The Republic of Taksim: that is this title that French newspaper Libération chose for its first page today. The title is associated to a picture taken on Taksim square in Istanbul showing the crowd of occupiers and a Turkish flag with Atatürk’s portrait. The latter is an explicit homage to the original Republic of Turkey declared in 1923 and whose strict secularism is claimed by the Turkish occupiers. This idea of a Republic of Taksim was used in various articles about Occupy Gezi. Of course, this is a bold poetic name for the movement – at least the Istanbul part of it – but, in this article, I would like to propose to take it seriously. That is not necessary to say that Taksim should become its own nation, welcoming all those who do not want to live in conservative Turkey, like for the New York Commune project on which I am currently working with friends. To explain what I mean, I need to go back to September 2011, when I entitled my first article about Occupy Wall Street “I am a Citizen of Liberty Square.” That was a similar manifesto of belonging to a smaller piece of territory than the national one we usually refer to when talking about the notion of citizenship.
The Republic of Taksim exists. It lives as I write these words. Maybe, it won’t exist anymore in a week, in a month or in a year from now, although it seems difficult to believe that it won’t continue to exist in another form by that time, but for now, it exists. This territory, like any other territory, can be defined through its spatial characteristics, but more importantly, and that is where lays all the difference, it is defined by the bodies that inhabit it: the citizens of the Republic of Taksim. For this reason the limits of the latter are fluctuant and continuously muting. Sometimes, the Republic of Taksim swarms out of Taksim and flows into the streets of Galata or in other parts of Istanbul. It started to protect a piece of public space from the forces of autocracy and capitalism but quickly deterritorialized itself to other places in Istanbul and other cities of Turkey.