Yves here. This post swings for the fence, but still makes an important point about how the uprising in Turkey differs from Arab Spring and the Orange Revolution.
By Erinc Yeldan, Dean of the faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences and one of the executive directors of the International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs), New Delhi. Cross posted from Triple Crisis
They are referred to under different identifiers: generation-Y; millennium generation; globalization generation; Net-generation… roughly they are the cohort of post-1980 newborns, coming from distant geographies, different nations. Yet, they are claimed to share astonishingly common characteristics: narcissistic love of the self; the me, me, me approach to life; impatience; intolerance of all forms of hierarchy; a fetishistic loyalty to technology and brands; almost non-existing interest in social events; apolitical nihilism; non-reading, etc etc…
The peculiar characteristics of the post-1980 generation has been the subject matter of quite some research, but the subject gained popular interest recently through an editorial led by the popular Time Magazine, where most of the adjectives indicated above had been liberally adopted. The Time approach to the generation-Y consisted mostly of a superfluous description of the peculiarities of the young and the hot-blooded consumers. There was not much mention of the surrounding dictates of the neoliberal global assault on the young citizens, nor on the conditions of the political-economy embedded within today’s bubble capitalism.
Indeed, one can also have a close look at the life-styles of the Y-generation from entirely a different angle. They are about to step in to a fragmented, marginalized, and “flexibilized” labor market with, perhaps, the highest youth unemployment rates of human history, ranging from 19.1% in hegemonic centers such as USA and UK, to 40% in Spain, 66% in Greece. They are referred to as the “700 euro generation” in Greece; or the “1,000 euro generation” in Italy, with references to the minimal wage laws of the respective countries.
They have become the prime targets of a mega-design project on the part of media centers that try to cover up the true essence of the current collective imperialist assault of multinationals and international finance capital on indigenous peoples’ rights and bounties. They are the children of parents with almost zero percent saving rates and a frenzied appetite for consumption and debt. They have been brainwashed by the uncontested merits of the market-gods and the lure of the profit driven re-organization of their education and health systems, with, yet again, the un-debatable motto “There Is No Alternative”.
Time’s editorial had, no doubt, cause for rebuttals. Tom Hawkin wrote in Flavorwire, for instance, that “The millennials are the people who’ve inherited the hangover from the baby boomers’ party: a warming planet, a dysfunctional global financial system that rewards the rich and screws the poor, and a polarized political class”. Hawkins’ piece comes with a further bonus of a free link to the Time’s Quiz: How Millennial Are You? Ha ha ha…
This neoliberal assault had many facets. One important aspect was the massive re-design of the Middle East via the dictates of the petro dollars and the global military machine. It took many forms; but the main thread had continuously been the use of Islamism in bringing together the allies of the region against the enemies of the “West”.
All of this was orchestrated via the dictates of the neoliberal interventions to the economic sphere. The Turkish economy had been turned into a bastion of frenzied speculation where the International Finance Institutes (IFIs) and transnational companies had joined forces to liquidate the indigenous industrial structure of the Turkish economy with direct assaults comprising privatizations of strategic public assets, de-regulation of finance, fragmentation and informalization of the labor markets, and dismantling of the social state turning citizens into consumers, and the producers into rentier “players”.
But then, a sudden twist in the mega design had been witnessed. What was initiated as a humble sit-in protest against chopping of a few trees in a park by the Taksim Square in Istanbul for erecting a mega-mall, sparked a massive people’s rally led by the very young against the imperial design of mild Islamism for a new Enlarged Middle East region. The current Turkish government had a truly authoritarian stance and had initiated an unprecedented assault on basic civil liberties that had finally exhausted people’s patience. They erupted into the streets against police’s futile tear gas and plastic bullets. The “young” had raised their voice against the dictates of neoliberal/Islamic restructuring of the Turkish state with conditionalities such as the number of children a couple should have (minimum three!); the color of the lip stick of the Turkish Airlines hostesses; ethical bans on holding hands with your date in the metro stations; and more serious and wide ranging restructuring interventions such as redesigning of the elementary and middle school curriculum and strict regulations on the academics and litigation system of the country based on Islamic references. All opposition had been severely suppressed by way of fake legal charges, with the end result that Turkey has now more journalists and academics imprisoned than any country in Europe.
What is unique about the uprising is that, contrary to the so-called Orange Revolution and the Arab Spring, where the Western super-powers had an active role in directing the masses towards a neoliberal globalization-friendly-course, the Turkish revolt has a true indigenous character with a direct momentum of its own, simply asking for freedom and basic liberties.
For a brief assessment see, e.g. Sungur Savran’s “C’est Une Révolte, Pas (Encore) Une Revolution! (This is a Revolt, Not Yet a Revolution” in the Bullet. A select set of images of the uprising can also be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2013/06/in-turkey-days-of-anti-government-protests-and-harsh-crackdowns/100525/
Clearly, the neoliberal party is over, it is now time to start cleaning the house.