Questions for Mine (was: When to support nationalism?)

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Wed Jan 31 05:12:02 MST 2001

Richard Fidler wrote:

> Mine, I have a few questions for you, prompted by your very interesting
post of
> Jan. 30 (Digest 3161). I hope you will take the time to address them.
> 2. You indicate that the Kurdish opposition in Turkey unanimously favours
> secession - not just the PKK but the whole left, as do the bourgeois
> (Barzani, the PUK).

There is a misunderstanding: The KDP(Barzani) and the PUK(Talabani) are
organisations active in Iraqi Kurdistan (or South-Kurdistan, how the PKK
would say). They have clashed several times with PKK forces in recent years
and have been frequently colaborating with the Turkish military against the

> This seems to say that all known political representatives
> of Kurdish public opinion desire a separate Kurdish state. If so, does
that not
> suggest that the Kurds have already determined, to some degree, the state
> that they wish to have, and it does not include being a part of the
Turkish or
> the other states? If so, your opinion "that what Kurds needs is a serious
> recognition of these rights [language and cultural freedoms], not a full
> independence from Turkey" does not seem to coincide with the overwhelming
> opinion among the Kurds, an oppressed people.

>From what I hear from Kurdish organisations  and individuals in Germany
(there are about half a million Kurds living here, mostly Turkish citizens)
there is widespread support for a seperate state, but by no means a uniform
Especially the PKK seemed to have shifted their position on secession
recently, now advocating some sort of autonomy within the Turkish state.

> 3. Your opposition to a Kurdish state seems to rest in part on the fact
that, as
> you say, "Kurds are not technically colonized by Turkey." That may be, but
> nation may be oppressed by another nation without being colonized by it.
> is not imperialist, you say. So be it. But again, not all oppressor
nations are
> imperialist. And of course Turkey is a long-standing member of NATO, an
> imperialist military alliance, and a candidate for membership in the EU,
> imperialist economic alliance.

Actually, this is the key point: Turkey's position within the framework of
imperialist domination of the Mid-East. Since 1945 the Turkish state has
been (beside Israel) the most important instrument of NATO policy in the
region. Though other allies of imperialism (the Iranian Shah, Israel) at
times supported parts of the Kurdish National movement, that support was
always limited and quickly withdrawn (as in the case of Iran, when it came
to an agreement with Iraq over the border in the south). Today there is a
strategic alliance between Israel and the Turkish republic, directed against
the PKK and Syria. That alliance forced Syria to withdraw it's support for
the PKK, the decisive factor in the current weakness of the PKK.
The denial of Kurdish self-determination is a pillar of imperialist policy
in the region, maintaining the borders that were imposed on the peoples of
the area by French and British imperialism after World War I. Today Germany
is a sort of coordinator of imperialist relations towards Turkey and the
PKK: The Turkish military received vast ammounts of armanments from Germany.
The PKK is not only illegal in Turkey, but in Germany as well. Without any
doubt the Kurds are the most surpressed national group in Germany. Almost
every day Kurds are tried before German courts because of their links with
the Kurdish National movement.
At the same time especally German imperialism is concerned with the Kurdish
question. This is not out of love for the Kurds, but for two reasons: 1.
concern for the stability of Turkey 2. to have a pretext of interfering
inside Turkey.
It seems the current PKK leadership is very well aware of the fact that an
independent Kurdish state would mean all full confrontation with _all_ NATO
states. That is in my eyes the main reason for the shift in the PKK policy
mentioned above. Ironically Mine's position ('cultural freedom'), the PKK's
position and the plans of the German state are very close: the central point
is the denial of self-determination and the safeguarding of borders imposed
by imperialism and at the same time advocating some sort of autonomy.
In this respect the Kurdish question is similiar to Kosovo: Denial of
self-determination and imperialist interference in the name of protecting
minorities within existing states.

On Quebec:
I have to admit I know very little about the National Question in Quebec,
but nevertheless the support of (mostly Trotskyite?) leftists not only for
self-determination, but actually seceesion always struck me as a strange
mixture of dogmatic support for _any_ secession and opportunism.
Actually I do not see how French-speaking Canadians are really suppressed
_nationally_. In what way their situation differs from French-speaking
Swiss. Any cultural domination perceived as beeing 'Americanisation' seems
to me the usual capitalist crap spread all over the world.
Wouldn't an independent Quebec be a very parochial place. As I understand
it, almost all immigrants opposed independence in the latest referendum out
of fears the narrow 'French-only' policy in Quebec would even be enforced
and anti-immigrant racism would get a general boost.


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