Ali Duran Topuz
Two disasters, one state, and the suffering of the people
We are the people, here, under the rubble for so many days. The people are here, in the wreckage, but where is the state? To be sure, the state is also hard at work; however, the job we ascribe to the state is in contradiction with the one state-affiliated persons ascribe to themselves. We have spent the past few days living in the chasm between the state marketed as “the bird of fortune,” and the state in reality as “a bird of prey.”
The family of neoliberal fascisms are beholden to no people; they are a universal family of usurpers, plunderers, and predators formed of money, cement, iron and steel, chips, electronic networks, and militarized organizations. Naturally, for those without a people, there is no anxiety, concern, or worry for people. They have no concern except for how best to parcel out, package, and put on the market air, water, bugs and weeds, pebbles, soil, earth, sky, and space; whatever they spew regarding the public, the nation, the country, or the people is inconsequential their use as cogs in their machine, and whether they can be bought and sold — they could not care less for health, illness, risks of life or death, the precautions that should be taken, or the solutions that can be found.
We are “kin, relatives, fellow children of the tribe,” we are the people; if our buildings are feeble, it is not for “lack of knowledge, but for poverty.” But if their buildings cave in, it is not for lack of knowledge, but for greed, pure and simple.
The power of the rulers affiliated with this universal predatory family is derived from the local, terrestrial, and global collusion they establish within the framework of their own interests. It is for this reason that they all resemble one another. Trump’s imitation of Erdogan was merely a reflection of this simple family dynamic; now and again one imitates the other and vice versa. Do not be fooled by their trading insults; in their fights over the share of the pie, it is impossible to find a vestige of care for the public, for mankind, for producers, for consumers.
THE FAMILY OF GLOBAL REACTIONARIES
The reactionism of this extensive family of reactionaries is not due to a specific religion or superstition; their reactionism comes from their use of all historical and contemporary ideas and practices that will destroy the means, methods, institutions and organizations that have been discovered, developed, and created in the history of struggle — including the fight for bread, that is, the class struggle — in order to consolidate and maintain their own existence and power. They do not embody the pattern of "not there for the sowing, not there for the reaping, but there for the eating” like their ancestors whom they exalt, but they go one step further and refuse to accept any partner in food, shelter, accident, or disaster. Man is a commodity, tolerable to buy and sell, but whether he lives or dies is ultimately insignificant. The capitalist entrepreneur combines within his practice the nomadic army’s principle of plunder, the empire’s rule of expansion, the slave master’s methods of entrapment, the bandit’s procedure of extortion, the investor’s tricks for exploitation; he paves his way forward by obliterating the accumulations of humanity that make man man. He cares not for solidarity, mutual aid, sharing the burdens of a neighbor, or ameliorating the fate of a compatriot. This is why an earthquake strikes, yet he does not come. A flood hits, yet he does not come. A mine explodes, yet he does not come. He sees not tears, blood, or wounds. He sees money, commodities, and numbers. He might note it down if you die, and that is only if it suits his needs. He is irresponsible, aloof, insolent, and apathetic.
ECEVIT’S HELPLESSNESS, ERDOGAN’S WRATH
He counts, observes, marks, then encloses and descends upon it. It is in his nature to be a plunderer. There is no difference between the earthquake disaster that occurred in Turkey in 1999 and today's earthquake in terms of those left under the rubble; but there is one very serious difference with regard to those who created the wreckage: Those who came to power after 1999 were under a weighty obligation to prevent a repeat of the August 17 disaster. But the thieving neoliberal managerial mind accepted no responsibility except for the values that it would cause to collapse and the things it would thieve. They used the path to power paved for them by the 1999 disaster to annihilate entirely the public which was already in a wretched condition due to the catastrophe, instead of taking the necessary precautions to prevent a repeat of such an event. Perhaps incompetence, insufficiency, and disorganization were in question at the time. Today, however, what is in question is a “collapse” enabled by a determined and persistent trivialization and depreciation. This is the difference between Ecevit's words that complemented the blatant desperation on his face and the infuriated, threatening speeches we hear from today’s administrators, such as Erdogan.
The near-quarter century bookended by two cataclysms will be recorded in the history books as the tale of a state’s own rot and collapse leading to the decay and breakdown of its society. The first sentence of the story was bitterly written by nature herself, whose sentences have been the same since the formation of the world: it shakes, it quakes, then demolishes. I hope the last lines are penned at the ballot box by society, who in these days is frantically trying to ease suffering, to save neighbors, and to find solidarity with compatriots. This will be the choice between a politics of looting and collapse and a politics of establishing and constructionism. The ballot box to be set up in this last bookend will determine the outcome of the struggle between those who, parroting the utterances of protecting the state from harm, position themselves in alliance with ruling powers and those who exclaim that there can be no such state, no such governance, and no such rule.
Note: In addition to our other shames, we are all ashamed to talk about our personal matters. However, February 9 was Arti Gercek’s anniversary; despite everything, please allow me to express my gratitude to the founding editor-in-chief Celal Baslangic, to all my colleagues, and to everyone who contributed to this work until I assumed the position.