Commemoration message

As read out at the December 11 online meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of an exiled Turkish revolutionary leader

I first got to know comrade Rustu Yürükoğlu (Veli Dursun) on a long bus journey from London to Yorkshire. The first English edition of Turkey - weak link of imperialism had just been published and I was given a copy.

Being far too used to the standard fare produced by ‘official communist’ writers, I began with few expectations. However, I read it cover to cover and with growing enthusiasm. The book was a revelation. I can say without hesitation that it changed my life. It opened a window, allowed me to think.

This was in the late 1970s at a time of greatly heightened political tensions in Turkey. The country was approaching boiling point. It was going to be revolution or counterrevolution.

Comrade Yürükoğlu was above all a revolutionary. He and his comrades around İşçinin Sesi (Workers Voice) began an open struggle against the opportunism that disarmed and disorientated the working class movement, and, of course, not only in Turkey.

While the Communist Party of the Soviet Union bears a particular responsibility here, we must also blame ourselves. Too many communists allowed themselves to become apologists for a conservative, self-serving and ultimately doomed bureaucratic elite.

Fortunately, many other İşçinin Sesi books and articles were translated into English. There can be no doubt that they provided us with inspiration in our own struggle against the Eurocommunists, Straight Leftists and other factions who were bent on liquidating the Communist Party of Great Britain. The existence of the CPGB’s current Provisional Central Committee and its Weekly Worker therefore owes a real debt to Rustu Yürükoğlu and his comrades.

We worked particularly closely for a brief period in the late 1970s and early 80s. That relationship continued throughout the 1980s, but was very much wound down following the collapse of bureaucratic socialism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Sadly, our paths diverged somewhat.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of comrade Yürükoğlu’s death - when capitalism is showing all the signs of dragging the whole of humanity into barbarism, and yet the left remains feeble, divided and programmatically adrift - we can assure you of our continued commitment to principled unity, the struggle for working class rule and international communism.

Jack Conrad