Revisiting Turkey: how Jack became an anarchist

Exiled Bulgarian anarchist Jack Grancharoff recounts how he became an anarchist.

Submitted by Steven. on May 13, 2017

Born, bred and educated in Bulgaria, I had never thought that one day I would spend most of my life in exile. The innocence of childhood precluded such ideas, since its niche was limited to the immediate environment. Carelessly absorbed in chasing butterflies, playing with the colours in the meadows of flowers was an unforgettable joy, even if in tatters of poverty and barefooted. In the delights of liberty, in a picturesque world where reality and fantasy fused, how could one perceive the evil omen hidden in the stormy sea of life that eventually would cripple imagination, thoughts, emotions and bodies.

Socialisation starts in the early stages of childhood since parents are anxious to see their physical features, as well as mental and emotional, reflected in their children, often with the intention of making them a paradigm example of their own vision. Thus a child's individuality is fashioned to fit certain rules and regulations. Hence, some desires are repressed, others invoked, some are described as good, others as bad. All in all a mechanism is set up to inhibit or encourage, to reward or punish. Even the most noble sentiments and affections are used often to create a dependency syndrome rather than to stimulate independence and the emotional enrichment of the person. Thus the child is entangled in multiple authoritarianisms, each trying to model him or her according to its own image by pruning objectionable thoughts, clipping the wings of imagination and sublimating the heart's desire into adoration of adult's icons. The castrated spirit is left wandering in the labyrinths of hierarchies in search of his or her own identity while leaden shadows weigh on the quest for self- realization.

A small, but relevant, event occurred when I was six years old. The house we lived in, consisted of a) a ground floor accommodating a donkey and a horse and their forage; b) first floor that humans occupied. It had a small entrance, a big room for all the family and a storage room. We ate, slept and lived in the big room. It was our study, dormitory, playground, especially in winter, and rest room. No chairs, no tables, no beds. The wooden floor was the mattress we slept on. It was here that my first sister was born. It was a cold night since I clearly remember the play of flames, lights and shadow. The midwife delivered the child close to the chimney. My face was covered to ensure that the birth scene would not have a corruptive influence on me. Crackles of the fire, murmur of the winds and the movement of the vestals intertwined to celebrate the birth of life. My little heart was throbbing with excitement at the thought of having a brother or sister.

In the morning, surrounded by a few women, the midwife announced the news to me.

-The stork brought you a baby sister.
-The stork?
-Yes, through the chimney.

I stormed out of the house. I was cheated out of the veracity of my own observation. A rage set in in my heart. A dense fog clouded the serenity of my childhood .My heart sank into taciturn despair. A behaviour that did not escape my mother's attention. One day she asked me:

-Are you sulky because of your sister?
-I am sulky because of your brazen lie that storks bring babies.
-Well, this is the story which we, usually, tell kids.
-A fairy tale when I've seen everything'?

Mum apologised and I was at the same time relieved of some undefinable weight and elated. Perhaps this unimportant episode, well engraved in my consciousness, had a lot to answer for in my subsequent suspicion of official truths and my subsequent rebellion to officialdom.

At the age of 13 I was locked in a police station for vandalism, more precisely vandalising some teachers' houses. It was an act of protest against the injustices perpetrated by the education system which favoured the middle class, if such a concept could be applied in a not prosperous town.

What infuriated me was the class teacher's statement that good or bad marks were irrelevant to me since, coming from a poor family, I would not be able to further my education. I retorted:

-Why the hell am I forced to attend school? Why should I waste my time with a lot of bullshit instead of enjoying the mountains in company with my grandfather's sheep? At least I could do something useful. Here and now I am challenging these middle class brats (I mentioned the objects of my grievances) in front of the class. If I fail will be happy to repeat the year, but if they fail the pass mark should not be granted.
-It is preposterous to question the authority of a teacher -said my class teacher.
-Why should not I if justice is at stake?

The remark fell on deaf ears. Without much mental elaboration, I had resorted to retaliatory actions as above. Police interrogations were simply invectives against deviationist behaviour . I ought to respect elders, parents, teachers, established values, law and order and, if in doubt, ask the authority for guidance. Naturally authority itself was beyond any question. While in custody, I began questioning the power of God. If he was as almighty as presented to us then, if after an hours or so he were to fail to open the lock of the cell and Jet me out, it would mean that he was powerless. The miracle did not occur. God failed the test.

The head master called me to his office and, in the presence of ~ the teachers, asked me to apologise to my class teacher. I refused; 'adding that she was to apologise to me. On this note. and since I was within the age of compulsory attendance, I was expelled from school temporarily.

A profascist government was in power. The official creation of fascist organisations in and out of schools, was a bad social omen. My search for alternatives to fascism landed me in troubles. I was invited to a secret political meeting in the wood by a group which later I learned was very nationalistic. but for some inexplicable reason was detested by the Nazis. The Nazis were pretty violent and aggressive and had the support of the local police, at least at official level. It was incongruous that most of the people belonging to this group moved to the left. Whether it was a communist front, remains a mystery. It was the army that arrested and questioned us.A young officer..interrogated me:

-Look young boy, forget about politics and communism. Go home and continue your study. School is better than politics. Politics will get you nowhere but they definitely will lead you to either jailor losing your life. Anyhow you are too young for politics. Leave it to the others.

Freed, I went home. But from that point of time, my interest in communism began. Freedom to read subversive literature was a proscribed act and, therefore, was a kind of underground activity. A friend of mine lent me a book of poetry by a communist writer which I at the time, and now, appreciated a lot. He lent me the book on condition that if the police raided my place I would never mention his name. Such was the social climate in which alternative ideas had to operate. Anybody could be arrested, tortured. sent to jail, concentration camp or hard labour: the price of intellectual awakening. Also by fluke I had discovered somle communist literature belonging to my uncle. Thus I came to realise that my uncle. as well as my father, was a communist but neither of them had ever mentioned anything to me. It was not advisable to openly air ideas that were biased against the government. The weak point of Fascism was that its aim of total domination was apparent rather than real since it had failed to penetrate the psychology of the masses and to become amass movement. There was a newspaper with leftist leaning where the undesirable thoughts appeared in disguise. as the dreams of our subconscious mind, to escape the censor.

Nonetheless I had established contacts with communists, moved within communist circles, read communist literature but, despite all this. somehow I remained skeptical about communism as a practice in the Soviet Union. In other words I had preserved my independent critical thinking. There were a few aspects that troubled my mind. The blind faIth in the leadership was Indistinguishable from the Nazi adoration of the Furher. but I considered it to be a temporary discrepancy. Hierarchical organization was another questionable aspect but, under the circumstances, it seemed acceptable. Anyhow my humble contribution was supplying bread to political prisoners. A task facilitated by the fact that I was working in my uncle's bakery which was close to the Prison.

In 1943 the winds began to change. Stalingrad signalled the defeat of the German might. This was the opinion of workers and peasants, with some exceptions -the German strategists and rabid Nazi and fascists. AntI- fascist activities increased and so did the activities of the gendarmerie in pursuit of partisans and subversives.

In September 1944 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and invaded the country. Fascism had already collapsed and the Red Army encountered no resistance. People were generally rejoicing to what was referred to as "liberation". All power was in the hands of various committees which spranQ up on all aspects of social and economic organisations. Many political organisations, unknown to us, came into existence. The partisans came down from the mountains. Prisoners were freed. The Fatherland Front (Popular Front) was established as a government. Euphoria of freedom. Proliferation of ideas, flourishing of activities, creativities and catharsis. Emotional and intellectual upheavals. a revolutionary ethos and praxis. Assertiveness in all spheres of life. Society was adopting more and more libertarian practices. Society was moving to the left. But the revolutionary euphoria prevented us from seeing the menacing tentacles of a new reactionary force masked as communism. Its aim was to occupy the vacant throne of monarcho-fascist power . Incorporate the former into its own structure, and establish complete social control.

I was asked by an ex-Nazi to attend the inaugural meeting of the communist youth. It gave me quite a shock to see a Nazi transformed into a communist activist within 24 hours. I declined the offer. Asked to explain my behaviour I told them that I had nothing to do with turn-coats as communist emissaries. I was flabbergasted to be told that their consciousness was transformed and that they were good comrades. For a little while I stood aloof from party politics. Later on I intentionally joined the Agrarian Party so that a youth organization could be formed in the town. A party equivalent to the Russian Socialist Revolutionary movement, at least in my way of seeing it then: factories to the workers. land to the peasants. The communists hindered its formation by some flimsy pretext that two antifascists had to be at the head of the new youth organization. I was one of them. My ex-comrades were outraged and began an aggressive and abusive campaign against me. I was a reactionary, sold out to Anglo- American capitalism. Even worse, they hated my guts because I became the Agrarian Youth representative on the Popular Front.

Behind the slogans of socialism, Popular Front Unity, people's democracy and workers' control were lurking the real features of communism: total social control under its fist, hammer and sickle. Anyone who disagreed with its policy was a dupe, a traitor or an agent of some or other kind of capitalism. In reality it was the communist bureaucrats and leaders who were agents of Stalinism and stooges of the Soviet interests. Maf;-xism was an ideology, Lenin was the saint, Stalin the hero, the vicar of Marxism on this earth. He was beyond criticism. Taking over the Ministry of the Interior, they set on to chain the mouth of qissent, to repress the difference in thinking and, most importantly, to transform the proletariat into a cog of an oppressive machine.

Due to the Communist Party's pressure to establish its hegemony over the Popular Front, the latter split into two factions. Those in Government, including the communists, and the Opposition without them. The scenario was set for a struggle to a bitter and tragic end for the Opposition and for the Bulgarian people.

I was the first in my town to publicly declare support for the Opposition by bill-postering. For this act I was arrested and delivered to Popular Front Headquarters. I was held for four hours. Threats, cajoling and bribes were the methods of interrogation. They told me repeatedly that I was treading a dangerous path. I was reminded of my progressive past, of my proletarian origin. As a communist, a bright future and excellent opportunities waited for me: a grant to study in the Soviet Union. But only if I was to change my mind. I bluntly rejected all offers. They were infuriated: "There is no future for you in Communist Bulgaria. Think seriously!" To which I replied:

-As long as I am healthy I don't care. I can do any kind of work.
-There wilI be no jobs for you! -was the response.

Thus the destiny of a proletarian peasant was sealed: enemy of the people, enemy of communism, enemy of the State. I was at odds with my father too. I had missed the chance of my lifetime. I could escape poverty, persecution, damnation. I knew I broke my old man's heart. I broke his hopes and, inadvertently, his life and the life of my family who paid dearly for my actions. But I could not betray the support of the peasants I had in my district nor could I betray myself. This would have been equal to suicide. I looked at my father. His face sank in despair while I hardly could hold my emotional outburst at seeing the eradication of his hopes and the loss of his son. It was also the point of realization that I had lost my father, mum and my sisters. It was a matter of time only.

Participation in the Popular Front, first as an activist for the government and, secondly, in opposition to it, I acquired a clear vision of wide differences between those in power and the powerless majority. Also the magic spell and real corruption that power exerted on its holder and the way it changed the human psyche for the worse. It dawned to me that the emancipation of peasants, workers and people is not to conquer political power, but to abolish it. That freedom, land; bread and peace for all could not be achieved by delegating power to government or institutions but by directly participating in decision making and taking our life in our own hands. Talking about it to one of my female comrades she quipped: "But then you are an anarchist." Then I told her that if that was anarchism then I was an anarchist. I read some of the anarchist publications but it was difficult to obtain them since the stationers were mostly controlled by the Communist Party. Anarchist literature was never displayed. To buy an anarchist newspaper I had to buy the communist one too. The anarchists were the first to be suppressed by the Popular Front government. Anarchism was feared by the communists since it was a reminder of an authentic socialist consciousness. Fascism, nazism, imperialism were catch words to mobilize and manipulate the masses, whereas anarchism was feared because it was carrying in itself the hopes of the proletariat, of the people: the seeds of the Social Revolution, already in inception.

To cut the story short I ended up in a concentration camp, euphemistically referred to as a "camp of reeducation". If in Nazi Germany "Work makes you free'", them in socialist Bulgaria "Work educates you. It changes the reactionary bourgeois consciousness into a socialist one, as understood by the Party". It was in these camp that I, for the first time, met anarchists and joined their group. It was the acme of my political struggle, the synthesis of thoughts, dreams, emotions and ethics in pursuit of social and personal justice and freedom. At the end of 1947, at the request of the Popuiar Front of my town, I was freed. On my way home I decided to pay a visit to my communist uncle. I told him of becoming an anarchist.

-Anarchist now!
This genuine communist looked at me with amazement and bewilderment.
-You are mad! Do you know what you are doing? You've signed your death warrant!
-But we fought for communism, didn't we? -I retorted.
-Look son, this is not communism, this is Stalinism. They don't play games, they kill!

Later on this was the reaction of my father too.

Three weeks after my arrival home I was arrested. But the temporary freedom I had enjoyed was to my advantage. From the first day of my arrival, the secret services were collecting information about my plans, movement and thinking. I was aware that the real danger would come from the inner circle of my friends. Two of them confessed to be police informers and I used them as a vehicle for informing about myself. Knowing what the police knew about me I succeeded in being temporarily released which gave me the chance to escape from their clutches and cross the border into Turkey.

It was at the end of 1947 that I touched the soil of Turkey. Sense of relief!

Death was cheated! I crossed the Bulgarian border, my Rubicon, not with fanfare, but stealthily, not to conquer but to inhale freedom. The die was cast. The curtain fell and I found myself in Limbo with tears in happiness and happiness in sadness. Suddenly the world behind me vanished, engulfed in the flames of nothingness and turning the soul into ashes. In the pyre of destiny I sacrificed my comrades in concentration camps or prisons, my parents and sisters.

The old memory, forced into exile in the recesses of the brain, lingered for a long time tormenting my consciousness. On the other side the inception of a new memory, within the confined space of the "Free" world's cell was not a good omen either. The only dream-like future lay in the ashes of nothingness, as a potentiality like the resurrection of the Phoenix. Nonetheless a resurrected Phoenix in the "Free World", if pursuing freedom, justice, social and economic equality could well be sacrificed to the altar of political expediency: but hopes lingered.

After a few months at "leisure" in Political Police Headquarters, then Birinci Sube, we were found jobs and let free. Out of the pen, in the open air, freedom exhilarated the spirit, but it recoiled when faced with the bronze face of brutality, of slavery and exploitation. A society that combines the filthy opulence of a few with the opulent immesiration of the many is a parody of democracy and freedom. Beginning with Ataturk, Turkey was moving towards modernisation but the western cold war produced condiments that had made it subservient to the political expediency of the USA policy of encirclement of the Soviet Union. Instead of diversification and democratization of society the American presence hastened its militarization.

As refugees we were privileged because, not understanding the language, we were seen as innocuous observers of the spectacle. And to a great extent that was the case. For most of the migrants Turkey was seen as a transit country, all eyes were looking westward. The majority of the refugees were settled in hotels and hostels provided by the government, with the help of UNRA. Ghettoisation of the mind, self-imposed censorship not to offend the host country and the lack of language as a tool of communication with the locals, prevented undesirable thoughts contaminating the gentle ripples of malcontent.

In a country where the media was daily vomiting anti-communist slogans, emphatically stating the evil of the red menace, and a government affected by CIA cold war bacillus, the slightest hint of something approximating leftism was to be silenced or liquidated. As was the case of Sabatin Ali, a well-known journalist in Turkey, who was killed in an alleged attempt to escape to Bulgaria. A great number of students who dared to voice their thoughts were drowned in the wells of the city of Istanbul.

Politically speaking the Bulgarian refugees were divided into two main groups: Agrarians, the majority, and then Nationalists and others. Within these groups subsisted various trends, sometimes antagonistic and irreconcilable which led to inner struggles, splinter groups, to accusation and counter-accusation. The struggle against communism degenerated into internal squabbles. Deracinated, separated from the mother earth, with broken illusions, a life vacillating between nostalgic depressions and a future without horizons, they were often pitiful toys in the hands of cruel destiny. Frustrated by the life of coercive familiarity, simmering with ra~e, some expressed the most dark aspects of their submerged world: uSIng violence to arbitrate disputes, and the hated methods of their enemies to silence dissent. Obviously, in the bosom of their being they harboured authoritarianism, intolerance to otherness and others' ideas, antagonism to any free thought and fear of freedom. Some succumbed to the pressure of Anglo-American and the State's security services to form diversionist groups in order to destabilize the established communist governments. The repercussions of this policy played into the hands of communist oppression, providing them with sufficient justification to uproot whole families. But often these dupes of foreign interests would be betrayed by the hands that had fed and armed them, and consequently eliminated by the Bulgarian security forces. Thus many lost their lives being pawns in this dirty game. But this game was elevated to a patriotic scenario to placate the guilt of traitors and collaborators.

At the time the Turkish Trade Union movement was invisible since it was Identified with communism. The Eight Hour Day was exceptionally rare. The working day lasted from 12 to 16 hours, sleeping on the premises and poorly paid. I worked and lived in Kuchuk Langa ( then market gardens, in a huge cardboard box in a shed covered with corrugated iron to protect us from rain) in Aksaray and sometimes worked as a plumber on building sites. This gave me some opportunities to meet socialist oriented workers who could not understand why an atheist and a kind of socialist would escape from Bulgaria. Trying to prove the incongruity of my stand, some of them took me on a guided tour of Istanbul, a town virtually within the walls of old Konstantinopolis: walls which gave shelter to many poverty stricken, to those who lived in the garbage bins of society.

I had difficulty in putting a socialistic critique of socialism, to make them discern the contradictions between socialism as a theory and as a praxis, to those who had unwavering faith in socialism. My explanation was hindered by language limitations. To what extent I succeeded in clarifying that socialism as a theory, and the Stalinist "socialist" import, are contrarieties, I was not sure. ..

Nonetheless, I insisted that socialism that had the State as its master; that managed nationalized and private capital; where decision making was made by top dogs and imposed on the underdogs; where labour was glorified while bu reaucrats and apparatchiks reaped the rewards: was socialism in name but not in virtue. A society where workers' critical faculties had been crushed, where workers were mere numbers, where their contribution was measured by productivity rather than participation in social affairs, had no claim to socialism. It might occupy volumes of endemic exercises, entertain the egos of Ideological elites but it remained irrelevant to socialist praxis.

When my Turkish comrades (I called them comrades since they harboured sincere socialist feelings) pointed at the mosques as crystallization of ignorance and argued that religion was the opium of the people, we were in agreement. When I stated that socialism as the function of the State is the opium of the proletariat or, at least, a soporific pill to quiet discontent and smooth the burden of exploitation, they were rather sceptical and perplexed.

Despite everything, they had made my stay in Turkey pleasant and gave some significance to my new becoming. When I departed the country, I was sad to leave behind those who, in stealth, argued the virtues and vices of socialism, never to see or hear from them again. Thus another page was closed forever. But the memory has remained.

After fifty years I decided to pay my second visit to Istanbul. The visit exceeded my expectation in spite of the fact that the new Istanbul, a phallic jungle like other big cities, had obliterated most of the bench marks of my memory. While the first visit was a necessary outcome of a harassed soul in search of respite, the second was an attempt to step twice in the same current of life and resurrect the unresurrectable.

Turkey, despite attempts towards secularization, reform and openness, could not erase the elusive religious-secular authoritarian armour imbedded in the collective consciousness that helped to derail the original intentions. The smell of power transformed Kemalism into a rabid nationalism reasserting Turkish centrality within the boundary of Modern Turkey. Shifting the capital from Istanbul to Angora (Ankara) was to the point. Centralisation of power undermined the genuine will for reform, strengthened the hands of bureaucracy and allowed the resurgence of reaction in new attire.

Thus on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire a new imperialism was born headed by the radical bourgeoisie which had channelled the revolutionary zest to its own power proclivities. It forged national revolutionary images to quiet the bewilderment of the doubtfuls and to marginalize the recalcitrants.

Turkish nationalism was strengthened by a booster injection in allowing the USA to establish bases on its territory , and by becoming a pawn in the hands of the US military strategy. In this scenario multi-cultural life had eroded. Turkey was not Serbia or Iraq, a thorn in the USA's endeavour to hegemony. That some ethnic groups were on the verge of disappearance due to the process of assimilation or violence was irrelevant since the USA and Turkish interests converged.

The largest ethnic group, the Kurds, are referred to as the Turks of the mountains, implying either some kind of inferiority or lack of civilization, and therefore, have to be domesticated, assimilated or eliminated. In this case, human rights means dehydration of life since they opposed the USA and Turkish oppressions. Ethnic groups which are not subordinated to global and local capitalism or which hinder the profitability of multinational investments are not desirable inhabitants of the global village. Since Kurdistan is failing to satisfy such prerequisites, therefore its integration into Turkey was an ought. Emotional exhilaration with liberation, self determination and independence are marketable commodities if they are in the service of Capital and Power. Otherwise, the rebels are terrorists, the victims delinquents and the people subversives. They are of no value to the State. The army, police and gendarmerie have values. They enjoy carnage. It is their occupation. Their massacres are not crimes against humanity or acts of terrorism. They are acts of law and order. Violence against terrorism is enshrined in the Neo Liberal Order. And it is pretty obvious by humanitarian wars, impoverished uranium missiles, intelligent and smart bombs on impoverished people.

Revisiting Turkey coincided with the capture of Ocalan. The "evil" man was delivered to his "good" captors, especially trained to deal with dangerous political criminals who threaten stability, tranquillity and the peace of the country. What stability? Stability of the rich to use people as manure of capital gains? Stability of order that condemns millions to pauperism? What tranquillity does rebellion disturb? Tranquillity of those who, hiding behind the law, calmly suck the blood of the exploited? Tranquillity that justifies pillage? Tranquillity that sends youth to the battle fields to fight the dirty war of governments and Capital? The real danger to social cohesion, stability, tranquillity and peace are the pillars of the government, the army, the police and the merchants of human souls. They are the enemy of society!

At the same time, Turkey was in the grip of election fever. A comic show of clowns and display of the voluntary servitude of the masses. It looked like a fancy dress party for the outside world to show that democracy in Turkey is not simply apparent, but also functional. The election was a match between patriots-nationalists. On the one hand, were the fundamentalists whose absolute moral virtues were incarnated in Allah; on the other hand, secularists having as a reference point, Ataturk.

Within the climate of electoral euphoria, tension and oppression were easily detected. Istanbul University was surrounded by the police and the army in full combat gear. Inside there were more detectives, with guns hidden under their coats, than there were students. Any visitor to the bastion of learning, free inquiry and impartiality was checked thoroughly - and this in the house of intellect? It was obvious where the real power lay. But behind the scenario of oppression lurked the dark figure of the avatars of globalization, and the invisible hand of the CIA.

Like a wild beast, Ocalan was chased from Syria, through Athens to Moscow, where the latter refused him political asylum since tsar Boris preferred a plate of golden metal to saving the life of his destitute ex- comrade-in-arms. From Russia to Rome where another ex-communist rejected his status as a refugee and sent him back to Russia, Ocalan's life was a life on tenterhooks. Back to Moscow, then Greece, Minsk, unsuccessful attempts to enter Holland, back to Greece: the circle tightened around him, The CIA greyhounds smelled blood and victory after Pangalos decided to "boot him out" of Greece and deport him to Kenya, On 15th of February Ocalan ended up in the hands of the Turkish Security Services, The newspaper "Huriyet" as quoted by The Economist {20-26 February, 1999 p, 34) boasted that "Turkey showed the world it was a great state by capturing the baby-killer" .Ecevet was quick to assure that "justice is very free in Turkey. . . It need not last too long because the PKK's leadership are well known" (Time, March 1, 1999)

To top it all off, was the discovery that: "Ocalan has a brutal, capricious and autocratic record, even within his own movement" and "his arrest, may allow the group to refashion itself in a more civilized, democratic guise" (The Economist, as above).

Leadership implies brutality, sometimes in suave colours to enhance popularity! Capriciousness to assert authority on wavering souls and to create fear by its unpredictability! Autocratic, if he is to be a successful machiavellian prince to dominate, manipulate, impose and humiliate. But its success depends also on the servile consciousness and wilful submission of his subjects, Ocalan in power, would not be an iota better that the Ecevets or Clintons of this world, As to the baby-killer, how many babies have died and are dying in Iraq, due to Turkish invasions from time to time in north Iraq in order to wipe out the Kurdish partisans, and to American wilful bombing and non-violent embargo?

The Kurdish question was created by the great democratic tradition based , as any power, on the Roman "civility": Divide and Rule. It was England and France, which, with the treaty of Sevres in 1920, cut Kurdistan into pieces to ensure their imperialistic interests, the petrol. Was it not England that crushed the Kurdish rebellion in Iraq in 1918? And when,after the Second World War, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), supported by the Soviet Union, was formed trying to establish an autonomous republic, it was another "great" democratic country, the champion of self-determination and human rights, the USA, using Iranian troops, that buried any hopes, The abdication of the Shah in 1979 changed nothing. Around 50,000 Kurds and 5,000 peshmergas lost their lives fighting for liberation. And in Turkey, avant post of American Strategy, from 1960 to 1991, 100,000 Kurds were incarcerated, not to count those killed.

While the Kurds are stuck in the permanent Limbo of ethnic cleansing, the democratic press, with few exceptions, is silent. The USA which is financing, modernizing and arming the Turkish army, has no time for the Kurds. The latter's fight or claim for freedom, independence or autonomy run contrary to American and other capitalist interests. Undermining the sovereignty of a friendly State, the Kurdish struggle is presented as terrorism, Human rights? It is a con job, They only have value if they are at the service of the New Liberal Order and function in accordance to its prescriptions.

Despite the gloomy picture I have painted of the damned, where poverty, exploitation, servitude. ethnic cleansing and war are endemic, there are many human beings that continue to dream, defying the heavy odds of global economics, financial and political criminality and carry the flame of a libertarian utopia. In Turkey there are hearths of such groups that radiate light in the darkness of the political night, that plough furrows in the consciousness of the oppressed and sow the seed of rebellion, freedom and radical imageries. They are young, enthusiastic and within the alchemy of modem politics. carry a fevered revolutionary imagination without the fanfare of exhibitionism. Surrounded by rabid nationalists, religious bigotry , fundamentalists and the concubines of the liberal World Order , they live. function and work in harsh conditions. Harsh! Certainly harsh, since tyranny is not born in Anarchy but springs forth from the shadows of Authority.

A small event to remember. A tiny basement room crammed with books - such familiar names: Bakunin, Kropotkin, etc. Here the weavers of the revolution spin the thread of Ariadne to get out of the catacombs of marginalization. Here they write, publish, distribute and read books with anarchist contents. My friend and I have come here several times and enjoyed their company and hospitality as we sip tea and coffee, smoke and debate. A friendly place! No weapons! No bombs\ Only thoughts, ideas and struggle. Now we enter again. But this time two impeccably dressed gentlemen are taking "notes". Seeing us, they ask: "Who are they?" The answer is spontaneous: "Friends, visitors". My friend is naively amazed. "What an orderly and quiet meeting" she whispers to me "How carefully they take the Minutesl". "Naturally" -I said later -"It was the Thought Police, the limbs of the law. Judges of subversivity. They were taking Police notes, not Minutes". They question, investigate, order and indict. One comrade was charged with sedition because he wrote an article dealing with the Kurdish issue. The editor was given an option: either resign or face jail; either freedom to be silent or the limbo of free slavery. Is it not terrorism to regard thoughts and ideas as subversive acts that have to be suppressed?

Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to see the pale face of anarchism, this faint spark that might one day ignite a rebellion. Rebellion accompanied by a process of liberation which will ensue, not in substituting one power for another, but in radical changes in favour of the oppressed. As for me the dialogue with these genuine comrades was an existential experience that captured my heart and strengthened my faith in anarchism.

Red and Black - An anarchist journal
Issue No 29, Autumn 2001
Taken from