By Michael Sercan Daventry
LONDON (AA) – Another example of the extraordinary unity inspired by the failed Turkish coup on July 15 was played out in a small, stuffy room next to a north London church Wednesday night.
The setting was the weekly meeting of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) Haringey branch. Members gathered to discuss local party issues and hear a talk on current events.
This week’s speaker was political activist and commentator Ron Margulies for a talk entitled “Turkey’s Failed Coup: Prospects for Socialists”.
Margulies was born in Istanbul and is a seasoned member of the Revolutionary Socialist Workers’ Party, a registered political party in Turkey and a sister organization to the U.K.-based SWP.
Both the British and Turkish parties are on the far-left of the political spectrum and, it is fair to say, neither are particularly supportive of the Justice and Development (AK) Party currently in power in Turkey.
But the July 15 attempt by members of a junta within the Turkish Armed Forces to overthrow the country’s government and the 550 elected members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly has engineered a remarkable field of common ground that embraces the extremes of the political spectrum.
Marguiles, who has plenty of ideological differences with Turkey’s government, said the Turkish public’s response to the coup attempt had been “magnificent” and paid tribute to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call that fateful night for people to take to the streets.
He told Anadolu Agency: “I don’t [know] about Turkey or Turkey’s future, but politically it was exactly the right thing to do because he’s a democratically-elected president.
“The government is a democratically-elected government and no unelected, armed people have the right to overthrow elected representatives of the people. So to call on the people to defend their elected representatives is absolutely the right thing to do.”
He added: “I should point out that people went out into the streets before he, the president, called for it. When he called for it, even more people went out, but they did go out straight away.”
Addressing the small audience of branch members a little later on, Marguiles was unsurprisingly critical of the Turkish government.
He compared the AK Party to the center-right governing Conservative Party in Britain, saying there was little politically to distinguish the two.
The Turkish government “continued to run Turkish capitalism despite receiving the votes of the working classes,” he said, adding: “This government has done everything the ruling class in Turkey has wanted. Economically, there is nothing left in Turkey which hasn’t been privatized.”
Few would expect a Socialist Workers’ Party member to support a center-right party’s economic policies.
But Marguiles’ socialist passions were matched by his devotion to democratically-elected governments and how they are always superior to administrations imposed by military rule.
The Turkish public on the streets on the night of the coup had risked their personal safety, even their lives, by climbing upon tanks to try and reach the soldiers inside it, he said.
He continued: “What the plotters didn’t envisage was the wonderful, magnificent response of ordinary people the moment they heard that something was happening.
“People in their thousands, completely spontaneously, mostly government supporters but not exclusively government supporters, rushed out into the streets to three main places in Istanbul.
“This has never happened before in Turkish history and the military did not expect it.”