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Imperialism and Turkey’s Development

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Published: Tue, 12 Dec 2017

The Post- Cold war era is considered to be a dramatic era for the western powers to regulate their economic forces and control what so ever left from Soviet Union. In the absence of the Soviet Union, other countries started to imitate the so-called western capitalist way of development. Eventually, the western influence over the third world countries increased, and through globalization and liberalism they intervened in their political and economical affairs. The westerners define globalization as a system that leads the nations to interact with each other and interchange the political, economical and cultural ideas. The Modern Globalization left no way for third world countries (periphery) to resist the entrance of first world countries (center) into their national affairs. The Modern Turkey is an example of developing countries. Since the last 20 years Turkey started to develop, they did that by installing a capitalist system in order to manage their economy. Turkey as a backward agricultural country became a developing industrialized country and Turkish elites started to force the government to intervene with other countries to find markets. In this paper I will argue that Turkey is developing through Imperialism. I will try to support my argument by providing and stating Hobson’s view on Imperialism.

Three waves of Imperialism:

The imperialist wave as the product of Capitalist Ideology went through two stages and the third stage is still going on nowadays. The first stage of imperialism started with the Spanish and the Portuguese attacks on the American continent. The first wave started with the Spaniards in the name of spreading Christianity and forcing others to convert to Christianity. Samir Amin one of the New Marxist theorists stated in his article about imperialism and globalization, “For whereas the Catholic Spaniards acted in the name of the religion that had to be imposed on conquered peoples, the Anglo-Protestants took from their reading of the Bible the right to wipe out the “infidels””(Amin). The second wave of imperialism started with the so-called Industrial revolution. The industrial revolutions as it has been stated in the book of Civilization in The West was, “The wave after wave of technological innovation, a constant tinkering and improving of the way in which things were made, which could have the simultaneous effects of cutting costs and improving quality”(Kishlansky, Geary, Brien, 2008:626). This wave of imperialism manifested itself through the European conquest over the continents of Asia and Africa. The age of colonialism as the product of industrial revolution devastated the colonized countries and ruined their societies. During the second wave of imperialism, Britain was the first country who started to conquer countries and make its colonies. Britain First started with India in 1858(Diamond, p: 37). The third wave of Imperialism started with the collapse of the Soviet Union and expiration of nationalist movements in peripheral countries. New movement of the imperialist countries and on the top of them the United States has the same objectives that the two previous waves had. The first world countries are going to intervene in other countries economical and political affairs through the idea of providing democracy. Moreover, about the new wave of imperialism, Samir Amin states, “The objectives of dominant capital are still the same -the control of the expansion of markets, the looting of the earth’s natural resources, the super exploitation of the labor reserves in the periphery” (Amin).

What is Dependency Theory?

However, there have been numerous explanations proposed regarding the situation on the contemporary world. Many intellectuals and philosophers have done some investigations to find the answer for the question, what the main cause could be that made the majority of the countries to be underdeveloped and a small portion of countries developed. After the WWII era a group of new Marxist thinkers developed a theory that later on came to be known as dependency theory. According to this theory, capitalism has divided and pierced the contemporary world for two groups, at the top we have the center, which consist of the developed countries and in the bottom we have the periphery, which consist of the underdeveloped countries (UDCs) or third world countries. There have been many definitions regarding dependency theory and all of them are hitting one point, which is division of the world for the center and the periphery. In his investigation about dependency theory, Vincent Ferraro a Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College defined dependency as, “A historical condition which shapes a certain structure of the world economy such that it favors some countries to the detriment of others and limits the development possibilities of the subordinate economics…a situation in which the economy of a certain group of countries is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy, to which their own is subjected”, (Ferraro, July 1996: 2). It could be argued that dependency theory appeared in the time when the western powers decided in 1947 to form an organization called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which later became World Trade Organization (WTO). According to this agreement the members of this organization will reduce the tariffs on imported goods. In reality this organization formed to open the doors for developed countries to interfere into other countries economy. This organization was always criticized by economic thinkers for the reason that sometimes the developed countries were violating the principles of the GATT and also because of prohibiting the goods from under developed countries to be imported into their countries, (Carbaugh, 2008: 211). Most Classical new Marxist theorists have asserted that unequal exchange has resulted in maintaining the situation of the world for developed countries and undeveloped countries. The dependency theorists have established their arguments based on three assumptions, first, International division of labor, and they believe that there are a number of different kind of states in the world and each of them perform a different function in the world economy. First of all, there are states that are in the center of the center and they are the richest and most powerful countries, such as United Sates, United Kingdom and Germany. Then, we have states in the periphery of the center. The third group, we have those in the center of periphery, and the last group and most undeveloped once are those whom considered to be the periphery of periphery. The dependency theorists argue that there is international division of labor between all these countries and they states that core countries are dominance of this international division of labor; and all other countries are working and serving their interests. A class distinction is the second assumption that has been made by dependency theorists. What they mean by that is that in all countries in the world whether its center or periphery there is a clear divides between the rich and the poor. The rich people who are considered to be political and economical elites all cooperate with one another in all different states to insure that they remain in power and that they increase their own wealth. They collaborate with each other to maintain the system (The international System) the way that it is. Global Capitalism is the third assumption that dependency theorists make. They believe that both international divisions of labor and class distinction exist within a wider Global system and this wider global system is characterized as Global Capitalism. They believe that in this system Liberal economic theory dominates theories of trade and theories of finance that all serve the interests of core countries. They believe that capitalism is working in the interests of developed countries. So, as a result all the system, the international division of labor, the class distinctions and the global capitalism all serve the interests of the most powerful and rich countries. They do not serve the interests of developing countries and they do not promote equal opportunities for all countries around the world. Instead the system promotes dominance and exploitation. Therefore, in the perspective of dependency theorists the undeveloped states cannot develop within such a system, while the system is actually designed to prevent them from developing. (Brewer, 2001: 161)

Many new Marxist theorists have written articles and books, and they differently hypothesized the reasons behind maintaining undeveloped countries to be undeveloped. First of all, Paul Baran is considered to be the first one who described the underdevelopment and dependency theory in third world countries. Baran argued that dual economies characterized the third world countries. He further argues that in third world countries they have a large portion of agricultural sector with low profit and a small portion of industrial sector with high profit. He believes that a small group of individuals controlled and dominated the market and prevented others to evolve, which finally led to unequal development. In contrast with Baran, Andre G. Frank identified the causes behind underdevelopment in third world countries in a different way. He traced back the problem for the idea of metropolis and satellites. Frank believed that metropolis countries did not cooperate with satellite countries in the international market, but they always tried to use satellite states to serve their interests. Frank proposed the idea of de-linking to be the solution for satellite states in order to survive from the chains that caused by metropolis states (Keet). Jan Nederveen ,the professor of Global studies at university of California defined delinking in his article about ‘Globalization or delinking;”and said, “Delinking is the refusal to submit to the demands of the world-wide law of value, or the supposed ‘rationality’ of the system of world prices that embody the demands of reproductio of world capital. It, therefore, presupposes the society’s capacity to define an alternative range of crieteria of rationality of internal economic options”(Pieterse 239-242). The third theorist is John A. Hobson which his theory is going to be the main argument in this essay.

Hobson’s theory about Imperialist economy:

One of the classical Marxist theorists, John A. Hobson has genuinely characterized the way that imperialist countries developed and resulted in maintaining others in backwardness. Hobson argues that imperialism is a product of capitalism. Capitalism and its profits create over-production, which leads to concentration in industries. The over-production leads the industries to ask for national force to secure new markets for them, as it has been stated by Hobson the way that entrepreneurs ask the Government, “We must have markets for our growing markets manufactures, and we must have new outlets for the investment of our surplus and for the energies of the adventurous surplus of our population”(Hobson, part I: VI .2). Through industrialization the capitalist states could produce more and more and the entrepreneurs asked the state to find and secure new markets for them. The new Marxist theorists have genuinely predicted the way that capitalism pushes the state forces to navigate for new markets. For Hobson, there is only a given quantity of trade, and when a nation gets some portion of it the other nation will lose some. Hobson tries to say that the idea of trading internationally is something meaningless for undeveloped nations. International trade works on behalf of advanced nations who have great industrial power and other undeveloped nations will shrink. Hobson’s great discussion concentrates on Britain. He further discusses the way that Britain turned to expand and became imperialist. Hobson believes that before other nations develop, Britain was the only economic power in the world and all other countries had to depend on them. When new rivals such as, U.S.A, Germany, and Belgium appeared, Britain had to regulate its business territories in order to remain the only economic power in the world. The domestic entrepreneurs asked the government to use forces in order to find new markets for their over produced goods. They believed if Britain does not use force to find new markets then they should leave the world development for other rivals. It has been stated by Hobson that the imperialism for Britain was “necessary not just a choice”. Hobson believed that the industrial revolution and the machinery evolution made the industries to fall in conflict with each other. The large industries with high capitals started to kick out the weak industries from the market by reducing the price of their goods, so Hobson stated, “In the free competition of manufactures preceding combination the chronic condition is one of “over-production,” in the sense that all mills or factories can only kept at work by cutting prices down towards a point where the weaker competitors are forced to close down, because they cannot sell their goods at a price which covers the true cost of production”, (Hobson, part I:VI 8). He further argues that the large industries came to an agreement to fix the domestic prices and monopolized the market together. When the over production of combined industries such as those in the United States exceeded the demand of home market then they began to look for foreign markets to sell their goods. Hobson dedicated some parts of his theory to stick on with the situation of the United States. He described the United States as an Imperialist who first started with conquering the lands of its neighbors such as the Mexicans then they borrowed the capital from Britain and developed their railroads, mines and manufactures. After they build their own industries, “They employed their savings in seeking investments outside their country,” and afterwards they made “themselves a creditor class to foreign countries”(Hobson, part I: VI 10).

Imperialism and the rise of Turkey:

After WWI, the Ottoman Empire fell apart and the allies in 1918 started to occupy Turkey. The young Turks under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk started to resist strongly. With the help of Soviet Union the Turks could fight the Allies power for five years. In 1923 the Sultans collapsed and this event gave a birth to a new Turkish republic under an absolute leader ‘Mustafa Kemal Attaturk.’ Turkey became a nationalist state. By passing the time, Turkey could rearrange itself through being neutral with all world powers. The Turkish neutrality extended up to post WWII era. When WWII ended and the world divided to two poles, the western pole, which was the United States and its allies, and the eastern pole, which was the Soviet Union. The challenges that were made by Soviet Union on the north eastern border of Turkey made the Turkish government to redefine its foreign policies and broke its silence, Bill Park the author of Modern Turkey book states, “The Cold War had brought Turkey from a position of neutrality into an unequal alliance with Washington, but it had won few other friends, and in some quarters was regarded with considerable suspicion”, (Park, 2012:39). The western powers soon realized about the geographical importance of Turkey to be used against Soviet Union. Ankara realized that it is in their best interest to cooperate with the western powers and became a member of NATO. The first Turkish cooperation with NATO started in 1950 with the Korean War, they send 5,000 Turkish troops to fight aside with the United Nations forces, (Park, 2012:37). It could be argued that the Turkish- Western Relationships was a dual relationship for the reason that both sides wanted to get something. The western powers wanted to guarantee the containment of the soviet expansion in the east through their Turkish ally, and Turkey wanted to achieve some relations with the NATO members, especially those in the European continent in order to rebuild its economic bases through peaceful relationships. Furthermore, Turkey did not only stop by building relations with western powers, but they also aimed to play a greater role in the political field and they started to build some relations with Soviet Union, as one Turkish commentator put it, “from one sidedness to many sidedness”, means that turkey wanted to use the cold war between United States and Soviet Union for its own interest (Park, 2012:41).

It could be argued that Hobson’s explanations about the rise of American imperialism is to some extends convenient with the Turkish rise. Although, Turkey didn’t start by conquering other countries, but like United States they used other countries to rebuild their country. Until late 1980s turkey was borrowing huge amount of money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and in return Turkey was going to follow whatever the international community imposed on him. In addition to its support, the IMF imposed some rules over the Turkish government which later on came to be known as IMF package. IMF asked for several things such as, “Import liberalization, changes in the export regime, removal of price controls, increase in the prices of state economic enterprises, and consolidation and rescheduling of the external debt”, (Owen and Pamuk, 1998: 109).

Turkish economy from semi Dependent to totally Independent:

Before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire up to the years preceding 1980s Turkey was a backward agricultural state. Although, the state was borrowing huge amount of money from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund but the direct involvement of the state into economic sector did not let the country to be stabilized. Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire up to 1980 Turkey went through three military coups (Diamond, p: 261). The last military intervention gave a birth to a reformist, Prime Minister Turgut Ozal who could open Turkish economy and cooperate with the international market. Ozal’s reforms reduced the state intervention in the market. By mid 1980s Turkey increased its exports. The Ozal’s reforms ended the Autarkic economic system that had nailed down its roots during Kemalism and the Nationalism era. The Autarkic economic system was considered to be the factor that made Turkey to be one of the most dependant countries in the world. Bill Park in his book the Modern Turkey described the effects of Ozal’s reform and said, “The wave of industrialization based on the emergence of the export- oriented ‘Anatolian tigers’ from the Ozal period onwards has also helped diversity Turkish relations towards Middle Eastern, central Asian, other former Soviet state, and African markets”, (Park, 2012:77). Those reforms made Turkey to be ready for expansion and increase its influences over neighboring countries in both Asia and Europe. It could be argued that the real Turkish imperialism started with AKP. AKP is Turkish party formed in 2001 who could win the elections in 2002 by winning 363 seats out of 550 seats. The AKP supported the Turkish bureaucrats to invest outside the country. The last two decades of instability in countries bordering with Turkey resulted in creating a good position for Turkey to appear as leading country in the region. The development of industrial sector led Turkey to have over production, which could not be consumed in the home market, so Turkey needs the foreign market to buy its over produced goods. Nowadays, countries that are bordering with Turkey such as, Bulgaria, Greece, and northern part of Iraq (KRG) are willing to have Turkish investors to invest within their countries. According to an article written by Ercan Baysal and published by Today Zaman, Turkish neighbors are willing to allocate land for Turkish investors and firm owners to invest in their countries and hire their local workers in their respective countries (Baysal, 2013). However, Turkey is producing and manufacturing huge amounts of goods, but they cannot be consumed in domestic because like any other capitalist countries the Turkish society has class distinction. The huge areas of south and eastern Anatolia are still making their living based on agriculture while the other parts of western Anatolia are highly industrialized. Hobson states about the capitalist countries who have class distinctions, “Over-production in the sense of an excessive manufacturing plant, and surplus capital which cannot find sound investments within the country, force Great Britain, Germany, Holland, France to place larger and larger portions of their economic resources outside the area of their present political domain, and the stimulate a policy of political expansion so as to take in the new areas”, (Hobson, part I: VI 15).

Recently, with Europe in the ground of crisis and the Arab countries who are facing political upheavals, Turkey started to have great role over the rapid changes in the region. Through its economic power, Turkey started to impose its political influence over the countries in the Middle East. During the last two years, when the Arab revolutions started, Turkey appeared as an active power that supposed to have a leading role in solving the problems especially in Syria. However, Turkey has declared a strategy of Zero problem policy with its neighbors, which means standing business deals, and establishing free trade zone. It has been argued by some intellectuals that Turkey cannot maintain its neutrality among those problems that are going on in its neighboring countries, as Richard Falk, an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University states in his article about Turkey’s Foreign Policy, ” In Syria and Libya the Turkish government was forced to choose between siding with a regime slaughtering its own people and backing a disorganized opposition in its heroic if clouded efforts to democratize and humanize the governing process”, (Falk, 2012). At the time when the crisis began in Syria, Turkey started to have a direct involvement in order to solve the crisis. The Turkish government suggested several ways to solve the Syrian problems but the Assad’s regime rejected. Several months later, Turkey started to ask basher Al-Asad to leave power, (Casilon).

Overall, the dependency theorists have asserted that capitalist system did not exist to help poor countries to evolve. It is obvious that states in the center are going to use capitalism and democracy to intervene in other countries economical and political affairs. Even though, within the metropolis states there is a class distinction, which resulted in dividing the society between rich and poor. The rich people in both center and periphery are cooperating with each other in order to maintain the system to work in their interest. Hobson’s theory asserts that industrialized countries are going to have overproduction, which cannot be consumed at home, so the state is going to be forced by entrepreneurs to find new markets for over-produced goods. Turkey, a new industrialized country is an example of imperialist countries in 21st century. Turkey through its great economic position started to involve in its neighbor’s political and economical affairs. Turkish society like other capitalist societies divided in two groups, rich and poor. Turkey needs new markets to sell its over-produced goods and for this purpose they want to use the current crisis in Europe and the Middle East to help them intervene in other countries domestic issues.

Work Cited

Amin , Samir. “Imperialism and Globalization.” Monthly Review. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb 3rd, 2013. <http://monthlyreview.org/2001/06/01/imperialism-and-globalization>.

Baysal, Ercan. “Neighbors seek Turkish investments to stem joblessness.” TODAY’S ZAMAN. (2013)Web.9 Feb. 2013. <http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=304028>.

Brewer, Anthony. Marxist Theories Of Imprialism, A critical Survey. 2nd Edition. Routledge, 1990. eBook.

Carbaugh, Robert. Global Economics. 13th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2008. 211-212. Print.

Cecillon, Julien. “Turkey and the struggle for Syria: time for accountability.” Near East Quarterly. (2012): n. page. Web. 9 Feb. 2013. <http://www.neareastquarterly.com/index.php/2012/03/20/turkey-and-the-struggle-for-syria-time-for-accountability/>.

Diamond, Larry. Political Culture and Democracy in Developing Countries. United States of America: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1993. 261-264. Print.

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Ferraro, Vincent. “Dependency Theory: An Introduction.” (1996): n.2 . Print. <http://marriottschool.net/emp/WPW/pdf/class/Class_6-The_Dependency_Perspective.pdf>.

Hobson, John. “Imperialism, A Study.” Economics of Imprialism. 1-16. Print. <http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Hobson/hbsnImp7.html>.

Keet, Marijke. “Neo-Marxist Dependency Theories .” (2002): n. page. Web. 9 Feb. 2013. <http://www.meteck.org/dependency.html>.

Kishlansky, Mark, Patrick Geary, and Patricia Brien. Civilization in The West. seventh edition. pearson Education, Inc, 2008. 626-627. Print.

Owen, Roger, and Sevket Pamuk. A History Of Middle East Economies in Twentieth Century. Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London: Tauris Co, 1998. 109-111. Print.

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