Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu set off the 425-kilometer-length march on June 15 from the Turkish capital Ankara to İstanbul, scheduled to be finished on July 9 in a prison of İstanbul to protest the conviction of one of the CHP lawmakers, Enis Berberoğlu, who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years for revealing government's arms smuggling. First Secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), Kemal Okuyan summarises how communists view the “justice march” under 9 headings:
1. KILIÇDAROĞLU MARCHES ON A LEGITIMATE GROUND
The justice march set off by the CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has a legitimate ground in a country where injustice is widespread. We are faced with a fact that cannot be covered by nasty politics or intrigue: The existing government in power has received a historical sentence that is not possible to reverse; its legitimacy is over.
2. WE ARE NOT OBLIGED TO STAND BEHIND JUST BECAUSE IT IS LEGITIMATE
It is natural that any reaction against the policies characterising an illegitimate political power opens itself a space of legitimacy automatically. However, movements claiming to represent the working class do not have to support every legitimate demonstration or initiative. Legitimacy, in many instances, changes hands within the boundaries of the capitalist system and, again as happened in many instances, these changes bring about those who help the capitalist class recover and gain credibility in the name of leftists.
3. WE DO HAVE CRITERIA
That said, each legitimate movement may not have a content that should be accepted from a revolutionary, progressive, leftist or historical perspective. In this context, we have to act with certain criteria when positioning ourselves and give the right answers to the right questions. Kılıçdaroğlu’s march deserves to be questioned.
4. LET’S MAKE IT CLEAR
Kılıçdaroğlu’s march is realised in order not to let the illegitimacy of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan shake the existing system’s foundations. Not shaking these foundations means that the system won’t be left without an alternative. Not shaking the existing system means that the international bondage of the capitalist class will not weaken. Not shaking the foundations of the existing system means that a liberal attitude will find actual social channels to generate itself. The march clearly has the characteristics of the bourgeoisie.
5. WE CAN CALL IT A KIND OF ENGINEERING
Kiliçdaroğlu’s march has not been a response to a rising social mobility. Apart from a social mobility, it does not coincide with a time of rising social reaction or anger. Like said by many, post-referendum days had more suitable conditions for a mass mobilisation. Here, there is a political decision regarding Berberoğlu who himself has little legitimacy. This is well-engineered. The aim, once again, is to generate a united bourgeoisie opposition. With CHP, HDP, and the others… Once the left attempts to be the catalyzer, it is convicted to get oppressed.
6. THE TUNE OF CAPITAL
Everyone is in the march as “allies”. There is no need to put a dirty list here; we could remind those are curious about it. As we insist, capital and international monopolies set the tune in a place where there is “everyone”. The exception could be mass movements without a certain direction, in which different political ideologies and different classes settle accounts in the fields. But, this march is a seriously fictional act.
7. IF YOU DON’T PULL TOWARDS LEFT, YOU WILL GO TO RIGHT
To colour this act or to pull it towards left is useless; it would result in one thing: Adding legitimacy to a liberal-imperialist operation from left, as experienced in the first years of the AKP [government]. It is not right to think that liberalism is dangerous in the hands of the AKP, but harmless in the hands of others. Isn’t it so strange that those who accuse the HDP and PYD of cooperating with the US give limitless credit to the CHP on this topic? All of these are the results of thinking within the boundaries of the existing system and that the left accepts these boundaries is unacceptable.
8. AN INDEPENDENT POSITION
The problem of the CHP is not its ineffective opposition; it never was. Left should not make peace with the politics of Kılıçdaroğlu because he is “on the streets”. The determining element in politics is the content or the program. One should not be positioned as a revolutionist by idealising the “movement” or the “act”. Some positive developments that can be considered as by-products of the justice march may occur; in order to be able to utilise these developments in the public interest, we need an independent position, an openly class perspective against imperialism and reactionism.
9. YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAY AT HOME
Staying at home when masses are on the streets is a problem of those who are helpless before the system. Nobody has to stay at home. Everyone can try to direct the developments in their own way. Communists in Turkey have a rich history of struggles and a clear revolutionary strategy that do not make them thrilled when the CHP leader started to walk.