“We have a lot to do. We have not given up hope on ourselves and our class, we do not give up. Because the only power that can save and build the future is the working class and its party.”

 

By Aslı Sevim

 

We have almost come to the end of autumn as the days and months are flowing one after the other with a suffocating spirit. In the second half of October, the weather is not too bad, but on a Sunday morning there is a storm, it is raining, the weather is at least 5 degrees colder than the day before and the next. Many workers who wake up that morning have in mind how they will get through this winter with energy bills that have increased a lot, and to get some rest.

However, approximately 2000 people came to Istanbul Kartal on the same morning, some from one end of a huge city, some from other cities. To the Workers’ Laborers’ Rally in Kartal Square on October 24, 2021. As the title suggests, in this article, I would like to tell you what brought people there, and how important it is. But before moving on to this part, let’s talk about what happened in Kartal Square that day.

A month ago, Bakırköy, Bayrampaşa and Şişli Municipality workers, Sinbo, SML, Tur Assist, Alba Plastik, Bel Karper, AdkoTurk, Xiaomi Salcomp, Kentpar, CarrefourSa, Baldur, Uzel, Rönesans Holding, Tanzim Market, A101, and Kayı Construction workers (Retail, food, construction, manufacture and public sectors) had called for a Workers’ Laborers’ Rally, demanding to raise the flag of resistance and struggle. Listening to this voice, about 40 labor organizations, independent trade unions and political parties invited workers from their media, social media and from the streets to the field for a month with an excitement and effort that does at least as equal to May Day.

Despite the rain and storm, workers and laborers gathered in front of the Anıt Park in Kartal, colored their marches in cortege with the slogans “Workers Unite, Settle in Power”, “Long Live Class Solidarity”, “You Will Never Walk Alone”, “Work, Bread, Freedom” and entered the field. After the press statement read on behalf of the rally components, the stage was entirely the workers’.

It’s Time to Show the Strength of Our Class Against Capitalist Destruction

The following words were highlighted in the press release:

“…Our rally is an important step in this fight. Now is the time to turn the determination, the spark of struggle here, into fire against oppression and exploitation in factories, industrial basins and wherever there is life. It is time to enlarge this step we have taken to come out stronger as an organized class against the capital that steals our labor and usurps our rights and those who represent it. It is time to come together in our factories and workplaces and to establish our grassroots organizations. It is time to show the strength of our class against the destructions that the capitalists, power and all its institutions, who take advantage of our disorganization, impose on humanity for their miserable interests.”

At the end of the statement, a call was made to strengthen this step taken against capitalist destruction, and the demands were listed as follows:

* Repeal the Article 25/2 (Code 29)!

* Provide Job and Income Security for Everyone!

* Subcontracted work should be prohibited!

* End Abuse, Pressure, Mobbing in the Workplaces!

* Dismissals with Decree Laws Should Be Canceled!

* Remove Barriers to Union Organization!

The workers who made a speech expressed the problems that exist in almost every workplace, whether they are in the resistance or not, from oppression and mobbing to dismissals due to union activity, from Code-29 to the usurpation of rights through statutory decrees, to marginalization and union betrayals.

A First After 60 Years

I don’t know if anyone would be surprised to hear that any Workers-Laborers’ Rally, which like the one took place on October 24, 2021, in Turkey, was dated 60 years ago for the last time. A workers’ rally, known by its name, was last held in Saraçhane in 1961. In other words, a stage that takes its name directly from the class itself and where workers and workers speak their word was last established 60 years ago.

Although it is an honor to be a part of, it is also painful, especially considering the past 60 years. Both for class interests and class consciousness, and of course, for the struggle for socialism.

What I want to talk about is that it is not a coincidence that such a rally was held 60 years later. With the defeat of the 1984-85 British Miners’ Strike, which injured all the workers of the world, and the declaration of the “absolute victory” of neo-liberalism embodied in Thatcher’s self, the line of strike and resistance that was increasingly suppressed was broken with the 2008 global crisis. Demonstrations against the economic crisis that started in Greece spread to many countries from the USA to Spain, from Tunisia to Egypt when the calendars showed 2011. When we come to 2021, the number of countries where large anti-government demonstrations have not been held for the last 3 years is just a handful. While 110 countries have witnessed large-scale action since 2017, anger among the workers and oppressed all over the world has moved to a higher level with the pandemic. The spontaneous, anti-party movements based on the occupation of public space, which came to the forefront of the post-2008 activism, were replaced by harsher protests. The fact that there is no solution to quell the anger of the masses around the world gives us clues about the upcoming period.

Since Turkey is not a piece of land hanging in the vacuum of space, it is affected by both the global capitalist crisis and the situation of the world’s working class. Just like in Gezi Resistance in 2013. Gezi, a social resistance that broke out spontaneously, shook the regime while setting an example to the world with its solidarity, courage, and creativity, but it was doomed to defeat because it could not stay around a common demand and program. As a matter of fact, the regime, and the capital bloc, which realized the danger for itself, started to take the necessary measures to ensure that such a thing would never happen again. But was there only the “middle class” in Gezi or Tahrir or Puerta del Sol Square? Or were young people, women, football club fan groups there as isolated identities? Except for those who refuse to know, everyone admits that there are workers and laborers in all these demonstrations. But the workers were not there as a class for themselves. The fact that the working class did not participate in these revolts with their own demands determined the nature and weakness of these movements. If the working class, together with its body, carried its class demands to the field, we would be talking about something completely different now.

Is the ‘Specter’ Returning Back?

Returning to the rally, I will not re-list all the problems that brought the workers to Kartal on a day when the rain and wind would not stop, and the problems expressed in their speeches. I think everybody in almost every part of the world, including Turkey, sees very well what the problem is. Well, wasn’t it like this before? Maybe it was, maybe not, but it seems today people started to talk about the elephant in the room, that’s for sure. Anyone who has no interest does not believe in the lies and promises of the Palace regime (An analogy for the sui generis presidential system of Turkey). But unfortunately, this does not mean that workers will automatically become a class for themselves. To ensure that, it is necessary to disclose the “why” of what happened, to explain patiently without giving up hope, to organize, to unite and perpetuate the struggles and to bring them to a political ground with the claim of power. Especially in the era of transformation we live in. In other words, 60 years later, when neo-liberalism literally brought the whole world to the brink of extinction; at a time when the capitalists and bourgeois ideologists are trying to trick us again with the tale of “building the future”.

We cannot allow the owners of capital and means of production, namely the bourgeoisie, to hide their economic and, of course, political conflicts of interest behind adjectives/identities such as Islamist, modern, Western, local, etc. We must absolutely reject the fact that the bourgeois opposition, whose end goal is to save one part of the big bourgeoise from those who favored by the regime, the part that presents the period between 1999-2007 by macking it out behind the parliamentary system and tales of merit. As if it was not this period that melted and imposed the minimum wage behind the tales of wealth, abundance and merit, stifled union activities, accelerated privatization, made unemployment permanent and made us all indebted… As if the road that brought us to today was not paved there… And most importantly, as if we are too ignorant to know what the future means!

Just as now, while the bourgeois ideologues were trembling about the possibility of consciousness in the working class, while the bourgeois opposition was drowning the accumulated anger with an election of unknown fate, these 2000 workers with a small numerical representation compared to the population, but with an effect which cannot be underestimated, is a break from capitalist reality that only fools and malicious people can despise. Let them hold back anyway, we have a lot to do. We have not given up hope on ourselves and our class, we do not. Because the only power that can save and build the future is the working class and its party.