Post Socialist Labour Studies Group Seminar
Imperialism and Neoliberalism in Turkey, Poland and Russia
Wednesday 4th May 2016, 4pm to 6pm, Room W158, Williams Building, Middlesex University
The Burroughs, Hendon, London NW4 4BT (nearest tube Hendon Central)
This seminar explores increasing tensions of new imperialism and neoliberalism in a fault-line area of Euro-Asian conflict. Our presenters examine these tensions from a critical perspective and offer both Gramscian and Marxist perspectives.
Imperialism and neoliberalism in Poland – the universal and the specific features
Dr Filip Ilkowski (Institute of Political Science, Warsaw)
After 27 years since the beginning of ‘the transition’ Poland is recognized as its successful example. Since 1992 there was a constant GDP growth with the average annual increase transcending 4 %, which makes the Polish economy one of the leaders of growth in the CEE area. In the same time the period of transition is characterized by mass unemployment and high level of poverty indicators. And now, with the political change in Poland, there is the announcement of the necessity to overcome of what is officially called ‘the middle-development trap’.
At the same time Polish rulers wish to construct a position of leadership among former Eastern Bloc states by close political and military alliance with United States, while simultaneously boosting Polish militarization. Military spending, already relatively high by regional standards, accelerated in 2013 with the program of rapid growth. All key political forces in the country agree on this, just as on necessity of establishment of US/NATO bases in Poland. The new populist-conservative government recently declared plans to build volunteer-militias and substantial army enlargement.
This presentation will attempt to explore the connections between features of neoliberal transition in Poland and its specific version of militarisation and geo-political activity.
The Rise and Fall of Neo-Ottomanism
Dr Tunç Aybak, Dept. of Law and Politics, Middlesex University
Since the AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power, as a result of passive revolution in the early 2000s, Neo-Ottomanism has gradually surfaced as a new hegemonic ideology. Whilst Islamism is one of the forces of continuity in Turkish politics alongside Pan-Turkism and Westernism, the roots of Neo-Ottomanist aspirations of AKP can be particularly located in the period of Pan-Islamist authoritarianism, during the reign of Abdulhamit in the late Ottoman period. This new official state ideology is now manufactured through the political institutions and civil society combined with uneven and authoritarian neo-liberal economic development. The legitimacy of this increasingly authoritarian Neo-Ottomanist hegemony has been actively challenged from below by new autonomous spaces of resistance and movements. This paper aims to assess this new Neo-Ottomanist hegemony in its current context and contrast it with the counter-hegemonic models of Gezi resistance and the Kurdish autonomy of Rojava. Whereas the former was a reaction to the privatization of urban space, the latter emerged as a response to the geopolitical state craft (deep strategy) of AKP’s imperialist Neo-Ottomanist aspirations in the Middle East.
Passive revolutions, dependent economies or neo-liberal restructuring: reviewing debated around a Gramscian political economy of post-socialism
Dr Claudio Morrison, Dept. of Leadership, Work and Organisations, Middlesex University
The concepts of hegemony and passive revolution have been so far applied to the Former Soviet Union, Russia and other post-socialist states (Lester 1995; Bedirhanoğlu 2004; Owen 2005; Simon 2010). Valid objections have been raised though about the suitability of a PS framework for post-socialist transition. Specifically, the idea of capitalist restoration and the role of foreign capital in fostering neo-liberal restructuring have come under scrutiny (Connolly 2008; Callinicos 2010). The review of these debates allows for a reassessment of the rationale for its extension to these particular historical events in this geo-political area. We maintain that a strong analogy exists between the original conditions delineated by Gramsci and key aspects of Transition/Restoration in post-socialist Europe (Morton 2010). Gramsci’s ‘philological’ method should be employed to appreciate the unity between apparently disparate and contradictory phenomena in the political social and cultural dimensions. Finally, a valid case for Post-socialist PR can only be made by extending the reach of the concept geographically to account for path divergence and interstate rivalries.