Many years ago, I understood how to make use of a parliamentary speech desk in an influential way when I read Çetin Altan’s speeches during his parliamentary membership starting from the 1960s.
Çetin Altan was elected as an independent lawmaker from the lists of the then Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP). He was neither a Marxist nor a socialist, but was very influential.
Having been paralyzed in the hands of capital, reactionary forces and right-wing for long years, Turkish society faced such values as justice, equality, development and independence and sought for a new quest for the first time in the 1960s.
Çetin Altan was delivering very good speeches at the parliament while he was already shaking readers with his articles.
In the 1960s, some of the lawmakers from the TİP were really influential. With their stance, speeches and resistance…
From the perspective of the given social order, this period meant a ‘test’ as it had to face a new contemporary working class movement and a dynamic youth movement.
They beat and attempted to lynch the lawmakers, finally they dispersed and purged left-wing organizations by means of a military coup. They also rearranged the electoral system in a way that left-wing could not be represented widely again.
Thus a period came to an end, a period when a social awakening had been able to get into the parliament with its own resources.
Following the 1980 military coup and Özal’s rule [a reactionary, neoliberal political figure in 80s] that legitimized making profit without an effort, it was impossible for the left, which had lost its faith in class struggles and revolution, not to believe that everything would be solved with taking seats at the parliament.
The problem, however, was not being unable to represent the Left at the parliament. The problem was that the Left did not have a social influence and organizational strength that would also ensure parliamentary representation.
A large part of the Turkish Left has completely abandoned Marxist references and focused on daily politics. Hence, an intra-Marxist debate would be futile. One needs to respond to the parliament-based ‘Left projects’ from the realm of reelpolitik again, which is what we are doing at the moment.
There is no use in ‘First let’s create a flashy atmosphere, then we can get organized’. If you opt for a tactic like ‘winning speech desks no matter what’, it would be impossible for you to do some new things apart from what you already did.
The Left in Turkey, let me put it precisely, the communists, have no option other than holding a certain social field in politics by means of an organized and principled struggle.
The social outcome of winning some positions under the auspices of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) or the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) would be a dependence on the social and political resources shaped by these two parties.
As a product of a unique alliance, the experience of Dersim is demonstrative because it succeeded without any dependency on the abovementioned actors. [Okuyan refers to Turkey’s local elections of 2018. The TKP won a provincial municipality in the eastern city of Dersim with the alliance of communists and some other left-wing forces. Dersim has been the first city governed by communists in the history of Turkey.]
The communists have the required resources and experience in order to increase the number of such examples, to defeat the pro-capitalist politics in all fields, to gain representation at the parliament, and to combine these achievements with a revolutionary strategy.