Turkey: Istanbul 1st of May 2024 is a Mirror of Truth for Workers and Revolutionaries

Hereby we publish an unofficial translation of an article published in Yeni Demokrasi

Istanbul’s 1st of May 2024, as in every period, was experienced bringing to light some facts on the axis of the working class’ struggle. As in every 1st of May, all the facts showed the burning and destructive character of 1st of May, together with what was done and what was not done. The experience of learning from practices, which are the simplest teachings of class struggle, and the ability to transform experiences into permanent principles of struggle, turn into a new structure part that develops every revolutionary subject and every communist structure. With the inadequacy of the Istanbul 2024 1st of May discussions, the Taksim decision and the voluntary override of this decision, launch again these discussions became a new task.

The 1st of May Taksim discussions took place comparing the practices to see the differences between the revolutionary, progressive, developing, constructive and of proletarian attitude of elements of the working class, and the destructive attitude of the union bureaucracy such as DİSK and partly KESK, which is class collaborative and the attitudes of some petty bourgeois organizations that are far from understanding the class. The deepening class and political contradictions between the state and society not only caused a loss of votes in the government, but also brought the base of many system parties, especially the CHP, closer to the political field of social opposition. The DİSK-CHP cooperation on 1st of May, 2024 Istanbul emerged as a part of the tools set on the task of destroying the power that the working class, which is impoverished, struggling with crises, and reacting in some way, will receive from the unity.


DİSK and KESK bureaucrats managed to hypnotize a large segment of society, including the overwhelming majority of the revolutionary movement, with the Taksim decision they announced the day after the elections, taking professional organizations such as TMMOB, TTB, DTB with them. They tried to back up their claims with the decision of the Constitutional Court, not with serious preparations to be carried out in factories, workplaces and workers’ areas. As if there was any constitutional functioning left, as if we were not faced with a fascist regime! By using the Constitutional Court decision as the key to Taksim, they once again fed the illusions about the fascist regime and created a widespread expectation that it would step back. When very clear statements started to come from the regime in the last ten days, this time they tried to pose by saying “We will go to Taksim without any restrictions, no one can stand in our way.” The fact that Özgür Özel, who was appointed as the head of the state party CHP, stood in front of the Taksim choir and started waving a scarf and saying “I am a guarantor”, making these hypnotic words even more exciting for those who put their hopes in the election and in some other people.

The process, which started with the “Taksim determination” and ended with the Saraçhane compromise, should be analyzed correctly from the perspective of democratic-revolutionary forces. DİSK-CHP’s Saraçhane compromise is a compromise to keep everything as it is. Despite all kinds of attacks, pressures and economic promises, the current capital representatives, the AKP-MHP government, are trying to manage this process through so-called reconciliation because they are afraid of the power that will emerge as a result of the merging of the class and the revolutionaries. The capital order, which tries to survive through exploitation and plunder, is in an area of complete deadlock. This compromise, which emerged in the meetings of the DİSK-CHP duo with the President, was the balancing act of class hostility towards the possibilities awaiting revolutionary movements in the gap of deadlock. It is an operation of the system not to lose control by the DISK-CHP in the face of the fact that the government has almost lost control. Those who celebrated 1st of May by saying “We will march to Taksim” before turning their backs to Taksim and the revolutionaries in Saraçhane, stated whose side their ranks were with, with messages of reconciliation and the shamelessness of withdrawing from the area.

The dominant tendency in the DİSK management is class collaborative social dialogue unionism. This approach has not only proven its ineffectiveness, it has left class demands behind, it has failed to organize workers, it has narrowed down, it has faltered in a shallow political line, DİSK has not kept its promise to its own workers on this Istanbul 1st of May, it has not marched with force towards Taksim, and after the photo with CHP, one of its reactionary goals, it even betrayed its own members by withdrawing from the field.

1st of May was also instructive in terms of showing the advanced workers the ways to solve their problems in their own way and to fight against the bourgeois collaborationist union-political understandings that prevent the development of the movement, of course for those who care about the class, for those who want to understand and see. Not for the ones who prefer to be blind. And those who look at the class with the longing for the world depicted by the frog looking at the sky from the bottom of the well will continue to move towards the next 1st of May, praising the place they see from the well. It shouldn’t be very difficult to see the arguments of these understandings: fighting for existence for a whole year by relying on advanced attitude, fight against fascism, revolutionary responsibility, determination, and the war of will, being not within the class but perhaps parallel to it, and taking consolation from the tangent points. However, the main part of the working class continues to be a part of production in completely different places, with different demands, in reactionary unions and in factories far from class identity.

As has been the case many times, the working class continues to find its own way through its own experiences, in the hardest way, by paying the heaviest prices. Despite this fact, the understandings that are disconnected from the class, which make judgments on behalf of the class and try to digest every word they say, from making decisions without workers and bring them to the working class, as if it were the truth and decision of the working class, who plays the role of the sole representative of the working class, in fact, they are in the reactionary cooperatives and unions where the working class still exists and they gives the class to the institutions and continues to run without looking back. So much so that – there is no mistake in the simile – in this relay race, running without taking the flag from the class, going forward, making laps is meaningless in the same way as it is meaningless in this race. It should not be difficult to predict that this attitude will do nothing more than imprisoning the working class in its current situation and making it passive and not revealing the creative power of the working class. 1st of May, 2024 is also important in terms of these discussions.

2024 Istanbul 1st of May and the general attitude of the union bureaucracy negatively affected the working class’ ability to demonstrate its power more effectively. Calls for celebrations in a single city, especially by Türk-İş and Hak-İş [Translator’s note: Turkish trade unions], and the attitude of ignoring duty and reducing it to a narrow activity such as doing just for the sake of doing, with participation in these celebrations below the proportional strength of its members, continued. There are workers in the May 1 celebrations of Türk-İş and Hak-İş, but the workers have no political demands as a class.


Despite the prohibitionist attitude of the capital representative government and the efforts of the union bureaucracy to divide, 1st of May was celebrated with widespread and mass actions attended by hundreds of thousands of workers in more than a hundred places across the country. In addition to the demands and enthusiastic participation of workers in certain industrial centers, the increase in the number of centers where May 1 protests were held for the first time in years were what remained in memories on this 1st of May. Especially the rallies held in Batman, Antep, Van, Ağrı, Yozgat and regionally specific areas are important. At the same time, the 1st of May protests were important in terms of seeing the division of the labor movement as well as the level of trust of the union bureaucracy on the labor movement. The fact that the workers did not pay attention to the complaints of the union centers at the podiums and that the participants of the 1st of May protests left the area as soon as the speeches started shows the extent of distrust and reaction to the union administrations. A few main demands have come to the fore in these areas. Demands such as additional salary increases, justice in taxes, the right to organize, and protest against poverty are evident. Although Ergün Atalay talked about some important agendas such as the tax burden of workers, additional wages and the right to unionize – legal regulations- his attitude showed a little teeth and then did not refrain from reminding the corporative aspect with the chant of homeland-nation-Sakarya, gave the message of doing the duty of the place he was in properly. It has become a mirror of another dilemma in the name of the class, disconnected from the class.

HAK-İŞ Chairman Mahmut Arslan said, “We ended the discussions about this square in 2009, 2010 and 2011. From now on, we can do it here with the permission given in Taksim. If there is no permission here, all squares in Turkey are our squares, all areas are our areas. Creating chaos and tension through public debates for some security reasons and revolving around chaos and tension is a great injustice to the labor movement.” He continued to instill his terrorizing view of the revolutionaries among the workers without feeling the need to hide his intentions.

The union bureaucracy, which voiced the demand for justice in taxes, albeit in a limited way, in its rallies, specifically refrained from raising the demand for additional salary increases. Because the demand for additional raises becoming a matter of struggle means raising the bar of contracts today. Moreover, there was the possibility that a struggle that started for this would turn into a united and mass struggle, which was what the union bureaucracy feared most. That’s why embracing the demand for justice in taxes and bringing it to the fore. To calm down the anger of the workers by making them expect that “We are negotiating with the government for this demand, it will happen tomorrow, if not today”. That has been the situation that has been effective in recent years and requires vigilance in the coming period. Yes, despite the vitality of the struggle dynamics of the labor movement, the weakness of the combative union centers as well as the positions of class unionism continues. However, the solution to the problem will come from resolving this contradictory situation in favor of the workers’ struggle. If the pioneer, advanced workers and combative unionists who understand their class identity and woke up to how the wheels of capital work, understand the importance of their own responsibility. The place where they will unite with all the leading workers is their organization in their party, which fights on the political ground of their own class. There is no other way to transform unions into workers’ organizations and gather unions along a revolutionary line. Almost all circles state that a new era has begun, based on different facts. Official bourgeois writers and historians will also define this new period based on the local elections as the starting point. However, the one-man rule of capital sends the message that it remains in place with all its powers and will continue its policies of exploitation and oppression with determination. The key to its defeat should be sought in the increasing level of struggle of the working class, especially in the last three years, for additional raises, raising the minimum wage and improving the working and living conditions of workers and laborers, and the increasing power of influence on other social segments.

Even though years have passed, those who approach the Taksim issue with an obsession that cannot strengthen the struggle of the working class should learn from their mistakes. “For years, Taksim has been turned into a way to cover up both, the sins of the union bureaucracy and the reality of how disconnected the revolutionary left is from large segments of the class. The main criteria with which we have to evaluate the issue is the current level of consciousness and organization of the working class. Any approach that ignores this, or even does not base its evaluation on this, is weak and will remain weak, regardless of its intention. The attitudes of those who do not do meaningful and worthwhile work and avoid shedding sweat to raise awareness and organize the class in factories and workers’ neighborhoods, regarding 1st of May, have nothing to do with political seriousness. If those who do this are revolutionaries, this has nothing to do with working class revolutionism. This attitude only suits the revolutionism of the petty bourgeois who wants to relieve his own soul. It was not the petty bourgeois revolutionism that created 1st of May in Turkey and made it a tradition, nor was it the petty bourgeois revolution that created 1st of May, 1977, which made Taksim a symbol. The predecessors of today’s petty bourgeois revolutionism at that time did not even think of organizing mass 1st of May celebrations in Turkey, despite the extraordinary size of the revolutionary movement. Those who did this work were the revolutionaries who turned to working class revolutionism and the old DISK in which they worked. It is imperative to remind these forgotten facts to both the petty-bourgeois left and the new DISK. Another fact that should be remembered, if we are not playing games, is that the real meaning of the promise to win Taksim today is to organize a workers’ movement that is organized and intimidating the system, as on 1st of May, 1977.

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