13 November 2019
Late 2019 saw the eruption of street demonstrations across the world. Despite having different causes, these demonstrations bore resemblance to each other. All of them faced strict suppression measures. Hundreds of protestors lost their lives, thousands were injured and there were mass detentions and arrests.
The left, which have been in a state of despair since the collapse of so-called socialist reactionary regimes in USSR and Eastern Europe and have been looking for new alternative social movements, once again turned their face towards the uprisings of the various sections across the world with futile hopes. They have started to follow the developments with the hopes of consoling and consolidating themselves and those that they keep close with makeshift ties. They saw a new ray of hope just as it happened twenty years ago during the wave of worldwide protests symbolized by the demonstrations in Seattle, USA.
The Course of Anti-Globalization Protests Twenty Years Ago
KöZ, then a new publication, summarized that wave of protests in its 15th published in July 2001 as follows:
- “Third Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organization (WTO), planned to be held between 30 November and 4 December 1999, witnessed the protests of mass organisations, student organisations, environmentalists, anarchists and trade unions. On the first day of the protests, police was deployed and a curfew was declared. Protests were mostly subsided on the second day as a result of the withdrawal of moderate groups and trade unions but they were reignited on the third and fourth days.
- 30th meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF) was held in Davos, Switzerland between 27 January and 1 February 2000. The meeting was held under heavy security measures and demonstrators were prevented from entering the town. Despite all the measures, a group that succeeded to gain access wanted to march but were dispersed by the police.
- The spring meetings of IMF and World Bank were held in Washington on 16-17 April 2000. The aim of the 400 organizations that came together for the demonstrations was to prevent the meetings. The protests started one week before and intensified during the meetings. Clashes took place. The demonstrators could not breach the police barricades.
- The Asia-Pacific meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Melbourne between 11 and 13 September saw protests. Despite the intervention of the police, the opening of the congress was delayed and some of the delegates could not attend the forum.
- The annual meeting of IMF and World Bank was held in Prague between 26-28 September 2000. Protests began a week before the summit. The demonstrations peaked on 26 September. Demonstrators marching in three waves clashed with the police. Simultaneously with the protests in Prague, demonstrations were also held in some cities of Turkey, just like in many places around the world.
- On 7 December 2000, the European Union summit was held in Nice, France. In contrast with the other protests, the European trade unions decided to join the action in Nice and organized a demonstration. Protests took place at different parts of the city on the day of the meeting and the demonstrators clashed with the police.
- Between 21-23 April, a meeting was held in Quebec, Canada to discuss the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement with the attendance of representatives from the 34 countries in the American continent that would be included in the deal. Throughout the first day of the summit, demonstrators and the police clashed. The opening of the meeting was delayed. The protests continued on the second and third days. Trade unions and various dissident groups attended the demonstrations.”
Even though the expected revolutionary development did not follow this wave of demonstrations, it resulted in the organization of periodic international meetings called “World Social Forum” to keep these futile hopes alive. These meetings were thought of as an alternative to the annual “World Economic Forum” meetings, also known as the Davos Summit, which are attended by the representatives of the leading economies around the world. This was the story of the birth of “anti-globalization”, the name given to the reactionary movement that would replace the idea of revolution in the 21st century.
In early 2001, the first World Social Forum was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. PT (Workers’ Party) of Lula was the chief organizer of this meeting (In fact, the fate of these organizations can be predicted by looking at the fate of Lula!).
Proletarian Uprisings in Argentina and Bolivia Were Also Assimilated in the Anti-Globalization Movements
Simultaneously, a big proletarian mass uprising had erupted in Argentina. The social composition of this uprising and its methods of struggle including the factory occupations and shutting down the highways of course did not resemble the “anti-globalization” movements. However, this movement, regardless of how threatening it was, was also canalized into the same direction as the anti-globalization movements due to a lack of revolutionary leadership. It resulted in the formation of an anti-globalization social democratic government in Argentina. Similar events occured in Bolivia two years after. Morales, who curtailed the uprising of the toiling masses with his parliamentarist politics, established a social democratic government under the banner of “anti-neoliberalism” that would last 15 years.
Second WSF was held in Porto Allegre in 2003. This movement was baptized at this forum as “alter-globalization” or “anti-globalization” movement. Third WSF would also be held at the same place. The forum that gained popularity with the attendance of American anarchist dissident Noam Chomsky was held in Mumbai, India in 2004 and once again in PT-governed city of Porto Allegre in 2005 and was organized as separate forums in Barnako/Mali, Caracas/Venezuela and Karachi/Pakistan in 2006. The WSF was hosted by Nairobi, Kenya in 2007, Belém, Brazil in 2009, Dakar, Senegal in 2011 and Tunis, Tunisia in 2013 and 2015. In 2016, Quebec, Canada became the first Northern Hemisphere host of these forums. This wave then ended again in Brazil in the city of Salvador in 2018. At that point, the first host of these forums, Lula’s PT, had been tainted by corruption and scandals and lost its former reputation. And WSF had completed its mission by absorbing all the hopes pinned on it.
It could be said that the meeting in Dakar in 2011 was the turning point in the dissolution of the WSF meetings. Dakar forum was preceded by an unexpected new development. This WSF was overshadowed by the so-called “Arab Spring”, which started with a street vendor (Bouazizi) setting himself on fire and the overthrow and departure of Ben Ali, the long-standing dictator of Tunisia. This movement then spread to Egypt and resulted in the voluntary resignation (at the recommendation of “unseen forces”) of Mubarak and his replacement by Morsi, linked with the US/Israeli-manufactured Muslim Brotherhood. Erdoğan started to use his own interpretation of the Rabia sign at this point. The four hand gesture that symbolized the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood meetings were held, was transformed through Erdoğan’s interpretation to stand for “one homeland, one flag, one nation, one state”.
However, when Morsi, who replaced pro-US Mubarak with the consent of USA, showed a desire to be the leader of Muslim Brotherhood rather than serving USA, he was overthrown with the coup d’état of another pro-US figure in General Sisi and Morsi recently died of a dubious heart attack during a trial.
Recent events in Sudan can also be considered as a belated continuation of the “Arab Spring”. Omar al-Bashir, the dictator of Sudan for thirty years and one of Erdoğan’s tainted partners, was overthrown last April following street demonstrations via a coup d’état like the one that gave him the power and was imprisoned.
Similarly, street demonstrations are going on non-stop in Algeria, which had not been affected by the first wave of “Arab Spring”. Big mass protests that occurred simultaneously with the yellow vest movement in France shook Algeria. Bouteflika, an independent candidate in 1999, had won the controversial elections with 73.8% of the vote after other candidates were forced to withdraw. His presidency had followed a 9-year suppression of FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) by the army. Bouteflika was the candidate of the “victory”. Afterwards, he was elected in 2004 with 85% of the votes, in 2009 with %90.2 of the votes and in 2014 with 81.5% of the votes. This made Bouteflika the longest-serving president of the Algerian history. He had also been the honorary president of the FLN (National Liberation Front) since 2005 and had assumed the role of Defence Minister since 2003. After Bouteflika, who had been bedridden due to a stroke in 2013, announced that he would run for a fifth term in the upcoming 2019 elections, unending street demonstrations rocked Algeria. Bouteflika announced that he decided not to run following the advice of the military but his brother Said, who he wanted to nominate as a candidate instead, also came under the fire of the protests and was arrested after appearing before a court. Like other places in the world, street demonstrations are ongoing in Algeria in 2019.
On the other hand, even though Yemen was affected by this “Arab Spring”, the civil war in Yemen has a different history and the conflict is going on based on that basis. The difference of Yemen is that the civil war, which has been going on since the union of two countries with Iran-backed Shiite Houthi movement on one side, has intensified due to the present world conjuncture. “Arab Spring” had short-lived and relatively insignificant impact on some other Arab countries. However, in Syria, which was expected to be the last big destination of this wave, it changed its complexion completely and came to an end.
In Syria, the second biggest fortress of the Muslim Brotherhood, the “Arab Spring” got stuck, got replaced by the ongoing civil war and threw in the towel. This movement was not mentioned again afterwards. Aside from the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt that was overthrown with a coup d’état, this development would have its biggest impact on Erdoğan. Especially with the US influence, Erdoğan, who had a cosy relationship with Bashar al-Assad until the Arab Spring, all of a sudden became enthralled by the idea of overthrowing Assad and “praying in the Umayyad Mosque”. He tried to become both the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement and the co-president of the Greater Middle East Project.
Disappointed Erdoğan Hit a Wall in Syria
Formerly, it was the former president Turgut Özal who had been enthralled by this idea. Then, it was a more realistic dream. Erdoğan and his partners had the delusions of quickly capturing Damascus. Because a Free Syrian Army was established, including some commanders that deserted Assad’s army, and an opposition movement with a Sunni emphasis had emerged against the Ba’ath regime, which was a minority regime consisting of mostly Nusayris and supported by other minorities. But the Ba’ath regime, which had the backing of Russia and Iran as well as the tacit support of China and with its good relationships with leading European imperialists, was not like the others that were overthrown by the Arab Spring. Especially for Russia, this regime had great importance as Syria hosted its only mediterranean military base. Additionally, Syrian Ba’ath was a strategic ally against Israel.
However USA and the coalition forces miscalculated this delicate balance. Especially after Erdoğan divided the anti-Assad front for other reasons, USA had to revise its plans.
Erdoğan, who planned to carry out the military intervention he missed out in Iraq and first became a part of this operation by actively supporting Al-Nusra-linked FSA alongside USA, saw his plans foiled after Assad and his allies did a critical maneuver and withdrew from Northern Syria. After this maneuver, PYD declared autonomous Kurdish cantons and initiated the world-renowned Rojava process.
At this point, Erdoğan saw an opportunity to support ISIS gangs (which were originally from Iraq) with the intention of making them attack these autonomous cantons. However, when ISIS started to primarily focus on Rojava instead of Damascus, Sunni front led by Al-Nusra was weakened. Especially when ISIS gangs were repelled from Kobani, Assad’s hand was strengthened and Erdoğan became isolated.
Both to distract from the internal regime crisis he is facing and as a result of his ping pong-like maneuvers between USA and Russia as well as the pressure from his compulsory partner Bahçeli (leader of the Nationalist Movement Party), Erdoğan was forced to undertake operations in al-Bab and Afrin before finally initiating the Peace Spring operation. Especially in this last operation, Erdoğan became completely isolated. In parallel with Assad and Ba’ath regime taking control of Syria step by step, he was forced to gather all the jihadist gangs around Syria in Idlib and become their warden, mostly with the approval of the government.
After Trump sent his vice president instead of simply tweeting, Erdoğan backed off. He was put into a more difficult situation when Baghdadi was forced into suicide bombing by USA in an area under Erdoğan’s control. He is now about to take a trip to USA to see the cost of his Syria invasion operation. Moreover, the bill passed at the House of Representatives to investigate the assets of Erdoğan and his family members as well as the F-35/S-400 equation are also on the table. Also, the full extent of Zarrab’s testimony after he decided to cooperate with FBI is unknown.
On the other hand, after the so-called “Arab Spring” led to the new representatives of the old regime taking over in Tunisia and pro-US Muslim Brotherhood movement getting crushed by another pro-US coup d’état, this “Arab Spring” did not only hit a wall in Syria.
At one stage, it gave way to the Rojava Revolution, which led to the realization of the “Kurdish Spring”.
The Next Destination of the Anti-Globalization Movement: Rojava
Those who were left disappointed in their attempts to swell their sails with the winds of anti-globalization movement then turned their attention towards Rojava. In fact, a sort of new “international movement” was born all around the world. Some likened this to the atmosphere created by the Vietnam liberation movement. Not only did many “pro-Rojava” movements crop up all over the world but many “internationalist militants” descended on Rojava to fight.
In other words, Rojava became the new destination of the “anti-globalization movement”. In the meantime “Rojava revolution”, encircled by USA and Russia/Iran/Syria, had to first take a step back and reduce itself to “Federation of Northern Syria” to prove that it is not a part of the Kurdistan revolution. And by doing so, it invalidated its existence and its meaning. After giving up the Afrin canton and rebranding as “North and East Syria” for a while, the “Peace Spring Operation” started by Erdoğan, who was encouraged by these concessions, forced it to take refuge in Assad/Ba’ath regime. Now, it is debated whether YPG fighters will be transformed into 5th Corps of the Syrian Army as Ba’ath, the dominant force in Syria, has entered the final stage of retaking its lands within the framework of a USA-Russia agreement.
Of course, this also meant that Erdoğan had to retreat from his short-lived expedition. After this maneuver, Erdoğan is planning to embark on a trip to negotiate with Trump with a significantly weakened hand. As Erdoğan was preparing for this somber trip, the mass demonstrations all over the world were replacing the fizzled out “Arab Spring”. A new source of futile hopes and dreams for the pessimistic leftists and “anti-globalists” was born.
As 2019 was coming to a close, a new “wave of rebellion” swept across Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Guinea, Egypt and in countries that were not previously affected by Arab Spring such as Iraq, Sudan and Algeria as well as in Catalonia, which was recovering from the disappointment of independence debacle. Even though the protests in this wave resembled each other as well as the protests of previous waves when it came to the mobilization of the masses and police brutality, this time they actually happened for completely different reasons. The masses in Guinea rose up against Alpha Condé, who declared himself as president for life. In Lebanon, masses rose up against Hezbollah’s oppressive dominance in all spheres of life. In Ecuador, the target was the corrupt and authoritarian regime of the current government. In Algeria, the strict methods and corruption of the government, which had remained indisputable during the Arab Spring, led to the uprising. In Egypt, everlasting tensions resurfaced at this occasion. In Bolivia, Morales, who had been a ray of hope for anti-globalization movement and almost the all leftist movements but who of course did not show the courage of eliminating representative democracy, saw the masses rise up led by pro-US opposition, which fetishised representative democracy. The reason of the uprising in Chile was the pro-market policies of the supposedly leftist government. Fuel shortages in Haiti led to rebellion. The fact that regime remained unchanged despite the toppling of Omar al-Bashir led to the uprising.
In Ethiopia, the reason was the never-ending instability and poverty. In Iraq, both Sunnis and dissident Shiites rose up against the pro-Iran government, shifting Trump’s attention from his tenuous position in the Syrian theater to Iraq. Hongkongers took to the streets to show that they did not want to join the central Chinese government, that they wanted to maintain the British mandate as well as to protest the existing social inequalities, even though said inequalities predated this juncture.
On the other hand, although weakened significantly since the European elections, the protests of the “Yellow Vests” in France that has been ongoing for over a year are still continuing and the police brutality does not ease up despite the decline of the protests. It would not be incorrect to say that the underlying reasons are the same for the emergence of presidential candidate who is openly calling himself leftist in USA and similar developments happening in Britain. In other words, more left-leaning candidates are used to decrease the street tensions in these countries.
In fact, as the 20th century was coming to a close, CIA and US foreign affairs spokespeople had said that 21st century would be the “century of uprisings”. This appears to be more than an on-point prediction. It should also raise the suspicion that there is US involvement in these developments. Indeed, it is impossible not to see the parallels between the events that has happened since the Seattle protests and the “Open Society” project of George Soros.
In truth, all of these movements could emerge all over the world for any reason or for the same reasons. That is because, all over the world the lower classes do not want to live in the old way and the upper classes show that they are unable to rule in the old way in every opportunity.
Even though many do not want to remember this “old” formula, everyone knows that this points to a revolutionary alternative.
Why Does Nobody Talk About Turkey and Kurdistan?
What should be stressed is that the same conditions also apply to where we live in and consequently in Kurdistan region. However, while the world is dealing with a new wave of rebellion, it is curious that Turkey and Kurdistan is not mentioned when it comes to this “new international wave of rebellion”.
The reason for this should be stated clearly and without any confusion: in contrast to all these developments and those preceding them, the problems that have piled up in Turkey and Kurdistan call for a proletarian revolution and not only are the conditions for such a revolution is ripe but they are about to rot.
For a long time, Middle East has been one of the most crucial areas and currently one of the epicenters of the war of redivision in the world. In fact, as can be seen in Syria with the direct involvement of Russia and indirect involvement of China, it is the point of contention. Moreover, this was already the case before Arab Spring or the civil war in Syria.
At least since the last decade of the previous century, Middle East has been one of the epicenters of a new fight for division. Turkey has always been a critical factor in this theater and this characteristic of the country is not solely dependent on its objective location.
KöZ stressed these points when it first appeared on the political scene. These points have been proven correct time and time again during the last two decades since. All new developments confirm these points rather than cast doubt on them.
For this reason, it would be better to evoke those timeless points and the duties of communists rather than repeating the same statements:
“Dubbed as the “sick man” at the onset of the century, it was not clear whether going to war would strengthen the Ottoman state. However, even to continue its sickly existence, the only option was to take an active part in the ongoing fight for division. Similarly, not to be on the menu at the “feast” that is this imperialist fight for division, the only option for Republic of Turkey is to take an active part in this fight for division. Indeed, the ruling class of Turkey is aware of this necessity and has been trying to climb the ladders of imperialist hierarchy and there are no lack of international powers which support and provoke it to do so.
Incentivized by the structural crisis it is in and in a process that is in line with the tendency of the international capital, Republic of Turkey is primed by some imperialist centers to take a step on the ladder of imperialist hierarchy since late 70s. Its main direction has not changed., albeit with some detours due to its internal dynamics and the fluctuations of the international conjuncture. With its infrastructure, industrial potential, relatively mature workforce, relatively strong state apparatus, its ties to NATO and EU, its cultural/historical influence in Middle East, Caucasia, Balkans and Central Asia, as well as its geopolitical position that has gained even more of a strategic importance since the cold war in line with US plans of a “new world order”, Turkey is one of the key elements of international imperialist order…
However, Turkey is also a country which hosts the strongest, most organized and experienced workers’ movement in the region; the most widespread, advanced, albeit curtailed, revolutionary currents that still continue their existence and resistance; the most crowded and dynamic section of the Kurdish nation and the most organized revolutionary cadres within the Kurdish nation that is most open to Marxists influences.
Turkey, with this contradictory position and its irreversible orientation, is at the centre of a deep tension. It is going through a serious structural transformation (both economically and in terms of changing some specific characteristics of the state that were formerly thought as unchangeable) in the middle of a new imperialist fight for division. It is like a snake shedding its skin out in the open. On the other hand, this transformation, no matter how it happens and which direction it takes, is inevitably conducive to social upheavals. That is because even achieving a more advantageous position in the imperialist hierarchy will not result in relaxation, since a fierce internal fight for division is going on between the old factions of the ruling classes as well as between them and the new factions with the involvement of “foreign powers” (international finance capital). This fight saw the overt airing of the “dirty linens” and there is no doubt this will continue to be the case. Besides, it has become clear that taking a step back and re-establishing the old status-quo would not result in less of an upheaval.
That is because, even though the forces that can throw a spanner in the works are currently subjectively weak, disconnected and lacking perspective, it is clear that the dynamics these forces possess cannot be eliminated. The best way to understand the possibilities that are created by a socio-political transformations happening within the context of an imperialist fight for division is to make a comparison with the past without forgetting the evolution that has occured. This is more meaningful especially when the region which is one of the epicenter of the current fight for division was also one of the focal points of the first war of division.
The Weakest Link of Imperialist Chain
Is Under Our Feet!
The weakest link of imperialist chain is under our feet. Breaking this link will not result in only this link being broken. The necessary condition for this to happen is to build a communist party that is equipped with the lessons learned by Bolsheviks during the October Revolution and embedded in the Communist International documents and for that party to gain the leadership role in the proletarian revolution that will break that link.
Such a party does not exist and cannot be created as a result of existent organizations gaining strength or those organizations being united in different ways. This party will be created following the footsteps of the Bolshevik experience and by communists who heed the guidance of the principles of Communist International. That is the task of those who have the aim of proletarian revolution. Those who follow the Bolshevik line and try to unite communists under a party by separating themselves from opportunists are working for proletarian revolution, its success and continuity. There is no other way to reach these goals.”
These 20-Year-Old Observations are More Valid Than Ever
These observations made 20 years ago are just as, if not more, valid now. But there is a crucial difference! During Özal’s reign, Turkey’s dream to climb up a step in this hierarchy had a basis. Ever since Erdoğan came to power with US permission and after 28 February coup purged the political scene, the regime crisis of Republic of Turkey has intensified and the inability of the current People’s Alliance coalition to rule has become a factor that further intensifies this crisis. The opposition who aspire to be an alternative to the government has already shown that they are aware that they cannot manage this crisis, as can be deducted from their reluctance of demanding the power. Lower classes show that they do not want to be ruled in the old way in every opportunity. However, those who wait for the counting of the votes to weaken Justice and Development Party insist on sinking further into the election games to ignore this fact.
However, as in the Gezi uprising, the toilers and the oppressed expressed their desire to get rid of the current government in a more comprehensive manner than other examples around the world. The leftist movement, with BDP (Peace and Democracy Party)/HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) at its core, show that they are the third biggest power in the parliament and have the capability of ruling a huge number of local governments despite all the suppression, mistakes and hesitations. Notwithstanding the positions won and lost in Kurdistan, the revolutionary dynamics that arise in this region persevere.
For this reason, just as it was the case 20 years ago, the key link in the Middle East in under our feet and the necessity of breaking this link leave no other alternative than a proletarian revolution.
Such a revolutionary solution clearly call for a revolutionary party such as that of Bolsheviks. On top of that, an extension of the October Revolution, Communist Party of Turkey led by Mustafa Suphi, had been founded in the lands within the current borders of Republic of Turkey. This party predates the Republican People’s Party, which established the Republic, and the fake Communist Party of Turkey propped up by it.
These lands also host the epicenter of Kurdistan dynamics that has upset the balances since the first imperialist war of division.
For this reason, the urgent and primary task of communists in these lands is still to build such a party that will carry the motto of “Revolution Is the Only Way!” on its banner.
Communists struggle for this aim and call for those who claim to uphold communism to share this responsibility within the framework of main references of Communist International.