Metin Yeğin

Before you start reading this piece, take a look at the photographs above. Gazete Duvar published those photographs last Sunday. The fact that they were placed next to each other was purely coincidental. Yet both pictures provide a fitting illustration of the world today. 

If you look at the picture of the fascist with a bow and arrow who’s attacking protestors in the U.S., you’ll notice that the fascist is wearing a t-shirt that bears skulls designs. This t-shirt was worn on purpose.  

Let us now discuss the other picture, which was taken here, in Turkey. It features bones and skulls that were found in a cave in the southeastern city of Mardin. Those probably belong to people who went missing. Here, the skulls are not on a t-shirt. They are real. They belonged to real people killed by real fascists. To put it blatantly, these bones and skulls probably belonged to Kurds. 

In fact, whom they belong to does not matter. What matters is that the incident behind them was real. A DNA investigation might only determine the “location” of this incident.  

More tragically, the son of a missing person believes his father is among the bones that have been found. İrfan Yakut said his father has been missing since 1993. 40 skulls have been found during the search. 

Such a pain is difficult to fathom for those whose relatives are not missing. Even after decades have passed, people still wish to at least bond with the remains of their loved ones. As the Argentinian mother Juanna Meller de Pargament once said: “His coat and hat are still hanging on the door. It is as if he would get off the bus and come home. I’m still waiting for him…”

I remember a house in Kosovo where all the men in the family – four people – were still missing. As we began talking to the family, women and children took down the pictures of their missing ones off the walls and held them in their arms. 

Ernest Mandel, a Belgian Marxian economist and theorist, once pointed out that the bourgeois left two structures intact: colonialism and the proletariat. In light of this, it is not surprising that African-Americans in the U.S. and Kurds here are killed so easily. 

The plight of both the Kurds and the African-Americans is related to class dynamics. For instance, in Turkish, when we use the term “amele” for “unskilled worker”, we immediately think of a Kurd. 

Capitalism and colonialism go hand in hand. The working class and colonialism go hand in hand. Needless to say, racism is component of colonialism. For this reason, one can regard the missing people in Turkey and the beleaguered African-Americans as the lumpenproletariat. 

What is more, the social class characteristic of this common fate – thousands of kilometers apart – also sheds light on another recent debate regarding the leftist Kurdish movement. The “know-it-alls” in Turkey assume that the Kurdish movement is coincidentally involved with the left and socialism. Like it or not, this stems from the intertwined fate of colonialism and proletariat. To think that these two entities can be disentangled from each other is nothing more than an academic fantasy.