chapter  1
Introduction: globalization, Turks and Turkey
Pages 10

Over the past couple of decades, enormous attention has been devoted to the phenomenon, or the array of phenomena, known as ‘globalization’. Globalization refers to a powerful set of forces and processes that are said to be having a transformative impact on the international system and the states that make it up. So pervasive has the concept become that whole bookshelves in some major academic bookshops are devoted specifically to globalization as a sphere of study seemingly distinct from the field of international relations. One reason for this preoccupation is the perceived recentness of the phenomenon. As one analyst has expressed it, ‘globalization did not figure continuously, comprehensively, intensely and with rapidly increasing frequency in the lives of a large proportion of humanity until around the 1960s’ (Scholte 2001: 17). However, the same author goes on to assert that ‘fully fledged globalization [ … ] is a fairly new phenomenon’, which leaves open the possibility that the modern, intense, comprehensive and speeded-up variant of the phenomenon may have been preceded by more unevenly distributed, slowerpaced, perhaps sometimes less penetrating forms – that, in other words, a lessthan ‘fully fledged globalization’ might have older antecedents. We shall return to this thought later in this chapter. There are many definitions of globalization on offer. Many overlap, others

contest. This volume embraces the contested and eclectic nature of globalization, rather than seeking to correct it, and as such might prove a source of frustration to any reader with a stake in one or other particular variant of the phenomenon. One of the better definitions, or at least one particularly suited to the approach and objectives of this volume, states that ‘globalization refers to the multiplicity of linkages and interconnections between the states and societies which make the modern world system. It describes the process by which events, decisions and activities in one part of the world can come to have significant consequences for individuals and communities in quite distinct parts of the globe’ (McGrew 1992: 23). One key word here is ‘multiplicity’. Globalization is made up of a range of phenomena, and can be approached from a range of analytical angles. It includes the perceived

deepening and widening of economic interdependence; the greater ease, speed, availability and frequency of communications both electronically and via transportation; the growth of transnational movements, based on ideas and organizations, which might expand the scope for more fluid and transferable loyalties and identities; the globalization of risks, such as environmental degradation and disaster, resource depletion, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and global epidemics; and so on. The overwhelming sense is of the immediacy of things, of the collapse of time and space (Baylis and Smith 2001: 9). Economists focus on globalized phenomena such as foreign trade patterns,

investment flows across national borders and labour mobility. There is sometimes a hint in this discourse that globalization is desirable as well as inevitable, and that it is closely associated with an ideological predilection for deregulation and free markets. This in turn can lead to globalization being equated to westernization or even Americanization. Political economists sometimes foresee in these and other developments a ‘borderless world’ in which states and state-based societies are progressively receding in significance and capacity, and are being replaced by a global sphere made up of a ‘web of transborder networks’ (Scholte 2001: 15). In this world, individual states are unable to exercise much control over the environment or the global financial system, but rather are at the mercy of global environmental and financial developments. Sociologists and cultural theorists identify how such processes and flows might lead to cultural homogenization. Thus, baseball caps, McDonald’s burgers, the English language, Hollywood and ‘Bollywood’ cinema (itself a real or imagined example of cultural emulation), Japanese anime (animation) and, more seriously perhaps, women’s issues, human rights concerns, environmental awareness and the like, might increasingly be found in all corners of the world. These trends are encouraged or enabled by the internet, cell phones and satellite transmission, and migration and air travel. Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye famously defined transnational relations as ‘contacts, coalitions and interactions across state boundaries that are not controlled by the central foreign policy organs of government’ (Keohane and Nye 1973: xi). This definition incorporates relatively informal, unorganized or loosely structured activities and linkages that are not controlled by the state, such as those between criminal gangs, individuals, ideologically sympathetic groups and diasporas. These networks, flows and interactions represent a kind of ‘transnationalism from below’ (Smith and Guarnizo 1998). States cannot prevent the flow of ideas and loyalties, or the emergence of supraterritorial bonds – between, for example, Muslims, or women, or environmental or human rights campaigners, or the militaries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the other hand, the transnational origins of values, loyalties and norms

can be hard to pin down. For example, to what extent might the women’s movement in a society such as Turkey’s primarily constitute an expression of global interactions and influences rather than a response to the predicaments

faced by women domestically, inside Turkey? How do we balance the form that Turkish nationalism takes as a value inculcated in the country’s schools, media and institutions, and the same nationalism as a reaction to external pressures on, and challenges to, Turkish identity, values or stakes? Where is the dividing line between those manifestations of Islam in Turkey that are essentially ‘national’ and exceptional, and those that reflect Turkish society as part and parcel of the global Muslim umma (community)? No definitive answer can be given to such questions, beyond the most plausible ‘a bit of both’. Above all, how do we determine whether, and to what extent, developments in Turkey are a consequence of, or manifestation of, globalization? Judgements and assumptions must unavoidably guide the assessment of ‘how much’ of each, but we must also bear in mind that globalization will have influenced the author of this study as well as its subjects. Although this author’s assessments are littered throughout this study, and some may indeed be contested, most of them are cautious. To regulate the flows of people, planes, investment and technology, the

political scientist notes the proliferation of, and increasing resort to, regional and global intergovernmental organizations set up in order to address economic and financial, transport, cultural, ideological and many other spheres of activity. Beginning perhaps with the establishment of the International Telegraph Union in 1865, the list now includes bodies as diverse as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Interpol, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). There is also a hint at global governance in the role of the United Nations (UN) and its various agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two of the world’s most significant ‘global governance’ organizations – and, pertinent to this volume, have played a major part in both rescuing and, more recently, transforming the Turkish economy in the post-1945 world. Some of this intergovernmental development is on a regional or sub-global rather than global basis. Perhaps the most important regional intergovernmental organization is the European Union (EU), which Turkey aspires to join. The various regional development banks around the world can also be included here. Examples of regional or sub-global bodies of which Turkey is a member include NATO, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the transregional Organization of The Islamic Conference (OIC). Political scientists also attach significance to the explosion of transnational

nongovernmental organizations covering a range of functional, ideological, environmental, regulatory, humanitarian and campaigning objectives. They include the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (of which Turkey is a member), Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) and many others. Some see in the activities and growth of such organizations an emergent global or transnational civil society (Anheier et al. 2001). Multinational corporations, companies that operate at a

global rather than regional level, such as Toyota or the world’s major banks and energy companies, are also examples of transnational nongovernmental organizations. The Arcelik and Beko white goods companies, both owned by the Koc Group, are examples of Turkish-owned companies that manufacture and market on a transnational basis. Another key word in our definition of globalization is ‘process’ – or, rather,

processes, for they are indeed multiple. These processes might ‘interact in specific and contingent ways’, they ‘are unevenly developed over time and space’ and ‘are complex and often resisted’ (Hay and Marsh 2000: 3). According to what is sometimes dubbed ‘second wave theory’, globalization and the transnational interactions that make it up are restless, and can be simultaneously challenging, reinforcing, transformative, transcending and creative. Globalization possesses an ‘inherent fluidity, indeterminacy and open endedness’ leading to ‘hybridization’ or a ‘global melange’ rather than to any particular end state, let alone one necessarily compatible with a neoliberal or westernized order (Pieterse 1995: 99-100). It incorporates James N. Rosenau’s (1969, 1990) imagery of linkages, ‘turbulence’ and ‘cascades’. Globalization ‘is a process that generates contradictory spaces, characterized by contestation, internal differentiation, continuous border crossings’ (Sassen 2000: 76). Globalization understood in this way might be more about the journey than it is about arrival. It is not exclusively or necessarily driven by westernization, and might not lead inexorably to homogenization. In the context of our study of the Turkish state, society and foreign policy, this train of thought can lead us to consider the possibility of a range of alternative futures, as a variety of forces, institutions, ideas, identities and events clash and contest in a nonhierarchical way. Turkey’s politics, economy, society and values can appear as a battleground, a contested space. Even where trends can be detected and linearity identified, there are nevertheless oscillations, challenges, obstacles and oppositional forces that threaten to overturn, derail or modify what we think we can see. In so far as this volume arrives at findings, that globalization has created turbulence and unpredictability in Turkey will be one of them.