Yürüyüş No. 78, August 5, 2018
DEMOCRATIC MASS ORGANISATIONS ARE FINISHED! AND REFORMISM IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IT
We Have Said:
“THOSE WHO DO NOT RESIST ROT, THOSE WHO DO NOT FIGHT DIE!”
History Has Again Proved It:
THOSE WHO DO NOT RESIST ROT, THOSE WHO DO NOT FIGHT DIE!”
THE PEOPLE DO NOT REMAIN WITHOUT ORGANISATION!
WE ARE NOT DOOMED TO DEMOCRATIC MASS ORGANISATIONS THAT ARE FINISHED!
THE ALTERNATIVE: IN EVERY AREA, PEOPLE’S PARLIAMENTS, WORKERS’, PUBLIC WORKERS, ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS AND HIGH SCHOOLS, PARLIAMENTS!
LET US ORGANISE IN THE PARLIAMENTS! TODAY LET US FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS AND LET US FIGHT FOR PEOPLE’S POWER!
In our country the democratic mass organisations are finished.
In the conditions of our day, when the peoples of the world and our people have a great need for economic and democratic, professional, cultural, military, political and every kind of organisation, there is no democratic mass organisation (DMO) in their areas that can meet this need.
It can be considered: How could it be that the DMOs can be said to be finished! Look, workers’ confederations, civil servants’ confederations, every kind of profession has chambers. All of them have large central offices.
And all of them have dozens of trade unions, chambers and branches connected to them. These unions and chambers have hundreds of branches in nearly every city in Turkey. Is this not a large organisation?
All that is correct but does not change the political reality –
The democratic mass organisations in our country are finished.
The existence of dozens of confederations, chambers and branches do not contradict our political assessment. On the contrary while making this political assessment we arrive at this conclusion while examining these figures.
The DMOs Were Not Finished In One Go!
The law of dialectics – changes in quality are not sudden, various results do not arise suddenly, qualitative change is the result of quantitative accumulation. From KESK to DİSK, from the TTB to TMMOB, from individual unions to various confessional institutions, rightism and reformism have come to predominate and the statement that “the DMOs are finished” has reached the point that we can recognise it and it comes into being step by step.
The class struggle often brings about a “parting of the ways” for every organisation, every institution that takes a side in this struggle. The DMOs in our country, following on from the DMOs after the September 12 (1980) fascist junta, which were re-organised and going up to today, have at every parting of the ways preferred to be more reactionary and more right-wing. Every time they have deviated a little more from the struggle for rights and freedoms.
AKP fascism has fired over 100,000 public workers, nearly 5,000 of them KESK members and KESK, the public sector workers’ confederation and the unions of these workers that are part of it have put up no resistance that can be taken seriously.
AKP fascism has abolished the political status of these chambers, carrying out attacks that take away all the results that have been won. And there has been no resistance from chambers with hundreds of thousands of members. Chambers, especially TMMOB and TTB (engineers’ architects and doctors’ professional bodies), are going through the most silent, passive, cowardly, time without initiative or identity ever in their history.
DİSK was the same, the chairs of the confederation made it into parliament and afterwards did nothing, much less be expected to solve the problems of the working class, never mind organising resistance, they were afraid to even be on the side of resistance.
Today public workers are carrying out actions against their own trade unions.
Engineers carry out actions against their own chambers. The TMMOB has 550,000 members, yet ignores its own engineers in jail. The Bar Association had done nothing for 19 lawyers in jail.
What use are these impressive head offices and paper membership in the hundreds of thousands?
Policies Of Surrender And Conciliatory Behaviour
In the face of the oligarchy’s policies of massacres and disappearances at the start of the 1990s, the great majority of DMOs saw this as a “deal” between the state and the revolutionaries, and they could not develop correct policies in relation to fascism.
The 1990s were years in which on a world scale imperialism and the oligarchy practised privatisation and de-unionisation. During these years workers’ and public workers’ unions had no policies against privatisation and de-unionisation. They could have set up a barricade to de-unionisation with class trade unionism and mass work. The trade unions are far from this, on the contrary they see privatisation as legitimate. Privatisation has undermined the trade unions.
In the 1990s imperialism and the oligarchy pursued ideological attacks with full force, particularly targeting the working class and working class ideology. The trade unions had no politics to counter this.
In the 2000s imperialism and the oligarchy brought on the agenda an attack on the class struggle, revolution and socialism that sought to destroy them through “either change your beliefs or die”. There were NO DMOs that opposed this attack. Their policy of becoming NOTHING crystallised in this period. They saw resistance to massacres, the F-Type prisons and prison cells as “external to themselves”. Instead of joining the resistance they opposed revolutionary politics and moved towards the politics of the oligarchy.
There are a lot of events of the 1990s and 2000s that are milestones in their journey towards being finished off.
- For example, when DİSK reorganised after September 12, instead of its own “class trade unionism”, it adopted the European imperialism theory of “modern trade unionism” and this is one of the milestones.
- For example, a short time after KESK was founded, at the time of the Gazi uprising (March 1995), a decision previously adopted for public workers to go on strike was cancelled and an appeal for “common sense” issued: this pro-system behaviour was an important turning point.
- For example, KESK invited the MHP, which has spilled the blood of the peoples of Turkey, to its general meeting, and DİSK sent an invitation to (former Prime Minister) Demirel on the 50th anniversary of its foundation, even though he was directly responsible for spilling the blood of DİSK workers. The İHD (Human Rights Association) invited then US Ambassador Abramowitz to its congress. All the DMOs, in terms of “for or against”, opted for reactionary and right-wing preferences. And the road to being finished off is paved with stones such as these.
The Turning Point In Their End Is The Great Resistance
Without understanding the process of the Great Resistance, without knowing who did what, it is not possible to understand today how they have been finished off.
There were dozens of policies and behaviours during the Great Resistance that hastened the DMOs towards their end. We cannot mention here any point where this happened all of a sudden. However, we can say that while the Great Resistance lasted seven years, all the policies these DMO defended and practised were directed at attacking revolution and defending the system. They were too blind to see that imperialism and the oligarchy wanted to isolate and destroy not just the revolutionaries but all progressive and democratic forces. This is why their policies had no progressive, democratic or resistance line. At every critical point they acted to strengthen the system.
At the start of the Great Resistance, they spoke out in harmony with the oligarchy by saying “Give it up”. They had not the slightest real understanding of the dormitory vs. cells debate, and said, “We are against the dormitories”, giving ammunition to the oligarchy’s propaganda armoury… The revolutionaries had to accept “European standards”… On the subject of the F-Type prisons, there were no criticisms of European imperialism, the architects of isolation and the F-Types… On the eve of fascism’s December 19 (2000) attack, the ÖDP (Freedom and Solidarity Party) sent out a circular headed URGENT URGENT URGENT to its branches banning its members from participation in support hunger strikes, opening its offices to prisoners’ families or going out into the streets…
One party (the TKP), “Communist” by name, after thousands of people were attacked by police and fascists with gas canisters in the streets of Ankara, mothers and fathers aged 50 or 60 sought refuge in its party building and were turned away, behaviour which caused the people to jeer the TKP… Istanbul İHD chair Kiraz Biçiçi said it was “normal” to inform on revolutionaries… 122 martyrs were given in the Great Resistance, workers, civil servants, shantytown inhabitants, villagers, students… While the DMOs did not participate in carrying even one single coffin at a funeral ceremony…
This is just some of the policies of parties and DMOs directed by reformism during the period of the Great Resistance.
Though these attacks were not confined to the revolutionary movement, not one self-criticism was made. They continued to see isolation, resistance and the F-Types as a problem of the Front. Even in terms of democratic struggle, they showed no responsibility towards being on the side of the resistance to the tyranny.
There were 122 martyrs: they did not say “What are we doing?” or “Why are we not doing it?” they did not discuss it, did not have others discuss it.
We reminded them at every stage in the period of the Great Resistance – this policy is finishing you off, those who do not resist rot.
During the Great Resistance this rotting gathered pace, continued later and we can say it has “culminated” today.
Democratic Mass Organisations Have Bogged Down In Reformism And Are Suffocated By It!
The organisations we have called Democratic Mass Organisations were established to struggle for the economic-democratic rights of every section of the people.
The struggle of the oppressed people proceeds on three fronts:
- The economic-democratic struggle
- The ideological struggle
- The political struggle
The political struggle is the struggle for power. The first two, the economic-democratic and the ideological struggle, are subject to the political struggle.
An economic-democratic struggle cut off from the political struggle can also not ensure that the rights of the workers can be won.
The economic-democratic struggle, from the point of view of the struggle on the road of independence, democracy and socialism for the people, is an arena of struggle that is of fundamental importance.
But with the existing DMOs, there is no interest remaining in the struggle for independence, democracy and socialism, as they are imprisoned within the limits set by the system. In this situation, workers’ and public workers’ unions are imprisoned within economistic demands and chambers are only pursuing basic rights, and after a while they will be unable to pursue even those – the system always seeks to imprison us within its limits.
Here, the problem is that the DMOs in our country voluntarily entered the walls of this prison and have accepted remaining inside them.
Today there is not a single DMO that is up to its duties and mission. Never mind being up to it, there is not a single one that is makes an effort and even seeks to do so. And this is essentially what being “finished” means. There may be objective or subjective reasons why a DMO cannot perform its duties in particular periods. What is decisive here is whether or not it makes an effort. That is, it is a question of whether or not it has surrendered to the prevailing conditions.
It has been shown on numerous occasions that those who do not surrender are not defeated. Those who are defeated are those who surrender. Saying that the DMOs are finished is for us proved by the DMOs surrendering.
OK, what is the reason for this?
The basic reason is the difference between revolution and reformism.
Reformism Is Politically Responsible For Putting An End To Them
The ÖDP, EMEP and BDP have been preparing their end, both politically and organisationally.
In the trade unions and chambers where these parties are established in their leaderships, they have charted a rightist and conciliatory line and at every level have opposed revolutionaries and pursued liquidation.
For years, ÖDP, EMEP and BDP reformism have had a place in KESK and in the unions that are affiliated to it, as well as in the leaderships of the TTB and TMMOB. The conciliatory and pro-surrender policies of these parties were transmitted to these trade unions and chambers. Instead of developing the resistance of the workers, they continually pulled them back.
Such that legal reformist parties did not try to get the DMOs to take a resistance line against the enemy but instead used them in an attempt to impose their own politics on revolutionaries. On May Day, in protests against imperialist war, and on March 8, in resistance and in problems among the left, this “quadruple” bloc was used by reformists against revolutionaries.
Since the end of the 1980s, reformism has had an attitude opposing armed struggle, illegality and revolutionary values and has defended legalism, parliamentarism and disorganisation. In this process, from the viewpoint of DMOs, conciliation, surrender and liquidationism have developed.
There are two basic elements defining what a DMO is.
One is the “mass” character of an organisation.
The other is its “democracy”.
Which of these two characteristics is decisive in determining the concept?
The answer to this question shows what we need to expect from DMOs.
The democratic aspect is decisive.
If the democratic aspect is absent, even when there are hundreds of thousands of members, that is not enough to make it a DMO.
Under reformist direction, both aspects of DMOs are being liquidated. If from time to time they attract masses due to the conditions of the period, they cannot defend their positions against the attacks of the oligarchy.
The End Of The DMOs Is Both Physical And Political
The number of members of Public Workers’ Confederations for 2017 are as follows:
- MEMUR-SEN (Civil servants’ trade union confederation) 997,089
- TÜRKİYE KAMU-SEN (Public sector workers union confederation of Turkey) 395,250
- KESK (Public workers’ trade union confederation) 167,403
The first two have grown fat on the support of the AKP. They are directly oriented towards the government. One of the factors responsible for KESK’s membership decline is government repression and its impact on its leaders. However this is a problem based on KESK’s attitude to and the politics it developed towards a policy of isolation and destruction.
In 2004, KESK had 297,114 members.
From 297,000 to 167,000!
KESK has undergone very serious erosion since 2004.
In 2005 it had 264,000, in 2006 234,000 members.
The erosion continued. Let us look at the figures for KESK membership since 2012:
2012 – 240,304
2013 – 237,180
2014 – 239,700
2015 – 236,203
2016 – 221,069
2017 – 167,403
2018 – 146,287
These figures come from the Resmi Gazete of July 5, 2017. Certainly this cannot simply be explained by government repression and bans.
The situation of TMMOB and TTB is no different.
A 550,000 member union of chambers is non-existent, from the point of view of social opposition.
Let us look at the workers’ sphere.
According to figures in 2015, of 12,180,945 workers who were registered, 1,297,464 were trade union members. That is, the oligarchy’s privatisation, drive to turn unions into collaborators and use of repression and terror has been to practise a broad campaign of de-unionisation and to a large extent it has got what it wanted. Only one in 10 registered workers belongs to a union.
And which trade unions do this one in ten belong to?
In 2017 9.5% of these workers were members of DİSK.
Think about it, only one worker in ten is organised. And of that 90% are in reactionary fascist unions, while 10% are in DİSK.
OK, what is DİSK doing?
In decades of its history there has not been a single act of resistance from DİSK.
Not one strike.
Not one workplace, not one worker organised.
The reason for this picture is domination by reformism’s conception of “leftism” for DMOs.
This conception of the left is one of protest. Just opposition.
This conception of the left also reduces opposition to “speeches in the parliamentary group” and “issuing press statements” in the vestibule.
This conception has no room for the streets and squares.
There is no RESISTING TO OBTAIN YOUR RIGHTS. It SEEKS PERMISSION FROM the oligarchy.
There is NO RESISTANCE TO ATTACKS. It is CONCERNED ABOUT AVOIDING ESCALATION.
There is NO MILITANCY. There is CONCILATION.
A conception that bit by bit has eroded the DMOs.
This Conception Does Not Represent The Left And Is Not An Alternative
Certainly we cannot just look at this problem just from the point of view of figures. A trade union with very few members could still be a revolutionary development if it has a revolutionary, militant line. It could give leadership to the masses. But KESK, DİSK, TMMOB and TTB are far from having such a line and have no interest in one. On the contrary, they have written into their history how to make hundreds of thousands of members ineffective.
Reformism has brought the DMOs to the state of “representative participation”. They do not make even the slightest effort to achieve mass participation, they see it as sufficient for there to be representative participation by the boards of managers. Now just chairs are involved. And tomorrow?
This conception has no future.
This conception attempts to assign the left a representative role. At every meeting on various agendas and in statements they will list “ÖDP, EMEP, SİP, HADEP, DBP…” saying they are legal parties, and then add DİSK, KESK, TTB, TMMOB to the list to complete it. As though there were nobody but them and everyone should be subject to them. While those that are listed have for decades created nothing of value in the name of the left, revolutionism, or for the struggle.
The Presidential Office July 15 Decrees Were “The Final Blow” To DMOs: Now They Will Resist Or Disappear!
The Presidential Office issued a new decree making DMOs into “state bodies”.
Presidential Office Decree No.5 gave powers of supervision over professional bodies and trade unions to the State Control Council (DDK). According to this, the DDK will be able to
- Carry out every kind of administrative investigation, questioning and control of unions and DMOs
- And it can relieve DMO directors of their duties.
This in reality abolishes trade unions, chambers and DMOs. Henceforth there will only be unions and chambers submissive to the state.
With such a law, no democratic institution can do anything “oppositional” while it is under state control. With such a law no democratic institution can have any security at all within the limits of the state.
There are two basic results of the Presidential Office No.5 Decree:
- This law is a matter of life and death for DMOs. If this law is in effect, there are no DMOs. So DMOs will either resist this decree and render it ineffective or they will accept it and cease to exist. But chambers and unions are still far from resisting the decree and such an attack, and stick to issuing general statements. So it is clear they will not resist or physically give in to AKP fascism on everything and politically cease to exist.
- The democratic struggle cannot be pursued within the limits of the law. This is clear from now on. The economic-democratic struggle of the masses and organisation can be conducted according to its own rightfulness and legitimacy and not according to system laws.
The People Are Not Without Organisation – The Alternative Is Parliaments
The peoples in every period have created very varied forms of organisation. Revolutionary or national leaderships, depending on conditions and needs, present new forms of organisation to confront those who seek to deprive the peoples of organisation.
Today this alternative is basic organisation of the people at every level. That is, parliaments (Turkish: meclisler, could also be translated as assemblies). In poor city neighbourhoods People’s Parliaments, Workers’ Parliaments in working class areas, Public Workers’ Parliaments for public workers, Youth Parliaments for youth and Village Parliaments in rural areas must be organised by us.
Committees, Parliaments and this organisation in the form of the Front will at the same time be organisation in the direction of People’s Power.
Lenin said this after the revolution: “If the creative popular genius of the revolutionary classes had not created Soviets, the proletarian revolution could not have been achieved in Russia.”
The Soviets mean Shuras and are our Parliaments. Are an important and basic organisation that a revolution and a country will recognise.
When we refer to these Parliaments, we do not simply mean them as an alternative to trade unions and associations; it is not a temporary organisation, we refer to an organisation THAT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY FOR REVOLUTION.
1 – We must organise Parliaments in every area. Today it is PARLIAMENTS that will answer the organisational needs of the people, not associations, trade unions and chambers.
2 – Parliaments are organisations for the people to reach decisions themselves. In the Parliaments we must set this in motion under every condition. Decisions and actions must not be merely representative, they must be achieved by the people with their own participation.
3 – Parliaments are organs for the people to learn to administer themselves. Three or five “chairs” directing mass actions will not get a result, a reality proved by the end of the DMOs.
4 – The line of struggle of Parliaments and the basis of their legitimacy is a militant line.
5 – If bureaucratised DMOs have been destroyed, Parliaments will repair them. Various sections of the people will have the enthusiasm and beauty of the struggle revived anew.
6 – The Parliaments will organise resistance of the people to AKP fascism.