Turkey-Netherlands riot: both prime ministers gain, the workers lose

Erdogan Rutte row Turkey  - The Netherlands

Analysis and critique of both sides in the diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands which has led to riots and name-calling between the two governments.

This article, translated from the Dutch language blog Arbeidersstemmen refers to a news item, to be found f.e. in The Guardian.

Both Turkey and the Netherlands have played a populist card from domestic political considerations. More specific: for electoral reasons and in an effort to strengthen their states. In its past, the small Netherlands manoeuvred between superpowers to protect its imperialist interests. The last few years, the rule of foreign policy is to follow the example given by the Merkel government of the big neighbour Germany. Similarly in this case, Germany was first to forbid Turkish gatherings around the referendum with Turkish government officials. In this case, the German bourgeoisie did not contend itself with having polished up the SPD to prevent a right-wing populist deadlock - probably successfully. Berlin also wanted to ensure that in the Netherlands, the rightwing populist Wilders would be stopped by a populist stance of The Hague (The Netherlands’ seat of government) towards Ankara.

The electoral motives for the collision course of Turkey are sufficiently clear and need not be repeated here.

The measures taken by the Dutch prime minister Rutte towards the 'Turkish threat' are a clear break with the past. Turkish politicians and ministers in the past found no obstacles to campaigning in the Netherlands. In this case however, steps were taken that are highly unusual in diplomatic relationships. Refusing landing rights, and preventing a Turkish minister to enter her consulate, fit more into a clash between enemy states than into relation between allies. Turkey in many cases is still an ally of the Netherlands: main NATO force with a vital geopolitical position, and partner in the refugees deal that is profitable for Rutte too.

The crackdown on Turkish nationalist protesters, specially the deployment of German shepherd dogs, is received in Turkey as harsh. This crackdown is profitable for both Erdogan’s and Rutte’s electoral games. Rutte now has responded to nationalist, anti-Turkish, anti-immigrant tendencies in the Netherlands. Potential voters for Wilders will recognise an anti-Islam policy in Rutte’s position. However, it is questionable whether the 'forgotten' part of the population to which Wilders appeals, will not understand the manoeuvre behind this shift to the right. The same applies to the overall development of populism in all parties from the right-liberal VVD to the left-populist SP (ex-maoists). It is therefore possible that today there will still be massive votes for Wilders.

Whatever will be the outcome of the polls for parliament in the Netherlands today - and its impact on Germany, France and possibly Italy - the row between Rutte and Erdogan has lasting effects on domestic and foreign policies.

The Netherlands, the EU and NATO discover now that Turkey has taken a step away from what is left of the Western alliance. Turkey makes another step in the direction of the Axis China-Russia. The difficult question is whether the various governments and organisations have realised this, during the deliberate escalation of the conflict from both sides. It has to be taken into account, that the various national states and their bourgeoisies are under pressure of firstly, a creeping (for example, the Netherlands) or already open crisis (for example Turkey). And secondly, they find themselves in increasing uncertainty about their imperialist alliances. The clear division of the world into two blocs during the Cold War no longer exists. In this situation, the politics in the former countries of the Western bloc is more motivated by domestic political considerations than by that of foreign policy. The weaker China and Russia on the other hand, find more stability in their forced marriage.

When we see through the poses that Erdogan, Merkel and her barking lap dog Rutte take, we understand that the riot Turkey-Netherlands may give Merkel the chance to do some bonding with Turkey. But there will be no strengthening of the Western alliance. Instead, we see efforts to strengthen all states, eroding and weakening of old alliances and beginnings of fragile new alliances around the imperialist Axis China-Russia, born out of necessity. Western TrumpIsm has found no answer to this.

But these developments promise bad news for the working class:

- increasing military budgets,
- reintroduction of conscription in e.g. Sweden - in the Netherlands, for women, thanks to feminists for this equality in death on the battlefield,
- inciting hate between workers from different national origins, culture or religion,
- mobilisation behind 'democracy', 'human rights' and nationalism, in short, behind the national state.

It is up to the working class to understand the meaning of the actions of the bourgeoisie, to defend its own workers' interests through united struggle, and thus promoting its proletarian perspective of a human world without war, without terror, without capital, without state.

15-3-2017 Fredo Corvo

Full text copying of this article is permitted with mentioning of the source: http://libcom.org/blog/fredo-corvo

Posted By

Fredo Corvo
Mar 15 2017 11:47


  • Both Turkey and the Netherlands have played a populist card from domestic political considerations. More specific: for electoral reasons and in an effort to strengthen their states. But there will be no strengthening of the Western alliance.

    Fredo Corvo

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Mar 16 2017 11:44

This analysis in it's conclusions seems pretty spot on to me. Could add in to the shifting alliances in Syria the recent resurgence of battles in Libya with the western/USA and Russia apparently supporting different factions though still with complications. There is a 'shake out' of alliances big and small underway but by no means complete.