It is often said that a nation that oppresses another cannot itself be free, yet rarely are the reasons for this explained. The majority of people who agree with the idea believe it to be associated he notions of justice and equality. Those who approach it in this way are acting with some sort of charitable feelings. However, charity assumes a form of supremacy. It evokes a relationship like the rich helping the poor. In other words a relationship between the unequal ; it does not challenge that relationship. It is seen as giving a helping hand to the disadvantaged while the advantaged maintain their position. This is not an outlook that removes inequality, on the contrary reinforces it.
To establish equality, where conditions of inequality exist, requires that a degree favouritism is shown to the disadvantaged. Charitable and benevolent attitudes imply looking down and is oppressive.. Hence the reaction of the oppressed that exclaim, “ we want our rights not charity,” is fully comprehensible and natural.
The approach between those who are equals, who should be equals, must be one of solidarity and not that of one-sided charity. The maxim “a nation that oppresses another cannot be free” implies precisely that this is not a question of charity. To be able to create solidarity, and mend the relationship of trust between those who are not in a position of equality necessitates that those on the privileged side make more sacrifices, and spend more effort; they owe such a debt. This state of affairs is expressed with the formulae “more is expected from those to whom more was given”, or in using today’s vernacular as “positive discrimination”.
Moreover, expressing this phrase, Marx emphasised that the liberation of Ireland is prerequisite for the emancipation of the English working class, that if the independence of Ireland is not established the English working class of England can not be emancipated. He taught the English workers that they should demand and struggle for the independence of Ireland not for a charity for the Irish, but for their own emancipation. But we don’t need to go as far. To see clearly why “a nation that oppresses another cannot itself be free”, we should just look at the lands that we live. Because these lands lodge the most crowded portion of the biggest oppressed nation. This situation constitute a problem in which the working class is directly interested.
How does An Oppressed Nation Effect the Composition of the Working Class?
It is not a secret that most of the people working without unions and insurance in the working fields Turkey’s big cities of are Kurdish labourers. These masses are not tourists who came there willingly. They are cumulated in the big cities unwillingly or by force, just because they could not have worked and lived in their own lands anymore. Moreover, they are settled temporarily hoping they will be able to return one day, in houses built illegally, like tents which are ready to be gathered. This is a sign of this being temporary in state of mind. (even if some of these buildings rest and are defended against the destruction teams of state) In these conditions, the hundred-thousands of people cumulated in the big cities, are brought to a mood in which they will work in any condition and wage proposed.
After the years of 80s, the Kurds which have become the biggest portion of these masses, had to leave their own lands and had been made a potential source of cheap labour under humiliation and oppression. They have poured to the ranks of reserve industrial army. Even if they are in the same conditions with their other class brothers, they are doomed to be oppressed and exploited more because they are Kurdish. The worst and heaviest works are put on their shoulders. They have more difficulty with finding a job, and accept lower wage and worse working conditions when they find one. In that case, because of the fact that the worst and heaviest works are seen as working fields of Kurds, they are humiliated and looked down upon even if they do other jobs. Many ideological mechanism, from humours to daily jokes, encourage this fact. The Kurds driven to the suburbs of big cities also have been treated as potential criminals. Hey have been presented and treated as if they have came to big cities to take the jobs of workers living there, not because of the unjust war against them or not because their villages are burned and destroyed.
Taking all these to account, it is obvious why the Kurds can not get rid of working in worse conditions, with lower wages. It has been so easy to forget suddenly all their traditions. They have to do the things they could hardly imagine when they were in their own villages. For example who could imagine that a father would send his daughter to sell napkins in front of brothels and casinos? More than this takes place.
The Kurds did not Came to Cities to Take the Jobs of Others
The capitalists do their investments not in order to create jobs for the workers but in order to enlarge their capitals and with the ambition for profit. That’s why they are so content to see the masses of cheap labour at the suburbs of cities increase. As long as these gates to profit are opened, they wish and show their efforts for the workers to work in worse conditions no matter if they are Kurdish or not. The mechanism for this is so simple and every labourer has seen or suffered from this mechanism.
The bosses start with employing the Kurdish workers which they think they work more and receive less, and sacking the present ones. This situation causes a hostility towards Kurds as if they take the jobs of others. This also increases the humiliation and despising of Kurds.
Thus another reason for the Kurdish workers to accept worse working conditions is created. The same paradoxical cycle turns once more. Many workers believe that the responsible for this are not the ones who drive the Kurds out of their villages but they are the Kurds themselves. But they ignore that they have the same function against others when they are unemployed and have no remedy.
Kurds Are Not The Causes Of Capitalist Attacks. Attacks are Towards Everyone!
The workers sacked by the bosses who wish to use the cheap labour sources have to accept less wage and worse working conditions in order to find a new job. Or they accept these worse conditions in order not to loose their jobs. Or some of them dream of migrating to industrial centres of Europe in order to take the role that the Kurds are forced to play against them. Thus the oppression and despising of Kurds cause a general damage in the working conditions of every working person.
As the Kurds have become the source of cheap labour, subcontractors and working without unions and insurance has increased under the name of flexible working. It is obvious that these aggressions are not only towards Kurds. The cheap labour sources cumulated around the big centres of industry has been used by the bosses to decrease the general wages and to destroy the rights gained. De-unionisation has increased and the social rights and job safety have decreased as the number of workers that accept working without unions and insurance increases.
The ones who have the privilege to rescue themselves from this aggression are only the ones like lackeys and pets of bosses, the ones who prefer to take side with the capitalist class and the state and who are willing to get the “tips” that they will receive. Moreover, the number and the movement capacity of these privileged ones tend to decrease as the aggressions increase with the crisis of the capitalist class. Tips are limited and privileges are chipped. As time passes the biggest privilege becomes to find a job for a long time. The people who hope to work in a job for a long time decrease rapidly.
This paradoxical cycle is the trap of the capitalist class for the workers in all parts of the world. That was what the Scotch and the Irish have experienced in England. The Africans in America who were so to say liberated from being slaves to be waged slaves have faced a similar case. Many of the workers who go to Europe with much hope and take a similar position against the workers there, think that the Kurds have taken their jobs.
Is it hard to see that the European workers have to work with less wages and worse conditions day by day, while the immigrants do the dirtiest jobs under humiliation? There are many similarities between the European workers who have to work cheaper and become an enemy of the “black heads” as the threat of unemployment increases and the situation of Turkish workers against Kurds.
The Captivity of A Nation Necessitates the Strengthening of the Oppression Apparatus
The inevitable result of this is forcing all the working class to work under the same conditions with the Kurdish proletariat oppressed nationally. This is what is taking place at present. For this dirty cycle to turn, the people apparently against the bourgeois system should be kept under repression, no matter if they are Kurdish or not. It is clear; the aggressions against the labourers and all the people that revolt to the system are increasing without discriminating Kurdish or not.
Because the bosses want to prevent the closing of this sweet door of profit. They are trying every way that they can to use this resource of cheap labour continuously. For this reason, the repression on the Kurds should be increased. Their resistance should be broken, their organisations should be inhibited. And for this, the oppression apparatus of the state should be strengthened. Not only against the guerrillas at the mountains, against all the Kurds, who should feel a domineering state apparatus as a threat. Even this is not sufficient, to preserve the hostility between the sections of the working class which are Kurdish and those which are not, Kurds should be kept surrounded.
And also, it is necessary to humiliate the Kurds, putting them in a position in which they would feel ashamed because of their situation. Because it, the destruction of the moral values, is the only way to force the members of a nation, most of which is involved in a war with tens of thousands of martyrs, to work for the jobs with the worst conditions and the lowest payments.
However, is it possible for others not to be harmed because of the attacks targeting Kurds, who are not only the majority of the population, but also a considerable part of the revolutionary cadres ? As a result, the measures of oppression for putting pressure on the Kurds at the same time affect all parties which are against the capital. And in fact, it is not a new situation. The measures, brought for putting pressure against the uprisings of Sheikh Said in the period of the establishment of that Republic, had hit the communists, no matter they had supported the above mentioned measures.
The Turkish workers, who had no links with the uprising of Sheikh Said and the Kurds, were restricted to mark the May 1 celebrations.
The strengthening of the capitalist class and the state, which is the oppression apparatus of it as well as the growing of the dominant nation’s nationalism, which is a ideological weapon of the bourgeoisie is not a threat which only targets the oppressed nations, namely the Kurds in Turkey’s specific situation.
The strengthening of the capital, the oppression apparatus of its state and the ideological apparatus of it will at the same time threaten those who are under the imprisonment of the “paid slavery” with the force of the same capital and state and the same ideological pressure.
But, the strengthening of those enemy forces, who are at the same time a side of the struggle between the classes, is a strengthening against those who are against them in the struggle of classes.
There is a parallelism between the growing of the oppression apparatus of the state and the spreading of the hatred against the Kurds among the workers.
Because of this, those who need to stand against the pressures should first of all get rid of their hostility against the Kurds. They should better stand with them and against those who target the Kurds.
Attacks Will Not Be Decreased By Steps Backwards
Moreover, the ones who think and argue that the reason laying behind the attacks against the Kurds (or with a better expression the attacks in fact which target everybody as well as the Kurds) was the fact that the Kurds “did not stand silent” and “raised extreme and unrealistic demands” are much more than the estimations.
That argument reminds a humiliating dual-face position which can frequently be seen in courts of bourgeoisie. The ones who argue the idea that the women who were raped should have, perhaps, acted in a provocative way are also more than the estimations.
And it is not a secret that impartial thoughts starting like this will at some point result with the conclusion that the victim had done a mistake, while the rapist should be “understood”.
And also, no matter the responsibility of the attacks and pressure does not belong to the Kurds, there is another attitude which demands the Kurds to take a step back. By taking a “wise” position. That attitude had also spread among the Kurds in the last few years.
However, those who believe that the attacks will be decreased as the Kurds take steps back are really mistaken. Unfortunately, that issue did not stay at the level of a discussion of ideas.
After Ocalan had been taken hostage following steps he took with his own feet, a considerable number of the Northern Kurdistanis had believed in the tale that steps backward can decrease the attacks and the pressure and moreover can bring little gains. Those who believe in this tale are following a daydream which they, themselves had created.
The recent example of that picture was seen at the latest local elections. The DEP deputies, who had been taken to prison from the parliament nearly 15 years ago are still in prison in spite of the so-called pressure put by the Europe and the stepbacks of the Kurds. It is not true that the Kurds found more opportunity as a result of their moderate attitude. They have lost most of the gains, which they had gained by getting into the recent elections with their own identities, after getting into the elections under the umbrella of the SHP.
In addition to this, the Kurdish prisoners were not given medals because of the reason that they did not act together with the prisoners who resisted against the December 19 attacks against the political prisoners. That couldn’t save them from being taken to the F-Type and L-Type jails. The Northern Kurdistani Kurds were not rewarded for the fact that they did not get into solidarity with their brothers in Syria and Iran. They were not even successful in realising the project of courses in mother tongue and the right for educating in mother tongue.
It is obvious that the attacks are not decreasing because of the stepbacks taken by the Kurds. Just the contrary. The attacks are increasing and in fact will continue to increase. And additionally, the attacks will target all of the workers and those who are against the order.
Because the attack of the capital is not something with ideological roots and with ideological aims. The capital attacks for making profit and for increasing its profit and it demands more as much as it gains. Thus, capital takes a step forward as one takes a step back. Some circles had argued that the increase of the state pressure and terror was a reaction against the Kurdish movement. And they even accused the Kurds, who were involved in a struggle for their rights, because of this.
The ones who sheltered to this lie were the chauvinists who bothered to loose their privileges and the chauvinists who had put a socialist mask.
In the last years, it is seen that these lies turn to be false . The attacks of chauvinism and the capitalist class, has not decreased, but on the contrary, increased a lot. In order to block this attacks, firstly this falsity should be rejected.
Equal Treatment to the Unequal is Inequality
On the other hand there are people who believe that the problem will be solved if the Kurds have the equal rights with the citizens of Turkish Republic. They are mistaken for two reasons.
First, there is already equal individual rights on the paper but as long as they are a nation oppressed, the Kurds can not use the same rights that is used by the dominating nation. This is like a fight of two boxers of different weight. Or competition of an adult with a child. Because of this, it has been said that “giving equal rights and equal treatment to the unequal ones is the biggest inequality”. Lenin, who has said these words, is completely right.
Second, the ones who plan to give the equal rights to the Kurds should start with the right of sovereignty on the lands they have lived for hundreds of years, like all the nations. The equality that the Kurds need starts with this step. This already means that the Kurds cease to be nation oppressed. Moreover now, when the Southern Kurdistan Kurds are on their way to get some gains after a struggle of 80 years, an while this fact is firing the ember which is about to extinguish, this is realistic and possible than ever.
Equality is the right of sovereignty for Kurds
Because of this reason the representatives of the dominating nation are afraid more than ever that the Kurds will gain the equal political rights like every other nation. This is why Tayyip Erdogan says “I do not accept Kurdish autonomy even if it is in Argentina”. He is right according to his position. But in order to be mistaken with his demagogy, one has to be also demagogue. The Kurds have a limited demand of federation not in Australia or Argentine but on their own lands. This is what the ones who reign Kurds are afraid. Realising their nightmare is the task of all the people living under the repression of the states which oppress Kurds, firstly of the revolutionaries and the communists.
Assuming the Kurdish nation has equal rights with the other nations means the denial of existence of the four states which is established on the denial of Kurds nationally and politically. Accepting even limited rights of sovereignty of Kurds, means limiting the rights of sovereignty of the states dominating nations.
Besides, the mentioned states are the states which are results of imperialist plans having limited rights of sovereignty. Even their limited rights of sovereignty is valid if they are dominating in each part of the land of Kurdistan and if they loose it they will loose all their sovereignty. That’s why the states reigning on the lands of Kurdistan can not accept the rights of sovereignty of Kurds even if they mortgage all their wealth and sovereignty to imperialism.
This is why it is said that a nation that oppresses another cannot itself be free. And these days the rightness of these words is being clear more than ever.
In these conditions the tasks of the communists is to struggle to make the day of 1st of May become a day of solidarity with Kurds and constructing a barricade against nationalism of the nationalism of the dominating nation.
The task of the communists who defend KöZ which started to be published on 1st of May 1999 with the motto “Damn the Nationalism of the Dominating Nation” is to lead that struggle.