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Six initial thoughts on the military coup in Turkey from a revolutionary communist

18 Jul 2016

1. A military coup is bad because it’s undemocratic as fuck and an attempt to consolidate all power into an unelected body whose interests are aligned with the ruling class. The military, as elites in the state apparatus, would seize the state from the presently governing body who (for all intents and purposes) is democratically elected (we will come back the question of democracy later.) As a revolutionary communist: military coups are always bad.

2. The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is the leader of The Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi: AKP). The AKP are a vicious right-wing party who have been attempting to establish a theocratic state, drawing much of their ideology from Islamism (the AKP initially self-defined as Islamists) but have since declared they are in favour of “conservative democracy” over theocracy, although this is contested by many of their marginalised citizens. Erdogan has come under fire for using religion and other repressive structures to further suppress women and minorities, sex workers, LGBTQ people and continue to terrorise Kurds and other ethnic minorities. While AKP have a lot of support from nationalists in Turkey, they fail to represent the working class. Basically they’re bad bad bad.

3. There are some reports to suggest that the soldiers who have initiated the coup are conscripted, which is interesting but we’re unsure how accurate this information is. Further reports suggest that the soldiers leading the coup are doing so in order to challenge Erdogan’s repressive regime: again we are not sure how accurate this is. In a statement about the events of the last two days, Kurdish comrades at Kurdish Question have declared this an internal power struggle within the Turkish military, which already has influence over parliamentary democracy and civil society. The AKP have been accused of driving the army into Kurdish populated towns to brutalise and slaughter Kurdish civilians. So, in many respects, one could argue the military already seized power over the state and Erdogan and his party have benefited from this throughout their reign.

4. Erdogan and AKP do indeed have a lot of support from the Turkish people: in the 2015 general election the AKP won 317 seats and 49.5 percent of the vote. The AKP are a pro-nationalist party whose success has proven an increasingly polarised population, divided on ethnic and sectarian lines. Despite common accusations that Erdogan is authoritarian and despotic, much of the left in the UK have come out on the side of the AKP because of a misguided political inclination to “pick a side”. If military coups are always bad, then surely supporting the democratically elected AKP (despite their shameful record) is the lesser of two evils? But Kurdish comrades have pointed out that a coup between two competing and equally corrupt forces demonstrates the very lack of democracy and equating defending the AKP with defending democracy is misguided and dangerous.

5. Now that Erdogan has been able to suppress the coup he will most likely take this opportunity to clamp down harder on any resistance especially coming from the left. He will take this opportunity to take the final remnants of democracy from people’s hands and Kurds, women, queers, communists and anarchists will be the first targeted. Also what this has shown, in the context of recent global events (such as Brexit, the US elections, etc) is that liberalism is a failed project. The country will continue to become more polarised as is the case in other parts of the world.

6. If the revolutionary Left in Turkey were strong enough they could take this opportunity to overthrow the government and seize power from the military, in order to establish a worker’s state that is anti-racist and anti-sexist. Parliamentary tactics have been proven to be defunct and undemocratic, and (in my humble opinion) It would be naive to think Erdogan would be voted out of power. Neither he, nor the military would think twice about destroying their opposition through violent means.

The only option left is for the workers, Kurds, women, and queers to take up arms and liberate back the state. I hope the justice against Erdogan, the AKP, the military and the state is as swift and ruthless as they would have done unto their opponents. Let their fury be unmerciful, let their resistance be strong.

Solidarity with comrades and the oppressed in Turkey!