Remember Comrade Ibrahim Kaypakkaya
Revolutionary Worker #959
In May of 1985, a million people in Istanbul, Turkey, were watching the evening news on TV when the soundtrack was suddenly replaced by a revolutionary message from Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist. The message from the TKP/ML, a participating party in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, said in part:
“Comrades! Once again we are commemorating May 18… May 18, 1985 is the twelfth anniversary of the death of the communist leader of the working class and oppressed people of Turkey, the founder of our party, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, in the torture chambers of fascism. Comrade Ibrahim Kaypakkaya dedicated his whole life and energy to the liberation of the proletariat and oppressed people, to the struggle for people’s democratic revolution, socialism and the lofty cause of communism. He displayed the utmost sacrifice in this direction, and while he was right in the middle of this honorable struggle, wounded he fell captive to the enemy on January 29, 1973 in Dersim. Comrade Kaypakkaya carried on his dedication to communism and the cause of the people in the torture chambers of the fascist dictatorship. He did not give in, and beat fascism right where it is supposed to be strongest.”
May 1998 marks 25 years since Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was assassinated by the U.S.-backed regime in Turkey. Comrade Kaypakkaya was only 24 years old when he was killed. His death was a serious loss to the proletariat and oppressed people in Turkey and to the international communist movement. Comrade Kaypakkaya had already made great contributions to the development of the revolutionary movement in Turkey when his life was cut short.
The founding of TKP/ML under Ibrahim Kaypakkaya’s leadership was part of the worldwide struggle in the 1960s and early 1970s against modern revisionism (phony communism). This struggle was led by Mao Tsetung and was greatly inspired by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, initiated by Mao. In many parts of the world, revolutionary communists ruptured with the old revisionist parties–which had long ago abandoned revolution–and created new revolutionary parties. In Turkey, this process was led by Ibrahim Kaypakkaya.
In a 1993 message to the TKP/ML, the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (CoRIM) pointed out Ibrahim Kaypakkaya’s key contributions: “He developed a lucid and devastating critique of revisionism on a whole series of fronts and, furthermore, took the lead in putting this political line into practice–specifically by initiating the first serious attempt to launch a genuine People’s War in the history of Turkey. Ibrahim Kaypakkaya was the most thorough and ardent defender in Turkey of the line of Comrade Mao Tsetung and the sharpest opponent of the false ‘defenders’ of Mao Tsetung, who tried to strip out Mao’s proletarian revolutionary content.
“Ibrahim Kaypakkaya exposed the reformist, legalistic and economist activities of the Shefak revisionists which the latter tried to pass off to the masses as `revolutionary mass work.’ Comrade Kaypakkaya ruthlessly unravelled the revisionists’ poisonous eclecticism and convincingly argued that `these bourgeois gentlemen think that by changing the name of a thing one can change its nature.’ Comrade Kaypakkaya’s observation on revisionist demagogy is still valid in understanding today’s political struggles.
“Comrade Ibrahim Kaypakkaya also clearly showed that the only real solution to oppression of the Kurdish nation is a New Democratic Revolution led by the proletariat and its party.”
Today, the proletariat and oppressed masses of Turkey continue to wage heroic struggle and resistance against the reactionary ruling classes and their state. The Turkish regime is part of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance and receives weapons and other aid from the U.S. and other powers. The revolutionary line and heritage of Comrade Ibrahim Kaypakkaya remain very relevant and crucial to the struggle of the people in Turkey.
In April 1972, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya led the split with the old revisionist party–TIIKP –and the formation of the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist. In June 1972, Kaypakkaya completed a lengthy polemic titled The Roots and Development of Our Differences with Shefak Revisionism: General Criticism of the TIIKP. The following is a short excerpt from that document:
In order to launch the armed struggle, the Shefak revisionists demand that the prairie be dry.
“Before the advanced section of the basic worker-peasant masses are prepared for the armed struggle and before the idea of the armed struggle gains a certain popularity among the masses, the armed struggle cannot be started, even if directed against correct targets. For the spark to start a prairie fire, the prairie must be dry.”
There is no room for forced interpretation or repudiation. In order to launch the armed struggle, our gentlemen demand that the prairie be dried. This is yet another theory invented for the purpose of postponing the armed struggle for years.
Against this rightist theory, the Marxist-Leninists upheld the following: The prairie must be set ablaze from those regions (we are not saying a region) which are dry. That is, in those regions where the conditions are favorable, the armed struggle must be launched and launched immediately. Those regions of the prairie which are not yet dry will be scorched by the fire of the armed struggle raging in other regions. And as our organization grows bigger and stronger, it will extend into those regions and undertake the armed struggle there. To first wait for the whole prairie to dry up is defective thinking. It does not comply with the truth that “the revolution will develop unevenly.” Moreover, the armed struggle will be a hundred, a thousand times more effective than the work conducted through peaceful propaganda and education. Both Comrade Lenin and Comrade Mao Tsetung repeatedly pointed to how the armed struggle brings about leaps in the consciousness of the masses….
The Shefak revisionists’ line is not a “Revolutionary Mass Line” but a line that hinders revolution.
The Shefak revisionists adapt themselves not to the people of the advanced regions but to those of the backward regions. Suppose that today in certain regions of Turkey the peasants are ready for the armed struggle, and in some others they are not yet ready for this. The revisionists’ concept of mass line deems it necessary that they go along with the backward region and break away from the advanced region. This is yet another conclusion that the theory of drying the prairie arrives at. And in the regions where the peasants show impatience to take up arms, they lag behind the advanced peasants and adapt themselves to the backward elements. To hinder the peasants ready for the armed struggle with the logic of “first learn Marxism-Leninism, then you can join the armed struggle” will certainly lead to distancing oneself from these forces and, in the end, falling back to the level of the backward elements. In a rural region, we observed with our own eyes how the revisionists obstructed the advanced peasants. These traitorous bourgeois gentlemen were left behind by the peasants because they stood in the way of those peasants who wanted to immediately annihilate their class enemies.
Ibrahim Kaypakkaya took a strong stand for the right to self-determination of the Kurdish nation, which suffers brutal national oppression in Turkey. And he advocated a revolutionary road to Kurdish liberation. The following is an excerpt from Comrade Kaypakkaya’s work The National Question in Turkey:
In our country, the real champions of national oppression are the big Turkish bourgeoisie, that is, of comprador nature, and the landlords. The U.S. imperialists support and instigate their policy of national oppression and racism. But the Turkish middle bourgeoisie, which has a national character, participates with more refined and stealthy methods in the same crime….
Posturing in favour of the equality among nations in words, but in reality extending the recognition of the privilege of forming a state only to the Turks and liquidating the right of the Kurds to form a state with demagogic bourgeois slogans such as “national unity” and “territorial integrity” –is this not to defend inequality among nations and the privileges of the Turkish bourgeoisie? Socialists [revolutionary communists] oppose even the smallest privilege favoring a nation and inequality. Whereas in Turkey, to form a national state has always been a privilege of the Turkish nation and still continues to be so. We the communists do not defend this privilege either, just as we do not defend any other privileges. We defend and continue to defend the right of the Kurdish nation to form a state with all our might. We will respect this right to the end; we do not support the privileged position of Turks over the Kurds (and over other nationalities); we educate the masses to recognize this right without hesitation and to reject the right to form a state as a privilege in the monopoly of any single nation….
Readers interested in reading more from the writings of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya should check out the revolutionary internationalist magazine A World to Win, issues 1985/3 and 1986/5.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online