Capitalism and Geopolitics

I am very interested in examining the relationship between the uneven co-evolution of historical capitalism and the modern interstate system with a focus on geopolitical conflicts.  My current projects on this theme also examine social and political outcomes of interaction of geopolitical conflicts with uneven development of capitalism across space and time.

Geopolitical Conflicts and Dispossession in Turkey, 1870-Present [Turkey]

Currently, with Kumral we are examining how dispossession processes under capitalism have interacted with geopolitical conflicts.  In a recent article — Capitalist development in hostile conjunctures: War, dispossession, and class formation in Turkey.” (2019, Journal of Agrarian Change 19.3: 528-549) — we analyzed how geopolitical conflicts and different kinds of wars shaped the development of capitalism and class formation in Turkey. We argued that all major episodesof conflict, violence and war—from forced displacement andethnic cleansing of the non‐Muslims in the late 19th and theearly 20th century, to Kurdish secessionist warfare in the1990s and the Syrian Civil War—have become major historical turning points in the development of historical capital-ism in Turkey. These “hostile conjunctures” transformed capitalism through their direct and indirect effects on dispossession, class formation, and capital accumulation.Although each of these conflicts produced a violent dispossession process, none of them resembled the rural dispossession process in England. To make sense of Turkey’s experience, we turn our attention to what we call the “Castilian/Spanish road,”and what Lenin called the“Junker/Prussian road”and the“farmers/American road.”Our analysis shows that these differential paths of dispossession, class formation, and capital accumulation have produced highly variegated rather than uniform outcomes. We conclude that we are living in a new“hostile conjuncture,”which is pregnant to a major structural crisis and is generating the preconditions of another historical transformation in the way capitalism operates.

Territorial Contradictions of the Rise of China [China]

Another paper I co-authored with Kumral, entitled “Territorial Contradictions of the Rise of China: Geopolitics, Nationalism and Hegemony in Comparative-Historical Perspective” (2017 JWSR) examines China’s attitude towards active nationalist movements in the world during the post-Reform period in comparison to rising hegemonic powers of the earlier centuries (i.e. United Provinces, the United Kingdom and the United States), paying particular attention to macro-political dimensions of world-hegemony building processes.

Can Arendt’s Theory of Chauvinism Be Generalized to Medieval Communes? [Northern Italy]

One of my articles – entitled “Communal Patriotism, Civic Nationalism and City-State Chauvinism: Transformation of Collective Identities in Northern Italy, 1050-1500,” (2015, Int. Journal of Politics, Culture and Society) – argues that Hannah Arendt’s theory of chauvinism can be generalized to all financialization periods of historical capitalism. To support this thesis, the article examines how collective identities in northern Italian communes and city states were transformed during the Florence-based financial expansion of the 14th century due to the dissolution of social, political and economic structures of communes.

Turkey’s Heterodox Transition to Neoliberalism: Ozal and Erdogan Decades [Turkey]

In “The Origins of Turkey’s ‘Heterodox’ Transition to Neoliberalism: The Özal Decade and Beyond” (2015, Journal of World-Systems Research), I criticize universalizing perspectives which conceptualize neoliberalism as a fixed set of economic policies aiming a unidirectional wealth transfer to top income brackets in order to solve the crisis of national bourgeoisie that emerged during the developmentalist era. Using world-systems biography as a methodological tool, in this article, I explained how income inequality in Turkey paradoxically declined during transition to neoliberalism in both Özal and Erdoğan decades. I show that the Turkish neoliberal project was primarily concerned with establishing a stable political-economic environment that would help Turkey’s political society reassert its hegemony over civil society and allow for the penetration of the changing interests of the world-hegemonic power in the region. Because of these social and geopolitical concerns, Turkey’s neoliberal reforms (1) contributed to the development of an alternative/rival segment of national bourgeoisie which had the potential to co-opt radicalized Islamic movements, (2) aimed at creating a large middle class society (instead of shrinking it), (3) utilized populist attempts at redistribution to lower segments of society to co-opt the grievances and anger of the masses. As a paradoxical consequence of these dynamics, income inequality decreased during Turkey’s transition to neoliberalism.

Does Financialization Lead to Peace or War? Hobson vs. Polanyi [British Empire]

In a co-authored paper with Sefika Kumral (“Financialization and International (Dis)Order: A Comparative Analysis of John Hobson and Karl Polanyi” published in 2013, in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology), after comparing John Hobson’s and Karl Polanyi’s almost opposite views on the relationship between financialization and inter-state warfare (where Polanyi argues that haute finance is an instrument of imperial peace and Hobson defines it as the governor of imperial engine by looking at the same case); we evaluated the explanatory power of their arguments in the context of British-led and US-led financialization periods of world history.

Other Publications on this theme: