Eren DuzgunDec 28, 2022
Capitalism, Jacobinism and International Relations
Revisiting Turkish Modernity
Cambridge University Press 2022
Western interpretations of the Ottoman age of reform and the Turkish Republic often evaluate these histories against an idealized, essentialized narrative of the European history, in which a triumphant bourgeois class instigated transitions to political liberalism and capitalism. Consequently, their explanations of persistent authoritarian tendencies and statist economic development policies focus on what features of European modernity are missing or insufficiently present in Turkey.
In Capitalism, Jacobinism and International Relations: Revisiting Turkish Modernity (Cambridge UP, 2022), Eren Duzgun, argues that this approach to comparative historical analysis not only fails to grasp Ottoman and Turkish history on its own terms, but it also gets European history wrong by overlooking the variety of trajectories of political and economic development that characterized European history from the age of revolutions onwards. Duzgun argues that the concept of Jacobinism holds the key to understanding both Ottoman and Turkish modernization and transitions to modernity in continental Europe that did not correspond to the narrative of ‘bourgeois revolutions’ that undergirds both liberal and Marxist theories of modernization. We will discuss the origins of the Jacobin route to modernity, how the Jacobin model relates to common understandings of capitalist political economies, and why a book about Turkish and Ottoman history needed a chapter on French history.
Eren Duzgun is assistant professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham’s China Campus in Ningbo, China.
Geoffrey Gordon is a PhD candidate in comparative politics at the University of Virginia. Follow him on Twitter: @geofflgordon.