MATERIAL SUPPORT FOR PURGED ACADEMICS IN TURKEY

{For those coming here looking for a reputable place to make a material contribution to supporting the victims of the repression in Turkey, who do not have time or interest in reading a blog piece about material aid for purged academics in Turkey (notwithstanding how fascinating my blog piece is!), the site of Academics for Peace where one can make such a contribution, which is discussed in this blog piece, is

https://www.youcaring.com/academicsforpeaceinturkey-763983}

Over the last several months the repression in Turkey has continued to broaden and deepen. As a result, on the one hand a number of people I know have begun to ask (informally, or suggesting the need to take more formal steps) what people outside Turkey who support the progressive forces there can do to materially support the expanding legions of victims.  On the other hand, a few attempts to reach out to raise money have been initiated. This blog entry is a comment on this huge and unfortunately presumably long-term issue, which at the end indicates one fund directed toward academics in Turkey that the readers of this URPE (left academic) blog who are looking for something like this should consider.

First, the frame. The repression is already huge, and will get significantly bigger. It needs to be understood that it is already well beyond the very serious McCarthyism of the 1950s in the US, which seriously and painfully disrupted the lives of thousands, ruined the lives of many, and of course in its highest profile case executed the Rosenbergs.

[Since this is blog I can diverge just a bit from its narrow topic to say something more about the very related last case just mentioned. It is impossible to mention the Rosenberg case without flagging that it is still very much a living case. The evidence is now overwhelmingly clear that Ethel was framed very consciously by the United States government in order to put pressure on Julius to “name names,” to keep the red-scare expanding. This author believes the evidence indicates that there was interaction between Julius and the Soviet spy apparatus, but holds that nevertheless his trial violated, in numerous major ways, the existing legal procedures, and the sentence of death was legally inappropriate for what he did. Hence I hold that despite real ties, Julius also was executed for his political ideas, notwithstanding his “show trial.” There was a meaningful campaign for Obama in his final months to acknowledge the complete travesty of justice concerning Ethel, which he refused to do. Of course there is no possibility of such a  national acknowledgement under the present administration, but this author believes the evidence concerning Ethel is now so overwhelming that eventually (presumably not for many years) the nature of her trial as a deliberately constructed complete frame-up will be acknowledged by the US government.]

It is the scale of the situation in Turkey and the relation of that to the many requests for donations to support the victims that are now beginning, and which will greatly expand over the coming years, that I want to focus on here. The new fund that I will indicate at the end of this blog has been very clear – they aim to raise $105,000, which will be enough to support 35 academics at the minimum wage (of course abysmally low) for 6 months.

A natural first reaction to this appeal by any progressive who is aware of the big picture could be “what good will that be in the face of the scale of the problem?” With the number of people who have been fired from their jobs now much beyond 100,000, and the number jailed reported even by the conservative mainstream press as 40,000 (The Economist, March 11-17), what good is it to support 35 academics (and academics are only one part of the victims, of course) for 6 months?

The repression in Turkey is not only very broad and deep, it seems pretty clear it will go on for a long time. At present it seems most likely Erdogan will win the referendum legally turning vastly more powers over to him in a new authoritarian presidency structure, which he will legally be able to hold for 10 years. But of course, that legality, while an important issue, is secondary. Erdogan already rules the country as dictator, and will continue to do so even if he loses the referendum, and will continue to do so past 10 years if he maintains the power to do so.

Here is an attractive idea that seems like it could make some difference on the large (or at least a larger) scale. If one wants to collect more than a small amount of money from the Turkish community and their friends, a campaign of support is needed with some figurehead names that the general progressive community recognizes, and can feel sure about giving money to something they have endorsed. Without that, people feel that small appeals from groups they do not know could be rip-off operations. Behind these figurehead endorsers, a professional organization of full time organizers (likely semi volunteers living on barely existence wages if it follows the usual history, but that is a separate issue) needs to give life to the organization. They need to constantly monitor the situation in Turkey, reach out to the media and progressive groups around the world to keep the consciousness of the on-going situation current, constantly raise money, and constantly create and recreate (as the Turkish government will continually attempt to disrupt their work) channels to get the money into Turkey to these people, who more and more will officially be labeled and treated as  “enemies of the people.”

OK, so that would be very good, and it is certainly a possibility  – an organization of at least a middling size raising significant amounts of money.

That is not, however, the way the thousands who had their lives disrupted or ruined were supported during McCarthyism. There was no (and in that political climate there could be no such organization in the US) central organization raising large amounts of money to support the victims. Rather, they were supported by families, especially by friends, and by a multitude of small fund raising efforts by many different small progressive organizations.

Will such a multitude of small efforts suffice for the much bigger situation in Turkey today? It is worth very briefly thinking about the still bigger situation, the repression of progressives in fascist Germany in the 1930s. This author’s personal opinion is that although the situation in Turkey is going to get much worse in the near future and then continue for a long time, the situation of the world today is such that Erdogan will not be able to push the level of victimization to that of Germany in the 1930s. But discussing if it will or will not get that bad is not the point of thinking about Germany here.

The first point to make is, for those who have read any literature from progressive groups in the 1930s in the US, the feeling of both horror and helplessness watching as the process broadened and deepened. And I do not mean immobilizing helplessness. These groups did just what I talked about above, constancy raising the issue politically and when possible raising money. But the feeling that they could only mitigate the problem and not stop it, no matter how clear was their understanding of what was happening, as the world (directed by the leaders of the powerful nations) chose to ignore it, permeated all their work even as they fought to whatever extent they were able to.

But the main point I want to make here concerns the raising of money for the victims of that even worse situation in Germany in the 1930s. No single large group backed by scores of progressive intellectual and political big names emerged with the ability to raise money on a  really large scale. To be sure, given the size of the problem and its duration in the 1930s prior to WWII, some groups, some with important recognized endorsers, developed the ability to raise sizable amounts of money. But the point I want to make is that even in that more serious situation, support by families, by friends, and by scores of not-so-big groups that each raised money, usually for whatever political, social or religious group they had particular ties to, was also the pattern.

So that is the point of this blog piece. It would be nice to have an at-least-middling group of the nature I discussed above, with a large list of big name endorsers that would enable it to reach out to all progressive circles beyond the Turkish community and its friends, operated by a small staff of full time activists, and I strongly hope that such and organization evolves over time. But the need to get material support to a really large  number of people exists already, today. Hence the argument here that it is important to understand that small amounts we can contribute or raise are important, they do make a difference in the struggle, even as at the same time we accept the very upsetting reality that we (meaning progressives around the world) simply will not be able to raise enough money to support all the people who do and will need it, and what that means for the victims in Turkey.

I close with a link to the site of a fund raising appeal by “Academics for Peace in Turkey,” and then two sites for getting useful current information on the continually unfolding situation there.

The site “Solidarity with Purged Academics for Peace in Turkey,”

https://www.youcaring.com/academicsforpeaceinturkey-763983

is sponsored by four known groups that have been around and involved in the struggle in Turkey for a while (the last one works on struggles other than in Turkey as well): Research Institute on Turkey, Inc., Bostonbul, GIT-NA, and Concerned Academics in the US and Canada. The site outlines their goal and gives brief  background material. As stated above, they set a goal of raising $105,000, and initiate their campaign on March 14. Within a day they had raised 16% of that goal, and as of this writing on March 22 they have $37,557 (38%) from 415 contributors (they not only have a current indicator of their progress on the site, but also list all contributors (some of whom choose to be listed as “anonymous,” for obvious reasons)).

Two useful links for current information on the continually unfolding situation are: https://barisicinakademisyenler.net/English, the English language information site of Academics for Peace, and  http://sendika15.org/category/english/.