Party for Socialist Power - Communist Party - SIP
by Kemal Okuyan
Precious friends, comrades, Greek communists who provided
us the opportunity for discussing this very crucial matter
The question of the relations of communist parties with
trade unions has gained a great importance in the first
quarter of 20th century when the distance between these two
organisations of working class have started to become
wider. Today this distance has gained a dramatical
character and it continues to be a vital problem for
Marxists and one of the key theoretical questions of the
struggle for socialism.
Theoretically this question can be dealt with in two
different aspects. First of them is the problem on the
relations between "the party and trade unions" which have
marked the tradition of struggle of communist parties
during the whole 20th century. The most perfect
intervention in this area which we summarise as the process
of defining the relationship between the two basic
organizations in the path coming from economical struggle
and going through the political struggle of working masses,
is the peerless "What is to be Done" of Lenin.
Second aspect is the matter of interfaces-intermediate
organisations which the leading party of working class
needs in its duty of forming a social base and making this
base organised which is a crucial element of the struggle
for carrying the working masses to the political power.
Although this aspect reminds of practical and theoretical
formations like soviet type organisations, shop stewards
committees, factory councils and resistance committees at
first, it is also related with trade unions naturally.
Russian revolution had constituted a great experiment in
this subject historically, however this experiment could
not be transferred into the Marxist theory in a way wealthy
enough. In the same way, there are elements lightning our
paths in the writings of Lenin and those of Gramsci right
after, of course. However, the world communist movement had
not dwelled upon sufficiently on this matter which is
directly related with the strategy of revolution and the
matter was left to hands of new left-wing intellectuals.
This situation has created a great gap, which was
transferred to today. Approaches of new left which break
the connections between the political struggle and
ideological struggle and which gradually produce an
antagonism towards the notion of a vanguard party, have
deeply complicated the matter of other organisations
existing in the conjunction surface of working class'
parties with the working class.
Today, we have to deal with the aforementioned two aspects.
First of all, the approach "trade unions are the
organisations for economical struggle of working class, the
party is its means for political struggle" which we
expressed as a starting sentence while we define the
relationship between trade unions and the party, is
valuable only for beginning. Because, there will exist
quite serious problems as per the logic of class struggle,
in case this distinction is made absolute.
Existence of approaches expressing a natural and fixed
division of labour between the trade unions and the party
is an example of these problems. First pretext of every
subject trying to externalise revolutionary politics from
trade unions is "there is no room for politics here". There
is nothing more meaningless then Marxist's finding a
philosophical proof to this pretext. Another price of
setting a Chinese wall between political struggle and
economical struggle is the reality that both struggles
would come face to face with dilemmas whether theoretical
and or practical. It is very obvious that Marxism is a
stranger to a division of labour between the working class
parties and trade unions in which working class parties,
coming off from the struggle going on in the workplaces,
become a part of the "big politics" or the "parliamentary
game" in some examples, and trade unions hold bargaining
between the two opposite classes based on the balances of
the actors of this game.
The real problem created by those determining the trade
union-party relation with the simplification of "one is
economical, and the other is political organisation" is
their grasping this relationship as a relationship between
equals. All kind of approaches questioning the "central"
role of the party in the revolutionary struggle of working
class and generally labourer classes should be rejected in
advance. We do not have an approach that undermines the
role of trade unions. After all, the distinction we
emphasise is qualitative, not quantitative. Working class
parties are the focal points of conscious production for
all dimensions of class struggle and intervention over
them; among the subjects of production and intervention,
there exist the economical struggle of the class and trade
What we said up to now are known but unconcerned facts,
unfortunately. Under this unconcern, lies the reformist,
liberal tendencies deforming the communist tradition.
Until now, we emphasised that the relationship between the
party and trade unions cannot be seen as a simple division
Another subject which is important at least as this one is
disunionisation of working class in almost all countries
including the most developed ones, i.e. the absolute and
relative degradation in the number of union member workers.
It is obvious how a cruel attack against the working class
in general. However, another subject, which is not less
important although it is talked on less, is the damage
happened in the organisation and socialisation channels of
the leading party. As it is known, working class parties
had determined a consciousness path from trade unions to
parties for a very long time. It is very clear how valuable
and functional was this path in the past. We see today that
an important section of those, who develop new models based
on the speculations like this path has lost its importance,
are members of a liberal school, namely the civic society
No, we cannot say that the role of trade unions has lost
importance today. Working class have not created a new tool
which can leave trade unions behind theoretically and
empirically yet, and we do not see any clues on this
direction. What happens is that the capitalists obtained
important achievements in their attack aiming to make
working class unorganised generally.
To struggle against this situation and taking the
initiative over by working class movement is possible only
if some corrections are made in the relationship between
the party and trade unions.
Strategy of "To the trade unions with the party" has to be
put forward in many countries today. Despite its withdraw
in the last 10-15 years the communist movement has got more
ideological and political possibilities than that of trade
unions against the attacks of the capitalist class. After
all, it is not possible to see the trade unions as the
social base of the political party in a period on which a
major part of the class is left without trade unional
What is to be done is to make the trade unional structures
stand up as a result of a special activity which will be
hold by the party addressing to unionised-ununionised,
active-retired, employed-unemployed, qualified-plain,
literate-illiterate workers and the creation of a
revolutionary class movement once again.
This process cannot be realised without the ideological and
political leadership of the communist movement, without its
initiative... In short, the future of working class'
movement cannot be left over the trade unional structures,
which are so weakened.
We believe that what we talked covers almost all the places
except one or two countries in which the trade unional
movement still shows a power and dynamism.
However, it is obvious that in our country, in Turkey, the
situation have become more interesting and more serious.
Therefore we want to share the current situation, how the
communist plan to intervene to this situation and our near
future plans with you.
All of you know that Turkey is an interesting country. In
our country the voter support for the left wing excluded
from the bourgeois parties was not more than 1% in the last
general elections. Of course, the Kurdish movement which
resulted from a very special struggle and conditions is not
counted on this. Class and ideological structure of Kurdish
movement is very complicated and even though the social
base of this movement is very important for a revolutionary
strategy, it cannot be characterised "left-wing" easily.
When we leave aside the left wing excluded from the current
system, we have a right-wing structure in which even a
party, which can be characterised as social democrat among
bourgeois parties, cannot find a place in the parliament.
The situation of trade unions is heart-rending. Trade
unional bureaucracy left the working class unorganised
after a period, which is in a total harmony with the
capitalist class and the state. With real numbers, we can
talk about only 1.5-2 million people organised in the
unions in a country having a population of 70 million.
Despite all these negativities, one of the most crowded and
enthusiastic May Day's in the world has been realised in
Istanbul for a long time. There are two basic reasons
behind this. First is the organisational power of left wing
of Turkey, which is discordant with its social base.
Left-wing party and organisations' ability of mobilising
their cadres and supporters is quite high when compared to
many other countries. Another reason making May Day's
crowded is the mobilisation of unorganised, i.e.
The example of May Day's is given not because it is the
most important measure, but to let you make a comparison.
The problem is not how the trade unions will be enlivened.
Like we have lived in many examples, gaining new members to
the unions has the same meaning with making young workers
hate the organised struggle. It is not possible to use the
trade unions, which are controlled by the capitalist class
a means of struggle and a school.
Therefore another strategy has to be used which will
reorganise the trade unions and recover them as well. This
strategy is the creation of a new class movement, which
will clean its path by the political and ideological
interventions of the party. The main idea here is to supply
a new energy to the working class who lost its energy with
the process of disunionisation. This energy lies in a scale
which puts sectored sections aside, which is kneaded with
collective culture, which establishes the connection
between economical aspects with the political titles, which
includes unemployed people, retired people, technical
workers, and even students in some sectors.
Our party has entered into a rapid preparation period for
realising this strategy, and started to make the main lines
of this strategy with the elements taking place in trade
unional structures but opposing vehemently to the situation
trade unions are in.
At this very point the second aspect that I mention at the
beginning of my speech becomes important: The question of
social organisations in which working class parties will
get in touch with the class. We know that organisations
like soviets and workplace committees had appeared in
special moments of revolutionary struggle. Therefore, it is
not possible to step with subjective decisions, which are
independent of time and place parameters. However it is
also mistaken to think that in an unknown future everywhere
will be full of self-organisations of the working class
without thinking on these matters, and without opening some
It is useful to think about the possibilities that will
result from a disruption in trade unions, while discussing
this matter. It is possible that trade unions to become
organisations expressing the spontaneous dynamics of the
working class after they leave their bureaucratic and
clumsy character as a result of the energy that will be
created by a political and ideological intervention and a
comprehensive class movement. It is even possible that
special-temporary organisations to exist as an extension or
a form of trade unional structures.
What we are talking about is a theoretical probability for
the moment, however it is obvious that this probability is
the one suiting most, the predictable developments about
the near future of class struggles.
At the end of my speech, I want to remind you that we have
to increase our collective awareness towards the attempts
aiming at liquidating the working class movement and its
organisations in a NGO pool. It is no doubt, growing strong
in European countries, these intentions are fed by the
capitalist class and they spread their mutilating effect
throughout the east. So we say more party and than more
trade union against all kinds of attempts aiming at
atomising the working class and breaking it into pieces.
Communist greetings to all of you...