1 Mayıs Labour Day

Happy Labour Day! The Importance of the Organized Working Class in Türkiye

May 2, 2024

Early yesterday morning I started following the news from Istanbul. The first photos that landed on X in the early hours were a harbinger of how May 1 would go. The police had set up a barricade in front of the Bozdoğan arch. There was no passage beyond Saraçhane. Istanbul had literally turned into a deserted city.

As the hours passed, CHP and unions came to Saraçhane. After giving a speech, Özgür Özel and Ekrem İmamoğlu got in their cars and left. So why did you gather so many people there in hopes if you were going to make a simple speech full of cliché and disperse?

KESK and DISK also called for dispersal and people started booing. The enthusiasm of the opposition, which had the wind of change at its back, was dashed on this year’s May Day, too.
If the main opposition party had had the courage to react as much as the Workers’ Party of Türkiye (TİP), the police would have attempted to stop two prominent figures of a party called “local ruling” and the already damaged image of the Erdoğan regime in the eyes of the public would have been further damaged. But the main opposition did not dare.

As Erdoğan’s dictatorial regime begins to weaken, at a time when the opposition needs to further wear down this regime with various tactics, the CHP’s moderation style slows down both the momentum of the excitement in the opposition and the loss of reputation in the AKP, inevitably creating the fear of a Kılıçdaroğlu-style opposition. In the current climate of change, this is the last thing the opposition would want.
Erdoğan is now struggling to consolidate his base, while the spirit of the “Gezi Park Resistance” is still alive and kicking. As long as Erdoğan remains in power, contrary to some optimistic predictions, I believe that he will never be willing to make such flexibilities.
If there is to be peace and reconciliation with all segments of society, according to Erdoğan, all concessions and sacrifices must come from the opposition. He will not agree to any deal that would undermine his authority. If he does, he will further lose his already eroded base even more.
When we look at the past, we see that the AKP’s base is made up of resentful conservatives, nationalists and the right-wing in general; therefore, this group does not hesitate to disperse and move to other parties that they see as close to them. The emergence of parties such as the IYI Party, the Zafer Party, etc. and the fact that they gathered a certain number of supporters and even increased the votes of the MHP is a clear example of this.
The Erdoganist faction, which remains in Erdoğan’s hands, is far from tolerating an alliance with left-wing parties or parties close to the center as a faction that winks at the radical Islam created by Erdoğan.
However, at this point, people are still fearlessly resisting the oppressive regime of fear that has been created by Erdoğan himself.

If we add to this the defeat that opportunist Turkish retirees inflicted on Erdogan in the last local elections, we can say that Turkish public opinion is now united in opposition to the AKP. But we must keep in mind that Erdogan’s electorate is still not small and he is still trying to design the system and society in Türkiye. Despite this, he could not fully bring the country to the point he wanted to reach in 20 years.

Although his alliances with sects and the mafia have brought him to the brink of fall from time to time, he has managed to use the disproportionate power of the state in an unlawful manner to remove his former partners and to turn his base against the sects to which he used to make them obedient.
As a result, there is no democracy, no independent legal system, no constitution and no independently functioning institutions.

During this Erdogan era, in which we have felt nepotism to the bone, all state institutions of Türkiye, from the Central Bank to the Supreme Court of Appeals, from National Education to the Military, from the Court of Accounts to the Treasury, have been hollowed out and turned into zombie institutions through the placement of meritless cadres.
At the point we have reached, Erdoğan has neither been able to become the “Dictator President Reis Erdoğan” he dreamed of, nor has he been able to make the religious and vindictive generation dominant in the country, nor has he been able to lead the country to prosperity. The only thing he has achieved is the enrichment of his relatives and close circle.
We can list many examples from the construction industry to the defense industry. For example, through a number of operations, they neutralized those who would hinder them in state institutions operating in the defense industry. When Erdoğan undermined the Anka and Aksungur projects and handed over the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) projects to his son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar’s company, his son-in-law came to an important place in the defense industry.

By using the title of President and the bilateral relations he established with other heads of state, he increased the exports of Bayraktar drones and made the Bayraktar family one of the richest people in Türkiye. On the other hand, in order to make some former political figures like Mehmet Ağar rich, they sold useless drones and many other useless and cheap military equipment to the army, creating a huge useless inventory in the army. As a result, Türkiye today has a weak army, a weak democracy, legal and education system because of Erdoğan and his cronies; last but not least We have a collapsed economy.
European democracies no longer want to be photographed side by side with Erdoğan. Turkish foreign policy has collapsed and is being tossed from one side to the other every day like a ship with no clear destination.
While Erdogan had delusions of being the leader of the Islamic world, the Middle East and the Arab world, today he has dragged Türkiye into a conflict with all its neighbors with his illogical and absurd policies. It is a complete mystery which allies Türkiye has today, and how much those allies trust Erdogan. One day he makes pro-Western statements, another day he poses hugging with the leaders of the terrorist organization Hamas. He does not even hesitate to openly betray his homeland by falling into the blunder of equating Hamas with Türkiye’s national spirit, the Kuvayi Milliye (National Forces).

Due to all these immoral and unreasonable practices, Türkiye is no longer able to attract foreign investors, as foreign direct investments do not come to an unstable country. Therefore, just as we cannot attract investors, rich tourists and qualified labor force, we prevent the country’s young minds, qualified workers, doctors, engineers, academics, etc. from emigrating abroad at the first opportunity.
It is also obvious that some of our universities, which are among the most prestigious universities in the world, are subjected to a deliberate policy of degrading quality. Our precious professors in these universities are being forced to resign through intimidation and threats, or they are being expelled from their universities on false charges, or even imprisoned.
From another perspective, it is not difficult to understand that the Erdoğan regime actually wants this especially. Because if you make education of poor quality, you raise a generation that believes, not questions. And what Erdoğan wants the most is a religious generation that does not question, but just believes.
Going back to our subject; we understand how valuable a conscious, questioning and organized working class is. Unorganized, non-unionized, uneducated, poor and indebted society falls into the net of right-wing governments and is exploited forever. Moreover, when you increase the working hours of such a working class and keep their salaries low, workers have no time or desire to devote to social problems, democracy, education, science, art, etc.; they are only concerned with earning enough money to support their families.
When, through a systematic effort, you bring the working class to the point where they only think about feeding themselves, they are no longer able to stand up and a zombie society emerges. The people, manipulated by the print and broadcast media under the control of the repressive regime, now see the targets pointed out by the dictator as enemies or friends in line with the dictator’s interests. In the end, religious and nationalist propaganda leads to a society that believes only in what the government wants and serves the sublime deeds of the government.
The regime that came to power by abusing democracy, after reaching its peak in this way, turns to more repressive policies in order to consolidate its position and design the future in line with its own ambitions.
In fact, the working class is the segment of society with the most children and the largest number of family members, not only in Türkiye but in many countries around the world. By targeting the working class, the government has achieved a majority and declared its own empire, so to speak. Now, the majority is subservient to the government and moreover, it starts polarization in society by identifying those who are not subservient as enemies.
What the government needs to do now is to squeeze its base into an economic bottleneck with populist policies that will not starve them to death but will not make them live in prosperity. In this way, it aims to keep the people loyal to itself until the inevitable end. Because populist policies do not correspond to the realities of the world economy and order. Naturally, they are doomed to collapse in the end.
In a country that has moved away from democracy and law, the economy inevitably starts to deteriorate. In the meantime, the regime’s collaborators are aware of the situation, but their only concern is to enrich themselves until the last moment, and since there are no meritorious cadres on the job, the deterioration cannot be prevented.
The government will try to buy time by creating imaginary enemies at home and abroad, and diverting the attention of the dissatisfied for a while. This works for a while, until there is no food cooking in the homes of the working class. From that point on, the tables are turned and the luxurious life of the government starts to catch the public’s eye. Because until that day, the people thought that they too would have that luxurious life, but they didn’t. Some people were living off the government’s in-kind and in-cash aids and were living off the fat of their bellies, but when the aids were cut off and hopes were dashed, the people began to realize as a whole.
The people are now the first victims of the unlawful regime they have become partners in. Poor, uneducated, without a future and in debt. For the people who have hit rock bottom, history repeats itself and they will either abolish the dictatorial regime they created themselves or die in the process.
Fortunately, Türkiye is not at that stage yet. But the people must use their democratic rights to put an end to the Erdoğan regime before it is too late. The way to do this is for the people to demand democracy through peaceful, democratic demonstrations.
In order to avoid a repetition of this regime after Erdogan, the people must gather in the middle. The people must eliminate the rich and poor and demand and fight for an equal society for all.
We must create a society that never refrains from questioning and calling to account, that is interested in science and art, that is organized and that takes to the squares when necessary to demand its rights and to demand accountability. A conscious society is made up of conscious classes and ultimately conscious citizens.
The zombie society, the product of the education system crippled by Erdoğan, must be made conscious as soon as possible. All organs of the state and the people themselves, must never stop struggling to ensure that medieval remnants of power like Erdogan never come to power again.

Long live May Day!
Long Live Organized Society!

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