Socialism: The actual option
Interview with Kemal Okuyan, the first secretary of the CC of TKP, by soL
soL: Some people argue that Erdoğan had managed the post-referendum period well. In your opinion, is there a truth value of this argument?
Kemal Okuyan: This question is based on the presupposition that any kind of process can be managed whether in Turkey or any part of the world. It is sometimes called chaos or crisis management. However, we forget that even in such periods there has to be a consistent direction and a main target not affected by the chaos or crisis dynamics. From this perspective, the world is in a period in which the managing skills have weakened and even quite lost in some cases.
soL: In terms of Turkey?
KO: In terms of Erdoğan himself, there is a strategy reduced to "personal salvation" and this strategy is maintained by associating it with the interests of the capitalists and making use of the rivalries within the system. Maybe this strategy is being successful because of its over-personalisation. After all, this is Erdoğan's personal "Survivor". This is obvious. However when it comes to the interests of Erdoğan and the ruling class that the AKP government represents, the situation becomes complicated. The ruling class in Turkey cannot be satisfied with a strategy based only on survival in this chaos. They are searching for a solution. However, as I have just noted, the international conjuncture is not suitable for any kind of solution.
soL: Have the major powers lost this ability as well? For example the US, China, Russia…
KO: The major powers are facing difficulties at different levels. The US is facing the biggest problem because this country cannot maintain its hegemonic role in the imperialist system and yet it also does not want to give up this role. After all, nobody is willing to take that position from the US at the moment either. The reason behind the big quarrel within the US is related, to some extent, to the difficulties of producing a strategy. What is the strategy of the US? To maintain its role as the hegemonic power. Nothing more can be said about it because there is a great chaos regarding each and every sub-topic of this strategy. Everything that can be said about the foreign policy of the US would be correct and incorrect at the same time! The maintenance of the interests of the US monopolies and their pursuit of dominating the international competition are also related to this strategy. However, all these factors are not reflected in the political scene consistently.
soL: Do the other powers have a more concrete strategy?
KO: We can say that the People's Republic of China benefits greatly from the current situation. China is content with the US's strategic dilemmas, and the tensions and uncertainties worldwide whether great or small in scale. China is obviously entering and settling in the small conflict zones in the world with pragmatic calculations, but without relying on any special engagements. The US has to be a side to all of the tensions worldwide. There is no stability left but, in the end, there is no conflict in which the US is not involved. Russia is doing the same in the zones to which it has claims. China is busy taking hold of zones without undertaking any responsibilities or pretending to be a big brother of anyone. For example, the Chinese firms made the most out of all the conflicts, ethnic slaughter, rivalry, and the chaos in Africa. The same can be said for various other regions.
soL: What can be said about Germany?
KO: Germany wants to expand its zone but cannot take the risk that comes with expansion. The German imperialism has not been able to overcome this dilemma for the last 20 years. That's why the European Union project is stalled in some senses. Today, Germany is again waiting for the US, or rather the outcome of the trial of the US with Trump. This is enough to manage the process. There is no strategy here.
soL: Let's go back to Turkey… Obviously, there will not be any "certainty" in this kind of an international situation. What else can be said?
KO: We argue that it is wrong to analyse the world and come up with results by taking the boundaries of the existing system as given. At least the Marxists shouldn't do this. “Such and such strategy was in place in Syria”, “the US and Russia agreed on something”, “Turkey has attained a position”… Well, only three months ago there were other analyses that said quite the contrary. Is it so hard to see that the capitalism cannot maintain stability? While the capitalism cannot maintain stability in the most advanced areas, how can it reach stability in the Middle East?! All the plans and deals reflect an ongoing conflict. All the conflicts and negotiations are not for reaching a permanent solution but for not ending up the losing side! They cannot maintain stability out of all this nonsense. Look at the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia for example. This tension has many reasons. I cannot believe some of the analysts; how easily they solve such conflicts. However, all that is going on points to a difficult or even an insolvable crisis. We have to look elsewhere.
soL: Where do we have to look? After all, the attempt to understand the world order is comprehensible.
KO: We have to realise this fact: Capitalism has reached an impasse and this situation is far beyond manageable. The people insistently expect capitalism to break this impasse and maintain order, or they ascribe capitalism such powers or abilities. The plans in Syria… Yes, they want to divide up Syria. Well, how will it be done? There is no guarantee that the groups that are in alliance today will not be at each others' throats tomorrow.
soL: Is it also true for Turkey?
KO: Yes, the people have the right for a little rest from all the crisis in Turkey. And yet, we cannot deceive anybody, we shouldn't deceive anybody. One cannot take a little rest from it. The moment you think you get a rest from it, the system will push you even deeper below the water. However, there is a way out. While the capitalism is undergoing a colossal crisis, mankind should raise the agenda of a search for a new order once again, and take it to a solid ground. All other solutions that stay within the boundaries of the existing system are deceptions and deceits. Such solutions exploit the most understandable, sincere humane desires. Moreover, as long as you stay within the boundaries of this system, the things you think you understand are illusory.
soL: But the people are looking for daily solutions…
KO: Humanity would be doomed if there are no areas of intervention or struggle based on daily practices. However, a struggle that limits itself to daily practices is also doomed. There is so much talk about daily solutions but it also true that the people in the world and especially in Turkey are tired of never-ending daily solutions that yield no results. The historical emancipation, the final solution, the target for socialism has been denigrated over the years, and yet it became obvious that nobody believes in any daily improvement or change anymore. For decades any change that remained within the boundaries of capitalism meant a step backwards to far worse conditions. Let them prove otherwise. In the end, they have succeeded in breaking the people's will. They have exhausted the people's enthusiasm.
soL: At this point, what can you say about Kılıçdaroğlu's "March for justice"? The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) has not made a statement about this march.
KO: Let me ask you a question. Are the millions of people who have voted for CHP excited about Kılıçdaroğlu's march for justice? Apart from some small left-wing groups who regard this march pragmatically, there is no excitement in the people. At most, people pay their respect for Kılıçdaroğlu. As for us… The Communist Party of Turkey doesn't have to be sensitive towards every action or campaign of other political parties. Moreover, CHP is a bourgeois party addressing the left-wing political base. Of course, we don't regard this march as a simple, ordinary action. We can't analyse the "march" by disregarding the class identity, the international connections, the ideological line and daily motivations of CHP. TKP cannot simply say " At last they have come out on the streets". We are not interested in making overtures to get ourselves a place in the march. There is a dilemma: There is no justice in Turkey. In this regard, every protest is legitimate to this end. Nobody can criticise that and nobody has the right to like or dislike. The discussion of whether this is sufficient or not is baseless. However, we cannot be part of any effort of to make use of the people's anger towards the government to manage international rivalry, the internal struggle of capital and the crisis of the system. What concerns us here is that whether or not the social dynamics are mobilised for this or that agenda. The social dynamics may not always be mobilised by our efforts, the efforts of the revolutionaries. They can burst out by accumulating within the channels of the system. This is what interests us.
soL: Some people see an opportunity in this march to build an alliance between CHP and HDP.
KO: This has been on the agenda for a long time. Any potential alliance between CHP and HDP had always been broken by Erdoğan himself whenever it gained some ground. Some people may consider the affiliation of CHP and HDP as a basis for the emancipation of Turkey. But the idea that the joint action of CHP and HDP would emancipate Turkey should be considered as an example of the deceptions of the system I mentioned above. There is no such thing as “this version of liberalism is bad, but another version of it is good”. To ensure the unity of Turkish and Kurdish people is one thing, but to form this unity as part of an international project is another thing. There is no way out in the second option. Moreover, a much longer march is needed to move CHP and HDP closer.
soL: Within the framework of your analysis, can the 12th Congress of TKP be seen as an important milestone?
KO: It was a very efficient, fruitful conference. TKP has always seen the objective of socialism as an actual fact, and there is no change about that. What changed in our party is in the creation of the concrete political, ideological and organisational necessities of that objective. In this respect, TKP has reached a historical milestone. As opposed to those who praise solutions within the system, TKP will make use of all its resources to make socialism a concrete and actual option for the society in this critical crisis period of capitalism. We will not let them blur the fact that capitalism is in its dying bed by making use of all those fusses about rivalries and conflicts. We cannot contribute to this illusion. The difference and raison d'être of TKP won't allow this.