Communists and the EU

Levent Dalyan gives the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Turkey

A principled and correct approach to the question of the European Union has added significance for the left movement in Turkey in general and the working class in particular, at a time when the Turkish government is on the brink of commencing accession negotiations. Different sections of the left have approached the issue in different and sometimes diametrically opposed ways. The question of a 'United States of Europe' is not new and has occupied the minds of communists for well over a century. The crux of the matter has been and still is to instil it with a revolutionary essence, content and policies. The post-World War II era has seen the opening up of the road to the European Union as we know it today. Turkey and the EU Turkey's intention to join the Common Market dates back to the 1960s. The then Turkish left then, in opposing the union, came up with the slogan, 'Their common interests, our market': ie, their common imperialist interests against our sovereign market! They developed an understanding of capitalist anti-imperialism: imperialism was identified as the USA, the Common Market and their allied institutions. 'Anti-imperialism' embraced national sovereignty, while defending the state. This understanding fitted with the interests of developing capitalism, with the bourgeoisie in general and finance capital in particular. Protectionist policies continued in Turkey until the 1980s. The military junta gradually relaxed these policies in an effort to open Turkey up to the world market. Statism, by contrast, had been the fodder with which to sustain the national bourgeoisie and finance capital, while oppressing the working class and the toiling masses. These views have unfortunately taken on a new dimension since the 1980s and are rampant among the 'left' sympathetic to nationalist ideas ... A new approach came into being among the reformist left in the 1980s and the Kurdish movement in the 1990s in relation to the European Union. An expectation arose that accession would bring about democratisation, the observation of human rights, the recognition of the cultural rights of the Kurdish population and the harmonisation of the legal code. The same expectation is also true for the Turkish Cypriot population. Our stand * Communists cannot take a stand against the intensification of capital and the deepening of the world market. Such a stand, taken in the name of anti-imperialism, or its present-day popular manifestation of anti-globalism, would only put communists on the same platform as the local and national bourgeoisie and the most reactionary sections under their influence. Although the development and spread of capitalism throughout the world offers new opportunities to imperialism, we believe, when viewed historically, it represents a progressive process. The spread of the productive forces to the most backward corners of the world and the replacement of existing feudal (and pre-feudal) relationships with a working class-based structure is a progressive development. * Communists cannot take a stand against the centralisation of the political system. The centralisation of the political system is a consequence of the deepening of the world market and the intensification of capital. Nevertheless this centralisation does not necessarily coincide with 'democratisation'. The capitalist economy is subject to periodic crises. Deep economic crises are accompanied by deep political crises. As a consequence of centralisation, under conditions of deep political crises, the bourgeois state exercises openly its unencumbered power. We do not oppose the centralisation of the political system, but never give up the struggle against the restriction of democratic rights, to force bourgeois democracy to its limits, and our right to smash the bourgeois state and establish a state beyond any democracy a bourgeois state can offer. We see the centralisation process as a tool to unite the toiling masses, overcome national barriers and expose the organisation of our class enemy. We see this as part of the struggle for true democracy. * Communists cannot place any hope in bourgeois democracy. Marx, Engels and Lenin criticised those who placed hope in bourgeois democracy as charlatans who misled the workers. Those leftists who believe that a more advanced bourgeois democracy would be on offer to the people of Turkey, Kurdistan and Cyprus are mistaken. They are also confusing the workers and toiling masses. When viewed from Turkey, Kurdistan or Northern Cyprus, the European Union may appear as a haven of human rights and democracy. There is no doubt that democratic gains made through centuries of struggle have made their mark; nevertheless it would be naive to think that they can be transferred from one set of statute books into another. It would be a fantasy to promote this or that form of bourgeois state structure in place of the rule of the working class and the struggle for socialism. But it would be a betrayal to promote this to the working class and the toiling masses in the name of the left. * The 'broad' democracy of the EU compared to that of Turkey is a trick to fool the working class The European Union has come about as the culmination of the agreement of the imperialist countries of the world, and whose tentacles stretch to every part of the globe: a market with no customs duties, common economic conditions and strict control of the workforce, a parliament with dysfunctional elected members. We can point to much more, including perhaps that an appreciable number of the member-states are still monarchies! Is it not time that a struggle was waged for republics? The European Union is an economic union where a common economic standard for the people has meant pulling down living standards to the lowest common denominator. Xenophobia results and migrant workers are blamed for the lowering of living standards, thereby dividing the working class. Competition fuelled by the bourgeoisie among the workers and contractual working have led to the lowest levels of unionisation in decades. We are fundamentally opposed to the concept of Fortress Europe. We, as communists, demand equal citizenship rights for residents in the union, wherever they live and work, regardless of their country of origin. We cannot give blind support to the European Union with the expectation of better days to come. The essence of our struggle is the defeat of bourgeois rule and the formation of a revolutionary state with the full participation of the working class. * Proletarian internationalism forms the basis of the communist stand. Whether viewed nationally or internationally, the founding principle of communists is proletarian internationalism, based on the unity of the working class of the world, common organisation and world revolution. This must be the guiding principle of our approach to the EU. * Communists have the duty to strive for the unity of the trade unions in Europe, a single European party, a common strategy and publications. And we must take steps to realise this aim. The urgent task for communists is to accelerate the coordination of our activities to promote cooperation and make communists the true vanguard of the class. Communists must not forget Lenin's advice: "There are two nations in every modern nation: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. There are two national cultures in every national culture "¦ What we call national culture is always the culture of the dominant nation. The slogan of national culture is a bourgeois ... falsification. Our slogan is the international culture of democracy and the culture of the international working class movement" (VI Lenin CW Vol 14, Moscow 1977, p22). Yet as Turkish communists we are only too aware of the plight of the Kurdish people and the struggle they have waged. It is our duty to reiterate our utter and unequivocal belief in the right to self-determination of nations, so long as national borders exist. But there is another side to the coin. Our priority is to resist the temptation of the working class of Europe to defect to the fold of imperialism on the crumbs meted out on the basis of superprofits. We must defend the unity and interests of the working class of the world; defend the interests of humanity before the interests of the working class of Europe.