Kalkışma

Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye and the Birth of the Liberal Creed in the Ottoman Empire

Posted in Osmanlı İmparatorluğu, Politik Ekonomi, Tarih by Dead FM on Temmuz 30, 2012

Nineteenth century was marked by a large-scale upsurge in the productive capacities of Western European economies within the framework of a capitalist form of commodity production. Under the auspices of centralized state structures, the continent experienced the unification of national markets, subsequent expansion of the volume of international trade in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars while extraterritorial capital flows soared on a global scale from the second quarter of the century onward. Breakthrough technological developments in transportation and communication and the post-1815 status quo which revolved around the preservation of interstate peace in Europe further contributed to the deepening of market relations on a global scale and ‘strengthened the position of Western Europe as the main center of accumulation in the world economy’.[1] Amid the processes whereby protectionist barriers were eliminated around the world and pre-capitalist economic formations were peripheralized[2], the theory of economic liberalism, in its coherent and doctrinal form was born and constituted itself as the hegemonic strand of economic thought in nineteenth century Europe; henceforth to be disseminated outside the continent.

It was within the nineteenth century context of shifts in the economic and political power balance between the Ottoman Empire and the major powers of Europe at the expense of the former, growing fiscal deficits due to wars the Ottoman state engaged in between 1770s and 1840s and budgetary pressures caused by administrative reforms, that the Ottoman economy was integrated into the novel structures of production and circulation of commodities across borders.[3] The Tanzimat era, a period of intense state-led administrative, social and economic reform whose start can roughly be dated at the beginning of the 1840s displayed, in a sense, both the political and economic asymmetries and contradictions inherent to this expansionist wave of globalizing capitalism and the ways in which the structural patterns of this global economic phase became intertwined with the political and economic structures of the Ottoman state and society. Marked by, among other things, a resolute drive towards fiscal centralism aided by a variety of administrative measures,[4] the Tanzimat period was a response to the transformative flux of global and local conditions in the post-Napoleonic era.

An acute and growing awareness regarding the deteriorating finances of the Ottoman state at the turn of the nineteenth century was, arguably, one of the primary catalysts behind the ambitious economic and administrative reform agenda of Tanzimat statesmen. Yet surrounding the reform program and its implementation lay the tragedy of the archetypal Tanzimat bureaucrat and the nineteenth century Ottoman state: Throughout the four decades, spanning from 1839 to 1876, the Ottoman state secured its central grasp over fiscal and political resources while its foreign trade regime being liberalized and its economy simultaneously peripheralized and ever more integrated into global networks of capital and commodity circulation; its result being a growing inability to service external debt and ultimately, the complete loss of fiscal autonomy -epitomized in the establishment of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration in the wake of the global financial crisis of the 1870s.

The culmination of this process was the thorough transformation of the main pillars of the Ottoman economic structure, the Ottoman state’s traditional economic policy directions and the conventionally hegemonic lines in Ottoman economic thought. The reform period witnessed the parallel processes of economic liberalization on the policy side of the scale and the introduction of the classical economic theory into the Ottoman intellectual realm. The Tanzimat era was thus marked by the transplantation and dominance of a particular version of economic liberalism to the realm of Ottoman economic policy formulations and economic thought -a dominance which would not face serious challenges up until the dawn of the Hamidian era when alternative protectionist currents of thought would find a coherent form and shape.[5]

In light of an early Ottoman book on political economy; Sarantis Archigenes’ Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye, written in mid- to late 1840s, this brief study aims to present an account of the profound shift that occurred in the dominant paradigm within which Ottoman economic policy choices have been structured and essential axiomatic principles of Ottoman economic thought formulated. The first part of the study is devoted to a brief discussion of the existing literature on classical Ottoman economic thought while in the second part we will stick to a descriptive account of the traditional economic policy line of the Ottoman state up until the nineteenth century. We will then go on to present the channels of transmission through which economic liberalism was implanted into the Ottoman realm and conclude with exposing some of the significant positions of Sarantis Archigenes regarding economic theory and his version of classical liberal approach while contextualizing the work within our narrative.

1. Existing Literature on Ottoman Economic Thought

The academic literature on Ottoman economic mentality, despite attempts to overcome its limitations, has generally been influenced by the conceptual tools utilized by the Weberian sociological tradition.[6] Given the significant contributions and advances made in the field of economic sociology throughout the past century, it is remarkable how studies on Ottoman economic thought are still under the spell of a rather vulgarized form of Weberian understanding of economy in terms of conceptualizing the relationship between mentalities and concrete economic activities and processes. In line with the literature’s adherence to this framework, the general tendency in the analyses of classical Ottoman economic thought has been to construct a relationship of direct or indirect causality between the economic underdevelopment of Middle Eastern societies and the Islamic (specifically its Sufi vein) understanding of economy and economic activity.[7] While Islam (and for that matter, Protestantism in relation to the emergence of capitalism in Europe) undoubtedly influenced the specific ways in which economic activities were carried out, it is our contention that the literature’s preoccupation with defining Islam’s relation towards time, matter and social order resulted in a tendency to essentialize a de-contextualized, static and monolithic image of Islam and an overarching ‘Islamic’ perception of economy, overdetermined by mystical ethics supposedly inherent to this religion. Moreover, the dearth of in-depth comparative studies that would take into account the points of converge between the Ottoman and contemporary European economic policies is depressing to the point that it is still commonplace to attribute the orthodox line in classical Ottoman economic policies to the ‘gaza culture’ intrinsic to the self-perception of the state; rather than contextualizing the warrior ethos to the feudal type of social organization and social property relationships that is typical for many Eurasian formations[8].

For the sake of analytical precision and clarity, we will not discuss the ways in which the Islamic understanding of the world, society and wealth in general, might have influenced the particular and prevalent form of economic thought that has shaped Ottoman economic mentality (if one could ever use such a generalization) until the nineteenth century. For our purposes in this study, it would instead be more rewarding to concentrate not on the specific cultural motivations and mental determinants that shape the common producers’ relation vis-à-vis wealth; but rather settle for a descriptive account of what some of the components of the typical and standard stance of the Ottoman state towards economy and economic activity were and how these manifested themselves in the realm of practical policy implementation until the nineteenth century.

 

2. Traditional Policy Line: Selective Interventionism, Fisco-Centrism

The three-tier structure provided by Mehmet Genç concerning the pillars of the traditional economic perspective of the Ottoman state up until the nineteenth century, although rather schematic, is useful for our purposes.[9] According to this framework, one of the top economic responsibilities assumed by the Ottoman state has been the securing of the standard supply of cheap consumer goods into the markets and the policymakers did not usually hesitate to intervene in the workings of the productive sphere and markets. The general policy orientation of the Ottoman state with regards to the foreign trade regime was influenced by provisionist concerns as well: Imports has generally been encouraged while severe limitations on the export of many items persisted until the ‘liberal turn’. In sum, the ‘provisionist’ policy line could be considered as consumer-oriented -as opposed to a policy choice which would prioritize the profit-motive of producers.[10] 

Studies on Ottoman economy in the last couple of decades, however, have helped refine and ease the general tendency in the literature to attribute a strict and inflexible interventionist attitude to the pre-modern Ottoman state. Whereas the classical framework propounded the image of strong state interventionism exemplified by control of the factors of production[11] through practices such as ‘arbitrary’ and ‘irrational’ monetary devaluations and the extensive use of price-control mechanisms in the marketplace (narh) to maintain price rigidity, new studies shifted the focus increasingly on the limits of such interventionism. As Pamuk argues, straightforward and extensive interventionism was indeed the reality during the reign of Mehmed II when Ottoman centralism was at its zenith but gradually gave way to a ‘selective interventionist’ attitude where increasingly, Ottoman statesmen acknowledged both the practical impossibility and inefficiency of controlling internal monetary and product circulation and generally let the markets decide the exchange rates and prices outside of the imperial capital -this policy, only to be temporarily revoked during periods of extreme scarcity.[12]

However questionable the degree to which the Ottoman state maintained an interventionist posture until the nineteenth century is, it is clear that, as Genç argues, the Ottoman economic policies retained a thoroughly fisco-centric stance towards every form of economic activity to the degree that the “the tradition of writing exclusively on state finances in general, and on taxation in particular, lasted to the end of the nineteenth century”.[13] Perceiving economic activity solely as a potential source of revenue need not necessarily bring about an indifferent attitude towards productionist concerns but it is evident that aside from a few isolated instances, it is not possible to observe a general tendency on the part of the Ottoman state to increase agricultural or manufacturing productivity up until the Tanzimat era. Until the advent of the state-led modernization program in the Ottoman Empire, commercial/trade-related concerns overwhelmed the possibility of an efficiency-oriented productionist focus to emerge and gain currency.[14]

3. The Enduring Question: ‘Why Isolation’?

The provisionist mentality, fisco-centrism and a general absence of productionist concerns, in fact, stood at a crucial juncture where the historical trajectory of the development of the Ottoman economy diverged significantly from some of its west European counterparts from the seventeenth century onwards. Whereas the latter, amidst the stormy processes of state formation, embraced an export-oriented economic outlook (later dubbed as mercantilism) which relied heavily on fiscal centralism and emphasized a positive balance of trade, the Ottoman state maintained the central principles of its traditional policy line that prioritized the security of domestic supply channels -albeit the extent of the central state to command being subject to significant alterations due to the changing character of the relationship between the imperial center and regional political and economic forces throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is evident that the absence of such a re-orientation left the Ottoman statesmen with relatively few alternatives when faced with periodic monetary and budgetary crisis conditions: Devaluation and broadening of the scope of tax-farming contracts as a mechanism of internal borrowing -both of which have, in turn, proven to be mid-range solutions at best. On a broader scale, it could also be argued that the Ottoman economic thought has remained mostly isolated from the policy currents developing outside of its realm where for instance in Europe, the secular trend of economic growth throughout the sixteenth and a general crisis in the seventeenth centuries have altered the class composition and state structures, giving way to novel theories concerning state finances and economic policies.

These being said, the question of as to why and how the traditional pillars of Ottoman economic thought have persisted and in application been perpetuated by deliberate state policies throughout most of the lifespan of the Ottoman state can lead us into problematic conclusions insofar as the question is built upon the often faulty presumption of an essential ‘lack of Ottoman receptiveness’ towards economic ideas of external origin[15]. Moreover, the scholarly preoccupation with the question of as to why, for instance, mercantilism did not gain any ground in the Ottoman realm is informed partly by the teleological grounds on which the history of capitalism is generally analyzed and this further clouds our vision.[16] It may however be possible to explain why the Ottoman statesmen preserved the state’s traditional policy line up until the mid-nineteenth century and answer the question of whether the liberalizing policy measures from 1830s onward signify any belatedness on the part of the Ottomans, without appealing to propositions that relate the scantiness of output in Ottoman economic thought to reasons such as ‘the restrictions imposed by the ulama for philosophical and speculative thought’.[17] To come up with such an explanatory framework is beyond the scope and intent of this study. Suffice it to say that, in order to grasp the fundamental determinants behind the persistence of the traditional economic policy-making patterns in the Ottoman Empire, it would perhaps be useful to consider the presence or absence of crisis conditions and how such conditions interact with i) conventional ‘correction’ mechanisms at the policy level, ii) the existing social property relations and forms of commodity production as a starting point. It should also be added that pre-industrial ancien regimes, left undisturbed by dramatic economic fluctuations or political crises, display a more or less uniform and, quite naturally, a hostile stance towards the possibilities of transformation in one or more of the constituting components of their respective economic formations, such as the land tenure regime.[18] Moreover, it was standard practice for pre-modern states to implement improvisational measures against changes in economic trends, albeit within the paradigmatic framework of their respective traditional economic policy directions: Dramatic policy shifts only occur under dramatically exceptional circumstances.

To briefly concretize what has so far been argued; it was the parallel developments of administrative centralization; the profound changes in both the social property relations (transformation of agrarian class structures) and commodity production (spreading of the putting-out form); and a political revolution that enabled the English state to embark on a distinctly mercantilist policy path. Again in France, it was only at a time of heightened crisis in the mid-eighteenth century that the short-lived attempt of physiocrats such as Quesnay and Turgot who quite radically advocated the necessity of replacing the seignorial system to a bourgeois form of land tenure could gain prominence.[19] Whereas in the Ottoman case, the eighteenth century rise of regional landowning classes neither has produced large and market-oriented agricultural agglomerations similar to English farms[20], nor a fundamental transformation in the relations between the center and peripheral forces so as to enable the landowning classes to influence economic policies of the Ottoman state. It seems to be that for the Ottoman state, it was not apparent until the growing and perpetuated budget crises of the late eighteenth century that the economy faced a serious threat which, as perceived by the reforming statesmen, could not be staved off by an appeal to traditional remedial measures. Coupled with the growing English economic influence and military power, it was the combination of a deep structural crisis and external pressures that enabled a liberal shift in Ottoman economic policy from 1830s onwards.

Although much of the arguments to be found in the existing literature concerning the absence in the Ottoman Empire of an indigenous form of theoretical activity on economics are accurate, it should be pointed out as a concluding remark that it was only in the 1830s that liberalist policy tendencies in certain European countries were merged under a militant and ‘universalized’ doctrinal form under the banner of laissez-faire theories.[21] This fact serves as a useful reminder to go beyond the ‘Ottomans-as-late-comers’ framework and conceptualize the Tanzimat era liberalization as being contemporaneous with European policy trends towards the same direction.

 

4. Transplanting Classical Economic Theory into the Ottoman Empire

Caught between a perceived need for urgent fiscal reform on the part of the central state and external political and military pressures, 1830s witnessed the first inroads of the theory of classical economics into the Ottoman intellectual life and the realm of policy-making. The 1838 Anglo-Ottoman commercial treaty, undoubtedly, constituted a watershed event and proved to be the major catalyst for the liberalization of the Ottoman trade regime. The treaty stipulated the abolishment of the monopolistic control of the Ottoman state over the export regime, introduced serious limitations over the state’s ability to levy extraordinary taxes on export items, exempted foreign merchants from burdensome internal customs and raised export duties to 12 per cent while establishing the rate of import duties at 5 per cent (before 1838, there had been a flat duty rate of 3 per cent both over imports and exports). Perhaps the single most significant ramification of these arrangements in the long run was the imposition of a serious legal constraint over the Ottoman state’s capacity to pursue an autonomous track in designating its foreign trade regime.[22] Aside from the treaty’s ramifications on Ottoman economic policies, it could well be argued that it “paved the way to the penetration of the Classical approach in political economy into the Ottoman Empire”.[23]

One notable outcome of the process of transplantation and incorporation of both the notions and the jargon of European political economy on a meta-level was a sea change in the epistemological framework within which ‘economics’ and wealth were conceptualized. In line with the particular way in which the ancient Greek tradition was absorbed into the intellectual paradigms of medieval Islam, the conventional Ottoman perception had been confined to a perception of economics merely as ‘household management’[24] and such as it was, the field “did not occupy an important position in the [medieval] Islamic scheme of science”.[25] Whereas in the nineteenth century, parallel to the contemporary scholarly developments in Europe, not only has economics  become a separate field on its own that aspired to capture the essence of economic activity on a grand analytical scale in its totality, the epistemological shift became evident also in naming practices: ‘İlm-i Tedbîr-i Menzîl’ (implying household management),the term that had traditionally been used to denote the science of economics, was gradually transformed into ‘İlm-i Tedbîr-i Servet’ (a clear emphasis on wealth) throughout the century in question.[26]

The initial encounters of Ottoman statesmen and intellectuals with the basic tenets of the liberal doctrine came, in the first half of the 1830s, through such figures as David Urquhart and Alexandre Blacque.[27]  However, the first serious attempts at grappling with the scholarly works of European origin on political economy and the transplantation of liberalism in a coherent ‘scientific’ bundle into the Ottoman context materialized through direct exposure to the primary sources from 1840s onwards and this was a thoroughly gradual affair; spanning over a few decades[28]. The decades spanning from 1840s to the end of the century saw the proliferation of translated books on political economy into the Turkish language as well as the production of a handful of original works authored by members of the Ottoman literati; spearheaded specifically by Armenians such as Sakizli Ohannes Pasha, Portakal Mikael Efendi, Vahan Efendi etc.[29] Undoubtedly, the growing number of Ottomans who studied abroad constituted one of the primary links of transmission of the liberal doctrine and contributed to this trend of proliferation, as evidenced by the fact that nearly all of the authors who produced such works completed their education and formal training in France.[30]

One particularity of the transmission process lay in the specific form of economic liberalism the Ottoman intellectuals chose to embrace. As will be discussed within the context of Archigenes’ work below, the initial link of mediation lay neither in the original works of Smith nor of Ricardo, but rather in a continental version of a Smithian form of liberalism espoused and championed by Jean-Baptiste Say; the French economist, also considered to be the so-called ‘founder’ of ‘vulgar economics’ and his Italian successor at the chair of political economy at Collège de France, Pellegrino Rossi.[31] Whereas the works of British economists of the classical tradition have rather remained under a certain degree of insular isolation[32], Say played a major role in promoting the Smith-Ricardo line, albeit with significant modifications and through a selective interpretation, across the continent and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire and North America.[33] Because of the sheer magnitude of influence his reading of Smith exerted on the initial acquaintance of the Ottoman intellectuals with European political economy, a few words need to be said about some of the fundamental tenets of his analysis.

Say was a disciple of Adam Smith and believed himself to be a mere interpreter of the late social philosopher.[34] However, his undertaking involved more than a simple exposition of the Smithian framework: “In the process of selecting and refining, Say gave to Smith’s doctrines a twist, which was, in effect, an alternative to the development which they had obtained at the hands of Ricardo.”[35] Writing at a time when David Ricardo proposed significant improvements on Adam Smith’s early forays into the formulation of a labor theory of value by delving deeper into a conceptualization of value in terms of its position within the circuits of productive processes, Say, fascinated by growing productivity through mechanization, chose to abandon the labor theory in its entirety, rejected the proposition that labor is the only source of value[36] and instead attributed the capacity to create value to machinery.[37] Say instead developed a certain form of ‘utility theory of value’ where “both goods and productive services derived their value from the utility of the final product.”[38] In sum, it could be argued that Say, in his capacity as the main propagator of the liberal doctrine outside Britain, reversed the process through which a tendency to ‘socialize’ units of economic analysis (such as labor, profit, rent etc.) into the social totality of the capitalist economy -a tendency whose ‘logical’ outcome was materialized initially at the hands of Ricardo and through his critique, by Marx later in the second half of the nineteenth century.

5. Sarantis Archigenes and Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye

Sarantis Archigenes was born in 1809 into a middle class Greek family in Epivates (today’s Selimpaşa-Silivri).[39] Having received his elementary education in Istanbul and employed as a teacher in Plovdiv for four years, Archigenes went to Paris with a government scholarship to study medicine in the 1830s. He must have become acquainted with the works and presumably lectures of Pellegrino Rossi during his stay in Paris[40]. After completing his studies and internship in the hospitals of various European countries, he returned to Istanbul in 1843 and started working as a surgeon at Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. Apparently, Archigenes wrote Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye during the years when he was still working at the imperial school of medicine in the 1840s[41]. The book, originally written by Archigenes in French, was translated into Turkish in 1849, upon the approval of Meclis-i Maarif. It is believed that the book remained in manuscript form and never published.[42]

One of the most significant ways in which Archigenes departs from some of the main principles that upheld the classical Ottoman social and economic thought  manifests itself in the author’s emphasis on ‘fair income distribution’. Whereas the epistemological framework that structured the economic perspective of the conventional nasihatname literature rested on strong moralist assumptions regarding the ‘just’ social order, Archigenes’ focus on the significance of income distribution is thoroughly secular and its importance is justified in amoral terms: Since the main goal of the science of political economy is to expose how the general welfare of society could be maximized, there is no better way to increase wealth in a sustainable manner than to distribute resources fairly, without depriving the bulk of the society of its vital needs.[43] 

It is clear that the works of Malthus on population theory greatly influenced the author of Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye. Archigenes maintains that in spite of the existence of a generally positive correlation between population increase and the level of economic development[44], the delicate balance between natural resources and a country’s population ought not to be damaged. Although the output that could be appropriated from nature increases only in a limited manner, human needs run the risk of growing indefinitely; -a discrepancy which would cause disruption of the social order.[45] Such potential discrepancies, however, be prevented with an increase in agricultural productivity through an adoption of ‘scientific’ methods of production.

In accordance with Say’s utility theory of value, Archigenes argues that the total value of a good can be derived from its utility for the consumer, which is realized within the realm of exchange[46]. In addition to the degree to which a certain good is ‘useful’ for human needs and necessities, the relative abundance or scarcity is what ultimately determines the value of that particular good.[47] Although the author elaborates on wage and labor elsewhere in the book, nowhere does he try to incorporate labor into the process of value-creation. In fact, the way Archigenes constructs its explanatory framework for the realm of production and how production is linked to value-creation and industrial mechanization is further indicative of Say’s influence. For the author, industry is of fundamental importance and industrialization is recognized as the main catalyst behind economic development.[48] Just as Say, “enraptured with the high productivity of machines, attributed the ability to create new value to the machines themselves”[49], Archigenes shares the Frenchman’s fascination with the mechanization process. It is for the author, machinery that endows a country with economic as well as intellectual progress.[50] Mechanization would lead to increase in productive capacities and a rise in the standard of living.[51] There is a direct link of causality built between industrialization and economic development and Archigenes does not elaborate on the position human labor assumes within the framework of value creation.

In line with the general climate of the period, Archigenes is strongly opposed to barriers against the free circulation of goods across borders and monopolistic practices over national and international trade. Since monopolies only work to the material benefit of a tiny of group of people, the author contends that it limits the majority of the population to access to basic goods by causing an artificial increase in prices.[52] Echoing Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage, Archigenes argues that international trade was mutually beneficial for participating countries.[53] 

More than being a simple translation of Rossi’s work, Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye is an adaptation of the Say-Rossi line to the Ottoman realities. Time and again, the author comments on the necessity of improving the transportation network of the country which is in a bad shape[54] and, in line with the already established consensus, defends monetary stability and assumes a negative position vis-à-vis the banknotes.[55]

6. Concluding Remarks

Parallel to the significant advances made in our understanding of the initial phase of expansion of globalizing capitalism from Western Europe to the rest of the world in the nineteenth century, the post-World War II decades saw an immense proliferation in scholarly works on the transmission of economic ideas in the modern world. Despite such progress, students of modern Ottoman economic thought continue to deal with both the legacy of the early Weberian imprint on the literature and the scant output in the field in terms of transcriptions of Ottoman works and production of revisionist theories regarding the classical Ottoman economic outlook.  The gap between contemporary global academic developments in the field and existing studies on the pillars upon which the economic perspective of the Ottoman state and society rose before and after the advent of European influence is enormous and deeply troubling. Although, thanks to the pioneering work of Zafer Toprak, we know a great deal about the Listian ‘protectionist reaction’ that has erupted against the legacy of the Tanzimat era during the ‘twilight’ of the Empire, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the forerunners of economic liberalism in the Ottoman Empire in order to grasp the ancestral links that have linked the mindset of the Ottoman statesmen and intellectuals with that of the currents of liberalism in Europe.

In this study, we have tried to summarize the basic arguments of Sarantis Archigenes while briefly dealing with the shortcomings of the existing literature on Ottoman economic thought and providing a preliminary reaction to the established wisdom that holds that the Ottoman economic thought rationalized at a fairly later stage than Europe. Archigenes’ Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye, being one of the earliest books written by an Ottoman which concerned itself with the ‘scientific’ study of economic phenomena, gives us certain hints regarding the specific form of economic liberalism that seems to have acquired a wide appeal among Ottoman intellectuals in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The adoption of Say’s interpretation of Smithian economics is, we assume, not accidental and cannot be explained merely by referring to the French cultural and linguistic hegemony across the continent. The works of Say, undoubtedly, were appealing to the Ottoman intellectuals of the era due to the clarity and simplicity of its language[56] -which is itself the reason why he has earned the reputation of a ‘populizer/vulgarizer’. One fundamental reason for this choice, however, is to be found in the way in which Say rid the Smithian economics of its Ricardian influences which has emphasized and advanced the ‘positive’ aspect of Smith’s theory, namely the labor theory of value. Labor theory of value, from its inception onwards, posed serious difficulties for liberal theorists because the theory “could not, in the end, be maintained without the introduction of some non-economic postulate, such as the doctrine of exploitation”.[57] Since Ricardo too, could not lead his extensive elaboration on the theory to its logical outcome (namely, the conceptualization of profit as a portion of the value created by the workers’ labor[58]; hence surplus appropriation and exploitation), by 1830s, labor theory of value was considered to be ridden with serious contradictions. What Say did was to take a step forward and abandon the whole framework. Value, now assumed to be derived from the utility of the manufactured good, was free of any potentially disturbing implications; such as the idea that what actualizes value is in fact labor that is poured into the production process. Therefore, Say’s reading of Smith constituted a safe haven not only for liberal political economists of mid-nineteenth century Europe, but also for many ‘aspiring’ intellectuals of the peripheralizing countries who, on their countries’ path towards modernization, wished to bypass the destructive forces and social perils unleashed by industrialization. Archigenes led the way in the Ottoman Empire.

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_________ (2002). “The Great Ottoman Debasement, 1808-1844: A Political Economy Framework,” in Histories of the Modern Middle East, New Directions, Israel Gershoni, Hakan Erdem, Ursula Woköck (ed.), Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

_________ (2000). “Osmanlı Ekonomisinde Devlet Müdahaleciliğine Yeniden Bakış,” Toplum ve Bilim, 83: 133-145

_________ (1998). “Geniş İmparatorlukta Para Politikası: Devlet Ne Kadar Müdahaleciydi, Ne Kadar Güçlüydü?,” in Osmanlıdan Cumhuriyete: Problemler, Araştırmalar, Tartışmalar, İstanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları

_________ (1992). “Anatolia and Egypt During the Nineteenth Century: A Comparison of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment,” New Perspectives on Turkey, 7: 37-56.

_________ (1988). “The Ottoman Empire in Comparative Perspective,” Review, 11-3: 127-149.

_________ (1988), “150. Yılında Baltalimanı Ticaret Anlaşması,” Tarih ve Toplum, 60: 38-41.

Quataert, Donald (1993). Ottoman Manufacturing in the Age of the Industrial Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rubin, Isaac Ilyich (1989). A History of Economic Thought, New York: Pluto Press.

Roll, Eric (1983). A History of Economic Thought, London: Faber and Faber.

Sayar, Ahmed Güner (2000). Osmanlı İktisat Düşüncesinin Çağdaşlaşması, İstanbul: Ötüken. 

Schumpeter, Joseph (1954). History of Economic Analysis, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Spengler, Joseph J. (1964). “Economic Thought of Islam: Ibn Khaldun,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 6-3:268-306.

Tezcan, Baki (2010). The Second Ottoman Empire, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Tribe, Keith (2003). “Historical Schools of Economics: German and English,” in The History of Economic Thought, Warren J. Samuels,  Jeff E. Biddle & John Davis (ed.), Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 

Ülgener, Sabri F. (1981). İslam, Tasavvuf ve Çözülme Devri İktisat Ahlakı, İstanbul: Der Yayınları

Veinstein, Gilles (1991). “On the Çiftlik Debate,” in Landholding and Commercial Agriculture in the Middle East, Çağlar Keyder & Faruk Tabak (ed.), Albany, NY: SUNY Press.


[1] Reşat Kasaba, The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy, (Albany: SUNY Press, 1988), pp. 41.

[2] For elaborate discussions on the incorporation of the Ottoman economy into global markets and the parallel process of peripheralization, see Ibid., pp. 4-9; Şevket Pamuk, Osmanlı Ekonomisinde Bağımlılık ve Büyüme 1820-1913, (İstanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2005), pp. 1-10; Şevket Pamuk, “Küreselleşme Çağında Osmanlı Ekonomisi, 1820-1914”, Türkler, cilt: 14, ed. Hasan Celal Güzel, Kemal Çiçek, Salim Koca, (Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 2002), pp. 241-252; Şevket Pamuk, “The Ottoman Empire in Comparative Perspective”, Review, vol. 11, no. 3 (1988), pp. 127-149; Çağlar Keyder, Türkiye’de Devlet ve Sınıflar (İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2004), pp. 39-71 and Çağlar Keyder, “Dünya Ekonomisi İçinde Çin ve Osmanlı İmparatorluğu; Kolonyal Olmayan Periferileşmeye İki Örnek”, in Toplumsal Tarih Çalışmaları (Ankara: Dost, 1983).

[3] Şevket Pamuk, “The Great Ottoman Debasement, 1808-1844: A Political Economy Framework”, Histories of the Modern Middle East, New Directions, ed. Israel Gershoni, Hakan Erdem, Ursula Woköck, (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002), pp. 21-36; Şevket Pamuk, “From Debasement to External Borrowing: Changing Forms of Deficit Finance in the Ottoman Empire, 1750-1914”, Monetary and Fiscal Policies in South-East Europe, ed. Şevket Pamuk and Roumen Avramov, (Sofia: Bulgarian National Bank, 2006), pp. 7.

[4] Halil İnalcık, “Tanzimat’ın Uygulanması ve Sosyal Tepkileri”, Tanzimat -Değişim Sürecinde Osmanlı İmparatorluğu, ed. Halil İnalcık, Mehmet Seyitdanoğlu, (Ankara: Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 2012), pp. 175; Yavuz Cezar, Osmanlı Maliyesinde Bunalım ve Değişim Dönemi, (İstanbul: Alan Yayıncılık, 1986), pp. 305-307.

[5] Ahmed Güner Sayar, Osmanlı İktisat Düşüncesinin Çağdaşlaşması, (İstanbul: Ötüken, 2000), pp. 47; Eyüp Özveren, “Ottoman economic thought and economic policy in transition -Rethinking the nineteenth century”, Economic Thought and Policy in Less Developed Europe, ed. Michales Psalidopoulos and Maria Eugénia Mata, (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 137-140.

[6] It ought to be noted that these attempts generally revolve around the limitations of Weber’s description of Islam as a static entity; rather than proposing a total departure from the Weberian paradigm. The components of the Weberian analytical framework continue to echo in contemporary works on Ottoman economic mentality. For an example, see Sabri F. Ülgener, İslam, Tasavvuf ve Çözülme Devri İktisat Ahlakı, (İstanbul: Der Yayınları, 1981).

[7] For notable examples, see Sabri F. Ülgener, İslam, Tasavvuf ve Çözülme Devri İktisat Ahlakı, (İstanbul: Der Yayınları, 1981); Ahmed Güner Sayar, Osmanlı İktisat Düşüncesinin Çağdaşlaşması, (İstanbul: Ötüken, 2000); Diren Çakmak, Osmanlı İktisat Düşüncesinin Evrimi -Societas ve Universitas Gerilimi, (İstanbul: Libra, 2011).

[8] For an important contribution to comparative studies in this issue area, see Yakup Akkuş, “Osmanlı ve Avrupa’nın İktisat Politikaları Üzerine Karşılaştırmalı Bir Analiz (XIV. Ve XV. Asırlar)”, İstanbul Üniversitesi İktisat Fakültesi Maliye Araştırmaları Konferansları Dergisi, no: 52 (2009), pp. 107-140. Also see Baki Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire, (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 81-91.

[9] For the sake of our discussion, we will not discuss the principle of ‘traditionalism’. For a detalied analysis, see Mehmet Genç, “Osmanlı İktisadi Dünya Görüşünün İlkeleri”, Sosyoloji Dergisi, vol:3, no:1 (1988), pp. 175-185.

[10] Ibid., pp. 178.

[11] Mehmet Genç, “19. Yüzyılda Osmanlı iktisadi dünya görüşünün klasik prensiplerindeki değişmeler”, Divan Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi, no: 6 (1999), pp. 1.

[12] For a detailed discussion of the ‘selective interventionism’ thesis, see Şevket Pamuk, “Osmanlı Ekonomisinde Devlet Müdahaleciliğine Yeniden Bakış”, Toplum ve Bilim, no: 83 (2000), pp. 133-145; Şevket Pamuk, “Geniş İmparatorlukta Para Politikası: Devlet Ne Kadar Müdahaleciydi, Ne Kadar Güçlüydü?”, in Osmanlıdan Cumhuriyete: Problemler, Araştırmalar, Tartışmalar, (İstanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1998), pp. 33-43.

[13] Mehmet Genç, “Ottoman Industry in the Eighteenth Century: General Framework, Characteristics, and Main Trends”, Donald Quataert (ed.), Manufacturing in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey 1500-1950, (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994), pp.63.; Eyüp Özveren, “Ottoman economic thought and economic policy in transition -Rethinking the nineteenth century”, in Economic Thought and Policy in Less Developed Europe, ed. Michales Psalidopoulos and Maria Eugénia Mata, (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 130 -see footnote 3.

[14] Ibid., pp. 132.

[15] It should be remembered that provisionist and anti-mercantilist policies were not specific to the Middle Eastern political landscape and were actually practiced widely in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. See, Şevket Pamuk, “Osmanlı Ekonomisinde Devlet Müdahaleciliğine Yeniden Bakış”, Toplum ve Bilim, no: 83 (2000), pp. 144.

[16] As a typical example, see Halil İnalcık, Turkey and Europe in History, (İstanbul: Eren, 2006), pp. 125.

[17] Ahmed Güner Sayar, Osmanlı İktisat Düşüncesinin Çağdaşlaşması, (İstanbul: Ötüken, 2000), pp. 67.

[18] Robert Brenner, “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe”, Past & Present, no:75 (1976), pp. 58. Whereas for instance both the French and Ottoman states did everything in their capabilities to reproduce petty peasant proprietorship in the land for centuries to come, Prussian and Russian states emerged and grew in a symbiotic relation with their respective big landowning aristocracies.

[19] For more information, see Isaac Ilyich Rubin, A History of Economic Thought, (New York: Pluto Press, 1989), pp. 89-150.

[20] Bruce McGowan, “Ayanlar Çağı, 1699-1812”, in Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nun Ekonomik ve Sosyal Tarihi, ed. Halil İnalcık and Donald Quataert, (İstanbul: Eren, 2004), pp. 804; Şevket Pamuk, “Bağımlılık ve Büyüme”, pp. 244; Gilles Veinstein, “On the Çiftlik Debate”, in Landholding and Commercial Agriculture in the Middle East, (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1991), ed. Çağlar Keyder and Faruk Tabak, pp. 47-53.

[21] Karl Polanyi, Ibid., pp. 135-149. The early forms the liberal theoretical activity in Britain took under the works of Smith and Ricardo, only reached its doctrinal maturity in the 1830s through a radicalization of such tendencies within the context of the widespread economic panic of the early nineteenth-century. Moreover, classical economic theory could be considered as the first coherent ‘school’ in the history of economics: “Mercantilism was neither a scientific school nor a scientific theory -there were then no schools at all in our sense of the word”. See, Joseph Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954), pp. 39.

[22] Şevket Pamuk, “150. Yılında Baltalimanı Ticaret Anlaşması”, Tarih ve Toplum, no: 60 (1988), pp. 39. Despite the obvious significance of the treaty and the general tendency in both academic and popular literature to identify it as the primary source of subsequent Ottoman economic subordination and the destruction of Ottoman local industries, an overwhelming body of macroeconomic evidence regarding the Ottoman balance of trade and the state of local manufacturing output from the late eighteenth century onward contradicts the apocalyptic qualities attributed to the treaty. Not only does the volume of Anglo-Ottoman trade (the biggest trade partner of the Ottoman Empire throughout most of the nineteenth century) seem to have picked up an enormous growth trend well before the signing of the treaty (in the aftermath of Napoleonic Wars, from 1820s onward), but also, it is clear by now that certain local manufacturing industries have managed to adapt to the changing trends in the global economy. For further analysis, see Edward C. Clark, “The Ottoman Industrial Revolution”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, no: 5 (1974), pp. 65; Şevket Pamuk, “Anatolia and Egypt During the Nineteenth Century: A Comparison of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment”, New Perspectives on Turkey, No: 7 (1992), pp. 39-40; Roger Owen, The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914, (New York: I.B. Tauris, 1993), pp. 84-87; Suraiya Faroqhi, Artisans of Empire, (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009), pp. 186-207.; Şevket Pamuk, “Küreselleşme Çağında Osmanlı Ekonomisi, 1820-1914”, Türkler, cilt: 14, ed. Hasan Celal Güzel, Kemal Çiçek, Salim Koca, (Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 2002), pp. 245-247; Donald Quataert, Ottoman Manufacturing in the Age of the Industrial Revolution, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 167.

[23] Eyüp Özveren, Ibid., pp.134.

[24] Mehmet Nuri Güler, “Günümüzde İktisat (Ekonomi) Biliminin Adlandırılma Problematiği”, İslami Araştırmalar Dergisi, Vol: 18 No:4 (2005), pp. 379-380; Ahmed Güner Sayar, Ibid., pp. 64.

[25] Joseph J. Spengler, “Economic Thought of Islam: Ibn Khaldun”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol: 6 No:3 (1964), pp. 269.

[26] F. Samime İnceoğlu, “Tanzimat’ta bir düşünür ve bürokrat: Münif Paşa ve iktisat tasavvuru”, Divan Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi, no: 19 (2005), pp. 233; Joseph J. Spengler, Ibid., pp. 276.

[27] Ahmed Güner Sayar, Ibid., pp. 190; Eyüp Özveren, Ibid., pp. 135. Alexandre Blacque’s supervision of the ‘Le Moniteur Ottoman’ seems to have played a pivotal role in diffusing the principles of economic liberalism among Ottoman ruling elite.

[28] It is known that the first Turkish-written work on economics that seems to imply a degree of acquaintance on the part of its author with theoretical works on political economy is a certain anonymous tract called “Risâle-i Tedbîr-i Ümrân-ı Mülkî” which is authored in the 1830s. See İlber Ortaylı, “Osmanlılarda İlk Telif İktisat Elyazması”, Yapıt, No: 46 (1983), pp. 37-44.

[29] Eyüp Özveren, Ibid., pp.136.

[30] Ahmed Güner Sayar, Ibid., pp. 356.

[31] For vulgar economics and a detailed analysis of Say’s appropriation and transformation of Smithian economics, see Isaac Ilyich Rubin, Ibid., pp. 301-306.

[32] This isolation  having been conditioned mostly by the specific line of economic development Britain has been going through -as opposed to continental Europe. Karl Polanyi, Ibid., pp. 111-129.

[33] Keith Tribe, “Historical Schools of Economics: German and English”, in The History of Economic Thought, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), ed. Warren J. Samuels,  Jeff E. Biddle & John Davis, pp. 218-219; Ahmed Güner Sayar, Ibid., pp. 270; F. Samime İnceoğlu, Ibid., pp. 241.

[34] Eric Roll, A History of Economic Thought, (London: Faber and Faber, 1983), pp. 318. For more on the relationship between Say and Smith, see Evelyn Forget, “J.-B. Say and Adam Smith: An Essay in the Transmission of Ideas”, The Canadian Journal of Economics, Vol:26 No:1 (1993), pp. 121-133.

[35] Eric Roll, Ibid., pp. 319.

[36] Evelyn Forget, Ibid., pp. 128.

[37] Whereas “Ricardo understood perfectly well that machines and the forces of nature which they set in motion, though they may raise technical efficiency of labor and thereby augment the quantity of use values that this labor can manufacture per unit of time, nevertheless create no exchange value.” Isaac Ilyich Rubin, Ibid., pp. 251. The contemporary significance of Say’s divergence lies in the fact that his abandonment of the labor theory of value paved the way for the emergence of a classical value theory which is “labor-free” and one that continues to dominate mainstream economics today.

[38] Denis P. O’Brien, “Classical Economics”, in The History of Economic Thought, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), ed. Warren J. Samuels,  Jeff E. Biddle & John Davis, pp. 116.

[39] Following information on Archigenes’ life is derived from Cemal Kozanoğlu, “Geçen Yüzyıldan bir İstanbul Rumu: Dr. Sarandi Arhiyenis”, Toplumsal Tarih Vol: 2 No:9 (1994), pp. 38-39; M. Erdem Özgür & Hamdi Genç, “An Ottoman Classical Political Economist: Sarantis Archigenes and his Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye”, Middle Eastern Studies Vol: 47 No:2 (2011), pp. 329-342.

[40] “..işbu tel’îf-i mücmelün inşâsına ittihâz-ı esâs olunan Rosi nâm mu’allim-i fâzıl bir gün tasarrufât-ı mülkiyye dersine şürû’ eylediği vakitde bu vechile bast-ı makâl eylemişdür ki..”, Serandi Arşizen, Tasarrufât-ı Mülkiye, (İstanbul: Kitabevi, 2011), pp. 12.

[41] Although not a direct translation, Archigenes’ work draws heavily from Rossi’s Cours d’économie politique, published in 1840. It should also be noted that Rossi, among European scholars of political economy, was a minor figure with no novel contributions to the field. For our purposes in this study, it would be safe to say that Rossi was basically in agreement on almost all of the arguments put forward by his predecessor, Jean-Baptiste Say.

[42] M. Erdem Özgür & Hamdi Genç, Ibid., pp. 331;

[43] “Her milletün hâl-i gınâ ve serveti fakat bir sınıfınun ma’mûriyyetine mevkûf olmayup heyet-i mecmû’a-i nâsun cemî’ urûk ve a’sâb-ı bedeniyyesine dahi sârî ve münteşir olmak gerekdür”. Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 22. Archigenes even goes on to argue that countries should satisfy the basic intellectual necessities of their citizens: “cemî’ evlâd u ıyâl ashâbı havâyic-i mâddiye bâbında lâzıme-i me’mûniyyetlerinden mâ’adâ ba’zı hâcât-ı akliyye ve edebiyyenün îfâsı kudretinde dahi bulunmak gerekdür”. Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 21-22.

[44] “bir memleketün i’mârı aded-i nüfûsunun teksîrine mevkûfdur.” Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 14.

[45] “Arzun hâsılatı ser’î ve mahdûd bir ilerüleme sûretiyle tezâyüd bulmakda ve bi’l-akis insânun kuvvet-i müvellidesi vech-i esra’ ve nâ-mahdûd ile ilerüye varmakdadur ve bu vech üzre bir vakit olabilür ki emr-i muvâzene kavânîn-i tasarrufiyye ma’rifetiyle hâli üzre ibkâ olunmadığu sûretde münfesih olmak lâzım gelür. (…) Aded-i nüfûs ilerü geçmekde ve hâl-i tevakkufda bulunan hâsılât-ı arz nüfûs-ı insânun harb ü vegâ ve kaht u galâ ve emrâz-ı şamile gibi hâlât-ı hâile-i felâket-ü musîbet arasından girü kalmasına bâdi-i mecbûriyyet olmakdadur”. Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 16.

[46] It should be noted that Archigenes does not make a distinction between use value and exchange value.

[47] “Mâ-i lezîz ol mertebe umûmiyyü’ş-şümûldür ki sakâsı zahmetinden mâ’adâ bir ferdün ana bir para virdiği yokdur ma’a-mâfih nedreti vukû’ında satun alınması muktezîdür”. Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 26.

[48] “Sınâ’at-ı destkâriyyeden mahrûm olan memleketün ahâlisi fakîrü’l-hâl ve nâkısu’l-me’nûsiyye olmakda ve bi’l-akis sınâ’at-ı mezkûre bereketiyle ma’mûr u âbâdân olan eyâletün sekenesi serî‘an kesb-i yesâr u mûnisiyyet itmekde oldukları derkâr ise de”. Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 46.

[49] Isaac Ilyich Rubin, Ibid., pp. 250.

[50] M. Erdem Özgür & Hamdi Genç, Ibid., pp. 334; “âlât-ı lâzıme müstahzar olmadığı halde toprağı nâkıs âletler ilte karışdırmak ve buğdayı insân eliyle müteharrik iki taş arasında ezmek ve li-ecli’l-ihtimâ kendülerine topraktan kulübeler yapmak (…) ve’l-hâsıl kelb-i bahrî gibi ta’ayyüş ile yaban âdemi hâlinde kalmak gerekdür. Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 50.

[51] M. Erdem Özgür & Hamdi Genç, Ibid., pp. 334-5.

[52] Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 15 & 63-64.

[53] Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 55.

[54] Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 71-77.

[55] Serandi Arşizen, Ibid., pp. 78-80.

[56] “Mösyö Say gibi ilm-i mebhusun mesal-i esasiyesini az lakırdı ile ifade ve beyan eylemiş olan müellif nadir bulunur”. Cited by, Ahmed Güner Sayar, Ibid., pp. 270.

[57] Eric Roll, Ibid., pp. 318.

[58] Isaac Ilyich Rubin, Ibid., pp. 320.

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