Recent history of Turkey, and the position of communists

Monday, 24 October 2016 | by Kemal Okuyan

We were one of those who first called attention to the threat’s dimensions; we called it 'On the verge of Catastrophe', trying to explain that the solution was difficult but possible

First Secretary of the CC of Communist Party, Turkey (KP), soL columnist, Kemal Okuyan wrote a remarkable article on October 23, 2016, on the recent history of Turkey, including the June Resistance in 2013, under the light of the positions of the Turkish pro-establishment "left-wing" forces and the communists, making analogy with striking examples from the history of class struggles all over the world. 

On realism, optimism, and strategic alternatives in revolutionary struggle

In a demonstration during the June Resistance (Gezi Park), I met two friends of mine who had become distant from organized struggle but were still questioning this distance in their minds. Smilingly, “You turned to be right”, they just said. We had been saying insistently for a few years that the people would have rejected the AKP’s Turkey, and more people were becoming suspicious of that day by day.

The June Resistance shattered suspicions with people coming out of their shells. Two of them therefore said, “You turned to be right”. “We are always right”, I replied –neither with arrogance, nor with affirmation of this or that anticipation!

Struggle against inequality, injustice, reactionary and tyranny has been righteous all the time; and this rightness has also included the right to hold the struggle straight, and the right to show hope even under the most unfavourable circumstances.

As we have said all the time, you should keep your feet on the ground in politics, however, fixed feet are just as dangerous as flying.

Even if the June Resistance had not shown up in such a massive and colossal manner, we would have been right as arguing that the AKP’s Turkey could not have enjoyed a settled position. We were right when the June Resistance’s Turkey retreated, and we are still right now as a question raises: “Was it real?” We have not used the motto in vain: “Humanity never surrenders!” We have adopted it despite humanity surrendered in many cases, or, was defeated though it did not surrender.

Those who do not surrender make history, and history records them.

Well, what about today... Is not the mood, “We are defeated, finished”, which is turning into an epidemic among those who do not concede today’s Turkey, more realistic than our insistent indication to the full side of the glass? Why would it be wrong to seek for “solution” –even an individual one- instead of ignoring this nightmare, to survive to some extent, and to “return” to humanity in more favourable conditions?


It is wrong in that it is built on the falsification of reality.

Only recently did I note on soL that the mentality of CHP [the Republican People’s Party] apparently leads the urban population –disharmonious with the AKP’s Turkey today- to panic and fear. Doubtlessly, habits, and ideological/cultural tendencies of the base of CHP should be taken into consideration as well. The CHP administration, however, has made “conscious” preferences in order to solidify these habits and tendencies, and tried to push its own base to right-wing, eliminating its disharmonies with the establishment.

Now that we are talking about AKP, then let’s take a close look at the story of the tension we have been experiencing with the CHP-influenced sections for the last 15 years.

Such information was spread into the society by CHP during the first years of Erdoğan in power: “Erdoğan is ephemeral, we are perpetual. The State and Republic remain standing with its entire institutions; it is almost done, we will not let him.”

We were telling that capitalism and leading imperialist countries were in need of AKP, that a state or an institutional structure beyond these requirements was completely an urban myth. Struggle against capital was necessary in favour of laïcité and independency.

Opportunities existed for that. CHP endeavoured as much as AKP did in order to cover the opportunities in question. We were dreamy, they were realist. And now they are also those who ask, “What will happen to us?”

Later on, the time for the great Republic protests* came. Sincere reactions against AKP, and reflexes of conserving the existing system were intertwined, the people and the institutions were interlocked; the rage of people was abused in the name of deep accounts. Those masses could have changed the roadmap of Turkey ten times, if they had not been under the domination of a “conservative” culture. And, the result came: crowds became meaningless, and demoralization arose... On the other hand, we were keeping on saying that no one could challenge to AKP within the existing establishment; i.e. we were not realist. Those who were realist were disproven continuously, sinking into psychological depression at every turn.

Then the time came for begging help from the West, namely from Obama. Sure, as representative of the “Western values”, would he ever give credit to an oriental reactionary? Even though AKP had dealt fatal blows on TSK, it was unable to prevail against the US. Unceasingly did we explain the reality of imperialism; emphasising if the US dispensed with Erdoğan, it would unleash a worse alternative. Albeit it did not work; we were dreaming while they were letting the things drift. But the things did not work, either!

In the meantime, they learned to whistle past the graveyard. “The first Republic was subverted”, we were saying; “How dare? It is still upright”, they objected. Upon their chairman’s words, “I cannot say laïcité is in danger”, they chose looking for a miracle in the chairman’s words rather than realizing the submission, helplessness, and search for normalization with AKP.

Indicating to the dimensions of the danger, we were exaggerating; showing the way to exist, we were drifting away from realism! Repeating and repeating that there was no room for worry; now they have come to the point of expatriation.

After years, we had to alarm: “The US and Germany are discarding Erdoğan, and the capitalist class is setting off on a quest; it will be worse if the people do not generate its own alternative”. Objections came, “Why would the US sacrifice Erdoğan?”; and those appeared, who were dreaming of power whilst dancing the Gülen movement’s tune –a specific operational force of the US.

CHP relied on the Gülenists as healers for about two years, and rallied to assist Erdoğan after the July 15 coup attempt. There was no alternative other than Gülen or Erdoğan!

That is it; that is realism hitherto!

And now, desire of escaping from the country is spreading among the CHP supporters, a country which is boiling down to Gülen or Erdoğan. But struggle against this system is not realistic!


Let me write what we will note in conclusion: humanity is paying the price of inability of getting rid of this scoundrel system, namely capitalism, at the proper time. The later emancipation comes, the more cost will rise.

I do not eulogise adventurism. There is no alternative other than focusing on the full side of the glass, and trying and achieving the challenging way. I do not know what a “more liveable” capitalism stands for. However, “Good news” for this perception of middle class, it is almost done. Like us, Americans are stuck between Trump and Hillary; many of them say, “Better a meteor hits the world”. Well, how did they reach this helplessness? By resorting to Obamaism! If they did not follow this smart and shameless black man who has had as much dangerous missions as Bush or Reagan had, big monopolies would not be so brave today in driving Trump or Clinton into the front. 

The same mechanism works everywhere.

Social welfare implementations are being abolished one by one in Europe. It is said the fact that the complicated rivalry and contradictions between US-Germany-Russia-China may turn to a real war has never become highly probable. Racism, and police violence are everywhere. Wages are upside-down, unemployment is increasing everywhere; and above all, people are pessimist.

And we… we are not realist?

Why? Since we show the way out.

We never said it is easy!

We were one of those who first called attention to the threat’s dimensions; we called it “On the verge of Catastrophe”, trying to explain that the solution was difficult but possible. It was learned by experience that the other “solutions” were absolutely standing for submission and destruction. Now we say that escape is sometimes possible, however, capitalism is no suitable for escaping nowadays. Those who have a lot of money do not necessarily escape; they are already happy and fortunate. Those who have little money think that they can buy welfare and peace are mistaken; since the cost of welfare and peace has increased everywhere, you may lose whatever you have. The poor’s escape is to withdraw into their shells, a sort of escape that concerns us at utmost. And, as this section continuous to retreat, it will naturally get the most severe blow.

We should not forget that humanity managed to get free from much harsher conditions. In 1915, when great powers were at each other’s throats, it was the ability of looking at the bright side of the glass –through Marxism’s innovative strength of understanding and transforming, and through a revolutionary will- that did not turn Lenin into a dreamy fool in saying, “Everyone should therefore turn their gun on their rulers”. At the end of 1917, the entire world was staring at the filling glass.

Afterwards, great humanity experienced harsh defeats, reasons of which are highly controversial. In Germany between 1917 and 1924 and in 1933, in Austria in 1934, in France in 1936, in Spain just before the World War II, In Greece in the aftermath of the war, and in Allende’s Chile in 1974.

Some of these defeats were led by “Exaggerating the conditions”, however, the working class often paid the price of cautiousness –“Not just yet”- and of seeking for intra-capitalism solutions.

One must be fool in not seeing that the strategic cautiousness reinforces today’s much harsher conditions and disadvantageous objectivity.

For instance, is not the fetish of “unity of the left” a result of the claim “It is not time for revolutionary goals”? The entire twentieth century passed with debates whether the cooperation of social democrats and communists was good or bad. The victory of Hitler in 1933 was linked with hocus-pocus to the distance of communists away from social democrats. Let’s suppose that was so… Why does no one speak of the February Revolution that emerged a year after but resulted in the crush of the working class and its organizations in Austria? The communist party was on intimate terms with the social democratic party there, giving hardly any disturbance. The social democratic leadership was calling for “calm” while fascism was suppressing. The time came, and the working class decided to defend itself resolutely. The harshest armed urban warfare of the 20th century broke out in Austria. The social democratic leadership turned hundreds of thousands workers adrift, naturally, “change of system” was not on the agenda. Having appealed to continuous resistance from a defensive perspective, the worker neighbourhoods could not fight back the army and police after a certain point. “Wish we had not behave cowardly”, said, later on, some social democratic leaders.

As you see, there is no point of pro-establishment pursuits.

The same went for Chile. We will write these in detail. That Allende made his moves in order not to build socialism but to reform capitalism, thus leading to his fate; that the Communist Party of Greece is concerned with not adventurism but the absence of the goal of socialist revolution while looking today at the critical epoch of the Civil War; that, in other words, humanity may have wasted historical opportunities due to a series of causes, which would have saved today as well…

Is not this proven in Cuba, too, which is still regarded as a bridge of “hope” today? Fidel and his fellows were doubtlessly taking strength from numerous uprisings of the Cuban people against tyrants for a hundred years, and from the widespread unrest within the society; but this did not prevent them for being labelled as “adventurist” when they started their struggle for the first time.

The greatest adventure is itself of capitalism.

There is no escape in capitalism, no escape from capitalism. And, there is no “peace” other than settling accounts with capitalism by virtue of intellect, patience and revolutionary energy! 

*The Republic Protests were a series of mass rallies of anti-AKP organizations, which took place in Turkey in 2007 in support of preservation of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s First Republic.

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