The Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) is a communist party operating in Turkey.
The Party’s emblem is a three colored star on a white background; red symbolizes the struggle of the working class, green symbolizes nature and the struggle to protect our habitat, and purple symbolizes the struggle for the freedom of women.
The definition of the Party is made as follows in the by-law (Article 2): Wherein there is a progressive and revolutionary pole of class conflict across the world and wherein there are actors who carry with them the forward movement of history, they are composed especially by the working class, women, youth, advocates of nature and life, and the oppressed. Today, the statement that “all written history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” is verified on the global scale. The working class and the oppressed are able to succeed in this struggle, only when they become organized as a force capable of confronting and resisting sovereign power. The Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) was established to respond to such a need as the communist party of the working class and all oppressed. However, in the present historical conjuncture, SYKP is aware of the necessity for the refoundation of the working class and socialist movement, and pursues this goal as an immediate task.
The Establishment of SYKP and Current Position
In one-sense, the SYKP is not fundamentally a new party as much as it is a new beginning for young revolutionaries, and older revolutionary organizations who have fought for socialism since the 1960’s. The SKYP, nevertheless, promotes itself as a new revolutionary program which differs from those of other revolutionary socialist and communist parties in Turkey.
After intense dialog and discussions lasting two years, Four groups and parties and numerous other independent socialists integrated into the SYKP on the basis of shared ideological and organizational principles. Initially, it had been decided that the foundation of the party would be announced on the 16th of June (the anniversary of the great struggles of workers in 1970). But this was delayed due to the active participation of the founding members in Occupy Gezi or June Movement. As a result, our party was founded on 24th June 2013. In this context, SYKP defines itself as both a student and a child of the Occupy Gezi movement.
Prof. Dr. Nejla Kurul and Tuncay Yılmaz, are the founding chairwoman and chairman of SYKP, respectively. Comrade Tülay Hatimoğulları and Comrade Ahmet Kaya took the helm at the 2nd Congress held on 24-26 June 2016. Also, veteran figures like Sevim Belli, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Mahir Sayın, Kenan Kalyon, as well as other well-known faces of the communist movement in Turkey were among the party’s founders.
Today, SYKP is organized in 30 metropolitan areas (population over a million) and many provinces in Turkey.
The Communist Movement and SYKP
Unfortunately, one cannot speak of a unified Turkish Leftist movement today. Revolutionary parties have themselves suffered from separations and splinters since 1968, and while there were attempts to create a united party in the 90s, these projects could not show themselves to be resilient. Even newer separations occurred from the unique theoretical, strategic and tactical problems of the time, and any efforts to re-unite the left were only complicated by these splits. This is the legacy that revolutionary organizations today inherit. Apart from SYKP, there are still many other parties, groups and social movements which aim to establish socialism in Turkey. Furthermore, the Kurdish political movement which undeniably has a strong socialist tendency, is still riddled with contradictory dynamics, which poses further obstacles to a untied socialist front. Understanding these circumstances, the SYKP does not seek to argue that, with its formation, it has completed the refoundation of the communist movement. It only seeks to argue that refoundation is itself defined as an open and continuous process and in this regard, the SYKP is still open for establishing new alliances in the communist movement.
The Party, regardless of the ideological, political and organizational differences within it, acknowledges everyone who aims for communism as a communist. It derives lessons from other revolutionary parties and also tries to learn from their experiences.
Our party attempts to seize the favorable objective conditions upon us. It is now possible to resolve the separations which occurred throughout the history of the communist movement in Turkey. The SYKP welcomes the fading of the historical feuds among those who regard themselves as communist. Whether individuals were involved in Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Enver Hoxhaist or focoist movements, the SYKP recognizes the broadening grounds pertaining to our common struggle –and it promotes the revolutionary process in this way. However, its members are also realistic about the left in Turkey, keeping in mind that fundamental differences in understanding, behavior and organizational styles that have developed over a long period of time cannot be resolved in an instant.
As a party that has carried it out its own part, SYKP anticipates that in the future, it could be come in contact with communists into the single organization coming from different ideological and political structures. In that case, it discusses, on the one hand, on ideological issues, on the other hand it looks for making an alliance with the other social movements to act in unison for the class struggle.
Why SYKP, and not only HDP?
SYKP is a communist party. It considers at all times that, in the first instance, all socials problems and conflicts arise from the exploitation of labor and class antagonisms, and it envisages that these problems and conflicts can only be overcome by the revolution guided by the proletariat in association with the power of other peoples. In this context SYKP is a homogeneous party consisting of all militants who aim for communism in light of all the facts mentioned above; in other respects, SYKP is also one of the constituent components of HDP.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party, however, is a heterogeneous party which is composed of people belonging to different associations and non-governmental organizations. It consists of people with different ideologies, people from different political parties and trade unions who have all come together in order to fight for peace, democracy and freedom. In this regard, it shares the relatively same characteristics of the SYRIZA coalition in Greece. The HDP has a lot of representatives, with the majority of those being Kurds, but it is also made up of Turks, Arabians, Armenians and Assyrians. One of the main reasons as to why the HDP is aligned with the left is due to its composition of communists and Kurdish revolutionaries. Nonetheless, the priorities of the Kurdish Freedom Movement are not always compatible with the priorities of communists. Moreover, the composition of the HDP is riddled with internal contradictions. Complaints from left liberals, Alevis, anti-capitalist Muslims, and devout Sunni Kurds (especially the latter), have shown growing concerns with leftists, representatives of the LGBTI movement, and Marxists. These complaints are usually complimented by statements putting the “effectiveness” of the party into question if it continues to entertain the demands of the latter groups.
Nevertheless, many articles of the HDP’s programme are matched up with the those of the SYKP programme. The fact remains that it is inadmissible that the communists of Turkey lose themselves and their goals among the various and contradictory components in HDP. For this reason, our party insists on preserving its independent line and organizational structure.
The followers of SYKP have defended for a long time, efforts to build solidarity between all revolutionary and democratic forces in Turkey . It is, precisely, with this spirit that we have attempted to establish common ground with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. HDP has proven itself to be the most appropriate and conducive political framework to do so. since 2003, and with the invitation of the Kurdish political leadership itself, many in the Left in Turkey, including some SYKP members, were involved in the processes which lead to the formation of the HDP in 2013. This includes some of our members playing an active role in the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) of 2011, and the decision of SYKP members to bring their struggle forward into the parliamentary realm. Most of our comrades currently take on responsibility in HDP General Assembly and its managing bodies.
To take an example, one of the founders of SYKP, Comrade Ertugrul Kurkcu is the founding co-chairman of HDP and HDK. Kurkcu is presently honorary president of HDP and its Izmir deputy.
General Objectives and Orientations of SYKP
The objectives and orientations of SYKP are summarized as follows in its programme:
- The final target of the Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) is a communist society in which capitalist exploitation and all forms of domination, all inequalities, all hierarchical and exclusionary social relations are eliminated. We envision a society that has surpassed the division of labor and has enshrined solidarity and cooperation as an internalized feature of human existence. In this society, tensions between rural and urban labor, and conflicts that divide skilled and unskilled workers are to be resolved. The dominance/dependence relationship between the sexes is to be put to an end, and the relationship between humanity and nature is to be put in harmony within a system of production and consumption accordant with sustainable development and ecological balance. That communist society in which private property is annihilated, will be one which replaces the already existing dominion of “to each according to his work”, with the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
- Such a society can be solely realized on a global scale. SYKP begins its analysis with the fact that the transition from capitalism to communism is a world-historical and universal process. This transition does not respect any local or “national” conception of communism which conceives the historic task of the socialist left as one that is solely confined to a national scope. Nor does the SYKP reduce socialism to developmentalism, state ownership, and the allocation of productive forces for the effective and efficient use of one nation state. With a retrospective view to the 20th century, the SYKP refuses to repeat the mistake of strengthening the state through the pretext of “obligations”, “compromises”, and seeks to instead ensure that the state withers away. It seeks to neither eliminate socialist democracy step by step, or to distort the perspective of communism. On the contrary it comprehends socialism as a process in which labor, the production process, and all social relations are transformed. All of this shall be the precondition for the truly liberated human individual.
- The path to a universal communism can only be paved through a world revolution in which a world communes’ republic eliminates borders, nations and nation-states, and in which people stake a claim to the whole earth as their common homeland. Only then, can the abstract enlightenment ideal of humanity come into full materialization. Throughout this process, local and national revolutions could serve in the global transition to such a world communes’ republic.
- However, the expectation that such a process could take place in all countries, regions and continents simultaneously is as unlikely for the future as it was for the past.
SYKP understands the main character of the transition from capitalism to communism, as a process of social revolution throughout the world. But some revolutionaries could get involved in the particular revolutionary and democratic struggles waged in their own countries first, as has often been the case in the 20th century.
- On the basis of these facts the SYKP fights for a democratic and social republic as a necessary step towards the revolutionary and democratic transformation that will bring forth socialism. It defines the democratic social republic in Turkey as the moment of the conquest of political power by the proletariat; and as the only goal that brings revolution in one country in synchrony with a world revolution. The SYKP is also vigilant towards proletarian revolution being confined to one country, as it carries with it the risk of capitalist restoration if not integrated into a global revolutionary process. If the revolution is not continuous and permanent, it can easily fall to the capitalist world.
- For resolving, or at least minimizing, the risk of capitalist restoration, SYKP must completely focus on passing beyond the concept and comprehension of a bourgeois conception of revolutionary rupture in one country. It must develop a local program and take an active role in constructing a new civilization. It must also seek to inspire and learn from global anti-capitalist struggle with its revolutionary experience. In this context Turkey can be considered a bridge between the West and East, and therefore as an ideal location for such a process to take place, for Turkey is the country that is accumulating the contradictions of the capitalist system. History itself invites Turkey to play this role for the socialist movement.
- For this reason SYKP argues that permanent revolution must not be rooted in one space or time, but rather permanent revolution must deepen, organize and perfect the revolutionary discipline necessary to accelerate the process of social revolution.
- As Marx said, the republic that is not “social” is definitely not “democratic”. No matter how democratic, the republic that is not social, that does not preoccupy itself with the interests of the public, that does not put limits on the accumulation of capital and the scope of the market, that does not lay the foundations of a society beyond capitalism, and forgoes the ideal of “the expropriators becoming expropriated”, such a republic can only readily lend itself to eventually becoming one of the instruments of capital.
- SYKP regards the expropriation and abolition of bourgeois private property as a necessary pre-condition for the proletariat to reappropriate the means of their production. This historical step is necessary for ending the separation of producers from the material conditions of production. This can only be done through collective ownership. The overcoming of alienation is the only way in which all individuals can gain access and take advantage of social wealth.
SYKP esteems itself as a successor to the past experiences of the world revolutionary process; and like other parties within our milieu, it sets itself on the revolutionary stage through a critical approach to the past. To the SYKP, the collapse of real socialism was neither due to coincidence, or “revisionism”. This bears re-emphasizing: Real socialism did not collapse because some “revisionist” politicians either forgot about, or perverted the legacies of the authentic and deceased revolutionary heroes which preceded them. The SYKP firmly believes that such dogmas are both contrary to dialectical materialism and serve no purpose other than to hide the real problems of “actually existing socialism”. Rather real socialism collapsed due to its development and its particular dilemmas. Deciphering what those problems were is a crucial theoretical task that is essential for the refoundation of socialism. The position of the Party concerning this issue is explained under the title of “The Course of the Interrupted Revolution Has Lead the Way”:
The downfall of “real socialism”, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, coincided with the loss of social gains which millions of workers had won through struggle. The hope of another (socialist) world being possible, first demonstrated by the worker in the springtime of 1848, and in the Paris commune of1871, seemed to have collapsed with the wall. The demise of a global resistance network meant the death of the last bulwark against the process of capitalist globalization, which starting in the 1980s, developed into an uncontrollable menace against humanity while being heralded as “a victory against socialism”.
However, this interregnum is now over. Millions of workers have now risen up against “capitalist globalization in North and South, and for that reason, they have also directly fired arrows of criticism towards it’s hegemony. Through their resistance, they have dealt a blow to the myth that the historical course towards socialism has collapsed.
The SYKP seeks to finally put an end to celebrations singing the bourgeois tune of socialism’s demise. It seeks to re-appraise the importance of Marxism as a “criticism of everything existing”, both for the present and the past. Whenever global rebellion has shown itself, whenever its international motto has embraced the masses, whenever revolutionary outbursts have demonstrated that “Another world is possible”, these developments have coincided with the political and philosophical heritage of Marxism. Marxism provides the most comprehensive explanation concerning the crisis of capitalism. Marxism has continued to deepen, both theoretically and practically, from its criticism towards global capitalism; and it has the opportunity to repair the destruction created by the economism of Second International. An economism, which for decades was considered “official ideology”. But beyond Marxism surpassing the economism of the classical outlook of social democracy, Marxism should also be absolved from the mistakes of “real existing socialism.” And what were these catastrophic limitations? We have outlined a list which barely scratches the surface, these include:
“Socialist” development criterions, repressive production techniques, the desire to dominate nature acquired by “capitalist modernization”; the alienation of workers from decisions concerning planning and the production; “forced collectivization”; the degradation of the dictatorship of the proletariat into a “one-party dictatorship”; the rejection of “socialist democracy” and political pluralism; the restrictions of freedom of religion, of expression, of criticism and of organization; the limitation of academic and artistic freedom, the abandonment of internationalism in favor of raison d’état i.e. the defense of single “socialist homelands”; the enforcement of a “model” ignoring locality; the maintenance of patriarchal domination over sexual choice; the assimilation of ethnic and regional differences; all of these experiences have compelled the re-birth of Marxism as “criticism of everything existing”.
The By-laws of SYKP
Article 1: The Title of the Party
Socialist Refoundation Party. The abbreviated name of the party is SYKP. The center is in Ankara. The Party’s emblem is a three colored stars on a white background; red, green and purple.
Article 2: The Definition of the Party
Wherein there is a progressive and revolutionary pole of class conflict across the world and wherein there are actors who carry with them the forward movement of history, they are composed especially by the working class, women, youth, advocates of nature and life, and the oppressed. Today, the statement that “all written history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” is verified on the global scale. The working class and the oppressed are able to succeed in this struggle, only when they become organized as a force capable of confronting and resisting sovereign power. The Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) was established to respond to such a need as the communist party of the working class and all oppressed. However, in the present historical conjuncture, SYKP is aware of the necessity for the refoundation of the working class and socialist movement, and pursues this goal as an immediate task.
Article 3: The Objectives of the Party
The final target of the Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) is a communist society in which capitalist exploitation and all forms of domination, all inequalities, all hierarchical and exclusionary social relations are eliminated. We envision a society that has surpassed the division of labor and has enshrined solidarity and cooperation as an internalized feature of human existence. In this society, tensions between rural and urban labor, and conflicts that divide skilled and unskilled workers are to be resolved. The dominance/dependence relationship between the sexes is to be put to an end, and the relationship between humanity and nature is to be put in harmony within a system of production and consumption accordant with sustainable development and ecological balance. That communist society in which private property is annihilated, will be one which replaces the already existing dominion of “to each according to his work”, with the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
Such a society can be solely realized on a global scale. SYKP begins its analysis with the fact that the transition from capitalism to communism is a world-historical and universal process. This transition does not respect any local or “national” conception of communism which conceives the historic task of the socialist left as one that is solely confined to a national scope. Nor does the SYKP reduce socialism to developmentalism, state ownership, and the allocation of productive forces for the effective use of one nation state. With a retrospective view to the 20th century, the SYKP refuses to repeat the mistake of strengthening the state through the pretext of “obligations”, “compromises”, and seeks to instead ensure that the state withers away. It seeks to neither eliminate socialist democracy step by step, or to distort the perspective of communism. On the contrary it comprehends socialism as a process in which labor, the production process, and all social relations are transformed. All of this shall be the precondition for the truly liberated human individual.
On the basis of these facts the SYKP fights for a democratic and social republic as a necessary step towards the revolutionary and democratic transformation that will bring forth socialism. It defines the democratic social republic in Turkey as the moment of the conquest of political power by the proletariat; and as the only goal that brings revolution in one country in synchrony with a world revolution. The SYKP is also vigilant towards proletarian revolution being confined to one country, as it carries with it the risk of capitalist restoration if not integrated into a global revolutionary process. If the revolution is not continuous and permanent, it can easily fall to the capitalist world.
Article 4: The Nature and Principles of the Party
- a) As a political organization, SYKP defines itself on the basis of principles described in Article 2 and maintains its legitimacy insofar as it defends them. The Party is the communist political organization representing the class and social forces indicated in Article 2. The basic political purpose of the party is to be effective in maintaining these principles in all facets of its existence.
- b) Members of the party are expected to agree to work for the purposes clarified in the programme and the by-laws. Furthermore, all party members benefit equally from the rights set forth in the by-laws. The basis of party unity is formed by the programme, the by-law and comradeship in struggle.
- c) The Party is the political subject responsible for integrating the activities and actions of their members within a collective will. The legal personality of the party is described in the official programme and the by-laws.
- d) The unity of action in the party is sine qua non although differences are also legitimate and welcomed. When a decision is made, in principle it has to be the result of mutual agreement. In case of disagreement concerning matters of the political programme, or propositions on amendments to the by-law changes, or the dissolution of the party, or the merger of the party with other groups, the matter is to be decided by two-thirds of the members in the respective bodies concerning the matter at hand; Otherwise, decisions are made by absolute majority. When members of the Party disapprove of decisions taken by the party organs, they possess a right of nonparticipation in the action; They are however, restricted from obstructing the implementation of any party decisions, and are forbidden from organizing simultaneous operations which run contrary to party decisions. Party members have the right to participate in activities not subjected to the decisions of the party bodies as private individuals. Annotated and rejected suggestion(s) by members of the party are announced to the party through its bodies.
- e) A group of party members are allowed to constitute some platforms in accordance with the by-laws in order to contribute to the approaches and opinions of the Party. The activities and functions of the platforms are to take place in an open and transparent manner visible to the rest of the party. The platforms, however, are restricted from challenging the collective will of, political unity of, and the functioning of the party bodies. In addition to this, tendencies within the party are not allowed to take binding decisions on behalf of the other members of the party. They are not to set their own budgets outside of party finances, and the finally they are not to recruit supporters for their tendency instead of recruiting members to the party. The principles and procedures providing the unity of action of the party and describing the rights of tendencies are regulated in the by-laws.
- f) Women are conferred with affirmative action in all areas and levels of the party life, especially in the party bodies. This principle of positive discrimination cannot be compromised by any bodies, individuals, or party initiatives. It is to be systematically developed across the party.
In accordance with the principle of affirmative action, in the elections of all bodies, there is a fifty percent quota for female members. This will be an operational principle of the Party, except for temporary and exceptional circumstances. Party organizations that do not meet this standard due to the lack of sufficient demand, or the absence of female candidates running for a leadership position, are obliged to resolve the problem by increasing the participation of women to the party or by holding extraordinary congresses. Party bodies neglecting to implement the requirement of this quota in the period between two ordinary congresses will be abolished.
If a female candidate wins the same amount of votes as a male candidate in an election of any party bodies, the female candidate would be elected for the body. When a female member resigns from authorized bodies, instead of her, this gap is to be filled by another alternate female member.
Affirmative action cannot contravene the principles of democracy and of equality among the members of the party. The female members of the party are eligible to regulate and describe their relationship and functioning to the party.
Women from different feminist movements, which is a component of the Women’s Liberation Movement that is based on independence from men and capital, are eligible for party membership.
SYKP is in charge of strengthening the organization and the politicization of women in the party, of creating instruments for the struggle against male dominance and sexism, and of making way for assessing perspectives, policies and institutions of the party in terms of feminist politics.
- g) Affirmative action is applied to the LGBTI members of the Party.
- h) SYKP supports the participation of youth into the implementation processes of the party. All party bodies are required to apply twenty percent quota. Within the Youth quota, the rules mentioned in paragraph “f” are also applicable.
- i) Members of the party are welcome to acquisition of knowledge, gathering, declaration and dissemination of their opinion. They could express their opinion to public opinion or to the other members of the party. Each member benefits equally from the opportunities of the Party (publication, communication, etc.). It could not be granted privileges to any member.
- j) All activities in the party are carried out in complete openness. All members and organizations of the party have the right to directly and freely access information about the work of the party. Likewise, they can intervene in the work of the party. Party bodies are obliged to respond to written criticisms and suggestions through official channels. All activities and the financial information of the party is open to inspection by party members. Should a concern arise, designated party bodies are obliged to regulate and ensure freedom of information.
- k) It is essential for members to have a say in the party. Opinions, directives and advice are to be declared directly to those chosen to represent the will of the members.
- l) The members of the managing bodies are determined by election. Members have the right to audit and recall their own representatives. The process of recall is taken place according to the correlation between the method of the election and the choosing organ of the party. The party attaches importance to collective work. “Personal responsibility and collective management” is sine qua non in all operations conducted by the bodies and committees of the Party.
- m) The Party determines its election methods and rules so as to preserve its plural structures. The Party implements a proportional representation system which guarantees minority rights; through this process, party members democratically reflect their personal and collective will. In the absence of proportional representation and/or in the case of an uncontested election, a majoritarian process (open list) shall take place. The principles and procedures of the election are arranged in accordance with the election regulations detailed in the by-laws.
- n) It could not be taken place for more than two terms in a row at the same managing organ. (A period is the period between two ordinary congress.) However, after a term, it might be a candidate for the same managing bodies. Within each period (except for the presidency) the renewal of one third of the managing organ is required. In the event that there is not a sufficient number of candidates, these judgments are not the subject of the nomination process.
- o) The headquarters of the party, its provincial and district organizations may broadcast the publication for the party of the public in case of the need. The publishing policy of these could not be contrary to the programme.
- p) The functioning of party bodies is open to the review of its members. The meetings of authorized bodies, the party would be followed the members of the party of who authorized.
- q) Members of the party engaging in behavior that is incompatible with the values of the party will be subjected to sanctions described in the by-laws (especially violence and harassment against women, party members, revolutionaries, the people; and charges of embezzlement etc.).
- r) All party bodies are autonomous in the activities concerning their respective areas.
- s) The members of the party who play a part and work in the independent anti-capitalist and revolutionary-democratic dynamics, organizations and movements could make to the organizations being capable of achieving the level of the Council within the party. Thus the members could both ensure a coordination between each other and develop policies for the relevant fields. The policies developed by these organizations are put into final form by the party bodies. In other respects, the policies set by the Women’s Council and its decisions are accepted as is by the party bodies.
- t) Affirmative action is applied to members of the party with disabilitie