash the wrath of the oppressive global economic power centers. Nevertheless, there are sets of policy options that Turkey can pursue in its present condition that would radically change its economic dependence on the West and strengthen it economically. Here are some of the economic options Turkey could pursue without triggering the harsh reaction of Western powers.
As mentioned above the economic policy of a state is a continuation of its socio-political orientation. Readers may legitimately ask why we do not emphasize the establishment of an Islamic economic system in Turkey and how this could be achieved. All Islamic schools of jurisprudence and experts agree that to implement Islamic economic principles, other state policies and the society in general must adhere to Islamic precepts. It would be impossible to implement the Islamic economic model in a country where the government and society do not use Islamic laws as the reference point in policy formulation just like it would be impossible to implement socialist economic model in a society where the state and society are governed by capitalist dogmas. Nevertheless, the above general policy options could lead to a more self-sufficient economic situation in Turkey that would bring about more genuine changes toward an Islamic direction. This can only be achieved if other changes take place in Turkey in parallel with the proposed economic changes. The AKP’s experience shows that superficial symbols of Muslim attributes within a foreign imposed system cannot produce genuine change.
The AKP’s so-called economic miracle upon which its electoral success is based is a product of Western acceptance of its worldview and principles. Naturally the moment that worldview steps out of line, economic screws will be tightened. Despite this, the AKP has done a reasonable job in playing the economic game in advancing its own agenda. In the long run, however, this approach is not sustainable. The main weakness of the current economic setup is the fact that it is not aimed at radically reducing wealth inequality or redistributing wealth in Turkey; this would require implementation of policies that are fundamentally opposed to the contemporary economic mindset. Taking existing conditions into account that are present in Turkey and in its vicinity, economic policy alterations will never be enough if they are not accompanied by other social and political reforms geared toward social justice.