THE RENEGADES OF DEVRIMCI YOL AND THE
DEVELOPMENT OF OUR MOVEMENT
Through the efforts of some elements, former sympathisers of the THKP-C in prison, the KSD was founded, the Kurtulus Sosyalist Dergisi, the Socialist Liberation Magazine), initially criticising the THKP-C. Later they defended their theory of social-imperialism and they increasingly denounced their own past, engaging themselves more and more in Aydinlik. Later the groups of Acil and the MLSPB crystallised from its left deviations. Furthermore a group emerged around the Devrimci Genclik (Revolutionary Youth) paper, with its roots in Ankara and with a leadership of former THKP-C responsibles.
They stood up against the deviations from the left and the right and they propagated the view to establish once more the ideological unity of those who had participated in the unified struggle of the THKP-C in the past. With this view, they did not stay indifferent – like the other left and right groups – towards the problems of the youth and other segments of the population. This view, that ideological unity will be reached in time, and the idea of founding the THKP-C again was attractive to us, the new generation. It was our greatest wish to organise life, to discuss it in the context of the notion of organisation and organised struggle, to convince each other, to establish a just analysis of our past and present. That’s why relations were established with sincere feelings and it was tried to bridge the distance, aiming at unification.
Another position, the signs of a rather right-wing view, could be seen in the first editions of the paper Dev-Genc already. Although we criticised all this already during that time, we were unable to achieve a positive result .
On the contrary, approaches marked by prejudices and keeping a distance were common. They persisted in not taking organised steps in practice and they tried to force a spontaneous right-wing line upon us. We weren’t even a group, the lowest level of organising. And their efforts for the so much spoken about ideological unity were almost null and void. Despite all our pressure and our attempts to give form to the militant struggle, and although our earlier attempts to establish a militant practice positively influenced the masses, the leadership of this group reacted in a negative way. They constantly tried to force us into a spontaneous and right-wing line in different ways. Furthermore, they had no clear view in their own ranks how, for example, the process of becoming a party should look like, how problems should be tackled in theory and practice, etcetera…
Day by day, the development became more obvious, the attacks kept increasing.
Having to confront this development in an organised way, to stand up against the attacks, growing up step by step in the organised struggle, we became aware of this in a painful way. But the Ankara group did not show any haste. They were so indifferent towards the number of young people who had put all their hopes in them, a number which must not be underestimated, that they addressed their own personal problems, competing for legitimacy when they were released from prison, in stead of addressing the problems of the struggle.
It seemed we were together with the Ankara DG-group, but essentially the differences in the practice of both groups, Istanbul and Ankara, and the different views how to solve occurring problems, continued. And the Ankara group did not make an effort to create an ideological unity, to end the differences between both groups. Their only goal was to take the line of legality, forcing this line upon us.
Finally, in 1977, they came with a draft for a program, albeit after some pressure, which should form the basis for ideological unity. In this draft, again the different views emerged about many items such as the evaluation of the THKP-C, the reorganisation in those days, the PASS, organisation etc. It was said that this was just a draft, that a lot had to be discussed and that points which were objected would be corrected, they claimed to essentially agree with us about the problems.
We were happy that finally, be it late, ideological unity had been achieved.
A periodical press organ was to be published and it was decided that the program was to be explained to the readers, clarifying the progress of ideological unity. It was agreed that the organisation was transferred to a central level and that the struggle was to be intensified.
From the day we started our relations with the DG-group, they tried to force their will upon us, they looked down at us, they did not take the young generation seriously, they were bureaucratic, legalistic and they showed a spontaneous right-wing line in almost all their views. Despite all this we thought that ideological unity was going to be a longer process and we decided to continue the struggle, without loosing our common sense and ripeness.
But our common sense, our desire for the THKP-C unity and our willingness to sacrifice only met deaf ears. The oligarchy had killed their revolutionary dynamics. Revolutionary principles and values were lost, revolutionary politics were replaced by bourgeois ones. They had become ageing bureaucrats who desired order. Everything and everyone was just a means to achieve this goal.
When the draft of the program was published as “Devrimci Yol Program”, we saw that not a single point we objected to had been corrected. A large majority of the masses, influenced and led by us, and our sympathisers were furious. The Ankara group showed the THKP-C, ideological unity and the plans for the future in a right-wing light. Their theoretical views were in accordance with their right-wing practice.
At this point we had to either go through the process of unification, have the points we disagreed upon corrected without giving in, or we had to leave the publications and the approaches as they were, making an end to the process of ideological unity.
Without clarifying the points we agreed or disagreed upon, without showing that two different systems were defended, that there were two different views about the strategic problems of vital importance, a break would have been a cheap solution which would have a negative influence on the unity of the party. We could not choose this road.
Despite the games of bourgeois diplomacy and the deviousness, we had to increase our efforts – even though it would be difficult and painful – and we had to be prepared for treason. We had seen in what way the old guard had taken the path of treason. But we were without prejudice. We asked the authors why the points we disagreed on and which should have been corrected had not been changed in the definite print. The answer was a curious one, even childish, it had been a printing error, all of the points were going to be discussed and corrected in future editions of the magazine. Another seemingly responsible person said he didn’t know why it was written in such a way because he shared our views. Bourgeois diplomacy was grinning at us in these answers. But despite all this, we had to wait till the points of the program were published and there was no other way to push on the discussion.
Although the ideological unity in the program went a step forward, the Devrimci Yol magazine did not fulfil the task of finalising this ideological unity. Although some time had past, the pages were filled with everyday problems and they tried to keep us at bay. When we protested, they said “Just wait a little bit longer”. Devrimci Yol was looking for a beneficial moment to force their personal ideological views upon us. Because of this attitude, nothing was done to implement the decision to take steps for the centralisation of the joint organisation to achieved the expansion of the struggle. The question “why” was not answered. In stead, they began to place their own people as Devrimci Yol cadres, to establish personal contacts and they propagated their personal right-wing line to put people against us in case of a split. The purpose of their planning became obvious. The problems which “should be published” were not published as a result of a bourgeois diplomacy. To publish the problems before establishing their own party-political organisation could have meant their end. Until then the slogan was “We are defending the THKP-C” and this was the only way for them to gather the THKP-C potential. Or that’s how it looked like anyway. Despite all their attempts of party politics, all their apparent games with us – which we saw clearly and which we were aware of, we held back and insisted in bringing to the open the different views. The reactions of our sympathisers became stronger, the situation could not go on like this and it demanded our intervention.
While the attacks by the civic and official fascists increased day by day, the road could already been seen which would lead from the state of emergency of the oligarchy to a new military junta. The attacks became larger and heavier. But Devrimci Yol was not an organisation which could stand the enemy attacks, it did not even know what to do against these attacks and it did not posses any perspective of what tactics had to be used in the struggle. And they stubbornly evaded the confrontation of how to wage the struggle, how to render the terror of the state and the fascists ineffective, how to render the tactics of the enemy to frighten and pacify the masses by means of provocative acts ineffective. Without doubt, we wanted to fulfil our task towards the revolution and the people with the perspective and the responsibility of the THKP-C. We wanted to do so with all our strength and we did not want to go into the struggle unprepared. But this was not the same as the work of an organisation which had already taken the necessary steps on a central level and which knew what had to be done.
MayDay 1977 constitutes a clear example of the development of the revolutionary movement in Turkey and the acts of the oligarchy against this revolutionary movement. Using the same example, one can see the neglect, the ignorance about the enemy and the distorted simple mindedness and attitude of a left which was used by the oligarchy. During this phase, the opportunist and revisionist left had split up into pro-Soviet, pro-China and pro-Albania lines. The enemy had become a twin brother and they accused each other of being a “Maoist Grey Wolf” and a “social-fascist”. The revisionist were repeating every word by the CPSU (the Communist Party of the Soviet Union), and those who were on the side of Albania and China acted like novices of the ALP (Albanian Labour Party) and the CPC (Communist Party of China). The ideological struggle between the socialist countries and their attitudes in practice were caricaturised and reflected upon our country during the initial phase of the struggle. This has led to the bloodshed of revolutionaries and a redirection of the goal of the struggle. Week before MayDay, the oligarchy spread its propaganda of “blood will flow” and “there will be confrontations among the left” and they cleared the road for their planned confrontation and massacre. In this, they used the behaviour of a left which demonstrated it was prepared to fight and confront one another, if need be to shed blood.
The left played along with the provocations of the oligarchy. While the reformists claimed they would “not allow the Maoist Grey Wolves to the MayDay square”, the leftist opportunist block spew its threats like “Whatever the cost, we will reach the rallying square”. The warnings of our movement for provocations were ignored, they continued their statements, clearing the way for the provocations by the oligarchy.
Using the demagogy that the opportunist wanted to fight their way to the MayDay meeting, the contra-guerrilla was able to realise its planned massacre by opening fire upon the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered at the MayDay square, killing 36 revolutionaries and patriots. When the opportunists and revisionists were spewing their threats, they felt strong but when the massacre was carried out they could not even protect their own masses. In great panic, they tried to save their own lives, including the “Ankara group”. Only DEV-GENC, which remained on the square, showed an organised conduct and they waged an armed resistance against the contra-guerrilla. They showed their courage by marching against the tanks in one block, by preventing an even bigger massacre by shooting back, reducing the panic. DEV-GENC prevented that people trampled each other. DEV-GENC did not lower its banners and flags. At the point when they believed they could do no more, they retreated in an organised and disciplined manner. Far remote from revolutionary responsibility and consciousness, many opportunists and revisionists added another guilt to the ones they already had – the massacring of the people. While the oligarchy published their headlines like “Did we not tell you so?”, for days the opportunists and the revisionists, in their shock and their fear for the people’s reaction, did not dare to visit the democratic organisations, they did not dare to move among the masses. But this was just a temporary phase. These organisations, not having the notion to carry out the revolution in our country, not trusting their own strength, working like sections of other organisations, can not change in a short time. After days, when the public learnt that the contra-guerrilla had been responsible for the massacre, they entered the political arena again and they continued their mutual brawls.
MayDay 1977 and the massacre which occurred clearly showed that the opportunists and the revisionist left offer a tool to the provocations of the contra-guerrilla because of their conduct. Another important lesson is that they posses a sharp tongue and a mastery in instigating a fight, but that they do not trust themselves when faced by enemy attacks, neither do they believe in the people.
A revolutionary organisation, a revolutionary movement, an independent identity can only be formed after analysing the revolution in the country, considering its characteristics and the universal and local differences. Organisations which stubbornly look at examples of organising in other countries will act in this country like a flag, changing with the winds. That’s why they will not find the right line. And that’s why they can not avoid to be used by others. When we said so then, nobody took us seriously and everybody acted like he pleased. Because we did not follow the Soviet, the Chinese or the Albanian communist party, because we criticised their mistakes and deviations, they ironically called us “the defenders of the middle road”. Surely, there is no middle road in Marxism-Leninism. We firmly stand on the foundation of Marxism-Leninism, the other are based on opportunism and revisionism, that’s the main difference. This main difference is so striking that it almost always shows and people are led into catastrophe, shocked when they realise that the parties they have followed are denouncing them. For the same reason, these movements will easily deviate to the right in difficult times, and in time they will come to an agreement with the government. In those days, these truths made no sense for these groups. But the revolutionaries, fighting since 1974, have recognised these truths.
Even if the opportunists and revisionists gain a certain strength by strictly copying and following their favourite line, they can loose this strength as easily because it has not been gained in struggle. There is no real strength behind them, when they are confronted with a severe blow, they turn to the system or they get marginalised. Their notion neither incorporates creativity, nor originality. Copying, remaining outside of the process, opposing the increased struggle by the revolutionaries means, objectively seen, taking the same stand as the forces of the system. This opposition against all struggles which are not waged by themselves, especially against the armed struggle against the system, is inconceivable. They do as they please, for unimaginable reasons they oppose all activities of an organisation which wages the armed struggle and they try to weaken it, even destroying it. All which seems incomprehensible in their conduct should essentially be interpreted as a defence of the system. There is no Chinese Wall between their statutes and those of the system itself.
MayDay 1977 has shown which policy the oligarchy will apply in the future against the revolutionaries and the people. The situation of the left, seen form the necessity of the class war, has learnt us a valuable lesson. These necessities have to be met unconditionally. This role should have been taken by the remaining unity and the first issue of the Devrimci Yol magazine. Although a year went by, one could not detect a real effort, neither to organise the movement, nor to establish a ideological unity.
We decided to take a last step to solve this stuck situation in which no statement showed any effect and in which we could not see a perspective anymore. We decided to start a discussion with all the honoured cadres who lead the masses and who had carried the burden of leadership since 73-74. These cadres laid down their tasks for a undetermined period in order to exercise pressure, and they stated: “All these problems must be discussed immediately, either these discussions will lead to a result, or our activities under the name of Devrimci Yol will cease because of these unclearities and this consciousness”.
The editors of Devrimci Yol were very pleased because of our decision. They began to replace our comrades with their own people from Ankara, they started to bring everything under their control, applying their right-wing views. These people were alien to the reality of our struggle and our militant line. With their bureaucratic minds, they discussed every theme, whether they knew anything about it or not. They gave orders, they despised people and they received the appropriate reactions. Our cadres, trained with the perspectives of the THKP-C, could essentially see no difference in this situation between the KSD and the other opportunist views. Their practice, denouncing the line of the THKP-C, prevented a further masking of their real views. The editors of Devrimci Yol tried to use the fact that we had laid down our tasks to hasten the liquidation. Our last attempt of an approachment did not bring a positive result, but the demolishing of the facade of the liquidation attempts by Devrimci Yol was hastened. As long as they had to reckon with our criticism of the right-wing line of Devrimci Yol, they did not have the courage to openly show their views, inspired by civic society, and their notions, taken from the civic society magazine “Birikim” (Experience). It was necessary to discuss the problems, remaining in the group, in a framework which established ideological unity, to achieve the THKP-C unity and the centralise the potential, even though the Devrimci Yol movement was no organised structure. And it was such a platform, Devrimci Yol was afraid of, which they fled for. It was not their problem to defend the views of the THKP-C and to organise unity. The chief-editor only worried to build up a closed movement, step by step, which would in time open up. A legalistic, bureaucratic right-wing movement of renegades, based on the views of the civic society. A structure of cadres, an according organisation and tactics of refusal had to be developed in this direction. That’s why important questions were not discussed, no answers were given and the movement was brought in a state in which it could not be prevented to drift in whatever directions, based on a spontanist line. The only obstacle for the chief-editor was constituted by the opposing Marxist-Leninist cadres who carried the inheritance of the THKP-C. Without removing these cadres, they could impossibly go ahead with their ideology, their organisation and practice. That’s why all their efforts were concentrated on removing this obstacle ideologically and physically.
Evaluating the new developments, a last meeting took place with the editors of Devrimci Yol. A solution for the situation was to be looked for. But they insisted, thinking that the obstacle had been removed, that we had to accept their views. The split, or rather the liquidation of Devrimci Yol, had become inevitable. The editors of Devrimci Yol decided to use MayDay 1978 as a demonstration of strength to show the left public opinion and the people that apparently were no conflicts within Devrimci Yol and that they held power in all regions and areas. All efforts to achieve unity had failed and at that time a split had become the only solution. Our cadres all over the country decided to cross this liquidation game of Devrimci Yol, we decided to show our strength and we would not allow them to lie to the people and the revolutionary public.
All the renegades of Devrimci Yol were busy with the preparation for MayDay 1978. But all of the people in Turkey and the left were to see clearly that Istanbul and many cities of Anatolia did not share the views of Devrimci Yol. Tens of thousands of workers, youngsters, civil servants and people from several segments of the population rejected the slogans and banners of Devrimci Yol and with great discipline they gathered behind a huge red and yellow banner with the text “Our road is the road of Cayan”. The Devrimci Yol renegades had come from Ankara with tens of thousands of people and now they were left with a group of 40-50 people. The leading renegades became furious and they started their provocations because the result of their year long bourgeois policy, the result of their swindle was not as they had wished. Their provocative attitude went as far as looking for a fight, and they even drew their weapons. Only because of our common sense, our ripeness, our consciousness and our conduct, appropriate to the historical phase, prevented that their provocations achieved the result they desired.
The meeting and the demonstration of MayDay 1978 had been a result in which we, not acting as Devrimci Sol yet, clearly demonstrated to our people that we had got rid of the renegades, that it was us who defended the inheritance of the THKP-C, and that we no longer belonged to Devrimci Yol. In this way, the attempts by Devrimci Yol to mask and distort the events, according to the motto “there are no problems within the movement, a small group which broke away is responsible”, were exposed as lies and forgeries.
The split between the people and the left had become concrete. Now we were faced with the task to explain the reason for this split to the people, we had to offer them our perspectives and our notions. We had to complete them with the help of an appropriate training and we had to clean the organisation, the ideology and the policy from the Devrimci Yol influences by taking it in our own hands.
Oppression and terror kept increasing and the more or less “civil state of emergency” developed more and more into an official state of emergency. It was obvious that this development was leading towards a military junta. We had to overcome our internal lack of organisation, develop a new perspective according to the armed struggle, leave the spontanist legalist line of Devrimci Yol and get rid of its remains. The legalist attitude, developed under conditions of less oppression and terror, was more and more left behind. The liquidation attempts and the bourgeois policy of Devrimci Yol had cost us years. Now, under conditions of oppression and still influenced by parts of the ideology of the Devrimci Yol renegades, however still fighting together with them, organising and waging war, we had to take another step to look at all questions of the revolution and to build an organisation which would not deviate, neither to the right, nor to the left, whatever the circumstances.
We could only realise a new organisation and a new consciousness successfully by increasing our own training and working at our consciousness on the basis of an internal democracy. In our movement, we had to look carefully at the internal democracy and a largest possible participation, especially in the phase of becoming a party. Participation, ideological unity, the spirit of a new growth and the stabilisation of our new steps would go hand in hand.
There was no chance for the development of a movement which does not trust its own cadres and which does not look for solutions together. To develop a future and to convince different segments of the population in different phases, we had to pursue a policy which was based on the growth of the cadres and the improvement of the ties with the people’s masses.
From this perspective, the movement initiated a discussion about our split with Devrimci Yol, our criticism, the attitude of refusal by the renegades and about what had to be done. For this, a meeting of all cadres in Turkey – around 50 – was organised. As a result of this meeting, it was decided unanimously that a liquidation would not be allowed, the heritage of the THKP-C would be defended, and we would re-organise as soon as possible on all levels from this perspective as a autonomous and independent organisation. We would enter the political arena and prepare a draft brochure about these views and spread it among the cadres.
Very soon, the brochure “The renegades in Devrimci Yol and the revolutionary line” was prepared, discussed, voted on and published.
During this time we re-organised in the regions and a central organ of the youth was established under the name DEV-GENC. Other task were taken on quickly as well.
The circles of Devrimci Yol decided in a great panic to attack our cadres and sympathisers. They tried to hinder our development and stop the discussion by means of beatings, wounding people, traps, the banning of discussions, campaigns of lies, smears and all other conceivable methods. However, Devrimci Yol could not prevent the discussions and stop its own “loss of blood”. To hold on to what was left in their hands, they hurriedly started to come into the open with their right-wing views, based on the “civic society: Now there was nobody left in Devrimci Yol anymore who really opposed these right-wing views. Own cadres were developed and ideological key-points were determined, based on the views, published in the main writings of Devrimci Yol. With violence, they tried to suffocate discussions in the earliest stages. Despite all the attacks and the smear campaigns, the views and the practice of DEVRIMCI SOL spread like a wave across the country. Devrimci Sol, now present in the political arena, had promised to defend the heritage of the THKP-C and it would keep up the flag of the struggle.
Now there is a revolutionary left on the soil of Turkey and Kurdistan.
The enemy and opportunism aimed all their arrows at our movement. We worked at showing almost everywhere that we are an organisation that would render the fascist terror ineffective by increasing the struggle against the official and the civic-fascist terror.