The Left Wing of the Turkish Communist Party

8 posts / 0 new
Last post
LoneLondoner
The Left Wing of the Turkish Communist Party
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: The Left Wing of the Turkish Communist Party. The discussion was initiated by LoneLondoner.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

LoneLondoner
Can't resist...

Just thought I would bring to everyone's attention this new publication. Despite the title this is in fact just the first part, which deals with the socialist movement in the Ottoman Empire - a fascinating read into a subject which we in the West know far too little about.

And you can download it in PDF

Enjoy!!

d-man
Kautsky covered the Turkish

Kautsky covered the Turkish revolution and this period's international politics here.

So is the rest or the next chapter already online in Turkish as the series called Kemalizme Karşı Komünizm?

In case this is still worked upon, here is also an article by Pavlovich on Kemalism, and a speech here (Eastern question at the III Congress and the prospects of the revolutionary movement in the Middle East), both from http://libcom.org/library/red-virgin-soil-1920-1921 . His real name was Vel’tman, Mikhail Lazarevich (Born 1871; died 1927. Soviet public figure; specialist in Oriental culture and languages. He published under the pseudonym M. P. Pavlovich.) I think the fable that he uses in that speech was later taken up by Lenin.

On the economic question, I know of Sultanzade that he advocated gold ruble. I think Şefik Hüsnü (Deymer) also wrote on economic questions (probably documents in the Comintern, or is there a book?), he was I think a believer in easy money policy.

 

 

MH
Two issues

This is a really impressive piece of research which for me and I’m sure others opens up an almost completely unknown part of the workers’ movement’s history. It’s also long and complex, and it’ll inevitably take some time for comrades to read and digest. But the text does make two assertions which I’d like to raise now, in the hope of encouraging discussion.

1. The 1908 Young Turk revolt was a “freak of history” (in ‘The Revolt of 1908’). On the one hand it was a revolution, “if we are define a revolution as one class taking state power from another class”. But on the other, it wasn’t a revolution “in the marxist sense” because it "wasn’t a social revolution".

Undoubtedly there were unique features to the bourgeois revolution in the Ottoman Empire - there is no one model to be followed - but I'm not convinced Marxists have to resort to “a freak of history” as an analysis. To me this sounds like another way of saying, “this doesn't fit with our analysis so we don't know how to describe it...”.

The bourgeois revolution is not a single episode but a whole period of struggles, and not all episodes involve a ‘social revolution’. As the text itself says, in the Ottoman Empire,“the social revolution had in effect already taken place”.  Similarly the ‘English revolution’ of the mid-17th century did not involve a social revolution for precisely the same reason.

Why don’t we simply say the ‘Ottoman revolution’ had contradictory features due to the fact that it occurred right at the end of capitalism’s ascendance/on the eve of capitalist decadence - as did the bourgeois revolution in Russia, which we don't describe as a ‘freak of history’, so I think the debate is about what precisely in Marxist terms was ‘freakish’ about 1908?

2. The Ottoman state “went insane” (in ‘War and genocide’). “Can a state go insane? Faced externally with the need to negotiate with forces every single one of whom could bring down the Empire, and internally with the need to co-exist with a force it was terrified to death of, the Ottoman state perhaps became the first state in history to go insane.”

Wow! It’s not that I reject this idea, but it certainly pulled me up short when I read it! And it definitely could do with some wider debate because if we accept this psychological concept it could also be potentially applied to other bourgeois states at different point in history, or even to the bourgeoisie as a whole in decadence...

Fred
In the article "The left wing

In the article "The left wing of the Turkish Communist Party" it is suggested that the Ottoman State "went insane". MH responded:

Quote:
Wow! It’s not that I reject this idea, but it certainly pulled me up short when I read it! And it definitely could do with some wider debate because if we accept this psychological concept it could also be potentially applied to other bourgeois states at different point in history, or even to the bourgeoisie as a whole in decadence...

The insanity of the bourgeoisie in decomposition is apparent all round the globe for all to see. If R.D.Laing wisely thought the 2nd. World War proved the bourgeoisie crazy he would have no reason for supposing they had recovered in this present epoch of horrors on a mass scale; not just war and terrorism, but the awful effects of austerity, the increase in suicides, and the inescapable madness of every day existence as people struggle for life, or what we mistake for life in our cruel conditions.

But is the insanity of the bourgeoisie a sign of their "reconstruction" or of their "sociological change"? I am unable to say. But they certainly remain the insanely ruling and exploitative class, just as we workers remain those they screw. But will their insanity render them easier for us to overthrow? We will see!

mhou
I agree that it is a bit

I agree that it is a bit short of the mark to just call the state/regime insane (a psychological label that is abused heavily). Internationalist Perspective has an incredibly good article on the Holocaust; using Marxist analysis to study a series of events and policies which is used as an outlier not just by Marxists but bourgeois academics as well- a 'freak of history', 'state gone insane', etc. I was very impressed with their treatment of the subject (although do not agree on all points).

MH
It is a good article, thanks

It is a good article, thanks mhou I've just read it. Interestingly, although it's main emphasis quite rightly is to show the capitalist logic behind the second world war and the actions of the Nazi state, it also highlights the lack of an economic rationale in the genocide, which was "a huge diversion from the war effort" - without, I don't think, convincingly explaining where this came from and why it was pursued. There is a capitalist logic to it, but in decadence this is an increasingly irrational, even insane, logic, even from the point of view of capitalism's interests. Trostky is good on this, describing the contradiction between the most advanced machines of war being driven by men wearing the symbols of the most bizarre pagan and mystical beliefs - this surely is part of the insanity of decadence. Similarly, reading descriptions of Stalin's regime, especially in his final years, you get a sense of paranoia almost for its own sake, of a system out of control, of madness at the level of a state. In dictatorships the insanity is more visible, in democratic states it's there, but more suppressed, controlled. If there is a discussion to be had here, returning to the point made in the pamphlet, it is that especially in decadence, the irrationality of the system must have a psychological effect on the consciousness of the capitalist class, and of individuals within it.

  

  

LoneLondoner
Kemalism against communism

d-man wrote:

So is the rest or the next chapter already online in Turkish as the series called Kemalizme Karşı Komünizm?

Thanks for that, the very brief answer to your question is "Yes"

I'll try to come back to the other question of "insanity" when I have more time.