Earthquakes and Inequality

Revolutionary Worker #1020, August 29, 1999

The earth shook violently in northern Turkey--focused most intensely in Izmit, outside   Istanbul, the largest city. And for the hours that followed, the ground quivered as one aftershock followed another.

It quickly became clear that the suffering of the people was greatly intensified by the criminal practices of capitalists. Great wealth was made by packing the poor of Turkey into unsafe houses on one of the world's most active fault lines. And now it is the people who have paid a bitter price in blood. All over the quake zone, some buildings stood, while their neighbors collapsed--inferior construction crumbled under the vibrations and thousands of people were buried under concrete.

Turkish government officials have paraded themselves in public denouncing the criminal building practices. But everyone knows that they are deeply involved--taking bribes, participating in the profiteering, shamelessly ignoring the needs and interests of the masses every day of their filthy careers.

On the television news, the U.S. is portraying itself (as usual) as the rescuer of people, "rushing teams and equipment" to the quake zone. But such reports hide the real relations. Why is Turkey an "underdeveloped country" which does not itself have the cranes and earthmoving equipment to rescue people in the crucial hours after the quake? Because imperialism has kept Turkey poor--and because the forces loyal to imperialism, the Turkish army and Kemalist government, have brutally suppressed the people by force of arms.

It is well documented that the U.S. imperialists and their NATO allies have rushed jet fighters, tanks and weapons into Turkey for years. Such "aid" has cemented the foreign domination over Turkey and supported the bloody suppression of Kurdish people in the southeast. That rush of equipment plays a key role in the maintenance of capitalism and oppression in this country.

The earth moves--sometimes violently. This is an objective fact. We live in a universe of turmoil and upheaval. But behind this `natural disaster' the brutal social system--capitalism, class society and the world imperialist system--once again is revealed as the cause of enormous and unnecessary suffering.

Even from afar, it is impossible to miss the tremendous sacrifice and heroism of the masses of people. Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters of Turkey--who have lost many thousands of loved ones, and who are now seeking to rebuild their lives amidst the rubble of their former homes. And we pledge our firm support for the revolutionary struggle of the peoples of Turkey against their oppressors--and against imperialism, the common enemy of the people of the world.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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