November 15, 2012, Thursday

Why is pro- Kurdish politics tainted with urgency?

The early years are critical for groups that resort to violence to secure certain rights or authority.

This is because there are rivals who also target the same supporters and it is hard to inhibit the emergence of potential contenders. On the other hand, there is uncertainty about to what extent the public will support a violence-centered struggle. The early phase of such violent movements is generally rife with efforts to eliminate rivals and become politically accepted by the public.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see uneasiness and an urgency-tainted approach dominating the movement. As the movement has yet to grow stronger, even the smallest failure may scythe off the movement. After a while, if the movement proves itself, violence turns into a policy. After that point, the urgency-tainted approach is left behind, and the violence-centered movement becomes part of the country’s political spectrum, evolving into one of its referenced actors. This implies that it will develop long-term strategies and plans and market a calmer and more determined posture to the public.

Viewed from the continuum of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), pro-Kurdish politics should have left behind its initial phases. Today, after 30 years of struggle, the PKK has its parliamentary group despite many adversities, about 100 municipalities and numerous civil society organizations supporting it, has established its own media and trade network, and acquired considerable experience in social mobilization. Logically, such a movement would be expected to pursue a consistent strategy to obtain Kurdish rights. Declaring that it was keeping violence at bay as an “emergency measure,” it could mobilize support to the parliamentary struggle through acts of civil disobedience or civil society activities in line with the spirit of the times. Indeed, it is clear that such an attitude would secure a big backing from the world and no government in Turkey would be able to resist it in a “legitimate” manner.

But it didn’t happen in that way. Pro-Kurdish politics is still tainted with the political immaturity of its early days. So much experience and sorrow does not appear to have seasoned the movement. Its institutional structure failed to produce a culture that goes beyond mere “ideological tribalism.” The PKK’s decision-making mechanism operates based on power capabilities of the intra-institution politics and through street militancy. For the last 30 years, pro-Kurdish politics have failed to make any intellectual contribution to Turkey or Kurdish society.

This keeps the PKK and pro-Kurdish politics stuck in an “urgency-tainted” mood reminiscent of its early days. In its early years, the PKK committed more murders than the state in removing alternative pro-Kurdish movements. Its attitude is still the same. The PKK cannot bear having rivals. The fact that a movement that demands democracy is so afraid of pluralism is proof of its lack of self-confidence. Indeed, the PKK is, in the final analysis, an unsuccessful movement. It is nothing but a movement which was unable to make use of its potential, underestimated its capabilities, and is unable to perceive the perspective which may position it as a permanent and respectable political actor. This is the main reason why the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is politically unripe and has been unable to find its true identity. What pro-Kurdish politics can offer as a “policy” is to expand toward leftist groups and take them under their roof and invest hopes in a fait accompli that is produced in the streets and that mixes the legal with the illegal.

The real problem with pro-Kurdish politics actually is that the “de facto” conflicts help them hide their inability to produce policies and they seek to confirm their rightfulness by stressing their victimization and the attitude of the other side, and they take this rightfulness as a justification for their lack of policies. However, with such an attitude, they cannot really secure the support of Kurdish society despite everything the state does. … The pro-Kurdish politics needs a “bad” state. This need imprisons them in a continuous state of urgency.

Previous articles of the columnist