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Political Mobilization as Valuation: 'We keep the Turkish Lira valuable! - by Firat Kurt

The CEU Campus
Friday, April 5, 2019, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

“Political Mobilization as Valuation: 'We keep the Turkish Lira valuable!”:Based on ethnographic research between 2013-2017, this paper argues that financial capitalism has a certain tendency to facilitate and promote authoritarian political mobilization. The paper takes its departure from some of the most significant steps for the financial liberalization in Turkey: free-floating exchange regime and inflation targeting. These policies were implemented in 2002 after the greatest economic crisis in the history of the country. Leaving the determination of values of currencies to the actors (financial institutions, companies, and households) in financial markets, the new financial system was formulated as a part of democratic capitalism in which "transparency," "accountability," and "credibility" are the central values to ensure constant and reliable communication. The liberalization of financial markets thus assumed that once political interests and interventions are isolated from the region of money, people start to act in informed manners, inflation gets under control, and the value of the national currency is stabilized. However, my research shows that the attempts to separate the political sphere and economic sphere result in different, and mostly destructive, forms of relationships between politics and economics. Making financial markets more transparent results in the public knowledge that the value of money is sensitive to political developments, even to micro developments like meetings and protests.  Economic stability and political stability converge to such an extent that people started to see their actions, e.g., going to meetings, supporting an authoritarian party, or dissuading their neighbors from participating in dissident demonstrations, as a part of the financial mechanisms that sustain and even increase the value of their money. The result is a conflagratory social and political tension that divides citizens into those who produce value (monetary, social, and political) through their support for political stability and those who damage value by their opposition.