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“We have always favoured the construction of unitary initiatives”

Yeniyol joins the Workers’ Party of Turkey

Saturday 19 March 2022, by Uraz Aydin

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We reproduce below the interview conducted by the TIP news site, İleri (“Forward”) with our comrade Uraz Aydın, elected as a member of the TIP leadership body at the national conference of 29-30 January 2022. See “Yeniyol joins the Workers’ Party of Turkey”.

Coming from another political tradition you have decided to continue your fight in the TIP. What was your process of joining like, how were you received?

We had already campaigned with TIP comrades on various occasions. Already in the United Socialist Party (BSP) of 1994, then in the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP); then in the Unified Movement of June formed following the Gezi revolt, then in the platform of support for the HDP “The Palace will collapse, The People will win" around the November 2015 elections and in the United Labour Coordination with the aim of forming workers’ assemblies in the factories in 2017. For more than a year we have also been engaged together with some other revolutionary currents in the “Solidarity of urban workers” in order to organize the most precarious areas of the tertiary sector.

We have always favoured the construction of unitary initiatives and tried to make them permanent with the prospect of leading to the formation of political entities. We are obliged to look for ways to fight together, without of course forgetting what separates us at the level of strategic divergences in the history of the international workers’ movement, but without making these unsurpassable borders. We do not defend this out of a fetishism of unity but because we believe that the radical left needs a pluralist recomposition in order to contribute to the construction of a mass revolutionary party that would take root among the working masses and become a decisive actor in the class struggle. This is what we have tried to do in the BSP, in the ÖDP and today in the TIP. So, it is not because we abandon any part of our heritage and our goals, but it is precisely because the TIP corresponds to our perspective of organizational construction that we join it.

However, I would like to make it clear that this is not a party-building strategy we defend only for Turkey – which probably has one of the most divided revolutionary movements in the world – but an international strategy. The Fourth International, of which we are a part, has set itself the objective of contributing to a unitary, democratic and pluralistic recomposition of the revolutionary left, in virtually all the countries where it has found the means to do so. Moreover, as an International we also believe that we are only one of the elements of a broad, pluralistic International where different revolutionary currents would participate on anti-capitalist, feminist and ecological bases. We have thus learned from different experiences of groupings and unitary constructions, with remarkably diverse organizational forms, some have worked and managed to become political forces – in relative terms of course - others not. It is in such a perspective that we have embarked on unitary experiences that are still present in countries such as Portugal, Brazil, Denmark, Russia, Pakistan, France and soon in Greece where a unitary anti-capitalist movement is about to be founded.

Returning to our integration into the TIP, the fact that it is open to the participation of activists from other currents has been important, but it is of course agreement on political tasks - even if we have different historical references - that has been decisive. In this regard, it was important for the TIP to arouse the interest of the workers by placing the class struggle at the centre of its struggle, and for it to be in solidarity with the struggle of the Kurdish people, as any left party should do – but which some do not.

Shortly after joining the TIP, the Preparatory Conference for the “Intervention Congress” was held. The congress process will end on 13 February. The conference delegation launched an appeal to the public: “Come, let’s take charge of the destiny of our country”. What did you think was the significance of this conference?

I think our comrades who have been involved in party building from the very beginning would appreciate it better, but as someone who has followed the evolution of the party with interest, I saw it as a conference where the TIP reorganized its organizational structure and political strategy in terms of a political turning point that will be highly likely to be tumultuous. To refer to its name, it could perhaps be referred to as a conference in which a party which has tended to be a focus of attraction for the workers and the oppressed, manifested its willingness to intervene in history according to the needs, demands and aspirations of those at the bottom. However, apart from the question of the intervention, my impression of the conference was that it was also part of a construction process. The Workers’ Party of Turkey has managed to impose itself in a brief time, showing that it was a candidate to be an active actor in the class struggle and has taken substantial steps in this direction. However, I absolutely agree with what the spokesperson and deputy for the party Erkan Baş said, “we are growing, it is important to grow, of course, but the main thing is to get organized”. Therefore, in my opinion, this conference stressed the importance of conducting both a political intervention and organizational construction, never considering construction as complete, and making it permanent in the interventions required by the conjuncture and, of course, in mass struggles.

How do you think the conference went?

Personally, I found it extremely exciting. First of all, the fact that it took place in days when a series of workers’ resistance activities and strikes arose one after the other created an enthusiastic atmosphere at the conference. For me, especially the youth of the delegation was really surprising. Although the TIP stands out for its interventions in the workers’ struggle, the speeches of young feminists, LGBTI+, disability rights defenders and vegan activists at the podium and their willingness to include the demands of their struggle in the party’s agenda was impressive. It was also worth seeing the enthusiasm in the room when a comrade from the Kurdish region, an employee of an electricity distribution company, addressed his greetings to the political prisoners and to Selahattin Demirtaş (former HDP spokesperson imprisoned for over five years) at the end of his speech.

I probably last attended a big congress about 15 years ago, that of the ÖDP, a party that could be considered significant (according to our own measures). It was the congress of a party that tended to lose or even amputate its pluralism, a party that preferred to consolidate itself within the limits of a single political affiliation. It is a party that we worked hard for over many years, that we have not hesitated to criticize while continuing to build it, and it was a really painful experience. Now, years later, I have just attended a conference where a completely different language, even several languages were present; some struggles, which were still very weak at the time, expressed themselves with confidence in terms of the strength they acquired, and where criticism and self-criticism were not lacking. It was also important for me to meet a number of people I know from my generation, from the student movement of the 90s, or from different struggles and political circles, here in the ranks of the Workers’ Party of Turkey.

What do the resolutions passed at the conference mean to you?

There are a few points that stand out or that I think need to be highlighted. First of all, there is a sense of “self-confidence in construction” in resolutions, which is a good thing. Especially in the passage stating: “The doors of our party are open to all our fellow citizens who want to add their voice to ours and fight the regime of the Palace and the capitalist order that created it, whatever their political tradition, or the parties for which they voted. We will learn with you, we will grow with you, we will walk to power with you. Your place is ready within the Workers’ Party of Turkey. We invite you to take your seat.”

Of course, there is a will to overthrow this regime and beyond, to settle these accounts with the capitalist order, but it seems that there is a strengthened will because it has aroused much more interest than was hoped for when the party was created. Faced with the support it enjoys, coming not only from already revolutionary individuals and from different currents of the socialist movement, but also from people from other sides of the political spectrum, workers, women and youth, it tends to open its ranks even more to participation. At least that’s how I read it. This, of course, creates fertile ground for the deepening of a pluralistic political culture.

The leaders of the TIP have been saying for a while that they are in favour of a third alliance against that of the two bourgeois camps, that of Erdogan and that of the opposition. There is talk of a popular alliance that would be formed with the HDP and, if possible, with other parties of the radical left in view of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2023. This invitation is renewed here, and more broadly, it is addressed to all social movements. I think that our parliamentary deputy comrades, of course, with the efforts of all the militants who carry the burden of the party, have established a good relationship between parliament and the street. And I am of the opinion that the desire to bring the actors of the various social struggles to the assembly – through its own lists of candidates – is a very coherent perspective, of course, as long as the organic link with the base is preserved and that it strengthens the struggles in the street.

And lately, it is often repeated that politics is made with force. It’s true. But revolutionary politics, class politics, is also made with faith. I speak, of course, of an age-old faith. Having faith in something that surpasses us, that transcends the individual, faith in a collective goal, in a set of values, is the spiritual fuel of revolutionary struggle. Marxists such as Lucien Goldmann or Daniel Bensaïd were particularly concerned by this question. Thus, although the idea of socialism has today been undermined by a series of defeats, making it credible again as a libertarian, egalitarian and democratic alternative; offering a vision of an emancipated future where people govern themselves; making desirable a society where everyone would work less and benefit from more time to realize themselves... this is an indispensable element of revolutionary strategy. The orientation of the conference to use elections as a tool and to make socialism the demand of millions of people is important to me in this respect.


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