Interview with Assoc. Prof. Dr. İlker Belek: The central importance of comprehending theory of surplus value in science, life, and political struggleInterview | Tolga Binbay
Translation | Özge Can and Serhat Taşlıca
We conducted an interview with İlker Belek for the current issue. Dr. Belek, doctor of medicine and public health specialist, is an academician well known for his influential books. He has widely sized complete works, especially on social consequences of capitalist relations of production, health disparities, and attainments of socialism in health field. On the other hand, during COVID-19 pandemic, via his articles in soL, we observed epidemic almost day by day by Belek’s opinions. In this interview, starting with his student years, we touched upon his acquaintance with Marxism, years in physician movement, labored academic activities, investigations, and many other topics. We hope you will enjoy reading it.
Who is Ilker Belek?
Born in 1961. He finished high school in Bandırma. He graduated from Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine in 1984. He performed compulsory service in Sinop. In 1990, he received specialization in medicine from Public Health Department of the same faculty with the dissertation titled “Primitive Consciousness Formations in Traditional Health Applications”. He worked in Ankara, Diyarbakır, and Antalya as a public health specialist. He became a faculty member in Public Health Department of Akdeniz University, Faculty of Medicine. In 2007, he received award of Nusret Fişek Public Health Science by Turkish Medical Association. He wrote numerous articles on scientific and political issues. He has been a columnist in soL News Portal for many years. He is a member of Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), and Academy of Science and Enlightenment.
When we think about your books, academic and political labor, three fields come into prominence: political economy of health, social inequalities in capitalism, and socialist enlightenment. And just in the center of these there fields stands the Marxism. How did you meet with Marxism?
Firstly, I would like to thank Madde, Diyalektik ve Toplum for this interview. I know the interviews in your previous issues; these are very important documents and contributions. And about me…
I met Marxism, and left-wing ideas before that, in my student years. I’m talking about 1970s. The period when the left-wing ideas and politics, that influenced almost all corners of the world, that opposed inequalities, injustice, and exploitation, that stood by the poor, the slum dwellers, was dominant. I finished high school in a seaside town, which could be called small. I would say inclining towards left wing arose both from family and high school ambiance in this town.
As for meeting Marxism, it was in the dormitory of Hacettepe University. In those years, with a friend group of the same grade, we started to reading and discussing Marxism very systematically. Left winger basis and socialist, which we call revolutionary democrat nowadays, ambiance of Hacettepe dormitories was effective in this preference.
My interest in Marxism was completely “mental”. In other words, it is the result of intellectual quest created by the effort of understanding and interpreting what is going on in the world and searching for solution. Then September 12th coup d'état intervened. But even in that environment, apart from a short interruption, we continued to read intensively. I was receiving scholarship from The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) then and invested almost all that money to the books.
Until graduating university, we had created a large library and read and discussed all Marxist-Leninist works. I remember that despite the intensive medical courses, throughout the last three-four years of the faculty, that is after the September 12th coup d'état, I was reading books and taking notes at least 4-5 hours a day. Reading and discussion sessions would last until 2-3 a.m. on days without night shift in internship period. Besides Marxist-Leninist classics, we had systematically read about world and Turkish history, history of socialism. I started compulsory service with this equipment.
For long time, I have been thinking that most important gain in my life was learning the Marx’s surplus value formula and the fact of necessity of socialist revolution implicated in that formula.
As far as I understand, comprehending “surplus value” theory was critical in your intellectual life. What kind of return did this acquisition have? I think it had reflections in your professional life, even in choosing “public health” specialty. Am I wrong?
No. You are right. Realizing surplus value theory in general made me figure out that there is an objectivity in social order, social processes and problems have an objective basis which itself is based on relations of production. What happened in life was not accidental, it could not be explained by the malice of politicians. This awareness on the one hand led me to the scientific socialism and socialist struggle, on the other hand was decisive in my decisions in my private life.
Actually, I did not enroll at faculty of medicine voluntarily. My dream when I was in high school was being a mathematician. At the end of the aforementioned intellectual/political change/maturation process, I chose myself the branch that I want in the faculty of medicine that I had not enroll voluntarily.
When I had enrolled in the faculty of medicine, at first I was saying “Probably I‘ll become a clinician, I’ll try to be a good doctor”. However, from the fourth year, as I worked in several clinics, I woke up to the facts that the people admit to health care institutions with the same diseases, many of the diseases, like infection diseases and psychiatric illnesses, are actually related with living conditions and preventable, preventing the diseases before they occur is more humane, but in order to prevent and improve health, socioeconomic factors that creates the diseases need to be eradicated.
Of course when I think like that, I had no option in medicine other than public health. Furthermore, this option appeared to be a very suitable option in terms of unifying political struggle and professional life. Not to be trapped in a vicious cycle and to do what I consider necessary, I have selected the public health field.
Then I will say, so glad it happened that way. What you wrote during the 1990s, under that entire ideological burden, was very important in the search for socialism, for socialism in medicine. With the help of those books, we found a reference point based on right, objective and timely information. How did you endure the liberal pressure at that time? A liberal recruitment has also been experienced in these fields since 1990s.
Yes, with the collapse of socialism, 1990s was the beginning of a new era that "new world order" theses and the writers within the order such as Toffler and Drucker influenced the world to the fullest.
In those years, the majority of the Turkish socialist left changed their course towards liberalism as well. For instance, something called TBKP was born from the Workers Party of Turkey and the Communist Party of Turkey.
Perhaps socialism was still being mentioned; however the “claim of revolution” was left entirely aside. As such, socialism had no meaning. At that time, these circles gradually abandoned socialism even at the discursive level.
These developments affected everyone, everywhere. Marxism is almost left aside.
We, on the contrary, protected ourselves from this counterattack by keeping a tight grip on Marxism, and furthermore, by attaching particular importance to materializing and reproducing Marxism in our own field. Moreover, I think we have also succeeded in creating an impact area at least in the medical environment.
For a communist person, even the protection of self cannot happen without Marxism and organization. We were clearly aware of this fact since our student years, and we showed particular attention to act accordingly.
Once we returned from compulsory service duty, which was the beginning of 1987, we established the basis of Chamber of Medicine and the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) as the place where our ideas will come to life. At that time, there was no political structure anyway. Our founding of the Public Health Commission in Ankara Chamber of Medicine, which is still active today, was right after the elections in the Chamber of Medicine in 1988.
There, we tried to develop and organize a Marxist understanding of health, to develop relations with the administrations of the Chamber of Medicine and other mass organizations through that perspective, and perhaps most importantly, to train people within that perspective. Hence, it was completely a period of education for everyone. At the same time, we have always been in search of a political structure.
Although it is not possible and necessary to elaborate here, let me just give an example to illustrate how all of this was embodied in the medical field. We know how the liberal attack called Transformation in Health entered Turkey in 1990.As you know, it has three important pillars: family practice, general health insurance, and the privatization and commercialization of hospitals. At that time, the TTB administration was on a line that approved family practice and general health insurance. What provided TTB's total opposition to Transformation of Health was our intense ideological and political intervention primarily to the organizational structure of the TTB, in which we raced against time.
I understand, yet when we look at it as a trend, doctor’s movement and medical academy have always avoided issues such as health policies and social inequality. Yes, there is politics there, but is it mostly through profession and populism?
In fact, they have not stayed away; they have been quite close, but in line with their own worldview. In the past, TTB attached a more central importance to health policies and inequalities in its work, and it took an approach to these issues more harmonious with Marxism. Now it is obvious that there is no such predominant and clear consideration.
I think the shadow of the Kurdish movement on TTB through different media has had an effect on this since the late 1990s. If you do not approach Turkey’s problems from a class perspective, you attempt to explain both inequalities in health and the underdevelopment of Turkey through the axis of the Kurdish problem (or through different axes in different times). Then, your interest in Transformation in Health decreases and inevitably, you seek a solution to inequalities within the capitalist order. Nevertheless, it is necessary to give TTB credit for its ongoing efforts on the issue of Transformation in Health.
As for the academy… It is almost a disaster there. With a few exceptions, all public health academics are the producers-maintainers of a school that I have described as the "formal public health" in the very first year of my assistantship. This is a technocrat approach. For example, it sees lack of education and low income as the causes of inequalities in health, but it persistently ignores the general context (capitalist relations of production) in which they settle, and even tries to rule out those who emphasize it. It also identifies its own practice as a consultancy to management. An example? Here is the attitude they have taken on the COVID-19 epidemic. They sat down and prepared algorithms for how to eat in restaurants in the "normalization" period. However, the working class has been producing in factories with zero physical distance since the beginning of the process, and it does not come to their mind to object to it.
Therefore, the academy does not avoid issues such as health policies or inequality; on the contrary, it performs a much more dangerous function by confining these issues within the order. It creates the illusion that health inequalities can be resolved within this order. It is busy fixing family practice. Yet, the inequalities cannot be eliminated unless the capitalist order is destroyed, and the family medicine system cannot be rectified.
So can we say that we have experienced two distinct periods? The first was the atmosphere of the 90s, that is, defeat and disgrace of Marxism. The other is those last years when capitalism has fallen from favor. Then, are we leaving the “crisis” behind in theory production, that is, our processing and production of Marxism? I ask this question both for Turkey and for the international arena.
Your description of “two periods” seems correct. However, in the 1990s “the disappearance of Marxism” was not the result of its structural deficiencies, but purely because of political attitudes.
The bill for the collapse of the socialist system has been cut to Marxism for many years: Marxism was wrong, dragging societies in the wrong direction, and so on. However, the main reason for the collapse of socialism was that the socialist countries had forgotten the knowledge of Marxist-Leninist political theory and the leading role of the communist parties. In other words, the reason for the collapse of socialism was not the inadequacy or shortcoming of Marxism; on the contrary, it was the fact that Marxism was not sufficiently applied to practice. A very large part of the socialist circles fell to this trap and sought the solution in getting rid of Marxism.
The 1990s were being celebrated by these circles as the beginning of a new era called post-capitalism. Only after 10 years later, that is when the USA settled itself down the Middle East with all its terrorism in the early 2000s, it was clearly understood that the new era was not a period of peace and quiet as claimed. Socialism collapsed and imperialism turned the new reality into an opportunity for itself. The so-called post-capitalism was just a big lie. What those who vilified Marxism did was a total betrayal.
These developments once again proved the reality and validity of the Marxist-Leninist theory. Since the fall of socialism, our world has certainly not gained a more egalitarian, tension-free and fair character. Quite the reverse, all social and economic problems associated with unrest, inequalities, wars and exploitation of labor are inevitably increasing. The reason is capitalism itself. The existence of socialism was able to prevent exploitation and war to some extent. With its fall, the imperialists found the opportunity to increase their attacks enormously.
These developments proved that the solutions provided by Marxism and Marx’s Capital were justified, correct and valid without any doubt. Recently, the COVID-19 outbreak once again revealed all the contradictions, inadequacies, problems, and deadlocks of capitalism blatantly obvious. In fact, what actors within the order mean by saying "nothing will be the same as before" nowadays is this; the insolubility of capitalism. This sentence is a confession.
Then how is the reproduction of Marxism going? While the gliding of everything flakes off…
When I say the reproduction of Marxism, I understand its reproduction in concrete areas and its materialization in different fields including economics, history, art, health, education, basic sciences, re-planning of social life, environment, gender, etc., at least for this period, in which we should put up a fight against capitalism and our primary duty has to be establishing socialism. As an example, studies on the evolution of living things are definitely the areas where Marxism's dialectical materialist method is used. It is impossible to direct the studies on the topic of evolution and recognizing the deficiencies in that arena without the use of dialectical materialist method. The opposite is also true: Scientific studies in these areas definitely help the development of dialectical materialism and its manifestation in a special field.
Naturally, after the collapse of socialism, this conduct was completely discredited. However, we can never say that it has completely disappeared. A vein in this direction has always existed in the world. Nowadays, there is a significant increase in such efforts, with the increase of social, economic and political problems regarding capitalism. Its acceleration is expected to increase even more.
On the other hand, the areas in which the embodiment of Marxism was felt at the largest extent were unionization and political struggle. In this sense, there is need for realizing class-based unionism by overcoming the illusion of mass syndication and for starting interventions towards the currency of socialist revolution. Therefore, the reproduction of Marxism today means high amount of practical struggle and intervention.
Marxist theoretical production is not an isolated activity. Marxism itself is the product of a conjuncture in which the spontaneous movement of the working class raised unprecedentedly. Without that mobility, Marxism would have never been born, and on the other hand, the development of working-class resistance against capitalism was inevitable: Dialectics. Marxism is a praxis that theorized the causes of the spontaneous working-class movement and the solutions for these in the 19th century, and it guides the working class and the communist movement in this direction.
I want to move to today's medical education, and to those in that education. Today, how can a medical student meet with Marxism under the pressure of current agenda including specialty exam, private teaching institutions, private universities, compulsory service and transformation in health? Isn't it harder now than it was in the past?
You are right. Today, it is much more difficult for a medical student to relate to politics due to the factors you mentioned. But it is definitely possible.
Those students who prefer medical schools probably have stronger humanitarian values than others. I am not saying that financial concerns and expectations do not affect the choice of education in medicine. This factor is also very decisive. However, the motivation to be useful to people and society is still very important for a high school student to prefer medicine. This inevitably draws them to social events, the problems of our planet and our country, and brings them closer to the public. Also in the later years of medicine, especially the professional practice environment they enter in the fourth grade, the direct contact with people’s health problems in that environment, that is, with the reality of Turkey, can be seen as a potential factor that lead to their politicization.
However, of course this ground is not enough to be politicized and to put Marxism on the agenda on its own. Here, the effect of environmental mechanisms that will influence the student comes into play. It is an important problem that there is no clear mechanism in our country that evokes socialism in general. In addition, medical faculties are physically isolated from other faculties of the university. This is more valid especially for the hospital environment. Therefore, it is difficult for the medical student to be affected by the political dynamics within the university. Here, the role modeling faculty members play becomes important. Today, the most important actor who will introduce medical students to socialism and Marxism seems to be the academic. That is why the faculty members who define themselves as socialists (we all know that their number can now be counted on the fingers of one hand) have a very important duty and responsibility.
As for the issues of specialty exam, the trouble that develops with compulsory service concerns, and lack of time. These are true, but up to a point. We all know that perhaps the area we are most skillful at is wasting time. This applies to all of us. Medical education is difficult, okay, but who can say that the medical student makes good use of his/her time. Therefore on the condition of using it effectively, time is enough to study for TUS (exam for specialty in medicine), to learn about Marxism, and to be in political activity. I know many examples of this.
I said faculty members are in a critical position for attracting the student to reality, and to intellectual and practical socio-political activity. However, one more thing must be mentioned in the context of environmental factors: The duties of the organized socialist politics and circles. At this point, the function of the Communist Party of Turkey and the Academy of Science and Enlightenment seems very important to me. Broadcasting activities which are directly addressing the field of health fulfill a very valuable function in terms of embodying Marxism in the field of health and including students in this creative effort. So it is necessary to put this opportunity into the agenda.
In recent years, we have read your books about consciousness, social structure and religion in a row. We cannot do without enlightenment, but on the other hand, the group that we can call as the leftist science community does not even like the word enlightenment. Some see it as “patronizing” and others say “science cannot dominate, it cannot be the authority”. But in this last epidemic, we seemed to have moved to a different place regarding information and its use. What do you say? Can science stay away from the struggle for enlightenment or even the word itself?
How can it be? Science is already the product and component of the Enlightenment period. On the other hand, what we call Enlightenment started with the developments in science and art. The lifestyle proposed by the church did not respond to social needs, and the rules set by the church overwhelmed the people. For example, in the years when Enlightenment began to appear at the dawn of social life, the church was meddling in people having fun together and introducing unacceptable bans.
Advances in medicine pioneered science, and furthermore, it played an important role in the secularization of society. It has been valid for a long time: There is no discrimination between men and women in medicine, as a profession medicine erases gender differences. The developments in anatomy were very important in terms of invalidating the bans that the church imposes on the human body. Science is for the objective needs of the human and society and it does not recognize any irrational prohibitions. Even if something is prohibited, it finds a way out, and ultimately, defeats the prohibitionist.
After the collapse of socialism, the world entered into a period of dark reactionism. The wheat and the chaff were mixed together. Defending reactionary ideas and determining lifestyle with those ideas were coded as "freedom". In Turkey, proponents of these ideas were the ones that made AKP’s job easier. Until the point where AKP determined its reactionary lifestyle as a social norm and started to make laws specific to this purpose. Then it was understood then that it was not about freedom, but about the intention of reinforcing the power of reactionism.
On the other hand, it is nationalism and religion, not Enlightenment and science that inhibit freedoms. Both try to determine life according to their own code. As for science, the only guidance is common needs, reason and creativity. We destroyed polio with a vaccine. People were unnecessarily dying or becoming crippled. This is science. If you oppose vaccination and say "I have the right not to have my child vaccinated", this would be reactionary. Because such reactionism destroys both the right of the child and the society to live, and therefore, our possibilities to live together as a society. Anti-vaccination cannot be allowed by any means. The limit of the "freedom" of individuals to act on their own is our conditions of living together as a society. For the same reason, all capitalist economic policies that lead to uneven distribution of income are reactionary because they eliminate our opportunities to live together, and seizes the rights of low-income people. Hence, nobody has the right to live richer than any other, and not to interfere with the rich's ability to live their lives as they wish cannot be regarded as respect for individual freedom.
What brings people to the present is mind and science. We are talking about a journey of three million years. The first tree dipper used by our ancestors to hunt insects was a huge leap in our history of science and was a critical moment in the transition from hominids to human. Without science, there is no humanization or socialization.
The postmodern understanding of “freedom” I mentioned earlier had a decisive role in discrediting Enlightenment in Turkey. According to that view, Enlightenment and secularism were the practices of Kemalism, while Kemalism was a dictatorship. So defending secularism and Enlightenment was equated with defending the Kemalist dictatorship.
However, the Kemalist revolution that they called “dictatorship” was a bourgeois revolution against sultanate and caliphate, and by necessity, every bourgeois revolution was settling into an orbit of Enlightenment and common good by embracing science to be able to fight against the aristocracy. Failure to understand this actually meant opposing the dialectic of history, which constitutes the anti-scientism itself.
As you said, the Corona outbreak put science back on the agenda of all segments of society. It is natural. Societies return to science under extraordinary conditions. Because no belief system can serve to combat the epidemic. On the other hand, people are inherently scientific and act like a typical scientist in their daily lives. A farmer knows when to plant his crop, when to weed, and pays attention to timing; otherwise he cannot yield.
However this does not mean that science will dominate the world on its own, secularism will be reconstructed by itself, or extraordinary conditions must be expected to regain secularism. Political struggle is required for enlightenment and secularism. Socialism is the prerequisite for these. The Enlightenment itself was already a political struggle against the church, the palace, the king and the sultan.
It was also a historical necessity. That is, for the bourgeoisie to move forward, to strengthen its economic power with political power. Now historically it is the working class’ turn. But there is also the “the problem of class consciousness”, which you discussed in your last book. How can the problem of class consciousness be solved?
Today, the working class is very scattered, unconscious and unorganized. Again, since the collapse of the socialist system. But it is normal. What else could be expected if the pioneers fall apart, if they lose their commitment to the socialist revolution, and if they take a position that blesses capitalism?
Therefore, the consciousness problem of the working class can be solved. The teaching of Lenin is still valid on this subject: To bring consciousness to the class from outside. Lenin said that the movement that the class would develop with its own resources, energy and equipment would have a spontaneous, economist-syndicalist nature, would be limited to order, and be reformist. He also added that for pushing the boundaries of the order, that is, to shift into a classless world, the class's movement should be politicized and this requires bringing consciousness to the class by the communist party.
Some understood this very mechanically. The incident would function as if it was a lift and force pump. The cadres, militants, propagandists, agitators of the party would sit and talk with workers to inject the idea of socialism to their syndicalist brains.
Yes, this is roughly involved in the act of bringing consciousness to the working class, which means that the process (undoubtedly, in due form) has an educational dimension. No worker can realize the exploitation of surplus value unless s/he is introduced with the Marxist socialist doctrine. On the other hand, every worker is a complete Marxist in his/her practice. When asked what s/he is experiencing, s/he describes exploitation very well, almost by the same terms in Marx's own conceptualization of surplus value. S/he says that the boss seizes his/her own labor, that s/he is exploited. However, s/he is not aware of two very important things:
First, he thinks that the problem he is experiencing is limited to himself, to his own workplace, to his own country, so he addresses the problem in relation to the malevolence and incompetence of his boss or power. That is, he cannot know that his exploitation is a system problem and that it has a structural feature related to capitalism. Secondly, he cannot realize that exploitation can only be eliminated by working-class power, namely socialism. Marxist education, which is fed into the daily life of the worker, helps to overcome these problems.
But precisely at this point objections are rising: “Is it really possible when the capitalist ideology and religious belief system are so dominant?”
It is absolutely possible. Because capitalism is struggling in an impossible crisis. Besides, the crisis is becoming more and more permanent and intensified. What the crisis means and how deep and unsolvable it is has been once again confirmed during the COVID-19 outbreak. In such an environment, no power, no ideological or political tool can prevent the spontaneous reactions of the working class.
On the contrary, this crisis situation will trigger spontaneous class movements, and the governments will respond to these searches in the cruelest way, further reducing the persuasive and oppressive power of all the tools of political and ideological domination developed by the governments. We are going through such a historical moment. While I am saying these, the social uprising in the USA against the Trump administration has filled its second week, which was triggered by an incident where a black became victim of police violence. This is an uprising which has also gained an anti-capitalist content on the grounds of economic and social problems that have increased in the days of the epidemic.
However, the activity of bringing consciousness to the working class and raising the awareness of the class is not merely a pedagogical task. This is a process of struggle. The activity that will complement political education is to attract the working class to the field of struggle through its class-related problems. Note that the working class today is inactive almost all over the world. One reason for this is that all the reference points suggesting that a different world is possible have been destroyed, and a significant part of the socialist-communist political parties have left those reference points aside for at least a considerable amount of time. The other reason is that all the channels of practical struggle, where the working class can come together and take action, have been destroyed, erased or worn out.
Undoubtedly, these two are dynamics that feed one other. But the result does not change. The working class is inert. Inertia fosters fatalism while it is fostered by lack of organization. However, the class can be convinced in education and in the possibility of a different world only in action. Therefore, along with Marxist education a combative style that draws class into action is required. A practical struggle that emerges from the class's own problems and connects class problems to the system. I already said it: Marxism itself is a praxis. This means that with organized interventions, we will put the working class into action and there will be socialist education at every point of this process. A structure that has locked itself merely in educating cannot be an organization.
You also have dealt with investigations in your professional, scientific and political struggle. I guess they make a pretty long list. What kind of prosecutions have you had over the years?
These things started to be thrown at me since my assistantship. Its frequency and severity gradually increased. I think I had seven different investigations during my 23-year academic life. Their subjects could be very interesting. For instance, one of them was accusing me of establishing close relationships with students.
Then two inquiries were opened due to the public statements about secularism that I made while I was on the board of the Association of Academic Staff. I wrote and read a statement advocating science and condemning the closure of a medical physics laboratory and construction of a masjid in its place.
With these last two investigations, they imposed the heaviest penalties within a year: Deducting from salary and suspension from promotion. The aim was to expel me from public duty with a third investigation. As we expected, we lost the first lawsuit we filed for the cancellation of the penalties. However, unexpectedly we won the second one. At that moment, the fight had erupted between Fethullah (The Fettullah Gulen Movement) and AKP. I think the rupture within the ruling block had an impact on my winning the second case.
The rector who was constantly opening investigations on me was arrested from FETÖ and put in prison. They forgot me in that turmoil. The last five years at university were not without problems but it was my only period without investigation. Turkey is an interesting country.
After retirement, I was sued due to one of my articles in soL (The News Portal) with the allegation of insulting religious values. I wrote an article against Diyanet's (Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs) opinion that one can marry at puberty and this period starts with the age of 9 for girls. Now that case is being prosecuted.
You continue to write in soL. On Corona days, you wrote almost every day about the course of the epidemic. I think a new book of yours was about to come out just before the epidemic. What productions will we be seeing from you in the coming days and months? Could we ask for information about your plans for the near future?
Yes, at the very least writing at corona days was a professional responsibility for me. I try to follow the process as closely as possible, to monitor the management of the epidemic, and to identify deficiencies and errors and what to do about them. There was no possibility for capitalist countries to be able to demonstrate a successful administration in the epidemic, and what happened proved it. On the other hand, there is a great need for the organized intervention of the working class in taking public health measures regarding the epidemic. Otherwise, the rulers will continue in the same direction.
As you said, my book titled “Health in the Years of AKP” was about to be printed before the epidemic. We stopped it when the epidemic broke out. I also promised to Yazılama Publishing House to deliver a revised edition of my book "Health in Cuba" for September 2020. I had also completed that work at a large extent; I was just waiting for the Cuban Ministry of Health's 2019 statistical yearbook to be published, from where I would update the relevant data. This was also left aside. In the meantime, the statistical yearbook came out. I think there will be progress for both works in the coming days.
Besides, I will continue to write in my interests that have been shaped since the early 1990s. I have two ideas in mind. The first one is about religion: Secularism. You know, I have written three books about religion: The Societal Origins of Religion, Religion-Society-Power and Religion-Science-Philosophy. In fact, this was a four-leg series and the last leg would be "Secularism." For some reason, I could not write on Secularism at that time. I also have a work on imperialism in my mind.
As you know, the world order is experiencing two important and interconnected crises today: The economic crisis of capitalism and the hegemony crisis of imperialism. The hegemony crisis mounted on the economic crisis and this was inevitable. They are trying to solve the crisis of capitalism through wars, which inevitably increases tensions among the imperialist powers. The US-EU, US-Russia and US-China tensions are settled right here. Such periods are rare in the world history and they indicate that large upheavals will occur.
I think this development should be both concretely addressed and theorized. This is because it also points out that the possibility of overcoming the problem within the boundaries of capitalist order has died out. On one hand, all bourgeois thinkers say something about what to do about the future. On the other hand, specific issues such as how production systems and accumulation regimes will change and be restructured in the coming period within the context of the two crises are being discussed. The subject is of interest to me for these reasons and I also perceive it as a duty.
We will be looking forward to your new works. Thank you very much for this beautiful interview.
I thank you. The Science and Enlightenment Academy has assumed a very important task these days where university and scientific thought in Turkey were put under great pressure. Therefore, I offer my gratitude.
Published Books of Ilker Belek:
Social Consciousness (1991)
A Health Argument for Turkey towards a Classless Society (collaborated work, 1992)
The New Orientations of DİSK and Union Movement (collaborated work, 1992)
The New World Order (collaborated work, 1992)
What is the Purpose of Health Reform Package (collaborated work, 1992)
Technological Revolution and Industrial Democracy from a Marxist Perspective (1993)
Privatization in Health (1995)
Post-Capitalist Paradigms (1997, 1999)
A Health Argument for Turkey (2nd Edition, 1998)
Health in Cuba (2002, 2009, 2015)
Assessment of Physicians in Antalya from Class and Status Perspectives (2003)
Class Inequalities in Socio-Economic Status and Health (2004)
Flexible Production, Deep Exploitation (2004, 2011, 2018)
A Dictionary of Critical Health Sociology (collaborated work, 2006)
Transformation in Health: Imperialist Attack on Public Health (2012)
Class in Capitalism (2013, 2015, 2017)
The Political Economy of Health (1994, 2001, 2009, 2016)
Societal Roots of Religion (2015, 2016)
Religion-Society-Power (2016, 2017)
Marxism, Class Consciousness and Politics (2019)