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Syria-Turkey. There has not been such a devastating earthquake in this region for almost a century. In the grip of Turkey's anti-Kurdish repression and Assad's repression of anti-government forces, Kurdish towns and Syrian refugees who have fled the war in Syria are the worst affected



In the middle of the night of 67 February, two extremely strong tremors (one measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and another 7.5) caused devastation and despair in southern Turkey near the border with Syria (in the Nurdaği district of Kahramanmaraş province).

In Turkey, three different tectonic plates meet in its east: the Anatolian, the Arabian and the African. The structure of these plates is characterised by the transform type of motion, i.e. the plates move along each other in a horizontal movement. Over the course of history, many earthquakes have occurred in this area, with one common feature: they have occurred at shallow depths. The hypocentre of the 6 February earthquake was at a depth of only 17.9 km.

The seismic sequence was triggered by the East Anatolian fault, which is about 500 km long and crosses eastern Turkey from southwest to northeast, from Hatay province and the Gulf of Iskenderun to Gaziantep, and then bends towards the Pontus Mountains. Much of Turkey is therefore exposed to earthquakes because of this fault which has always produced catastrophic earthquakes in the history. In fact, Turkey has been known since the time of the Crusades as a very earthquake-prone area. Therefore, it cannot be said that the recent earthquake (as well as the 1999, 2010 and 2011 earthquakes) was a surprise. What was certainly a surprise, however, was the degree of devastation caused by the first tremor of 7.9 on the Richter scale and subsequent tremors of 7.8; 7.5; 6.9; 6.4.

According to reports, the areas that suffered the most damage were in the provinces of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş, where tens of thousands of casualties (more than 47,000) were recorded and where several million people were left homeless, most of them in Turkey and a significant number also in northern Syria, in the area around the city of Idlib, which has suffered a double tragedy: the 4.5 million inhabitants who have fled the repression of the Assad regime, in addition to being affected by poverty and surviving only thanks to international aid, have now also been hit by the earthquake, which has killed more than a thousand people in the area, destroyed homes and prevented the arrival of humanitarian and international aid. Syria has been at war for twelve years, and millions of people living in the area depend on the opening or closing of the only access route, the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, which allows them to reach the area; and, as in Turkey, international aid is centralised by the ruling power, the Assad regime, which has an interest in keeping the whole region under its control, as the war survivors and the Kurds, notoriously repressed by both the Syrian and Turkish sides, have moved in. However, the misery does not end here, because, faced with devastated towns and villages, the huge mass of people who have lost everything and who, as homeless people, are forced to move to neighbouring areas, will have to deal with the problem of water shortages, hygiene, cold and disease. Relief cannot arrive quickly in all the places where it is needed, and in many places it will not arrive because of the policy against the Kurds and against the Syrian anti-government rebels. And Erdogan's pledge to reconstruct at least 30 000 houses in the near future leaves everybody in doubt…

Needless to say, almost all the casualties are the result of collapsing buildings. Apart from the force of the earthquake and its repeated tremors as predicted by geologists worldwide, and not since yesterday why did the vast majority of buildings collapse? Because no anti-earthquake measures were considered in the construction of the buildings, while on the contrary there was a systematic pursuit of easy profit using low-quality materials, if possible to build tall buildings close together and save on the price of land, thus squeezing millions of people into a gigantic anthill. The main cause of this destruction is to be found in the capitalist system of production, in the exploitation of the land, in the spasmodic pursuit of profit, knowing full well that in the event of an earthquake, these buildings would not withstand even much milder tremors than those of 6 February and the following days. This earthquake was particularly strong, not only in the first tremor but also in the subsequent aftershocks, so that buildings which had managed to withstand the first big tremor without collapsing collapsed in the aftershocks. In the face of all this even though, despite the remarkable progress made by geological science, it is impossible to predict seismic phenomena accurately, both in terms of magnitude and in terms of the intensity and duration of their impacts or aftershocks how has bourgeois power behaved? With the usual fatalism that always accompanies every catastrophe: bad luck is always to blame, and it is only partly the fault of the activities of the homus capitalisticus who… built badly. Even a child understands that when a house is poorly built, sooner or later it collapses, and that the piling up of houses in a small area, once they have fallen to the ground, makes it impossible for rescuers and the machinery needed to dig through the rubble in search of survivors, the injured and the dead to access and move about.

For His Majesty Capital, however, the catastrophe represents a tempting business opportunity; every so-called “natural” disaster is a feast for capital. Capital valorises itself primarily by increasing fixed capital on which it can employ wage labour; and in periods of crisis of overproduction, such as we have been experiencing for many years, the massive destruction of the means of production and products triggers a race to reconstruction, which, thanks to the emergency caused by the disaster, in turn generates gigantic business. Wars and pandemics are proof of this.

Human society has the chance to overcome this long-lasting ordeal represented by capitalist catastrophes, by destroying capitalism, its mode of production and burying once and for all the social system which, for one hundred and sixty-five years, instead of bringing progress and prosperity to mankind, has brought misery and death. This historical goal cannot be achieved by the means that the bourgeoisie uses to survive as the ruling class: neither by democracy nor by its dictatorship. Bourgeois-capitalist totalitarianism forms the basis of its power, and it does not matter whether it cloaks itself in the symbols of parliamentary, electoral or reformist democracy; the motives of capital, this impersonal social force, always outweigh those of the individual capitalist, who may appear individually honest, caring, good-hearted, humane, but is incapable of transforming the economic and social system in which he himself is imprisoned into one in which exploitation, hunger, poverty and war no longer exist. On the other hand, it is precisely why, no matter how many steps forward Science, which has been bent by the system in favour of profit, took in terms of knowledge of the mysteries of life, of the earth and the universe, is never the first voice the bourgeois class listens to. On the contrary, whenever its warnings might be hampering the motives of gaining profit and power, it is silenced, and scientists who insist on research that does not bring lucrative profits and does not bring elements of propagandistic self-aggrandisement to the powerful are simply marginalised and forgotten. Do you want to compare, in terms of benefit to capitalism, the inventor of the web or the mobile phone with the volcanologist, biologist or geologist who, in order to achieve even a small but important result from his research, needs years and lots of money that cannot yield a profit in the short term? This is why the science of prevention has never been really born in capitalist society: disaster means emergency, emergency means money being poured in without real controls, and incentive for juicy business of reconstruction. The more that is destroyed, the more that is reconstructed, and for capitalists, war is as valuable as a devastating earthquake or a pandemic. In the face of each catastrophe, the need for prevention is systematically pointed out, and promises are made that everything possible will be done to prevent such catastrophes from happening again. In reality, however, catastrophes do not just repeat themselves, but tend to do it with ever worsening consequences. Bourgeois society will never be able to suppress the causes of its own contradictions, of its own downfall. Another social force must take care of it, a class which has no interest in keeping this system of production, exploitation and destruction alive: this social force is the proletariat, the wage labour force, which produces all the economic and social wealth, but from which it is completely excluded. If capitalism has succeeded in anything in history, it is that it has developed the productive forces to the highest level to which a class-divided society could aspire. It is that main productive force, represented by living labour, the labour of the working class, which objectively and historically holds in its hands the solution to capitalist contradictions. It is necessary for it to actively undertake a historical revolution that no other social class has so far been able to accomplish: to transform the class-divided society into a classless society, through the transformation of the existing economy into an economy of the whole human species, and the founding of social life not on the valorisation of capital, not on dead labour (fixed capital) that exploits living labour (wage labour), but on the productive forces whose development is aimed at satisfying the needs of the human species as such, and not of the market, not of capital. Then knowledge, science, and therefore the science of prevention, will have an unimaginable development, because they will no longer be slaves to capitalist profit, but will serve the greater welfare of the human species and the greater knowledge of nature and its mysterious forces.


February, 21st 2023



International Communist Party

Il comunista - le prolétaire - el proletario - proletarian - programme communiste - el programa comunista - Communist Program


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