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Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | debate author Sunday October 19, 2014 04:30author by KB Report this post to the editors

Anarcho-syndicalists should should hold no illusions about the Rojava Revolution. Since the turn of the millenium there have been reports of a libertarian municipalist turn in the Kurdish national liberation struggle inspired by Murray Bookchin. This change in politics has been lead by jailed founder and ideological leader Abdullah Öcalan of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) who discovered Bookchin while in prison. The PKK a former Maoist/Stalinist organization had turned to ethnic nationalism after the fall of the Soviet Union and discreditation of “really existing socialism” and so such a turn has been welcomed by many on the revolutionary left. However such processes of political transformation do not automatically translate to full adoption within a populace nevermind their official representation in leading parties.

Please note that a reply to this article has been published by the Anarkismo.net Editorial Group: An Anarchist Communist Reply to ‘Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective’


Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective


The principal problem of national liberation struggle for the anti-statist anarcho-syndicalist form of organisation is that it is inherently statist. Advocating a more local form of state, the national liberation movement bows to the idea that the state is a desirable institution – just not in the current form. As such, it has the fundamental flaw that, if successful, it will generate a new state – which may or may not be ‘worse’ than the current oppressor, but it will nevertheless be an oppressive mechanism.” – Solidarity Federation

Anarchists refuse to participate in national liberation fronts; they participate in class fronts which may or may not be involved in national liberation struggles. The struggle must spread to establish economic, political and social structures in the liberated territories, based on federalist and libertarian organisations.” - Alfredo Maria Bonanno

As this is published there come news reports that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been almost completely pushed out of the city of Kobane, party headquarters of Democratic Union Party (PYD) the Syrian affiliate party to the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), their co-president Saleh Muslim calling such developments the liberation of Kobane.[1] Hopefully as such progress in the region moves forward anarcho-syndicalists and social revolutionaries of all tendencies can start to objectively discuss the situation in West Kurdistan without the emotional reflex to a population under siege, facing a humanitarian disaster.

Anarcho-syndicalists should should hold no illusions about the Rojava Revolution. Since the turn of the millenium there have been reports of a libertarian municipalist turn in the Kurdish national liberation struggle inspired by Murray Bookchin. This change in politics has been lead by jailed founder and ideological leader Abdullah Öcalan of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) who discovered Bookchin while in prison. The PKK a former Maoist/Stalinist organization had turned to ethnic nationalism after the fall of the Soviet Union and discreditation of “really existing socialism” and so such a turn has been welcomed by many on the revolutionary left. However such processes of political transformation do not automatically translate to full adoption within a populace nevermind their official representation in leading parties.

After the start of the Syrian mass uprising and resultant civil war a power vacuum was created where the forces of Assad, tyrannical head of state in Syria, left Western Kurdistan, known as Rojava, to the Kurds. At first the Free Syrian Army (FSA) a so called moderate opposition force tied to Western Imperialism attacked the Kurdish forces but was soon repelled. In this open situation the PYD and it’s armed militias the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) decided to implement their now long held program of democratic autonomy and democratic confederalism on the ground.

As reported by the Kurdish Anarchist Forum (KAF) a group of pacifistic Kurdish anarchists in exile, as the Arab Spring took hold of Syria there was the development of a directly democratic grassroots movement created by everyday workers and people in Rojava called the Movement of the Democratic Society (Tev-Dem). It was this movement that with pushed for the implementation of “its plans and programs without further delay before the situation became worse.” [2] This program was very extensive and it is worth quoting the KAF report at length:

“The Tev-Dem’s programme was very inclusive and covered every single issue in society. Many people from the rank and file and from different backgrounds, including Kurdish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Assyrian and Yazidis, have been involved. The first task was to establish a variety of groups, committees and communes on the streets in neighborhoods, villages, counties and small and big towns everywhere. The role of these groups was to become involved in all the issues facing society. Groups were set up to look at a number of issues including: women’s, economic, environmental, education and health and care issues, support and solidarity, centers for the family martyrs, trade and business, diplomatic relations with foreign countries and many more. There are even groups established to reconcile disputes among different people or factions to try to avoid these disputes going to court unless these groups are incapable of resolving them.

These groups usually have their own meeting every week to talk about the problems people face where they live. They have their own representative in the main group in the villages or towns called the ‘House of the People’.

They believed that the revolution must start from the bottom of society and not from the top. It must be a social, cultural and educational as well as political revolution. It must be against the state, power and authority. It must be people in the communities who have the final decision-making responsibilities. These are the four principles of the Movement of the Democracy Society (Tev-Dem).”

In other eras and places such a movement of democratic assemblies and committees at the base of society open to the people have been known collectively as workers’ councils. If these developments are true the Tev-Dem was quite the achievement.

However such reports have included accounts of the creation of a constituent assembly like parliamentary legislative body called the Democratic Self-Rule Administration. As New Compass a Bookchinite publishing collective has reported:

“While in many areas the Kurdish population already has decades of experience with the Kurdish movement’s concepts of women’s liberation and social freedom, here too there are of course also divergences. Some wish to organize in classical parties rather than in councils.

This problem has been solved in Rojava through a dual structure. On one hand a parliament is chosen, to which free elections under international supervision are to take place as soon as possible. This parliament forms a parallel structure to the councils; it forms a transitional government, in which all political and social groups are represented, while the council system forms a kind of parallel parliament. The structuring and rules of this collaboration are at the moment under discussion.”[3]

This among other questions lay bare the reality of the political situation in Rojava. It is unclear if the establishment of such a social democratic apparatus is a push by certain elements, or if this is part and parcel of Kurdish democratic confederalism. With anarchists the world over looking towards these developments as some libertarian light in the region, the question of the State and what form of governance is being established should continue to be watched closely. Historically the libertarian socialist program though has been for the development of genuine workers’ councils and committees like those originally set up by the Tev-Dem, and there have been bitter fights against the establishment of parliamentary democratic state projects, with free votes, where participation is atomized, and power really held by executive powers above the people.

If there is one great hope for libertarian openings in the region it is the existence of the women’s movements. Kurdish society like world society as a whole has historically been a deeply patriarchal society to the point that Öcalan from his own admission in 1992 is probably a rapist, with is especially worrying with the personality cult developed around him.[4] Though still tied to his teachings Kurdish women out of their own experience through the last few decades started to organize themselves autonomously. Groups like the Kurdish Free Women’s Movement (KJB) and the Free Women’s Units Star (YJA Star) call for world wide solidarity between women’s movements against the patriarchal nation-state. As Dilar Dirik an activist close to YJA Star describes in her talk on forming a “Stateless State” as seen in a widely circulated video, the Kurdish women’s movement through the experience of patriarchy in the Kurdish national liberation movement and Kurdish society at large has come to the conclusion that forming a new nation state should no longer be part of the Kurdish liberation project, as the nation state is an inherently patriarchal institution. However, though many anarchists would agree with this analysis and are surely nodding our heads in agreement, Dirik makes clear that the movement is not at the moment in favor of the general abolition of the State, but organizing democratic autonomy inspite of the State. As anarcho-syndicalists it is our duty and not a criticism to point out that the Syrian state, as well as the rest of the nation states encircling Rojava and which in the rest of Kurdistan exists will not merely disappear with the development of their project for regional democratic autonomy. The State must be actively fought and smashed, by the masses within every nation and it is the historical mission for all revolutionary internationalist liberatory forces.

In conclusion, the development of the social democratic representative democracy, the patriarchal and ethnic nationalist past of the PKK (PYD Saleh Muslim leader has hinted at needing a war to expel Arabs down the line[5]), the PYD’s cooperation with and truce with the FSA and Islamists[6], the draft since July[7], the different elements seeking US/international community support are reason enough to be hesitant to put too much emphasis on the official leadership. The bright spots where they exist are with the resistance and self-activity of the masses and the women’s movement. Social processes of transformation are complicated and often rife with internal conflicts and dynamics. The political program put forward might be decentralist with strong potentialities towards social democracy rather than anti-statist and social revolutionary. There is also still much research to be done about industrial and agricultural economy and organization. That shouldn’t hold anarcho-syndicalists back from defending the self defense of the everyday masses and their own organizations of struggle in Rojava against ISIS, local states and western imperialism, but we should be careful not to jump to cheerleading for the official representation of the Kurdish movement through it’s traditionally statist parties like PKK and PYD.

Long live the struggle of the toiling masses and free women!

With the oppressed against the oppressors, always!

K.B.


Sources:

[1] “The air-strikes were very very successful. In a short time, we will report to the world liberation of Kobane.” -Saleh Muslim

http://www.demokrathaber.net/dunya/salih-muslim-kobanid....html

[2] The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes. http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27301

[3] Democratic Autonomy in Rojava http://new-compass.net/articles/revolution-rojava

[4] In a book written by Öcalan in 1992 titled Cozumleme, Talimat ve Perspektifler (Analyses, Orders and Perspectives), he stated: “These girls mentioned. I don’t know, I have relations with thousands of them. I don’t care how anyone understands it. If I’ve gotten close with some of them, how should this have been? (…) On these subjects, they leave aside all the real measurements and find someone and gossip, say ‘this was attempted to be done to me here’ or ‘this was done to me there’! These shameless women both want to give too much and then develop such things. Some of the people mentioned. Good grace! They say ‘we need it so, it would be very good’ and then this gossip is developed (…) I’m saying it openly again. This is the sort of warrior I am. I love girls a lot, I value them a lot. I love all of them. I try to turn every girl into a lover, in an unbelievable level, to the point of passion. I try to shape them from their physique to their soul, to their thoughts. I see it in myself to fulfill this task. I define myself openly. If you find me dangerous, don’t get close!”

[5] PYD Leader Warns of War with Arab Settlers in Kurdish Areas http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/24112013

[6] Details about the development of an alliance between the PYD and the FSA and Islamist forces including a split from Syrian Al Queda.

https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/reportsfeatures/564212-fsa-...kurds

http://www.ozgur-gundem.com/index.php?haberID=118383&ha...=nuce

[7] Conscription begins in the Kurdish region of Syria, evasion elsewhere

http://www.wri-irg.org/node/23519


- See more at: http://ideasandaction.info/2014/10/rojava-anarcho-syndi....dpuf

Related Link: http://ideasandaction.info
author by Red and Black Actionpublication date Mon Nov 03, 2014 17:14Report this post to the editors

Anarkismo.net reply here http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27540

author by Syndicalistpublication date Wed Nov 05, 2014 04:06Report this post to the editors

KB reply here: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27540&comment_limit=0&...15624

 
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Mashriq / Arabia / Iraq | Imperialism / War | en

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Leaflet distributed today at a rally and march in Melbourne in solidarity to the Kurdish struggle.

rojava_1.png imageInternational Libertarian-Socialist Statement in Solidarity with the Kurdish Resistance 04:36 Sun 19 Oct by Johnny 2 comments

For some years now the Kurdish movement has been moving in the direction of libertarian ideas. While not an anarchist movement, this move is a sign that anarchist ideas of freedom and equality through solidarity, our ideas of horizontality and radical direct democracy and our radical critique against the State are not only valid and strong, but are also necessary for movements in order to break away from the authoritarian legacy within the left. It is our duty to express our solidarity with Rojava and the Kurdish movement, because they represent hope in this region and because they are the oppressed fighting the oppressors. Real struggles are never perfect but they carry diverse degrees of potential to being about a free society. Expressing our solidarity with the revolutionary movement in Rojava means we understand our role is to continue developing the core tenets of our ideas in order to inspire revolutions and revolutionaries all over the world. - Anarkismo.net Editorial Group [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Castellano] [Français]

daf_in_koban_10.jpg imageRevolution will win in Kobanê! 14:41 Thu 09 Oct by DAF 0 comments

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anarchist_womendafkobane.jpg imageLatest news from Kobanê 19:35 Sat 04 Oct by DAF 3 comments

The Turkish state that is preparing to interfere to avoid the ISIS danger, is at the same time neglecting the offensive made by ISIS supporters within its borders, showing its politics of hypocrisy. [Italiano]

daf_in_kobane_3.jpg imageTurkish anarchists in Syria to support Kurdish people 14:37 Sat 27 Sep by Workers Solidarity Movement 5 comments

Istanbul anarchists along other leftists, feminists, and 'Gezi park types' have managed to cross over into Syria and the northern town of Kobane which is currently threatened by ISIS. [italiano]

daf_in_kobane.jpg imageIn Shingal, Kobane and all Rojava, ISIS is Dehak and the people are Kawa 19:35 Fri 26 Sep by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet 0 comments

In Kurdistan, people are fighting against ISIS, “the procreated violence” given birth by capitalism and the states that start wars for their own benefits. ISIS, subcontractor of the states that pursue income strategies on the region, is attacking people while yelling “islamic state!” and “holy war, jihad!”. People are suffering from hunger and thirst, getting ill, getting injured; migrating ad dying. They are still fighting in that struggle for existence. People are fighting not for the schemes and strategies around meeting tables, not for income, but for their freedom.

textPalestine-Israel: The joint struggle confront the transfer efforts of the Israeli settler colonialis... 14:49 Sun 21 Sep by Ilan S. 0 comments

Though Israel failed in its last open assault on the Gaza Strip, it still succeed in its transfer efforts. The drowning of a refugee ship with 450 mainly Gaza people reflect the partial success of Israel transfer efforts that for the never ended efforts since 1948. The siege on Gaza join the pressure on both Palestinians within the 1948 borders and that of the 1967. The big masses were driven out during the 1948 and 1967 wars, but efforts continued with all means possible. Some expelled by force some were moved within the border as pressure to "voluntary transfer". Within the 1967 borders, the Israeli efforts are targeted on the villages and Bedouins living in area C where the joint struggle to resist it is mainly focused in the South of Hebron Hills. And the joint struggle in Arkib, Dahamsh (1948 borders), and Bil'in, Ma'asara, Nabi Saleh, Ni'ilin, Qaddum, Sheikh Jarah (East Jerusalem) continue "as usual". [Italiano]

oabubakralbaghdadi570.jpg imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? 20:25 Tue 24 Jun by Kurdish Anarchists Forum 0 comments

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textPalestine-Israel, History's wheels turn faster and scream as blood does not oil the axes enough* 22:23 Mon 26 Aug by Ilan S. 0 comments

The turmoil in our region expresses the melting of world history as we knew it. It accelerates before it reaches its end as the axes of the old order cannot hold it any more. The Zionist settler colonialist bridgehead of the developed imperial countries in the cradle of human culture at the east of the Mediterranean Sea is being eroded by the resistance of the indigenous inhabitants who are recruiting supporters from all over the world. The cracks in neoliberal global capitalism, which seemed to have reached its ultimate victory just a few years ago when the end of history was declared, are pointing to the real end of the history of egoistic and alienated class society. In the day-to-day struggle here, it is still hard to discern the cracks in the structure of the system, but you can already smell it in the clouds of tear gas at the weekly demos and feel the ground tremor under your feet. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, Some activities the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative involved with lately 17:23 Tue 15 Feb by Ilan S. 0 comments

There are four main areas of struggles the AAtW activists are involved with: Joint struggle with communities that invite us to join, like Bil'in and other struggles against the separation fence. Other joint struggles against occupation and settler colonialists like Nabi Salih. Joint struggles with wider coalitions like the Sheikh Jarrah coalition and South Hebron. The fourth is within Israel, like prison and jail solidarity, Al Araqeeb and Lod. It seems that our confrontational and direct-action mode of struggle is being adopted by more and more Israeli radicals.

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imageIn retaking Mosul YPG/J and the Guerrillas must be aware of the hidden agenda Aug 04 by Zaher Baher 1 comments

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imageNATO against the Kurds: The battle for A’zaz Feb 24 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 5 comments

NATO, represented by the Turkish State, for the last two days has been bombing the Kurdish militias of the YPG that had advanced to the north of Aleppo towards the cities of A'zaz and Such Rifaat. The bombings, which have killed at least 23 civilians, are concentrated around the military airbase of Menagh, conquered in 2013 by a coalition of “rebels”, including Al - Qaeda (Al- Nusra Front) and others that later would end up as the Islamic State. That is a key point to supply the “rebellion,” which serves the petro-theocracy and the interests of the USA and the EU. Ahmet Davutoğlu said that he has informed the vice-president of the USA Joe Biden about the bombings. Although Biden has not publicly approved Turkey’s military intervention, he has neither condemned it nor taken any action to restrain the Turkish State, which would never act without the absolute certainty that the U.S. would end up supporting them. [Castellano] [Català] [Italiano]

imageKobane’s Second Phase: Resistance and Necessities Mar 04 by KAF 3 comments

After 134 days of fierce resisting and defending. The women, men and their combatants with the support and solidarity from millions of people around the world had finally defeated the vicious attack from ISIS and liberated their town Kobane. This was not just a defeat for ISIS and it’s dream to establish an Islamic Kelifat. But it had also destroyed the ISIS’s ally the current Turkish government’s dream to resurrect a Neu-othman empire.

The attack on Kobane was a proxy war launched by ISIS on behalf of the regional regimes and others against the bravery people in Kobane and the Democratic Self administration (DSA). [Italiano] [Français]

imageWhy is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria? Oct 12 by David Graeber 0 comments

Amid the Syrian warzone a democratic experiment is being stamped into the ground by ISIS. That the wider world is unaware is a scandal. [Castellano] [Français] [Italiano]

imageA ‘Revolution’ under Attack – the Alternative in midst the War in Syria Oct 04 by Ulrike Flader 0 comments

The most recent pictures of thousands of refugees fleeing from heavy attacks of ISIS and making their way from Syria across the border to Turkey, come from the area of Kobani – one of three cantons of the self- proclaimed Autonomy Region Rojava in Northern Syria.

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imageVictory to the Rojava Revolution! Oct 25 Anarkismo 0 comments

Leaflet distributed today at a rally and march in Melbourne in solidarity to the Kurdish struggle.

imageInternational Libertarian-Socialist Statement in Solidarity with the Kurdish Resistance Oct 19 2 comments

For some years now the Kurdish movement has been moving in the direction of libertarian ideas. While not an anarchist movement, this move is a sign that anarchist ideas of freedom and equality through solidarity, our ideas of horizontality and radical direct democracy and our radical critique against the State are not only valid and strong, but are also necessary for movements in order to break away from the authoritarian legacy within the left. It is our duty to express our solidarity with Rojava and the Kurdish movement, because they represent hope in this region and because they are the oppressed fighting the oppressors. Real struggles are never perfect but they carry diverse degrees of potential to being about a free society. Expressing our solidarity with the revolutionary movement in Rojava means we understand our role is to continue developing the core tenets of our ideas in order to inspire revolutions and revolutionaries all over the world. - Anarkismo.net Editorial Group [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Castellano] [Français]

imageIn Shingal, Kobane and all Rojava, ISIS is Dehak and the people are Kawa Sep 26 DAF - Revolutionary Anarchist Action 0 comments

In Kurdistan, people are fighting against ISIS, “the procreated violence” given birth by capitalism and the states that start wars for their own benefits. ISIS, subcontractor of the states that pursue income strategies on the region, is attacking people while yelling “islamic state!” and “holy war, jihad!”. People are suffering from hunger and thirst, getting ill, getting injured; migrating ad dying. They are still fighting in that struggle for existence. People are fighting not for the schemes and strategies around meeting tables, not for income, but for their freedom.

imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? Jun 24 KAF 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

text6 days of protests to mark 40 years of occupation Jun 05 0 comments

For six days, June 5 to 10 - corresponding to the days of the 1967 War - a wide spectrum of events will take place, including exhibitions, demonstrations, theatre plays, academic conferences etc., in order to place a the occupation and the millions suffering under its yoke on the public agenda. June 9 and 10 had been declared as International Days of Protest Against the Israeli Occupation, and we will hold The main march and rally on Saturday, June 9.

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