Protests in Turkey

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baboon
Protests in Turkey
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It's early doors of course but I think that it's important to begin to open up a discussion on what looks to be a potentially very significant movement. We should have all the usual qualifications about verification of events, the heterogeneous nature of the outbursts, the lack of "direction" and so on. But we shouldn't ignore this widespread movement and wait for everything to be clarified. As internationalists it is important that we become involved in a discussion on events in Turkey from the beginning.

Overt anti-war, anti-militarisation, anti-government  protests, some of them violent, began in some Turkish border towns at least by last October. A few were reported and, knowing the ruthless efficiency of the Turkish state, many were probably not. These have grown in size and scale recently culminating in violent protests in Reyhanli and other areas in mid-May this year. This is not to say that the whole movement is overtly anti-war but the wider and deeper it gets - and it's certainly getting wider geographically -  it will have the potential of becoming a real problem for imperialism - the US State Department and British Foreign Office, with their "interests" in the region, are very aware of this and immediately called on Erdogan to ease up on the repression. But the Turkish bourgeoisie has been more and more playing its own cards so it remains to be seen how it reacts further with repression its favoured response.

There are already strikes by teachers and some hospital workers are dealing only with emergencies and injuries to demonstrators - which are numerous. There is talk from the unions about a "general strike" which is significant in itself. The wildcat strikes in the textile industry last September showed that the working class in Turkey is by no means quiescent and dumb.

KT
A notable moment...

A welcome and necessary initiative Baboon. Whatever the outcome, this is an important moment in a strategically crucial area. Every detail of recent struggles, such as those you outline, needs to be examined.

As for the overt ‘anti-war’ element of the struggles you mention, further clarification would be welcome (not necessarily from you, of course): how has this manifested itself? What exactly has been the focus of protests? Against Assad? For Assad? Against Erdogan’s apparent abandonment of his former ally? Against the ‘spilling over’ of the Syrian conflict into ‘Turkish Life’? Perhaps there is no immediate answer to such questions...

It’s also evident, along with the geographic extension of the immediate struggle, that there is much anti-AKP (ruling party) sentiment. That’s ‘natural’: what governing party is ‘popular’ in these days these days of war and austerity capitalism? And, of course, a real potential weakness for the future of the movement. However...

At the present time, it seems to me, certain key sections of the Turkish population, led by ‘youth’, the ‘unemployed’, some sections of the working class, and some sections of the pauperized middle class, have decided that in regard to state repression, enough is enough. These events have been at root sparked off by state violence (which is an everyday occurrence, obviously). However, in the context of an undefeated working class, in a country on the front line of war and decomposition and one facing the strictures of an unfolding economic crisis, the spark isn’t necessarily that important.

To follow the situation, I have found the Libcom thread http://libcom.org/blog/istanbul-taksim-gezi-park-has-nothing-do-trees-30052013 useful, particularly the posts by Mikail Firtinaci who is known to us.

A final, initial thought. The Libcom thread correctly asserts, in fact is entitled, Istanbul: Taksim Gezi Park is not about trees. True enough. But... We haven’t published all this stuff about the destruction of the environment for nothing. The issue which sparked the current repression and therefore the ongoing events was a demonstration over the ‘privatization’, the ‘highland clearance’, if you like, of one of the last public spaces in Istanbul, a space which has ecological, political and cultural significance for the region – it’s the site of clashes between workers and the state on Mayday, for example, or for a rallying point of workers in struggle. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that, IMO.

baboon
don't mention the war

I've been reading the libcom site and nobody mentions the imperialist connection. What I think is potentially important about this is that what could be a significant social movement is building up on what the highest ranking US officer has described as "Nato's front line". I first reported anti-war protests in Turkish border towns here on the Syrian thread last October. I don't have the details now but these protests were initially against the militarisation of areas and the presence of armed jihadis. They were not for or against Assad but against the Turkish government and its involvement in military activities. Around the same time there were also protests and demonstrations by Syrian refugees in the southern Turkish province of Kilis over water and food shortages. In Antakya earlier this year there were protests against the government for its involvement in the war in Syria. I don't have any other details.

In Reyhanli, in the southern province of Hatay which has seen widespread protests, thousands demonstrated in May against a double car bombing which killed over forty people and was thought to be planted by rebel supporters of probable Turkish origin. The demonstration, on which Turkish flags appeared, wasn't for or against Assad but against the government's involvement in the war. Demonstrations at the same time (mid-May) in Istanbul and Ankara, were led by students, much less festooned by Turkish flags and had some anti-war element to it. All the demonstrations above were met with fierce repression and tear gas.

The urbanisation of Turkish areas - and the corruption that goes along with it - is certainly a factor in the latest outburst and in late May resulted in violent clashes and barricades in Istanbul. Police deployed 22000 officers in the city just before the clashes deepened. But Taksim Square has a resonance for workers because here on a May Day demonstration in 1977, unidentified gunmen opened fire on workers protesting killing dozens of them - nobody knows how many for sure.

KT
The US, however, is obliged to talk about the war....

Day 5. Three dead. Many injuries. 60 cities affected. Thousands arrested. No wonder the US is worried about the ability of its errant ally to prosecute Middle East war plans. Secretary of State John Kerry has waded in to tell the Turkish state to stop fanning the flames, and the unions are mounting two day strikes in order to bring some 'authority' to the situation. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/03/turkey-protests-us-voices-concern

baboon
In a region trashed by

In a region trashed by imperialist war and misery we could be seeing the seeds of a fightback by the working class which would be a beacon for the whole class. They are already there in fact.

Apart from the public sector strike, a strike of members of the metal workers unions is due to start this month. The union, which has complied with notice and legalities, has prevaricated and put off the strike but the date is now coincidentally due. The metal workers' union holds about 120,000 members and its workers are responsible for the production of the main manufacturing exports of the Turkish state.

petey
er ...

baboon wrote:
It's early doors of course

early doors?

KT
Er Early Doors

It means 'at an early stage in the proceedings'.

petey
ah

i'd heard "early days", but not that.

sorry to derail.

baboon
some reports

Leo reports on libcom that in some workers' districts workers are on the streets calling for strikes.

A tactic of some protesters was to use Google maps to track police movements and throw up barricades to thwart them. It was a tactic apparantly used by British students protesting in 2010 (apart from the barricades).

One union official on the streets of Isanbul told Reuters today that "We are here to protect the legacy of Ataturk and the Turkish state, which is the state we work for".

The unions, under some pressure by the look of it, are trying to string things out or impose their own divisive agendas.

The Austrians, on behalf of the EU, have also weighed into Ergodan and his response and the Israelis are worried about the Sunni "turn" of its rival Turkey. There's an expression of this in today's "Jerusalem Post".

There's reports of vigilante youth from country areas joining the police in attacks against demonstrators. The protests generally appear to be across religions and on TV two nights ago there was a group of muslim youth amongst the protesters. I saw two anecdotal reports today that some soldiers have been providing protesters with gas masks and the second was that a number of soldiers had denied police access to attack the demonstrators. The first was confirmed in today's Jerusalem Post as being by a number of soldiers in a small army base off Taskim Square.

Leo
Here's a few notes about

Here's a few notes about what's been going on.

The movement is very heterogenous, with a previously apolitical majority. Mostly young proletarians but there are many lumpen and petty-bourgeois elements and a variety of different, not very clearly defined tendencies. Very widespread, lots of people are very excited. In Istanbul, over a milion - perhaps even two million - demonstrators overwhelmed the police and took over Taksim square. Clashes continue in Besiktas. In Ankara violent clashes have been occuring over the demonstrators intent to occupy Kizilay square and march on the parliament. The police have shot a demonstrator with a real gun a few days ago, and he's expected to die. The number of total people demonstrating in and around Kizilay is reported to be over 100,000. There's been deaths in Antakya and Istanbul as well. There are demonstrations going on in more than 65 cities of the 81.

Reports of vigilante youth from country areas joining the police in attacks against demonstrators are false. There is a lot of disinformation spreading on the social media. It's mostly been the police who has attacked the demonstrators wearing civillian clothes. Aside from them, fifty members of the Alperen Organization (a bloodthirsty fascist group with state connections, formed by the former chief of the armed wing of the grey-wolves) were reported to have gathered and chanted slogans defending the police, and it was rumored that some members of AK Youth also clashed with the demonstrators, but in any case these are tiny groups. Many who've been supporting the AKP government previously are involved in the movement as well.

Calls for a general strike have been spreading on facebook, twitter and all. University teachers have gone on strike in Istanbul and Ankara, and also in Ankara several hospitals have gone out basically, declaring that they will only deal with emergencies and the demonstrators at the beginning of the week. Yesterday night, workers in several working-class neighborhoods in Istanbul have taken to the streets, shouting general strike, general resistance.

Today, KESK, the leftist public workers union went out on a two days strike: comrades reported that the strike wasn't effective yet is expected to be powerful tomorrow. DISK, TTB and TMMOB (the leftist private sector workers union, the doctors union and the engineers and architects union) will also be going on strike tomorow. The opposition within Turk-Is, the main private sector trade-union in Turkey, have declared that they will be going to work late, slowing work, demonstrating before going to work or afterwars, reading leaflets or striking. My estimate is that a total of half a million will be striking tomorrow. Additionally, the workers of a mine in Zonguldak have also went on strike.

Tomorrow is the critical day for the movement, we'll see what happens.

 

baboon
soft cop, hard cop

Some of the protesters at least were very clear about the soft cop/hard cop nature of the apologies from the Turkish state in the form of the Deputy Prime Minister and the President. I think that it's quite important to remember that these protests in their early form began in a war zone against militarism and war full stop. And, at least de facto, that's what their potential continues to be.

It will be interesting to see what the Metal Workers Union will do, though the lines here have been laid down for over a month. On May 2, the union was talking about striking within a week after talks broke down. Later, reported in the Turkish press, the chairman of the union, Pevral Kavlak,  said that they would go on strike in 60 days but in the meantime woud be carrying out all sorts of actions such as go-slows, hunger strikes and growing beards! So we have a good idea of what the union is up to here even before the latest events.

News from Turkey has almost completely disappeared from domestic BBC TV news with the lead stories being Britain and France sure that the Assad regime has used sarin gas. Turky, if it appears at all, is somewhere behind the repeat of the Queens' coronation sixty years ago.

KT
To push forward a discussion....

Day 6 has been a significant moment in the attempt of the bourgeoisie to re-assert control through various manoeuvres to ‘defuse’ the social tension:

  • ·         The withdrawal of certain police units from flashpoints such as Taxim Sq and Gezi Park in Istanbul (this has been underway for a couple of days and is symbolic, a PR exercise: the state is still very present in the streets and watching from the air, of course)
  • ·         The entry of the official state policemen of the working class – the trade unions – into the struggle via ‘official’ 2-day strikes “in support” of the movement. I can only interpret this move as ‘negative proof’ that elements of the working class have been central to the movement, even if they have not directed it. Baboon has already commented on this aspect and I agree with him.
  • ·         The ‘good cop’ ‘bad cop’ routine between the PM and Deputy PM, already mentioned by Baboon and largely derided by the movement, as far as I can tell.
  • ·         The emergence of “spokesmen” for the movement, eg the Taksim Solidarity Platform (TSP).which on Wednesay June 5 handed to the government a series of “demands” and entered into “negotiations” which, IMO, should be considered as attempts to put limits on the movement. (Info from the BBC)

It remains to be seen how these manoeuvres affect the flow of the social protest in Turkey.

Meanwhile, some thoughts on elements of analyses put forward by Baboon, in order to push the discussion forward (Sorry – I don’t mean to ‘personalise’ the debate and I acknowledge that Baboon’s grasp of struggles in the region is far greater than mine. It’s just that, with the exception of a foot-soldier on the ground – Leo – we are the only two having this conversation at present. That’s a weakness.)

Anyway: Baboon said: In a region trashed by imperialist war and misery we could be seeing the seeds of a fightback by the working class which would be a beacon for the whole class. They are already there in fact... (Post 5, June 4th) And later:“I think that it's quite important to remember that these protests in their early form began in a war zone against militarism and war full stop. And, at least de facto, that's what their potential continues to be...” Post 11, June 5

So to rush to the root of an alternative appreciation, or a nuance, I would say that while the current movement was preceded by overtly, if minoritarian, anti-war, anti-imperialist proletarian actions, important indicators in and of themselves, this present movement does not have, in its totality, so far, the same characteristic.

In short, while it contains the seeds of an anti-war, anti-imperialist struggle, while it is indeed “de facto” the concretization of that struggle in as much as it is putting a spanner in the bourgeoisie’s war machine, its consciousness, at present, doesn’t embrace that. It’s not an ‘anti-war’ movement of the proletariat. It’s an anti-state repression movement of non-exploiting strata, including the working class. The two have intrinsic and important links – which revolutionaries must draw out – but they are not the same.

This is not, IMO, a “new fightback by the working class”: it’s the confirmation of a new generation of the fighting class expressed by May 68 and confirmed in the subsequent waves of struggle culminating in Poland 1980 with important echoes afterwards. It’s the on-going proof of the international recovery of struggles begun in Europe in the mid-2000s following the retreat inaugurated by the collapse of Stalinism.

The Turkish events are the continuation of important struggles in Greece, 2009 onwards; France, Turkey (the Terkel strikes) and America in 2010, and the heterogeneous events of the ‘Arab Spring’ 2011 and the Spanish Indignados, US and other Occupy movements and the demonstrations in Israel of 2011.

IMO, the events in Turkey push this dynamic forwards. Yet, as the ICC said of the events of 2011, The working class has not yet presented itself in these events as an autonomous force capable of assuming the leadership of the movements, which have often taken the form of revolts by the whole non-exploiting population, from ruined peasants to middle strata on the road to proletarianisation. But, [while] on the one hand, the influence of the working class on the consciousness expressed in these movements has been tangible, both in the slogans and the forms of organisation they have thrown up” .... and “the wave of revolts, for the first time in a long while, has explicitly linked political issues to the economic question, the response to this question has come up against the illusions which still weigh on the working class, in particular the democratic and nationalist mirage.” (Editorial IR 145, 2011).

As of now, the Turkish events fall within this framework, IMO

I don’t want to under-estimate the struggles in Turkey. I neither want to present them as some qualitative leap forward.

In order that the working class can lead the immense majority of society against the bourgeoisie, a large proportion of that society must be in revolt against prevailing conditions. Today, in Turkey, we see in embryo such a revolt – against repression, against the despoliation of the environment, against war, against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie - and also the undeniable presence within this revolt of the working class. We see all this taking place in a country that has, relatively speaking, ridden well the foul winds of recession (in relation to, say, Greece) and which is indeed on the front line of NATO’s war zone, which gives the events an increased importance.

But to repeat: they are IMO not the start of something, but a continuation, if possibly on a higher level, of what has been emerging for some time. Including the 'democratic', 'secular' and other illusions noted above, as we might expect.

jk1921
More "Illusions"?

KT wrote:

But to repeat: they are IMO not the start of something, but a continuation, if possibly on a higher level, of what has been emerging for some time. Including the 'democratic', 'secular' and other illusions noted above, as we might expect.

What about d-man's critique of the entire idea of "illusions" in the other thread?

Fred
come together

Are you saying there's no such thing as illusions jk? Probably not I think. d-man onthe other tbread, gave the impression that he thinks illusions can't be challenged, or, perhaps, don't really exist?  But the false belief (illusion?)  that bourgeois democracy means democracy for all and ipso facto includes the working class, is a very common belief/fantasy/ received idea or deceit,  and is thus an illusion. That it's false means it can be exposed as such and challenged. 

 

What precisely "secular" is as an illusion, I am puzzled to work out. Does it mean that some protestors think that being  granted permission by the increasingly Islamic government in Turkey to be atheist, or at least a Moslem in mufti, so to speak (I suppose this effects women mostly?) can be seen as a "gain"? Is that an illusion?  But it would be a small gain wouldn't it?  Yet entirely meaningless in the context of today's crisis; ie the overall situation in Turkey, which seeks imperial gains from the Syria mess; the "prosperity" of the Turkish economy, which still fails to benefit the working class (that it might, or should, is yet another illusion) and the shocking situation in neighboring Greece which teeters on a terrible brink. Being granted "secular" rights in this context is irrelevant.  What would be marvelous to see though, would be protestors in Turkey making the connection between their complaints and those of their working class comrades in Turkey's former long standing colony in Greece. In Cyprus too!  That would be an excellent breakthrough, for consciousness and against  the "nationalist mirage" as the ICC has called it. Another illusion in fact. 

 

Such a coming together of the oppressed on a regional basis would provide meat for KT's bone, that sees these protests now as a development from May 68, Poland 1980, Arab spring 2011, the Indignados and so on.  Lets hope he's right. 

KT
Response to JK: Interesting

It's an interesting discussion on the 'other' (Syrian) thread. I hadn't seen it so thanks JK. I'll try to follow, learn and maybe contribute to it on that thread.

KT
Re the 'secular' illusion

I stand to be corrected on this, as much else. But .. in the specificity of modern Turkey, as I understand it, the idea of a 'secular state' is very much part of the bourgeoisie's "national identity", the Kemalist legacy, if you like. So a struggle simply to resist real or imagined 'Islamification' is not necessarily in and of itself a break with bourgeois ideology and might in fact represent the mystification of a return to some golden Kemalist past. I'm not saying that's the case with the current social revolt but it seems undeniable to me that much criticism of Erdogan is precisely that he's straying from Turkey's (modern) traditions.

Re Fred's interpretation of my previous post: I was trying to suggest (no doubt rather incoherently) that rather than being the "seeds of a fightback by the working class" - which to me implies some qualitatively higher level of struggle than we've hithertoo witnessed, specifically a widespread anti-war movement - the current events in Turkey are in continuity with the fightback begun in '68, '80, and then more recent events including the Arab Spring and the Occupy. I think they are in some ways an advance - or contain the potential for an advance - on the movements since 2009 precisely because they do objectively threaten the bourgeoisie's war machinations, because of the rapid extension of the movement to so many cities and the massive support it has so far engendered. In addition, they have exploded despite the weaknesses and blockages of the recent movements.

However, whether the movement becomes conscious of itself, of what it truly represents and its potential, is far from clear at this moment. 

A final observation: It seems to me that a weakness in Turkey's bourgeois apparatus, specifically its parliamentary set-up, has in some ways contributed to the massive movement. While Turkey seeths with trade unions and leftist organisations whose job is spceifically to contain the proletariat, there seem far less mechanisms to 'represent' or contain other sectors of society: Erdogan's AKP has such a stranglehold that it appears there is little choice but to take to the streets. Right, now I'm really out of my depth....

baboon
continuation

I agree with KT's characterisation (and the ICC's analysis) of the continuity of the movement in Turkey in relation to the undefeated nature of the working class from the 60's, with waves and troughs, until today. During the 70's the proletariat in Turkey was fully part of the international wave of the resurgence of struggles and the the 1977 demonstration at Taksim Square that I mentioned above drew half-a-million workers (I said that dozens of workers were shot by unknown gunmen, but what apparantly happened was that gunmen opened fire on the workers killing several and then the police made a sudden, violent assault which resulted in the deaths of many more in the crush - ultimate kettling you might call it). KT also mentions the Tekel experience and we can add the wildcat strikes that followed.  I think it important that we draw out this anti-war element that was present in earlier protests but which, while remaining a factor (ie, against the arrogance of Turkish imperialism) are not at all explicit at the moment - particularly within the proletariat in Turkey. But we do see a certain temporary obstacle to imperialism that was not at all present in Syria. This is embryonic and can only be clarified by movements of the working class.

There's very little hard reporting on the class struggle in Turkey at the moment but one does get the feeling that the working class is being pushed more to the centre stage from the actions of the unions. I don't think that there is anything "new" about this outburst and see its continuity an similarity with struggles going on elsewhere within the same framework of an undefeated working class (South Africa, Cambodia, etc.). But again agree with KT that in Turkey there is a certain potential for this struggle to advance within this international wave of social revolt and workers' unrest.

Proletarian Dy
Turkish comrades' contribution

Maybe the contribution of the Turkish comrades in this discussion could help us all to be 'enlightened' bearing in mind not to be 'over-excited' or 'immediatist' in analysing the events there.

KT
Certainly

Absolutely. But we don't want to leave the comrades 'alone' in this task, and even though we fall into traps and make mistakes in our discussions here (immediatism is certainly a problem), it can help them to avoid our errors, no?

Peter Pan
Consciousness

I'll start by welcoming the spirit of the discussion. I think the method is good: referring to the evolution of class struggle since second world war. However, we still have to go deeper. I would like to refer to Rosa Luxemburgs "Mass strike" and the link between economical and political struggle, but most and for all the queston of consciousness and how class consciousness takes form, finds its way.

First some loose thoughts:

  • To me it seems that the current revolts in Turkey are a continuation of these 'broad' social movements like the Indignados, Occupy, Arab Spring and maybe the 'Green Movement' in Iran 2009. Broad masses, belonging to non-exploiting social layers of society revolt against heterogenous phenomena of capitalist society. The movement in Turkey certainly is influenced by experiences in Turkey itself, like Tekel, but very certainly also by these other experiences in the world.
  • On what consciouss basis do these movements appear and grow? What is the breeding ground of consciousness of these movements? It is not just the economical decline of capitalism in crisis, although it plays a significant part: unemployment, economical precarity, housing rents increase (e.g. Israel protests)... In the movements lots of other phenomena, like the environment and repression of certain 'ways of living' (restriction of alcohol, wearing of scarfs...) or press (printed/internet) lead to this indignation. They are linked to the question of "oppression", "freedom" and "power".
  • Today very few people speak of the power of the working class. Many speak of the power of democracy (be it a 'true' one or not), of the masses, of the regimes and even of the assemblies (they do not call them "workers"assemblies).

My question is: how does the proletariat develops class consciousness? I know the ICC has spoken of 'dimensions' in the development of class conciousness. In what texts does she speak of this? And what about the social contradictions? Does the ICC develop this somewhere?

The point is to understand on what social contradictions the proletariat today develops its consciousness on capitalism (in history) and its own (historic) role. In what way does it see the contradictions and how does she develop her thoughts.

Some articles the ICC wrote on Poland 1980 were very clarifying to me, but still quite schematic: there and then we've seen how the working class always broadened her economic demands to more general  levels, untill it embraced a whole country. In between the lines I read that for the revolution the same would apply. Although this logic may still be valid, it can't be seen that schematically. That's why I refer to 'Mass strike', where she made clear that class struggle has its economical and political sides, which are intertwined.

How can we apply this for actual struggles?

Peter Pan
Anti-war

It is off course vital to understand the anti-war sentiments in the actual movement in Turkey, because this would bring a light on the quantitative/qualitative steps forward compared to these previous 'broad' movements, e.g. in Israel/Palestina, where allready certain anti-war feelings were expressed, but still very weakly.

jk1921
Illusions

Fred wrote:

Are you saying there's no such thing as illusions jk? Probably not I think. d-man onthe other tbread, gave the impression that he thinks illusions can't be challenged, or, perhaps, don't really exist?  But the false belief (illusion?)  that bourgeois democracy means democracy for all and ipso facto includes the working class, is a very common belief/fantasy/ received idea or deceit,  and is thus an illusion. That it's false means it can be exposed as such and challenged. 

It's not what I am saying, Fred. Is it what d-man is saying? I don't know. There is a strain of thought that rejects the entire idea of "illusions," "false consciousness", etc. as "essentialist." In other words, ideas--consciousness, etc. always correspond to the material reality of the moment. They are part of an "expressive-totality," such that it is inappropriate to call ideas "false" or "illusory." Luckas defended a position close to this and it actually came through a bit in some of LBird's contributions. There is a certain tendency in the ICC to reduce the problems of struggle to "wrong thinking." The possible material (sociological) underpinnings of the difficulties tend to get lost and as d-man seems to suggest the entire problem is reduced to an insufficiently grave economic crisis. Its a function of a mode of thought that assumes that economic suffering is what produces revolutionary consciousness as a matter of material necessity.

Here in Turkey and elsewhere we see massive mobilizations of the population, including elements of the working class, but the political consciousness has almost always been bourgeois-democratic. Is this an example of "bad ideas," "illusions" or does it express--at some level--the material "needs" of the social revolt? This, of course, raises the entire issue of just what are these "social revolts" once again. What social and historical forces to they express?

On another note: while the Occupy movement may in fact have been part of the revival struggles since the outbreak of 2008, it differs in many ways from the movements that have broken out in the Middle East, etc. in that it did not have the same massive character. On that level, the mobilization in Wisconsin in 2011 was much closer to these movements in the Middle East. Occupy, while it may have revived the assembly form in a much more profound way, was rather minoritarian.

Fred
jk said:Quote: There is a

jk said:

Quote:
 There is a strain of thought that rejects the entire idea of "illusions," "false consciousness", etc. as "essentialist." In other words, ideas--consciousness, etc. always correspond to the material reality of the moment. They are part of an "expressive-totality," such that it is inappropriate to call ideas "false" or "illusory." Luckas defended a position close to this and it actually came through a bit in some of LBird's contributions. There is a certain tendency in the ICC to reduce the problems of struggle to "wrong thinking."
 

 

It's all very well jk saying that " ideas and consciousness correspond to the material reality of the moment"  but interpretations of material reality differ depending on your viewpoint. It's like relativity. The position from which you view things influences what you see, or what you think you see. So the proletariat sees things, reality, differently from  how the bourgeoisie  sees it.  So some of us are prepared to call what the bourgeoisie sees - capitalist society as being a bastion of prosperity, peace and freedom: and all wrapped up in what they call "democracy" - as being a mistaken, or misleading, or even a false understanding of the reality we share but experience differently.   It may not be false for the bourgeoisie - they have to believe in the illusion they have created, that capitalism is the best thing since sliced bread- but our working class experience leads us to quite different conclusions. Hence the communist endeavor. I am surprised  Lukacs didn't appreciate this if, as you say, he really didn't! 

 

With regard to the word "illusion". Maybe it's not a very "scientific" word, and perhaps we should talk instead of "assumptions" and these of course can be explicit or implicit.  So illusions might be seen as  "implicit assumptions".  So, people don't suffer from "democratic illusions" or "illusions about bourgeois democracy" ie that its good for the working class too,  but rather people assume implicitly - take it for granted - that bourgeois democracy is "good".   It may well be much easier to identify and challenge taken-for-granted assumptions than it is to tell someone "you're suffering from an illusion in the goodness of bourgeois democracy."  The more you consider it, the more "illusion" starts to sound a little mystical or even psychopathic. 

 

 

I doubt, just a little, that the ICC talk of "wrong thinking" but am sure you'll correct my own! 

Peter Pan
Consciousness again

I think the last two posts share the same concerns an dquestions as I do.

What is the link between 'objective' and 'subjective' reality, between capitalism in a certain phase of its crisis (which is expressed by a range of social phenomena) and the class consciousness of the proletariat and eventually other classes? How does one aspect 'feed' the other? How is class consciousness expressed?

I just pose these questions and I am consciouss (hurray!) that I pose them in a very broad way, because I just don't know how and where to start. I can only think in a kind of brainstorm and can't find any good structuring and fundamental text dealing with those questions, except Luxemburgs 'Mass strike', which I didn't find very satisfying, because it is in such broad and vague terms that she describes the link of economical and political struggle (maybe I should reread it with other glasses).

On the first sight I tend to agree with Fred's vision of consciousness.

Considering Lukacs: what did he actually say? In what sense is it relevant to this discussion? Can somebody explain?

Peter Pan
Movement in Turkey: Kemalist?

KT wrote:

I stand to be corrected on this, as much else. But .. in the specificity of modern Turkey, as I understand it, the idea of a 'secular state' is very much part of the bourgeoisie's "national identity", the Kemalist legacy, if you like. So a struggle simply to resist real or imagined 'Islamification' is not necessarily in and of itself a break with bourgeois ideology and might in fact represent the mystification of a return to some golden Kemalist past. I'm not saying that's the case with the current social revolt but it seems undeniable to me that much criticism of Erdogan is precisely that he's straying from Turkey's (modern) traditions.

I just read something in the newspaper by a bourgeois academicist, which thinks the movement in Turkey were welcomed in an uncritical way by the 'western democracies'. Although he welcomes the movement, because it could correct the 'populist' tendencies of Erdogan, he thinks a strong secular Kemalist tendency dominates it.

baboon
There is another thread on

There is another thread on "illusions" so let's hope we can keep this one about Turkey.

In response to Proletarian Dy I'd say that this is a discussion forum whose purpose is discussion by like-minded (or not so like-minded) souls who have an interest in the working class, the class struggle and internationalism. There are, or there shouldn't be, any taboos here. I don't see how it's immediatist to discuss the events in Turkey while waiting for the section of the ICC's position - which, as KT said, could be informed by previous discussion even in a negative sense - but hopefully not. I don't think that we have to await "the word" before commenting and it would be a betrayal of our responsibility to do so. No-one's getting carried away and the general watchword for the discussion above is "potential" as well as real anti-war struggles (see Reyhanli at least). And without getting carried away let's remind ourselves that the overall analysis of the ICC is of an unbeaten working class on the road (definitely not linear) to massive class confrontations - I don't see that as a negative analysis in relation to any potential expression of class struggle in Turkey or anywhere else. I await the ICC's position but we don't have to keep schtum before it appears.

The war in the Middle East has now spread from Syria to Iraq and Lebanon and the front line for the Syrian army is now the Golan Heights - in the immediate that's maybe not a bad thing for Israel in that al-Nusra and other jihadi elements were becoming active there. In the longer term it's potentially more trouble. Given the demonstrations against the Turkish regime's imperialist machinations - demonstrations that probably went entirely unreported in the majority of the Turkish media - and the note struck by social protests since, then it looks like Turkey, particularly with the more active involvement of the working class, can act at least as a bulwalk against the spread of imperialist war.

As in any major element of decomposing capitalism there are of course unknown unknowns where, from a variety of events, things can take a completely different turn. One of the known unknowns is referred to by Peter above in that there may be elements of the bourgeoisie who welcome these demonstrations against Erdogan and his clique and think that they can turn them to their own imperialist advantage. This is certainly the case with Syria and Russia but as PP says, this may be the case in some of the Nato countries that Turkey belongs to.

Leo
"I just read something in the

"I just read something in the newspaper by a bourgeois academicist, which thinks the movement in Turkey were welcomed in an uncritical way by the 'western democracies'. Although he welcomes the movement, because it could correct the 'populist' tendencies of Erdogan, he thinks a strong secular Kemalist tendency dominates it."

Who is this wanker, I wonder? I have little doubt that when stretched, he will turn out to be a pro-government figure since this is, more or less, Erdogan's own line.

Yes, there is a secular Kemalist tendency among the demonstrators, however this is a rather side-tendency. The actually dominant tendency, which poses the greatest danger to the movement, is the democratic tendency. The Kemalist tendency fills in for what the ultras are doing in Istanbul in some neighborhoods, however in the main areas, it is simply one of the many tendencies, not much stronger than the radical bourgeois left.

Proletarian Dy
Misunderstood

I think my post is misunderstood by the comrades. I just wanted to say that the Turkish comrades should also contribute in this discussion which Leo did. As internationalists it is our duty to intervene, discuss and contribute opinion on the events with international significance even if we are thousands of miles away which the posters here did. I'm not thinking to wait the ICC position before discussion. On the contrary. Personally I learn a lot (same as the other comrades who seriously following the discussions in our forum though less in intervention for language "problem"). I posted in FB many of the posts/comments here by comrades and sympathizers of the ICC.
Hope this clear things on my post.
Sorry if my english grammar is not correctly understood.

Proletarian Dy
Survey?

A survey by some academician I think in Turkey regarding the composition of the protesters which is publish in Wall Street Journal. The title of the article is: 

Who Are the Demonstrators in Turkey? Researchers Making Some Interesting Discoveries

Hope comrades from Turkey could comment.

http://blogs.wsj.com/middleeast/2013/06/07/who-are-the-demonstrators-in-...

baboon
Misunderstanding there

Misunderstanding there Proletarian Dy and thanks for the clarification - I agree with that.

As in all the social protests that we've seen one of the greatest dangers is democracy and I agree with Leo in that respect. Regarding the imperialist angle we are now seeing the EU regretting the use of excessive force by the Turkish police and there's been "shock, horror" in the British media about the arrest of "tweeters". The latter is now routine for the British police and every country in the EU would have used the same force and repression against protesters more or less, probably with greater efficiency.

Proletarian Dy
Perhaps the European allies

Perhaps the European allies (even the USA) are exerting pressure now to the Turkish PM to mellow down the brutal repression and give some concessions to the protesters?

Then convince the bourgeois opposition and the left parties to divert their anger for the next election?

I think even the international media (BBC/CNN) is critical to the brutal repression of the Turkish state.

I wonder if there are minorities in the protest movement caling for broad discussion to understand the situation?

Leo
The police attacked the

The police attacked the demonstration in Taksim today.

It is widely claimed - and with pictures and all - that the police itself threw molotov coctails posing as demonstrators, and the press is covering it all live, so that the government will be able to say it's the demonstrators are being violent.

Calls for strikes started again.

jk1921
Media coverage of the

Media coverage of the protests have really picked up today on North American cable channels. There is a lot of confusion as to why this is happening in a country with an elected government, a lot of people trying to explain to us how different Turkey is from the other Muslim countries referencing how much a hotel room in Istanbul costs. Why are people so angry? There are really nice shopping areas in Istanbul!

One scholar says that Erdogan wants to attempt to recreate an Ottoman power in the region based on moderate Sunni Islam. The sense is that Obama is not going to press him too hard as he is a vital player in the region for U.S. interests.

radicalchains
I wasn't sure whether to post

I wasn't sure whether to post this because it's so negative and also becasue it may be so wildly wrong but I thought I was best off being honest.

From an admittedly limited understanding of what has gone on so far I've been pretty disappointed. The unions seem to be doing a very good job of marshalling workers while the heady mix of protesters have taken the pretty usual pacifist or defensive posture. The protests I have seen have come across quite spectacular in the negative sense, camping out, selling things, in the future putting it on their CV's perhaps. That's not to take anything away from those who have been up against a vicious police force at first hand, been injured or even killed. I feel very sad for those who have been hurt. That's especially why it winds me up no end when people drone on about a few molotov's as if this is some kind of provocation to the state! 

It is more concerning politically that violence of that kind is seen as such a negative. That's not to say I cheerlead aimless violence or a fight with the cops for the sake of it. The latter I very much reject as it just gets people hurt or even killed - that's part of what is so spectacular about some of the protests as in Greece. Violence from our side needs and should be much more organised and thought out exactly to limit injury and take whatever the situation is forward.

As far as I understand it, mainly protesters (many non-workers) are calling for strikes of workers who are waiting for their unions to tell them what to do if they're interested at all that is. If workers are calling for strikes why aren't they striking themselves? One day or two day 'General' Strikes as we've seen in Greece have achieved very little or nothing. This is all a bit negative but there ya go.

I can't quite explain it as of yet but I'm starting to think we're more like in a situation when Socialist ideas were barely on the scene (18thC) rather than a post 1968 revival that the ICC talks about.

I think if I hear any more mentions (two so far) of the likeness to the Paris Commune my head may explode.

Communist
Reply to radicalchains

I would argue that we should be very careful in how we conduct ourselves in regard to violence. ATM the movement's strength is it's mass character, if we were to become prematurely confrontational to the forces of the state then many protesters would be afraid to take part.

Whilst it is true that the movement has attracted many of a liberal position, these same people we describe as liberals are just ordinary people who have not yet been exposed to radical anti-Capitalism. Their aversion to more militant tactics doesn't arise from a desire to derail the movement but rather because they are a product of a capitalist system.

Our goal right now must be to continue the struggle for as long as possible which means not alienating the mass of working class people who are afraid of violence. The longer liberal-minded people are exposed to the struggle, the more they can learn about class struggle and potentially become more militantly minded themselves.

Once that happens, only then should we come into aggressive violence against the state.

 

baboon
"Foreign Policy 2013"...

reports that sycamore trees in Istanbul's Gezi Park, have been adorned with the names of the dead, a memorial to the 50-odd people who were killed in the twin car-bombing in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli last month. Here a great part of the population directly blamed the Erdogan's government involvement in the Syrian war and up to ten thousand, some Turkish flags evident, went on the streets and forced the police to retreat.

MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Centre, based in Ankara, found that 28% of the Turkish population supported the regime's position on Syria. In the border town of Antakya there have been many demonstrations against the war with one worker tweeting about the economic price that the workers' have to pay for war.

This aspect of war is very much a minority expression within the protests in Turkey and is open to manipulation by opposition and leftist forces who could also fan the flames of an anti-refugee sentiment. But the question of war in Turkey can only increase as the induced imperialist chaos increases.

Fred
Communist wrote: Quote:Our

Communist wrote:

 

Quote:
Our goal right now must be to continue the struggle for as long as possible which means not alienating the mass of working class people who are afraid of violence. The longer liberal-minded people are exposed to the struggle, the more they can learn about class struggle and potentially become more militantly minded themselves.

 Once that happens, only then should we come into aggressive violence against the state.

  We may well be forced into violence as things heat up, but it isn't something to look forward to is it?  We should leave the monopoly of violence to that most crazily violent class the world has yet produced: the maniac bourgeoisie itself.  It's about the only thing they're good at now. Apart from lying; spying on everyone and everything and chasing after those who expose their dirty and disgusting way of life - as if it remains a secret from us all; and exhibiting their increasingly frantic paranoia, they have nothing left  to offer us. Are they at the end of their  tether? They certainly have reason to be! <p>     But violence isn't our natural proletarian mode of struggle.  Solidarity is our way. The bourgeoisie cannot resist our mass strikes when we decide to use them. We can bring them to their knees by just not working for them anymore.  They may be pompously reduced to declaring our strikes illegal, as the greek government has done to the teachers in Greece, or as Erdogan has over the protests in Turkey,  but what do we care now for their self-preserving notions of what counts as legal?  We have our own proletarian legality waiting in the wings to take over. Because their day is done. Why can't we all see it? It's so blatantly obvious. Capitalism has nothing to offer humanity except austerity, death and destruction. Nor do we have to ask the Trades Unions for permission to strike. They work for our enemies. We are the revolutionary class now, and we need no permission from anyone to do what needs to be done to further our own class interests;  to get rid of capitalism and replace it with our own workers' dictatorship, and thus rescue the rest of humanity and the planet itself from the murderous  insanity of a desperate bourgeoisie. <p>        Violence may become necessary one day, as radicalchains has pointed out, but it has to be planned and organized for a purpose. The proletariat is a thinking class. We have no truck with mindless demonstrations of brutality and revenge which just feed into the bourgeois chaos.   
baboon
mothers and children

Saw an interesting clip on the news yesterday... After the police and the interior ministry warned parents to get their children off the streets - an attack by armed police was imminent, was the implication, a number of mothers spontaneously came to Gezi, at least hundreds in one suggestion, and formed a protective circle around the demonstrators. No big deal, but a nice touch.

KT
And a certain international echo...

 

March in Milan, date unknown. See also last week's protests over public transport fare rises in many cities of Brazil: "Some said they were inspired by protests in Istanbul - 'Peace is over,Turkey is here!' was one chant on Thursday night." (Reuters Friday June 14)

From the UK Observer, Sunday 16 June:

"Thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul overnight on Sunday, erecting barricades and starting bonfires, after riot police used teargas and water cannons to clear the protest camp at the centre of Turkey's anti-government unrest.... In the early hours of the morning groups of demonstrators blocked a main highway to Ataturk airport on the western edge of the city, while to the east, police fired tear gas to block protesters attempting to cross the main bridge crossing the Bosphorus waterway towards Taksim....

....Thousands more rallied in the working-class Gazi neighbourhood, which saw heavy clashes with police in the 1990s, while protesters also gathered in Ankara around the central Kugulu Park, including opposition MPs who sat in the streets in an effort to prevent the police firing teargas.... A leading public-sector union alliance, KESK, said it would call a national strike for Monday."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/15/turkey-police-clear-gezi-park

 

 

Fred
It doesn't need to stop dude,

It doesn't need to stop dude, it needs to develop!   It's not so much a question of being shit scared - I am shit scared when  we don't respond to capitalism and let it get away  with murder.  The madness after all IS CAPITALISM ITSELF. 

Leo
Five unions (leftist public

Five unions (leftist public workers, leftist private workers, doctors, dentists and engineers & architects) have declared that they will not be working tomorrow (they aren't calling it a strike) and the Istanbul branches of all the unions in Turk-Is, the mainstream private workers union confederation, called for a strike effective tomorrow of all the branches in Turk-Is and all the other confederations.

Communist
reply to Fred

Fred wrote:

Communist wrote:

We may well be forced into violence as things heat up, but it isn't something to look forward to is it?  We should leave the monopoly of violence to that most crazily violent class the world has yet produced: the maniac bourgeoisie itself.  It's about the only thing they're good at now. Apart from lying; spying on everyone and everything and chasing after those who expose their dirty and disgusting way of life - as if it remains a secret from us all; and exhibiting their increasingly frantic paranoia, they have nothing left  to offer us. Are they at the end of their  tether? They certainly have reason to be! <p> But violence isn't our natural proletarian mode of struggle.  Solidarity is our way. The bourgeoisie cannot resist our mass strikes when we decide to use them. We can bring them to their knees by just not working for them anymore.  They may be pompously reduced to declaring our strikes illegal, as the greek government has done to the teachers in Greece, or as Erdogan has over the protests in Turkey,  but what do we care now for their self-preserving notions of what counts as legal?  We have our own proletarian legality waiting in the wings to take over. Because their day is done. Why can't we all see it? It's so blatantly obvious. Capitalism has nothing to offer humanity except austerity, death and destruction. Nor do we have to ask the Trades Unions for permission to strike. They work for our enemies. We are the revolutionary class now, and we need no permission from anyone to do what needs to be done to further our own class interests;  to get rid of capitalism and replace it with our own workers' dictatorship, and thus rescue the rest of humanity and the planet itself from the murderous  insanity of a desperate bourgeoisie. <p>   Violence may become necessary one day, as radicalchains has pointed out, but it has to be planned and organized for a purpose. The proletariat is a thinking class. We have no truck with mindless demonstrations of brutality and revenge which just feed into the bourgeois chaos.   

 

Sorry I forgot to respond to your post earlier. I agree with everything you said. Just thought I'd post to let you know I appreciate your response to my earlier post.

jk1921
Received a summary of the

Received a summary of the situation in Turkey today on a university listerv. I would post it here, but formatting difficulties prevent that. Among the details were that more than 200,000 people have been "cleared" from Gezi Park using unknown chemical spray that has left scores of dead animals in the streets of the city. Supposedly, "hundreds of thousands" of people have been "disappeared," detained without formal charges.

Can Leo, or others, confirm these details?

 

 

 

Leo
"Among the details were that

"Among the details were that more than 200,000 people have been "cleared" from Gezi Park using unknown chemical spray that has left scores of dead animals in the streets of the city. "

This sounds possible - scores of dead animals in the streets of the city has been in the mainstream media.

"Supposedly, "hundreds of thousands" of people have been "disappeared," detained without formal charges."

This, however, sounds a bit unlikely. Thousands, possibly.

jk1921
Chemical warfare?

Leo wrote:

"Among the details were that more than 200,000 people have been "cleared" from Gezi Park using unknown chemical spray that has left scores of dead animals in the streets of the city. "

This sounds possible - scores of dead animals in the streets of the city has been in the mainstream media.

"Supposedly, "hundreds of thousands" of people have been "disappeared," detained without formal charges."

This, however, sounds a bit unlikely. Thousands, possibly.

What exactly are they spraying and why doesn't this cross a "red line"?

Leo
"What exactly are they

"What exactly are they spraying"

I don't know, the government is denying it, of course.

"and why doesn't this cross a "red line"?"

A red line for whom?

slothjabber
chemical warfare

A 'red line' for 'the international community', given the current furore over the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Will Obma pledge to arm the Turkish opposition?

 

Obviously not. The suggestion is propsterous. But it demonstrates the hypocrisy of the 'international community'.

jk1921
Sorry

slothjabber wrote:

A 'red line' for 'the international community', given the current furore over the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Will Obma pledge to arm the Turkish opposition?

 

Obviously not. The suggestion is propsterous. But it demonstrates the hypocrisy of the 'international community'.

Exactly. Sorry, my previous post wasn't very clear. But if they are spraying stuff that kills dogs; it must be pretty noxious stuff. Maybe not Sarin, but its obviously not very good for you.

baboon
Resistanbul

We are seeing the development of the widescale protests in Brazil that KT mentions above. There's a position from the ICC's section that has been produced very quickly, is very good and is currently on the libcom website. The Turkey/Brazil connection is obvious and the need for general assemblies of all kinds, particularly workers, is outlined in the position mentioned above, something that equally applies to Turkey.

Associated Press reports that at least 8 cities involving hundreds of thousands of protesters were hit last night. Brazil is one of the "economic miracles", the famous BRICS that are supposed to pull the world economy out of recession and bankruptcy. Inflation, corruption, high taxes and lack of public health, education and so on has all played a part in the growth of these protests as has the brutal response of the police, initially from the fare rise protests about a week ago - tear gas, rubber bullets, beating up anyone in their way - just as in Turkey and just as in Turkey the protesters have been labelled "troublemakers" by one side, with the opposition being more "understanding" but supporting the same repression.

Several  weeks ago there was something of a global public relations campaign opened up by Brazil - hand in hand with the world's media and football interests - to depict police and communities working together in a "carnival atmosphere" towards the World Cup. That looks well and truely shattered now. There haven't been demonstrations like this in Brazil for decades and last night in Sao Paulo a large contingent of Mothers made an appearance with slogans defending their children - there were also a varied number of slogans and placards, some calling for revolution, others against this or that aspect of capitalism but few national flags as far as I could see.

baboon
Is there a postion from the

Is there a postion from the ICC's Turkish section, or the ICC on the situation in Turkey?

Alf
Turkish section statement

We are awaiting it with eagerness - it should be available soon

Leo
Our article is basically

Our article is basically ready in Turkish and hopefully will be published tonight. The translation should be finished before the end of the week.

baboon
Football

One of the characteristics of the struggle in Turkey, just one aspect that I want to mention, has been the active solidarity shown between previously bitter football rivals of different Turkish clubs in order to confront the police. Elements of this were shown in Egypt although here the state managed to manipulate the rivalry to some extent. The joint confrontation of rival fans against the police, although at a much lower level, was also evident in some English clubs in the early 80s - but this in Turkey appears at a "higher", positive level. And in relation to the historical analyses of the ICC's on sport and football, the indignation expressed against the state and the football authorities in particular in the protests in Brazil, is very welcome.

Look forward to the position.

Communist
Standing man protests

Not sure what to make of these silent 'standing man' protests. I can't imagine 100,000's taking to the streets to stand in silence. The previously mass character of the mass confrontation is what made it strong, and the oppurtunity for interaction and debate, can't see that happening with this kind of protests.

The problems with the protests seem clearer now that the communal spaces have been cleared out. Nationalism played a large part, with many yearning for a return to reactionary 'Ataturkism' rather than a progressive revolutionary change. Also where workers mobilised they were largely under the thumb of the unions.

Still, it's a learning experience, and acts as an example to the rest of us, the Brazilean protestors and their nod to Turkey as an inspiration show this.