Fikret Bashkaya: born in 1940, graduated from Ankara University, doctor in economics from Paris and Poitiers universities, working as a researcher and professor in various organisations and at the Social Services Academy as well as at Abant Izzet Baysal University, author of many research articles and books (the best known being The Bankruptcy of Paradigm, disclosing the logic and main themes of the ideology of capitalism in its present forms), already sentenced twice for his ideology (once for 20 months in Haymana Closed Prison, secondly in 2004 for three years in prison) as political prisoner, founder of the Free University, where he teaches from 2007[i].
Although prosecuted by the present political regime in Turkey, Fikret Bashkaya did not write in principle against it: but against the capitalist system as such, against its logic and ideologies, which inherently give birth to authoritarian political regimes in different forms, including “democratic” with parties and elections (and thus not only in Turkey, as he himself wrote and all of us know), and certainly legitimating themselves with religion and myths. These political regimes may make some people to think that they are of all things intolerable and “the former/normal capitalism” as a golden age: and obviously any worsening of life is painfully felt by people, but in order to oppose this worsening it is not enough to criticise the political regime directly causing it, but its old roots, the capitalist system and its ruling strata.
Thus, Fikret Bashkaya was and is not a simple opponent “to Erdoğan”, acting as if the simple substitution of a person or even a simple relaxation of the political regime would solve everything/would establish the desired “normal capitalism”.
The more so as the things are more complicated than the simple political partisanship for liberal democracy assumes:
– the authoritarian political regime may – as in Turkey – support an alert economic policy with already remarkable results, including on the living standard of millions of people[ii],[iii].
– But could we say that the social polarisation and contradictions, the power of official bigotry and mythical clichés, the dominant ideology’s shameless and cynical reduction of everything to the “business” and profit seen as “merit” and the only success would be related only to the present political regime?
– Could some one say that the warfare the Turkish state endeavours, including in relation with the Kurds who are Turkish citizens[iv], would be only the result of the present political regime?
– Could some one ignore that in proud countries for their “democracy” there would exist neither militarist and warrior policies and nor unemployment, vital insecurity of the working poor, poverty of the part-time workers and under middle class/lack of steady employment, health care and affordable housing, offensive of both religions and neo-liberal lack of any human restraint?
– Could some one ignore that the present repression is not new at all but continues[v] the logic of repression in the modern (Turkish) capitalist state?
– Could some one ignore that the main Turkish repression against the neo-liberal opponents (the Fethullah Gülen conspiracy) of the present tendency of “national” capital political regime – that is not the solution, but at least defends its cultural treasuries from the neo-liberal privatisations[vi] – would not be bigger, proportionally, than that of “democratic” Western countries?[vii]
– Could some one not perceive that the present nationalist tendency of the political regime is only the form of capitalist legitimating – and struggle of the “national” capital against the trans-national one – as well as sowing of such seeds[viii] in the social consciousness so as to avoid a class consciousness against the oppression?
– Could some one ignore that the last years mass protests (from the Gezi Park movement in 2013 to the Kurdish one in 2015 managed by the government by bombing the Kurdish territories[ix] and by scaring the Turkish solidarity with the Kurds with bombs exploding in the midst of crowds in Ankara, Mersin and Adana), although showing the deep opposition against capitalism as well as the disorientation of the masses betrayed, as everywhere, by the “left” parties and unions bureaucracies[x], have illustrated just the weak class consciousness of probably most of the Turkish youth fighting “the government”[xi],[xii] or enjoying only the occupation of urban space (Taksim square)[xiii]?
– And might one not think that the acute attack on the present political regime would not be related at all to the present geopolitical alliances Turkey perform?
– And yes, the present incrimination, by the political regime, of the multinational corporations and the distribution chain of merchandises – as the trans-national chain of supermarkets – is certainly a reaction of the “national capital/ism” against the competition and power of the trans-national capital/ism and certainly a movement to divert the attention from the constitutive profit logic in the entire economic system to the “intermediary” parts; and this incrimination is certainly an electoral movement: but does every relief of life not matter for those who are worried about how they will manage financially by the end of each month, to quote the siblings of the Turkish population, the French “yellow vests” ?
And since this incrimination and the present state stores with some basic vegetables at low price, possible through the avoiding of intermediary chains, are hated by the singers of neo-liberalism and trans-national capitalism, can it be conceived that Fikret Bashkaya would sit in their ranks?
Is neo-liberalism the solution against the imprisonment of minds? Or the deep common sense of the people, called as „traditional values”, is only that shrouded in religion?
No, definitely not. Just against the above simplistic “alternatives” given in the dominant pattern, was and is Fikret Bashkaya an anti-capitalist scholar, for already 54 years.
The site of the Free University – http://ozguruniversite.org – is a witness that this university and its founder aim at a more serious theoretical understanding of things than the simplistic liberal picture mentioned above. The frequent publication of Thierry Meissan – see not only his site, https://www.voltairenet.org/en, but also his wikipaedia page – as well as of Fikret Bashkaya and other distinguished Turk scientists emphasises the Free University’s assumption of the necessity of a large publicity of information and reasoning in a critical pattern “all the way”. This publicity is, undoubtedly, the gate to a rationalist education “all the way” and thus, to a well-tempered social optimism.
Well, we all know that the rationalism “all the way” and the social critique are not welcomed by the capitalist “elites” and governments. They are considered even subversive, the more so as capitalism is in its system crisis. The class struggle manifests also through the isolation of anti-capitalist theorists[xiv], and thus through the intimidation of the broad popular layers which, consciously or not, have already assumed anti-capitalism, even though for the moment not all of them know to express it. And although the struggle against other capitalist forces able to take the present ruling strata’s power but keeping the system alive is as resolute as we witness it through the form of anti-Gülen movement, actually the class struggle against the broad masses of the people is fundamental for the whole of the ruling strata. Fikret Bashkaya is again a part in this class struggle and inevitable repression seeming to not being halted by the author’s age and state of health, as it happened in 2017 when he was prosecuted for the same piece of work as now, but them was released[xv].
Thus, Fikret Bashkaya is again prosecuted – the first hearing being on March 21, 2019 –: for his article The real terror is state terror, written in 2016[xvi].
Let us mention some ideas from this article – written in a direct and keen style, very persuasive and thus dangerous – so as the reaction of the state institutions being understandable.
- Because it is the instrument of the “privileged classes”, and thus because it needs to legitimate itself in front of the broad population, the state has always to create an enemy and many enemies: for it depends on the existence of enemies it defeats.
- The state is thus that which define the terrorism and who is terrorist.
- Since this arbitrary power of stigma and repression is absurd, “the only means of an oppressed-exploited-humiliated social class, community or people, or an individual or a group” “is the resistance”. Only when resisting, is the human free, and not servile, and thus it has the right to resist.
- All the colonialist powers have fought the resistance of the colonised peoples, including with the idea of “necessity to bring them the values of civilisation”.
- Because the international declarations – as the document voted a the UN General Assembly, 94th plenary meeting on 7 December 1987[xvii] – have made the distinction between terrorism and “the struggle of peoples for national liberation” and have deplored “the continuation of all terrorist acts, including those in which States are directly or indirectly involved, which spread violence and terror”, “Reaffirming also the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes and other forms of alien domination, and upholding the legitimacy of their struggle, in particular the struggle of national liberation movements”, there were states which did not sign them (and do no respect them at all).
- Because of capitalist interests, the “countries”, viz. the governments, behave in ways where practice contradicts the beautiful phrases of political declarations. As Turkey in front of Kurds.
- There is a deep “ideological slavery” arresting the understanding of what does terrorism mean and who are the real terrorists.
- However, there are visible facts – as the present massacres in many countries (as Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria), made by different types of aggressions – which do not move the “innocent ordinary people”. Well, in this case even the concept of “political innocence” has to be revisited.
- And because – as in Turkey – the state terrorism enters in a spiral of violence, as if only this violence would allow the further leadership over the oppressed, these ones do not have other solution than to better oppose and resist: in a dialectic where the determination generated by the fact that, indeed, they do have nothing to lose but to win, make them to forget their previous state when they were ashamed to being part of that humankind that showed only cruelty, irreparable cruelty towards its own members.
Therefore, now, at the beginning of 2019, the repressive institutions have again prosecuted Fikret Bashkaya for the article written in 2016. It’s a dangerous situation for this sensitive man who has assumed the duty to teach what human responsibility does mean in front of the capitalist logic.
The Free University has immediately published a declaration – End the oppression against freedom of thought and expression [xviii]– calling to solidarity with their Professor.
Let me express my deep solidarity, by making two remarks.
The first is that, oh yes, not all the ideas deserve to be public and to be defended in the name of freedom of thought and expression. Since the ideas are those which give the motivations of the human actions, one has to differentiate, by the help of a criterion, between ideas. Certainly, all the ideas may be/must be themes of scientific inquiries in full freedom. But when the ideas are values, i.e. motivations of human actions, one has to separate those which do not harm/ do not dissolve the human dignity of every human being – or, expressed in a positive manner, those which respect the dignity of every human being (and all of them) – from those which despise and reject the dignity of every human being and all of them.
Fikret Bashkaya has written only ideas which respect the dignity of all the human beings and of every one of them. Consequently, in which meaning do these ideas harm the humans? Does the resistance Fikret Bashkaya supports not mean also a clever responsibility concerning the necessary social order and security for all?
The second remark is related to the right to oppose, advanced by Fikret Bashkaya. But if the European culture, in the name of the ideals of Enlightenment, has developed the right to oppose, does this right was not both implicit and explicit in all the traditional religions (the present Turkish institutions consider to promote)? Does the victory of all the religious pundits not followed from their former opposition in the name of the, indeed, saint, right to oppose? Since the article of Fikret Bashkaya was in no means a seed of terrorism, as the declaration rightfully states, but only of intelligence to fight terrorism, does it not suggest to the prosecutors to rather collaborate with the people careful towards the criterion to separate between ideas?
Well, again, do these all not mean the difficulty but also the pleasure to develop the common intelligence of humans, just in order to use our/their own sense of human humour in the service of our/their common human security?
Let’s be optimistic!
[i] See https://bianet.org/bianet/ifade-ozgurlugu/205821-fikret-baskaya-ya-orgut-propagandasi-davasi.
[ii] Paul Mason, Will gas canisters or yoga prevail in Turkish spring?, 8 June 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22814291.
[iii] Öznur Küçüker Sirene, La Turquie a-t-elle encore besoin d’intégrer l’UE ?, http://www.trt.net.tr/francais/turquie/2019/02/07/la-turquie-a-t-elle-encore-besoin-d-integrer-l-ue-etude-1140788.
[iv] See Sungur Savran, Turkey and its Kurds at War: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Personal Quest for Survival, September 15, 2015, http://www.globalresearch.ca/turkey-and-its-kurds-at-war-recep-tayyip-erdogans-personal-quest-for-survival/5476307.
[v] See Mustafa Cumhur İzgi, Elif Vatanoğlu-Lutz, “Deepening dilemma on hunger strikes in Turkey: How do we approach it if the children are on strike?”, Revista Română de Bioetică, Vol. 13, Nr.2, april – june 2015, pp. 231-238.
[vi] Phil Butler, Greeks Beware of a Silent Operation Mercury II, 24.02.2019, https://journal-neo.org/2019/02/24/greeks-beware-of-a-silent-operation-mercury-ii/. And Roland Benedikter, “Privatisation of Italian Cultural Heritage”, International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4, September 2004, pp. 369–389.
[vii] See Bruno Guigue, La Chine, Amnesty et les Gilets Jaunes, 26 février 2019, https://www.mondialisation.ca/la-chine-amnesty-et-les-gilets-jaunes/5631467.
[viii] John Halpin, Michael Werz, Alan Makovsky, Max Hoffman, Is Turkey Experiencing a New Nationalism?An Examination of Public Attitudes on Turkish Self-Perception, February 11, 2018, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2018/02/11/445620/turkey-experiencing-new-nationalism/.
[ix] Que se passe-t-il en Turquie ?, mardi 22 décembre 2015, http://michelcollon.info/Que-se-passe-t-il-en-Turquie.html.
[x] Bill Van Auken, Turkey at the crossroads, 6 June 2013, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/06/pers-j06.html.
[xi] Saygun Gökarıksel, A Report from the Uprising in Turkey, https://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/a-report-from-the-turkish-uprising/; 1 June 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/turkish-police-fire-tear-gas-worst-protests-years-003209174.html and 3 June 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/protesters-defiant-turkey-unrest-goes-third-day-001302568.html.
[xii] Saygun Gökarıksel, A Report from the Uprising in Turkey, https://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/a-report-from-the-turkish-uprising/.
[xiii] Saygun Gökarıksel, History of the future: reflections on the uprising in Turkey, https://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/history-of-the-future-reflections-on-the-uprising-in-turkey/
[xiv] Actually, and as we all know, the class struggle was the class relationship that has better clarified the class positions and interests than any literature. In this struggle, fell also members of the upper class, fine intellectuals but rebels against the class of their origin. See Sheikh Bedreddin in the first decades of the 15th century, insisting on the common property – as, only somehow, Bartolomé de las Casas in the 1515 to 1560s in Latin America – and leading a peasant revolt in the name of an extraordinary spirit of social equality: Sungur Savran, ”İki devrimin hikâyesi: Nâzım, Bedreddin ve1416 ihtilali”, Devrimci Marksizm #26 İlkbahar 2016, pp. 107-158, and Sungur Savran, Sheikh Bedreddin: A Greco-Turkish communist internationalist avant la letter, December 17, 2016, http://redmed.org/article/sheikh-bedreddin-greco-turkish-communist-internationalist-avant-la-lettre. The last article was translated into Hungaarian by the Hungarian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique.
[xv] Gözaltına alınan Fikret Başkaya serbest bırakıldı [Fikret Başkaya taken into custody was released] 27.11.2017, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/son-dakika-fikret-baskaya-gozaltina-alindi-40659144.
[xvi] Fikret Başkaya, Asıl terör devlet terörüdür, 7 NOV 016, http://ozguruniversite.org/2016/11/07/asil-teror-devlet-terorudur-fikret-baskaya/; the paper was again published, in Turkish – on 26 Feb. 2019, http://avrupaforum.org/asil-teror-devlet-terorudur-fikret-baskaya-2/ – and in its German translation, http://avrupaforum.org/der-wahre-terror-ist-der-staatsterror-fikret-baskaya/.
[xvii] See http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/42/a42r159.htm.
[xviii] Fikret Başkaya Davası – ‘Hiç Kimse Düşüncelerinden Dolayı Yargılanamaz’ – Basın Metni [No one can be prosecuted due to his thoughts’], http://ozguruniversite.org/2019/02/25/fikret-baskaya-davasi-hic-kimse-dusuncelerinden-dolayi-yargilanamaz/.