Gezi/Taksim: From the margins

Il y a une figure universelle de la conscience minoritaire, comme devenir de tout le monde, et c’est ce devenir qui est création.  Ce n’est pas en acquérant la majorité qu’on y atteint.  Cette figure, c’est précisément la variation continue, comme une amplitude qui ne cesse de déborder par excès et par défaut le seuil représentatif de l’étalon majoritaire.  En dressant la figure d’une conscience universelle minoritaire, on s’adresse à des puissances de devenir qui sont d’une autre domaine que celui du Pouvoir et de la Domination.  

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Mille Plateaux

From the Occupied Taksim blog, the translation of a text written by Nazan Ustundag from, reflecting on the nature of the Turkish movement from the margins …

“It must be known that those dubbed as “marginal groups” by the government are all legal organisations. In spite of their legal status, they have constantly been the target of state attacks and have constantly experienced tear gas. Naturally, they are well acquainted with state violence and the forms of resistance against it.”

In Praise of the “Marginal Groups”

Nazan Üstündag

Today, the effects of the gas linger within our bodies.

The stench of those who wish to corrode us from our innards does not subside.

The gas within my lungs leaves no room for fresh air.

A system of exploitation is a system of lies. It systematically dismantles the truth and conceals it. Its mechanisms for creating lies are institutional. Be it the legal system, the media, the social sciences, the medicinal services, the political authority or the administrative personnel; the capacity of the exploitative regime to disseminate lies from all its organs constitutes the very foundation of the said system. This system not only usurps labour and resources, but also the truth. That is precisely why under such regimes, violence, the law and information are integrally tied to each other. An exploitative system is a catastrophe which constantly putrefies not only the bodies of individuals but also social relations. The only way to stand against this catastrophe is by upholding the truth. And it must be understood that the truth can only be revealed through resistance, practice and solidarity. When faced by a people joined by resistance, practice, and solidarity, the system of exploitation loses its capacity for propagating lies.

Yesterday, a scene was staged with the intention of breaking the resistance into two camps, thereby shattering the people’s support to this resistance. Today, I wish to say a couple of things on this issue.

It must be known that those dubbed as “marginal groups” by the government are all legal organisations. Most of them are left-wing, revolutionary organisations. In spite of their legal status, they have constantly been the target of state attacks, have constantly been obstructed, beaten, arrested and gassed. Naturally, they are well acquainted with state violence and the forms of resistance required in order to counter it. These “marginal groups” have banners and have always upheld their banners. For instance the Patriotic Youth carry flags bearing the image of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and demand his freedom. The anarchists carry black flags and long for a stateless society. The revolutionary groups, for example, actually want to confiscate your property, as they aspire for a world without private property. Although they continue their existence within legal boundaries and are a part of the Taksim Solidarity, they have been confined to a legal “grey area” because of the illegal state violence they have been forced to face over the years. Because they strive to continue their existence in a sphere where the law and lawlessness have become one, they are regarded as “the marginals.”

 Since 14 days ago, the protests for Gezi Park have long surpassed the mere demand for preserving a park. The Gezi Protests have turned into a revolt against marginalisation. The 50% vote received by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has brought its policy of “marginalising all who do not resemble it” to a new stage. Because the AKP attempted to marginalise all those which did not share its mentality, the other 50% have revolted against it. Gezi Park was simply the spark.

Those who assembled in Taksim during the first day of the protests were mainly people with jobs, and they mostly went to the square after work and during weekends. It was there that they experience an “environment without the presence of the state” for the first time and reclaimed their city back. This was enabled by the efforts of the young men and women affiliated with these “marginal groups.” They were the ones who resolutely guarded the “barricades.”

For many, turning these demonstrations into a mere demand for the preservation of Gezi Park is synonymous with desperation. The attempted destruction of Gezi Park, along with the projects for a third bridge over the Boshporus, the construction of more police stations, dams, hydroelectric power plants, the policy of urban transformation, and deliberate forest fires are integrally connected to each other. The Gezi Park protests symbolise defiance against the deceitful media, the imprisonment of more than 10,000 people for political reasons, and the dirty war in Kurdistan. This has become a war for honour, and if this area of struggle for dignity -cleared with the pioneering of the middle classes- has been filled by the marginalised sectors of society, it cannot be said that this is the product of pragmatic politics. For it is the fulfilment of a new existence. Those who have defended the square, have in fact, defended this very existence and will naturally resist all boundaries imposed on the field where they have flourished.  

It is only natural for a twelve year old Kurdish child from Tarlabasi to throw rocks at the police. A revolutionary who has been gassed and imprisoned for many years will of course march relentlessly on the police bearing revolutionary banners in hand, and young men and women will quite naturally provoke the police by defying them with their folk dances. It is only normal that those young men and women who, after leaving their manual daytime jobs, find themselves on the barricades will not disperse as if they were cattle. It is essential that certain members of this resistance grasp that for the past 14 days, the Gezi Resistance is no longer an “innocent protest,” it is a popular uprising.

Let us remember that the current governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, was the district governor of Silopi (Sirnak) in the 90’s, the assistant governor of Sirnak, and the governor of Siirt and Amed (Diyarbakir) in the 2000’s [all are provinces of North Kurdistan-O.T.]. This governor has risen to his current post because those responsible for the disappearances of political dissidents in Kurdistan during the 1990’s have never been fully revealed. Today, he has decided to confront a new generation of young people. A generation which knows how to marginalise lies.

The Gezi Park resistance, however it may end, has sparked a battle for the truth in this country. It must be carried forth resolutely, defiantly and with solidarity. Get used to people upholding political banners, children spewing forth their anger, people legitimately provoking the state forces, and a multitude of political slogans.

Today, I am consumed with anger. My anger is directed towards lies and those who fall for these lies. I am determined to defy the poisonous taste the state has poured into my mouth, and the poisonous slanders they have transferred to my mind. It is a time to liberate ourselves from the terminology of “ambiguous truth” permeating our language since the 1980’s. For it is a terminology which confuses minds and obscures the existing situation.

Those “marginal groups” have a common slogan: “Liberation by oneself is not possible. It’s either all of us, or none of us!”

This is a reality which has prevailed throughout the ages.

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