Turkey: The Need for a Socialist Intervention – V. U. Arslan

Turkey is moving towards a turnout. Do we witness the last days of the AKP regime, or do we have harder times ahead of us? On one hand, a large mass of people is hopeful that “the AKP is falling back in the polls”, on the other hand, they are afraid that the AKP will carry out an election coup. Unfortunately, the force that the masses are trying to hold onto is the bourgeois opposition bloc, in which the CHP is the playmaker. Their program is the neoliberal bourgeois program of normalization. They are in the mood of “We will win the elections, stay calm and wait for the elections”. If they win, what they promised to the workers is nothing different than “the first years of  AKP government”.

So what will the socialists, who represent the most general interests of the working people, do? Should they wait for the elections passively, as the bourgeois opposition parties do; and rush to grab a seat or two in the parliament? Unfortunately, the socialists have limited their activities mainly to social media “activism” for a long time. Activities that require determination and energy, such as organizing the workers and raising revolutionary cadres among the youth, are not the case for the socialist left now. In these circumstances, unfortunately, elections are really watched for and life is spent with social media activism. Those who can do it make a parliamentary conjecture.

For socialists, however, it is time to intervene in life. We are going through a period in which the economic crisis impoverishes the workers like a streak. Dissatisfaction is getting more and more intense. There are millions who cannot pay their rents, electricity and gas bills, loan installments and are depressed due to unemployment and lack of money. The facts that we easily touch upon here are the tragedies of individuals.

To cut a long story short, socialists must find ways to intervene in life. For example, there is a terrible increase in house rents, especially in big cities. So much so that rents have doubled in some areas. The rental price of a proper house, even in laborer districts in big cities, reached the limit of 2000 TL ( 2/3 of the minimum wage). And yet, can’t socialists lead strong actions in these neighborhoods fueled by effective campaigns against exorbitant prices?

It is imperative that a response be given to the mismanagement of the AKP government, which is rapidly impoverishing the workers. This issue is not something to be glossed over with statements made from parliamentary rostrums, TV channels, or social media. We need class war, not word war. In other words, protests should rise from the workers’ side against the economic crisis. If this happens, the AKP will be in a very difficult situation. If the urban poor takes to the streets against the high cost of living and unemployment, the AKP will get into a scrape. Beyond the AKP, the workers will have won a golden victory against the capitalist system.

 Fear of Street

Different segments give us warnings such as “don’t go out on the streets”, “The AKP has armed men” or “You’re going to play into the AKP’s hands” and point us to the ballot box again. I’m not going to say “Street fear is in vain” and throw it away. Let’s say this much for now: It will not be easy to attack the workers who go out to the streets and seek their rights. It’s not like beating protesting students. As long as the workers take to the streets with their own demands, as long as the struggle becomes a little more widespread! If they attack, it will turn into a backfire. The AKP has little to do in the face of the legitimacy, sympathy, and power of these actions. Moreover, sending the AKP along with actions will create a great experience and self-confidence in the resistance of the workers for the next period against the bourgeois normalization plans. It was the 89 Workers’ Spring that dispersed the darkness of the September 12 coup, unplugged Özal, and prepared the fertile environment of the 1990s for a new wave of protests. Why not something similar today? Socialists are passing through a historical test. We don’t have the luxury to be passive.