A bourgeoisie organization: TÜSİAD

A bourgeoisie organization: TÜSİAD

There are signatures of 12 businessmen on the “foundation protocol” of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), dated April 2, 1971. Now, only four of them are alive. They are Feyyaz Berker of Mersin, Selçuk Yaşar of İzmir, İbrahim Bodur of Çanakkale and Osman Boyner of Kastamonu.

Those founders who are not alive today are Vehbi Koç of Ankara, Nejat Eczacıbaşı of İzmir, Sakığ Sabancı of Adana, Raşit Özsaruhan of İzmir, Ahmet Sapmaz of Adana, Melih Özakat of İzmir, Hikmet Erenyol of Mersin and Muzaffer Gazioğlu of Kayseri.

If you look closely, TÜSİAD was formed as an organization for “big capital” groups, however not by representatives of the “Istanbul capital” but by businessmen who have come from Anatolia to Istanbul for production and those who also have investments outside Istanbul.

Who are the bourgeoisie?

TÜSİAD’s founding and first members were the first bourgeoisie of Turkey. The word “bourgeoisie” stands for such professions as tradesmen, craftsmen, lawyers and brokers who paid their taxes but were not from the aristocracy. They later formed the capitalist class in the latter part of the Middle Ages with urbanization, standing up against the power and pressures of the kingdom and the church administration.

The topic of the last issue of TÜSİAD’s Görüş magazine was the “bourgeoisie.” In that magazine, Professor Ahmet İnsel said, “With the industrial revolution, the concept of the “bourgeoisie” was used to define the dominant class of the capitalist production system. In Marxist literature, the word for private ownership of production tools within the capitalist economic system, those who continue their capital formation by hiring wage laborers, is “capitalist.” But this does not refer to an economic position only. “Bourgeoisie” also refers to a lifestyle, a mentality derived from the combination of rationalism and pragmatism and also a cultural dimension.

Why are the TÜSİAD members bourgeoisie?
Who are the bourgeoisie? They are the ones that have come from rural areas to live in the city. In general, they are capitalists who make money from production and trade, who pay taxes and are also the indispensable actors in this capitalist circle. What are their characteristics? Their characteristics are that they were against the power and pressures of the medieval kingdoms (governmental) and church (religious) administrations.

Are they the bourgeoisie only because they had money; because they were capitalists? No, while they were making money, they also made it a cause to upgrade society’s – the people’s – quality of life. They stood against the pressures of rulers and religion.

Now, after these explanations, come and evaluate the foundation of TÜSİAD and its activities up to this day. Founders of TÜSİAD and those who took power afterward were able to resist the governmental and religious pressures. They were defenders of the secular, democratic system. They adopted a mission of advancing modern living and science.

TÜSİAD founding and later members contributed to the development of successful private (foundation) universities, museums, art events including the formation and support of orchestras, organizing national and international music, theater, cinema festivals and spreading art, culture and science to Anatolia. When viewed in this way, TÜSİAD is a bourgeoisie organization beyond being a capitalist organization. Turkey needs the bourgeoisie. Both those who are TÜSİAD members and those who are not.

Güngör Uras is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on Jan. 17. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

GÜNGÖR URAS - guras@milliyet.com.tr