Saturday, May 31, 2008


This morning I dreamt that I was on the wrong train, it wouldn't take me where I wanted to go. (In the dream I knew where I wanted to go :) What a pain, taking another train and going all the way again.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


there are -in fact- three things that save us: 1. we don't know what people say behind our back. 2. we can never know exactly what we are giving up, missing out on by choosing one thing over another 3. we get to hang out with people who are similar to us. who have similar interests, who care about similar things, who have similar abilities. usually we don't have to deal with those who are far smarter or stupider than us, or much cooler than us, or don't care about what we care about. the only way to feel important, special, non-anonymous.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Neoliberal Populism"

the depoliticization of economics

I went to two intellectually stimulating lectures in a row: Yesterday Professor Mine Eder's talk on the political economic features of the AKP government in Turkey, and today a panel discussion on why economics matters. I thought they had a common point: That economic policy-making is increasingly escaping the political realm, and neoliberal economics is being elevated to an undebatable law of nature. Technocrats, who usually have an academic background, understand this law and devise policies that are compatible with it. Maybe the Economist is its holy book.

Is it because the alternatives to neoliberalism have failed? Is it because there really is one way to manage the economy well, and economics is actually a positive science? The alternatives that have been tried so far were actually lapses in thinking, mistakes that were necessary to find the right way in the end? And now we have learned from our mistakes and discovered the truth?

While I was studying economics, I thought politics was so frustrating, each group pushed for their interests and wanted to gain undeserved rents, hurting the whole economy and leading to suboptimal outcomes. So it is better to leave economic policy making to technocrats who can see the big picture and who are aware of the constraints. Who wants to think about these things, anyway, they are too complicated. We trust economists just like we trust doctors, engineers. After all, we are quite happy to devolve our decision-making powers when we visit a doctor.

Eder pointed out that in Turkey economic considerations come after religiosity and ethnicity in voting behaviour.

Hence the "neoliberal populism", a new breed in political economy. Governments cannot be true populists anymore, because their dependence on international capital markets sets boundaries on how much they can spend. So the elected governments and the people alike submit to the "rule of economics" as prescribed and defended by the technocrats. Ruling and opposition parties alike accept it as a fact of life, and if not already there, set it as a common goal to be reached. Political debates remain confined to cultural and religious issues, lifestyle choices - because everybody more or less agrees on the general direction economic policy making should take. Nobody dares (or cares to) offer an alternative.

In the Turkish case, the AKP government wants to defeat the secular elites and return the power to the people. But when workers want to take to streets to protest the Social Security Reform, the prime minister declares all of a sudden that workers should leave policy making to those who know better than them. Isn't this a new kind of elitism? While the government argues that the powers of the military and the judiciary should be curbed in the name of democracy, a group of economic institutions mushroom largely free from political influence (of course clientelistic relationships exist between the governments and the officials in these institutions, but the goal is personal benefit rather than a re-orientation of economic policy): Central Bank, Privatisation Agency, Capital Markets Agency, Energy Markets Regulatory Agency, Competition Authority... They know better than us, so we let them decide.

Aren't the cycles of IMF intervention akin to military coups? They come in when elected governments mess up. Is output legitimacy enough to justify the lack of input legitimacy?

The economics student in me knows that this is probably the best way. But I also realize that it is not that simple: the grievences in some segments of the society should not be overlooked. In fact, Martin Wolf pointed out today that usually distributive concerns, perceptions of injustice in allocation of resources and income lie behind ethnic and religious divides, civil unrest.

So maybe economic considerations do in fact affect voting behaviour. Religious and ethnic identities are magnified and become a source of division and hatred when people are not satisfied with their standards of living, when they are not well-educated, when they think they don't receive their due share of resources and power.

Friday, May 16, 2008

a new concept

"it will be fun." the word sounded stupid in his mouth. When had he ever had "fun"? Or Wavey, chapped face already set in the lines of middle age, the encroaching dryness about her beyond stove heat and wind? What was it, anyway? Both of them the kind who stood with forced smiles watching other people dance, spin on barstools, throw bowling balls. Having fun. But Quoyle did like movies, the darkness, the outlines of strangers' hair against the screen, the smell of peanuts and shampoo, popcorn squeking in teeth. He could fly away from his chin and hulking shape into the white clothes and slender bodies on the screen. 309

"how to say it? that he loved Petal, not Wavey, that all the capacity for love in him had burned up in one fast go. The moment had come and the spark ignited, and for some it never went out. For Quoyle, who equated misery with love. All he felt with Wavey was comfort and a modest joy." 320

"Quoyle thought of Partridge. He'd call him up that night. Tell him. What? That he could gut a cod while he talked about advertising space and printing costs? That he was wondering if love came in other colors than the basic black of none and the red heat of obsession?"325

"Quoyle let himself be dragged through the company, eyes catching Wavey's eyes, catching Wavey's smile, oh, aimed only at him, and upstairs to Bunny's room. On the stairs an image came to him. Was love then like a bag of assorted sweets passed around from which one might choose more than once? Some might sting the tongue, some invoke night perfume. Some had centers as bitter as gall, some blended honey and poison, some were quickly swallowed. And among the common bull's-eyes and peppermints a few rare ones; one or two with deadly needles at the heart, another that brought calm and gentle pleasure. Were his fingers closing on that one?" 332

Shipping News, Annie Proulx

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


In Siyah Süt, Elif Şafak talks about fishermen. How they wait. How they don't look for or force or chase things. Success, people, ideas. They wait patiently until they come. There's a time for everything.

I'm not feeling or thinking anything strongly. I'm not making any exciting discoveries. That's why I'm not writing, because I don't want to write anything that doesn't come from my heart. I don't want to revisit old thoughts and discoveries and feelings, it would be like shuffling the variables in an equation only to discover you are back where you started, it would be like tying a knot that doesn't hold. I'm not forgetful enough to think they are new.

So there isn't anything new. It's just that every time I walk through Maida Vale the lights, the shapes are sharper. The silence is sharper. Maybe what I've learned in the past year and a half will do for a while. Maybe I have reached peaceful grounds with sharp lights and soft shadows.

I promise I'll write when something exciting occurs to me.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

!!!Cheesy Post Alert!!!


Things I learned in the past month (or rather eight months).

You can't learn from anybody's experience. They tell you and you think it's obvious and you won't make the same mistakes everybody does, and you still have to make your own mistakes to get to know yourself and learn. (Thanks to all those people who told me the following in the past eight months, though:)

Work, love, friendships... They all take a lot of hard work.

[If you like what you're doing], hang on to it!

You'll write hundreds of reports like this one!

But you haven't gone deep in anything yet.

You just need to pick a channel and flow through it.

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Nothing works unless you work.

Work is not enough to be happy.

While I was cooking an omlette today - I realised high heat makes things burn, I want cooked.

And something I found out while watching Funny Ha Ha, an independent American movie about a girl who just graduated, who has "broad interests" and looking for a 'temporary job but a permanent boyfriend', I realized my ordinariness (similar to the feeling I got when our office director made a presentation and it became obvious (to me) that I make up a miniscule part of the business, naturally down in the managers' list of things to do - 'people urgently to hire!') As I'm struggling to get a job, as I'm having an all-important very awkward conversation with a boy, millions of other girls (and boys) are doing the same out there. We all believe we are very unique, in our music tastes and the places we've traveled and the memories and the people in our lives. Looking for special meaning in all that happens, connecting dots. Even in that, we are all so similar to one another. Which is sad and humbling and relieving all at once.