Turkey’s economy and my bank account
Economics is not my area of expertise, but the whole nation is talking about the economy. As opposition groups shifted the focus of their election campaigns and are accusing the ruling party, the ruling party and its supporters are accusing some international circles of manipulating money markets in order to drop the value of the Turkish Lira. In this view, international circles, or “imperialists,” use economic means to weaken President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party because the president dared to challenge the West and defends the rights of Muslims worldwide.
Occidentalism, which is to accuse West for all ills, and conspiracy theories have always been popular in non-Western countries. It also reflects the mindset of the ruling party in Turkey. As Turkey’s economy has long been suffering from structural weaknesses and mismanagement, the ruling party worsened the economy firstly by alienating Turkey from its Western allies and thus creating a problem of trust, and secondly, because the president’s two most prominent economy advisers are anachronistic believers of economic and political independence in this age of international economic interdependence. In truth, Turkey’s economy is not only energy and technology dependent but also highly dependent on international money markets.
As it is inevitable for politics to end up with striving to escape from the international system in order to avoid criticism on the matters of democracy and justice, it is not the whole story. The real problem is that Occidentalism and conspiracy theories still find significant audiences and convince many people. It is not because the majority of people in our countries are uneducated people as it is often assumed. There is no doubt that education matters, but it is a sentimental matter. It is the legacy of Western domination and patronizing Western ways that lead the people of non-Western countries not only be skeptical but also angry at the West. It is also reflected by the resentment against the international system, which is dominated by Western countries.
I, too, have many stories of feeling patronized by the Western sense of superiority. Most recently, I had a problem with my 32-year-old British bank account. It was an account with a few hundred pounds that I opened when I was a “visiting student” at Oxford University; ever since then I had been using it from time to time. I noticed last year that I did not hear from my bank in the past few years, so I started asking about it. It took long to find out, but finally I was told that my account has been closed and I am not meant to know why the bank decided to close my account. Leaving aside customer rights, it is ultimately humiliating to inform somebody that he/she is not entitled to know the reason behind the bank’s decision. I felt extremely angry and thought that even somebody like me who is Western-educated and who is familiar with Western ways feels patronized by some Westerners and Western institutions. It is no wonder why ordinary non-Westerners feel deeply resentful. No, nobody needs to have a direct contact with Westerners and Western institutions to feel humiliated and resentful. The sense of superiority is something felt even without direct interaction, since it has a culture that affects non-Western people. It is reflected either as efforts to identify with the West or as feeling resentful.