Elections, The Immigrant Question and Racism
In recent years, anti-immigration was a topic that was mainly carried out by Ümit Özdağ's Zafer Partisi (Victory Party) and was on the edge of the political agenda. In the main opposition party CHP, the rhetoric of "Border is the honor" and the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan was on the agenda from time to time, but a systematic anti-immigrant discourse has never been the focus of the elites at the center of politics. Now, Kılıçdaroğlu's (leader of the main opposition party) transformation in the second-round campaign from "soft words" to anti-immigrant with a sudden reversal has caused anti-immigrant agenda to become the main agenda of politics. Özdağ, the leader of the fascist ZP, said "I closed my eyes, listened to him and felt as if I was speaking myself" for the first video that Kılıçdaroğlu posted after the election.
This U-turn made by Kılıçdaroğlu, even if it is perceived as his usual pragmatic attitude, will cause the hate speech and racism that has been spreading to society for many years to spread among various actors and will also affect the post-election period. It should be added that in the post-election period, the economy is facing a serious wave of bankruptcy and unemployment and is in danger of collapse. In such historical periods, it has often been seen that far-right and racist movements have directed the rising class rage to immigrant minorities and oppressed ethnic and religious identities. At this point, the far-right movements hide the fact that the bosses, who feed on the immigrant question, are the creators and manipulators of the problem.
On the day that Kılıçdaroğlu posted the video, a news story escaped the attention of most of us. The news contained an incident that was often experienced and ignored. It was about the victim of a young worker's workplace homicide. Due to the political atmosphere created, this type of news does not have a place on the agenda as much as news involving an ordinary crime committed by an immigrant. In Turkey, the capital does not want to talk about how it transforms immigrant labor into a capital accumulation tool; it neither desires to surface the fact that the immigrants are employed in the worst working conditions, in the most unskilled jobs that are irregular, precarious and informal. In February of last year, a fire broke out in a textile workshop in Güngören. According to the Governor's statement, four immigrant workers lost their lives in the toilet where they locked themselves. Those who carelessly pumped up hostility towards immigrants did not question the fact that four workers had to lock themselves in the toilet out of fear of escaping the fire or preventing the revelation of illicit work.
Moreover, it should be emphasized that child labor is widespread in the migrant workforce. Due to illicit work, it is not possible to obtain clear data, but as written in a published article points out: “A recent field study shows that more than 70% of Syrian children work 6 or 7 days a week and they are exposed to verbal or physical violence at their workplaces”.
The opposition does not use the title where its hand is strongest on the immigrant question, on the contrary, it is bogged down in nationalism. What the opposition should have done was to tell society about the AKP's dirty role in the Syrian Civil War, Erdogan's dirty bargain with the European Union and the exploitation of migrant labor. The opposition did not do these things.
The exploitation of migrant labor in Turkey intersected on ground exactly in accordance with the economic policies of the government. Under the threat of deportation, immigrants worked for less wages than Turkish laborers and therefore could not find the opportunity to organize against capital. Erdogan's chief adviser Yasin Aktay used the following phrases for migrants: When there are no Syrians in some very important areas, that is, when the Syrians leave, the economy collapses. Similarly, Mehmet Özhaseki of the AKP stated that: Currently, migrant workers are keeping the industry afloat in some cities. When you look at the Gaziantep industry, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are working under the most severe and difficult conditions. Finally, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said: The rhetoric that ‘we will send all the Syrians’ would not be right. They are currently needed in agriculture and industry. We see this quite clearly. All these examples show that immigrants do not create discomfort among the ruling party because of cheap labor/low-cost labor. In this way, the government has created a suitable environment for the country to be transformed into a cheap, unorganized labor paradise whose most basic economic and social rights have been eroded. This function of immigrants is veiled by the extreme right turning them into objects of hatred.
While the main target of racist-chauvinist hatred is poor immigrant workers, the other side of the issue is that the government distributes citizenship in abundance with the fear of foreign exchange and perhaps votes. Foreigners who buy housing by paying $400,000 can obtain Turkish citizenship. While the country's currency is rapidly depreciating and foreigners who have received citizenship rights, seen in the images on the television channel A Haber close to the government, have a say in the political destiny of the country, this anti-immigrant sentiment is fueling.
Racism is not a new phenomenon for capitalism. At the root of the rise of racism and nationalism lies the motive of preventing the working class from coming together. Religious, ethnic, and sexual differences are always held at disposal in the background to disrupt the unity of struggle of the working class. What the working class should do is not to comply with these distinctions, but on the contrary, to unite against these distinctions and fight against the dominant class. Marx emphasized in the first volume of Capital that: Labor in white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded. The CHP and its leader Kılıçdaroğlu do not have such concerns and will not. An important area of struggle will be waiting for us as socialists that we cannot leave to racist fascists like Ümit Özdağ.