THE PROCESS OF NATION BUILDING OF THE KURDS, THE NATIONAL OPPRESSION AND THE PLATFORM OF SOLUTIONS FOR THIS PROBLEM
Already in the context of the phase before imperialism, we dealt with the question of the origin of nations. The characteristics of the process of becoming a nation during the imperialist phase are worth dealing with as well.
Imperialistic colonialism is at the same time an intervention from abroad in the internal structure of a people which has not yet become a nation. On the one hand this intervention in the dynamics of nation-building causes an erosion and distortion, on the other it creates, wanted or unwanted, the material basis for nation-building by introducing capitalist relations into these countries. The second point is an objective fact and independent of the will of imperialism.
“In the countries which became colonies, capital forced new relations upon local society, contradictions and social conflicts, whose structure became even more complex, were mixed up, aggravated or resolved; the economy, together with money and the development of the internal and external trade, also brought new elements, it caused the development of new nations of groups of people who were in different phases of historical development.” (A. CABRAL, Last Speeches, p. 74)
These peoples, which became colonies, have some characteristics making them different from others (language, culture, ethnic origin et cetera). But they are still far from becoming a real nation. The ruling social relations are not national social relations, based on the individual, they are based on clan and tribal relations. One cannot speak of the development of a national consciousness, parallel to a unified spiritual growth. On a material basis, these people, or groups of people, are neither united through a unified market, nor through a system of relations created by such.
Therefore these people are not nations according to the criteria which were listed by Stalin. These criteria are valid for peoples which are at the end of the process of nation-building. This process will only be realised for these peoples in the struggle against imperialism. The colonial policy of imperialism in these countries can only be broken by an uprising. But such an uprising will destroy the regional or tribal relations and create new relations within a new national consciousness. This is sufficiently concretised by the words “We weren’t aware of being a nation until we showed that we were one people.” (FRELIMO, Mozambique Liberation Front)
But how must these peoples be classified? Even though they are not nations according to the criteria of Stalin, they are not just mere ethnic groups or minorities. In this sense, we define named peoples as “peoples which possess a national nucleus” or “peasant nations”. The contents of our definition express a national nucleus, based on the unity of a common language, land and history of the peasants, which split up in clans or feudal tribes and have not yet completed the process of nation-building. The phrase “peasant” includes also the class differentiation of society: based on the methods of production (a non-developed capitalism and in general feudal rule), the majority of society consists of peasants while the bourgeoisie and the working class are developed very weakly.
Engels wrote about the “peoples which possess a national nucleus”:
“On the other hand, the South Slavs in the interior of the country are the only ones which possess a civilisation. Even though they are not yet a nation, they already possess a strong and relatively determined national nucleus in Serbia.” (ENGELS, “The question of the East”, leading article “What will happen with the situation of Turkey in Europe” in the New York Daily Tribune, no. 3748, April 21, 1853)
The situation of the Kurdish nation is the same. The Kurds were still living under a feudal method of production, split into feudal tribes, when the peoples within the borders of the Ottoman Empire entered upon the process of nation-building. But they possessed a national nucleus and the determination to become a nation. In this era – although limited to a few intellectual circles – we can speak of the development of a national idea, as much under the influence of national movements within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, as because of reaction against the assimilation policy. As a consequence, the process of nation-building made progress during the Kemalist era. In both eras, national oppression was an internal problem.
As a consequence of the neocolonialisation of Turkey, which also affected Kurdistan, capitalist relations spread and a strong petit-bourgeois framework developed. Because of factors like resistance to national oppression, the process of nation-building reached a higher level. But despite the rapidly developing national consciousness, we cannot speak of a real dimension of national unity. Tribal relations are still very characteristic. A lot of young people, for instance, identify with one tribe or another, national identity is still in the background.
We cannot address the process of nation-building – regarding the characteristics of the Kurds – with worries like “this could be a pretext for the attitude of denial by the chauvinists or the social chauvinists”. This would mean to replace scientific facts by feelings and has nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism.
On the other hand, we know that this stand has brought us reproaches from Kurdish nationalists like “influenced by chauvinism” et cetera. But this has no meaning for us. It’s not our task to tell heroic stories and say that we are “the champions of the Kurds” and calling the Kurdish nation an “eternal nation”. This would be a denial of our Marxist-Leninist identity and science. Let some of them accuse us. Defending reality has always bothered some people throughout history. That the petite bourgeoisie feel annoyed is quite normal, they are after all nationalists. It’s characteristic of such petit-bourgeois nationalists to call everybody who doesn’t agree with them a “social chauvinist” or a defender of the “historical national pact”! (Reference to an event in 1920, when independence was demanded for the areas with a Turkish majority.) We’ll leave this and say that the basic criterion for being a “social chauvinist” or not is social practice.
We emphasise here that for us the national question is secondary to the class struggle, and it’s a question of form. Naturally, this is not to say that we think it’s unimportant. On the contrary, the national question has a crucial meaning in the struggle and in achieving the liberation of the proletariat and in proletarian internationalism. This is the reason why we address this question extensively. Because of the importance of the question, we will not limit ourselves to just answering the distortions of the bourgeoisie. We also criticise the false views of those who claim to know the problem.
- The Kurdish national revolution is part of the anti-oligarchic and anti-imperialist people’s revolution in Turkey. “The solution of the national question depends on the class struggle. The programme of the democratic people’s revolution is a programme that also seeks to achieve the liberation of the Kurdish nation.” (The historical development of the Kurds and the Kurdish question in Turkey, DEVRIMCI SOL Publications, p. 97-98) “If we don’t address the oppression of nations within its historical context and do not show by what classes it is exercised, the aim of our revolution will have been determined wrongly. The oppression of nations in Turkey is exercised by the ruling classes which collaborate with imperialism.” (…)
“Because the Turkish ruling classes have forged a coalition (in the national and class oppression, carried out by them) with the Kurdish ruling classes, we must address this question (within the framework of the class struggle) as directed against the Kurdish peasants, petit-bourgeois and democratic forces, that is to say, as a policy of national oppression implemented against the Kurdish nation.” (ib., p. 102-103)
Starting from this perspective, we emphasise two points:
First: capitalist relations in Kurdistan did not develop by means of a dynamic of their own, they were developed, through neocolonialism, by imperialism from top to bottom. The entire market in Turkey, including Kurdistan, lies within the area exploited by imperialism and the existing production relations developed according to the interests of imperialism. As a consequence of these developments, the Kurdish ruling classes (large landowners and sheikhs) became instruments of national oppression by joining the bloc of the ruling classes (the oligarchy).
Second: with the rule of the neocolonialist relations in all of Turkey, the Kurdish and Turkish workers and toilers have become part of the same social and economic structure.
These two basic characteristics have one result: the end of the national oppression in Kurdistan and the freedom to determine one’s own fate, in other words the Kurdish national revolution, will, as part of the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, be the liberation of the peasants above all. Because although the feudal relations have been dissolved in Kurdistan, and production is market-orientated, that is to say a distorted capitalism rules, 70% of the peasants possess little or no land. (Y. Caglar, “Village and Peasantry, the development problems of the villages in Turkey)
The solution of the question of land and the right of self-determination of the Kurdish peasants always has been basically a problem for the working people, a problem whose solution was possible through political democracy. Therefore national and social liberation are connected. The revolutionary demands of the workers, peasants and other groups of toilers in Kurdistan meet on two major points: the demand for land and self-determination.
The lack of a national bourgeoisie from the beginning and the coalition of the Kurdish ruling classes with the imperialists and the Turkish ruling classes led to the oligarchy and imperialism becoming the social base for national oppression.
Achieving the right of self-determination for the Kurdish nation will be done through the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, aimed against central authority and carried out by the Kurdish and Turkish peoples together. In this sense, the obstacle to the social and national liberation of the Kurdish and the Turkish peoples, to the right of self-determination for the Kurdish nation, to solving the question of land for the Kurdish and Turkish peasants is the same: imperialism and the oligarchy.
The anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution is the uninterrupted realisation of the two revolutions of the proletariat, in a single process, of the neocolonies which haven’t realised their bourgeois-democratic revolution and therefore couldn’t solve their national question and their peasant question (in general the problem of democracy). Under the conditions of our era, in which there is no bourgeoisie any more which can achieve its own revolution, the proletariat has to take upon itself the bourgeois-democratic revolution as much because a historical phase cannot be skipped. The proletariat solves the task of the bourgeois-democratic revolution with the perspective of the uninterrupted revolution and secures the transition to socialism. The only revolutionary class of our age which can complete the democratic revolution is the proletariat. The petit-bourgeois radical national movements can, it is true, also lead this revolution, but they cannot complete it. They cannot solve the national or the peasant question. Mostly they fall back into the lap of imperialism.
The people’s revolution, a form of the proletarian revolution in the colonial and dependent countries is a revolutionary step also from the perspective of Kurdistan. The revolutionary coalition of workers, peasants and the petit bourgeois, led by the working class, is the only revolutionary coalition against the oligarchy and imperialism. Expressed even more clearly, the people’s revolution in Kurdistan will be the result of driving away imperialism and bringing down the oligarchy. The classes of this revolution are the workers, the peasants and the petite bourgeoisie.
Speaking of another solution for the democratic and national demands of the Kurdish people would be nothing else but proposing the impossibility of a solution. Proposing a “solution” within capitalism inevitably means social chauvinism. There is no solution of the Kurdish problem outside the revolution. That’s the fact we should be aware of.
The anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution in Turkey, the neocolony of imperialism, will create a new kind of national liberation for the workers, the peasants and the other segments of the population in Turkey. It will bring down fascism and realise political democracy. It will remove the social base of national oppression, achieve the right of self-determination of the Kurdish workers, peasants and petit bourgeois. It will achieve their demands for land and democracy by liberating them from exploitation by the monopolies, the large landowners and the usurers. The revolution is nationalistic in its anti-imperialistic character and democratic in its anti-oligarchic character. Because of the fascist form of rule by the oligarchy, the anti-oligarchic revolution is anti-fascist as well.
We must emphasise that it is narrow-minded to address this question with a “coalition between the Kurdish national movement and the Turkish proletariat”, or “solidarity”, from the perspective of “two separate revolutions”. Such a view is identical with petit-bourgeois nationalism. Almost all who speak about Kurdistan remain silent about the Kurdish bourgeoisie and their struggle for their “own market”. We say that the Kurdish ruling classes have become a tool of national oppression by joining the oligarchy. Even when this is not openly admitted, some express this fact in an indirect manner. With what wisdom they operate! Everything is twisted in the political analyses, not a shred remains of science or Marxism-Leninism. In the centre of these views are the theories of a “colony”, of “two separate revolutions” and “solidarity”. The theories are sacrificed to their subjectivism, whose source is nationalism. Such views are harmful, they split the struggle of the two peoples, offer the oligarchy room for manoeuvre, and consciously or unconsciously prepare the ground for inciting national animosity.
We ask: How and based on what interests are our peoples, united in the same economic and social structure, directed towards different revolutionary goals? The proletariat doesn’t regard “national interests” as its main task, furthermore the democratic people’s revolution includes the solution of the national problem as well. But they have no other answers. The national perspective, from which they develop the theory of the “two separated revolutions” results in condemning the Kurdish workers to exploitation and oppression by the Kurdish upper classes.
Those who claim to act in the name of the proletariat should answer the question how they believe they can solve the class contradictions between the Kurdish workers and peasants on the one side, and the Kurdish ruling classes on the other. When the aim is not bourgeois-national liberation, shouldn’t the class struggle against the ruling classes in Kurdistan be organised from the very beginning? What is a struggle with a purely national character but rowing against the current, seen from the fact that the Kurdish rulers participate in the national oppression?
These questions have clear answers. The liberation of the Kurdish nation will only be realised on a class basis. The revolutionary way leading there is the common struggle of the Kurdish and Turkish peoples against the oligarchy and imperialism. It’s not the task of the proletariat to carry the flag of the “market” for the bourgeoisie. We emphasise once again, there are no objective conditions for a separated Kurdish national revolution outside the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution in the neocolony Turkey.
On the topic of the national revolution, Tsarist Russia is often used as an example. When one really needs an example to prove a theory, one can always find one. But when we look at it more carefully, the nationalist theory is in reality proven wrong by these examples. In Tsarist Russia, capitalism with its colonies, developing with its internal dynamic, existed. The colonies had a bourgeoisie of their own, working for their own market. The national struggles in the colonies against Tsarist Russia were part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. We cannot speak of a similar situation in Turkey. In our country, neither a bourgeoisie, created by capitalism developing with an internal dynamic, exists, neither do relations of the bourgeoisie with a monarchy, nor a colonial bourgeoisie which “competes for the market” with the ruling nation. Furthermore, it’s a known fact that the national bourgeoisie joined Tsarism in the class struggle against the proletariat, betraying the nation. In this sense, the interests of the proletariat are totally opposite to those of the nationalistic philistines. In the struggle against national oppression, the proletariat will never drop the flag of class struggle. In the essence of the struggle, the national struggle is always connected to social liberation, subordinated to it. What is necessary is the common struggle against the same ruling structures. Despite the differences in the way society in Russia was formed, LENIN and STALIN rejected a separated revolution. They accused the Polish “Marxists”, defending a separated revolution, of nationalism. Repeating the words of Mehring, LENIN drew a broad line between the Marxist-Leninist view and opportunism, as well as all other forms of nationalism:
“If the Polish proletariat had written the founding of a class state on its banners, whose names the ruling classes of Poland don’t even want to hear, they would have represented a historical comedy. This is possible for the classes which own property (as was the case, for example, for the Polish aristocrats in 1791), but not for the working class. (…)
“The interests of the working class make it absolutely necessary that the Polish workers, without conditions, fight shoulder to shoulder with their class comrades against the three states which divided Poland among them. The days are over when a bourgeois revolution could have created a free Poland.” (LENIN, “National Problem, National Liberation Struggles”, p. 17-18)
Those who have problems to give the theories of “two separate revolutions”, or a “coalition”, an objective basis, in the end try to prove their claims with relative notions. Their representatives on the Turkish left state: the social contradictions in Turkey and Kurdistan are differently developed, the contradictions brought about by national oppression cause a different speed of movement. Therefore, the national struggle in Kurdistan can take over the class struggle in Turkey and realise a revolution of its own. Et cetera. If this is meant to defend the thesis about a “colony” and “two separate revolutions”, it makes no sense. Turkey is a neocolonial country in a state of permanent – although not yet quite matured – national crisis. The existence of a national crisis means that the economic, social and political crises unite in the same melting pot. The ruling classes in Turkey lack the strength and means to soften the contradictions. At this point, there is objectively no obstacle to building the reactions of the Turkish workers and toilers into an explosion and giving this explosion a revolutionary character. In this sense, the statement about a speeded-up development of the Kurdish movement, caused by national oppression, is an expression of a lack of self-confidence in theorising conjunctural developments. The fact that these theories show parallels, especially to the present conjunctural activities of the Kurdish patriots, confirms our statements.
From the perspective of looking for the right solutions to the revolution in the country, the contradictions and the main contradiction, characterising this process, must be recognised correctly. We can list the contradictions in Turkey as follows:
1 – The contradiction between the peoples in Turkey and imperialism and the oligarchy. That is to say, the contradiction between the Turkish and Kurdish workers, peasants and the petit-bourgeois sections of society on the one side, and imperialism and the bloc of the collaborating monopoly bourgeoisie, major landowners and usurers on the other. This contradiction has a class and a national side, connected with each other (because imperialism was brought into the oligarchy by the collaborating monopoly-bourgeoisie).
2 – The contradictions between the oligarchy and the non-monopoly bourgeoisie.
3 – Contradictions within the oligarchy.
4 – The contradiction between the Kurdish nation and the oligarchy, brought about by national oppression. This contradiction exists mainly between the Kurdish peasants and the oligarchy.
From these contradictions, the contradiction between the peoples of Turkey (the Kurdish and the Turkish) on the one side, and the oligarchy on the other, is the basic contradiction, it characterises the process. The solution of this contradiction will also mean the solution of the contradictions between the Kurdish peasants and the oligarchy, caused by the national oppression. Even some petit-bourgeois circles, starting from the premise of Kurdistan as a colony, present these contradictions in the same way. Because the basic contradiction lies in the relation between colonised and coloniser, it is the contradiction between the colonialised people and the ruling classes of the colonial power. The contradiction, brought about by the oppression of nations, in no way becomes secondary.
If the theory of a “colony” is aimed at pushing through the demand for an “own state”, the shortest and easiest way to do this is also organising the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic revolution against the common enemy in a common struggle. “Colony” or not, under no condition can we – especially those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists – see it as legitimate to split the struggle of the peoples, to replace proletarian interests with national interests. Marxist-Leninists do not limit themselves to the national problem, the struggle is fought on the basis of general proletarian interests. In this sense, the obstacle to the liberation of our peoples is not the national problem. The obstacles for the Kurdish as well as for the Turkish people are imperialism and the oligarchy.
At this point, both people have the same form of society. Of course, there’s a contradiction for the Kurdish people which is based on national oppression. Not seeing this would mean not seeing national oppression and therefore falling back into a social chauvinist position. And so many forms of revisionism often do not want to acknowledge this contradiction, it is only mentioned when they’re forced to do so. These are views which reject, in the name of social revolution, the right of self-determination, don’t want to see the contradiction which is caused by national oppression and therefore take a bourgeois-nationalist position. Only verbally are they defending proletarian interests. Those who in their entire history took a social chauvinist position in the name of the “proletariat”, have further strengthened this position with their present identity as a “national party”, and they progressively and quickly slink away into adopting this bourgeois-nationalist stand. It’s known to all how the opportunistic Second International suddenly ignored the Leninist resolution about the right of self-determination of nations and against the war of the imperialist bourgeoisie to partition the world – a resolution they signed themselves – and supported the bourgeoisie in the name of the “fatherland”. What those will do who have been begging for “approval” from the bourgeoisie for years, and what they will do – if necessary – to pay their “debts”, is not a secret.
We defend the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people, damn its national oppression, and fight it. And we declare that the solution lies in the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution.
Just as we do not approach this question from just the national point of view, we also say that those who ignore the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people, or who remove its revolutionary contents with phrases like “national-cultural autonomy” and “autonomy”, must be fought. It makes no sense nowadays to just emphasise the existence of the Kurdish people. The right position, from the Turkish left, as well as of the bourgeois intellectuals, would be to drop the traditional attitude of “approval”, resist solution theories like the “historical national treaty”, and to courageously defend the right of self-determination of the Kurdish nation. Regretfully, it must be said that both are far remote from such a position.
The task of those who bear the responsibility of being an intellectual and respecting scientific honour, is to defend the right of self-determination of nations under all circumstances and to show the same sensitivity and courage for the Kurdish problem, without being intimidated by accusations like being a “separatist”. What we want to say to those who call themselves a “workers’ party”, “communist”, et cetera, is that it is right when one does not reward nationalist tendencies, but that it is social chauvinism when one turns against the oppressed nationalists and instead supports the chauvinist nationalism of the oppressing nation just so as to prove one’s loyalty to the bourgeoisie.
Another kind of hidden defence of social chauvinism is the defence of “cultural autonomy”. Such a view constitutes a civilised defence of the oppression policy of a nation and the condemnation of the peasants and workers of the oppressed nation to capitalist exploitation. Because the “national culture” under bourgeois rule is in essence bourgeois culture. The defenders of this view, the social chauvinists, indeed defend the continuation of the privileges of the bourgeoisie of the ruling nation.
We repeat, as Marxist-Leninists we defend the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people. These are principles we cannot abandon. After the obstacles to the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people have been removed, we will carry out agitation and propaganda for unity. Because we are Marxist-Leninists, because we defend the unity of the proletariat, this position is consequently needed. In this sense, we regard the present conditions of division as harmful, as much from the standpoint of the historical development of the proletariat as of the concrete interests of both peoples, especially the interests of the Kurdish people. We would only support a division when the main obstacle to liberation of our peoples was the national problem (that is to say, when this would become the main contradiction of the process). But this could only occur with regard to concrete developments. Our policy has a more objective basis and we say that true liberation lies in the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, realised through the common struggle of both peoples against the common enemy.
In order to prevent misunderstandings, we clearly state we want the immediate end of the national oppression against the Kurdish people. The view that the revolution will solve this anyway, and thus rejecting other solutions as unnecessary, is incompatible with our view of history. We are for the immediate ending of the national oppression of the Kurdish people. But considering the existing objective conditions, this is not possible. A scientific analysis of the Kurdish national problem shows national liberation comes through the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic revolution. Therefore, the struggle we Marxist-Leninists organise is the revolutionary struggle of both peoples.
State prosecutors and judges, who try to condemn us because we defend the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people! This is our “separatism”. And we don’t feel threatened by such an “accusation”, on the contrary, we are proud of it. We gladly except that the oligarchy labels us as “separatists”, because we fight against the annihilation, against the genocide against the Kurdish people, and we defend the right of self-determination of nations. Let’s see if those who oppress the Kurdish people have the courage to confess to all their acts at the bar of history. We don’t think so! Because they have a characteristic which stems from their nature as exploiters. They have a nature which leads to trying to stop the wheel of history, of committing crimes against humanity and history, in order to maintain their rule.
It has always bothered fascism when reality was mentioned. The exploiting classes, with incomparable hypocrisy, have denied in social practice what they promised with words. They have also constantly continued their policy of repression in new forms, even more inhumane and relentless, in order to destroy reality when this was incompatible with their interests.
The Turkish state doesn’t hesitate to declare on the international stage that it respects the right of self-determination of nations. It’s no problem to them to sign international treaties about this topic. But the right of self-determination is violated as flagrantly as the treaties about “torture” or “peace”. When it’s about national wars abroad, the oligarchy defends the right of self-determination in words, with a pragmatic view. But when it concerns the Kurdish people, they intervene with a racism which puts Hitler in the shadow. “There are no Kurds,” they say. But even in saying so, they acknowledge the Kurdish reality.
We say to the ruling classes, whose courts have taken it upon themselves to condemn us, we say to those who parrot the official ideology, the state prosecutors: the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people cannot be denied. Imperialism could not prevent the implementation of this right. You want examples? Look at the heroic Vietnamese people, defeating three imperialist states, one after the other. Even the napalm of the USA, the cowboys of the world, couldn’t help them. And the cracks in the structure of imperialism, caused by the victory of Vietnam, have not been repaired yet, even though 15 years have passed. If this is not enough, look at the struggles of the African and Asian peoples, of the Algerian people, which you now call a “fraternal people”, but whose liberation struggle against imperialism you fought against yesterday… The examples are numerous.
And it will not be different for you. The Kurdish people will achieve victory through the common struggle with the Turkish workers and toilers, and your rapacious and exploitative regime will be buried in the depths of history, together with your policy of national oppression.
You will not intimidate us, Marxist-Leninists of the Kurdish and the Turkish people, with your demagogy of “separatism”, your torture, massacres, executions and punishments. The Kurdish people will sooner or later achieve the conditions for its right of self-determination. There is no doubt about that.
B. The liberation of our peoples in the multi-nation state Turkey will be the result of common organising and struggle
The view of organising of Marxist-Leninists in a state with several nations is common organising (in one party). Marxist-Leninists categorically reject a separate way of organising which divides the proletariat with a national fence. This view was put into practice by LENIN and STALIN in Tsarist Russia, and its success was proven concretely.
This view is even more valid for Turkey. Because Turkey is not characterised by a relation between colony and colonialist, the Kurdish and Turkish workers and toilers show the same economic and social structure. In this case, separate organising would be splitting the struggle of the peoples in practice, and the consequences would be the destruction of class consciousness and enslavement under bourgeois bigotry. On the other side, the conditions for the right of self-determination of nations cannot be created without bringing down central authority. We’ve already mentioned that in our era only the proletariat defends the true liberation of all nations and the cause of unity of all workers of all nations.
In a state with several nations, the way to organise is to organise in one single party.
The united proletarians of all nations of the state in question must organise as an indivisible proletarian community. (…) Our view regarding the national problem (…), for the proletarians of all nationalities in a certain state, one single and indivisible proletarian community, one party.” (STALIN, “The item of nationality”, p. 85-86)
The proletariat cannot benefit from a separate way of organising, according to national characteristics, of the proletariat which lives within the same state borders. Except for nationalistic narrow-mindedness, this cannotbe in anyone’s interest. A separate way of organising means sacrificing the ultimate goal of the proletariat and proletarian internationalism to nationalistic narrow-mindedness. Defending such a separate way of organising means dividing the working class in the cities and factories along national lines, erecting a Chinese Wall between them. It means taking away the contents of proletarian internationalism which aims at the unity of the workers of all nations, reducing it to a mere word. This can only serve to nourish ideas of discriminating between nations. One should not forget that discrimination nourishes chauvinism and that a fence between the members of one single class only benefits bourgeois nationalism.
From the beginning, we want to emphasise one difference. The oppressed nation has the right to create a separate organisation and its own national institutions. But recognising these rights, defending it under all circumstances, and demanding separate ways of organising are two different things. Marxist-Leninists, while not interfering in the implementation of these rights by the oppressed nation, carry out agitation and propaganda against separate organising, defending the necessity for common organisation.
“The social democrats (in this case the Marxists) do not reject the freedom of organisation, whatever the form, among those organising from every community, whatever the nationality, but they cannot want it, support it.” (LENIN, “About the right of self-organisation of the nations”)
The question is clear. The nations have the right to organise themselves as they please. Whether it is harmful or useful, they have the right to shape their national elements, whatever the form this takes. Defending the opposite would be the absolute rejection of the right of self-determination of the nations, defending the oppression policy of another nation. Because we have dealt with this extensively, we will not repeat it. And it isn’t the question we deal with here. The theme of the discussion is the way of approaching the question of organising by those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists, those who claim to defend the interests of the proletariat. A bourgeois nationalist, a petit bourgeois can defend separate organising. We can see that as harmful and agitate against it. But we are against preventing it by force. Everything is clear, up to this point! But a socialist, a Marxist-Leninist cannot propagate separate organising. When he insists on this, supports or propagates it, he’s no socialist and Marxist-Leninist. He’s a petit-bourgeois nationalist. He’s the nationalist of the oppressed nation.
The principle of bourgeois nationalism, whatever its shape, in general is the development of nationalism. It’s the consequence of its nature. But in general, it cannot be the principle of a socialist to develop nationalism. Socialists, Marxist-Leninists, are for international unity among the workers of all nations. They know that every kind of discrimination among workers of different nations will create the basis for bourgeois intrigues and conspiracies. They determine their stand not according to nationalistic narrow-mindedness, but rather they keep in mind the internationalist interests of the proletariat. The essential question is dealing with this question from the perspective of developing internationalism. The heart of the matter in dealing with the right of self-determination of the nations is realising free unity, with full equality, by ending the policy which oppresses the nations and keeps them together with violence. To defend separate organisation of the workers from different nations despite these clear facts, is nothing but nationalism.
Separate organising in our country is defended by Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists. That’s only natural, we think. But it’s not normal when they call themselves Marxist-Leninists. To remove the contradiction which emerges, they claim Kurdistan is a “colony” and therefore a “separate revolution” is needed. We extensively stated that Kurdistan is not a “colony”, that the liberation of the peoples of the different nations goes through the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, that the enemy of both peoples is the same, a common one, that the existence of national oppression against the Kurds does not necessitate a separate revolution, that the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution also includes the solution of the national problem.
It’s obvious that defending separate organising in a country with several nations (especially in a country like Turkey where workers and peasants have united in a single form of society), means nothing else than defending petit-bourgeois nationalism under the disguise of being a “Marxist”. This situation should not be confounded with a separate way of organising of the proletariat which lives in different states. The proletariat defends on the international level the principle of struggling together. But this struggle is waged with independent class organisations, created within national borders. The class struggle, waged inside the national borders, is part of the worldwide class struggle. But one cannot, in the name of internationalism, leave aside the reality of the countries, showing different forms of society, and defend the theory of “one revolution and one organisation”.
Starting from this bigger view, instead of regarding the individual revolutionary struggles as parts of the proletarian world revolution, would produce nothing. One would confuse corn with straw if one demanded separate organisations for nations which show the same form of society and which are in the same state. A separate way of organising within national borders is a question of form and does not exclude the principle of common organisation. To project this correct view on organising in one country would mean the degeneration of the notion. We will not discuss the circumstances in Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, et cetera. If one wants an example anyway, the way LENIN and STALIN dealt with this question in Tsarist Russia is of importance: despite a relation of colony and colonist, with which it was attempted to argue for a separate way of organising and a separate revolution, LENIN and STALIN opposed the BUND and the Polish social democrats who proposed a separate organisation (or a federation).
Because the strategic goal of both peoples in our country is the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, the Marxist-Leninist view requires a common way of organising and one single party. We are for the unity of the Kurdish and the Turkish workers and toilers, based on relations of comradeship. This view if a common way of organising is in agreement with the class position of the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, as well as with the PASS (Politicised Military War Strategy), which we defend as the way to revolution in our country.
To defend common organisation in a country with several nations does not require neglecting the existence of the oppressed nation. Such a view reduces the organising of the proletariat of both nations to the level of the proletariat of one nation. This would be a form of social chauvinism. And that’s what the traditional left is in our country: champions of social chauvinism, because although they talk about the existence of the Kurdish nation – they’re forced to – regarding the question of organising, they neglect the characteristics of the oppressed nation. The problem of organising is reduced to the level of organising the proletariat of one single nation. One can’t expect differently from a traditional left which never in its history could free itself from the role of clinging to the ruling classes, a left which has become the supporter of chauvinism and made it its basic organisational goal to prove its loyalty to the bourgeoisie. Their attitude regarding the existence of the Kurdish nation is a kind of makeshift “making allowances for old customs”. To defend the cause of the Kurdish nation requires fighting national oppression and defending the right of self-determination unconditionally. This requires a corresponding practice. One way is to create an idea which makes allowance for the oppressed nation in the common form of organising. But for social chauvinists, this would harm their “national party”.
Given the circumstances in our country, the concrete form of organising for the oppressed nation should be a regional organisation of the central party in the region of the oppressed nation. The organisation in Kurdistan (a committee) of the central party cannot be compared to any other form of regional organisation. This organisation, which we could also call the Kurdistan arm (organisation) of the party, should consider the characteristics and demands of the Kurdish nation and possess a flexibility needed for the differences in the struggle.
Not understanding the organisation of the oppressed nation as a regional form of organising within the framework of the one party would be factionalism, or defending separate organising. This would be outside the framework of the Leninist view of a party.
A large part of the left in our country, following the thesis of a colony or not, attempt to exist in Kurdistan as an organisation by paying tribute to the oppressed nationalism. They view the organising of the oppressed nation as organising a section within the central organisation. It’s no coincidence that this view finds many supporters, given the conditions of the defeat after September 12. When one realises that these views, together with the thesis of the existence of a colony, emerged during a phase in which the Kurdish patriotic movement was relatively active, it’s not difficult to understand how theory was sacrificed to subjectivism. The organisation as a section has nothing to do with a central one-party organisation and the conditions in Turkey.
The organisation as a section of a central party is a form of organising with its own organs and own programme. If considered necessary, it could split from the party and become an independent (national) organisation. This means, essentially separated organisations of the oppressed and the oppressing nations are connected within a central structure. We could also call it a federation. In essence, this is a way of organising which is separated according to national lines. The central organisation only formally exists. But this has nothing to do with the Marxist-Leninist view of the “joint unification of the proletariat of all nations (or two nations) in one single proletarian organisation”. Lenin answers this question as follows:
“All economic and political conditions in Russia make it necessary, given the circumstance, that the social democrats (in this case: the Marxists) unconditionally unite the workers of all national communities, without making any differences, in proletarian organisations (in political organisations, workers’ associations, cooperatives, schools, et. cetera.). The party must not have a federalist structure, must not form national social democratic groups…” (LENIN, “The national question and the national liberation struggles”)
Another point in which Marxist-Leninists differ from the social chauvinists is the form of the common struggle. As with the question of organising, the social chauvinists neglect the existence of an oppressed nation and its demands in the question of the struggle. For them, there’s only the struggle and the demands (limited to the economic field) of the proletariat. With such an attitude, they do not take position in practice against national oppression and they do not see the demand for self-determination. It’s remarkable of these double standards of social chauvinism that don’t oppose the oppression of a nation because of its right of self-determination, but because of a dishonest bourgeois humanism and its “human problems”, et cetera. A notion which shows their carefully hidden opportunism.
This characteristic, especially seen with the social reformists and almost all of the traditional left of our country, is a product of their petit-bourgeois class character. It’s no secret that those who are even more catholic than the pope, constantly talk about the Kurdish nation, and act like the three monkeys (hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing) when the practical struggle against national oppression is concerned.
Also both forms of nationalism, the nationalists of the oppressing and the nationalists of the oppressed nation, meet in their one-sidedness. While the nationalists (social chauvinists) of the oppressing nation leave the struggle against national oppression aside and are only concerned about the class struggle – or better: the economic class struggle – the nationalists of the oppressed nation (the Kurdish patriots) neglect the class struggle. And thus they condemn the Kurdish workers and peasants to the oppression and yoke of the Kurdish ruling classes, confusing the consciousness of the workers with slogans about a bourgeois “nation”. Of course, we should not compare the attitude of the social chauvinists with the attitude of the nationalists, because the nationalism of an oppressed nation has an internal justification.
A movement which claims to be the revolutionary vanguard of both peoples should see the contradiction between the oligarchy and the Kurdish workers, emerging because of the national oppression. Not seeing this contradiction in practice causes the right of self-determination to remain just an empty word and it prepares the road for confusing the consciousness of the workers and toilers with the bourgeois-nationalist views of the petit-bourgeois nationalists. The contents of the common struggle in Kurdistan against imperialism and the oligarchy also include the national problem. Of course, our attitude cannot be the one of the Kurdish nationalists who reduce the struggle to the struggle against national oppression. Our view of the struggle in Kurdistan is determined by the class perspective. The struggle against national oppression gains importance when looked at from the perspective of the class basis.
The struggle against national oppression in Kurdistan is in essence a question of the Kurdish workers, peasants and petit- and internediate-bourgeois sections. Because it is these social circles which are affected most by national oppression. On the other hand, these circles are affected by a massive exploitation. The majority of the peasants do not possess land and are completely subjected to the exploitation of the usurers. Even their smallest democratic demands are bloodily crushed. Responsible for all this are imperialism and the oligarchy. The demand for the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people and the demand for land and democracy unite in one single melting pot. We see the struggle against national oppression as the struggle for land and democracy. “The struggle against national oppression in Kurdistan must be waged, bringing the contradictions of the peasants and workers on the agenda. The struggle against national oppression is at the same time the struggle of the Kurdish peasants and workers against the fascist state, the police, the large landowners and capitalists. Furthermore, the ideological struggle must be waged against those who show false nationalist goals.” (The historical development of the Kurds and the Kurdish question in Turkey”, DEVRIMCI SOL Publications, 1979, p. 137-138)
This is our perspective. From this perspective, we wage our struggle.
This requires resistance to every kind of oppression, be it against the political self-determination, against the national unity, culture or the language of the Kurdish people. It requires lending vitality to the national characteristics of the Kurdish people by proletarian internationalism, opposing violent national assimilation. When this isn’t done, the struggle against national oppression, for the right of self-determination, will remain an empty word as well. The difference between Marxist-Leninists and nationalists shows in this point, it shows in whether or not they regard this struggle as inseparable from the class struggle. Otherwise one would, in an attempt not to fall for nationalism, inevitably embrace social chauvinism. In this regard, the history of the reformist left is highly instructive.
Because Kurdistan belongs to the rural parts of the country and the path of the revolution in our country is characterised by the PASS, the struggle against national oppression is reflected in the form of the basic struggle. This means, the vanguard war against the oligarchy in Kurdistan, based on armed propaganda, is at the same time the struggle against national oppression.
The armed propaganda in Kurdistan must concretely express the national and the class contradictions of the Kurdish people. It’s obvious this will be a struggle aimed against the forms of assimilation, against the destruction of the national characteristics of the Kurdish people, against the military forces which carry out the national oppression in Kurdistan, and against the major landowners (agas) and usurers who massively exploit the Kurdish peasants. In short, armed propaganda must especially aim at the contradictions among the peasants. Political agitation in Kurdistan is very important. The political agitation in Kurdistan must also deal with the national oppression. Political agitation which is only based on class will in practice lead to the denial of national oppression.
“The PASS must be realised in practice, considering the specific circumstances in Kurdistan. The situation of the cities and the dimension of the neocolonialist relations – compared to the west – make it necessary we wage and organise the struggle – comparing city and countryside – mainly in the rural areas. On the other hand, while determining our political goals, we must consider the national oppression and the specifics of Kurdistan. While the armed propaganda in Kurdistan is waged mainly in the rural areas, and secondarily in the cities, the guerrilla war must especially deal with the contradictions of the peasants, considering the situation of the peasants versus the army and government, destroying the oppression and the propaganda – based on intimidation – of the oligarchy.” (“Historical development of the Kurds and the Kurdish problem in Turkey”, DEVRIMCI SOL Publications, 1979, p. 141)
These are the main characteristics of our line of struggle in Kurdistan.
While we say all this, the point we especially keep in mind is that we have to wage the battle against imperialism and the oligarchy all over Turkey, without becoming mechanistic, without falling into a narrow-minded nationalist stand.
C. Our position towards the Kurdish-patriotic movements
We Marxist-Leninists think the liberation of the Kurdish people will be the result of the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, achieving victory through the common struggle of the Turkish and the Kurdish peoples. Our struggle follows that path, but we have to take a position towards the objective developments of life, outside of our influence. Not taking a position would mean denying our own Leninist mission. Not having a position can only be the conduct of the petite bourgeoisie, limiting life to themselves, losing the capacity to intervene in life.
The present Kurdish movements, based on nationalism, are in a progressive-patriotic position with their attitude to imperialism and the oligarchy. Their basis is not class-oriented but nationalistic. The social base of these movements is the Kurdish petite bourgeoisie.
We’ve already argued that the bourgeoisie has lost its capacity to lead the democratic revolution, including the national problem, in the imperialist phase. In our era, two circles can lead the way to solving the national problem. One is the proletariat, based on internationalism, the other is the petite bourgeoisie, based on nationalism.
The development of the Kurdish petite-bourgeois-patriotic movements is based on objective and subjective grounds. The objective ground is the development of petit-bourgeois segments as a result of the development of neo-colonialist relations in Kurdistan. The subjective grounds are the deficiencies of the revolutionary movement in intervening in practice and the reaction, caused by the social chauvinist attitude of the traditional left.
Parallel to neocolonialism, a massive petit-bourgeois segment emerged with the development of capitalism and the disintegration of feudal elements. Because of its character, the petite bourgeoisie is nationalistic. Because national oppression most strongly hinders the development of the petite bourgeoisie, second only to the obstruction of the peasantry, it’s logical that a reaction emerges. In this sense, the social basis of the nationalist movements in Kurdistan is the petite bourgeoisie. The Kurdish petit-bourgeois intellectuals have mainly studied in the larger cities and met the social and political movements there, developed nationalist views parallel to the development of the political struggle in Turkey. Until here, development follows a natural line. When we look at the development of neocolonialist relations in Kurdistan, we see there is a parallel to the development of the national movements.
The main side of the question is the question of development. To give the reactions of the petit-bourgeois circles of the oppressed Kurdish nation, based on nationalism, the right basis, making the class perspective prevailing, is possible, mainly through leadership of the Marxist-Leninist movement. At this point, the left movement in Turkey is far remote from having found a solution to the national problem of the oppressed classes.
The reformist-social-chauvinist attitude, prevalent among the left in Turkey, has played a major role in the development of Kurdish petit-bourgeois intellectual circles. It’s known what position the social reformists took toward the assimilation and genocidal policies during the Kemalist era. The social reformists supported the massacres against the Kurdish people, arguing “feudalism is being liquidated”, and despite the warnings of the Comintern, they did not abandon that shameful position. The social reformists, continuing the Tanzimat tradition (a period of political reform in the Ottoman Empire) saw “maintaining the state” as their main task and during the period of neocolonialisation, they either remained silent or they supported it. With this social chauvinist stand of the traditional left, begging for approval by the bourgeoisie almost its entire life, it was inevitable that mistrust arose among the Kurdish petit-bourgeois circles, feeding their nationalist prejudice. The present position of the social chauvinists can be summarised by mentioning their engagement in the assimilation policy of the oligarchy and describing their view about Kurdistan: they act as if it doesn’t exist.
The social chauvinist tradition continued its influence, interrupted in 1979 for a short while by the THKP-C movement which was physically liquidated soon. The THKP-C movement, for the first time, presented the national question in the correct way within the left in Turkey, drawing a broad line between themselves and those who looked for a solution within the borders of nations. The THKP-C movement had fulfilled the historical mission posed by the process. Although it was physically liquidated, its theoretical presentation defined the Kurdish national question.
After the defeat of the THKP-C movement, the national question was left aside again, almost neglected under the conditions of treason, fleeing from the revolution, pacifism and spontaneity. Our movement, emerging at the end of 1978, presented its theoretical theses about the issue and tried to rapidly put them into practice. But the intervention came too late and was not sufficient to bring the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists to a class basis.
Now the Marxist-Leninists are confronted with the task of removing the reactions and the mistrust, caused by the social chauvinist left, to act for the nationalist demands of the Kurdish people, and organise the struggle on a class basis. Only with a struggle on such a basis can the common struggle of our peoples become reality. But this doesn’t mean that the petit-bourgeois nationalist movement, becoming a reality outside of our influence, should be excluded, or that we shouldn’t taken a position towards them.
The position of the Marxist-Leninists towards the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalist movements, showing a relative development at present, has a double-sided character. On the one side, we ideologically fight the damage caused by a separate way of organising the liberation struggle of our peoples, we fight the bourgeois character of nationalism, the bourgeois-nationalist sides of the revolutionary path if liberation of both peoples (among them the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people); on the other side we support them with actions as long as they maintain their position against imperialism and the oligarchy.
The ideological struggle against the nationalists of the oppressed nation must have a content which is being built up, bringing them on a class basis. Regarding this point, style and the timing are important. One should be aware of a style which offers the enemy arguments and room for demagogy, distortions and denunciations. The main targets of the ideological struggle should be the chauvinists and the social chauvinists. The ideological struggle against the nationalists of the oppressed nation should take place within the context of a “friendly contest”. It only makes sense when the struggle against wrong and harmful elements goes hand in hand with supporting the revolutionary elements and solidarity. These contradictions can be called the “contradiction between the people’s forces”.
During the imperialist phase, it’s the position of the Marxist-Leninists towards the nationalist movement, to support it as long as it weakens imperialism, pushes it back, and in this sense strengthens and develops the proletarian movement. The Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalist movement, with their present position, are part of this general category. When they leave this position, there will be no more support from our side. That the nationalist movement of the oppressed nation is justified, cannot lead to ignoring the fact how they stand objectively towards the class struggle, and what position they take towards imperialism. It can’t be the position of Marxist-Leninists to regard this question as separate from the total.
It’s the revolutionary way to gain the trust of the petit-bourgeois nationalists, to bring them to understanding on a class basis, to liberate them from the influence of bourgeois-nationalist prejudice. On the one hand we acknowledge the national demands of the Kurdish people from a class perspective, increase the struggle against chauvinism and social chauvinism, on the other hand we engage the petit-bourgeois nationalist movement, which emerged outside of our influence, with a “friendly contest”… That’s the summary of our present practice in Kurdistan.
It would be useful here to briefly mention the PKK movement.
The PKK movement is also a product of the petit-bourgeois elements which emerged in Kurdistan. The PKK is a patriotic movement, developing a position against imperialism and the oligarchy on an armed basis. Because it delivers blows against imperialism and the oligarchy with such a character, we support them. But this doesn’t mean that this movement doesn’t make mistakes. The PKK has many weaknesses and deficiencies, based on the petit-bourgeois class character and their nationalist basis. Especially in their nationalistic and pragmatic way of operating, mistakes emerging from their mechanic and limited practical way of operating regarding the questions and forms of the struggle are visible. We criticise this way of operating which we regard as wrong.
But in general, our criticism against the PKK remains within the general framework of a “friendly contest” between the people’s forces. In this point, we oppose the attitude of the left which makes purely verbal criticisms of the oligarchy. Almost the entire left criticised the PKK and tries to isolate them. This is caused by the combative character of the PKK. The PKK was confronted with attacks of the left because of their position which threatened the status quo. Therefore criticism based on an anti-PKK basis possesses a character which is contrary to the struggle, and it’s necessary to fight it. The position of fighting imperialism and the oligarchy doesn’t require attacks against the front of the PKK, it demands support.
D. The Kurdish petit-bourgeois movement is our ally in the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution.
Those who have been marked by chauvinism “reproach” us. As well as by official and non-official spokespersons of the oligarchy, and also by the Second Military Court of the First Army Command, representing the official ideology, we Marxist-Leninists have been accused of “separatism” and “cooperating with separatists”! This “accusation”, a product of racist-chauvinist minds, aims, like all “accusations” regarding the Kurdish question, at the destruction of the struggle of the Kurdish people, at justifying the policy of assimilation and genocide, at confusing the consciousness of the people’s masses and destroying the legitimacy of the revolutionary movement. Although our views are known, these “accusations” make it necessary for us to deal with this issue. That the bourgeois empties facts of their content, making them meaningless, is nothing new to us.
Those who deny the existence of the Kurdish people! Those who seek to condemn us, Marxist-Leninists, we who defend the demand of the Kurdish people for the right of self-determination, you state prosecutors and judges!
The Kurdish petit-bourgeois is our ally, in your words our “collaborators”. And we Marxist-Leninists commit a “major crime” with such an attitude! We declare that “the Kurds should have to right of self-determination, including the right to an independent state” and we regard the “separatist” Kurds is our ally… This should suffice to be a “traitor to the fatherland”, doesn’t it? But don’t forget, the notion of “guilt” is a relative one. Your laws condemn us as “guilty”! And you?… You’re condemned by HISTORY and the PEOPLE as “guilty”. Because you destroy the Kurdish people and its patriots, oppress it and terrorise it… What guilt represents honour? Ours or yours? The choice is yours!…
In this, as well as in other chapters of our defence, we stated that the basis social forces of the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution are the workers, the peasants and the petite-bourgeoisie. In this sense, all forces which oppose imperialism and the oligarchy are allies of the proletariat. This coalition can be realised in practice when the proletariat builds a class coalition with the peasants which are on the same social basis, and when a programmatic base is found on the political level with the petit-bourgeois circles which are outside of the proletarian movement, possessing their own independent political organisations.
The nationalist Turkish petite bourgeoisie, an ally of the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution, is not organised as a political movement at present. But because of the reasons, listed in the previous chapter, we’re talking here of the Kurdish petit-bourgeois political movements on a nationalist basis. At this point, a coalition with the Kurdish patriotic movements on an anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic basis is a revolutionary step. Such a position is necessary for bringing the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic forces together, as well as for having an influence on these movements, gaining their trust and bringing them further on a class basis.
The fact that the Marxist-Leninist movement tries to realise its coalition with the Kurdish petit-bourgeois movements of course brings some problems. The internal problems of developing a political coalition, which on the one hand should draw the Kurdish people into the anti-oligarchic, anti-imperialist struggle and should develop the common struggle of both people, but that on the other hand includes petit-bourgeois nationalist movements which organise on a national basis and divides the peoples by a nationalist fence, are not problems which can’t be overcome. The Marxist-Leninists can and should create room for manoeuvre, using the right tactics, based on the tasks which are posed in practice.
Another difficulty, stemming from the coalition with the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists, is the chauvinistic attitude of the Turkish petit-bourgeois segments within this coalition, and thus the necessity of uniting two nationalist circles, whose interests are contradictory, on one common goal. This is also a theme of criticism among the left against our movement. It’s said: “how do you want to do this, walking with the Kemalists on one arm, and the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists on the other?” But should we deny reality, just because it’s “difficult”. Those who pose this question understood nothing of the “coalition” and the “front”, and learned nothing from social practice. It’s normal there are contradictions between the Turkish and the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists. Because the “national market” is the basis of nationalism, it’s inevitable that the interests of these circles are contrary. We’re not speaking about just an abstract coalition. We’re starting from the given contradiction against imperialism and the oligarchy, a common denominator for both sides. Despite the contradiction, the “coalition” and the “front” will be built despite the contradiction, because imperialism and the oligarchy are the common enemy for both circles.
The front and the coalition, which have the same meaning, are a unity of contradictions, including circles which work together on the basis of a certain programme. There are classes and political forces whose basic interests are similar; and there are classes and political forces whose interests reconcile them to a certain degree. Every class or political force can enter a coalition, can be represented in a common front, to represent the own and the common interests.
Besides their own interests, the Kurdish and the Turkish petit-bourgeois nationalists have common interests on the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic basis. Because their own interests are especially targeted by imperialism and the oligarchy, the basic contradiction for both sides is constituted by imperialism and the oligarchy. Their own interests make it necessary for them to come together on a common denominator. That’s how the Kurdish and the Turkish patriots of the Anatolian liberation movement came together in 1919. That the Kemalists adopted a chauvinist attitude after the Republic of Turkey was founded, and carried out a policy against the interests of the Kurdish people, cannot obscure this fact.
Furthermore, we shouldn’t forget that this coalition is not formed between them alone. That would be impossible. The coalition we talk about is a coalition which is led by the proletariat. The leadership by the proletariat is a basic factor which will prevent an outcome like in 1923, and it will create an atmosphere of trust for the nationalists of the oppressed nation, in which nationalism will be fought. By differentiating between the oppressing and the oppressed nation, it is the attitude of the proletariat to support the nationalists of the oppressed nation. Therefore it’s nothing but an admission of the lack of trust in one’s own strength when, based on the contradiction between the oppressed and the oppressing nation, it is claimed in panic that they cannot be brought together on a basis of common interests. As is witnessed by social practice, we say it’s possible to bring together the nationalist anti-imperialist left of both nation in one front for the common struggle. Furthermore, the left circles of the Turkish petit-bourgeois nationalists do not possess a political organisation nowadays. And therefore we are now confronted with the question of a coalition between the revolutionary movement of the peoples of Turkey and the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists. When a Turkish petit-bourgeois movement on an anti-imperialist basis emerges in the future, this cannot prevent the proletariat from entering a coalition with the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists. Confronted with a choice, the proletarian movement will side with the Kurdish petit-bourgeois nationalists. Such a situation would mean that the anti-imperialist Turkish petit-bourgeois segments would become the victim of chauvinism anyway and would start to distance themselves from their anti-imperialist stand.
Summarised, the Kurdish petit-bourgeois patriotic movements, based on nationalism, are the allies of the revolutionary movement of Turkey because they take a position against imperialism and the oligarchy in the struggle for an anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic people’s revolution. It’s the task of the Marxist-Leninists to realise this coalition in practice.
You state prosecutors and judges, resisting the Kurdish existence.
We’ve reached the end of the chapter about the “Kurdish problem” of our defence.
At the introduction of this question, we’ve touched on a reality which they tried to make others forget about for decades by this talk about “separatism”: the Kurdish reality!
Yes, this reality we have emphasised for years, was extensively presented once again. The “sword of Damocles” has been hanging for years over the heads of those who were prepared to talk about this reality. Nobody was to dare to talk about a Kurdish nation which supposedly didn’t exist. The rulers wanted it that way, and many complied. But we, Marxist-Leninists, don’t bother about this sword you’re swinging over our heads… This weapon will turn on its owner… We know it, and we’ll take this weapon in our hands, we’ll direct it against its present owners. It will hit the oligarchy and it will become an inevitable part of the judgement of history, in the midst of blood and fire. Our defence is a part of this struggle. Without hesitation, we’ve tried to fulfil the necessary.
We knew the price would be heavy. But wasn’t the price of defending the reality in the struggle against the rulers always high? We were always labelled in history as the “damned” by the exploitative rulers because we stood up against all forms of exploitation and oppression. Those who were murdered under torture, those who were murdered in the streets, in the mountains and on the gallows, those were our people… We were the people who dared to steal the fire from the imperialists and their collaborators, we were the ones who were labelled as the source of all evil, who would be hit by lightning… We didn’t bother, because we carry the honour to fight for a just cause, acting with the consciousness which was derived from the depth of history.
It’s enough for us to support the people, to be right, confronted with the tyrants who possess guns, cannons and tanks. Nobody will ever has the strength to halt the ever-turning wheel of history, the wheel of progress. We know it and we are proud to be part of those who try to move this wheel forward.
The state prosecutors and the courts cannot make the Kurdish existence disappear.
The death sentences, the executions, the “fatwas” of the state prosecutors, the “special courts” who want to destroy the Kurdish national views, cannot destroy the Kurdish reality, they cannot silence those who brought this fact forward. They have destroyed the leaders. But the justified struggle of the people quickly found new leaders.
Even those who turned Dersim into a bloodbath, who hypocritically hanged Seyit RIZA and sought to strangle his words, who murdered his comrades, could not make people forget this fact.
Among the first who were targeted by the terror of all the political powers in Turkey were those who talked about the Kurdish reality. BAYAR and MENDERES in the years 1950-1960, and also the political power of May 27, where some right-wing people took a progressive stand, continued their racist and chauvinist stand regarding the Kurdish question. And the courts, the state prosecutors and the judges have always been the pillars of this oppression. One of the crimes (!) of the revolutionaries who were murdered on the gallows, in the streets, in Kizildere, by the fascism of March 12, 1971, was to mention the Kurdish reality, to lead their struggle of liberation. During the trials, where progressives and democrats were sentenced to decades of imprisonment, using all kinds of unlawful methods, 300 people became 3,000, as one patriot put it. And today it will become even more.
Even you, who practice the justice of September 12, cannot destroy this fact, cannot silence the voice of those who lead this struggle. Your fate is written on the heritage you accepted. Just as the class struggle isn’t the work of “provocateurs”, the demand for the right of self-determination isn’t the work of “separatists”. The ruling classes, trampling in the hollowness of philosophical idealism, cannot hide their racist-chauvinist-fascist faces behind this demagogy.
We say, the Kurdish people is, just like the Turkish people, an objective fact. Even if we didn’t point at its existence, if we didn’t mention its demand of the right of self-determination, this wouldn’t change the fact that the Kurdish people exist. The objective facts are independent of human will and consciousness. Human consciousness cannot create reality, it can simply understand it, and thus influence the direction the objective laws take. The Kurdish people is a living reality. And so is the assimilation policy against the Kurdish people… What we do, is point to the Kurdish reality, showing it to all who do not want to see it, what we do is fight to end national oppression. The Kurds do not exist because we say so, neither do they disappear because the rulers say they don’t exist. Nobody possesses such a divine strength…
With the consciousness of being a subject of history, we presented the Kurdish question and its revolutionary solutions with a scientific method. We didn’t do all this with the intention to deliver a blow against “taboos” that must be broken, we did so because of our revolutionary responsibility, our Marxist-Leninist character, and because of our state of mind which makes it our duty to present our views under all circumstances and without compromises.