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Socialism and the universal solution developed in the PKK - Abdullah Öcalan on the necessity of a socialist policy

From the book "Socialism" (Part II) by Abdullah Öcalan

This text was written in the 1990s by Abdullah Öcalan. It is one of the texts that initiated the paradigm shift within the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), and more broadly within the Kurdish liberation movement.

The working people, the oppressed and the exploited have always had their own world, their own world view, their own interests and based on these solidarity, organisation and struggles. The history of socialist resistance will continue as long as humanity exists. Human society, which has been scientifically analysed today, still harbours great conflicts. On the one hand there are monstrous approaches, on the other hand there are utopias that resemble the idea of paradise. Just like societal ideals, extremely selfish interests and antagonisms that run counter to society also come to a head. The fact that they are anchored in each other and at the same time contradict each other promotes the escalation of conflicts.

Societal life is indispensable for human beings. This is where the dispute begins. To what extent does society set standards for the individual? To what extent is the development of individual freedom needed for society? Therein lies the core of the contradiction. Various ideologies have developed solutions to this question, including socialism. Societal analysis did not begin with socialism, even though socialism is the most scientific explanatory model. Religions and various systems of thought also had a positive or negative effect on the process of social development in the past. This results in the contradiction between progressiveness and reactionism, enlightenment and inquisition, friendship and enmity, etc. It seems that this will continue. Especially nowadays, those with an immoral and colonizer mentality, whether they be individuals, classes or layers of society, make it look like the end of socialism has come. They achieve this on the basis of pressure and propaganda in order to safeguard their own interests. They want to present it as an unavoidable destiny. The imperialist forces and their ideologues are trying with all their might to exploit this favourable moment in order to achieve their final victory. They are using the demise of 70 years of socialism, which is actually just one version of socialism, to cement their claims, even though socialism has gone through and is still going through many phases of development.

There are several comparable periods in history. There are also historical examples of attempts to take advantage of the opportunity of the moment. If you don't pay good attention, the capitalists can score a success for themselves. For this reason, it is important to take a thorough and multidimensional look at the current reality from the perspective of social resistance. Of course, the oppressed and exploited have a way of life, worldview and struggles. Real socialism represents a stage of development, just as the French Revolution and other previous revolutions, even the Islamic Revolution, represent a stage. These experiences need neither be exaggerated nor denied, but reality must be evaluated in all its dimensions. In short, it was emphasised that the oppressed should think in a very limited way and, in particular, keep away from political-philosophical thinking so that they would conform to the thoughts of the rulers. They were kept away from their independent political reality through violence or intrigue in order to distract them from a revolution. They were always disadvantaged by the worries of daily life and their real living conditions. This is still the case today. Lack of perspective and inconsistency are widespread. This is true all over the world, but especially in Turkish Kurdistan. This is how the damned reality of the oppressed has emerged. We summarise this reality with the terms "cursed people, cursed class". This means to be always under the foot of the rulers, unable to free oneself from their web of interests and even voluntarily bowing down to them. This reality can be defined as a society, a class or an individual that is cursed. This is also the origin of all depravity and humiliation. It is important to consistently defend the socialist horizon and to do so freely and militantly. But it is also important not to fall into dogmas and aberrations. Because only the working people can understand society scientifically. All other classes can make use of dogmas and lies and sell various lies as true ideologies. But as in previous periods of history, the labourers have no difficulty in developing new and revolutionary ideologies.

The whole 20th century was influenced by Leninism

In today's debates on socialism, what is usually discussed is the socialism that has existed for seventy years, which has influenced a large part of the world and is now broken or outdated. It may be helpful to get back to this. We can also analyse this socialism in general. For example, it is nonsense to reduce criticism of socialism to the practice of real socialism. Rather, it is more appropriate to understand it as a tactical stage in socialist history, since Leninism is an ideology in which the political-tactical side predominates. What are the most important features of this stage? The contradictions in capitalism and imperialism were both serious and obvious, which led to two world wars. Even before that there had been several senseless wars. The world was divided to the detriment of the peoples, the exploitation of the labourers continued. At the same time, there was great progress in science and technology, which also led to the rapid awakening of the labourers, but also to the awakening of nations and peoples. In this sense, Leninism represents a great freedom movement with great influence. The 20th century was a century characterised by Leninism, even if this term has gone out of fashion today. As we know, scientific socialism made great progress through Marx and Engels. Global analyses were scientifically substantiated and organising began. On the political-tactical side, however, there was still a great lack. This became clear in the Paris Commune attempt and in several other uprisings. Leninism eliminated these shortcomings very successfully and advanced the revolutionary change of the world - the socialist revolution. However, Lenin did not emphasise the ideological and moral aspects of socialism, nor was he able to analyse the capitalist-imperialist relations of exploitation any further. He tried to change the very harsh conditions of oppression and exploitation in the interests of the labourers and peoples. In this he has been very successful.

So we cannot claim that real socialism has totally failed or broken down. That would be a lie. Of course, great mistakes were made in the name of socialism, but real socialism was an important stage for the freedom of the labourers and for their physical and psychological development. Leninism also represents an important stage in the free and independent development of the people. This era of socialism has achieved many successes. The Marxist-Leninist programme was implemented in a few soviets at the beginning of the century. What has collapsed and what was surpassed? Leninism was not able renew or update itself and could not analyse new questions and solutions. For example, in the last quarter of the century there was even talk of achieving communism. At that time it became clear that this was a dream or an exaggeration. To speak of communist utopias at a time when the capitalist-imperialist world has such great power and individuals are characterised by the slave-society is an exaggeration and misleading. The result is that we have reached the end of Leninist tactics, Leninism has fulfilled its task and we are at the beginning of a new era. These are the results of scientific socialism, its Leninist practice and tactical successes. There are parties that were founded in this phase. They also have fighting tactics, and all these tactics were widely analysed in Leninism. But today, the path that had to be taken was taken; some goals have been more or less achieved. Therefore, the goals must be redefined. This means analysing the current situation of humanity and, based on this, defining new goals and programmes. Either to renew the old parties or to found new ones. Socialism had to be brought there, but it little was achieved because it was so hard and because the state in the soviets stood in the way. That is the real contradiction.

The new socialism must oppose statehood

Of course, it was necessary to establish a state in this phase of socialism. But the fact that the importance of the state was so greatly exaggerated is contrary to the essence of socialism. From this we learn that the foundation of a socialist state only means the dictatorship of the proletariat and not the foundation of a socialist society, and certainly not the creation of a socialist man. The error or mistake lies in the belief that the foundation of a good state is sufficient for everything else. Today, almost everyone stands up for "the state" or "the interests of the state" as if they were sacred. On the other hand, however, everyone complains that the state is too overarching. Those who were most in favour of the state and benefited from it now feel compelled to reject statehood. This clearly shows the necessity of socialism. In fact, it is socialism that has resisted statehood the most. All other exploitative ideologies have declared the state to be sacred. But today the neoliberal capitalists are questioning the state, even in Turkey. The biggest capitalists advocate privatisation and the downsizing of the state apparatus. They are attempting to appropriate the values socialism stands for with lies and duplicity in order to ensure their continued existence. This means that the new, current socialism must oppose statehood more than any other ideology. Socialism has to advocate the reduction and dissolution of the state and recognise the dangers it poses to society and individuals and it being perhaps the greatest contradiction; socialism has to show the way for the dissolution of the state. This was not done. The Soviet state apparatus stood in the way as the biggest obstacle itself. Of course, the old exploitative relations and the contradiction with the imperialist-capitalist bloc are relevant here. But the socialist will is also of great importance, and this will must be recognised.

This is also the reason why there is talk of privatisation, individualisation and liberalism in the former Soviet republics. A state was created in which people could not even breathe freely. In this sense, what was done perhaps does not signify a total return to capitalism: there existed a kind of capitalism with a simultaneous exaggeration of statehood. This led to the confusion of state capitalism with socialism. Overcoming state capitalism therefore means emphasising the individual, more liberalism and even more democracy. It does not mean the development of capitalism. Of course, there will be some individual and private capitalism, but the claim that the future is entirely capitalist is a distortion of the facts. The discussion on this is not yet over; the Soviet experiment and the successor models will continue to be discussed and analysed.

Capitalism has nothing more to offer people today

The problems that capitalist imperialism produces for humanity have not become any less than they were in the 19th or early 20th century. Humanity is struggling with catastrophes more than ever before. There are uncontrollable social processes. On the one hand, the world is on the brink of the abyss due to the ecological destruction caused by the capitalist economy. On the other hand, there are moral and ideological problems. Capitalist ideologues are also trying to find solutions to these problems. Capitalism has left people with no idealism. Capitalism has destroyed ambition and hope, which means the end of its history.

So what is needed? An ideology that gives people hope. And that can be nothing other than socialism. It is a characteristic of all ruling ideologies to propagate their own end as the end of humanity and the end of their own history as the end of the history of humanity. It is also necessary for their survival to make such assertions. This can be seen in every important epoch. In its day, Rome was an invincible empire. The later feudalist empires, as well as the capitalist empires today - e.g. the USA - have also claimed this. But development is a natural law. So it is nonsensical to talk about the end of humanity. The world is not threatened by destruction, nor is humanity threatened by a devastating disease. Its problems are ideological, political, social and economic. The solutions will also be ideological-political, social, economic, cultural and moral. Here socialism will have to assert itself because of its connection with the fate of humanity and its responsibility. In this sense, socialism can redefine itself.

Capitalism today has nothing more to offer people. If you look at the free market as an example, you realise that a class has emerged that exploits through speculation and interest. In the last century, capitalists were concerned with production and trade. Now production, trade and technology are of secondary importance and the daily focus is on interest rates. This orientation no longer has anything to do with production. Capitalism in the major capitalist countries has become meaningless and functionless. This does not show the success of capitalism but rather its insignificance. What can you achieve with stock market games? It's a kind of gamble. Money only ever changes hands. You don't need new definitions for capitalism; it is a functioning gambling system. And the game is played for humanity. These trillions are a catastrophe for the world and humanity. Not seeing this or not resisting it means watching the destruction of the world.

Abdullah Öcalan



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