By Ercüment Akdeniz, via Evrensel Daily.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.*
A Tale of Two Cities begins with this opening sentence. It is as if Charles Dickens has teleported today to the 19th century.
In this “age of disasters”, where earthquakes, pandemic, economic crisis, Ukraine war, Syrian war and other disasters are added to each other, what makes heaven and hell live together is actually hidden in the fundamental contradiction between the world of the rich and the world of the poor. When disaster strikes, we have everything and nothing! Because almost all the accumulation of the country, especially the means of production, is in the hands of capitalist monopolies. OXFAM’s report on Turkey is obvious: The top 1 per cent of the population has 1.5 times more income than the bottom 90 per cent of the poor.
How were the “golden hours” wasted to rescue those trapped under the rubble? Where were the construction equipment that did not reach the debris sites for days? Thousands of diggers, dozers, cranes, hilti, etc. were kept in private shipyards and ports, in organized industrial zones and in the warehouses of construction monopolies. Why? Because it was unprecedented for the bourgeoisie to bring construction machinery into unprofitable places. While earthquake victims with means rented construction equipment from other provinces, millions in poverty could not even dig out their dead from under the rubble. This is how the act of saving lives was monetized in the middle of a life market!
Who produces the tents, containers, prefabricated houses, heaters needed by earthquake victims? Workers. Who produces baby food, diapers, hygiene materials, dry food, canned food, meat and dairy products? Workers, laborers, poor peasants. And who are the millions who perished under the rubble, who were buried alive in the ground, who shivered for days in the open in the cold and rain, who were in need of a bowl of soup, clean laundry, toilet and shower? Again workers, again laborers, again the poor. Because all these tools and equipment, products of vital importance, are not the property of the laboring millions who are the productive power. Planes, ships, trucks, in short, transport vehicles, which are of vital importance in the event of an earthquake, were also kept waiting in fleets because of money. Almost all of them waited for an instruction from the mouths of company executives. The result? In the earthquake, services went to those who had money, while those who did not were left to death and poverty. While hundreds of thousands of empty houses were traded on the stock exchange, millions of people were denied even a tent. The name of this system is the capitalist system. This order is an order of rent, looting, plunder and exploitation for the poor. This order is opportunistic. This order is a brutal order that makes the rich richer not only in times of peace, but also in times of war, earthquake and disaster.
The bourgeois washed away their sins with donation campaigns. Moreover, they did it with shows and used it to advertise the names of their companies. The holdings that donated in the evening woke up in the morning with a tax favor! The factory owners who donated in the evening started the morning by threatening the workers: “While people are worried about the earthquake, you are worried about an additional increase in wages. I see that you are too caught up in debris removal. Either you work for this wage or you will find yourself out of the door without compensation…” The bosses’ organizations also called for earthquake victims not to be given jobs in other provinces. Because on the scales of bourgeois morality, workers and machine parts were no different from each other.
In times of war, factories start mass production for weapons of destruction, and in times of peace, they put their reconstruction and construction machines into operation to rebuild the cities they have destroyed and add profit to their profits. While the rubble removal companies do not even respect the dead, the construction monopolies, taking advantage of the earthquake, have already started rubbing their hands for the “revitalized” construction market.
Just as the right to education and health is bought and sold with money, this corrupt order is on the brink of decay, where tents are bought with money on earthquake days and even the Red Crescent sells tents with money. The poor, who were left to the terrible herd immunity in the pandemic, were dragged into a similar slaughter in the earthquake with the logic that the dead die and the rest is ours.
The right to object or revolt while dying, migrating, destroying their homes, and being dragged from poverty to poverty would be deemed too much for the oppressed. The declaration of the state of emergency would come to the rescue of capitalist plunder and plunder, right in the midst of the earthquake rubble. For example, the religious institutions of the state, which had linked religion and state institutions instead of separating them, would not use the billions of liras flowing into its coffers for the earthquake victims. The chorus of the “fate plan” was meant to shield this capitalist plundering order at the helm of the one-man government.
Merit, incompetence, lack of coordination, etc… All these characteristics of the government that cost tens of thousands of lives were not only due to lack of merit. It was also due to the fact that those in power took positions according to the interests of capital even in times of disaster and catastrophe. In other words, this was a virtue belonging to the political-class preferences made to keep the wheels of the capitalist system turning. Therefore, it is necessary to get rid of the capitalist order as much as those in government. Of course, by opening the doors to socialism, an equal social order in which tents, labor machines, baby food, safe cities and free housing belong to the people.
Only in this way can “the best of times bring the worst of times” to its knees.
Chairman of the Labor Party of Turkey (EMEP)
Categories: International, Turkey