We must get ready for the new juncture -

It is certainly important to discuss the questions, “How did the military coup come about? What were its mechanisms? Who did what during the coup?” However, the solution to our main problem lies elsewhere. Socialists did not intervene in any way -whether right or wrong- in this critical moment of Turkish history: That is our main problem. It is of course a consequence of previous developments, indeed a direct result of the coup orchestrated by the government after the June 2015 general elections towards the social and political opposition. It is possible to go farther back. Socialists need to make an in-depth autocriticism of the policies they pursued during the period which started in the beginning of 2000s; however, we now have very urgent tasks as the country enters a whole new juncture.

The socialist left did not hesitate in opposing the attempted coup. Rapidly and spontaneously, there appeared a consensus among the socialist left that a military coup could not be the solution to the ongoing protracted coup of the AKP government. However, it also became obvious that we lack the initiative and power to take the action required by that consensus. Our forces, which have been dwindled by the rising police repression since Gezi, were not enough to take to the streets to defy the tanks during the coup. Naturally, those who managed to do that have already gained the upper hand on the streets.

Who opposed the coup on the streets? We have to be realistic in our response. At the moment of crisis, the presidential palace managed to mobilize not only official security forces, but also certain paramilitary groups, indeed in coordination with the former. (This is a key development as regards our previous debates about the nature of the ruling bloc.) The groups which took to the streets and joined the police in the fight against the coup-plotters came from various Islamist sects, networks and organizations, some of which have recently evolved into mafia-like structures.

However, the masses on the streets were not limited to this first group. Right on the footsteps of these militant sectors, masses of conservative individuals who constitute a large majority of the AKP electorate took to the streets. Some of them also stood before the tanks. After the coup attempt was quashed, they formed the large majority of those celebrating on the streets. In a sense, this part of the population is now having its own “Gezi” moment. We should not forget that the events of the last 5-6 days increased the interaction between these two groups (Islamist militants on the one hand, and the wider conservative masses on the other) as many of them lost their lives or were wounded. Undoubtedly, AKP will do its utmost to prolong the interaction between them.

From now on, it is no longer possible to engage in politics in Turkey without taking into consideration these two groups -or political dynamics. Instead of “otherizing” the second vast group of people, we have to set our strategic objective as eliminating the political, ideological and cultural barriers which prevent us from reaching out to them. However, while working towards this end, we should never forget that we will now be faced with not only the state’s security apparatus but also “civilian” militant elements which are -for the first time- actively integrated into that apparatus, and must shape our perspective accordingly.

From now on, whenever the forces of political and social opposition attempt to build a movement on the streets they will be defied by these “civilian” militant elements. Together with security forces, they will be implementing the state of emergency on the street. As such, the socialist left has to be prepared to live up to this challenge. Let us make certain points clear right away: We must always preserve our political rationality and cool-headedness, and steer clear of panic and hysteria which will be self-defeating. We should also avoid reducing the political challenge before us to the defense of a specific lifestyle.

This last argument is particularly important, since we have now entered a period in which we must conceptualize and build networks of resistance and solidarity through a much wider perspective than before. The attacks and threats will not be limited to the street. Daily public life will get much harder for Kurds, Alevis, or anyone who does not support AKP. The palace’s repressive policies will be felt in every area. For instance, we will face repression in every attempt to resist layoffs -including in the private sector-, legal procedures, repression in the academe, urban transformation projects, or union-busting. The state of emergency will be the first, harsh and “legal” layer of this repression. We can expect that similar legal or non-legal mechanisms will be put in place for the period after the state of emergency, and must brace ourselves accordingly. As such, we have to create solidarity networks to support those who will be victimized by this repression, and build a social mechanism which people can trust. We have to open up the relations within the left and socialists to embrace these sectors which feel isolated, precarious and weak in daily life, so as to support them in becoming social and political protagonists.

We have to build such networks of resistance and solidarity around concrete demands in order to be convincing and realistic when we push for democratization. On the other hand, if we engage in such resistance and solidarity activity without putting forth a political program, we will confine ourselves to localism -already a widely spread practice amongst the left. To avoid that, we must also build consensus around a basic political program whose backbone will be the urgent demands of the working masses and democratization.

We already had a tough challenge before; now it has become even tougher. But we have to get down to action.

Başlangıç

July 22, 2016

Translated by Barış Yıldırım

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