Social Security Without A Social State

By.Prof. Dr. A. Gurhan Fisek

The conception of social state came on the scene only after a whole lot of people was done away with. During centuries passed under insecurity, even meeting the fundamental physiologic necessities was so hard for people to get. Especially, the Grand Industrial Revolution rubbed salt in this open wound.

Yet, all these ordeals and injustices suffered led people to ponder upon and develop the conception of “right”. In this way, people started to focus their attention on their basic necessities and the ways to protect them by themselves, rather than handing over to the good-will of some others.

Successively, coming together of people in order to insist on their rights, struggling for them in solidarity, and even setting their eyes on the existing political power also led the approaches of “state” to be changed in accordance with people’s needs.

Surfacing through the efforts of Kaiser Wilhelm and Bismarck and inclining towards the social risks for the purpose of “indemnification”, this approach, then, was inclined towards social politics before long. In this way, the endeavours to prevent social risks by means of comprehensive social precautions appeared as the cornerstone of contemporary applications.

It should not be overlooked that the appearance of social security as a system was concomitant with states’ interventions to the economic sphere.

It is also not a coincidence that the concepts like “Social Politics”, “Social Security”, “Social Medicine”, and “Human Rights” came on the scene concomitantly as well.

Besides, it should be noticed that in this period, the importance of the human rights movement reached to its peak; it came along through incessantly updated documents; and “social security” also took part in this group of rights.

It is also meaningful that health and labour related enterprises had repercussions at the international scale, and that international conventions progressed at the same time with the supervising efforts operating through “international common norms”.

This list -the list of non-coincidental, non-unnoticeable, and meaningful ones- can be extended more. Since it is hard to state them all, it is better to investigate a common ground referring all.

This common ground is the “social state” itself taking a part right beside the individuals with its “respectful to human rights, democratic, secular” principles.

In the event this common ground is abolished, all these rights would be broken into pieces, and left alone (and weak).


From this perspective, let’s examine the social security crisis that our country lives through today.

Even during the 1920’s, in which the Turkish Grand National Assembly was just named as TGNA government, it was taking precautions on the social security issues. After 1923, the enterprises that we call Revolutions of Ataturk aimed at the formation of such a state and social structure that is as modern as the requirements of the age, and respectful to human rights.

Starting from the 1930’s, the state’s interventions strengthening the weak economic structure of the country brought forth state economic enterprises (giant economic enterprises of the age) to arise. It is not by chance that the Law on the Protection of General Health, the Law on Municipalities, the Labour Law, and etc. were all passed during the same period.

In Turkey, social security did not come on the scene as a system. It is because of this reason the Worker’s Insurance Institution, in 1946, did only favoured the more active groups of society, and this step did not recognise and grasp the rest.

We refer this reason to the change in the political atmosphere starting from the 1946’s. After the Second World War, various plans were prepared in order to direct the political economy of the country. Yet, two of the most important plans of the age, “1946 Plan” and “1946 Urgent Industrial Plan”, were not realised to a full extent; and this was the first sign of going away from the social state.

In 1946, when the law numbered 506 was enacted, the term “Social Insurance” was appropriated in stead of “Worker’s Insurance”. The reason for such an appropriation was explained as that social security system, in such a social structure, was to be made widespread throughout the society (private interview with Halil Tunc, off the record). This should be considered in relation with the exceptional conditions of the age which brought considerable contributions to the Turkish history of social politics. Not lasting so long, this period was not resulted with such a social security, as it was stated, which was to comprehend all.

Especially after 1980’s, these anti-social state type of developments inevitably caused social state to become weakened deeply.


Insofar as (social) state interventions to the social and economic life is concerned, they directly facilitate the lives of individuals through controlling the prices of basic consumer goods. Such interventions have a significant place as a balancing factor in an environment where income distribution is not arranged in a balanced way, income gaps are increasingly deepened, and where poverty gradually increases.

On the other hand, in an environment where people are able to meet their basic physiological needs, the risks that they face are reduced at the same degree.

These simple precautions are also influential in obstructing the social system to be overloaded through the prevention of accidents and diseases in general (occupational accidents and diseases in particular).

Until 1980’s, it was a source of relief that market effective state enterprises achieved to sustain price control through effecting the market mechanisms.

It is one of the reasons behind the financial distress SII (Social Insurance Institution) lives through today that its production oriented investments have been impeded to a great extend (except for the delayed drug factory). Also, it appears as the outcome of “anti-social state” type of tendencies taking place again in this institution.

Drawn by the public from the working life with the grounds such as tax, fund, premium, and etc., the huge amount of money, today, is not re-directed again towards the production facilities or social state issues. It, in other words, means waste of resources; and this also deepens the social security crises.

In addition to the matters mentioned above, all these and like a great many of others prevent social security institutions “to overcome their being left alone” and “to come through this crisis”: dropping wages; not utilising from the funds in the hand of social security institutions in a proper way to expand employment opportunities and to produce extra premium; utilising from advanced drugs and technologies for the existing health service system insisted to be preserved in this corrupt situation.


For today, it is not trifling with the retirement periods that would allow us to overcome the problems of social security system, but rather improving the functions of the social state (and of the state enterprises), reducing the risks, and not detaining the social security system from its being put into use.