'Hope stems from the working class which would not surrender to the AKP'

Special interview with Kemal Okuyan First Secretary of the CC of Communist Party, Turkey (KP) by soL news portal

ICP, 20th May 2016

After the de facto removal of PM Ahmet Davutoğlu, from his duties by President Tayyip Erdoğan, a series of debate on the Presidential governing system gained a new perspective.

In this agenda, topics such as: the planning of an AKP without Erdoğan and the way how the working class could be provoked against AKP, are also included. 

Below you can find a comprehensive interview with Kemal Okuyan, First Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party, Turkey (KP) and columnist in the web portal soL.

Last week we have witnessed the rumours getting real about the resignation of Davutoğlu and AKP is now going into a Congress. How do you evaluate this development?

Kemal Okuyan: No one actually can evaluate this as a resignation. Davutoğlu was dismissed from his duties. This move of Erdoğan, which does not have any distinct programmatic reason, would be very superficially explained if limited only into the fact that he cannot stand any disparity. 

But don’t you think, for long time now, Erdoğan has been neutralizing all the elements which dare to question his monarchy? Most of the senior cadres of AKP have been eliminated. 

KO: It is obvious, nothing to discuss yet Erdoğan’s personal passion for dictatorship is only one issue to explain his behaviour. Look, no one questions who encouraged Davutoğlu on his attempts to build a supporter mass media. Are we going to explain this also with personal caprice?

But did not PM Davutoğlu come into duty with the condition of full obedience? Not fulfilling this precondition brought his end. 

KO: Right from the beginning I stated Davutoğlu would not fit into the character of a low profiled PM. Most insisted that Davutoğlu would play the role of a puppet. Of course, I am not calling him a high personality, neither a stubborn person. But he was the only person after Abdullah Gül, being close to Erdoğan and yet owns an individual agenda, mainly because of his international connections. Erdoğan’s choice of Davutoğlu was because he thought after Gezi-uprising, he would provide new credit from the international arena.  

Wasn’t Gül more appropriate for this position?

KO: Gül was handicapped with having much bigger effect on the party cadres.


Do you mean that Erdoğan used Davutoğlu and then threw him to the bin?

KO: In fact the imperialist forces, who invested in Davutoğlu threw him to the bin. Erdoğan cannot tolerate any alternative. 

Is it such decisive?

KO: At this point Erdoğan’ s only weapon is his skill in keeping the social support despite of eliminating all his alternatives. Thus his attempts on constructing an Islamic state are inevitable. This, actually, is Erdoğan’s paradox. Because in his effort to be ‘the one - and - only ’,  he is isolating himself by accelerating the Islamic mechanisms in order to consolidate the public who voted him. In turn, he is weakening himself. 

Shall the Presidential system be a critical matter? If he gives up from this system and another formula such as  a President from within the Party is invented, do you think that the tension would end? 

KO: We should see what is exactly encoded in the Presidential system. Of course, it has gained value at the point that it has become an obsession. But, has not the country already been governed by this system? Eventually, Erdoğan will have to ‘pay the bill’ at the social level or at the social channels of politics. On the other hand the topic on the Presidential system will lock the institutions of the existing political system. In the case that Erdoğan gives up insisting on the Presidential system or in case he doesn’t succeed, the tension shall not end, we may only gain some more time. 

How long shall it take? 

KO: It is impossible to tell. Erdoğan is forcing a regime difficult to be consolidated. The international capital is in the search of a sustainable model, easy to be controlled and in which the gains of AKP throughout the last years are protected as a whole. Erdoğan on the contrary, is a personality with high negotiation powers difficult to be controlled and predicted. It is true that he is making quick manoeuvres disguarding himself and then yields to stronger forces but there are instances he messes those as well. Other than that, there is a critical section of the society that shall not accept the society which Erdoğan is trying to create.


Does an AKP without Erdoğan have an acceptance?

KO: Into a great extent it has, thanks to CHP and HDP and the liberal sections as a whole. This notion keeps Erdoğan in life. Can you imagine that you make an alternative of Erdoğan from the party that he keeps in his hands! The support of Davutoğlu from Kılıçdaroğlu, the president of CHP, and the effort of CHP and HDP to find a new governing option within AKP is fitting into the expectations of the capital owners.

Weren’t the opponents of Erdoğan tired and hopeless?     

KO: Is it possible to gain any hope on an AKP without Erdoğan? This is a virus and it is getting more and more spread.

How is possible to get out of this emotional state?

KO: They call it liberal secularism. It is not like that. This may happen only if a working class with a secular-enlightened character arouses, there is no other solution. Everyone says that the working class does not exist; in this case, the opposition does not exist! The working class does exist. Moreover, there is a section of the working class that does not surrender to AKP. The elections are not our reference. The electoral procedure does not own an egalitarian mechanism. Millions of workers who are part of the production process, are complaining about the government and some of them do not even refer to themselves as workers. Some we have to isolate from the sections of the capital. There is no other way to gain hope in this country. That is why merely opposing AKP does not have any meaning. This drags us in a grumble. Without the despite of the class that was enriched by the regime of AKP, it is impossible to defence secularism or any other matter. That is why we insist that the working class should be reconstructed; and that it a political duty.


Although poor, there is a section that supports AKP.

KO: Yes, there is. Hitler also came in power thanks the bourgeoisie, but at the expense of the poor working class. To gain this section we firstly have to drag from this system the section that opposes to AKP. It is not enough for the working class to struggle for secularism. What the working class needs is to reconstruct itself and raise the flag of enlightenment against the capital class. To those saying that in Turkey the working class does not exist, we answer that they have no energy to struggle for secularism or any other matter whatsoever!

But the ones that mind for secularism are getting more and more isolated in limited geographical areas. If AKP gets stronger here how is it possible to break this siege?  

KO: Look, AKP did not yet manage to take under its full control the developed cities in Turkey. And as this gets more and more difficult for them, some leftists allege that the workers do not exist! I do not intend to get into more detail, but the city centres from the ideological, cultural and class aspect bear a heterogeneous character and here there is a ‘veiled’ tension-struggle among the classes that determine the political and ideological dynamics of the country. These are areas that AKP is electorally defeated. I underline, it is defeated at the moment. There is the clear risk of losing these areas by saying that ‘Çankaya, Yenimahalle does not define Ankara at the whole’. You cannot govern Turkey from Pursaklar. If you don’t want to get isolated to Dikmen, Mamak, Kadıköy, Bakırköy, Karşıyaka you immediately have to save the educated labour force from the character of the middle-class. 

At the last period you are also referring to the possibility of MHP entering into these areas. How do you evaluate the Presidential crisis in MHP?

KO: The positioning of the Turkish nationalism in the Turkish-Islamic context has happened pretty much intentionally by Colonel Türkeş at the ends of 1960’s with a social-political engineering operation. It could be considered transitional in the early times, but at this recent period Turkish nationalism clearly gains a Turkish racist character. But, Turkish-Islamic synthesis is also a government policy. That is why the difficulty in separating the followers of AKP and MHP cannot be limited to the choices that Devlet Bahçeli makes. This is actually wanted. Now certain ‘intelligent’ agents of the government think that in the international arena Islamism weakens the ‘control’ mechanisms in the right wing as a whole, and now they try to separate Turkish nationalism from the Turkish-Islamic composition. The crisis in MHP should be evaluated in this context and not explained by the alternatives of restraining or helping Erdoğan. It is early to speak about this, but I think that Turkish nationalism in the future will be included in the struggle for hegemony in the city centres.

Do you think that this will happen as a reaction to Kurdish nationalism?   

KO: Undoubtedly, this is one aspect. Nationalism brings nationalism; and there is no point in arguing which came first. A system that cannot even tolerate talking about the basic rights of the Kurdish people, paved the way to the Kurdish nationalism but it is not the task of the left to justify the Kurdish nationalism in this base. Related to this, I can say that, the Kurdish nationalism has the chance to penetrate non-Kurdish elements. For example, the liberals were used not only by AKP but also by the Kurdish movement. The transition from the Turkish-Islamic synthesis to a more decisive Turkish nationalism, or putting it in the right words, opening the way to racism may limit the actions of the Kurdish movement. I repeat it is early to speak, but we can see similar evaluations being made. 


You are talking about the rising of nationalism, do you think that liberalism is losing its energy?

KO: Why so? We cannot do without it! In the contrary, in the last period the life energy of liberalism is refreshed with ‘Can’. 

I guess you are referring to Can Dündar…

KO: For years now we are writing that there is an extensive attempt to bring CHP and the Kurdish movement closer to each other. Ufuk Uras was a product of these attempts but while unsuccessful it left some scars, as the relationship of one section of the left with liberalism is based on the feelings of love and detest. Can Dündar is much more talented in respect to Uras, so in this aspect he is an actor that ‘brings our energy down’. Moreover he has no relation with the left.

But on the other hand Erdoğan also finds him dangerous. An assassination attempt or shall we say an attack with the purpose to frighten him was made against him.

KO: Erdoğan cannot be justified in his actions whatsoever. Furthermore, the attack against Can Dündar was made because he published the war crimes being made in Syria. In our struggle against liberalism we are not to justify the attacks against the journalists. On the other hand, we cannot struggle for socialism without absolutely, and I need to underline the word ‘absolutely’, disengaging from liberalism and nationalism. This is the reality of the present.

Do you mean that Can Dündar has become a political actor?

KO: Can Dündar or any other person… They have to survive somehow. One day with Uras, one day with Demirtaş or another day with Dündar. Dündar is a very appealing figure. He fits everywhere.


A judicial inquiry is being made against the Journal of the Enlightenment Movement because of its demand for the religious-imam schools to be closed. 

KO: Let them go on…We demand AKP itself to be closed, let them inquire this also. They have compelled almost a million of students to attend the religious-imam schools and now they say that there is lack of 6.000 of imams in the country. These schools should be closed. About the lack of imams we’ll see later what there is to be done. As far the Enlightenment Movement is concerned… It is a genuine and pioneering initiative. The federation unions, political forces and the intellectuals of this country will take advantage of it. We have quite an intensive agenda, just be patient.

Let us come to the call that you made on 17th of April… Addressing to the members of TKP you stated that it is clearly seen where the name of TKP continues and you called the ones who are loyal to the tradition and programme of TKP. What was the reaction to this call?

KO: Our call was made to the sincere and serious members of TKP. An important number of people had positive reaction, which still goes on. The shade over the name of TKP is not going to last forever and primarily this is a matter that involves the members of TKP at the crisis of 2014. Our path is getting united with many of our comrades. Even there are some who make their applications with graffiti praising TKP. This is a bit too much though!


This year you decided to devote your party conference to a very specific topic, to Imperialism. What is the reason of this choice and how is this conference going to take place?

KO: Imperialism is a very dynamic concept, but on the other hand owns very powerful historical-theoretical references. Periodically we have to work with these concepts. By adding also the recent developments in the region and especially the increasing role of Russia, we shall manage touch the up-to-date political problems. This is what we shall do. In the whole party organization we shall start a creative-constructive process of debate-evaluation and at the same time we shall use this as a means of party education. In autumn the process will finalize and a basic document will be published. This conference is of big important also concerning our relationship with our fraternal party, the Communist Party of Greece. The two parties without getting involved to each others’ domestic matters and by preserving the principle of equality are mutually opening channels of sharing information and debating on various topics. This conference will take place in this context.

So, let us ask the last question about the Communist Party of Greece. On which principles is based your relationship with CP of Greece? Is it a case of big brother-little brother? What is source of the reaction to the clear and determinate position of CP of Greece on the crisis of TKP?  

KO: The relationship between CP, Turkey and CP of Greece is developing on a healthy base. I mentioned before the principle of not involving in each other's’ domestic matters. CP of Greece does not give much credit on parliament representation or electoral results. So, these  factors are not determining our relationship. CP of Greece owns strong class bonds, which is till now a clear difference between our parties. There are, of course, a series of reasons for this. On the other hand we have different position on certain secondary aspects but this does not restrain us from struggling at the same axis. We have a common strategy; we both reject class reconciliation, we exercise a perspective based on the actuality of a socialist revolution and we are not looking friendly to the imperialist world by anyhow. Our relationship is getting deeper and gaining new perspectives. The positioning of CP of Greece toward the crisis in TKP, right from the beginning, is related to how close they observe, country – by - country, the revolutionary and communist formations. They immediately translate the basic documents and discuss them in the inner party mechanisms. Let me say only this, right from the beginning of the crisis, they knew in detail what the two sides were arguing about; for example, individually, I can say that they knew more than me.

In short, you mean this choice didn’t come as a result of “intimate friendship”, nor “deceit”. 

KO: Firstly, CP of Greece is a serious party, which eliminates all kind of individual references. Is this a joke? Secondly, we have work to do, and more than occupied to govern other parties. No, we don't have the intention, nor the power!

*Pursaklar: A district in Ankara where the fundamental religious element is prevailing.