“Türkiye has reached the edge of a revolution”

“Türkiye has reached the edge of a revolution”

Interview by Meral Akkaya

The Republic of Türkiye today, 29 October 2023, is 100 years old. What did the Republic bring to Türkiye? Where has the Republic given to Türkiye in 100 years? Why did Mustafa Kemal Atatürk become a world leader? And what’s ahead of the Republic at the beginning of its second century? Historian and political scientist, Uwidata author Dr. Mehmet Perinçek shared his evaluation with us.

“The Republic needs to be re-established, not protected”

The Republic of Türkiye is 100 years old. How do you see where the Republic has come in 100 years?

Unfortunately, today there is not much left of Atatürk’s Republic. Rather than a Republic to be protected, we are faced with a Republic that should be re-established within the framework of Atatürk’s principles.

The main approaches of Atatürk’s era in terms of economy and society have been eliminated. After joining NATO in 1950 and the Turkish governments aiming to be a “Little America”, the counter-revolution process began. Especially after the pro-American coup on September 12, 1980, and the neoliberal policies imposed afterwards, the institutions of the Republic were eliminated. It is important to put this fact clearly to understand the tasks ahead of us. So, are we going to be content with what is left of the Republic, or will we follow a path to rebuild it? This is the main issue.

“Mafiocracy rules”

A mafiocracy prevailed in the economy and the state governance system. Neoliberal policies, especially after the 1980s and 1990s, render Türkiye’s economy completely dependent on foreign sources. Türkiye gradually stepped back from the Atatürk’s policies based on production and became dependent on hot money. In the economy, Türkiye should turn back to policies determined by state intervention and public ownership, just like Atatürk did.

Adopting a region-centered foreign policy

Looking at foreign policy, we can see that the pro-Western policies that started in the 1950s still prevail. Türkiye should defend a region-centered foreign policy, just as Atatürk did. In this regard, the Turkish military is perhaps the most important institution that continues in the footsteps of Atatürk. Especially after the coup attempt of July 15-16, 2016 the Turkish military eliminated pro-American elements within that were trying to undermine the Republic.

100 years ago and now: plans to divide Türkiye

Türkiye was established after and because of an anti-imperialist war 100 years ago. Is there still a similar context?

The imperialist policies of dividing Türkiye are still there. There are imperialist plans and attacks, similar to the Sevres Treaty was imposed of a century ago.

In the Greater Middle East project, we openly see these plans. The threats Türkiye faces in the Eastern Mediterranean are part of this. Threats that extend from Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean, to the Aegean, Thrace the Black Sea aim to encircle Türkiye. Just like in the years of the War of Independence of Türkiye, the West seeks to establish buffer zones between Türkiye and Russia in South Caucasus.

Fragility on the domestic front

The most important reason for the emergence of these threats is the abandonment of the fundamental principles of the Republic, resulting in a fragility on the domestic front. If there is a strong structure in economic, cultural and social aspects, the threats cannot harm Türkiye. With Atatürk’s Six Arrows principles, Türkiye can thwart the imperialist plans I mentioned. A strong state, a strong army and a strong economy: these are the key factors.

International alliances must be formed

I say keeping the domestic front strong is essential. Yet considering the severity of the threats, it is necessary to establish international alliances for Türkiye, hust like in the Atatürk era. Türkiye needs to be aware that the opposing powers are great. To stand strong against that requires coming together with countries facing the same threat. When Eurasian forces are united, it would be very possible to counter these threats.

Legacy of the Republic

I also want to point out that we have a significant advantage compared to 100 years ago. Today, Türkiye has the legacy and experience of Atatürk and the Republic. When Atatürk and the founder cadres of the Republic embarked on their revolutionary mission, they had only the 1908 Revolution behind them, not more. We have a ready-made recipe in our hands. In fact, Türkiye can set much higher goals beyond this recipe. The 100-year legacy that Atatürk left us is our most important guide.

Additionally, we are going through a period when the capitalist-imperialist system is in crisis worldwide. Today’s crisis is much deeper than the crisis during Atatürk’s time. The established order is globally on the decline.

Atatürk’s winning strategy

Why is Atatürk referred to as a world leader?

Perhaps the most important characteristic of Atatürk is that he correctly formulated the equation of revolution and victory, in other words a proper strategy. That can be summarized as follows: uniting the nation on the domestic front and forming international alliances on the external front.

Atatürk had a strong background: serving as a military officer in the Balkans, getting acquinted with the principles of the French Revolution, and then the October Revolution. Atatürk wrote in his notebook as a young officer in 1904, “First, one must be a socialist and understand the material.” By this term, he had a kind of materialism in his mind, in the sense of grasping the basic dynamics of society and history. By combining the principles of the French and October Revolutions in the Six Arrows, Atatürk became a world leader.

The era of revolutions

The time that Atatürk emerged as a leader was the era of socialist revolutions and national liberation wars erupted. While the first socialist revolution took place in Russia, the first national liberation war was achieved in Türkiye. These two revolutions led to similar revolutions and movements in the world.

Wherever in the world, all national movements resisting imperialism, from North Africa to India, and to other countries in West Asia, was inspired from Atatürk and accepted him as a guide for independence. By proving that imperialism could be defeated, Atatürk set a model to all the oppressed around the world.

The founding will

Atatürk’s strategy was not only to destroy the old system but also to build the new one to replace it. Building the new is a prerequisite for destroying the old. Atatürk showed this founding will by opening the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye. That marks the establishment of a national government. So, the reason for Atatürk’s being a world leader lies in his revolutionary spirit.

“We should be organized like Atatürk did”

Is there anything specific you would like to share with the society on the 100th anniversary?

Today, Türkiye needs a new revolution. The pro-Western liberal policies seeped into every capillary of society and life. It can only be overcome with a revolution.

There is a favorable ground for such a revolution. The historical phase Türkiye is going through, the re-establishment of a multi-polar world, that the Western imperialist system is facing crises, that Türkiye’s army is still standing strong: all this provides us great advantages in the coming period. To sum it up in one sentence: Türkiye is on the threshold of a revolution again.

What we need is to be organized. Just like Atatürk did. Atatürk achieved all his successes through organized struggle. He founded or took part in various organizations when he was in military school. Then he founded the Republican People’s Party and waged an organized struggle throughout his life. And revolution is a work only an organized society can succeed.

Mehmet Perinçek

Historian and political scientist (Türkiye)

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April 2024