Issue 6 – Material and Intellectual Sources of Socialism in Turkey

Editor: Gokhan Atılgan

The Genesis of Socialist Thought in Turkey: The Predominance of Conjuncture
Metin Çulhaoğlu

While highlighting some primary factors influencing the genesis of socialist thought in Turkey in its early years, Çulhaoğlu argues that the theoretical background of this thinking was not ripe enough to address any given political-economic conjuncture starting from sound premises but, on the contrary, so immature to be over-determined or “swallowed” by the conjuncture itself. Citing several examples mostly from the period 1920-1930 to support his argument, Çulhaoğlu concludes that the socialist thought in Turkey has always been predominated by rather pragmatist tendencies, and that this imprint of pragmatism dating back to origins leaves only a limited space for theoretical or holistic conjuncture analyses.

Keywords: Socialist Thought in Turkey, Pragmatism, Conjuncture.

Taking Che’s Call Seriously
Ertuğrul Kürkçü

Castro’s Cuba provided the model for future “socialist society for Turkey’s revolutionaries in the 1960s and 1970s, while Che’s “guerilla” was accepted as as the model for “revolutionary struggle- a “model” much more “reasonable and realistic” vis-â-vis Allende’s “peaceful transition” pattern or the ‘non-capitalist development” strategv then proposed by the former Soviet Union”. The revolutionary movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Turkey, the followers of Che’s “guerilla” strategy that has been promoted by the Cuban Communist Party up until 1973, have been regarded as “left deviation” by their critiques while same analysts have exempted the Cuban Communist Party from such criticisms – a double Standard in judging similar phenomena. Further the perspectives proposed by the critiques, for future development of the Marxist movement in Turkey altered between a parliamentarian path and a “progressive military take over”, thus making the Cuban perspectives the only acceptable path for young revolutionaries who considered creating a Marxist movement categorically detached from the bourgeois world, as the primary task in a revolution. In that context Che’s call then appeared for the revolutionaries as the only political perspective to be taken seriously.

Keywords: Ernesto Che Guevera, Socialist Struggle,“Guerilla” Strategy, Turkish Revolutionaries.

Observations on Maoism in Turkey
Aydın Çubukçu

This article provides some characteristic features of penetration and development of “Maoist” thought and practices in Turkey. Maoism both as a practice of a “peasant revolution” and a “break from the mainstream communism” indicated by the concept of “militant people’s fight”, has found a fertile ground to flourish among Turkish youth. The convergence between the form of expression, Mao developed with an inspiration from traditional Chinese literature, and the fundamental arguments of “National Democratic Revolution” that was becoming influential in the Turkey’s political literature in those years, paved the way for Maoist though. This created a long-lasting influence on the Turkey’s Socialist Movement. At present, Maoism, although it has faced with severe criticisms, continued to live with its implicit and explicit effects.

Keywords: Turkey, Maoism, “National Democratic Revolution”, “Peasant Revolution”.

Working Class and Trade Unionism in Turkey-II
Yüksel Akkaya

In the post-1960 period, the proleterianisation process has gained impetus in both qualitative and quantitative terms; the material conditions required for the working class to be a “class for itself” have been formed. In that period the import substitution industrialization created new opportunities for Capital to provide consensus with the working class. This has been a decisive factor in whether the working class would be satisfied by simply organizing itself or it would deal with those policies concerning the political power. The direction of this preference would depend on its ties with the socialist movement and on the material conditions of the socialist movement
itself. Although the working class in Turkey attained important progress in being a class for itself between 1960-1980, it could not reach the necessary level for that. Rather, its orientation was tried to be directed towards the social democratic parties through legal regulations or the initiatives of some of the trade unions’ administrations. The socialist trade unionists and workers were threatened to be dismissed. In spite of all these problems, by 1980 the working class consciousness had already made a considerable progress. This progress posed a threat to capitalists and has been a factor inducing a coup d’etat to pave the ground for the implementation of the new economic policies and Capital accumulation strategy. This coup d’etat has been so successful that the working class could not reach the level of consciousness of the pre-1980 period. Therefore it is vital that the working class which shifted towards the right-wing parties in this period, has to regain this consciousness and be active in formulating policies concerning political power. This requires a high degree of responsibility on the part of the organizations of the working class and its political representatives.

Keywords: Working Class, Worker Unionism, Turkey, post-1960 Period, Coup D’etat.

Finance Capital in Kıvılcımlı: An Original Class Analysis on Turkey and its Political Consequences

Akif Ulaş Bilgiç

In the last decades, the concept of finance Capital is on the agenda. Therefore the present study aims to examine the accent of Kıvıcımlı on the concept of finance Capital. Kıvılcımlı is one of the most interesting figures in Turkish Left, and this paper is mostly concerned with the reflections of this concept on his political strategies. Between 1960 and 1970, the most important agenda of Turkish Left was the question of revolutionary strategy which is closely related to the class structure of Turkey. In his writings Kı­vılcımlı claims that, from the beginning of 1930’s the ruling class in Turkey has been the finance Capital. In the first part of the study, Kıvılcımlı’s understanding of finance Capital is summarised. This is basically built upon the analysis of Lenin’s study, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. After the overall summary, Kıvılcımlı’s way of thinking on Turkey’s class structure and his tendencies on the question of revolution in Turkey is tried to be shown. The last section deals with the similarities and differences between Kıvılcımlı and the major waves of Turkish Left, such as National Democratic Revolution.

Keywords: Finace Capital, Hikmet Kıvılcımlı, Turkish Left, Imperialism, National Democratic Revolution.

Getting Lost, in Searching for a Direction
Gökhan Atılgan

This study dealing with one of the most effective intelligence groups in the Turkish political life, Yön-Devrim Hareketi (Direction-Revolution Movement), focuses on two basic points. Firstly, it is depicted how the Movement appeared, which conditions made the Movement effective and what
sort of thesis they had. Secondly, it is stated that this trend having significant effects on the Turkish socialist movement once upon a time, constitutes a source to the national-leftist currents neglecting the class struggle and Marxism. In this study, it is pointed out that Yön-Devrim Hareketi represents a tendency within the opposition block appeared during the DP (The
Democrat Party) period during which Turkey has become a part and parcel of imperialist system on the American axis. It is also declared that Yön Devrim Movement following the May 27 tried to establish a theory specific to Turkey by relating socialism and Kemalism to “non-capitalist development” model theorised by the USSR for under-developed countries. Yön-Devrim Movement’s getting lost in searching for a new direction for Turkey reveals that an intended positive relation between Kemalism and Marxism even if it becomes effective in suitable conditions, in the final analysis, is proved to be impossible.

Keywords: Yön-Devrim Hareketi (Direction-Revolution Movement), Socialism, Kemalism, Marxism, Non-Capitalist Development Model.

Nationalism in Turkish Left: Three Sources, Three Tum Overs
Ecehan Balta

Nationalism is one of the most influential parts of dominant ideology on socialist left in Turkey. It has been very hard for the left to constitute its own independent and internationalist perspective in where determining ideological discussions are secular-anti secular, imperialism-independence etc at societal and political levels. The reasons of how nationalism could leak this much into the socialist movement is very complex and hard to be settled. The aim of this article is not to discuss the reasons, but to show the political continuity and profoundness of nationalism in Turkish socialist left. To reach this aim, three sources and three turn overs have been defined: the first source is the way of ‘solution’ of national question in exUSSR which derives also from the uncertainties of Marxist theory on national question. The second source is Sultan Galiyevism that influenced the Turkish intelleetuals of the same period. Third and latest one is circle of Türk Yurdu whose ideas could have been directly related with Sultan Galiyev and others. The turn overs defined in this article are Turkish Communist Party of Mustafa Suphi, Kadro Movement of 1930s and Yön Devrim Movement of 1960s. The belief behind this article is that if Turkish left could define and develop a critical approach on the channels that nationalism have been leaked into its history, it has a bigger chance to abolish nationalism from both theoretical and political agenda and develop an internationalist consciousness and practice.

Keywords: Nationalism, Turkish Left, Sultan Galiyevism, Kadro Movement, Yön Devrim Movement.