Defending Europe, But Only in Times of War

Revolutionary greetings! I am an anarchist from Istanbul who has been living in Berlin for some time, trying to fight and cling to life, and continue the struggle on a low level. Not too many months ago I asked an anarchist who was my flat mate where our place is in the changing world. With the exaggeration of course I asked: „If there is a war, will we fight authoritarian and fascist forces (I did not mention a name) alongside liberal Google, Facebook? Will we be part of the paramilitary forces armed by Google defending the free values of the West?“ As a response he joked with me: „I see liberal tendencies in you“. Actually I asked this question precisely so that we do not become soldiers of Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix. Today’s war forces us to ask these and similar questions again.

Left wing, until the recent war, was talking constantly about European colonialism, that fascism did not die, it lived half-secretly, half-openly in public and state, that European values were a construct, and ‚No pasaran!‘ to patriotism-chauvinism. But why today leftists compete each other to defend Europe, get into the psychology of war in a very short time and participate in the discourses of NATO and the EU, at least on an emotional level, and sometimes on a political level, moreover on a military level? Of course, this question is not easy to answer. I would like to open a different kind of discussion with my own experience, an example from Turkey and making some generalizations (I apologize for the generalizations in advance) WITHOUT going into ‚whataboutism‘ (There were and still are occupations in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine etc. what about that?), and WITHOUT mentioning the history and current situation of US and Russian imperialism.

The war in Ukraine and the response of the leftist circles in Europe, and the division within, reminded me of the war between Turkey and the PKK in Turkey Kurdistan (or Bakur) between 2015 and 2016. In 2015 and before, the left circles of Turkey were more and more welcoming to the legal and illegal branches of the Kurdish movement. But when the PKK started its wars of autonomy in the summer of 2015, when it became a real threat to the Republic of Turkey, ‚Turkish‘ leftists began to see the threat to their country as a threat to their own existence. They first withdrew their emotional sympathy and then their political support for the Kurdish movement. Crowds on the left who said before 2015 no to nationalism, fascism, and chauvinism; in the atmosphere of war chose the side of the Republic of Turkey, their country, their state, and their homeland.

There is a similar war psychology and atmosphere in Europe today. It seems that the ‚European‘ leftists are on the side of ‚Europe‘, like how the ‚Turkish‘ leftists in 2015-2016 war took the side of Turkey. This is not a big surprise, of course, it is exactly why the nation was created, so the people connected to each other by national values could more easily resist external enemies. While leftists, who are also part of their nation, could imagine change the state and make a revolution from within; but opposed threats from outside, no matter how ‚bad‘ or authoritarian their state is. The name of this is exactly patriotism, maintaining loyalty to one’s country despite everything. And by the way I can understand defending the freedom to work and travel to any country within the EU, the luxury of working less that as the strong currency Euro provides and the feeling of wealth when travelling to poorer countries, the feeling of living in a free country. I can also understand that those who are radically opposed to patriotism, can content with the political, economic, and military moves of their countries, and align themselves with their states in war, warlike moments. But I cannot understand why a significant part of the leftists try to portray themselves as enemies of the state and country in times of peace.

What I can understand and what I can’t understand makes it more difficult for my struggle and me to be positioned in the world. This discussion will continue.


Editor’s note: The author send in a self drawn sketch, that had a swastika in it, this is something we do not want on our site, we consider the text to be valuable, so we published it here, but replaced the picture.