Monday, March 31, 2008


Once I read an interview of Mercan Dede, one of my favourite musicians. He likened life to ebru, and said that he throws the colours in water, and then lets the shape appear on paper.

We have no choice, anyway.

Today at work I was reading an article about the economic reforms in Ireland, and the article said that entrepreneurs develop an "internal locus of control" when the state plays only a small role in the economy. Property rights, free trade, less taxes, flexible labour markets, independent central banks. I wondered what "locus of control" was, and read about it on Wikipedia. Apparently, when you have "internal locus of control", you believe that you reach an outcome because of reasons that come from within you. The outcome you get depends on your ability (talent+effort), not factors external to you, the sum of which we call chance.

It was funny I saw this today, a couple of nights ago my father told me that what other people do or say should not affect me so much. I should stand solid and mind my business. Focus on what I can control, really. Because I won't be able to control other people, their characters, all the combinations they think, act and interact.

For I've been really desperate lately. People have told me it's the competition. It's the credit crunch. It's because I'm Turkish. Recruiters get piles of applications, they don't even look through them. Recruiters are so subjective. People say things, they change their minds. It's not me, really.

After all, it would be really sad if it was me after all this education! All this education should have increased my chances of getting somewhere, right? As I wait and get no response (some employers respond a month after you apply!) I started to think, what's the point in putting all those hours to prepare a good application when I don't even know they will read it! As I start to believe I'm not in control of the outcome, I just feel like not doing anything. Fatigue, powerless -ness.

Then I understood the point about economic freedoms and the feeling of being in control. If the outcome does not correspond to the talent and effort you put into the equation, if the government is taxing you or limiting your options (and hence rewards) with strict regulations or stupid policies, if your success depends on too many external factors that are not of your making, you don't feel like doing anything. And this reminded me of what I read about the agency of welfare recipients. If you continue to receive welfare however little effort you put into improving your life, you'll have no incentive to try harder. The goal of social policy should be to empower people by mitigating the risks they face.

The Wikipedia article suggests that there are cultural variations in whether people have "internal" or "external" locus of control, and compares the Japanese with Americans. Wrong comparison. One should compare the third world with the first world.

If you are from a developing country, (emerging market, as they say), you can easily die in an earthquake or hurricane or traffic accident. Tax inspectors will come and rob you. You will find yourself in an economic crisis because your government is stupid. You will find yourself in an economic crisis because some bankers from the first world are stupid. The party you voted for can be banned. People will hire their relatives, not you. You will have to get a visa to travel anywhere, although you are better qualified than half of the people in that first world country, including that embassy official. You can find yourself in a war because you had a dictator! More at risk simply because you were born there, you live there. Less incentives to try, to try to keep things in control, your life on track. More left to the forces of nature. Vicious circle.

In emerging markets, politics matter as much as the market forces, my big boss says.

By the way, will he hire me?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kim kimdir? Hepsi birdir!

Bir arkadaşım zamanında sormuştu bana, türban serbest olmalı mı diye. Ben de evet demiştim. İnsanların kendilerini kısıtlayan, geriye götüren bir şeyi seçmeleri (ya da bunun kendilerine ailelerince dayatılması) serbest olmalı.

Geçen hafta AKP'ye kapatma davası açıldı. Tamam, demokrasilerde partiler kapatılmamalı. İnsanlar istedikleri gibi yönetilmeli. Genel prensiplerimiz olmalı, her durumda, her ülkede geçerli. Evrensel prensipler.

Ama iddianameyi okuyorum, içim acıyor. Hayal kırıklığına uğruyorum. Bu iddianamede anlatılanlara izin verilmemeli diyorum kendi kendime. Böyle düşünen adamlar yayılmamalı, kadrolaşmamalı, güç kazanmamalı.

Biz liberallerin savunduğu evrensel prensipler bazen gerçeği görmemize engel. Kolayımıza geliyor demokrasinin her şeyi tek başına çözeceğini sanmak. Demokrasiye bir din gibi bağlanınca ne farkımız kalıyor statükocu laiklerden, dincilerden? Demokratik bir şekilde daha da bayağılaşalım, geriye gidelim o zaman!

Önemli olan demokratik yollardan insanların aydınlanmasını sağlayabilmek. Demokrasi bir zorunluluk, ama yeterli değil. Sorunumuza çözüm değil. Sorunumuz eğitimsizlik. Bayağılık.

Bu sabah Ergenekon soruşturması kapsamında İlhan Selçuk gözaltına alındı. Selçuk'un gözaltına alınma biçimi mazlumların zalimliğe nasıl kolay alışabildiklerini gösteriyor. Kim kime diş geçirebilirse işte. Statükocu laik, sözde demokrat farketmiyor, aslında hepsinin kafası aynı, hepsi fırsatını bulduğu anda tahakkümcü.

Tamam, parti kapansın. Bu kapatılan kaçıncı parti, bu kaçıncı darbe söylentisi? Çözüm değil bütün bunlar. İnsanların eğitim alması, iş bulması gerek. AKP'ye alternatif çıkması gerek. Laiklerin hem laik hem demokrat olmayı, insanların günlük hayatlarını iyileştirecek çözümler üretmeyi bilmeleri gerek. Eğer gerçekten samimiyseler, tepeden inme çözümlerin bir işe yaramadığını görmeleri gerek.

İnsanlara zorla yaptırabileceğiniz şeyler sınırlıdır, sürelidir, gün gelir insanlar asıl istediklerini, alıştıklarını, doğru bildiklerini yaparlar. Onların kendiliklerinden ikna olmalarını sağlayacak ortamı (demokratik yollardan) hazırlamanız gerekir. Bu süreç uzun sürer, kafa ister, çok çalışmak gerekir. Bu kafa, bu sabır kimde var? Ne liberallerde, ne laiklerde, ne dincilerde var!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Last post about what this post is about

Because I have a feeling things will sort themselves out in a few days. I hope.

I know this will sound very spoiled. I am very spoiled. I'm 23 with a master's degree and I've been unemployed since Jan. 7.

But you are not in my shoes, so don't judge me. Maybe this will sound lazy. Let me explain: I explained here once how constructivism works. Let me quote myself:

Constructivists, on the other hand, argue that actors' understanding of the pay-offs may change, without an actual shift in material interests. Especially in crisis situations ("a policy window"), actors may be more open to new ideas - because they realize that what they always believed in doesn't work. A charismatic actor ("an institutional entrepreneur") comes up with a new idea, and uses such a policy window to persuade the other actors. As they interact and negotiate ("social learning" within the existing institutional framework,) actors change their minds about the pay-offs associated with each option.

Crisis situation: I'm unemployed. I have too much free time in my hands. There's not any progress in any department of my life. I'm desperate for getting busy with something to do, having security, certainty, learning things, meeting people, going forward. Everybody seems happy and settled in their lives.

So I decided I'd be happy taking ANY job. Any job that will keep me busy enough so I will forget myself, learn something, anything. Something that will keep me busy enough so soon I can forget all these questions and thoughts. Banks, consulting companies? Anyone who will hire me. I'm applying. I decide something is my dream job, the next day I change my mind about the job, the location. The British look through me, Turks don't know what to do with me. I don't know what to do with myself. My parents don't know what to do with me. I feel so clumsy and out of place when I walk the streets of this city. I can't imagine any other life than what I used to have in London. As Kiran Desai says:

"He knew what his father thought: that immigration, so often presented as a heroic act, could just easily be the opposite; that it was cowardice that led many to America; fear marked the journey, not bravery; a cockroachy desire to scuttle to where you never saw poverty, not really, never had to suffer a tug to your conscience; where you never heard the demands of servants, beggars, bankrupt relatives, and where your generosity would never be openly claimed; where by merely looking after your own wife-child-dog-yard you could feel virtuous. Experience the relief of being an unknown transplant to the locals and hide the perspective granted by journey. Ohio was the first place he loved, for there he had at last been able to acquire a poise-" The Inheritance of Loss, page 299.

So, tonight I decided:

  • I will not let anyone influence or judge me. I will not let myself influence me or judge me.
  • I'll stop thinking I should be hired by a big name, just so I will enjoy putting it on my Facebook profile and letting people know - as an indication of my worthiness and fitness in this world.
  • I will not let my warm heart creep through and hold me back. I will not try to plan ahead and cross bridges before I even come to them. When my family needs me, I will be there for them, if they don't need me yet, then I should do what will make me happy now.
  • Nobody at this point knows that better than me. (Well, I don't know it myself yet, but soon I'll find out.) Because not a SINGLE PERSON WAS WITH ME THE WHOLE TIME IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS; BUT MYSELF!
  • It's unfair that I had an education that made me think I could become anything, and now I am trying to limit my own choices, just out of laziness, fear of the unknown! I WILL NOT DRAW BOUNDARIES, HOLD MYSELF BACK!
  • I am the one who needs to make the decision and take responsibility in the end.
  • If you care for me, be patient with me. (Note to myself: If you care for me, be patient with me.)