David Harvey Explains The Crisis of Capitalism and The Dwelling Construction Craze in Turkey

Contemporary British social critic David Harvey gave a conference entitled “The Crisis of Capitalism and Urban Struggle” at Ankara, Middle East Technical University, on 13th June 2012. Arriving just before the conference took start, I certainly didn't expect not finding any seats and sitting on the stairs. Harvey definitely created a wave of excitement in METU, because that he is one of the 20 top cited scholars in humanities(and the funny thing is one cannot help but hesitate how to introduce him, since he is a professor of anthropology and an academic geographer). In his speech which lasted about 45 minutes, Harvey stressed two main points, that is the outcomes of capitalism today thus the crisis the world is going through today, and second, reflections of today's economics in the world cities. Harvey gave a quite clear definition of capitalism, then he asserted capitalism shows its defects from time to time, and resolutes these defects by creating economic bubbles, or speculative bubbles. The new fashion seems to be the strive to compensate current crisis with a massive move: construction of new houses, which is to soothe the problems arising from the difference between supply and demand. Indeed, being a literature student, I am not fully knowledgable about this new craze. However, any person watching TV would recognize something IS going on. What I mean is every other day we are bombarded with the commercials, we are told to buy these newly built houses, each said to be situated at the center of the city, yet promising its future residents a tranquil atmosphere. Every other day a new building complex comes up. Harvey says that capitalism wants to recover from its occasional crises by tempting people to own properties and if they cannot afford, they are provided loans.
For Harvey, this fashion started around 1960s and 1960s, right after WWII and the Great Depression, and first affected people with low income who esteemed “American Dream”. Next it was Bill Clinton who tried to tempt again people with low income to buy houses, consequently meet the deficit between dwelling productions and capital accumulation. However, in 2000s, George W.Bush announced that this policy has failed.
Cities getting larger and larger is a big problem. In Turkey, share taxis (dolmuş) are frequently used. And the places where it collects and drops the passengers is written on them. I wonder how the drivers of these taxis will be able to memorize names of these buildling complexes, for most of the names are unfamiliar for Turkish speakers. Of course there is this bigger concern: How long this craze will last? Will we just enlarge our cities forever, just to sustain capitalism? On the other hand, being an ordinary citizen, primarily I care about how long will it take for me to reach somewhere in the city by bus, because as the time passes, going from somewhere to another gets longer, thus harder. According to Harvey, satellite cities and suburbs fell out of favour, and the only solution is to regenerate the city centres. He says “enlargement” as a watchword for capitalism is riding for a fall. He also points out that like China, Russia and other Latin America countries also sought to gather strength by urbanization politics and the recovery in dwelling constructions. He reminded this recovery is only temporary and if this bubble “pops”, well, we better be prepared for a series of international economic crises. At this point Harvey offers that we need to build our cities according to our lifestyles. I definitely agree with Harvey, and I think we should put human beings at the center in the making of city plans: cities that are planned according to our desires and needs. Otherwise, the point the economy goes could not be foreseen. And we should note that every time a new crisis arise, we take bigger steps, like a new building complex with a cocky name announced every other day. In Ankara, I feel glad most in the university campuses, where you can reach anywhere on foot in a short period of time, or taking a cab costs only a little amount of money. Because the campuses are enviromental-friendly, and they put individuals at the center of everything, not capital.
 Harvey says that he likens the building craze in Turkey to the one that has happened in Spain and Ireland 5 years ago. He mentioned that the 2.5 million houses in Valencia, are empty now. What I understood from this is that there is again this gap between supply and demand. To keep the balance, you build the houses and wait for them to be filled in. But what happens if they remain empty so that you have made a bad investment? You build more houses and wait again.
 At the end of the conference, Harvey listened to couple of questions from the audience (I think there were 1000 people or more. He seemed to be surprised to see this crowd in a hot summer day). But he looked quite tired, and the Conference Hall is quite large so it is difficult to follow long questions, especially if the person is excited. I think there were many irrelevant questions, too. So, Harvey could not answer each of them. I had a question in mind yet couldn't dare to ask, afraid that my ignorance on this subjects would arise. Yet I dare to ask it here: Harvey compared Spain and Ireland to Turkey. There is a certain demand for new houses every year in Turkey. And since the population is increasing contrary to these countries, (so that houses are sold almost in a day) how can Turkey end up Spain's property bubble?
 Being an acitivist, he put a strong emphasis on anticapitalism. Harvey evaluated latest social movements in urban areas such as Occupy as important in an anticapitalist sense. One of the most striking points in his speech was that the people belonging to working class are many in number and if they create a resistant network, battle against capitalism could come true.
 What about universities? Harvey says freedom  of universities has become questionnable after the application of neoliberal politics. Now that universities are trying to be afloat by emterprises, and universities become paid, he is not satisfied with the number of students attending to his classes. I call it a crazy irony that universities both invite scholarly and activist speakers like David Harvey as well as the people whose mere feature is being known as the owner of the biggest construction firms. As the latter often makes the most underbred remarks in the newspapers and TV programmes, I find it ludicrous that some students prefer to wear suits to their conferences.

The Postmodern Face of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Theater is an important factor for human life because it is based on the creation of the experience of human living. It is a kind of expression and this reflection of expression related to human life’s experiments. Using theatre as a tool is awareness for the development of mankind. Furthermore, theater has an efficient potential to reach out to society. By staging plays based on the reality of the society and the issues concerning societies, it can easily get out to the public and help them to understand the nuances of societal elements. This can also help the society to move on forward and proceed.
Shakespeare’s many plays are put on the stage or reflected to movie screens. Shakespeare gives great opportunities to attend the play and he wants audiences to find true solutions or responses by themselves. He takes away people to unknown worlds or familiar places but his aim is to create awareness in both situation. One of the Shakespeare’s adaptable plays is the awarded film of Taviani Brothers. The film “Caesar Must Die” (Cesare Deve Morire) is adapted from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” so “Caesar Must Die” recalls the postmodern face of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

“Caesar Must Die” is based on cruciality of the theater on human life. The movie handles inmates of Rome's maximum-security Rebibbia Prison. Italian filmmaking team Vittorio and Paolo Taviani’s docudrama throws light on hopeless lives of inmates. These inmates do not know the sun, the sky or trees because the beauties of life are forgotten. With the help of theater, they hold on to life and forget their own crime, lives and even names on the stage. During six months, they have performed the play, helping them to see the sun, the sky and trees again. However, inmates feel themselves useless after the performance since they have begun their own lives from scratch with this drama. The play reflects the reality of inmates and their lives at all points. All the cast want to touch on specific themes – life and death, rivalry and hate, collusion and treachery, loyalty and betrayal, the nature of crime and the codes of honor shaping the world of men. Besides, the cast of the movie is real criminals in Rome’s Rebibbia Prison so this also supports the movie’s depth and literalism.

Dealing with utmost importance of theater within a movie points out that theater is an essential part of human life. Vittorio and Paolo Taviani help people about this serious and significant part of life by putting a mirror. “Caesar Must Die” won the Golden Bear award for the best movie at the Berlin Film Festival. Taviani Brothers said that “Among the inmates were, who had got life sentences, serious criminals and this play was a kind of liberation for them.”

Gizem Irmak Yolcu, ELIT III


On Plays Performed by Ankara State Theater/II 2011-2012

            Haydi Karına Koş is the most entertaining and funny play I have ever seen in 2011-2012 season. The title represents a cab driver who has two wives and he runs from pillar to post between them. The play’s writer is Ray Cooney who is a famous comedy writer. In addition, he was the founder of “Theatre of Comedy Company” in London and also in some of his plays, he performs just like actors. His play (Run For Your Wife) has been translated into Turkish by Orhan Azizoğlu. In the play, we see lots of familiar and popular actors because some of them are also playing in TV shows. Moreover, the director, Ali Hürol is also familiar to us because he acts in many TV shows in Turkey. There are seven actors in the play and each of them has a remarkable role. The main character is Cüneyt Mete and in the play his name is John Smith. He has two wives; one of them is Şirin Giobbi (in the play Mary Smith) and his other wife is Pelin Dikmenoğlu (in the play Barbara Smith.) There are two police commissioners; Şahap Sayılgan (Porter) and Savaş Tamer (Thomson). Moreover, there are two neighbours, who breathe new life into the play, Ünsal Coşar (Stanley Gardner) and Mert Hürol (Boby Franklin). The play is staged in Cüneyt Gökçer Theatre On April 19th, 2012 in Çayyolu which is a recent theatre hall and enormously large compared to other theatres in Ankara. For the first time I watched a play from balcony but watching it from overhead is quite an experience. During the play; stage design, which looks like a house but indeed it is divided into two different houses, keeps its stability.
In the play, John Smith is a cab driver and he married to Mary but 6 months later he married Barbara. The two women are completely different from each other. Barbara is sexy, charming woman and she has extraordinary behaviours. But Mary represents the perfect wife; preparing food for her husband, tidying the household in other words she gives importance to moral principles. In order not to be caught, John prepares a timetable and he puts some codes in specific days such as, ADB= All day Barbara, HTM= Half time Mary. However, one day he has an accident and his programme goes wrong because both of his wives are worried about John. At the same time Mary and Barbara call different police departments in order to inform them about the loss of their husbands. The events are mixed up when police commissioners get involved and John’s neighbour, Stanley lends help to John. John makes a great effort to solve the problem but the issue becomes more and more complicated. At the end of the play John revealed everything but this time nobody believes him. It is clearly type of a comedy but indeed the writer tries to put emphasis on “the institution of marriage” and in a way he criticizes marriage in a funny way. Moreover, the play is accepted as a “vaudeville” which is a type of theatre entertainment in the 1800s and early 1900s which included music, dancing and jokes. Its aim is to make audience laugh and entertain them. Because of this reason in some parts of the play we see exaggerated events and characters. As a result of being a comedy, in almost all of the scenes audience amuse themselves and laugh. For example, at the very beginning of the performance; when Mary and Barbara call police department anxiously, they need to introduce John and they tell exactly
the same features and simultaneously they say “John Smith.” In another scene, Stanley makes contact with audience and wants them to applaud. First nobody does anything but then they string along with him. Mostly I fancy the way Barbara talks and I laugh every time she says “Hellooo!!” In one scene, Barbara begins to make a sexy dance, John and Stanley join her, too. Suddenly, the lights are turned off and the stage changes into a disco. I like both dance figures and the music so this scene is the most amusing part. In addition to all these good comments, the play is too long because toward the end I cannot keep up with the play and I want it to end up as soon as possible.
Lastly, the stage design is a usual one. At first glance you see a simple living room but indeed it is divided into two different houses. One of them belongs to Mary and the other belongs to Barbara. The costumes contain overtones from 1970s for instance John is wearing a wide leg trouser. In my opinion costumes play a significant role in this play because it helps us to understand the differences between the two women. Barbara prefers to wear décolleté dresses and she looks very sexy. Also in every scene she has an excessive make-up even when she gets up in the morning. Moreover, Barbara’s neighbour Boby wears a pink jumper with pink pad and this dressing helps audience to understand that he is a gay. There is no unusual lighting or sound effects because there is always chaos in the play so it is a good choice not to exaggerate these elements. In conclusion; if you want to have fun and amuse yourself, it is a good choice to see Haydi Karına Koş. Not only the well-composed plot but also great efforts of all of the actors make it worth seeing.
Hazal Yavuz, ELIT II