We were in another place
Because the junta knew we wouldn’t compromise in the resistance and because they feared we would influence the reconciliatory status quo line of opportunism, they gathered the Devrimci Sol prisoners in isolated and separated prison blocks. We were able to make use of this isolation policy of the junta. At the beginning of 1986, almost all Devrimci Sol prisoners in the prisons of Istanbul were put together in the most unhealthy blocks. Although some of us were still in the blocks of the opportunists, conditions for collectiveness were present.
We had to use this opportunity. We went through a discussion process of several months to re-educate our people who had been in separate blocks of the same prisons for years, fighting on the line of resistance of Devrimci Sol. We wanted to establish ideological unity, evaluate our entire policy and tactics of the past, look whether we had learnt of the practice of live or not. We wanted to internalise our thoughts about the future. This process of discussion created a vivid atmosphere and we internalised the Devrimci Sol view of democracy. These were the years in which all the dirt, the degeneration and resignation about the cause, caused by defeat, crushed and burned everything like a ball of fire. We were able to save ourselves from this ball of fire, or at least we weren’t wounded that much, and we remained on our feet because, for one, of our ideological clarity and our knowledge. In addition to the ideological and psychological decay, caused by the years of defeat, the ideological differences in the world between the revisionist CPSU and the opportunist CPC and AWP caused people to submit to the imperialist ideologies, denying reality. Especially the CPSU, led by Gorbatchov, organised a great conspiracy by transforming its theory of “Removing the shortcomings of socialism, openness and renewal” into a proclamation of capitalism, drawing all socialist and communist parties in the socialist countries of the world into a new discussion, never seen before, with this imperialist theory. Suddenly bourgeois theories were on the agenda of all the revolutionaries in the world. Theories, for instance, that imperialism and capitalism weren’t the same anymore, that they had renewed themselves, and therefore rebellions and revolutions by the proletariat were no longer valid.
From now on it would be possible to go over to socialism by a compromise with imperialism. These theories were the ripest form of revisionist politics, develop from 1950, after Stalin’s time, by Chrutchov and Brezjnev, leading the CPSU step by step into decay in the superstructure and substructure. They destroyed the spirit of socialism, developed a individualist capitalist culture and betrayed the emerging revolutions and liberation movements. All the conditions were prepared for capitulation and returning to capitalism. The order to deliver the final blow was given to Gorbatchov who will possible be remembered as the biggest traitor in the history of world revolution. Propaganda went to its limits and Gorbatchov was portrayed as a gifted leader, even a bigger leader than Lenin. This biggest conspiracy by imperialism was presented without spilling one word about socialism.
The reformists and revisionists in our country, never deviating from the statements of the CPSU for decades, entered the phase of treason on a world level as an extended arm by looking for compromises and ways of submission with the ANAP-government, the extended arm of the junta. The conspiracy was so far reaching, these forces made calls to other organisations for “unity of the left” on the one hand, calling for the struggle against the system, but continued their relations with Özal on the other, working at their return to the order. Özal, as a collaborator in the imperialist conspiracy, used the pacifying methods very well, learning from the imperialists and the intrigues, inherited from the Ottoman Empire. He used them to get rid from the CPSU fellow-traveller TKP, which had used the name “communist” for decades although they were revisionist, completely. At the end he succeeded in bringing this party to join the democracy games of fascism and the party was dissolved with an operation. Without doubt the TKP wanted to dissolve themselves, but they intended to do so in the long term, returning to the country, organising large manifestations, without having to openly denounce socialism, and by convincing some other leftist groups and parties. But the spokespersons of the oligarchy, the heirs of the Ottoman Empire and not trusting their own strength and culture too much, didn’t have the self-confidence they could go through such long-term programs. Therefore they prevented this program by liquidating the leaders of the TKP after a short time. In the meanwhile, they discussed the theories of Gorbatchov which carried an imperialist stamp.
These discussions took place in our country as well, and almost all were involved. The organisations which never were able to imagine something else but the CPSU, who hadn’t developed something of their own, suddenly praised capitalism and they discovered its good and nice sides despite the obvious signs of theorising the return of capitalism. Even the imperialist ideologues never dreamt the revisionists left would be so rotten in their beliefs in the own cause and their principles and that they could be crushed in one single blow. We had to show the peoples of the world in what state socialism was in and where the policy of Gorbatchov was leading it. We didn’t hesitate in our attitude towards this treason. This was caused by our criticism, in the past until now, against the policy of the CPSU, the CP of China and the Albanian Workers Party. In stead of joining them in their mistakes, we based our policy on our struggle and our revolution, internalised by our cadres and sympathisers. Although they carried out a revolution, have experience, led millions of people for decades and morally and materially were the carriers of immense strength, we – although we were not a party or organisation – had to hold up the flag of Marxism-Leninism on the personal level while the theses of Marxism-Leninism – generally valid – were denounced. A large part of the Turkish left, apart from the revisionists and reformists, did not applaud Gorbatchov’s policy but they took an opportunistic path. Claiming there were “positive as well as negative sides”, they tried to hide their capitulation policy without making a difference between the principal and the secondary. Some said it had been proven the CPSU had been wrong, the AWP had been right, and they didn’t realise they were drawing the left, essentially not different from the CPSU, into a quagmire, trying to liquidate it. Our position towards these mistakes was so clear and open, we left no room for discussions. Gorbatchov want to eradicate the entire socialist system, offering it to imperialism. The education discussions which we started were continued vividly in the prison blocks. The first concrete result of these discussions were our views about the situation of socialism in the world and the policies of Gorbatchov.
These views were transformed into knowledge and published. Our people, who hadn’t spoken each other and discussed for years were hungry for ideology. When we consider the mistreatments in prison, a lot of our people who couldn’t follow events and couldn’t develop were, although they were Devrimci Sol in their heart, unconsciously influenced by the opportunistic, revisionist, petite-bourgeois intellectual theories and bourgeois humanitarism which had nothing in common with Devrimci Sol and our policy. Step by step, we were getting rid of our differences, unclarities and mistakes and under these circumstances, in which trust, comradely relations and enthusiasm grew day by day, we discovered ourselves again, we see our good sides and became even more enthusiastic when we saw our resistance. We were going to keep the good sides and we felt we would shook the world once again, this time from Turkey. We entered a stage in which, albeit temporary, the bourgeois ideology was superior, in which the people’s masses didn’t believe in socialism anymore, in which it would be difficult to defend Marxism-Leninism in the world, to say “I’m a Marxist-Leninist, I’m a socialist”.
We had to speed up our ideological training, we had to understand and defend it again in its ideological, philosophical, political and historical dimensions, and we had to take on according international tasks. In case our cadres would be equipped with this knowledge, they would be able to destroy the imperialist conspiracy, to strengthen the struggle inside our country, make a positive impression on the sister organisations in the world, and contribute to give them strength. It was impossible that imperialism would be able to free the people’s masses from misery and give them freedom. This system of imperialism and capitalism, based on colonialisation, stood firmly on its feet during this phase as well with its exploitation, its tyranny and all it stands for. Whatever the theories they were using to disguise, whatever the views which would deny or deride reality, we had to understand they would only serve to prolong the existence of imperialism and capitalism. And we had to take a stand against this. The only alternative for imperialism and capitalism is socialism. As long as the imperialist and capitalist system remains on its feet, so long socialism will have to be the alternative and this characteristic of being the only alternative must be protected, even though there are heights and depths.
The guilt for the temporary ideological hegemony of the bourgeoisie and for the left not resisting these ideological attacks and not keeping its ideological composure, was with the liberation movements who had nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism and revisionist parties like the CPSU which deviated into a situation where it blocked the road for social change. Revisionism witnessed its final end. Although the socialist struggle seemed to retreat substantially, in reality the people would see on the long term who the revisionist policies had bankrupted socialism, how they accepted the order by imperialism to sabotage socialism, how successful they had been in doing so, and how the socialist system had become a virgin market for the imperialists. The revisionist parties disassociated themselves more and more from the people and they no longer guaranteed that the people were taught about the problems of revolution in order to participate actively in its solutions. The revolution was no longer the revolution of the people. When these parties, ignoring the people and estranged from it, tried to carry out socialist policies, they became a caste, ignorant of the people’s problems. The revolution had been taken away from the people and they looked for new ways. From a people, not participating in solving its own problems, not seeing society’s problems as its own, it can not be expected to be creative and willing to sacrifice.
Because these parties had become revisionist, bureaucratic castes and the people’s masses and the proletariat had been cut off from the revolution, socialism – previously able to achieve great successes in the super- and substructure against the imperialist-capitalist system – was unable to safe itself from the phase of regression. Other liberation movements used revisionist methods to enter negotiations with the imperialists, in stead of securing the fall of the capitalist system, in stead of renewing Marxism-Leninism with the right solutions, participating the people in solving the problems, and giving more support to the liberation movements in the world. The state mechanism, still existing despite the bourgeois remains and despite imperialism which tried to swallow socialism, governed by the revisionist, took on the function of oppressing the masses, silencing them, governing by bans. Socialism, internationalism, creating the new human being, etc.- in all these areas decay and degeneration continued.
Under these circumstances, where in the name of socialism all kinds of economic policies were applied which had nothing in common with socialism, nothing would happen except destroying the hopes of the peoples and the proletariat regarding socialism, and in the end they would be influenced by bourgeois ideologies. When one does not tell the people the truth about events in the world and in the country itself, in the long term it will be impossible to prevent the people to go searching for something new, despite force, pressure and bans. Furthermore, we are living in a world were means of communication have developed considerably. And in the end the peoples’ masses, despite all the bans and coercion, came under the influence of the lies and demagogies of the imperialists and they were seduced. And after the manipulation of their consciousness, like they would find the life socialism couldn’t offer them under capitalism, they – led by imperialism in co-operation with the revisionists – brought down socialism. But what they brought down, are tried to bring down, wasn’t socialism, it was revisionism, alien to them. To understand the truth and to start the struggle once again in the name of socialism, it was necessary that the people would experience themselves that the imperialist-capitalist system hadn’t changed at all – like revisionism claimed -, that the most cruel form of exploitation still continued and that people had become goods.
Not only the people, dozens of organisations which claimed to be communist, Marxist-Leninist, would experience this and they would take to the arms of Marxism-Leninism. It is impossible for socialism to exist without problems within an imperialist-capitalist system. Despite these experiences, made by the peoples in the world and the Marxist-Leninist organisations, it will take quite a while before the struggle for socialism will start again. It will be problematic for a considerable time because of the influences of the capitalist substructure and the imperialist ideologies. Despite fluctuations, we were absolutely certain we would progress every day because of the experiences we had gathered looking at the revisionist attempts, and that we would enter a much more healthy and more rapid phase of revolutionary increase. On the outside our policy of leading the masses and creating means to do so rapidly developed.
Among the youth, the working class, in almost all areas, we were able to gather and lead the mass potential quite rapidly. Our press activities caused a great echo among our people and the public who had to still a great ideological hunger. The left groups also started enterprises, albeit in a weak and timid manner, like publishing papers, as if they wanted to say “We’re still here”. However, they pursued a press activity which concentrated on discussing the internal problems, far remote from a revolutionary policy. These political circles, who in majority had been abroad during the period of the military junta and who had not waged struggle full of sacrifices, started a battle for hegemony in stead of addressing the urging problems of the revolution, the masses and their organisations. They brought thoughts, hostile to Marxism-Leninism, from Europe into the country and took over the organisations. By complicating the naked, simple and urgent realities of the revolution, making them insolvable and fitting for petite-bourgeois intellectuals, by destroying each other and separating, they made their own lives a hell. No organisation and hierarchy, no trust and comradely relations and other values were left. They even sabotaged their own organisations. The organisations which did this most were the circles of the TKP, the Kurtulus and Devrimci Yol. The circles which in the name of democracy charged each other of despotism finally found peace when they managed to dismantle and dissolve their own organisations, created with their own hands and in which they once put a lot of work, all this in the name of “freedom of discussion. Devrimci Sol should never become such an organisation. Yes, we also discussed about everything. Opportunism watched this and they thought: “Well, they are discussing, soon there will be a split”.
We made fun of them and discussed the world events, our country, about some of our people, even about ourselves. But we would never split. In these discussions, which lasted for months and in which hundreds of our comrades participated, the foundations were laid for “HAKLIYIZ KAZANACAGIZ”, which would become the golden page of our history during the military junta and the trials, showing how the revolutionary people’s power would be formed, defining our past, present and future, and becoming a book of education and reference. This work was developed and enriched during these discussions. These discussions carried our ideological unity on a higher level and secured its further development while we were ideologically bombarded by the fascism of September 12. And, not the least, the ideological bombardment of imperialism against socialism was to no avail because of our characteristics. The message that the revolutionary rebellion would go on, a message we sent from the court docks of fascism to the peoples of Turkey, the world, to the friendly organisations and liberation movements was also a response to the attacks by imperialism and the oligarchy. This attitude of our organisation played an important role as a light in the darkness of fascism, showing the future, removing the hindrances before us, becoming a test of determination and a level no other organisation would reach.
Many opportunistic groups, already started with their ideological erosion and decay before September 12, increased this on all areas under the conditions of repression by fascism. One of these areas were the courts. This had to be the places where we would demand accountability from the fascists, where we would give the people trust, where we would condemn the ruling forces. But because of these political constructions, the court docks became places where people made themselves, directly or indirectly, dependent from the approval of the oligarchy, where people begged for mercy. They didn’t hesitate to claim they had never been an organisation, that they never, no way, intended to bring down the state, they only – based on self-defence – had waged a legitimate and legal struggle against the civic fascists and they had shown the people the way to protect themselves because the state couldn’t guarantee the lives of the people, but they had done nothing but publishing articles in legal magazines. As if they were justifying the demagogy of the state prosecutors, the judges and the generals of the military junta, “the left and the right have endangered the lives of the people with their conflicts, democracy was almost lost”, they forgot fascism, imperialism and the oligarchy and stated that one of the reasons for the September 12-fascism had been the confrontations between the left organisations like ours and the civic fascists. The spokesperson of the CPSU in Turkey literally begged for recognition of the system. Pointing at us, he stated in court: “We’ re not saying one shouldn’t take precautions against terrorists. We only oppose executions and torture.” He addressed the fascists with these words, without being ashamed of himself. In the end they took a stand which clearly showed to were trying to get away from a conviction by fascism, that they were led by personal fear, denouncing their mission, with their defence pleas in which they claimed they never thought of a revolution, at least this had never been the reason for their actions. This behaviour fed and increased their incredulity, giving birth to self-denial and the liquidation of their organisations. The historical value of our revolutionary attitude in court becomes obvious when one analyses the attitude in this platform carefully, our conclusions were proven right in the time to come. Sometimes the historical value of events and facts can not be understood immediately.
Those who turned up their nose, who called our revolutionary attitude “cheap radicalism”, already started their own liquidation long before the finale. But we would continue to write history. The discussions which started inside the prisons about ideological clarity, aimed at blocking revisionist tendencies, were meant to be continued with discussions on the outside to achieve an even more collective way of action. But we weren’t able to achieve a participation from the outside. This was an omission. This could have happened in other areas as well. And so, initially, ideological ambiguities were apparent in the legal publications and thought emerged which were influenced by the right in some way or the other. But after a certain edition, bigger mistakes were blocked after intervention from the inside, war was declared against reformism and other ways of right-wing thinking. The magazine came to its true mission. Because collectivism was not working good enough on other levels as well, the first signs of danger could be seen of being content with the developing democratic mass movements, that the strategic goals were being forgotten, or at least were not being concentrated enough upon. But the difficulties of that period, the weakness of the leadership in practice, the rare creation of new cadres, the circumstances in which we were attacked ideological from all sides, all this could only be overcome by a broad collective participation and a planned way of action, by not forgetting the strategic goals for one single moment. But the sensitive characteristics of this period were not understood sufficiently, were not fixed firmly in the consciousness, giving room for one-sided thinking. Because of a relative democratic opening, albeit very weak, and our leadership of the mass movements, democratic organisations emerged in almost all areas. Opportunism, seeing the developments, slowly emerged on the political stage again, despite the constant severe ideological crisis.
But reformism, pursuing the strategy of compromising with the system, used the masses as a means to get to its goal and tried to keep the mass movements under its control. We possessed an ideological clarity which the opportunists and reformists lacked. This ideological clarity would carry us forward with the mass movements, the creation of new cadres, in organising, the achievement of strategic goals, in almost all fields, and we were able to create a massive potential of strength in a short time. If this ideological clarity, created on the inside with strong participation, would not have been reached on the outside as well, if it would not have developed and become richer, this would have meant we were doomed to remain subjective theory. When ideology is not pursued in a planned and programmed manner in the struggle, it isn’t difficult to deviate from the target, despite the ideological unity on paper. When the target and the program are not pursued persistently, when advantages and omissions are not discussed sufficiently, when we don’t learn, when lessons aren’t tested and introduced in practice, it’s impossible to achieved the desired results. And when these results aren’t achieved, repetitions will occur, productivity will slowly but surely begin to decline. This can be prevented by open criticism and self-criticism, discussions, and lessons from the practice and the collectivity, creating a new practice. To do this, we need to have an idea of what has to be done, and how, we need to have an idea of the existing conditions and we need an attitude which gives us self-confidence for the role we have to play in the world and in Turkey, and gives us determination in the field of strategic goals. The smallest unclarity and confusion – which will inevitably occur -, not removed as soon as possible, when the program can’t be implemented flawlessly, will lead to looking for reasons that indicate “objective conditions”, and the omissions and errors will be theorised. The energetic, programmatic work, collectivism and connected principles and values will loose their meaning, they will become empty words, abstractions. The excuses, the talk about “objective conditions” will spread from top to bottom, will-power and centralism of the organisation will be abolished, the responsibles in the areas and fields – and even individuals – will insist on their own views, “knowing it better”, people will oppose disciplinary measures, the organisation will take on an anarchistic character, leading to chaos and a stand-still of the movement.
In countries such as ours, especially seen its characteristics, the process of moving again is not a inert, difficult, lifeless and prolonged period of silence, suddenly coming into movement. A line of struggle is pursued which looks like this: parallel to the mass movement, there’s ideological training, parallel to ideological training the creation of cadres and organisation, parallel to organising the slowly increasing actions. This period has a special meaning and it must be looked at carefully, and almost every theme has to be analysed scrupulously. To be able to organise around a strategic goal, to prevent repetition of mistakes in the past, to remove omissions, especially the newly trained cadres must be known with all their characteristics and one has to concentrate on the strategic goal and the gathering of forces to progress step by step. Control and planning is needed for all the cadres, as well as for all activities like procuring arms and ammunition, other material needs, and finding suitable places for training. During this phase, when we began to withdraw ideologically, psychologically and in terms of organisation from the effects of September 12, it was shown how great the damage had been, caused by fascism. Starting with the oligarchy, through reformism and some opportunists, to petite-bourgeois intellectuals, all joined the choir of animosity towards revolutionary organisations, trying to draw the people to their side, keeping them away from the struggle. This propaganda was so effective, people started to play the most incredible roles to be able to remain on a legal basis, to account to the oligarchy at any moment. This obsession, this notion which breeds pacification, also occurred in our ranks. People panicked during some police operations or some small armed action, they tried to protect themselves by leaving the network of the organisation, by not warning the organisation until they were sure there was no danger for themselves. With the police operation after the bombing of the ANAP regional offices in Istanbul in 1987, we witnessed a typical example. Some people, in positions of high responsibility, didn’t even show up for appointments, they tried to get in safety themselves by leaving the network of the organisation. It can be said that, except for a small number of people, nobody acted with the consciousness of the organisation, with the consciousness of a comrade. The pacification, created by September 12, was one of the reasons for this behaviour. On the other hand, people were aware of this reality but the appropriate training of the cadres was not developed and accomplished. Some charismatic personalities, whose faces were already known to everybody, co-operated with the oligarchy, every effort was made to suffocate the increasing revolutionary struggle, anti-propaganda was spread constantly on a legal level against the organisations and the revolutionaries. These charismatic personalities, allowed to visit the offices of these elements to present themselves, used by the bourgeoisie to gain legitimacy, were of course fleeing for an organisational structure full of risks. These people, known for their dissident behaviour, who tried to use the organisation for their own benefits, would be seriously held accountable to achieve a change, or they would not be given any tasks in critical areas. The pain of this situation would be felt later in a much greater dimension.