Every ideological camp in the left-wing, ranging from moderate leftists to the far left, has tended to put the blame for this massacre on the state. So they argued that the counter-guerrilla network nested within the state had devised and staged this incident in an effort to create chaos in the country. Some also argued that there were US agents in Taksim Square during the May Day festivities in 1977.
Based on some concrete evidence, Berktay announced that this massacre was the result of the clashes between various far-left groups. At that time, pro-China Maoist groups and the pro-Russia Turkish Communist Party (TKP) had debated with each other about not allowing some leftist groups to enter the rally area, and this debate grew into an armed clash, and eventually, 37 people -- five were shot to death and 32 were crushed to death -- died. This claim raised hell in the left-wing, but no one raised an objection to Berktay’s thesis with concrete evidence. So objections mainly argued that this disclosure will undermine the prestige of the left.
The weekend saw the 40th anniversary of the execution of Deniz Gezmiş and two of his friends. Gezmiş is one of the legendary figures of the radical left. He can be aptly described as Turkey’s Che Guevara. He tried to establish a socialist regime by cooperating with a leftist junta inside the army to trigger a revolution a la Latin America, but he was tried and executed. All of the left-wing cliques, as well as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, attended the commemoration ceremony held at his grave. The left is trying to recover itself by confronting its past at random or by overstating the legends. The left’s coming to power in France with Francois Hollande’s election victory will clearly grow into a general trend across Europe. The rise of the left in the Greek parliamentary elections can also be seen as another sign of the rising left. But will the Turkish left benefit from this trend? Having hit rock bottom, can the Turkish left raise itself up from its ashes?
The answer to this question is hidden in the fundamental contradiction that the Turkish left has never been able to overcome. The leftist masses rely on three components. The first of these components is a set of social democratic policies that are class-based, as is the case with the universal left. This component represents the poor groups and workers. The second component of the Turkish left is the defense of the Turkish Republic’s founding principle, Kemalism, as an anti-imperialist, or rather an anti-American nationalist ideology, as is the case with world socialism. This component advocates and cooperates with juntas and pro-coup groups. The third component is the leveraging of ethnic/religious minorities, in particular Alevis, as a repository of electoral support ready for service at all times. However, there is an essential conflict between the first two components. When ethnic colors dominate the party, its leftist qualities vanish.
The rebirth of the Turkish left is conditional upon its ability to increase its common denominators with the universal left. If it cannot dispense with Kemalism and its inexplicably illogical anti-Americanism, the Turkish left will hardly make any sense in our time. Everyone in the left-wing, from the most moderate to the most radical, must get rid of this contradiction and face the truth.
The resignation of Gürsel Tekin, who seems to be the second man in the CHP, has nothing to do with these ideological contradictions. Yet, it is always possible to find ideological justifications for conflicting personal interests. Even these justifications may trigger new debate.
The Turkish left has today hit rock bottom. As there is nothing to fear, the time is ripe for its rebirth.