The Past and The Present of Türkiye University Students’ Independent Economics Congress


TUSIEC is a breath of fresh air to break out of the limited framework set by mainstream economics which is based on dubious assumptions. TUSIEC will be held for the 21st time this year, and it needs your support more than ever. We invite you to join us at the congress on March 15-16-17th.

The teaching of neoclassical economics that is still the dominant theory in every narrative of economics today, was challenged by a group of students in France in 2000. They expressed their criticisms against this theory and the shortcomings of neoclassical economics with a declaration called Autisme-economie. They started the movement they named post-autistic economics movement with this declaration they published online. Autism refers to some irregularities in the nervous system that affect people’s mind and thus their living practices, in the declaration the word refers to the disorders and irregularities in real life practices that originate from neoclassical economics based on assumptions. Post-autistic, then refers to standing against these irregularities. Post-autistic economics lists the problems of neoclassical economics as such:

  • The fictional world created fails to ground itself to the facts and is insufficient to explain the changes.
  • It contains contradictions and inconsistencies in its explanation of the causes of crises and economic relations.
  • Mathematics is no longer a tool but a goal in explaining economics, and it attempts to measure many concepts that cannot be measured in economics through the use of mathematics.
  • Homo economicus, the individual who is constantly trying to maximize his or her profits is unrealistic. Homo economicus, similar to autistic people, is a model of a person who does not build relations with others and does not care about other people’s demands, choices and goals.
  • It uses Ceterus paribus, which is too simplistic.
  • Money is only mentioned superficially in neo-classical economics, yet money is the heart of economic activities.
  • The neo-classical teaching constantly addresses the tendency of prices and markets towards an equilibrium point. (Altunöz, 2008, my translation)
  • Neoclassical economics is based on assumptions, it is disconnected from reality and it defines a continuous “spontaneity.”

They propose a solution to strengthen the relation between economics and social phenomena and other disciplines besides mathematics. 

TUSIEC is born

Türkiye University Students’ Independent Economics Congress (TUSIEC) was started with the inspiration of the post-autistic economics movement. The idea of a congress was based on an understanding that breaks out of the vortex of assumptions that is not satisfied with what is only told and presented. It became a reality in 2003 under the leadership of ODTÜ and Boğaziçi University students. Mocking the assumptions based economics, the slogan “Let’s assume the students hold an economics congress” was used.

It provided a platform for students to discuss different theories and perspectives in spite of the curriculum which only included mainstream economics. It becomes a place that shows us a different economics is possible. Participants prepare presentations under the topics chosen by the students in the TUSIEC Organizing Committee. These presentations prepared by the students are presented to students and an open discussion is held. 

Without being limited by the confines of academia, students can give presentations on the subject they researched themselves. We can say that one of the things that make this congress independent is that it is exempt from the competitive nature of today’s academia. We are told to believe that we can only be successful if we always race and hit milestones, but TUSIEC disposes of this unrealistic definition of success. Furthermore the congress is held without any sponsors. While both the one-man government and the appointed rectorate try to deny budget to student organizations and events, thus pushing them to be sponsored by private companies, TUSIEC is against this method. Instead of the sponsorships that can lead to interference to the substance of the congress, it is funded by students mobilizing their own means and resources. Sometimes they hold charity sales, sometimes they go door to door to associations and trade unions to ask for donations.

Real economic versus neoclassical economics

TUSIEC is against not only this understanding, but also an understanding that limits economics to the current mainstream economics. In order for the wheels of the system which we live under to turn harmoniously, every aspect of life must be shaped according to the needs of the wealthy hegemons, this of course also applies to the field of economics. However, the students of economics are not confined to the neoclassical economics that theorize the legitimacy of the system. Neoclassical economics limit economics even when defining it, considers resources to be limited and the demands to be unlimited, and we can see in all aspects of life that the real economics is “the sum of all social relations resulting from the activities of production, distribution and consumption undertaken to meet material wants and needs.” It is obvious that the economics we are taught in classrooms are conflicting with the economics of daily life to a great extent. In this context, TUSIEC is a breath of fresh air to break out of the limited framework that mainstream economics based on dubious assumptions draws for us.

During these times when not only the mainstream economics, but also the repressions and bans stifle us, this congress provides a space for us. Today, community events are either banned or censored, the spaces where students come together are under constant attack, and students yearn for environments where they can discuss and talk.  Any space where students stand together strikes fear for the hegemons since they have the potential for dissent. They try to intimidate and frighten students with probes and detentions. In this context, TUSIEC is ever more important for us. Our need for such avenues where we can come together and discuss freely without being confined within the limitations in the name of the interests of the wealthy is ever growing.

To the Congress on March 15-16-17!

TUSIEC will be held for the 21st time this year, it needs your support more than ever. In order to make the congress as lively and colorful as possible, we invite all readers to attend the congress either as a presenter or as a participant. We invite you to join us at the congress on March 15-16-17th.

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