The capitalist class is not a completely homogeneous one. It has various wings and political factions whose disagreements with one another are mostly about how they can best exploit the workers. The capitalist parties extend from the most liberal wing, who believes that allowing limited democratic liberties is the best way to pacify the class struggle, down to its open terrorist-fascist wing who just wants to break the will of the people by force. Revolutionaries need to explain the differences between the various factions of the capitalists not because we have sympathy for any one of them, but because we can use the conflicts between them in the interest of the workers, and because doing so we will better understand in which direction the state is heading.
The AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) – Justice and Development Party
The AKP is not an ordinary capitalist party. It is trying to perform a balancing act between various forces and political aims. The AKP is mistrusted by the central groups of Turkish capitalists as well as by US and EU imperialism. This mistrust of the imperialists doesn’t mean that the AKP is playing a progressive role. Rather, they are mistrusted by these powers because they have certain popular support among the population due their persecution in the past by the hated Turkish military, which served as a submissive instrument of NATO imperialism for decades. The AKP utilizes moderately anti-imperialist rhetoric (while at the same time supporting the great imperialist powers and their plans), and they are associated with Turkey’s economic growth in the first decade of the new millennium. We characterize the AKP as a bourgeois-Islamist, reactionary-populist, bonapartist party. Although the AKP has substantial support among the popular masses – particularly with the rural and urban poor – their policy is arch-reactionary. The main aim of Erdoğan is to establish a bonapartist police state. This means that he presents himself to the ruling class as a “savior of the nation,” allowing him to dictatorially balance between the fighting classes and political factions. He also wants to achieve the same on an international level, establishing Turkey as a relative independent regional power balancing between the different imperialist states (the US, EU, Russia and Israel), as well as the regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Erdoğan’s pretensions are the main reason for the hostility towards the AKP government by western imperialism and sectors of the NATO generals in the Turkish army. Sınıf Savaşı defends the AKP government against assaults of the great imperialist powers and the collaborating Turkish generals as we did during the failed military coup that take place during the night between the 15th and 16th of July 2016. We will fight in the streets alongside the AKP supporters against the military if they try to assault the masses once again. However, at no time have we or will we give any political support to the reactionary policy of the AKP. It is a central task of revolutionaries to break workers and poor away from the political influence of the AKP. Therefore, we must make social and democratic demands on the AKP in order to drive a wedge between the bourgeois leadership of the party and the workers and poor in the AKP rank and file.
Obviously, we must criticize the policy of the AKP, but without falling in line with the sectarian left which simply slanders the AKP as being “fascist.” The AKP and Erdoğan are not fascists. We don’t deny this label out of any political sympathy with them, but because it is ultimately most important to understand our political enemies instead of unjustifiably using the most radical political terms to simply slander them. Fascism is a specific political movement which aims to physically eradicate the vanguard of the workers’ movement and oppressed people, while at the same time destroying all democratic rights. Erdoğan wants to establish a presidential-dictatorial police state, but without building concentration camps.
The CHP and Kemalism
The CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi – Republican People’s Party) is the traditional party of the Turkish capitalists and the NATO generals. We revolutionaries have to launch a political struggle against the arch-reactionary ideology of Kemalism. As an ideology, Kemalism played an ambivalent role during the formation of the Turkish republic, only to eventually become an arch-reactionary one. During the early 1920s, Kemalism organized a bureaucratic-nationalist resistance against the great powers who sought to divide Turkey between them. The Soviet Union and revolutionaries supported this anti-imperialist resistance, along with all progressive reforms launched by Kemal Pasha. At the same time, revolutionaries maintained political independence and attempted to strengthen the forces of consistent anti-imperialism and revolution. During the 1920s, the reactionary side of Kemalism became more visible, manifesting itself in the brutal oppression of national minorities and the persecution of communists. Since then, Kemalism relinquished any opposition to the imperialist great powers and became a loyal watch dog for American imperialism in the region.
The CHP has it strongest support among Turkey’s urban liberal middle class. In contrast to the AKP, the CHP has virtually no organic connections with the masses of the workers and the urban and rural poor. However, when the CHP is in the parliamentary opposition to the government, there is the chance that their supporters participate in legitimate democratic protest movements like the 2013 Gezi protests. In such cases, revolutionaries oppose forming any sort of political bloc with the CHP or Kemalism. Nevertheless, we can still fight in the streets alongside ordinary supporters of the CHP for democratic rights. Revolutionaries defend the CHP against anti-democratic attacks from the AKP, while at the same time stating unequivocally that the CHP is not a party of democracy but one sympathetic to military rule.
We don’t view the CHP’s emphasis on secularism as in any way being progressive. Their secularism has been used as a pretext to humiliate sisters who wear a hijab. The secularism of revolutionaries is always directed against the rich and gives all religions the maximum of freedom, as long any given religion is not attempting to undermine the freedom of other religions.
The MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi) – Nationalist Movement Party
The MHP is a fascist-front party. It represents the angry, reactionary middle class which thinks that Turkey’s oppressed are responsible for their difficulties. Revolutionaries must fight this fascist-front party in the streets, making sure that they have no platform to spread their hatred. We must prepare the workers and oppressed to be able to defend themselves against the fascist gangs of the MHP.
In addition to supporting the AKP government in parliament, the MHP supports the Erdoğan regime in its bonapartist project by clearing the streets for them. In this way they seek to present themselves as a useful attack dog for whichever capitalist party is currently in power.