German incitement to hatred, Turkish referendum & hemorrhaging European Neoliberalism - II
by Omar Kassem on 27 Apr 2017 1 Comment

So what were Kahl and BILD up to? Atatürk is a totemic figure in ultranationalist circles, and Gülenists, to whom they were appealing, are largely ultranationalist. They are, furthermore, deeply ensconced in Turkish coup history. Gülen backed the 1980 military coup by General Kenan Evren, and became a purveyor of Ataturkism. At that time the West was panicking about Khomeini’s 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Much later Gülen would back yet another military coup, this time in 1997 against his supposedly close friend and ally, Islamic politician Necmettin Erbakan.


With this background in coup-culture, Gülen joined Erdogan in the AKP project in 2001, until they fell out when Erdogan launched the “Kurdish Opening” in 2009, which sought to make inroads into the Kurdish problem in Turkey, legalising the use of the Kurdish language, launching Kurdish studies in schools and universities and allowing Kurdish media. The Kurdish Opening involved a reconciliation process with the Kurds which, as an ultranationalist, Gülen couldn’t stomach. Gülen would always take a hard line on the Kurdish question (Assange 2015: 230).


The Kurdish Opening involved trying to defuse the situation with the militant Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Gülen’s followers in the police wiretapped Hakkan Fidan, Erdogan’s MIT chief, while he met with PKK representatives in an Oslo hotel on five occasions between December 2009 and January 2010. They released the tapes to the press on the basis that the government was negotiating with a proscribed terrorist organisation, causing a furore in nationalist circles. Gülen later tried to have Fidan arrested on that charge while Erdogan lay in hospital. Ever since, he and Erdogan have been enemies and Gülen’s followers in the police and judiciary would lay ambush after ambush for the Turkish leader.


The Kurdish issue has always been at the centre of Turkish politics, exploited by factions in and out of country for different political ends. The same would be the case in the April referendum.


In order to pass the legislation for the referendum campaign in parliament the AKP had no choice but to partner the Nationalist Party (MHP) with Devlet Bahçeli at its head, given the refusal by Kiliçdaroglu and the CHP, and by the HDP, to countenance such a move. However, while Bahçeli delivered the necessary votes in parliament to pass the referendum law, his grassroots deserted him.


In fact, the NO campaign was more energised by a dissenting group of MHP members of parliament than by the CHP. Meral Aksener, Koray Aydin, Ümit Özdag, Sinan Ogan and Yusuf Halaçoglu had earlier tried to remove Bahçeli as leader but failed. Furthermore, the leader of this group, Aksener, is widely held to be an ally of Gülen, despite her fervent denials. While Erdogan used to carry the Anatolian vote in his elections in its entirety, Ankara went against him by 51.15%. Those bureaucratic heartlands, with their concentrations of MHP voters, were won over by the dissident ultranationalists for the NO campaign.


Ironically, what seems to have saved the day for Erdogan is the Kurdish vote. Out of 19 Kurdish-majority provinces 10 voted yes (Adiyaman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Kars, Malatya, Mus, and Sanliurfa). Out of 5.5m people in those areas, 3m voted YES or 54.5%; the crucial development being, however, of a shift in votes which occurred in NO-voting areas like Hakkari, Sirnak, and eastern Agri (as well as YES areas like Mus) compared with the November 2015 AKP results.


This handed close on 1m votes to bail out the YES camp and defeat the ultranationalist insurgency supported by the German state. It was said that suggestions of a federalist solution to the Kurdish problem, which Erdogan might seek had he the presidential powers to do so, angered the ultranationalists: perhaps, but there was also the fact of the attempted stitch-up. Within hours of the failure of the insurrection the dissident MHP MPs were appealing to Bahçeli to keep them on.


European Neoliberalism and the German hegemon


What kind of Germany is it which is behind this aggressive posture towards Turkey? German dominates the European economy, but the fault lines are clear if we consider the region’s sharp imbalances. TARGET 2 (Trans-European Automated Real Time Gross Adjustment System) sees the Bundesbank at this time of writing advancing over EURO 7,800 billion to the European Central Bank (ECB) to finance (primarily) Spain and Italy according to Greenspan.


Greece may have been crushed like a gnat, but Italy is a different matter. Breaking all EU, ECB and IMF rules, its largest bank – Monte dei Paschi - was bailed out, but bad debt in all Italian banks is quickly running up again as they are forced to absorb more and more public debt (running at 133% of Italian GDP). Italy – the 8th largest economy in world – has had negative growth since joining the EURO in 2002. Stifled by the terms on which it trades with Germany, some of the most productive businesses in the world – the Milanese and Lombard fashion, car and furniture designers, textile manufacturers, printers, artists, and restorers, chemical, bio and agritech engineers – most of them with legendary names – have been crucified over the past 15 years. They have to, and are going to come out of the EURO. The ECB meanwhile frets about how TARGET2 can be paid down when that happens.


Neoliberalism was invented by the Germans. Economists Alexander Rüstow and Wilhelm Röpke extolled this concept as a “third way” between state socialism and laissez-faire capitalism (Nicholls 1994: 96). At a conference organised in Paris in 1938 by philosopher Louis Rougier to honour Walter Lippmann upon the publication of the French translation of his An Enquiry into the Principles of the Good Society, Rüstow commented on the impossibility of achieving social justice with a standard “liberal” laissez-faire doctrine.


He sought a “neoliberal” alternative, in which a strong state would legislate and police a decentralised competitive system, structured to avoid cartels, where natural monopolies would be run for the equal benefit of all. After the launch of this new utopia, the state would play no further active role other than to keep it on track. Even social security would be legislated for at the outset and would come out the earnings of individuals, with only a very basic redistributional factor. Everybody thought this was good idea, even, in the beginning, Milton Friedman (1951).


But after the idea had travelled through various think tanks – which Friedrich von Hayek called “second-hand dealers in ideas” – and landed on Friedman’s brother-in-law’s desk at the Chicago Law School, the man in question – Aaron Director – noticed a problem. In the US, the state is not truly autonomous (Domhoff 1986), and Neoliberalism as conceived by Rüstow was therefore impossible. So he did what every good lawyer does and forced a strained reinterpretation that aligned with the actual US system of corporate liberalism (Van Horn in Emmett 2010: 204-237).


This is what we understand today as Neoliberalism and what the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), led by Pehr G. Gyllenhammar (Volvo CEO), and infiltrated by the CIA (Ulfkotte 2014:199) brought about in the European Commission’s Single European Act (February 1986), followed by the EU, the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and the EURO (2002).


Just as Italy’s businesses have suffered, Erdogan’s constituency among the members of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD), and the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (MÜSIAD) have suffered under the shackles of the terms of the Customs Union, that currently makes it difficult for Turkey to outgrow the “middle-income trap”.


Rüstow’s “Neoliberalism” became known as “Ordoliberalism” (after the ORDO periodical) to differentiate it from the Friedman-Director Chicago doctrine. The brochure entitled the Düsseldorf Principles [Düsseldorfer Leitsätze] published in July 1949 which launched the CDU/CSU, originally contained all the Ordoliberal buzz-words: “economic advantage and social justice for all”, “genuine competition”, “independent monopoly control” where “social” did not refer to a wealth-transferring welfare state apparatus, but rather to a policy of competition which indirectly would allow the formation of private social security funds (Leaman 1988: 51-52).


As Jeremy Leaman writes, this model failed ultimately because it defied ‘... the reality of an internationalised market dominated by highly concentrated blocks of capital which are essentially immune to the isolated tinkering of individual nations’ (1988: 58). Although the “Law against Restraints on Competition”, passed in July 1957 became Germany’s “Basic Law of the Economy”, it was a mere ‘...caricature of an anti-monopoly law...’ in which ‘...the original idea was barely discernible... [and was] clearly a capitulation to those very interests it was seeking to control, as the historical development of capital concentration in West Germany shows’ (1988: 61).


The German nation went on from there essentially to live a lie. CDU ideologues went on to emphasise ‘... not monopoly control as the “social” attribute of the economic order, but the social security system attributable to the original Ordoliberal conception’ (1988: 74). This was supposed now to be the “specialness” of Germany. The betrayal of the original idea, however, came back to bite them, because, ever since the initial 1950s and 1960s post-war reconstruction boom, the system has stalled and the old growth rates, generated from the rubble of Allied bombing sites, could never be recovered in an oxygen-deficient oligopolistic economic environment.


Horst Siebert’s warnings back in 2005 about Germany’s sclerotic performance ushered in the CDU reign of Angela Merkel to reform the very social security system (HARZ reforms) that earlier CDU ideologues had reified as Germany’s “specialness”. But this was yet another lie, because the regeneration of Germany’s fortune had ultimately little to do with the HARZ reforms and more to do with the élite’s ability to reduce the real wage and therefore boost growth through neocolonialism.


Reunification with East Germany was followed by the Drang nach Osten under the NATO umbrella, which Trump now begrudges Merkel, to begin the process of acquiring neo-colonies. This ended up dividing Ukraine, in which project Axel Springer helped the BND by demonising the Russians as Ulfkotte tirelessly explains in his book. But this was part of a long process which started in the 1990s when Yugoslavia was destroyed in a civil war, launched by Germany’s backing of Franco Tujman’s Croatian declaration of independence with the demonisation of the Serbs in the German press giving Tujman cover for the ethnic cleaning which started with the battle (massacre) of Borovo Selo in May 1991. This new Germany has a lot to answer for.


The BND’s and Axel Springer’s policy of inciting Erdoganophobia has run since about 2007, although it doesn’t seem to have made much difference to Erdogan’s progress. The Turkish establishment has broadly rallied around him from the days when historian and Figaro columnist Alexandre Adler was explaining how European élites were taking the Turks for fools ‘... deliberately pursuing hypocritical maneuvers of forces hostile to Turkey, within Europe, that are lighting a wick of which they do not quite have measure of the capacity for collateral damage... constantly backing PKK terrorism and baiting Turkey with the Armenian question...’, simply using the EU accession talks to bait Turkey. Even today France’s favourite public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy takes it upon himself to do some more baiting.


(To be concluded…) 

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