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An Unhappy Marriage of Neoliberalism and Neo-mercantilism

Political economy of Turkey in a double bind

Economic commentators divide Justice and Development Party reign into two periods: the golden years of 2002-2008 and the lackluster years of 2009 onwards. This periodization may need to be qualified (and not only due to recently changed statistical definitions of Turkstat) by adding a third period starting roughly in the aftermath of Gezi uprising in 2013, with the explicit introduction by Erdoğan of the concept of “interest rate lobby” into the public discourse on political economy. While I propose to name this new orientation in economic politics neo-mercantilism (in reference to its emphasis on national economy, its critique of global financial system, its desire to diversify away Europe and search for forging bilateral trade agreements, etc.), I do not claim that the JDP is willing to give up its ties with the neoliberal international order just yet. Rather, as the saying goes, JDP wants to have his cake and eat it too. Nevertheless, this unhappy marriage between neoliberalism and neo-mercantilism, in the absence of a convincing overarching narrative and increasingly unfavorable global economic conditions (in particular Fed’s most recent decision to follow a tighter monetary policy), has become increasingly untenable and leads the economy into a downward spiral. Drawing on economic data and using discourse analysis, this paper, rather than pathologizing this neo-mercantilist re-orientation, situates it in a global reconfiguration of the capital-nation-state nexus in response to the deepening ecological and economic crises of world capitalism. 

Yahya M. Madra is currently a visiting associate professor of economics (2016-2018) at Drew University, Madison, NJ. Previously he taught economics at Skidmore (2003-2006) and Gettysburg (2007-2011) Colleges and at Boğaziçi University (2011-2016). He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Rethinking Marxism since 1998 and served as an associate editor of the journal between 2010-12. He is currently the art/iculations section co-editor for the journal. He has published and co-authored articles on various issues in political economy and on the history of recent economics in edited book volumes and a number of academic journals in English and Turkish, such as South Atlantic QuarterlyDevelopment and ChangeAntipodeJournal of Economic IssuesRethinking MarxismPsychoanalysis, Culture & SocietySubjectivityEuropean Journal of History of Economic Thought, and Toplum ve Bilim (in Turkish). His research interests include the intellectual history of neoliberal thought in economics, the intersection between Marxian political economy and Lacanian psychoanalysis, and the political economy of economic alternatives. In 2014, he worked on a popular economics project on the political economy of Turkey (which is accessible in both Turkish and English from http://www.bildiginekonomi.net). His first monograph titled Late Neoclassical Economics: Restoration of Theoretical Humanism in Contemporary Economic Theory is now availabile from Routledge (July 2016).  Currently he is working (with Ceren Özselçuk) on a book manuscript tentatively titled, Sexuating Class: A Psychoanalytical Critique of Political Economy.

Yahya Madra

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