Turkey: Putschist generals to the docks! The political civil war of the bourgeisie deepens

by Sungur Savran

Turkey is being convulsed by the successive waves of arrest of members of a certain wing of the Turkish Gladio (the “Kontrgerilla” in Turkish) and of putschist generals who plotted against the semi-Islamist AKP government in 2003 and 2004. The Kontrgerilla is responsible for innumerable assassinations and destabilisation operations against the workers’ movement and the left in the 70s and the Kurdish movement since the 90s. The indictment of the case against the wing of the Kontrgerilla called Ergenekon (after a Central Asian Turkish heroic epic), disclosed to the public on Monday, 14 July, thus seems superficially to be a victory for the forces of the working class and the oppressed in Turkey. The truth, unfortunately is more complicated and nuanced. This case has come on the agenda not under the pressure of the mass movement and the left, but as a product of the long-winded struggle between the two wings of the ruling classes, what we at Workers’ Struggle have been calling for the last two years “the political civil war of the bourgeoisie”. (On the development and dynamics of this civil war the reader can consult the following articles on this site: “Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold” of October 2006; “The fifth military intervention in Turkish history” of April 2007 and “Elections in Turkey: Backlash against military intervention, but the crisis continues” of July 2007.)

This civil war has developed through a maze of battles to finally result in a case pending at the Constitutional Court for the closing down of the AKP, the government party that won a landslide victory in the elections of July 2007 with 46% of the popular vote, for allegedly attempting to bring Sharia rule to Turkey. The major antagonist to the AKP, the armed forces, has been waiting in the shadows since the defeat it suffered in the elections, but documents recently leaked to the press, which the army was unable to deny, amply prove that this is purely tactical and that it had carefully planned to charge the judiciary with the task of putting the AKP out of the game. The AKP, in control of the police and with some influence on public prosecutors through the Ministry of Justice, has responded in kind through this case against the Kontrgerilla and the putschist generals. Hence, it is the internecine war of the bourgeoisie that has led to the coming out into daylight of the most heinous and hideous aspects of the existing state system.

This fact definitely restricts the scope of the court case. Although the indictment has not yet been made public as to its legal substance, the constant stream of news leaked to the press suggest that it limits itself to acts of sabotage and assassination relating to the destabilisation of the AKP government and conveniently ignores the atrocious attacks on the Kurdish people. Nonetheless, a breach has been opened up and it is up to the forces of the left and of the working class, in alliance with the Kurdish movement, to see to it that the investigation is carried out to the very end to bring everyone, and first and foremost those politically responsible, to justice. Unfortunately, the left and the workers’ movement seem to be hardly prepared to live up to this task.

The left in disarray

Workers’ Struggle has been insisting for years now that the two main political lines adopted by the left in Turkey, each line representing the orientation of a multitude of parties and groups, are positively harmful for class struggle and the fight of the oppressed Kurdish people. One line, what we have called the left-liberal view, expects salvation from the European Union (EU) and therefore tail-ends any ruling party that displays a commitment to Turkish accession to the EU. At present, this attitude manifests itself in a sympathy for the AKP and the bold move by this party in prosecuting those who conspired against it provides an excuse for backing this party, an enemy of the working class if there be any. This line is adopted by the Kurdish movement and those Turkish parties that try to build their fortunes on the success of the Kurdish movement. The other line is even more shameful: Against the religious reaction represented by the AKP, it supports the Turkish military, the very institution that, through the ferocious military dictatorship of the early 80s, robbed the vibrant workers’ movement of the 60s and the 70s of all its gains. In relation to the latest episode, this wing has simply stood aside so as not to play into the hands of the AKP or, for some, has even outright come to the defence of the murderers and the putschists! This is similar to the posture of CHP, the self-styled social democratic party, whose leader has descended so far as to take upon himself the dishonorable honour of being the “lawyer of Ergenekon”!

The Initiative for the Revolutionary Workers’ Party (DİP-G) is one of the rare currents which has fought resolutely for the political independence of the working class throughout these years of the political civil war of the bourgeoisie. Lately, as a result of some important interventions in the debate on the left, our comrades have become the main protagonist of a Marxist internationalist line, fighting both capitulationist lines simultaneously. DİP-G advocates a total attack on the Kontrgerilla, without any limitations whatsoever, but warns the workers’ movement and the left against capitulation to either wing of the bourgeoisie.

The only way out of the deadend in which the civil war of the bourgeoisie has put the country lies in forming a fighting front around class struggle trade unions. After a long slumber, the Turkish working class has, for the last year or so, awakened to struggle. Strikes have mushroomed, a mass movement took off against the government’s attack on the health and pension systems in March, parallel to that on the other side of the Aegean, and May Day became the scene of a powerful struggle between workers and the government. This fighting spirit has led to a differentiation within the union movement and even the union bureaucracy itself. DİP-G has been concretely campaigning for a fighting unity, from the top and from the bottom, between class struggle unions irrespective of which confederation they belong to. Only this can provide a solution to the disarray of the left and bring it out in a common struggle against both wings of the bourgeoisie. And only on this basis can a fighting alliance be formed between two moving forces, the working class and the oppressed Kurds. A real Third Front, not watered down to become a walking aid to AKP as was the electoral front formed in the last elections, is the only solution to the impasse Turkey finds itself faced with.

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