The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) has recently published a report on the 1917 October Revolution anniversary.
The report assesses the economic and political crisis in Turkey and the actuality of a socialist revolution for Turkey.
101 years ago, on November 7, 1917, workers and poor villagers came to power in Russia defeating exploitative bosses. This historical event which was known as the October Revolution due to the calendar used in Russia in those times is extremely critical for two reasons. First of all, it should be emphasized that the working people in revolt against inequalities rose up with the will to change the system. The right to get rid of the unfair and exploitative social system, in other words, the right to a revolution, was exercised substantially for the first time with the October Revolution. The revolution eradicated the old system and paved the way for a classless and non-exploitative system. Thus over time, a country spanning a wide geography called The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came to exist. This is the second reason behind the uniqueness of the October Revolution in the history of the humankind.
The collapse of Soviet Union due to internal and external factors in 1991, which aimed to build a completely classless, equal, free, fraternal and prosperous society, that is to say to build communism, does not mean that it is impossible to realize communism and that capitalism is a superior system. On the contrary, despite imperialist interventions and Nazi barbarism which had cost over 25 million Soviet citizens’ lives during Second World War, Soviet Union not only eradicated hunger, poverty, unemployment and injustice but also thanks to industrialism based on central planning, it transformed itself into a super power. Besides achieving huge successes in science, it also provided an environment for unique creative productivity in the cultural-artistic field. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the Russian Federation and in old Soviet Union Republics, tens of millions of people suffered from unemployment, poverty, corruption, homelessness and social decay. Average life expectancy was shortened and many gains of working class were destroyed.
Today apart from a few exceptions, capitalism is in power all around the world. In order to destroy these exceptions, imperialism keeps using every kind of military, political and economic means. Cuba, for many years despite the blockade placed by the US, did not give up from socialism option. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is forced to live with military intervention threats of US. Behind the intolerance against these two countries lays the effort to eradicate the idea of finding any alternatives to this exploitative system.
It is possible and necessary to defeat capitalism. It is compulsory to destroy a system which can not offer anything but crisis and wars, which forces billions of people to experience hunger and poverty and which is based on inequality itself. The communism is the only way to overcome capitalism. The yearning for classless and non-exploitative society can be realized only after having ended the domination of parasite class that gets rich by exploiting others.
TURKISH REPUBLIC WAS FOUNDED BY REVOLUTION AND WAS LIQUIDATED BY COUNTER-REVOLUTION
1917 Revolution was the forerunner of a revolutionary wave which embraced the whole world. Notably in Europe and in all capitalist countries, large masses of people were revolting against war, hunger and injustice; ruling classes were being overthrown, the flag of liberty and equality was being raised everywhere. The National Liberation Struggle which started in 1919 in Anatolia was shaped by this wave after Ottoman Empire was divided up between victorious imperialist countries following the First World War. This struggle waged under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, thanks to its determined stance against imperialist occupation and obsolete Ottoman institutions became a significant part of the revolutionary front. Young Soviet State got in contact rapidly with the struggle in Anatolia, gave military and financial support, advocated for its rights in the international arena. National power in Ankara showed respect to Soviet Union’s interests and developed a friendly relationship.
After the declaration of the Republic on October 29 of 1923, the Anatolian resistance movement became a ruling class project and thus it entered into the process of capitalization rapidly in accordance with the class character of its leadership. Although the Turkish Republic was relatively independent politically and economically at the beginning, after a while it shared the inevitable end of all bourgeois revolutions as the reactionary character of its capitalist class became more and more dominant. As the bourgeoisie got stronger, the oppression towards the poorly organized working class increased while economical and political relations with the imperialist system developed. Besides, a hostile attitude towards the Soviet Union took shape. Weakening the founding principles of Republic such as independence, secularism, statism, populism was not a matter of any personal preference but of the capitalist class itself. After a certain point, the system in place completely got rid of all these principles which were already disgraced by Americanist, reactionist and anti-people policies. Imperialist countries and the capitalist class of Turkey went into partnership with AKP. The result is obvious. The Turkish Republic was founded by a revolution and is defeated by a counter-revolution.
The Republic is liquidated. This liquidation manifests itself not only through complete eradication of the principles of republic that were debased over time but also by not having any actors within the system who might fight to regain even a small part of these principles. Therefore within the system, ending AKP authority would not mean returning to the 1923 soul. In other words, regarding the capitalist system of Turkey, AKP does not have any alternative economically or politically.
Until now what prevented AKP from founding its new regime instead of the Republic it demolished is not the dynamics within the system or inner balances of system politics but instead the social resistance which is against AKP’s “new Turkey” design and which is quite unlikely to be liquidated in the near future or medium term. AKP can not transform the authority which it gets through political platform into a social hegemony. Therefore AKP’s new Turkey can not stabilize as a whole. However if the aforementioned resistance can not be converted into an energy for an uprising with a working class and revolutionary character, in the long run it will fade or will become part of AKP’s legalization process through small changes and will disappear after having helped the solution regarding the tension between political and social platforms within the system.
AKP is establishing the processes of its own state. Although some underestimate these processes, simply calling it “the palace”, it meets the current needs of capitalists and is not out of date but pretty modern in terms of its “practicalness”. Features which are rightly associated with AKP such as clumsiness, illiteracy, ignorance mostly mislead people. After a point it becomes meaningless to say that AKP does not have any wisdom, depth or quality that Turkish bourgeoisie has itself. Although AKP has lost many members, over time it filled the gap using different other resources available to the capitalist class. Within this regard the gap between Turkish bourgeoisie’s historic experience and those of AKP’s decreased considerably. Those who can ascribe AKP to the Turkish capitalism are sycophants of capital and they can not understand the reasons behind the decay of the developed capitalist countries which are represented by Trump, May, Macron and Merkel. The bourgeoisie can not contribute to humankind anymore. That was long time ago. Today, the capitalist class can neither perform its destructive mission with a “developed” cadre nor can develop that cadre from within its own ranks. Those who get surprised by vulgarity witnessed in Turkey today should know that the reason behind this is the system of exploitation.
Capitalism can not be healed anywhere. Wherever market rules are in existence, poverty, unemployment and inequality are inevitable. Crises and wars are the realities of capitalism. A capitalism without any crises or wars is not possible. Capitalism has besieged Turkey for many years similarly. Although large masses in the society are sensitive regarding facts such as secularism, independence and sovereignty which were the products of the revolutionary transformations of 1920’s, those principles can not survive in this system anymore. On the anniversary of the October Revolution the paths of those who seek for a system without exploitation of man by man and those who care about secularism, independence, sovereignty are intersecting. Turkey is searching for its revolution in the pursuit of equality and independence.
THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO THE ECONOMY POLICIES OF THE AKP GOVERNMENT IN THIS SOCIAL ORDER
The argument that the AKP had radically changed the direction of Turkey's economy and that the country has been plundered since then should be approached with caution. Coming to power following the elections in November 2002, the AKP pursued the economic policies implemented by the governments preceding itself. The difference is that the AKP had some additional opportunities enabling it to overcome political, legal and social obstacles to the implementation of these policies. That was the main reason of the national and international support for a recently founded political party. Just as the 1980 fascist coup played a huge role in overcoming the difficulties regarding the implementation of the decisions of January 24 1980, the AKP also played a similar role and set to work more keenly than any other political party to realize the demands of the Turkish bourgeoisie.
In terms of capitalism in Turkey, the essence of the period immediately after the 1995 customs union agreement was the deepening of the integration with the international capital. This became more evident with the IMF program generally called "Derviş program" following the economic crisis in 2001. The economic policies of that period can be summarized as privatizations in the most general sense (both the sales of public assets and opening state controlled areas to the private sector), regulations that encouraged international trade and deepening of Turkey's external dependency by means of the increases in foreign debts, structuring the industrial production of Turkey based on durable goods according to the international division of labor, expanding the reserve army of labor by making use of the great internal wave of migration caused by the collapse of the agriculture due to the demands of the food monopolies, reducing the costs of labor force by means of incentives for increases in debts and legal regulations that erased the gains of the working class.
The most important result of this period in which marketisation in general increased and policies complementing one another were implemented was the increase in proletarianization and impoverishment. Apart from the decline in average real wages, real increases occurred in all prices except for the price of the labor force despite low inflation and interest rates. Workers started to get lesser share from the social value they created as external financing increased and was transferred from public sector to the private, mainly to banks. This also resulted in higher value transfer to capital, mainly to the international capital and finance monopolies.
During this whole period, the AKP rule assumed responsibility to develop some additional regulations and mechanisms to solve some accumulated problems. When we consider the rule of the AKP for 16 years, we can neither talk about an economic policy based on AKP's preferences nor an alternative policy set of the social order. The very strong consensus of the capital in terms of the economic policies is the most important factor that makes AKP's rule the most pro-market, pro-capitalist and collaborator political power in the history of Turkish capitalism regardless of the tendencies of Turkish capitalism.
The arguments that the AKP implemented different economic policies in different periods and that the political power changed direction after gaining strength are far from the reality. The period between 2002-2007 was the most successful period as the crisis of 2001 was used as a leverage coupled with suitable international conditions like the existence of "abundant capital". However, it is obvious that diverse economic policies were not implemented during the long period starting from 1995-96 till the last crisis appeared in May 2018. There had been no essential change in the direction although some additional regulations were needed at some intervals mainly like the crisis of 2008.
With the explicit guidance of the imperialist centers mainly the EU/Germany, an array of irreversible steps were taken regarding the structure of Turkish economy during the rule of the AKP. Turkish capitalism totally gave up some assertions despite sectoral diversification, quantitative capacity increase, glamorous growth in production and consumption rates. Dependency on importation was preferred in technology and capital-intensive sectors and Turkey became the open market for Europe in various main sectors like iron and steel and chemistry. Primary products, mainly the products of heavy industry like iron-steel and chemistry that are called "intermediate goods", comprise the biggest part in dependency on importation. Turkey is unable to produce stainless steel; it imports and slices it. The same is also true for sectors like shoes and paper production, that are more easily produced and Turkey used to have almost a hundred percent domestic production in the past. The industrial production of Turkey was transformed in line with importation dependency after public enterprises like Tüpraş, Petkim, Erdemir, Seydişehir Aluminium and Seka factories in key sectors were privatized with the directions of the international capital. This transformation lies at the basis of the economic crisis today.
There is a strong relationship between increasing dependency on importation in production and consumption and foreign debts. International capital and mainly the energy, finance and technology monopolies are behind AKP's "policy based on concrete material", a faulty description in terms of its political consequences. A huge amount of money was transferred to the international capital apart from the pro-AKP contractors by means of energy equipment, medical devices, climatization systems and most importantly construction materials (iron-steel, cement) for the construction works of airport, shopping malls, city hospitals and double ways. The "road map" of the energy sector in Turkey was determined by the World Bank. The public-private collaboration model in Turkey, for which they boast of having the highest number of applications in the world, was also the invention and imposition of the international finance monopolies. Turkish capitalism completely moved away from making investment planning considering "national scale" and creating resources for that, and instead started to adapt ready-made packages of the international capital that would deepen Turkey's dependency to foreign sources.
Another important channel that makes the production in Turkey dependent on importation is exportation. In sectors like automotive and home appliances that have significant share in Turkey's exportation imported content is high. There is also no possibility to decrease importation and increase production given the existing production structure.
It is very artificial to try to describe the existing process, in which the international capital has further benefited from the opportunities presented by Turkey as a market and has accomplished to increase particularly the exploitation of a qualified workforce, with a single model on the basis of such titles as “construction-based growth”, “domestic demand-based growth”, and “exportation-based growth”. Such steps as the liquidation of public assets, the decrease of the state’s share on the economy and the rapid integration with the international capital have also paved the way for different segments of capital, thus catalyzing the emergence of the above-mentioned “consensus”. The tendencies of Turkish capitalism, as well as its level of development and the penetration of international capital, have all made it possible to carry out the interrelated processes at the same time.
The level of value transferred from the workers to capital has greatly increased because of accelerated household indebtedness, extra mechanisms other than consumer credits that enhance the indebtedness, the policies and developments that support rapid urbanization, the acceleration of marketization with the transfer of energy, health and education services to the private sector in addition to the sale of public entities and assets. The plundering of country’s resources and the destruction of nature cannot be regarded independently from the destruction, including the escalating foreign-source dependence and the workforce, to which the productive forces have been exposed. The whole of the capitalist class, mainly the big capital groups, has become by far the winner of a series of policies that the pro-establishment opposition has narrowed to the AKP rule and the pro-government media.
When the expansion of capital is examined, it seems that we are going through a process in which the biggest capital groups have grown rapidly and uninterruptedly and some fields have also been opened to the new groups, rather than a process in which the “pro-government capital” or the “rentier capital” grew with the policies of AKP while the “traditional capital” or the “productive capital” decreased. The “industrial capital”, more apparently the automotive sector, has taken advantage of increasing dependency on imports, the financialization, and the policies of transportation and urbanization. The incredible increase in the geographical concentration of capital as a result of the transportation and urban policies has also stemmed from the decisions of the capital that aim to cut corners regarding keeping labor costs at minimum, access to markets and distribution channels. To grasp the attack on the labor in all its dimensions, it is important to note that the present period is marked not only by the transfer of the accumulated value of the workers but also by an incredible increase in productivity with the possible minimum investment. Turkish capitalism achieved extra possibilities of expansion with the help of the change in the economic structure and in its sectoral distribution.
The present impasse that is the continuation of developments like the privatization of public enterprises in key industries, leaving the decision taking role fully to the private sector regarding investment choices and decisions, transformation of the state as the practitioner of regulations that attack the labor and change from public borrowing to finance borrowing is totally the product of Turkish capitalism. What is happening in Turkey today is the unavoidable consequence of the capital's law of motion, not the result of poor management of the state on behalf of the capital or faulty interventions of the political power to the workings of the capitalism.
As Turkish capitalism experienced the longest period without any crisis in its history, the country went through a process in which both capital expanded quantitatively and the monopolization increased. It is apparent that such a process would provide any capitalist government with important financial opportunities and extra instruments, and create new pro-government capitalists. Of course, the AKP carelessly used some opportunities that could not be underestimated, thus created its own capitalists. However, it is impossible to describe the Turkish capitalism or any other country, where similar situations are observed overtly or covertly, as "distorted capitalism" or "anomaly" based on those opportunities.
In the case of Turkish capitalism, the traditional capital groups, which unquestionably had conflicts with the government from time to time, have grown more than the capitalists who emerged or flourished by means of political favoritism under the rule of AKP government. The profits of Koç Group through Tüpraş [Turkey's oil refinery], of Sabancı Group through privatizations in energy, or the creation of big profits for the traditional capital by means of encouraged consumption of housing, automotive and domestic appliances through heavy indebtedness, or the fact that Şişecam [Turkey's glassware company] has become one of the fastest-growing capital groups do not represent capitalism's "normal" state, while the profits of contractors through the third airport in Istanbul, bridges and roads do not represent capitalism's "abnormal" state. Capitalism is an order based on exploitation; and in the case of Turkish capitalism, the country has witnessed a huge process of plunder as the opportunities of exploitation extremely increased by taking the advantage of the working class' unorganized conditions. The internal links of the mechanism of plunder is stronger than it is demonstrated. As the surplus obtained from the working class increased through different mechanisms, the public assets, which represent the accumulated values, were notoriously offered to the capital.
The crises that are "intrinsically" generated by capitalism are blockages within the processes of capital accumulation, the actions of capitalists greedy for bigger profits eventually lead to crises. In the simplest manner, the contradiction between the private property of means of production and the social characteristics of productive forces poses an obstacle before the unrestricted expansion of capital under the conditions of capitalism. A capitalism without crises is impossible, while it is theoretically possible to take steps that accelerate the crises or to take some measures against the crises. As the unavoidable consequence of the system, the crises are not generated by the capitalists individually; similarly, they cannot be prevented by the rulers of the system, including the bosses. However, the initial reflex of the rulers of the system, the bosses during crises would be to put the burden of the results of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class and laborers. They try to prevent the fall of the rates of profit during crises and the depreciation of capital by increasing the exploitation while decreasing the workers' incomes in total by means of layoffs, reductions in wages, cuts in workers' acquired rights, reductions in public spending and increases in indirect taxes. They attempt to portray the crisis like a "natural disaster" that everyone should pay their own shares or like an accident that emerge as a result of the mistakes of a handful untalented people, and the price of which "all the society" should assume. The biggest advantage of the social order during crisis periods, when the organized attack of the capitalist class and its representatives reach its peak, is the unorganized conditions of the working class.
Today, the whole sections of capital and the rule of AKP are taking joint steps. By taking advantage of the unorganized conditions of the working class, they are trying to minimize the damage of capital during crisis. The fact that the capital has a more integrated structure in comparison to the past is one of the dimensions this attempt. They are afraid of the fact that the uncontrolled bankruptcies may become much more influential in comparison to their forecasts and accounts. One of the important factors that make the crisis "manageable" is the existence of international actors, including the US investment funds and the European banks, that could be affected, directly or indirectly, by bankruptcies. More importantly, however, the working class is not organized. The capitalist order has a field of maneuver in order to carry out "crisis engineering", and to develop/implement sophisticated bailout plans. They aim to transfer the debts on to the public sector and the workers by means of partially writing off or delaying the debts of capital with a regulation under the name of "restructuring the financial debts".
The main features of the present crisis of Turkish capitalism can be listed as that the foreign financing which is not only indispensable in terms of foreign debt stock rollover but also in terms of the main operation of the economy has got into a tough situation, that a debt crisis which can have chain results notably for the banks and big capital groups seems to be very close, that the economy is dependent on importation on a high level and that production capacity for exportation is not sufficient. All the sections of the capitalists and notably the big capitalist groups are unable to pay their debts, mainly their foreign debts in foreign currency. The difficulty of rolling over debt burden due to the international developments resulted in an increase in exchange rates and the capitalists whose incomes were partially dependent on Turkish currency had more difficulty in paying their debts. Hiking interest rates to prevent increase of exchange rates and outflow of foreign currency before a sharp fall in foreign or domestic demand occurred caused a very fast increase in inflation rates. The fact that the capitalists decreased production before demands fell due to the fast increase in costs also influenced increases in production costs and therefore prices. The increases in exchange, interest and inflation caused real decreases in the incomes of the workers, in their purchasing power and thus deceleration of domestic demand. Some "pro-system" measures like the debt payment of the capitalists from their wealth, continuing production by taking the risk of lower profit rates and suspension of foreign debt payments quickly caused laying the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class.
The capitalist class feels assured that the international capital, mainly the European capital will never take the risk of giving up investments in Turkey. Even though this idea may be true in certain aspects, there is no strong international model that can help overcoming the crisis dynamics in Turkey considering the multi-dimensional crisis of the imperialist system. Turkish capitalism has to keep opening new profitable areas to the international capital by using public resources so that the existing capitalist structure can be maintained in Turkey. However, an international capital direction that can cause a rebound in export that has been swaying in the same band since 2012.
There is no possibility of an alternative economic policy, a new economic model arising under the conditions of capitalism despite discourses of both the political power and the opposition as an alternative like "increasing technological content of production", "technological transformation", "production with high added value." Turkey's level of dependency to the international capital makes it impossible to take necessary steps for such an axis change. International balances and relations with the European capital do not as well allow for a change based on meeting domestic demands and creating new markets.
Two most important results of the crisis are the reorganization of the capital despite extended over time and the increase in public debt. The first one will result in capital ownership change and increased monopolization followed by the closing down of some enterprises and liquidation of some fields of activities. Temporary expropriations are possible in sectors like finance notably the banking, the energy and some other sectors with high export dependency. The results of this period will have more powerful consequences than the 2001 crisis. The level of foreign dependency in economy which has reached an incomparable level than the previous period causes a higher impoverishment than the calculated results of the inflation or exchange rate increase. The erosion of real wages is to be between the 10-15 percent range even considering only the inflation. The decline in real wages due to exchange rate increases and inflation will not be enough for the capitalist class and they will need more so that the wreckage falls on the workers. Layoffs, cutting back some rights except for minimum wages, increases in work times, increases in illicit works and using public assets more for the benefit of the capital.
The growth rate of 2,3 percent envisaged for 2019 means economic contraction per se. The expectation of increase in unemployment rates and other predictions confirm this. Although they are trying to avoid collective lay off processes, a noteworthy increase, especially in the unemployment rate of well-educated workers between the ages 30-40, seems quite likely. One of the most effective ways of decreasing real wages under crisis conditions is cutting down severance pays. The capitalists will aim to employ inexperienced workers instead of the ones with 10-15 years of work experience.
The new economic program, the budget of 2019 and some other regulations show that the public foreign debt will increase, the treasury, public banks and public enterprises will get into more debt to rollover debts of the capitalists. The share to be allocated from the public revenue to the capitalists is also to increase as announced previously. They are planning to open public resources and revenues to the use of the capitalists more by plundering unemployment insurance fund more and imposing individual pension system.
All the precautions taken due to the crisis aim to transfer resources of the people to the capitalists directly or indirectly. The argument that the crisis is the result of wrong or unsuccessful policies of the AKP government serves to mask this truth. No actor other than the Communist Party of Turkey state that the economic policies of the AKP as a whole bears indispensable properties for the capitalists both before and during the crisis. Even the ones who consider themselves as the proponents of the leftist politics become part of those who lobby to direct the capitalist class or the international powers against the AKP. The capitalists and the AKP become the winner of this situation. The capitalists act as if they are the victims of the economic policies from which they benefited for 16 years while the AKP makes use of the "foreign powers" discourse by referring to these lobbying acts. The Communist Party of Turkey will never let the workers have hopes of help from the imperialist countries and the capitalist classes; it will expose the victimization trick of bosses and insistently underline that the policies of the AKP do not stem from their lack of competence but from the necessity of feeding the greed of the capitalists. This is the significance of the "WE WILL BREATHE DOWN BOSSES' NECK" campaign.
FOREIGN POLICY: GETTING USED TO A PATH WITHOUT A STRATEGY
Today, the major hallmark of the AKP’s foreign policy is that it is not based on an apparent strategy. It would be misleading to argue that lack of an apparent strategy has been a perpetual characteristic throughout the 16 years of AKP government; this is a situation that rather has emerged in the last couple of years. In addition to the peculiarities of the transformation that Turkish capitalism has undergone during AKP governments, the exacerbation of the multifaceted crisis of imperialism also played a key part in the emergence of this situation. However, this does not imply that the AKP is completely being drifted under the influence of external factors. Having grasped that the international order would not reach some kind of “balance” or the hegemonic problem of the imperialist system would not be resolved in the near future, the AKP has been preferring a fluctuating foreign policy practice to a strategy whose means and aims are well-determined in this uncertain environment, and has become gradually versed in taking casual positions.
In its initial years in government, instead of falling afoul with conventional tendencies of Turkish capitalism in foreign policy, Justice and Development Party (AKP) resorted to the propaganda that it would represent these tendencies in the best possible way. Steps taken in relation to several crucial questions such as the Kurdish issue or Cyprus had been associated with the mentioned claim of the ruling party, and the alliance with liberalism and the Gülen sect had played a facilitating role within the scope of orientations such as European Union membership. The bourgeois government has blended the conventional orientations of Turkish capitalism with Islamist ideology, while trying to transform Turkish society in this direction and attempting to support its endeavor with foreign policy maneuvers. The entire process in which Turkish capitalism possessed a strategic orientation had been executed in compliance with the interests of Western imperialism and with their explicit support.
The path taken by Turkish capitalism under the support and guidance of imperialism also necessitated Turkey to become more assertive within the imperialist system. Based on the notion to strengthen Turkey’s position within the NATO alliance by making political Islam an instrument of foreign policy, this strategy forced the AKP to assume more initiative in international politics. In this framework, the AKP government had intensified its attempts towards the Middle East as of 2009, and particularly perceived the mass protests that started in the Arab world in 2011 as a golden opportunity to carry its “neo-Ottomanist” design, intellectual origins of which dates back to early 1990s, into effect.
One might as well say that neo-Ottomanism was not compatible with the historical and social dynamics of Turkey or the Middle East back then. Yet, it would be misleading to claim that neo-Ottomanism did not furnish the AKP government with a strategic orientation. Even though reinforcing the steps taken through the integration of the Gülen sect into the state apparatus with an alliance formed with influential actors of political Islam in international politics such as the Muslim Brotherhood, or attempting to build a political and ideological hegemony in the region based on these alliances, was never a realistic policy option, it provided a direction to the AKP government. Once again, the pursued direction and the political interests and pursuits of imperialism coincided in the initial years of the imperialist intervention carried out under the rubric of “Arab Spring”.
Hence, in the early 2010s, the AKP appended neo-Ottomanism to the conventional tendencies of Turkish capitalism such as EU membership, allegiance to the NATO, etc. Developments that occurred thereafter in Turkey and the Arab world, especially in Syria, messed up the plans of both the AKP and imperialist forces. As neo-Ottomanism hit the wall both inside the country and abroad, the AKP government lost its strategic direction. The fall of Muslim Brotherhood from political power in Tunisia, the drift of Libya into a state of chaos, the toppling down of Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt with a coup that also had popular support, and last but not least, the failure of Islamist militants in Syria were the main regional causes of this downfall. The other crucial factors that failed neo-Ottomanism were the break-off of the alliance with liberals and the Gülen sect, and the intense resistance of large sections of Turkish society to the Islamist transformation imposed.
Having insisted on the neo-Ottomanist strategy for a brief period thereafter, the AKP government was forced to accept that the price of insisting on this dismal strategy would be too steep. It is not that the Islamist party withdrew all of its claims and revert back to the strategy of early 2000s, which was simply impossible. The AKP did not terminate its support to the Muslim Brotherhood or the jihadist mercenaries in Syria, but it had to accept that a hegemonic strategy based on such elements would not succeed. In other words, the neo-Ottomanist strategy collapsed as a result of both internal and external factors.
Roughly speaking, since 2015 and 2016, the AKP government does not have an apparent strategy in foreign policy. The ruling party substituted such a quest with tactical steps designed to exploit the cracks that occur as a result of sharpening rivalries between imperialist powers. Rather than being based on some degree of coherence, these steps are determined by temporary stances taken on the basis of sporadic requirements and opportunities. In brief, among the main sources of the lack of a strategy in Turkish foreign policy, one may address the collapse of the policy pursued by the AKP as a foreign policy strategy, the gaps and the lack of direction caused by the hegemonic crisis of imperialism, and the irreversible transformation of Turkish capitalism which has not and could not amend its weaknesses.
There are several important outcomes of the lack of a strategic orientation in foreign policy. One of its implications appears as “hyperactive” foreign policy. It is possible to say that Turkish foreign policy created a more active impression in a wider territory during the period when neo-Ottomanist strategy prevailed. However, it has later become evident that most of these steps were taken owing to the “services” provided by Gülen movement; hence could not reach any further depth than the organizational presence of this sect. The characteristics of “hyper-activism” that we see today is rather different: in recent years, Turkey has been attempting to assume certain roles in conflicts between imperialist blocks, forming its foreign policy on the basis of intrigues it is engaged in on this slippery ground. In this respect, hyperactive foreign policy takes the form of a proliferation in multilateral or bilateral relations that lack permanence and can readily substitute one another. In addition to this, “acute crises” break out frequently, which are again endeavored to be staved off or set back through certain maneuvers, or sometimes lead to rather comprehensive intrigues such as the one we see in the so-called Kashoggi case.
Therefore, as a whole, the foreign policy pursued by the AKP has come to a dead-end and lacks any apparent direction. Even though the AKP government has a say especially in the Middle East, it has great difficulties in launching fruitful initiatives since such act necessitates a coherent strategy. A government which constantly has to calibrate its distance between China-Russia and the Western axis depending on daily developments does not have the ability to set up a strong initiative.
On the other hand, the damage caused by “acute crises”, the frequent examples of which we have seen recently as well, should not be exaggerated. The fact that certain balances which prevailed in the past have lost their validity should not be ignored. For instance, arguments claiming that as long as Bashar al-Assad remains in power in Syria, Erdoğan cannot retain his position or vice versa, or that the Palestinian issue is the key to launching any meaningful initiative in the Middle East have lost their validity. From this point of view, even though the lack of elbow room for the AKP has gained a certain continuity in foreign policy, this does not inflict unbearable damages on the political power in Turkey as long as any of the dominant imperialist forces fail to change international balances permanently. On the other hand, the hegemonic crisis of imperialism creates objective conditions that clamp down on many countries like Turkey. It is safe to say that a range of countries such as Hungary, Poland, Pakistan, Malaysia, Brazil, etc. have been faced with difficulties based on the shifts in the tension of rivalry between imperialist powers. In other words, Turkey is not the sole example in this respect. However, it is one of the countries which tries to instrumentalize imperialist competition in its foreign policy in the most tumultuous and opportunistic way.
The question whether the AKP government may continue its course without having an apparent strategy in foreign policy or not cannot be answered independently from the question regarding how the crisis of imperialism would evolve in the near future. And what we may infer about how this crisis may evolve as of today is limited. Yet, we may point to certain marked tendencies, the most prominent of which is the quest to restore the Transatlantic alliance. Although it is true that Donald Trump’s actions towards the US-based imperialist hegemony have deepened the rifts between the two major elements of this alliance, it would be absurd to expect the collapse of NATO in the short-run. If, on the other hand, imperialist forces manage to gain ground in restoring the US hegemony, this would most probably lead into an alliance in which Europe exerts relatively greater authority. In this respect, the marked acceleration of military, commercial and political ties between the elements of the mentioned alliance other than the United States should not be overlooked. In fact, this process aims to reduce the frictions between Europe and the US which have been ongoing at least since the presidency of George W. Bush and to establish a new balance between the two major elements of the Transatlantic alliance. There is no fundamental objection to the leadership status of the US further to that, but the restorationist forces have been waiting for a political change in the dominant imperialist power instead.
The likelihood that the quest to restore NATO alliance to neutralize the disruptive influences of China and Russia on the current hierarchy, or even to bring these forces under control is negligible. Although it is apparent that if the Western alliance manages to consolidate itself, it will develop a strategy which seeks to have an edge over China and Russia by any means possible, the crisis of imperialism itself has rendered pushing these forces back beyond certain limits much more difficult. On the other hand, there is also a limit to the possible responses that China and Russia may give to a situation in which the Western alliance manages to consolidate itself. In fact, the main reason why both of these countries have been focusing on preventing the recovery of the mentioned alliance is these limits themselves.
Restoration of the Transatlantic alliance would neither bring a solution to the fundamental problems of imperialism, nor can ignore the dynamics that have been shaping under the conditions of current crisis. Even if the Transatlantic alliance succeeds in getting consolidated, its Russia and China “problem” will continue; the plight of millions of people who are condemned to poverty, whose countries are drifted into chaos will continue; religious, racist, nationalist policies, ideologies and organizations will retain their central position in the established order. Furthermore, the threat of war, which has gained significant pace in this process, will continue to increase, taking new forms as well. The threat that wars waged with nuclear weapons in addition to conventional arms to break out is much stronger today than it used to be in the 20th century. It is also possible that methods of cyber- warfare will take on much more devastating forms than humanity has witnessed so far.
THE ACTUALITY OF REVOLUTION, THE ASSERTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF TKP
The fact that Turkey has been ruled by the same party for 16 years does not mean that the Turkish capitalism has reached a balance although there has been a political stability in this respect for the pro-establishment politics. Throughout all this period, intra-establishment tensions have always existed, which sometimes extended up to coup attempts; and the people’s movement witnessed in 2013, the broadest one in the Republic of Turkey, which changed all the settings of Turkey even though it did not have any revolutionary characteristics. The unsteadiness that is sometimes witnessed in the alliance policies and ideological discourse of the AKP rule should not be explained only by AKP’s political pragmatism but also by the slippery ground beneath Turkish capitalism. Considering the structure of the region, it will be observed that Turkey is doomed to be one of the weak chains of the imperialist system from all sorts of evaluations whether based on the political, the economic or the ideological/cultural space. This truth lies at the center of the TKP’s strategic accounts.
The fact that Turkey is one of the weak links of the imperialist chain is a phenomenon going beyond the argument of the actuality of socialism. Socialism is an actual alternative for the whole imperialist system. Additionally, it is apparent again that imperialism is going through an increasingly fragile period in its centers where it appears as relatively strong. As it is true that this fragility triggers regional and more comprehensive wars, it should not be forgotten that it also brings about a decrease in the imperialist countries’ capabilities of intervention, thus leading to the accumulation of much more energy in the weak link of the chain.
For instance, the problems that cannot be resolved within the NATO alliance do not eliminate the alliance’s threats towards the working peoples, yet they make it difficult for its interventions to be productive. In this context, although the swing of Turkish foreign policy within the vacuums led by the intra-imperialist tensions paves the way for extra possibilities for the Turkish capitalism, it also makes the underlying ground more slippery and increases the risks in terms of the system.
A range of objective and subjective reasons lie behind the lack of adequate social/political strength of the communist movement in Turkey in parallel with great revolutionary opportunities, despite the struggle for socialism being highly difficult. The Communist Party of Turkey discusses these reasons during its congresses and conferences, reviews its activities and organizational structure in light of such evaluations, and confronts its own inadequacies and weaknesses. The hitherto limited influence of the communist movement does not arise from the TKP’s principles and program it has insistently protected and will protect, or from any strategic gaps. On the contrary, it will be possible to utilize the revolutionary possibilities in the upcoming period only through the insistence on the hitherto political and ideological direction. In this respect, the TKP will definitely not fall into the trap of relying on the concepts and channels that are offered or imposed as the “way out”.
Unity is one of the concepts that always remain on the agenda of the working class movements in Turkey, and serves the capitalist system at the utmost. A revolutionary strategy requires not only the alliance of those who would contribute to that strategy from different points, but also the unity of the permanent elements of that strategy. Moreover, the unity in different levels, even for short-term goals, could be possible in the case of common goals and instruments. Nevertheless, it is completely a trap to indicate to the “inability of unity” as the reason behind the weakness of Turkey’s revolutionary movement, or more specifically, of the communist movement. Indeed, the remedy of the disease of “shop-keeping” and “small, but mine”, which are often a source of complaint, is not forming artificial unities since they legitimate that disease. Furthermore, such unities in the past led to nothing but splits into smaller parts. The communist movement in Turkey will develop on the basis of an ideological and political consistency and an organizational continuity, of whose address is the TKP.
The real danger of the fetish of unity is to use it as an instrument in an attempt to drag the communist movement under the umbrella of social democracy. It is both inevitable and necessary for the communists in Turkey’s conditions to contact with broad masses that are under the influence of social democracy, and contact with honest and revolutionary elements that are doing politics under social democracy. However, the real goal here is to try to weaken social democracy’s influence over working masses with a sincere and explicit political style without short-term opportunistic goals. This has nothing to do with weakening the resistance against the existing political rule. On the contrary, the pro-establishment opposition is one of the elements that strengthens and maintains the existing political rule today. The TKP has no reservation in terms of appreciating every honest stance and struggle in accordance with the interests of the working people. However, it is not the business of the communists to imagine developing a revolutionary strategy by taking shelter in social democracy, whose universal mission is to keep the working masses within the boundaries of the existing social order, which is of no use other than accomplishing this ominous mission in Turkey, too.
The path to Turkey’s revolution will be opened by forming the infrastructure of class positions and alliances starting today, which will be crystallized when the revolution rises. Flexing the class perspective and the class position by considering the narrow social base of the communist movement would only lead to integration with the existing social order. The dynamics of a political structure in terms of socialization and growth always reflect their own original color. Numerous “revolutionary” objects that have negated themselves so as to gain strength compose a pile of tragicomic dirtiness within our proud history.
A revolutionary strategy in Turkey could not also be realized by taking shelter in the bourgeois revolutionary process that was crowned with the foundation of [the Republic in] 1923 which was the unique revolutionary transformation that has been experienced so far in this territory. The fact that the revolutionary breakthrough of Turkey in the 1920s left indelible traces does not mean that the breakthrough in question may determine the direction of a new revolutionary transformation. In this respect, such concepts as secularism and patriotism cannot hold any energy to protect even themselves since they have pro-status quo characteristics as long as they stay out of a revolutionary strategy rooted in the working class and aiming for socialism. The secular and pro-independence sentiments cannot respond adequately to AKP’s interventions, primarily because they act with such reflexes of conserving the existing social order.
Based on the unity of the working people, the communist movement of Turkey should continue to defend common class interests and goals against the divided state of the working class in ethnic, religious, cultural or sectorial terms. This approach particularly makes significant the mission of organizing the Kurdish workers, who have been stuck for years amidst discrimination, imperialist plans, pro-establishment balances and mutual nationalisms, as an indispensable element of Turkey’s working class movement. This mission cannot be accomplished under the shadow of the Kurdish national movement that contains liberal, social-democratic and nationalist tendencies at the same time. The communist movement of Turkey has the experience and capability of breaking the struggle against injustices, discrimination, racism and militarism completely off the bourgeois and imperialist context. In this manner, there is no point in alleging that the left-wing people of Turkey have a historical debt to this or that Kurdish political entity. The communist movement of Turkey is responsible solely before the working people.
In accordance with the requirements of its historical roots and the tasks that will emerge when it is on the rise, Turkey’s revolution will develop also with a ferocious struggle against the imperialist block that is embodied in the NATO alliance. This struggle will rely on the organization of the working people, and it will continue within a broad range from the political sphere to the ideological/cultural one. Furthermore, although this struggle will be waged against imperialism as a whole, it will have a dominant anti-US character in all phases. The communist movement of Turkey cannot trivialize the US imperialism-led historical damage in this region within a general discourse. In addition, it is absolutely imperative not to break the struggle against imperialism and its leading elements off the class context, not to prefer one imperialist country or bloc to the other, moreover, to get alarmed against our country’s hegemonic class’ tendencies to absolve its practices in both domestic and foreign politics. An anti-imperialist struggle cannot be waged by ignoring the Turkish bourgeoisie’s attempts to climb up through the hierarchy of the imperialist system.
The TKP’s assertion to lead the workers and laborers to the social emancipation, to organize and lead them comes from its absolute trust in the fact that Turkey’s working class has enough resources and strength to accomplish this historical mission. Today’s priority is to enable the working class to be visible in political sphere with a revolutionary perspective on the one hand, and to remove the working people from the defensive position they are in and to transform them into an actor that is on the offensive on the other. With the great organizational transformation that it realized in 2018 and the subsequent concrete steps, the Communist Party of Turkey calls on those whose hearts that beat for equality and liberty, as a political party that increases the working class’ resistance during the existing crisis process, establishes a link between this resistance and the goal of socialist revolution, integrates the struggle against the AKP with the goal of changing the social order, promotes an egalitarian, fair, free, independent, sovereign and developed Turkey against the nightmare which our country is going through today under the conditions of capitalism.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey, 7 November 2018.