The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) released a political report on the coronavirus pandemic:
"Pandemic is yet another evidence of the historical collapse of capitalism," the report says, arguing that capitalism is not fighting the pandemic but attempts to use the pandemic to compensate its weakness by attacking while the pandemic is also used to completely shut down the area of politics to the working class.
Consisting of five parts, the full text of the report is as follows:
Pandemic is yet another evidence of the historical collapse of capitalism
1- The coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the whole world since the first months of last year, not only showed once again how devastating capitalism is as a social system but also showed the extent of its desperation. From this point of view, the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot be seen as a health problem alone.
2- The pandemic, which has profound economic, political, and social consequences, deserves to be considered as one of the most important agenda items of the class struggle. The fact that the working class has been on the defensive all over the world for nearly forty years and the emergence of an obvious asymmetry between capital and labor when it comes to current class balances does not eliminate the necessity of evaluating the pandemic within the general framework of class struggles. In this context, communists, who have to take the lead of science, public health, and solidarity against the deadly threat posed by the pandemic against humanity, must turn this pandemic’s amplification of the social injustice into an opportunity for the narrowing of some social areas vital for the working class. They have to act by putting blows to many public services, especially education, new and comprehensive losses in the fundamental rights of the working class, and restrictions on the right of working people to organize and engage in politics at the center.
3- Another dimension of the pandemic that needs to be emphasized is the new responsibilities and opportunities it has created in the struggle against the foundations of the capitalist system. It is unacceptable to pass them off for one reason or another. It is the bourgeoisie who wishes to look at the pandemic with an understanding of social responsibility outside of politics, and a widespread psychological war is waged in this direction. The working class's response to this has to be an escalation of the struggle. In this context, hesitations that have produced a suspension of certain forms of social struggles in the revolutionary and workers' movement throughout the world should be avoided as soon as possible.
4- The fight against the idea that the pandemic will tame the capitalist order is of great importance here. While communists strive to mitigate the destructive impact of the concrete and everyday problems faced by the working people with an unwavering social responsibility and a developed morality, they do not take an attitude that will prolong the life of capitalism or support the idea that it is sustainable. Expectations such as measures for the common benefit being taken in the face of the breakdown of humanity due to the disease, social polarization getting eliminated, and the opportunities offered by advances in technology and science having positive reflections on economic and social processes are unfounded under the conditions of capitalism and within the framework of today's class power balances.
5- As in the crisis of 2008, holding neoliberal policies accountable should be evaluated together with the efforts made for the acceptance of intra-capitalist solutions in the crisis that is being experienced and deepened with the pandemic. The bankruptcy of neoliberalism, which capitalism has put to the front for decades, is evidence of the historical bankruptcy of capitalism. Capitalism could not produce a new replacement for the capital accumulation model that was exhausted in 2008 and could not develop a clear strategy. The lack of strategy manifests itself in accordance with the level of capitalist development of each country, and this state of insolubility is tried to be managed with short-term interventions in accordance with the historical and political conditions of each country.
6- Theses such as "the end of an era", "the reconstruction of capitalism in another way on the axis of the reconciliation of classes", "green world order", "basic income system", "strategy of supporting labor incomes" were put on the agenda not because they resonated with the capitalist classes, but as an early precaution against the possibility of the working class gravitating towards revolutionary actions. The communist movement must establish an ideological superiority over the currents that seek an alternative to neoliberalism. The communist movement must organically represent the anger of the poor who have been pushed out of social life and sacrificed.
7- Capitalism tries to turn the conditions created by the pandemic into an opportunity to manage and postpone the crisis it has been in for a long time. With the 2008 Crisis, the capitalist class embarked on a quest and began to bring up practices with new attacks on labor at its center when it became clear that not only neoliberal policies but also capitalism itself were bankrupt. The pandemic has created a suitable atmosphere in terms of legitimizing all these quests and policies and presenting the problems of capitalism as the problems of all humanity. The discussions expressed with concepts and names such as “the new normal", “the big reset", "shift and restructuring in supply chains" started in the period after the 2008 Crisis. However, with the pandemic, these discussions are deepened with the new content they have gained, and they are adding up to the efforts to improve capitalism which is desperate in the face of the pandemic.
8- The dream of a better capitalism corresponds to democracy in the political plan and to a "democratic republic" program. While capitalism is in a severe crisis, opening up a wide space in front of the left, organizing the proletarian masses, politicizing the masses, and overcoming a long period of withdrawal have become objectively possible, being locked into a democratic program should be condemned as a reactionary path.
9- The pandemic has turned into both an excuse for the capitalist class to explain the deepening crisis and an opportunity to organize an attack against the working class under these circumstances. The capitalist class has organized a class attack that it hasn’t dared even in the golden age of neoliberalism. The progress made in the flexibility of labor processes is horrifying. The concept of the weekend is disappearing, working hours become incalculable, wages are seized on the grounds of the pandemic, poverty is deepening to signal a new wave of hunger, the unemployment rates that the society is taking on the chin is multiplying, the death of a part of the retired population turns into an undeclared economic policy. While reformism claims that capitalism has become suitable for reform, a rare attack in history is oppressing workers.
10- It is inevitable that the rise of repressive and reactionary currents will accompany this economic and social attack of the capitalist class, lacking a strategy to overcome its structural crisis. Universal capitalism is trying to compensate for its structural weakness due to its inability to develop a new accumulation model with more reactionism. The attempt of the capitalist order to legitimize police violence in France, rapid intensification of racist police terror in the United States, the prohibition of the national celebration day of the Polytechnic Memorial in Greece, the demand to reduce forms of political protests down to a press conference with tenfold attendees in Turkey and the provocation of war all over the world, Israel's covert operations as well as inter-state conflicts being made public, the militarism and chauvinism that accompany all of these, certainly cannot be seen as coincidences.
CAPITALISM IS NOT FIGHTING THE PANDEMIC
11- The Covid-19 pandemic was met with ineffective policies and despair by the world, including the developed capitalist countries. Despite the serious signs that the epidemic could turn into a pandemic that would affect the whole world before the end of 2019, governments have implemented the measures after an irrecoverable delay and at a rather inadequate level to be taken against the rapid spread of the virus. Senior officials in France persistently took a stand against the use of masks until April 2020. In the U.S., the attitude of the Trump Administration, which can be summarized as not taking the pandemic seriously, fighting with scientists, and irresponsibility towards the public, marked the past year.
12- None of the developed capitalist countries has been able to protect their citizens from the coronavirus. In these countries, while hundreds of people lose their lives day by day, intensive-care services are at full capacity, hospitals and elderly nursing homes have become the centers of spreading the virus. Question marks on the number of cases and deaths have not been fully resolved in any country. The healthcare system has collapsed, educational activities are being carried out without any plans and with sudden decisions.
13- It was observed that the measures and the restrictions applied in the spring months in Europe and the USA were insufficient in combating the pandemic. Even though the majority of scientists agree that a complete closure decision as long as the incubation period of the virus must be applied in order to prevent transmission, a general shutdown decision that will stop the production besides the vital sectors has not been taken in any capitalist country. Such a closure’s effect to stop the pandemic is now a matter of discussion as the one-year-old pandemic and the opportunistic practices of the capitalist class have now settled down.
14- At this point, it is obvious that the measures taken against the pandemic in capitalist countries are determined according to the interests of the capitalist class rather than the health of their citizens. Factories have been largely excluded from the scope of the lockdown decisions taken in Europe so far, and the working class continued to commute by showing their permits and using public transportation on lockdown days. It has also emerged that in a possible complete lockdown, no capitalist state will protect the rights of the working people.
15- No capitalist state has been able to systematically implement the free distribution of masks, which has been a fundamental and realistic demand since the beginning of the pandemic. Throughout this process, while witnessing the lies about mask stocks and the theft of mask shipment between countries, masks were added as a new mandatory expense item on the shoulders of the working masses.
16- The main strategy adopted by world capitalism against the disease throughout 2020 is implicit and controlled herd immunity. This strategy, which is implicit because its name is not avowed, can be described as controlled mainly because it focuses on the death toll not causing outrage or explosion. However, it is not possible to talk about the science of herd immunity due to the fact that it has not been observed that it causes permanent immunity as a result of getting infected by Covid-19 and the mutating property of viruses. Herd immunity can only be achieved with an effective vaccination program.
17- In capitalism, where scientific and technical development is in the determination of the capitalist class, a fast and effective struggle with the pandemic in accordance with the existing knowledge of humanity could not be carried out. In this order where social inequalities are deepening, the information that the scientific world has acquired during the pandemic period, the medicine it produces, the diagnostic kits, and the vaccine are nothing but commodities that allow the profit to multiply for the capitalists.
18- The private healthcare system, one of the typical practices of neoliberalism, has gone bankrupt in all areas of healthcare delivery, treatment, and vaccine research. As a result of marketization and privatization in the field of healthcare, primary services have been withdrawn over the years, protective and preventive health services have been weakened, and the focus has been on medicinal healthcare services rather than protecting and improving the health of the public. It is clear that the healthcare system needs to be strengthened in terms of disease prevention, early diagnosis, and epidemiology. However, as a result of the marketization of health policies, capitalism has become unable to cope with the pandemic.
19- As a result of the healthcare system's focus on therapeutic and inpatient services that are profitable for the capitalist class, and the abandonment of preventive healthcare services, governments are no longer able to manage the pandemic. In overcoming pandemics, centralized planning is as important as the vaccines, drugs, and protection measures developed by medicine. Capitalism has failed in all of its planning stages, from filiation organization to inter-institutional cooperation.
20- Capitalism in the northern hemisphere was based on the predictions that herd immunity, deaths mostly limited to the elderly population, and summer heat could weaken the spread of the virus. This thesis, which has not been scientifically proven, has collapsed. Higher mortality rates in the elderly population, in contrast to being a problem in terms of the capitalist order, are welcomed as a public burden due to health and social security expenditures and the decrease in the economically inactive elderly population. Unfortunately, the retired population under state guarantee has lost their lives in mass in many countries. It is no surprise that capitalism's ambition for stability and profit maximization results in the alienation of people's right to life.
21- When it comes to workers and laborers, capitalism has completely pushed the health parameters to the background and focused on minimizing the damage to the economy. This preference shows that capitalism is trapped in a social approach that ignores the masses of workers and laborers and that the scope of the area referred to by the term “public health” has become limited to property owners, business managers and skilled laborers who can work remotely. Capitalism is alienated from the vast majority of society.
22- The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the corrosive effect of capitalism in the scientific field, as in every field. The progress of scientific developments on the basis of competition, rather than solidarity, and the evaluation of the results of scientific production not with their social benefits but with their commercialization potentials also affect scientists. The public statements and roles of scientists, whose social responsibilities have become secondary, in the scientific committees cause disinformation in places throughout the pandemic, feeding the helplessness of the society in the face of the pandemic and the distrust of science. With the fierce competition in vaccine development studies, the disclosure of scientific data by company representatives should also be considered in this context.
23- The growing distrust of the working people to the political powers and the class of capitalists is causing a rise in hesitation against vaccines which are of great importance in combating the pandemic. The interests of pharmaceutical companies and monopolies, the regulations made by the political authorities in favor of the capital and the policies implemented have caused suspicion in the society against science, which has become a major threat to public health. In short, capitalism usurps workers' right to healthcare by not only making it difficult for workers to access services, but also by preventing the demand for vaccination rights.
24- The condition for controlling the pandemic both socioeconomically and in terms of public health is the organization of public institutions and the whole society with centralized planning. However, due to its nature, capitalism neither succeeds nor intends to achieve centralized planning and social organization. It has been observed that countries in which the historical achievements of socialism are fully or partially preserved are more successful in combating the pandemic due to the fact that they have functional institutions that can provide this. This provides important proof of the justification of socialism.
25- In this context, Socialist Cuba continues to be a hopeful example for humanity under extremely difficult conditions. Before reporting a single case, The Covid-19 National Prevention and Control Plan was formed in Cuba. Within the framework of the plan that was put into effect with the first case, a filiation study was conducted in which each house was visited. Outbreak management is carried out with centralized planning starting from the National Epidemiology Directorate to the healthcare centers. The organization of the Cuban people also plays an important role in the country's fight against the pandemic. As of December, the mortality rate in Cuba, where deaths from Covid-19 are not experienced among children, pregnant women, and healthcare workers, is well below the world average.
26- Vietnam has come to the fore with its success in combating the pandemic. In the first days of the cases, borders were closed, production was reduced to a minimum, and quarantine measures were taken by helping citizens financially across the country in the early period. As a result of these practices, the number of cases in Vietnam was limited and very few people lost their lives due to Covid-19. Again, the People's Republic of China, where the pandemic occurred, rapidly activated a strong central intervention and implemented all of the public health measures. State-led pandemic management with its thousands of health checkpoints, rapidly built pandemic hospitals, strong isolation practices, and filiation studies have yielded positive results, and the pandemic in China was brought under control in about four months.
27- With the first results of vaccine researches, the world’s agenda in the fight against the pandemic started discussions on the effect of different vaccines and their distribution instead of restrictions. It is not surprising that in the imperialist world, the profit-oriented competition of international monopolies overshadows the respectable work of scientists. In this environment in which tripping up and crossing out have become the rule instead of international cooperation, what should be emphasized is that most of the world's population will not have access to vaccines in the near future. Rich imperialist countries have allocated the vast majority of vaccines to be produced for themselves, so to speak, they have reserved them. Even worse, negative propaganda and even legal obstacles are put up to prevent poor countries from accessing certain vaccines (especially those developed by China and Russia).
28- The reactionary character of hostility to science, including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, as an integral part of the ruling class character of the pandemic has created a multiplier effect for the capitalists’ attacks. Especially in the early stages of the pandemic, the widespread acceptance of the idea "nothing will happen to us" or "this virus is made up, it doesn’t exist” was a justification that should be addressed altogether with fatalism for taking things for granted. The measures suggested by science have hit the barrier of the market on the one hand and religious references on the other, and time are wasted.
29- The government tried to conceal the Scientific Committee in which it formed its policies that turned its back on science and public health. The volunteerism of the members of the Scientific Committee, including competent scientists, to this role, despite all warnings, shows how the capitalist system has surrounded scientists. It is unthinkable that the members of the Scientific Committee did not notice the irrationality, despair, and deception that dominate the implemented pandemic policies. The absence of a counterweight that would partially legitimize participation in the Scientific Committee also shows the extent of submission. On the other hand, the attitudes of the segments who place themselves within the definition of “opposition” during the pandemic and some institutions and scientists who stand out on behalf of those segments have neglected the class dimension of the issue and benefitted the government only by focusing on “Palace criticism”, some of the claims put forward were denied in a short time and the reaction against the government's real distortions in the eyes of society has decreased due to these baseless claims.
30- The data relating to the pandemic in Turkey was not only hidden from the public but also was not shared with the scientists. We cannot be sure that even the government collects these data, which are essential for the local and general reorganization of social life, the development of effective measures and prevention methods, scientific and technical progress in the field of diagnosis, treatment, and vaccination. The sole purpose of the government is to prevent a visible collapse in the healthcare field and the rise of social opposition associated with it.
31- Turkey’s capitalism only focused on taking instant decisions in the fight against the pandemic, the medium and long-term consequences of these decisions were neither taken into account in terms of public health nor political. It is clear that the closure of schools and similar decisions will have negative consequences not only for education but also for the health of generations in the long run. Capitalism can manage its crises by focusing only on saving the day, it is not possible for it to offer a rational future to humanity.
32- Although the AKP government's attitude towards healthcare workers throughout the pandemic deserves to be considered within the scope of attacks against the working class, it also had important consequences in terms of combating the pandemic. Of course, it is natural for healthcare professionals to be called into an unusual work regime at a time when public health is under threat. However, during the pandemic, the usurpation of the rights of healthcare workers continued, wage rises were not made despite all the promises given to balance the busy work pace, protection measures were not taken in hospitals and other healthcare centers, the problems experienced in the supply of protective materials such as masks and gowns required by healthcare workers have not been exceeded.
33- Almost all of the social problems that have been exacerbated during the pandemic concern the lives of women. The obligation to stay at home puts the needs of children and elderly’s care, education, treatment, etc. on women’s shoulders. For women who are increasingly exposed to exploitation, mobbing, harassment, and various forms of violence in the workplace, the isolation measures taken with the pandemic have meant that the home environment has turned into an environment of violence. Violence against women has increased in many capitalist countries, and there has been a serious increase in femicide. The release of many violent offenders with the new execution arrangements in Turkey in April has increased impunity and the reactionary policies of the government. In general, bourgeois governments, far from alleviating the growing burden of women, have benefited from this situation by pushing their responsibility to female citizens and by providing cheap labor power to the capital.
34- The social atmosphere and deepening inequalities that emerged with the pandemic also increased the discrimination, racism, and hate speech against many social groups such as the elderly, the disabled, immigrants, citizens with various sexual orientations, and gender identity. The enmity of the working classes, on the other hand, leads to a further decrease in the already weak organization and resistance against the aggressive policies of the capitalist class.
CAPITALISM IS TRYING TO COMPENSATE ITS WEAKNESS BY ATTACKING
35- The fight against the pandemic has been tried to be handled by governments as a supra-political issue. While it was aimed to turn a political activity into a privileged area where only the government would continue to stay, the most important output of this situation was the attempts to completely close the political field to the working class. Governments draw strength from this approach to repressive and reactionary regulations.
36- Pandemic management was carried out by class determination. The priority was not to protect the health of the people but to meet the needs of the capitalist class. Massive support packages have been offered to bosses in many countries. With similar packages, Turkey also transferred resources to the capitalist class from the Treasury, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and public banks. Cheap loans were given to companies, loan debts, tax and insurance premium payments were postponed, and state assurance in company receivables was strengthened. Turkey, in accordance with the capital’s expansionist tendencies, has not refrained from investing in the international arena and giving “aid.” Workers, on the other hand, continued to pay their bills, credit card debts, and house rents, despite declining wages and income during the pandemic.
37- There have also been examples where bosses are directly involved in the decision-making of pandemic management. It has been seen that Turkey’s boss organizations’ representatives determined the exclusion of Covid-19 as an occupational disease/accident with a high spread among workers in workplaces where production and service activities continue, and reducing the duration of isolation so that contacted workers can start working again in a shorter time.
38- The capitalist class saw the pandemic as an opportunity for the work regime to become more repressive. Pandemic measures in workplaces also aimed to increase the control and pressure on workers. It is aimed to establish a more authoritative working regime with experiments such as isolated production bases, movement tracking with chips, and a closed production system. These experiments, which aim to ensure that production and service activities continue uninterrupted, will appear as practices that the capitalist class will persist in the workplaces after the pandemic.
39- Narrowing of political space with all these efforts strengthened an understanding of a struggle based on small-scaled symbolic acts in Turkey’s left and union movement. This form of movement, which brings the doer to the agenda but has a limited effect on the large mass of working people, isolated the left and trade union movement from the working classes. From this point of view, organization and expression of organized power have gained much more special importance.
40- While bourgeois states sometimes stop and slow down production and services under pandemic conditions, it should not be overlooked that monopoly capital has some pursuits beyond avoiding a collective collapse. Capitalism ensures that the rate of profit rises again by destroying a part of the productive forces in every crisis period. This is one side of the controlled economic slowdown experienced today. The deaths, the closure of workplaces, the inertia of the means of production should be considered in the context of the destruction of the productive forces and the opening of a strong monopolization process, which is the most irrational reaction of capitalism to the crisis.
41- As applied, the restrictions ensure the liquidation of small and medium-sized capital in an extremely short period of time, moreover, justified as an inevitable development. The process of changing the hands of a great fortune in the cities has already started. In the case of the small and medium bourgeoisie, whose incomes are declining dramatically, the expansion of credit facilities will not prevent impoverishment, but on the contrary, it will lead to expropriation through borrowing and consequently accelerate monopolization.
42- The fact that monopolization has accelerated as it does after every crisis, and since the alternative accumulation model could not be produced, it was opened to a conjuncture where the process was managed and the consequences of the crisis were postponed instead of major destruction where the crisis could be overcome. The pandemic period, which creates consequences such as the decrease in production and the contraction of trade as in a crisis, offers the capitalist class new opportunities in managing the structural crisis that causes a decrease in profit rates. In the "new normal" conditions after the pandemic, economic activity will shift towards areas with high-profit rates and monopolization will accelerate further. Pointing to a dimension of this shift and following the 2008 Crisis, the quests of capitalism, screened by labels such as digitalization and industry 4.0 on a global scale, will accelerate with the opportunities offered by the pandemic. Global supply chains where China and the Far East have an important place and the acceleration of the efforts to restructure the world trade in connection with the pandemic found a suitable ground for it. However, this process has difficulties in itself, firstly, due to the absence of an alternative accumulation model, and secondly, due to problems arising from the imperialist hierarchy and competition. The capitalist class in Turkey (and the AKP government) is making calculations to gain competitiveness and to change the cracks in the imperialist hierarchy and balances in this process of sliding and restructuring, which is certainly not going to proceed smoothly.
43- The pandemic process that deepens the crisis gives capitalist states new policy tools to support and incentive practices for the capital. The "catastrophic" conditions offered by the pandemic make it easier for states to be bolder about the extent of explicit support and incentives to be provided to bosses. Practices such as applying for some temporary expropriations, which are understood not to be limited to the healthcare sector, can be an important part of these giant recovery and restructuring packages. Capital organizations such as IMF, World Bank, etc. recommend states to loosen their fiscal and spending policies within the framework of combating the effects of the pandemic. These proposals mainly take into account the needs and support of the capital and contain elements that will eliminate some of the basic historical achievements of labor.
44- The capitalist class calculates taking a critical bend with the pandemic in the attack of flexibility it has been continuing for years with new forms. It has become a common practice for employees to work "from home and away" in all jobs where operations can be carried out remotely, especially in the service sector. Employment formats such as remote work, which significantly reduces labor costs, have been found reasonable and accepted by a significant number of workers due to the risk of contamination. Part of this large laborer population, defined as "voluntarily staying at home and working from home", will be asked to be employed as permanently flexible. As a result, the pandemic has led to the legitimation and general acceptance of flexible working practices as never before. In addition to the various cost advantages it offers to capitalists, remote work will cause the workers to be atomized and organization to get more difficult. More importantly, the boundaries of the 8-hour working day, which is one of the main historical achievements in the struggle for labor, are first to blur and then to get completely eliminated. With the legitimacy gained by the idea of flexible employment during the pandemic period, new forms of employment that have been used in developed capitalist countries for a while will become widespread. In Turkey and many other countries, legal gaps related to remote working and new flexible forms of employment will be asked to be removed rapidly and new attacks on the working class in this axis will be carried out.
45- During the pandemic period, while it was stated by the representatives of the capital that employment could be maintained insistently but in flexible ways, new records were broken in unemployment rates. The dimensions unemployment has reached have gone beyond what statistical indicators can explain all over the world. At some point, the same indicators have come to serve to hide this great disaster, which will have social consequences. During the pandemic, the reserve army of labor has grown to the fullest and the transition between the layers within has accelerated to the poorer and unsecured segments. Increasing unemployment is the main means of suppressing labor during and after the pandemic, facilitating the acceptance of flexible working formats presented as the only condition for employment under these new terms. While the pandemic serves to legitimize this mechanism in terms of capitalism, it leaves behind great destruction and impoverishment as the mechanism keeps working. While the recovery of the economies is delayed, the re-employment of those who were unemployed, especially during the pandemic period, will be delayed as well. As this process is taking place in Turkey with more striking results, unemployment reached 30 percent while the government tries to hide it with practices such as unpaid leave and short-time working allowances. The high proportion of young people in this unemployed population especially shows that capitalism cannot offer any future to the youth.
46- The growth of the population segments withdrawn from production brings along a permanent impoverishment. In addition to this impoverishment, the expensive bills and raises to be paid caused many people to be deprived of rights such as heating, electricity, and housing. On the other hand, the global increase trend in food prices shows that larger segments will experience this poverty together with the risk of hunger. Capitalism has no prescription other than direct aid against the danger of hunger, which has become a problem in more countries in a world where inequalities are increasing. These aids are barely enough for the undermost people to not die of hunger. With the pandemic, the accelerated impoverishment period in Turkey can gain a different dimension because food inflation is stronger than the global trend. Throughout the AKP period, the impoverishment process has come to the limit of keeping it under control with different compensation mechanisms such as economic indebtment, social aid, political and ideological reactionism. The fact that unemployment and impoverishment become a major threat for the large working population and the relatively qualified segments of the working class, which has seen itself as the "middle class" until today, begin to feel impoverishment closely, will increase the social anger and reactions. However, it should not be forgotten that these reactions can be unequal, explosive and easily turn into despair.
47- In countries where these responses are evident from time to time, governments have tried to take advantage of pandemic conditions to ban mass movements and demonstrations. These bans also target union actions, worker protests and struggle to seek rights. The suppression of participation in actions and events due to the fear of contamination also encouraged governments to extend prohibitions. Local and central power in Turkey began the practices of these bans in the earliest days of the pandemic. One of the first examples was the Kocaeli Governorship’s circular, which announced that “strike action is prohibited”, issued to prevent workers from stopping work based on occupational health and safety legislation as a result of the spread of the virus in factories. Afterwards, many press releases and rallies were banned for similar reasons.
48- Although crisis periods cause dispossession and impoverishment of large masses in Turkey, unique causes prevent these dimensions from being visible in our country. Given the traditional social fabric of Turkey, we still see only very few homeless people or derelicts. During the AKP period, while social rights and guarantees were faded away, a mass-scale charity mechanism was established and state aid to the poor, more precisely “beneficence”, was institutionalized. However, the 2020 crisis and the ongoing pandemic make this compensation mechanism unsustainable. It is possible that impoverishment will cause hunger and homelessness.
49- The capitalist class has also used the pandemic to weaken the tendency of the working classes to organize. Many situations such as the restriction of social life, the introduction of new rules in terms of gathering, the distancing of workers during breaks and locations even if not in production and service processes cause the social relations of the working class and youth to weaken. This situation, which may be permanent in certain respects, strengthens the individualization tendencies in the working classes and youth. This tendency, which is supported by the liberal ideology with various tools, especially the media, will be evaluated by the capitalist class in the upcoming period for the working classes to move away from the idea of organizing.
50- The attack on the working class has taken the form of its division and separation from other sections of society. The working class has been deprived of protection measures against the pandemic in industry and service business lines outside of sectors and occupational positions where remote work is possible. This part of the working class continues to produce for the survival of the big and middle bourgeoisie and a privileged part of the working people. The proletariat, who was handed over to the pandemic in workplaces, public transportation and public hospitals, was imposed the duty of not interrupting capitalist exploitation under the name of maintaining a social life. The risk of being unemployed and unpaid in a mass disease environment keeps unorganized laborers under heavy attack away from the struggle. This situation is not limited to the poorest, lowest segments of the class. Laborers working in the traditional heavy industry and manufacturing sector, and healthcare workers, who constitute a qualified and therefore a privileged segment of the working class, have also been quickly pushed into this ruthless mechanism. There is inequality in access to pandemic protection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment processes for all sectors. It is left to laborers to take precautions in workplaces, the supply of protective materials, and the need for treatment and rest which should have been the responsibility of the bosses.
51- The pandemic has moved the everlasting impoverishment of Turkey’s working class to another dimension. While the quality of labor in Turkey is increasing, wages are decreasing rapidly. The fact that the earnings of a very important part of the population are close to the minimum wage is a concrete indicator that very large sections of the class are doomed to poverty. Debt instruments, which the AKP government applied in an accelerated manner in the last years, have also been exhausted in order to maintain the existing living conditions of the laborers who see themselves as the middle or upper part of the class in terms of income. The ideological and political consequences of the impoverishment of Turkey’s working class as a whole and the loss of certain benefits owned by the privileged are inevitable.
52- It is also observed that the accumulated anger of the workers in the face of the attacks against the working class, which will mean the worsening of exploitation conditions all over the world, is met with resistance and agency at certain points. The strikes of healthcare professionals working in the front line in Italy and the actions of the laborers in the tourism sector which was heavily affected by the pandemic in Greece, attracted attention. The actions of Amazon workers internationally, using different online platforms, and peaking during Black Friday week, have become a movement that includes international union structures in all sectors covered by the Amazon global chain. Another remarkable movement in recent weeks is the general strike in India with the largest participation in the country’s history. The flexible working practices of the right-wing Modi government, which were aggravated during the pandemic period, and the general strikes and actions against agricultural reforms and privatizations targeting poor villagers and farmers, provided worker-peasant solidarity and common movement, which is again an important first in the history of the country's working class. In our country, the resistance of the miners who cannot get their rights and the struggle of the fired Cargill workers for more than a thousand days are examples of this anger.
EDUCATION DURING THE PANDEMIC WAS RESIGNED TO CHAOS AND COLLAPSED
53- During the pandemic process, there is a serious crisis in education in all countries under the rule of capitalism. In this period, inequalities in education increased against working children, and millions of students' right to access education disappeared, let alone the access to qualified and scientific education. In our country, while students have been completely out of school since March, millions of students have actually fallen out of the education system.
54- There hasn’t been any progress in terms of re-opening the schools in a period of ten months that followed the announcement of the first case in Turkey. While schools remain closed for approximately 20 million students today excluding university students, the Ministry of National Education (MEB) has not made any effort to physically open the schools in a safe way. While MEB handles the pandemic as if it was a normal process, it has completely abandoned public schools, the students studying in these schools and the education workers in these schools to their fate. The only concern of MEB in this period was that private schools could enroll students and continue their businesses.
55- Schools are not only institutions where academic education is provided, but also structures where students interact with their peers and teachers, ensure their physical and mental development, occasionally meet their nutritional needs, receive psychological support, and protect them from possible negativity in their home or social environment to a certain extent. The closure of the schools has brought about the removal of these possible protective walls for tens of thousands of students. This process results in disadvantaged and special needs children further away from education and deepens inequalities.
56- The access of our children to distance education, which replaces face-to-face education during the pandemic, differs according to the class of the families. While public schools mainly use the Educational Informatics Network (EBA) system, which is the infrastructure of MEB, private schools use different structures or supporting facilities. Students who study in public schools and do not have the necessary devices and sufficient internet facilities experience many negativities during the distance education process. The vast majority of students who find opportunities and access distance education also leave their education process after a while, together with the infrastructure problems of EBA, the problems experienced during the live lesson system, the inadequate domestic facilities of the students and the quality problems in the educational content prepared by MEB.
57- MEB announced the internet visit rates of EBA between March 23 and December 11, when distance education started. According to the data, the number of individual students visiting eba.gov.tr per month was approximately 7 million in March, while this number was only approximately 10 million in November. However, approx. 18 million students are enrolled in this system in November. This situation shows that about 8 million students have never entered the EBA system. It is not known to what extent the students who cannot enter the EBA education platform can follow EBA TV, whether these students can communicate with their teachers, and whether they receive support from their families or relatives regarding their education.
58- Children who were kept away from face-to-face education during the pandemic faced problems such as inactivity, nutrition, sleep and increased screen interaction. In addition, experts state that the negative effects of social, emotional, psychological and other academic problems experienced by children due to being away from school may be more visible in the upcoming period.
59- During this period, the workload on private school teachers increased, and the pressure and exploitation deepened. Many teachers and private school workers were taken on unpaid leave, were forced to short-time work allowance despite their full-time work, or were fired with no renewal of their contracts. For teachers working in public schools, distance education has been used to pave the way for practices to make working life more flexible. Despite all the devotion and efforts of teachers towards the continuation of children's education, they have been shown to be responsible for the chaos in education from time to time.
60- During the pandemic, homes have become schools for children and a workplace for parents. In this process, laborer families trying to cope with the devastating effects of the pandemic on the working life and their economic situation as well as health and loss concerns, were adversely affected by all the problems in the education of their children. As the risk is higher for the elderly population, it has not been possible for parents to get support from their parents for the care of their children. Especially women, who are forced to take responsibility to a great extent during the distance education period, have been under great pressure with their working lives, their children's educational needs, and other domestic jobs that require labor.
61- The pandemic once again showed the bankruptcy of the capitalist order and all its institutions. The source of today's inability to open schools for face-to-face education in a healthy and safe manner and the inequalities that arise against working children with distance education is the extinguishment of public education in our country which has been governed by privatist and reactionary capitalist governments for decades. With the pandemic, education which has been in the siege of the market and reaction for years has been completely handed over to chaos. Nationalization of education is the only way to deliver education in a planned, scientific and equitable manner and to ensure the right to education for our children.
THE PANDEMIC CAUGHT THE WORKING CLASS INTELLECTUALLY AND CULTURALLY UNPREPARED
62- The pandemic has shown how high the costs of the working class's inability to take initiative on a world scale, its disorganization, and of the left, in general, to think within the boundaries of this order are. The criticisms of the current international order miss the essence of the problem and the persistent desire to fit the solution into an ineffective "reform" package turns into an unconvincing effort when the global despair of capitalism is taken into account. However, it is clear that the revolutionary movement has not yet made a move to reduce the impact of this reformist attitude in pandemic conditions.
63- Although the widespread use of anti-capitalist positions brings up discussions about how the “post-capitalist” system might be like, when these discussions are analyzed as a whole it is seen that very few of them have a clear future perspective. In this sense, it is possible to observe that the majority of anti-capitalism-themed outlets are settled in the system itself. The answers given to the questions raised by the pandemic contain ambiguous aspects as the product of the unstable positions of the opposition circles.
64- One of the areas that experienced the greatest destruction during the pandemic is a huge industry that includes many professions, spaces and productions of various qualities from behind the stage to on-stage, ateliers to studios, sets to offices and homes, which stands for the field of arts and culture. This destruction has intensified since the first day of the pandemic.
65- Covid-19 and the subsequent "closure" in this sector have highlighted many problems that already exist in the field of arts and culture in a very tragic way. Arts and culture workers, most of whom were deprived of job security, any social security and a decent income, were left almost completely helpless. The state, on the other hand, remained completely indifferent to this economic depression experienced by arts and culture workers. The ones who can go to work are forced to work under conditions where necessary healthcare precautions are not taken.
66- It is clear that the devastating effect of the pandemic on arts and culture workers has led this segment to understand the fact that they are a part of the working class more clearly. The emergence of an unprecedented search for organization and the reflection on new means of struggle is proof of this, though not yet inadequate.
67- It is one of the fundamental questions of the coming period that the intellectuals, who are becoming increasingly proletarian and feel this, will be a part of the revolutionary quest, including the arts and culture workers. The rate of working people among scientists, educators, healthcare professionals, engineers and technical staff, lawyers, journalists, and arts and culture people is very high, and the pandemic helped this fact to be recognized. However, even though the character of the class is obscure among these laborer people who produce ideas and opinions, it is clear that certain intellectuals’ horizons cannot overreach the borders of capitalism, both in Turkey and in the world.
68- After the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in Turkey was officially announced, the Ministry of Interior Affairs stopped the activities of all places that conducted arts and culture services such as theatres, galleries, and concert halls through a decree sent to the governorates. With the same decree and the closure of musical restaurants, cafes and wedding halls, many people working in various branches lost their jobs for an indefinite period. Many laborers who earned their lives on these stages and places became unemployed.
69- The emphasis on the role assigned to international solidarity, the use of public space and common resources for the common good, the necessity of the state’s regulatory role, the answer to the question of how an alternative world would be to the extent that the international system cannot make the capitalist conditions of existence and rules of operation its main goal, in other words, the place of communism in this, remains unclear. Even though this situation is met with interest by the international public, it makes it difficult for the masses to make sense of the warnings, questions and calls.
70- On the other hand, a certain segment that has drawn more negative conclusions from the staggering of capitalism gives greater meaning to the future of the "isolation society" at the social level and the power of technological-repressive methods, in short, to the positions that the capitalist class and the state has gained with the pandemic, and constructs its resistance strategies as the product of this motivation. Another aspect of this may be the illusion of bringing change by some forces within the rising order at the international level.
71- Finally, it is possible that the dynamism observed among the intellectuals may meet working-class politics in different ways and point to a more radical solution. In other words, it can be expected that breaks that will overcome uncertainty will occur among the intellectuals in the coming days. The scale and scope of these breaks will be determined by the interventions of the communist movement on an international scale.
TKP’S EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN
The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) has been following a line that considers raising the working people’s struggle against the destructive effects of capitalism by evaluating the pandemic through a class basis. This line includes the determination to protect the health of the people on a scientific basis, as well as a revolutionary attitude towards not leaving the violence and capitalist attacks that have increased their scope with the pandemic unanswered. In this sense, the Party formed various commissions made up of expert party members, and in close cooperation with the Academy of Science and Enlightenment (BAA), developed various tools in terms of both monitorings the course of the pandemic and keeping the society informed.
At the beginning of the pandemic, TKP insisted that almost all of the social and economic life could be stopped and the pandemic could be contained by widespread testing, and severely limited its own activities in this period. However, as in other capitalist countries, it was certain that Turkey’s capitalist power would sacrifice working people blindly with half-measures and would use a strategy that focused on social, economic and cultural dimensions of the virus as soon as it was heard to be widespread. The AKP government acts with the determination to intensify the policies in the direction of continuing production, that is, exploitation by multiplying, reaction and religionization, and in no way restrict its own political activities, but to stop life in political-union-cultural-social and educational terms.
The fact that it has partially reduced the severity of the pandemic does not constitute a sufficient justification to absorb such a restriction policy of this nature. During the pandemic which is almost a year old, a heavy economic picture emerged for a wide segment of the society, the mobility of the already unorganized working class has significantly decreased, and most of the forms of social relations needed by the working people have disappeared. Millions of children and young people have been cut off from education, and AKP has found great opportunities to create a more suitable human texture for itself. It is difficult to say that the mental and other health problems caused by the process will be less severe than the threat posed by Covid-19. Under these circumstances, increasing the intensity of social life and struggle in its policies regarding the pandemic, which has entered a new phase with vaccination applications, but is far from ending, will be one of the main goals of TKP. In this context, the Communist Party of Turkey is calling an emergency action plan through the implementation of the following:
1- All stages of vaccination, including the whole society, should be completed free of charge and in the shortest time possible. Paid vaccination, which will not cause anything but suspicion and legitimize injustice, should be abandoned.
2- Throughout the pandemic, all private healthcare institutions that try to turn Covid-19 intensity in public hospitals into a new opportunity and cause the waste of enormous resources in the fight against the outbreak should be nationalized.
3- Not only Covid-19 but a National Institute that will carry out the necessary vaccine and drug studies to protect public health against all epidemic diseases should be established, all drug production and distribution networks should be immediately nationalized and connected to this Institute.
4- All citizens should be distributed free of charge and in sufficient quantities of qualified masks, disinfectants and soap until the pandemic loses its effect completely.
5- All kinds of precautions should be taken so that the schools can be opened and face-to-face education can start as soon as possible at all levels. New classrooms should be built, staff positions should be opened for teachers and other personnel, and allowances should be made for schools for heating, ventilation and hygiene. Private schools should be nationalized, the Directorate of Religious Affairs should be closed and the huge budget of this institution should be transferred to the Ministry of National Education.
6- Electricity and natural gas distribution companies should be nationalized, all debts of subscribers in residences should be deleted.
7- Restrictions on trade unions, political activities, meetings and demonstration marches should be completely abolished as long as certain rules for health are followed. All bans on trade unions and political activities should be lifted.
8- Dismissals should be banned, and all unemployed people and those whose workplaces were closed during the pandemic should be paid at least the minimum wage per month during the period of unemployment.
9- Credit card debts of wage earners should be deleted, Ziraat Bank’s (Agricultural Bank) foreclosure application to small farmers should be stopped, and the loan debts of small farmers should be deleted.
10- All the resources of the state should be mobilized primarily to meet the education, health, shelter, and nutrition needs of the people, all incentives for capital, etc. grants and resource transfers should be stopped.
Communist Party of Turkey