Exactly 42 years ago, Turkey woke up to a destructive day in every sense, where the right to organize was completely eliminated for everyone except the bourgeoisie.
By Murat Yakın
Since then, Turkey has been living in a nightmare of an oppressive political and economic regime built with the September 12 coup d’état for 42 years. The military coup was undoubtedly an extension of a special process in which world capitalism was in a long-term economic recession, and the Turkish economy suffered a deep economic and political crisis. As a matter of fact, 15 military coups took place in the Far East and the Middle East, and especially in Latin America, between 1973 and 1985, and after the military dictatorships came to power.
Turkey’s semi-colonial regime based on import-substituting growth was nearly blocked by a cascade of currency and energy crises, persistent instability and political crises. The only way to get out of this crisis for Turkish capitalism was the construction of a new accumulation model that would now be based on the wild rules of global capitalism, not the domestic market, and turned to the foreign market. Such a model could not tolerate any democratic functioning, whose survival depended more than anything on the subjugation of society, low wages, the violent dissolution of the working-class organizations and of centres of resistance, and the abolition of rights and freedoms in general that had been achieved so far. The political economy of September 12 is simply this.
The main objective of the September 12 military coup and the regime it rose was to destroy the social, trade-union and political organizations of the working class. In this respect, the state’s short-term strategy was state terror and pressure policies; while the long-term strategy was the restructuring of the institutional architecture of the state in a way that did not leave living space for the political power of these segments. The regime focused mainly on breaking the hegemony of the socialist left over the general social opposition and destroying its ability to lead the agenda, destroying the revolutionary danger and ending the regime crisis by placing the political space in favour of capital.
There was also a low-intensity civil war for several years before 12 September 1980. Fascist-Antifascist camps, numerous neighbourhoods, schools and villages as revolutionary hegemony areas, the Alevi massacres by fascist death squads, massacres in the big city centres, counter-guerrilla shots of intellectuals, armed actions and conflicts were indicative of a civil war. The revolutionary movement of the period, despite all its lack of foresight, weakness and inadequacies regarding the unity of action, succeeded in stopping a mass fascist movement/option, created by a section of the ruling classes, in the streets and preventing its victory.
On the other hand, as September 12 was approaching, the unions, professional chambers and revolutionary organizations, which were capable of mobilizing large masses of workers never took the opportunity to organize a General Strike and United Workers’ Front and, in this way, offer Turkish and Kurdish workers an effective tool in their struggle against the putschists. The fact that the mass organizations of the Turkish labour movement lacked such a perspective and the capacity to offer the labour movement a set of tools in this direction is in fact the tragedy itself.
As a matter of fact, the united line of struggle developed by the Bolsheviks together with all the organizations of the working class against the coup attempt of General Kornilov, who tried to destroy the workers’ revolution in the days of August 1917, ensured the defeat of the coup. The coup carried out by the former Prussian governor Kapp in March 1920, who also set out to crush the developing German revolution, was repelled through the united class struggle of the German Communist Party with all other workers’ organisations. In other words, the darkness we have been dragged into for 42 years might not have been shaped in this way.
After September 12, socialist politics could not return to the real-life areas where it was cut off by state terror. The capitalist state introduced religious sects and the mafia into these areas. It handed over large businesses to its own reactionary “unions” and disorganized a large part of the working people. Thus, although appearances changed, the ruling class succeeded in creating an uninterrupted regime of oppression in which freedom existed only for the bourgeoisie. Let’s not forget that the 1982 Constitution is still the constitution of the Republic of Turkey, with the various referendums and amendments it has undergone so far. This regime of oppression will continue to exist until a social force emerges to destroy the ground that gave life to this state of emergency regime.
Today, 42 years later, workers of Turkish-Sunni origin are actually under the hegemony of the nationalist-religious ideology that serves the colonial and expansionist tendencies of Turkish capitalism. This destructive synthesis, which is the most reactionary ideological movement of the Turkish ruling classes, is rising with the approval of the Turkish-Sunni workers and the poor.
Today, 42 years later, Turkish capitalists are enjoying the presidency, which they have dreamed of for many years, and getting rid of parliament and its control. The presidential regime is a clear indication that the society, which was driven to destruction in its essence, can no longer be governed by parliamentary and democratic methods. We have not yet come out of a process that was the product of violent and extraordinary conditions that gave way to this regime 42 years ago.
The phenomena such as Bonapartist despotism that we have experienced historically cannot be destroyed without removing the extraordinary conditions to which they owe their existence. There is no parliamentary, moderate and reform-based way out for the working class. On the contrary, a period in which the class struggle will intensify and sharpen is opening its curtains.