Interview with Revolutionary Anarchist Activity (DAF): Even if One of Us Is Captive, None of Us Are Free
We do not believe in the idea that the revolution will happen on a blessed day, on the contrary, we create and live the revolution today.
From Gezi to Kobanê, from Newroz [Kurdish New Year] to the serhildans [uprisings], it is possible to see their black flag almost every time and area when the people stand up. Revolutionary Anarchist Activity has been organizing for decades as one of the most persistent forces of social active opposition. Their determined stance on the streets, squares and social media, which is the new battleground of the age, derives its strength from organized social opposition. They also base their beliefs that things will not be the way they should be without leaving our comfort zone on their deep analysis of history, society and politics. They argue that the revolution cannot happen by itself, and that action is needed to do their part. Therefore, “We, who believe in a holistic struggle, also transform our own lives to organize and take part in both social and political struggle. Because we do not believe in the idea that the revolution will take place on a blessed day; on the contrary, we create and live the revolution today.”
We had a conversation with Revolutionary Anarchist Activity within the framework of both their organization and their perspective on life and society, We talked of politics in Turkey and the liberation of those oppressed by the ruling AKP and MHP partners:
Revolutionary Anarchist Activity, how to evaluate Turkey’s current political and social environment?
We are in a period where the political power is experiencing both internal and external crises. While the AKP is raising the tension with its aggressive war strategy outside in order to preserve its power, it does not close the position it is trying to take by attacking its entire periphery from Libya to Cyprus, from Rojava to Bashur. Its ineffectiveness in the region continues, as it cannot bring the relations with the USA and Russia to the desired level. The position of the Turkish Republic, who has no position at the table, is also keeping watch at the established observation stations and cowardly attacking the people of the region in the spaces it finds. AKP, which is trying to shrug off the impact of the domestic economic crisis on its masses with the war agenda, has also lost this trump card. It is aimed to create an artificial war agenda with trekking-exercise-like operations carried out in the countryside of Bakur, as if walking in the countryside with thousands of soldiers by the media. Knowing that these operations will not satisfy its masses, the AKP attacks Kurdish villages, which it defines as terrorists. The attacks against HDP continue in the cities. Threats of arresting provincial / district heads extend to attorneys. However, the mass of the political power (AKP-MHP Coalition) fed by nationalism and conservatism cannot increase motivation. It is obvious that the mass loss and decline of the political power is related to the emergence of the economic crisis, the inability to stop the rise of the dollar, euro and interest rates, and the rise of everything. In a period where everything was raised by 150 percent, the 15 percent increase in workers’ wages showed the reality of the economic crisis. It is obvious that in the corona crisis, the epidemic was avoided with arbitrary shutdowns and token measures, and the vaccine policy does not care about the oppressed. It is obvious that the crisis caused by the corona crisis bans has negatively affected the society that is suffering from injustice. But the workers, the youth and women who are organizing for their freedom, who resist during this great oppression, keep hope.
You talked about the economic crisis and poverty. What do you think is the general situation of the country in terms of poverty and corruption?
Whoever is in the political power creates its own staffing within the state. This situation is one of the fundamentals of the state. Whoever becomes a political power, the periphery and supporters of that political power experience economic and social gains. So, the state means corruption. This unfair order continues with the enrichment of a certain segment of the minority and the impoverishment of other segments. This has been the case during the AKP’s 19-year political process. While the elected ones of their sections get rich, the other part of the society is getting poorer.
When we look at the practices of the state in all areas, we see a strict discrimination in terms of identities. In this context, how do you evaluate the state’s policies regarding identities and minorities?
The state is founded on the superiority of one or more identities. This is that all other identities living across that state live under permanent state domination. While every state in the world gained one or more ethnicities during the establishment phase, other ethnicities lost their lives and were massacred. This is without exception. In this context, every state is the murderer of the peoples. The peoples who cannot tell their stories in their own language, sing their own folk songs. They cannot freely live their own values. By defining their “special minority” status, they try to turn them into a luxury. This struggle for existence of those who oppose assimilation is labeled by the state as terror. But these stigmas cannot change the legitimacy of the people’s struggle for freedom.
In line with the rest of the points you mentioned, as you know, the Kurdish people are most exposed to the hatred of the Turkish state and show the most concrete reality of objecting to this hatred. What can you say about state policies in the context of the Kurdish issue?
The opposition of the Kurdish people, whose identity has been in denial of Turkishness since the foundation of the Turkish Republic, has been defined as an “issue.” The issue itself is the existence of the state in the geography and that the identity of this state is Turkishness. The Kurdish people opposed this policy of the Turkish Republic from the Ağrı Rebellion to the rebellion of Seyit Rıza in Dersim. After ‘80, the Kurdish people were organized with the inevitable need of an organized process in which the internal functioning was determined in all areas of life. With the effect of assimilation turning into failure in the ‘70s, attacks of the Turkish Republic have increased. These attacks continue today. In addition to the 19 years of political power forming organs like JİTEM [intelligence agency of the Turkish Gendarmerie], PÖH [police tactical unit of the General Directorate of Security in Turkey.]-JÖH [special operations unit of the Turkish Gendarmerie General Command], and the torture of guerrillas and party members, the torture of Kurds living in their own villages has also increased. The torture images of the villagers living in Halfeti at the Turkish Armed Forces’ station are an indication of this.
Could you explain more about torture?
The torture continues, with the state arresting and imprisoning anyone it sees as a terrorist, regardless of whether it is related to the organization or not. The torture that started with the police during the detention process continues with the guards during the imprisonment process. In addition to overt torture, the arbitrary practices faced by nearly 20,000 political prisoners have turned prison life into torture. The state continues its attacks against the Kurdish people it fought on the ground, and also in prisons. Despite all the pressures, these attacks are met with the prisoners’ organization, organized attitude and hunger strike actions. The state is losing against the struggle of the Kurdish people.
Prisons are already places where the most brutal practices of the state are observed… What do you think the extent of imprisonment reaches?
Today, we see that the state implements a strategy of torture and imprisonment against every organization and individual that resists and struggles against injustice. This strategy has now transcended organizations conducting social struggle. Even individuals who comment only on their social media accounts “Insulting the Presidency, insulting the Turkish State and the nation, etc.” are detained on grounds of excuses or even arrested.
There is actually an objection to all these practices of the state. Revolutionary Anarchist Activity, how do you assess the movement against the present government and the opposition in Turkey?
The opposition should be evaluated under two separate headings as parliamentary opposition and social opposition. The parliamentary opposition has squeezed anti-government opposition into the electoral, voter and voting triangle and is willing to include social opposition in this congestion. The hardening of the anti-government rhetoric and the constant desire for early elections are related to this. While they do not care about the organization of the social opposition, they use all kinds of populist discourse in the election processes. Any populist discourse to be used also legitimates the government’s use of populist rhetoric. These populist approaches make the real economic and social problems of the oppressed unsolved. Instead of discussing the crisis of society, the rhetorical debates between Kemal and Recep are becoming conversational.
What is your suggestion?
The organization of social opposition is indisputably important. The focus should be on organizing daily life, organizing actions for justice against injustices and strengthening organized actions. HDP is the reflection of social opposition in the parliament. Only the parliamentary has inevitably acquired the attitude of the opposition. The weakening of the action in the square and the organization in the neighborhood, while the opposition operated through the deputies is related to this transformation. HDP, which goes to the parliament from the neighborhoods, cannot return from the parliament to the neighborhoods. The government has seen this link weaken and wants to sever it with its attacks. While the government filed lawsuits and demonstrations against the attorneys for the satisfaction of its masses, it also arrested the cadres organizing the neighborhoods and sent the HDP, a popular movement, to a party in the parliament, and the individuals who are self-organization in the neighborhoods into voters, while they are using lawsuits to satisfy their masses, arresting the cadres organizing the neighborhoods.
So what should HDP do against this?
The organization of the social opposition should be strengthened with an understanding of organization that directly opposes the injustices experienced without the need for a party-voter dilemma. The organization of this opposition will be possible by self-organizing defense of our living spaces. These self-organizations are the most important tools for the creation of a new life, as well as the struggle against injustice. These organizations, where resistance and solidarity will take place, will create individual and social freedom.
The intensity of the political power in this period cannot prevent the struggle for freedom; even though state violence has come to light, as in every moment of history, the struggle will continue. This struggle is a struggle for existence for us oppressed people.
To sum up, what kind of opposition do you think is needed?
As we have just mentioned, we think that no matter what the parliamentary opposition does, it will not be able to make a real opposition. Taking political power by another populist political power does not make sense to us. The main thing is to organize the social opposition and free itself from the voting-election dilemma. We see that most of the workers’ struggles that result in gains today are formed by self-organizing of workers. This reminds us again that in order to achieve success where opposition is stuck, we must raise social opposition.
If the social opposition does not organize itself and take the struggle into its own hands, it will be condemned to the “fuck and laugh” policy among these “political” parties. It makes no difference whether the president is Recep Tayyip Erdogan or anyone else.
So where does Revolutionary Anarchist Activity see itself in the social structure? Who are the people with DAF?
Revolutionary Anarchist Activity is an organization that aims to destroy states and capitalism starting from this geography and to establish an anarchist world in its place. It draws its tradition from organized anarchism. It organizes the vital struggle rather than just waging a political struggle. It also carries out this with self-organizations within its own structure. This model of organization has also found its counterpart in world organized anarchism. Frequently, our comrades from different geographies of the world are our guests and share their experiences about their own geographies. Mostly, they try to adapt our organizational model to their geography. We believe that the salvation of all the oppressed will be the salvation of all. We adopt the principle of “even if one of us is captive, we are not free” and start from this point; it is in solidarity with all segments of the social struggle. We participate in all actions and realize the principle of solidarity in practice. Especially in the processes after the Taksim Gezi Rebellion and the Kobanê Resistance, the influence of our organization has strengthened the social opposition. It carries out activities in all fields from the struggle of workers to the struggle of ecology, from the struggle of youth to the struggle of women and the conscientious objection movement, which is the struggle of those who refuse military service.
We are made up of as diverse and numerous individuals as all the oppressed parts of this geography. Believing in a holistic struggle, we also transform our own lives to organize and take part in both social and political struggle. Because we do not believe in the idea that the revolution will happen on a blessed day; on the contrary, we create and live the revolution today. We are starting our individual and organizational transformations right now. As it is said in the Iberian Revolution, one of the most important experiences of our tradition, “We carry a new world in our hearts. Now, right now, this world is growing.”