Forwarded from E.Y. (Kemalism and the Kurds)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jun 18 15:25:59 MDT 2001


I have been reading your postings with interest. I would like to ask you a
question I hope that You will have time to answer:

My guestion is about Lenin and Kemalizm in context of the Kurdish national

On the face of the evidence it appears that Kurds were the first victims of
the "socialism in one country" approach as Kurdish uprisings which took
place in early 20th century had been ignored by Lenin. (In 1919 there was
the Kocgirl uprising which Kemal crushed with brutality. The biggest
uprising took place in 1925 in which  thousands of Kurds were massacred)

Kurdish delegates applied to join the Baku Congress however they were
turned down. Instead racist-nationalist Enver Pasha, a former Ottoman
general who was one of the organizators of the Ermenian genocide had been
accepted as a delegate.

New documents(I was told about this by a Norwegian historian) shows that
Lenin approved Foreign minister Cernisevski's support for Kemal and did not
want  agitation against Kemalism(Kemal massacred Turkish Communist leaders
as early as 1920)

Later on, Stalinists declared that Kemal was representing the progressive
bourgeoise and Kurds, feudalism. Stalin and the Turkish CP shamelessly
supported Kemalist massacres and policies such as ethnic cleansing of Kurds.

As a result of this policy in paralel with Latin American CP's but much
before them TCP became an ardent supporter of Turkish ruling classes.

M.Kemal was not actually an anti-imperialist. He was an Ottoman general who
wanted to salvage the remnats of the Ottoman empire. So called Turkish
liberation war mainly was a war against Greek Army(at that time more than
1.5 million lived in Anatolia!) When he began his struugle he calaimed that
he was aiming to save the empire and the Sultan. He addressed to religious
feelngs of the people and until 1923 he did not use term Turkish in
official documents. Kemal's mission was the creation of a Turkish State and
Turkish Nation(at that time Turkish masses did not see themselves as
Turkish as the Ottomans emphasised the religious unity to keep the empire
together. Ottomans actually did not even speak turkish)  In this respect
Kemalism should be compared with Zionism but not with Peronism. It should
possibly be seen a cross between Peronism and Zionism. Kemal wanted to
create a Turkish nation; millions of people were expelled and hundreds of
thousands were killed in the process. The native people of Anatolia such as
Greeks, Pontus Greeks and others either massacred or expelled-1.5 million
greek were expelled to Greece under international agreements. Kurdish
language and any expression of culture alongside with communist activites
have been banned and brutally supressed.Ethnic cleansing of other ethnic
groups, which began expulsion of Armenians have been in practice until
today.(Within last 20 years 4.000 kurdish villages have been demolished and
millions of people forced were forced to leave Kurdistan.)

The question is why did Lenin support Kemalism? Was this an example of
critical support?  Possibilities are as follows Lenin had to support the
Kemalist.It was  tactical support   as Lenin wanted imperialist to deal
with Turkish Question, however, in doing so he put the interests of the
Soviet Union first and ignored the real nature of Kemalism.(According
Norwegian Historian Lenin actually knew about the crimes of  Kemal and his

or he erronously regarded Kemal as a "progressive or anti imperialist
force" and supported him not only against the imperialist but against the
victims of Kemalist nation building as a result. (There may be similarities
between colonization of the New World and colonization of large parts of

or both.

It is not easy to answer these questions.

I think that Lenin had never fully analysed Kemalism. He did however write
hundreds of pages about the national liberation struggles; he was also
right against the Luxemburg and Buharin on the question of self determination.

I am sorry for simplifiying this matter but I hope that you will understand
the point I am trying to make: Kemalism should be analysed in the line of
Franks' analysis of development of underdevelopment in Latin America. In
this context Kemal will no doubt appear as a representative of
lumpenbourgeoise who had heavily depended upon the support of imperialism
and feudal classes.

I hope that you will take an interests on this  highly problematic
question. I and my friends will be grateful If you can point out any new
material or any analysis, which we may use to develop our own search for
the truth.

Best regards e. y.


E, I have never written on this topic but it is something that has been
eating away at me for a couple of years now. In general I think that the
Kurdish struggle for self-determination deserves whole-hearted support for
Marxists. When a group of Ethiopian students were on the list a couple of
years ago, I sided with them in support of Eritrean self-determination,
while others opposed it. Since a close friend is from Turkey, I had plans
to study her country from a Marxist perspective. In the course of this
research, I will address the Kurdish question. Assuming you read the
archives, I will make sure the subject heading is clear when I get to this

Louis Proyect
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