Ozan Gündoğdu: Kılıçdaroğlu’s promise of ÖTV populism?

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement that he would reduce SCT in automobiles was met with interest and brought with it a discussion. The question around which the debate centers is: “Is it right to reduce the excise tax on automobiles?”

Some who say they are wrong say that such an application will increase the demand for automobiles and, therefore, the current account deficit. Some say the tax cuts will cause inflation as they will increase the amount of money on the market. They first dismantle the problem and handle each piece with the meticulousness of an engineer. But at the end of the day, this method prevents a comprehensive reading, evaluating historical, social and economic conditions together. If car prices fall, demand for cars increases, in which case imports will increase, etc. etc.

But “narrow financial glasses” He understands politics as economics and Kılıçdaroğlu’s SCT reduction proposal. “populism” interpret it. What does this populism mean and in what sense is it used?

When you translate the word fully into Turkish, “populism” possible to say. But I am aware that we attribute emotions to words. “Populism” The term has positive sentiments, as it is one of Atatürk’s tenets. Against that “populism” We remember the term with negative feelings. In this case, it should not be translated as populism.

As a term, which Mesut Yılmaz introduced in our literature, “Flattery of the People” I think the expression can be used as the Turkish equivalent of populism. Both terms have a similar negative emotional charge.

But let’s think without letting our emotions manipulate us; Something that could be translated as populism or popular flattery might not be a bad thing, right?

No! Why, “populism” What is meant by the term is not a form of policy that seeks to benefit the people. So what’s the intention? It speaks of an understanding that engages in politics on the basis of society’s dominant identity (eg, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant in the US, Catholic in Brazil, of course, Sunni in Turkey). But how does this differ from 20th century fascism, one might ask? Hitler was also leaning on Germany’s dominant identity.

Hitler was doing this among people who had not yet seen a photograph of Earth taken from space. The spirit of that age invoked such fascism. But in the 21st century, things work differently. Many social scientists anyway, instead of populism “neo-fascism” it says.

After leaning on the dominant identity, you begin to manipulate all the class inequalities imposed by capitalism. It is a universal method for attributing the root cause of poverty to homosexuals, minorities and refugees everywhere. But you can also find local examples. For example, in the USA, “You are poor because black people took over the White House” You can say. Turkish version of this It’s “CHP”. Populists here say: “You are poor because the CHP took over the state” They can create a spectrum.

Now such a damn way of doing politics, “populism” Therefore, it is incorrect to translate as. It’s a term that we don’t have a negative feeling about populism. The “flattery of the people” may be closer, but it is also an enigma.

We will, “populism” If that is the case, how can Kılıçdaroğlu’s TCS reduction be interpreted as populism?

Because what you read in this article is correct for some people, but incomplete. According to them so far “right-wing populism” I told you. one of these “left populism” there is. That’s what Kılıçdaroğlu did. This is the claim.

According to those who make this statement, the public is between social classes, for example, between the worker and the boss. “impartial” should be. If the public is in an activity that disturbs the balance between classes and the market, this may give the desired result in the short term, but in the long term you will be worse off than before. In addition, capital movements must also be free. Capital should be able to move in and out of countries whenever it wants, and should not be subject to slow or onerous control. The banking system must be conceived as the gateway for foreign capital. Loans should be used at the maximum level as long as they do not create inflation. Because? Because the market offers the best result. There is no other alternative to this.

This statement has become the dominant view in the world for nearly 40 years. In order to gain a share in capital movements, states drastically reduced taxes on capital. For example, the corporate tax rate on company profits in the US in 1980 was 48%. 21% today. As a capital exporting country, the US has drawn its capital from all over the world to its country with this step. On the other hand, peripheral countries were forced to make similar tax cuts.

So who will feed the treasury if the corporate tax burden is reduced? Thus, the tax base began to spread. It was explained that this is a good development, so that capital, which is not crushed by the tax burden, comfortably invests and creates employment. However, the accumulated capital preferred to flow to tax havens. General consumption taxes, which will be borne by a large part of the public, thus began to gain importance throughout the world since the 1980s. In our country, the Value Added Tax was introduced in 1985 and the Special Tax on Consumption in 2003. Today, these two taxes, in the first half of this year, constitute 4 lire for every 10 lire entered into the Treasury.

The neoliberal program that has been implemented over the last 40 years has led to the disintegration of the urban, salaried professional who has been described as the middle class over the years. This happened not only in Turkey, but all over the world. Although the disintegration took place a little later in the West, where the middle class was stronger, violent examples of neoliberalism began to be seen in the West as well. During the yellow vest uprising in France, the whole world watched the process with concern. Furthermore, “financial crises only happen in peripheral countries” proposal disappeared into history with the global financial crisis of 2008. The crisis of 1929 lasted 16 years. It also included World War II. The whole world has been searching for its new paradigm for 14 years, since the 2008 financial crisis. It still hasn’t been found.

In other words, it may have been the dominant thinking in the world for 40 years, but of course the system has failed in the last 14 years. But the cracks of the crisis are breathing neo-fascism around the world. We are talking about a system that has destroyed humanity in a series like the climate crisis, the migration crisis and the financial crisis.

Proponents of this system see populism as populism. He says that populism is also populism. “You have to be neutral between classes, you take sides, you move on the side of the worker, so you are also a populist” they say. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s promise that we will reduce SCT in cars is therefore tantamount to neo-fascism. Democrats who are anti-AKP do this too. I think they are unfair.

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