soL News interviewed with the TKP GS Kemal Okuyan on the depreciation of the Turkish Lira and the escalating tension between Ankara and Washington.
ICP, 15 August 2018
The Turkish Lira witnesses a record freefall against the US dollar amid the escalating tension between Washington and Ankara. soL News interviewed with Kemal Okuyan, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), regarding the recent developments in Turkey and the imperialist-capitalist system.
Okuyan agrees that the current crisis may be defined as an "economic war", which is actually a big conflict with an economic basis that Turkey has already been living through. The Western imperialist countries acted with an inclusive strategy when they helped the AKP take the power, but the rails running off in Syria, the concerns about Turkey's social dynamics, the difficulties in managing and controlling [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan have prompted these countries to look for different alternatives since 2011. Okuyan believes that Erdoğan has headed for some goals that did not take the imperialist hierarchy into consideration.
Kemal Okuyan explains the current stage of the tension between Ankara and Washington with the problems that the US and EU face, which occur due to the general laws of capitalism, such laws that generate crises. Their moves for a more controllable Erdoğan did not work because of the disintegration of the world order. Erdoğan has learned to use some countries, which are going through a conflict with the countries that try to control or adjust him, as a matter of bargaining with each other, and he has seen that it works. He started to rely upon the other centre within the imperialist system, undermining that Turkey is too big for such manoeuvres and that it is inevitable for these manoeuvres to occasionally culminate in unexpected results. Okuyan reminds that actors do not always reach rational decisions or control everything. Today there is no integrated strategy, neither such reason nor possible conditions for it. Okuyan resumes, "Let's remember that Erdoğan is not a man who could abandon the power. Hence, the problem should not be discussed simply like the US imperialism is attacking Turkey or Turkey's capital has discovered new opportunities within the axis of China and Russia. These are present, yet Erdoğan efforts for a personal salvation."
On the question about the possibility of an axis change, Okuyan asserts that carrying out business with everyone is a genetic feature of Turkey's bourgeoisie. The EU alternative and good relations with the US on the one hand; carrying out business with Russia and China on the other hand while they ignore that the world witnesses a great dispute. Okuyan thinks that the things are not going well-controlled today. He continues, "It would be childish to think that Turkey's capitalism can resort to an axis shift only through a decree from [Erdoğan's] palace. From this viewpoint, Turkey's deviations may even lead to a big war."
On the loss of value in the Turkish Lira, Okuyan claims that it is nothing but the very result of the structural problems of Turkey's economy. He supposes that arguments promoting the declaration of a war or the mistakes in foreign policy all conceal the unsustainable situation in the Turkish economy whereas they do not question the fragility of the economy before Trump's tweets and Erdoğan's statements.
Kemal Okuyan puts forward that nothing will happen to the capitalists even if the weak ones may withdraw from some fields and shrink, laying the debt and damage on the state, thus people. He points out that crisis is a big opportunity to usurp the bread of the working people via inflation, cuts from social services and new tax loads. Okuyan continues, "'The bosses also make a sacrifice' is a big myth, the shrinkage or field change of those who have plundered the country for too long have nothing to do with us. We have to look at the question from the viewpoint of the unprotected workers. We have to strengthen the organized struggle and solidarity against the high cost of living, unemployment and extra mechanisms of exploitation."
Okuyan answers the question on anti-imperialist struggle as follows: "Anti-imperialist struggle cannot be disintegrated. There is no good or bad imperialism. Imperialism is a world system based on the hegemony of the monopolies. It is nonsense to think that we can move beside the imperialist system while the capitalists rule Turkey." He gives the example of Venezuela, where the existence of a powerful and influential capitalist class has become the weakest point of the country in her conflict with the US. Okuyan sees the problem in capitalism, "Capitalism decays everything. Either the countries become fragile to the interventions of powerful imperialist countries or they themselves become problem maker to other peoples while trying to escalate in the imperialist hierarchy." Accordingly, Turkey claims to be a victim in its "war with the US" while is playing the role of a potent actor in Syria. They try to appeal to the nationalistic feelings of the millions of poor. Nevertheless, Okuyan supposes that the problem of Turkey is the capitalist class, which is the very basis of Americanism in Turkey. For Okuyan, a full-fledged struggle should be waged against the US imperialism, and the change of the existing social system is key to this.
Kemal Okuyan interprets the TKP's position on the economic crisis: "They want self-sacrifice from the toiling people. What sacrifice! Those who have dragged Turkey to this point are apparent; the working class, the labourers, the petty craftsmen, the poor peasant have no responsibility. Their sole mistake is tolerating this robbery and theft. Now, it is high time to awaken. The struggle against the US imperialism must be combined with the struggle against today's order of theft. We have to develop a line of struggle against unemployment and high cost of living by underlining the labour culture, resistance and solidarity."
At the end of the interview, Okuyan refers to the conference process that the TKP is undertaking and asserts that the Party will become more organized within the working class after a big organizational transformation is held in September. The interview ends with the following sentences: "If we do not take initiative, liberalism and nationalism will drag Turkey into ruin. Yes, we say, 'This social order will change, there is no other way out,' with a great assertion and a great confidence. We say that there is no safe harbour under capitalism. That is no foolish; socialism is the only option if you are looking for peace within equality and freedom."
On August 14, the TKP released a statement on the currency crisis under the title, "What should our people do against the depreciation of our currency?" The statement declares that the country has become the playground of international monopolies, companies and banks as a result of the liberal economic policies that have been pursued for years. It is stated that Turkish economy would slide into a crisis even if the United States has not interfered villainously whereas communists have been highlighting for years that this system of exploitation, which has no future, which has been sustained by depleting all resources and rendering the economy more dependent every passing day, is fragile.
The United States is not considered as the sole perpetrator of the current crisis and the TKP does not put all the blame of the current crisis on the AKP but puts forward that the real perpetrator is no one but the capitalist class that does not care a hang about anything but its profits; this social order which is based on exploitation. The statement reminds that a country which blesses the so-called “free markets”, which is a member of the NATO and a candidate member of the European Union is defenceless against any sort of military, economic and political operations within the imperialist system.
The TKP warns, "Today, the workers, the toiling people, are the most vulnerable, the most disorganized section of the society. The moneybags and their government will do everything at their disposal to lay the burden of the crisis on employees. We have to get organized against this." The TKP calls upon the people to stand up against poverty and unemployment by getting organized everywhere against wage cuts, against the extension of working hours, against dismissals and to revive the culture of solidarity. The statement ends as follows: "We would have no peace in this system of exploitation. Comfort, peace, prosperity, abundance is nothing but sheer fantasy in this system. The system of exploitation is the pleasure of a small minority. This social order must be overthrown at once. The reign of capitalists must come to an end."
See the link for the interview on soL News.
See the link for the statement of the TKP.