Dear cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism

Wearing the flag of Ocalan

On the process of change in Northern Syria often called the Rojava revolution, the PYD as proponent of the process, and its alliance with Western imperialist powers.

In Rojava, in the North of Syria, Kurdish fighters are struggling against IS, Islamic State. That struggle deserves out interest, because it is not just a fight between armeed groups fighting for territory. The fight in Rojava is at the same time a struggle for a different social and political order, called Democratic Confederalism. Direct democracy, a central rol of women in the fight and in the running of society, space for people of different ethnic backgound to express themselves and co-determine their own fate, libertarian socialist inspiration and a clear break with the Marxist-Leninist and nationalist orthodoxies of the Kurdish movements involved , the PYD in Syria, the PKK in Turkey with which the PYD is connected ... all this gives many people reason to cheer the events as an important revolution – the Rojava Revolution. Others, however, are less convinced, some – myself not excluded – have serious reservations. Exchanges of opinions, sometimes furious ones, have been going on for months now.. What follows is is a contribution to this polemic.

Those of us expressing reservations on the Rojava process of change are often promptly accused of sectarianism or worse. A rather shocking example of this put-down attitude appeared in ROAR Magazine, in general a very useful publication that sheds lights on many encouraging struggles against neoliberal capitalism the world over, but also a publication that, in its boundless enthusiasm, sometimes veers into the direction of cheerleading for a particular fight: that of Rojava. ROAR has published valuable pieces on that struggle, but its general attitude seems a bit over the top to me. And when other radicals express their doubt on Rojava, such doubt is met with scorn. In this case, that scorn is expressed by Petar Stanchev.

Target of his article is Gilles Dauvé, who wrote a piece on Rojava in which he tries to show that the movement in Rojava, however courageous, can best be seen as a radical form of liberal democracy, not a form of proletarian, anticapitalist revolution. I think many of his arguments have a lot of merit, but what I am more interested in here, is Stanchev 's ferocious reaction. For him, Dauve's attitude is an example of the “short-sighted, poorly informed, dogmatic and sectarian manner” in which “the struggles of the peoples in the Global South” are criticized – criticism which “(is) wittingly or unwittingly reproducing the logic of colonialism in h the process.” Further on in the article, he warns us about the danger of “the colonial mentality and profound dogmatism of certain gropups and individuals in Western anarchist circles.” Hence, his warning, and the title of his piece: “Mr. Anarchist, we need to have a chat about colonialism”. The warning fails on at least three points, a minor one, and two rather more serious ones.

First failure: mr Anarchist is no anarchist

The first failure is polemicizing against Dauve as “Mr. Anarchist”. Gilles Dauve does not speak or write as an anarchist. He does not claim to be an anarchist. Rather, he stands in the tradition of Left Communism: those basing themselves on Marx' revolutionary critique, while rejecting both Social Democracy and Leninist orthodoxy. The fact that Left Communists reject the state and either reject any form of party, or understand by 'party' something totally different from the power-grabbing organizations usually meant by that name, brings them quite close to anarchist positions. But that does not give anybody the right to either claim them for anarchism or dismiss them as anarchist. I agree that “Mr Left Communist or “Mr Communization Theorist” would make for a less attractive title. But that does not justify addressing someone you criticize by a name that is not hers or his.

Second failure: relying on vidence from on high

The second failure is the evidence that Stanchev puts forward. He counters the scepticism of Dauve and others by pointing us to two kinds of sources. One is: the Worksd of Comrade Öcalan! Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader who was captured in 1999 by the Turkish state and was in jail ever since – was the one who developed the concepts of Democratic Confederalism after reading texts by libertarian socialist theoretician Murray Bookchin. He still is the guiding light of both the PKK and the PYD. Ocalans portrets are to be seen in abundance in the Rojava area where Democratic Confederalism holds sway. And quotes by this Ultimate Leader now are to be found in a text defending the Rojava experience from criticism. And they are being used to show how wrong this criticism is. Imagine how we would react of someone countgered criticism of Mao by quoting that Chairman himself. What's so 'anti-colonial' in basing or defending your point of view on a Supreme Leader?

The other form of evidence Stanchev points to, is the content of eyewitness accounts. Of course, that is much better than quoting The Leadership. However, the accounts often originate from a visit by an academic delegation that travveld through parts of the area ain a kind of semi-official visit. Participants, among which Janet Biehl and David Graeber were prominent, were led around by officials, received by at least one minister of the regional authorities.

Reading, for instance, “Impressions of Rojava: a report from the revolution” , the account of Janet Biehl, also on ROAR, I was struck by the way she presents a more or less official view by the movement. For instance, on the Öcalan portrets that even she will not deny: “Images of Abdullah Öcalan are everywhere, which to Western eyes might suggest something Orwellian: indoctrination.” Only to Western eyes?! However, be not afraid, ye faithful. “But to interpret those images that way would bem to miss the situation entirely.” How do we know? “ 'No one will gove you your rights', someone quoted Öcalan to us, “you will have to struggle to obtain them.'” We need not fear Öcalans overwhelming presence, because that same Öcalan Himself says we should trust our own powers. … Here, we come full circle: even the evidence on the ground that Stanchev bases himself on points to Öcalan as a point of reference. It is a classic belief system where truth comes from on high. What is 'colonial' about pointing out and criticizing that top-down-dynamic?

All this does not mean that there is nothing encouraging going on in Rojava. Reports of serious efforts to build directly democratic strtuctures, and on the role of women in the struggle, are credible. But so are the reports on its limitations; the adulation for Öcalan, the repressive practices of the PYD against opponents. And then, there is the economy. Dauve claims that you cannot seriously argue that workers in Rojava are in control. Duh, replies Stanchev, “the 'proletariat' in ist Western sense does not exist in Rojava”. Be that as it may, Dauve 's point stands.

But if proletarians are not in control of producing and distributing goods and services, who is? Well, there is a “cooperative economy”, which sounds good, and probably is. “It is based on communal ownership and self-management and often operates outside then monetary economy.” Excellent! “Some of the lands were collectivized after the big land-owners left the area after the PYD takeover”. That indeed points towards a bit of social revolution. Maybe there are some proletarians active after all in this process, proletarians in the sense of propertyless people who have to sell their labour power to make a living. The idea that only factory workers in blue overalls are proletarians, may be 'Western”. But the whole concept of proletarians as working class people in the broadest sense, may be less alien for Rojavan realities than Stanchiev admits. I fail to see what ś so 'colonial'about asking some critical questions about its presence and role.

Unfortunately, the cooperative sector is not the only one. There is the “private economy” bound by the “social principles of the revolution”, and obliged to cooperate with local administrative organs. And then there is the “open economy”. That means: “foreign investment, which unfortunately remains necessary for the development of the region 's infrastructure”, in, for instance, refineries. “The idea is to attract foreign investment – but only at the price of respecting the social nature of the cantons. The local economy will be developed on the terms set by the inhabitants of Rojava and their assemblies, not by Western capitalists.” And what if local desires clash with capitalist demands, in a situation where foreign investment is considered essential? Who will win out, the assembly of a Rojava village, or Shell 's board of directors, possibly backed by military threats? There is a word for this kind of relationship between big capitalist firms based in powerful Western countries on the one hand, and the population in impoverished regions in the Global South. That word is 'colonial'. Okay, let 's have a chat on colonialism then, Mr. Stanchev, shan 't we?

Let me make one thing clear at this stage. my anger is not directed at the PYD, even though I criticize their position. They do their thing, in extremely unenviable circumstances. They make choices, right ones and wrong ones, under duress. They express a political goal that is only partly mine, but that is their right. My annoyance is directed at those radicals – some fellow anarchists, some quite close to my own views – who present the process of change as an anticapitalist revolution, which it is clearly not.

Yes, there is the claim, again expressed by Stanchev, that “(t)he industry that will be developed in Rojava should be under direct workers control, or at least this is the expressed intention of the PYD officials.” Note, first, how it is the view of officials, not of the people at the grass roots, whose desire is here presented as central. And note, second, how this is presented as something far into the future. Note, third, how this ambition necessarily clashes with the desire to encourage Western capitalists to do business in Rojava. You can have workers controlling and running the factories. You can have capitalist running factories and exploiting workers and local natural resources. You cannot have both things at the very same time. The PYD trying to balance these things off in a tricky game, is bad enough. Cheerleaders finding excuses for this balancing act and refusing to side with one side of the equation is inexcusable.

Third Failure: imperialism left out of the picture

The third failure may be the most devastating of all three. It is the failure to see imperialism's role for what it is: a deadly threat to any autonomous revolutionary effort. Rojava 's existence as a zone of autonomous cantons, more or less run on democratic confederalist lines, has come to depend on American military force. Complaining about colonial prejudice amongst the PYD 's critics, while ignoring imperialism 's almost open colonial role, that is what we have in Stanchev 's case.

The PYD is now in open military alliance with the US empire. And Petar Stanchev is silent about that alliance and what it may imply. Janet Biehl does not give it a mention either in her report. Neither does David Graeber. This is a disastrous distortion: presenting a process of social change as much more self-reliant and independent than it really is. But how can you talk about 'autonomy' – a word frequently and glowingly used by radical fans of Rojava democratic confederalist change – when your sheer survival has come to depend on US bombing raids?

Before I present some of the evidence, let me state this: proving that the PYD is part of an imperial alliance is not the same as denying that there is a serious process of social and political change going on in the area. The Rojava revolution and the PYD organization are not exactly the same thing, even if I find the epithet 'revolution' a bit much for the process. Criticizing the PYD – but more importantly, criticizing its Western fans! -is not the same as dismissing the process.

The fact of alliance and dependency can be easily established, even if Graeber, Biehl and now Stanchev prefer not to. We have provided coalition forces with the coordinates of IS targets on the ground and are willing to continue providing any help they will request”, Asya Abdullah, part of the PYD leadership said, according to the BBC on 9 October 2014 . On 14 October an interview appeared with Polat Can, spokesperson of the YPG, the fighting force connected to the PYD. Some information from that interview: “For the last few days, the air strikes have been numerous and effective. We can clearly state that, had these attacks started a couple weeks ago, ISIS would not have been able to enter Kobane at all. ISI would have been defeated 10-15 kilometer away from the city, and the city would not have turned into a war zone.” Turkey did not cooperate at first, and there were logistical issues, but after that was solved, the attacks began to work. Contacts with the US were going on earlier, but after the attack on Kobane, things begin to move forward.

To the question, “Can we say there is an official relation between the YPG and the coalition?” his answer was affirmative. “Yes, we are acting in concert with the international coalition forces. We are in direct contact with them, in terms of intelligence, on a military level, and in terms of air strikes.” The contact is rather direct. “YPG representative is physically ready in the joint operation command center and transmits the coordinates.” That is again about the locations that the US subsequently bombs. For clarity's sake: ISIS is what is also known as IS, Islamic State. “Coalition forces” refers to the US-led military alliance, with the YPG as de facto ground forces.

Not yet convinced that the PYD and its armed wing is part of the US-led coalition? A piece on the website Rudaw.net (1) on 5 November 2014 had the following : “Muslim, who traveled from Kobane to Erbil for a conference, said the People's Protection Units (PYD), the Syrian Kurdish militia, now considered itself part of the international coalition battling ISIS.” Muslim refers to Anwar Muslim, head of the Kobane administration, the one in charge (apart from Öcalan, of course).

This is much more than coincidentally fighting the same enemy at the same time. This is active collaboration. And in such collaboration, between a local guerrilla force and the bigges military empire on earth, who will call the shots? And what was Muslim doing in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where US oil companies abound, and where a US consulate is located? By the way, YPG and the Peshmerga s– part of conservative Kurdish movements in Iraq – are fighting quite nicely together. “We are more acting like a single army than as two forces in coordinated way. The Peshmergas are endeavouring to carry out what is asked from them in a self-sacrificing way”, says Mahmud Berxwedan, commander of YPG forces. There may be diplomatic friendly exaggeration at work here. Still, the enthusiasm for this kind of cooperation with the US and with pro-US Kurdish forces, is clear. This is cooperation with ruthless enemies of any kind of serious revolution, even if they are willing to tolerate bits of democratic confederalism for the moment..

One of the most dangerous of these enemies has made an appearance in the unfolding tragedy. His name is Zalmay Khalizad, former (?) US diplomat and one of the neoconservative functionaries in the Bush administration. Andrew Cockburn tells the story in "The Long Shadow of a neocon”, a 12 June 2014 article on the website of Harper's Magazine. The story has some relevance for the matter at hand.: US imperialism and the PYD.

Khalilzad once was presidential envoy and then US ambassador to Afghanistan, after US intervention overthrew the Taliban in 2001 he promoted Karzai to the presidency. Later on, after the US invasion of that country, he was ambassador to Iraq, where he promoted Maliki to become prime minister of that country. It was Maliki 's policy of of Shia sectarian rule that pushed Sunni communities to protest, and even to grudgingly support ISIS against the onslaught of Maliki 's Iraqi army in 2013-2014. However, corruption was all around., alarge part of the Iraqi army mainly consisted on paper, a large part of the rest ran away as fast as possible when ISIS came close. Maliki 's military onslaught collapsed. ISIS rose to power in Mosul and other Iraqi cities, Maliki was pushed aside in political intrigue in Bagdad.

These disasters are part of the heritage for which this Khalilzad is co-responsible. He is “now an obscure businessman seeking crumbs from the table as an 'international consultant' in Cockburn's 2014 description. But what is this? The co-leader of Syrian Kurds met with former US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Kalilzad, reportedly to discuss further military coordination to push out the Islamic State (ISIS) from the embattled city of Kobane”, according to an news article on Rudaw.net on 9 December 2014.

The “co-leader of Syrian Kurds” happens to be Salih Musliim, from the PYD leadership. And you can besure that Kalilzad is not there on purely private consultancy business. If Kalilzad sees fit to meet somebody from the PYD leadership, you can be sure that evil is afoot, with that leadership either being trapped or becoming partners-in-crime, or something in between. Khalizad, in his times in office in Afghanistan and Iraq, operated as a kind of colonial governor. The PYD apparently,is now prepared, willingly or grudgingly, to operate as part of that neocolonial order. Is it really the ones who are not buying Graeber 's, Biehl 's and now Stanchev 's admiring attitude towards that PYD that need chats on colonialism? Or is the noble threesome itself in need of some anti-colonial enlightenment?

As if working together with the US empire is not bad enough, Great Britain is in the picture as well. On 25 March, pydrojava.net, a PYD-related webside, announced: British foreign minister receives Saleh Muslim and tomorrow will deliver a speech to the British parliament”. Reading further, we see that Muslim actually met, not the minister himself but Gerrit Baily, apparently some lower functionary of the department.. “Also yesterday on 24-3-2015 Saleh Muslim had a speach (sic) in a closed session at the Royal institute of research services”. Whatever that is exactly, it does not sound as an initiative to introduce democratic confederalism to the British Isles. These talks and similar others are all about “recent developments in the region and Rojava and cooperate to eliminate then terrorist Desh from the region.” Daesh is another word voor ISIS or IS. PYD is a junior partner in this latest episode of the War on Terror, and seems mighty proud as well to be taken serious by the bigwigs in that war.

US imperialism's role around Rojava is clear for all to see, that is, for all who are willing to look. Of course, this does not make the US and the PYD friends. They share a common enemy, and not much else. But that is how empire often uses all kinds of forces. Carter did not need to 'like' the Afghan Mujaheedin in order to use them against a pro-Russian Afghan government. Reagan did not need to 'like' them in order to use them against Russian invading forces, there to support the government that felt threatened by the Mujaheedin armed struggle. Obama did not need to 'like' the Libyan militias NATO used to get rid of Khadafi. Obama does not need to like the PYD either. Pentagon and White House probably distrust the left-wing politics of that organization, just like they distrusted Islamism among their auxiliaries in Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria.

Right now, however, the PYD plays a useful role for the US. They are rather good at something that other military forces are rather bad in: killing ISIS fighters, and helping the US kill more. And the US sees ISIS as a threat to their oil protectorate in Iraqi Kurdistan and other allied and pro-US regimes. Just bombing them may not be enough to defeat them, sending ground forces is politically risky for any US president. So why not use PYD fighters willing to play that role? You can always discard them as soon as they get in the way, as the US did with Kurdish guerrilla fighters against the regime of Saddam Hussein in 1975-76 and again in 1991.

This is how empires work. Cortez and his 508 Spanish conquistadores probably would not so easily have conquered the Aztec empire if he hadn't allied with tens of thousands of Taxlacans, another Mexican nation with plenty of reasons to hate the oppressive Aztec rulers, and willing to let themselves be used by the Spanish invaders. Not much remains of the Aztec empire. Not much remains of Taxlacan independence either. Substitute 'ISIS' for 'Aztecs' ,'PYD' for 'Taxlacans', 'USA' for 'Spain' and 'oil' for 'gold' , and allow for some differences because history never plays out exactly the same way (2). Still, the logic is clear.

What about social radicalism in Rojava? I do not believe the US leadership cares very much if there are a few mountainous areas where people experiment in direct democracy, as long as they do not expand these efforts towards Istanbul, Baghdad or Cairo. The fact that the PYD, the main force in the area, is willing to open the area to multinational capital will ease Obama 's mind even further. Things are not half as radical as they look. Villages and towns with a leadership that cooperates with the US may as well govern themselves as they see fit. That saves the cost of direct colonial rule.

And now that Kobane is saved from IS, in large part by US air attacks. And the war goes on. Rudaw reports on 2 February: “In their advance against ISIS, the YPG fighters are supported by Peshmerga artillery and coalition air strikes.” The PYD can be grateful: if not for US bombs, Kobane might have fallen to ISIS. That creates dependency. You might argue that this dependency cuts both ways: PYD owes its survival to imperialist intervention, just like the US owes some of its success to the assistance PYD fighters have given US forces. But things are not in balance. A small force allied with the biggest capitalist power is not an alliance of equals. The result of such an alliance for the weaker partner usually is not enhanced autonomy, but enhanced dependency.

PYD, to put it bluntly, is being used. They are not in control of their destiny, and we should not operate under the presumption that they are. Heroic their fight certainly is. But is the PYD waging an autonomous social revolutionary struggle? As part of an big power alliance led by the USA? Something is not right here. Dear Cheerleaders, we need a chat about imperialism.

Notes:

(1) Rudaw.net, which I quote several times, is in its own words “a Kurdish media network”, which “aims to impart news and information about Kurdistan and the Middle East in a professional manner”. It is based in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. How close it is to the authorities there – no friends of the PYD, though now in alliance with them – I cannot say. They seem well-informed on what happens behind the scenes, though obviously care is needed in using their information.

(2) For instance, the Taxlacans – 150.000 tot 200.000 thousands of them – were relatively stronger compared with the few hundred Spaniards. Even so, it was Spain, not Taxlaca, which came out on top. The US is much much stronger compared to the PYD than Spain compared to Taxlaca. Another difference: Cortez fought with hardly any direct back-up from Spain itself. He was basically freelancing. The same cannot be said about the US bombers.

Comments

Black Badger
Apr 5 2015 00:27

This is quite a good rundown of the bigger picture, one that ROAR and the reports by the hacks Biehl and Graeber after their tour of Potemkin villages totally ignore.

akai
Apr 5 2015 15:10

I agree. And also, it is really quite astounding some of the claims here, as if some firms from foreign countries are gonna come in and develop infrastructure but that this will have no impact at all on local affairs. I wonder where the money from this is coming. What do they think - that somebody will give them no-strings attached loans?

Just one small criticism of the remark about Potemkin villages though... don't think that comparison is exactly correct, but it does remind me of the old Soviet tradition of special tours which were controlled by the party, with "show" facilities for Western guests and even special meetings and talks with ideologically vetted people.

kurekmurek
Apr 5 2015 16:06

This is enough now. Somebody really need to write a reply to this. Although I consider this article a hugely improved one over other "critical" ones (a wrong and misguiding name), it still resists to listen anything Rojava says, and ends with the clear message of enemy is so big, you can not win, we are doomed to fail! (But of course invisivle movement of workers -in most developed countries and pure forms- will surely abolish capitalism very soon, because revolutionary senses I guess)

mikail firtinaci
Apr 5 2015 16:23

Good article.

I think the question of imperialism is actually the most important one and PKK was literally born into the hands of imperialism. For decades it had military camps in Syria when Hafiz Assad was alive. Syrian state and its big allies permitted and allowed this existence. Syria sent Ocalan away and dissolved the PKK camps when Turkey threatened Syria with war. After that PKK entered into a long period of crisis. There was not any state on the borders of Turkey willing to allow PKK basis - except Northern Iraq which was already autonomous and mainly controlled by feudal clan chiefs. However, PKK influence and contacts in Syria remained untouched, because Essad family systematically purged all the Kurdish parties except the PKK.

And on the question of democracy; there is one clear litmus test to see the validity of PKK/PYD claims: who controls the army in Rojava? Ordinary people? proletarians? peasants? or the party? Because in actual politics whichever class controls the arms also holds the power. In Rojava the control over the army is unquestionably at the hands of the PKK/PYD

The states (especially if they are led by social democratic lefty governments) can always be ready to grant toy democratic powers to present a nice facade to the outside world. So the local people in a village can be allowed to chose between a public toilet or Ocalan statue and decide which one the municipality should invest money in. However, real political decisions like, who to ally with or what to do with the oil money, etc always remains at the hands of the party-state. This is the situation of most South American leftist governments.

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 16:24

Yes. Clearly the PYD should have refused all US aid, along with any kind of strategic alliance against ISIS, and just let the Islamic fascists slaughter them. Better they adhere to ironclad ideological purity than make compromises that would end with fewer people getting killed.

This article is a pretty embarrassing rewriting of the inter-anarchist disputes over Rojava in the last few months.

First, few but the New Compass crowd (who don't even consider themselves anarchists) are expressing anything that could be called uncritical support for the PKK/PYD and the actions on the ground. The position of Anarkismo, the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland, and other social anarchist groups has been one of explicitly critical support which acknowledges the Kurdish rebels' Stalinist pasts. So to describe those who are at least hopeful that something resembling libertarian socialism could come out of this ordeal "cheerleaders" is basic Trotskyite slandering.

Second, you're acting as if those self-styled anarchists who've been attacking Rojava have simply been saying "hey, all we're doing is telling others to be wary and not be so enthusiastic". Don't play so innocent.

What Libcom in particular have been doing is putting out article after article expressing almost pathological opposition to the idea that anything positive could be going on in west Kurdistan, not just as a result of the PKK/PYD, but even at the grassroots. Why? Because, contra most anarchist theory and in line with quasi Marxist-Leninist ideology, the actions are not being organised along lines expressive of the kind of ultra economistic class reductionism popular in certain class-strugglist circles.

And some of these essays have been frankly bizarre. Such as claiming the PKK is somehow simultaneously Stalinist and bourgeois capitalist, nationalist and yet somehow imperialist, and even, in one comical piece Islamist.

One of the things Murray Bookchin - despite everything else - was right to point out was the myth of the proletariat. Reducing every facet of social struggle strictly to class issues creates a platonic ideal of "the working class" which not only doesn't exist, but can never exist. People do not see themselves chiefly in terms of their economic function. They don't think of themselves as "workers" but as people. Any revolutionary movement(s) of the future is going to have to come to terms with the fact that we must organise on class as well as trans-class lines. Libcom by contrast still seems to be stuck in the 1930s imagining that libertarian communism can only come about at the hand of a bunch of boiler suit wearing male I dis trial workers. Who, by the way, are not exactly in abundant supply in Kurdistan.

I just can't get my head around how you can lambast attempts to build direct democracy and a cooperative economy involving hundreds of thousands of people while praising a few laundry workers on strike in Bulgaria because, hey, at least they agree with our class analysis.

kurekmurek
Apr 5 2015 17:24

well it is too bad you wrote about proleteriat bit. Because all you said right will be eliminated by others .

Anyway more generally I really think now we need engaging accounts of "both parties" in the sense they respond to others points (well unfortunately unlike conventional accounts based on repetation of our position, like the article) I think it can still be possible. Maybe I should not shared this Mr. Anarchist piece as it only called for hostility.

Spikymike
Apr 5 2015 17:17

libcom is a 'libertarian communist' site which provides a forum for a range of critical voices on many issues from for instance, the interimperialist wars in the middle east , workplace and 'community' struggles around the world, to matters related to sexual oppression and much more both historical and current. It is class struggle orientated but is far from reducing class to the one dimensional caricacture that Owen presents us with. Owen is poorly placed on the evidence of this last post to accuse others here of 'slander'.

kurekmurek
Apr 5 2015 17:33

Well apparently you just made it to another forum thread Owen.

Ed
Apr 5 2015 17:38
Connor Owens wrote:
Libcom by contrast still seems to be stuck in the 1930s imagining that libertarian communism can only come about at the hand of a bunch of boiler suit wearing male I dis trial workers. Who, by the way, are not exactly in abundant supply in Kurdistan.

I just can't get my head around how you can lambast attempts to build direct democracy and a cooperative economy involving hundreds of thousands of people while praising a few laundry workers on strike in Bulgaria because, hey, at least they agree with our class analysis.

No time to really respond but just feel that really, to have any kind of sensible dialogue, you need to get your head around the fact that Libcom is not some monolithic article-production machine. It's a website, administered by a handful of volunteers, who sometimes write and other times host articles written by people across the libertarian-left.

This piece wasn't written by 'Libcom', but we've hosted it, as we've hosted articles more sympathetic to Rojava, and shared it on social media.

The article about Bulgarian hotel bar workers also wasn't written by 'Libcom' or by the author of this article, but we've hosted it and shared it on social media.

Why you think you can judge this article based on another article you've seen on this site by another author about another topic, I have no idea. Equally, I have no idea why you think you can judge 'our' analysis as being stuck in the 1930s based on articles not written by us. Nor do I get how you can say we are "putting out article after article expressing almost pathological opposition" to what's going on in Rojava, when we host articles clearly in favour of what's going on there.

I feel that the main difference between us and other sites covering Rojava, such as Roar Mag, is that we're actually balancing our coverage with more skeptical pieces, which seems to infuriate people for some reason. As I've stated before, I'm personally open to change my mind, but still quite skeptical, about the stuff in Rojava. But the way pro-Rojava people seem to deal with ANY criticism/reservations makes me think that Rojava supporters are WAY more pathalogical than 'we' apparently have been..

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 18:13

I follow the Libcom facebook page and check for new pieces on Rojava regularly in the website itself. I have yet to see an article published by the admins that is anything but scornful of what's happening in Rojava.

The asinine Anarchist Federation UK statement on the events were posted on the FB page and explicitly described as "excellent", indicating that it is representative of the editorial line on this issue.

If I have missed out on articles published here that are supportive of Rojava, please link to them as I haven't been able to find any.

As for the accusations of slander, if claiming that the academic delegation to the cantons were victims of "Stalinist" deception and were duped like idiots isn't slander I don't know what is.

Let me put it this way, if the PKK really were still some sort of Stalinist/Nationalist group with aspirations to create an ethno-state with a centrally planned economy, why on earth wouldn't they align with either the liberal west or the Islamists for backing? That's were the money is after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Why would they adopt the ideas of a relatively obscure social anarchist philosopher from the U.S.?
And am I to believe that the directly democratic assemblies, the cooperatives, the attempts to eventually abolish the police, the radical inclusion of women in a deeply patriarchal society are all some sort of colossal ruse to fool a few radical anarchists in the west into to supporting them so they can create their ethno-nationalist Stalinist state in the shadows? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.

Chilli Sauce
Apr 5 2015 18:15
Quote:
Such as claiming the PKK is somehow simultaneously Stalinist and bourgeois capitalist, nationalist and yet somehow imperialist, and even, in one comical piece Islamist.

None of those are particularly opposed categories, to be honest.

Anyway, just on the PKK, I happened to be living in Turkey during the Gezi park protests. During the protests there were at least two "general strikes" called by the various union federations. The first one, while not "general" in that sense was, by far, the biggest. This was because the PKK supported the call which meant Kurds across Turkey (there are like 3 million Kurds in Istanbul or something) came out. In the second strike, the PKK chose not to support the strike because it was in unrelated negotiations with the Turkish state and didn't want to damage it's prospects. As a result, the strike was much smaller.

My point here isn't that Kurds in Turkey are some uniform bloc. Rather, it's that the PKK, even after it's supposed turn toward Bookchin, already has an established history of opportunism.

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 18:28

Negotiating on an issue not directly related to economics is "opportunism"?

Not exactly convinced that reformist workplace organising should always take priority over achieving national liberation from an alien state which has been on their backs for decades.

Ed
Apr 5 2015 18:54
Connor Owens wrote:
I follow the Libcom facebook page and check for new pieces on Rojava regularly in the website itself. I have yet to see an article published by the admins that is anything but scornful of what's happening in Rojava.

I wouldn't say scornful, but yeah, critical or skeptical (again, I think the choice of adjective here is really telling about the level of criticism 'allowed' in those who declare 'critical support').. but then again, every other left-wing website is posting glowing reports about the Rojava revolution, how it's like Spain 1936, the Zapatistas etc etc.. I think it's fine to have a bit of balance in the left-wing press, no? Considering we're also hosting pro-Rojava articles, I really get the feeling the issue is with promoting ANY reservations at all..

Connor Owens wrote:
If I have missed out on articles published here that are supportive of Rojava, please link to them as I haven't been able to find any.

You obviously haven't looked..
https://libcom.org/library/response-article-rojava-anarcho-syndicalist-perspective
https://libcom.org/library/mountain-river-has-many-bends
https://libcom.org/library/rojava-revolution-reading-guide
This last one also contains links to other pro-Rojava articles hosted on libcom

Connor Owens wrote:
Let me put it this way, if the PKK really were still some sort of Stalinist/Nationalist group with aspirations to create an ethno-state with a centrally planned economy, why on earth wouldn't they align with either the liberal west or the Islamists for backing? That's were the money is after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Why would they adopt the ideas of a relatively obscure social anarchist philosopher from the U.S.?

I actually agree with you on this, which is part of why the whole thing is so confusing.. the PKK definitely was Stalinist/nationalist, why Ocalan would choose to 'use' Bookchin to win over the West is beyond me, which suggests to me that it is genuine.. that doesn't, however, mean that you can just wave away the entire past as if it's nothing.. stuff like PKK organisational structure (who's having discussions with Hollande etc? The TEV-DEM?), Ocalan's cult of personality, what happened to the members who were shooting Turkish teachers 15 years ago? Re-educated with a bit of Bookchin? These are difficult questions and I don't expect you to be able to answer them but I at least think we should all be asking them..

Connor Owens wrote:
And am I to believe that the directly democratic assemblies, the cooperatives, the attempts to eventually abolish the police, the radical inclusion of women in a deeply patriarchal society are all some sort of colossal ruse to fool a few radical anarchists in the west into to supporting them so they can create their ethno-nationalist Stalinist state in the shadows? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.

Of course, if you take your premises and add someone else's conclusion, you make their argument sound stupid.. the point is that people are skeptical of your premises for reasons you've not addressed..

Connor Owens wrote:
Not exactly convinced that reformist workplace organising should always take priority over achieving national liberation from an alien state which has been on their backs for decades.

Okay, that's one way of looking at it.. but another way is whether class solidarity between Kurds and Turks should take priority over national liberation.. I'd say it does, I imagine you'd be hard pushed to find a communist/class struggle anarchist reason why it doesn't..

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 19:44

I have looked for articles here supportive of Rojava. And even those articles you linked to don't exactly show "balance". One is just a repost from Anarkismo and another doesn't take a side, merely links to info from those on each line of the divide. You'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that the Libcom admins consensus isn't that it's not something positive or deserving or support. And nor is it "balanced" to provide a critical point of view when that point of view is so obviously full of holes and filled with vitriol.

Quote:
why Ocalan would choose to 'use' Bookchin to win over the West is beyond me, which suggests to me that it is genuine.. that doesn't, however, mean that you can just wave away the entire past as if it's nothing

I fail to see how focusing on the present is trying to hand wave away the PKKs past. Yes, they used to be a pretty nasty organisation. And my sympathies lie not with them or with their leadership but with those doing democratic organising at the grassroots. In an ideal world, it would have been preferable if these democratic confederalist ideas and practices emerged autonomously as part of the Kurdish fight against the Turkish state, with no connection to an organisation with such an awful history.

But if a former Stalinist crackpot's influence means that some of Murray Bookchin's oeuvre has been disseminated to a wide body of people engaged in a project of collective liberation, I'd rather focus on what can be done with this situation in the future. Bakunin used to be a Slavic nationalist, I wonder if if that's something that would be used against him were he alive today in the same way.

Quote:
whether class solidarity between Kurds and Turks should take priority over national liberation.. I'd say it does, I imagine you'd be hard pushed to find a communist/class struggle anarchist reason why it doesn't

This is part of the kind of class struggle reductionist worldview I was talking about. I am neither a class struggle anarchist, nor a (Marxist) communist. So I'm not arguing for a different set of tactics within either tradition.

150+ years of orienting social struggles primarily around workplace organising has proved a failure time and again and left radicals with the idea that organising a strike in a laundromat is somehow more revolutionary than restructuring entire communities along directly democratic lines - simply because one is oriented around class/economics and the other is not.

The entire idea of "class solidarity" has never meant much in practice and has led to the clear neglect of other forms of trans-class domination that can't simply be reduced to economic exploitation. Even a general strike in Turkey couldn't have achieved much in the best case scenario other than a few cosmetic changes to the capitalist economy. Achieving secession from an oppressive state and being able to reorganise the entire region along mostly libertarian socialist lines, as well as (potentially) economic self-reliance apart from the globalised neoliberal market, may achieve a great deal in the best case scenario.

I say again, we don't think of ourselves chiefly as "workers" or a class (being reduced to our function in capitalism) but as people. Class is not the only form of domination we are subject to. It's high time social struggles started talking account of this fact and reconsidering tactics accordingly.

akai
Apr 5 2015 20:07

National "liberation" is just as often the slogan of the new or wannabe elites.

Fleur
Apr 5 2015 20:10
Quote:
I have looked for articles here supportive of Rojava. And even those articles you linked to don't exactly show "balance". One is just a repost from Anarkismo and another doesn't take a side, merely links to info from those on each line of the divide.

Last time I looked, Libcom was a user generated site. You're a user, if you have any articles which you feel would be useful to the discussion, why don't you post them up? I doubt if the Libcom admin cabal are actually gathering in a darkened room trying to work out ever more effective and shady ways to "slander" the Rojava experiment. However, if you post something up you may find yourself having to deal with any criticism it generates.

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 20:28
Quote:
National "liberation" is just as often the slogan of the new or wannabe elites

But it doesn't have to be. No more than class struggle needs to be the slogan of Marxist-Leninists or democracy the slogan of liberals.

Quote:
Last time I looked, Libcom was a user generated site. You're a user, if you have any articles which you feel would be useful to the discussion, why don't you post them up?

Actually I was unaware just anyone could post anything on Libcom - unless you're just referring to copy-and-pasting articles into the forums. If that's the case then I'll be doing so.

Noah Fence
Apr 5 2015 20:33

I've been following these threads but really can't say that I've been able to understand them very well. That said, I do agree with this statement;

Quote:
I say again, we don't think of ourselves chiefly as "workers" or a class (being reduced to our function in capitalism) but as people. Class is not the only form of domination we are subject to. It's high time social struggles started talking account of this fact and reconsidering tactics accordingly.

Surely though, this is a pretty good description of Libcom's content? Sure there's a lot of class struggle stuff on here, it is a class struggle site after all and moaning about that is kind of like watching Nigella Lawson's show and complaining there's too much fucking cake! As a class struggle site it's obvious that they'll be a good deal of stuff about people striking for better conditions in a 'laundromat' or whatever. WTF is wrong with that???
It's totally unfair and inaccurate to accuse Libcom of tunnel vision just because it's more focused on one aspect of politics than another. Just take a look at the Recent Posts page at any time and see how broad ranging the subject matter is in the list of threads.
I could be wrong but the accusation seems to come from those who are theirselves fixated on one thing. Which is kind of funny really.

Noah Fence
Apr 5 2015 20:36
Quote:
I doubt if the Libcom admin cabal are actually gathering in a darkened room trying to work out ever more effective and shady ways to "slander" the Rojava experiment.

Well, I wouldn't be so sure about that!

radicalgraffiti
Apr 5 2015 20:55
Ed wrote:
Connor Owens wrote:
Let me put it this way, if the PKK really were still some sort of Stalinist/Nationalist group with aspirations to create an ethno-state with a centrally planned economy, why on earth wouldn't they align with either the liberal west or the Islamists for backing? That's were the money is after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Why would they adopt the ideas of a relatively obscure social anarchist philosopher from the U.S.?

I actually agree with you on this, which is part of why the whole thing is so confusing.. the PKK definitely was Stalinist/nationalist, why Ocalan would choose to 'use' Bookchin to win over the West is beyond me, which suggests to me that it is genuine..

Obvious possibilities that occur to me are that it was used to win over people demanding more grass roots control, or to counter rival factions in the leadership. In either case bookchin could be a good choice since, he sounds libertarian, and there is no preexisting attempts to make practical use of his work, making it much easier for the leadership to define how it should be interpreted.

Ed
Apr 5 2015 21:54
Connor Owens wrote:
I fail to see how focusing on the present is trying to hand wave away the PKKs past. Yes, they used to be a pretty nasty organisation. And my sympathies lie not with them or with their leadership but with those doing democratic organising at the grassroots. In an ideal world, it would have been preferable if these democratic confederalist ideas and practices emerged autonomously as part of the Kurdish fight against the Turkish state, with no connection to an organisation with such an awful history.

But that's the thing isn't it. I'd like it if the situation was like the ideal situation in my head but it's not, it is the way it is. So you say you're interested in the people doing the grassroots stuff, not the leadership but then, if that division exists, where's the direct democracy come in? Who set the mandate for what the outcome of the talks with Hollande and other world leaders should be? How are the PKK leaders involved in talks to be held accountable?

Similarly, you say you're not trying to wave away the past but focus on the present, but then my two reservations regarding the present (Ocalan's cult of personality and current structure of the PKK) are just completely ignored.

Connor Owens wrote:
150+ years of orienting social struggles primarily around workplace organising has proved a failure time and again

In all fairness, I think you could say the same about struggles based around most things: national liberation, peasant democracy, whatever. We live in reactionary times, which kind of means all social struggles of the past, to one extent or another, failed. The point is to take what we think was good from the past to see what might work today.

Connor Owens wrote:
The entire idea of "class solidarity" has never meant much in practice and has led to the clear neglect of other forms of trans-class domination that can't simply be reduced to economic exploitation.

With the greatest respect, I feel like you're arguing against class politics here by setting up an economic-reductionist straw man that you can knock down. I think most class analyses since the 1970s have taken into account other forms of domination, like sexism, racism, homophobia etc so I think it's a bit unfair. Similarly, some of the most economic reductionist Stalinists/Maoists have fully supported all kinds of the nuttiest national liberation struggles so I think this claim really doesn't stand up at all.

Connor Owens wrote:
Even a general strike in Turkey couldn't have achieved much in the best case scenario other than a few cosmetic changes to the capitalist economy.

Again, I think the best case scenario would have been increased solidarity between two traditionally warring ethnic groups leading to the victory of material gains for some of the poorest people in the country.. in my opinion, that would be quite significant..

Connor Owens wrote:
Achieving secession from an oppressive state and being able to reorganise the entire region along mostly libertarian socialist lines, as well as (potentially) economic self-reliance apart from the globalised neoliberal market, may achieve a great deal in the best case scenario.

Again, I'm not entirely certain that's what's on the cards and you've given no evidence to prove it is. Firstly, what everyone keeps saying about what's going on in Rojava is that the capitalists left when the war started, meaning the PKK could take over and set up collective ownership, direct democracy.. I'm assuming this isn't the case in Turkey where I'm sure there continue to be class divisions between Kurds so what kind of libertarian socialism you could have without challenging this, I don't know.. let alone the possibilities for maintaining oil refineries separate from the globalised neoliberal market (these are, of course, additional to the problems mentioned earlier of hierarchical leadership in the PKK, cult of personality etc)..

But again, I really don't want to sound like I'm completely 100% skeptical of everything that's been said about what's happening there.. I can imagine that in Rojava, in the absence of capitalist Kurds who've escaped since the war, that there have been experiments with collectivisation, direct democracy etc.. I just don't for a minute believe that they don't also exist alongside some glaring contradictions that will have to be dealt with eventually (or else the contradictions will deal with the movement).. but if these things can't be mentioned without being accused of pouring scorn on people struggling to survive or whatever then, like I said, I think it reflects badly on the supporters rather than those making the criticisms..

Ed
Apr 5 2015 22:07

As an aside, some recent comments libcom has received via twitter for this article..

Which is kind of what I'm getting at in my posts. You've got an Turkish and Arabic-speaking non-Turk left-communist and internationalist expressing criticisms, and then some northern European lefty comes over to scream about it being Turkish fascist propaganda mixed with jihadi propaganda! What the fuck is the world coming to?

Black Badger
Apr 5 2015 22:21

But Ed, "the world" has been this way for quite a long time. The bad faith division of adversarial positions into polarized binaries and the insistence of guilt by (imputed) association has a very long and distinguished history...

kurekmurek
Apr 5 2015 22:35

But Ed would you wish people not to call that text fascist propaganda? (call it something more moderate maybe?) I do not get it. If it is you are just too tired and do not want to deal with people, that is fine take a break. But I mean Devrim wrote that, it is published in libcom. I and many others hated it. So that guy talks about it, so what is the problem with that? Well maybe sometimes people confuse the author with the website, but is not that kind of normal sometimes? What is the big problem here?

Pennoid
Apr 5 2015 22:38

"The people" is such a terrible, stupid, shitty, obscurantist concept that's just too useful for the development of capitalism to go away.

Chilli Sauce
Apr 5 2015 23:07
Connor Owens wrote:
Negotiating on an issue not directly related to economics is "opportunism"?

Not exactly convinced that reformist workplace organising should always take priority over achieving national liberation from an alien state which has been on their backs for decades.

Yeah, you really missed the point of that post. One, it wasn't an economic strike - it was political one directed against the very same state that had been "on their backs" for decades. Two, they were willing help put the breaks on a mass movement that had the potential to build class solidarity between Turks and Kurds for their own nationalistic ends. That's pretty opportunistic.

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 23:10

Yes, Ocalan's cult of personality and the structures of the PKK and PYD are indeed problems that should not go unmentioned or uncriticised. But given the local autonomy generated by the processes of direct democracy itself - through the networks of popular assemblies and spokescouncils that have been set up - it's not as if the leadership can rule by diktat and smash what's done at the grassroots level.

Quote:
I think you could say the same about struggles based around most things: national liberation, peasant democracy, whatever. We live in reactionary times, which kind of means all social struggles of the past, to one extent or another, failed. The point is to take what we think was good from the past to see what might work today

I agree. And my point is that placing the primary focus on workplace organising and class struggle was not something good from the past that might work today. Workplace organising has a vital role to play in social struggle. Always has and always will. But the focus on purely economic issues has been a distraction from political and social issues.

It's never been enough to take control of the means of production. More important is to take control of the means of collective decision-making. In other words, you can't organise a future post-capitalist, post-statist economy through economic institutions by themselves. They need to be coordinated through non-economic political bodies - ie: federations of directly-democratic popular assemblies; with spokescouncils to administer economic planning beyond the local level.

So creating self-managed workplaces is vital, but if they only exist as islands separated from each other, they have zero hope of contesting the power of state and capital. Bookchin suggested a solution that I think offers an answer to this problem: democratise local governments by devolving their powers to democratic assemblies, build up a local network of worker self-managed enterprises, then municipalise the enterprises so as to insulate them from market competittion.

It's this sort of combination of community and workplace struggle that should have been the mode of operations from the beginning. And organising as democratic communities expresses more of a general interest - able to focus on how people are affected by non-economic forms of hierarchy - while organising as workers only expresses a particular interest.

Quote:
most class analyses since the 1970s have taken into account other forms of domination, like sexism, racism, homophobia etc so I think it's a bit unfair.

True up to a point. But those trans-class issues have almost always been regarded as being of secondary importance, if they're not considered outright distractions from class struggle. Also, to be clear I am absolutely not saying class analysis is unimportant. On the contrary, I think integrating it with other non-economic forms of analysis actually strengthens the class perspective.

Quote:
I think the best case scenario would have been increased solidarity between two traditionally warring ethnic groups leading to the victory of material gains for some of the poorest people in the country

Material gains which, even if achieved, may have accommodated both Turks and Kurds to the Turkish state system instead of accelerating the fight for autonomy. As I said, "class solidarity" is a Marxist myth. Appealing to people across racial, national, and linguistic barriers "as a class" has never worked to advance libertarian ends. Because people don't (and can't) see themselves primarily as class agents.

The same was true of Ireland and Britain in the early twentieth century. Appealing to Irish and British working people to put their national identity aside would never have worked.

rooieravotr
Apr 5 2015 23:17

Quite a bit to respond to after one day not on LIbcom. A few things.

Kurremkarmerruk 'summarizes' my conclusion by sying that it

Quote:
ends with the clear message of enemy is so big, you can not win, we are doomed to fail!

No. I did not say that the enemy is too big. I did not say that at all. I said that you have teh FIGHT the enemy, or - if circumstances make that extremely hard - you have at least to treat the enemy an an enemy, not as an ally. Every enemy can, in principle, be defeated - if you fight her/ him, not if you side with her/ him. That applies to IS, a ferocious enemy. It applies to US imperialism, another ferocious enemy, but even more powerful. Defeating a smaller enemy by falling under the wings, nay, into the chokehold, of a much bigger one, THAT is a recipe "doomed to fail."

Connor Owens:

Quote:
[/The position of Anarkismo, the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland, and other social anarchist groups has been one of explicitly critical support which acknowledges the Kurdish rebels' Stalinist pasts.

Good. That is maybe why i did NOT criticize them in the above article. Connors defense here is a defense against a non-existent attack.

Quote:
to describe those who are at least hopeful that something resembling libertarian socialism could come out of this ordeal "cheerleaders" is basic Trotskyite slandering.

But that is exactly what I did not do. For, among the ones hopeful that there may come something libertarian socialism out of it, I can name myself. It is a hope against hope, for I find the chances rather slim, partly because of imperialism's role and its acceptance by people who should know better, which is why I wrote the piece. And cheerleaders do not make the chances of succes any bigger, for denying or ignoring problems - the role of imperialism, and the role of top down leadership and the respect, even awe, that leadership is still granted - never did any struggle any good.

But yes, I hope that something good still may come out of all this. That is why I wrote:

Quote:
All this does not mean that there is nothing encouraging going on in Rojava. Reports of serious efforts to build directly democratic strtuctures, and on the role of women in the struggle, are credible.

And I wrote:

Quote:
[Before I present some of the evidence, let me state this: proving that the PYD is part of an imperial alliance is not the same as denying that there is a serious process of social and political change going on in the area. The Rojava revolution and the PYD organization are not exactly the same thing, even if I find the epithet 'revolution' a bit much for the process. Criticizing the PYD – but more importantly, criticizing its Western fans! -is not the same as dismissing the process./quote]

So, yes, there is an important fight going on there that should not be dismissed. I said it several times, and to suggest otherwise is either a bit careless, or a bit dishonest. Or maybe he was in such a hurry that he reacted to my piece before carefully reading it. We all make that mistake somtimes, but a mistake it is.

I wrote my piece, not to dismiss hope in the Rojava process, not even primarily to attack PYD - they do their thing, for understandasble reasons, as I explicitely say as well - , but to criticize what I call cheerleaders, people who basically say hurraah to Rojava, and leave out or minimize the more problematic parts, among which the PYD entanglement with US Empire is not the smallest one. And I named them specifically: Graeber, Biehl en Stanchev, whose vicious attack - with the silly slander about colonial attitudes - provoked my response. No other "cheerleaders" are mentioned in my piece, though I would be willing to grant Connor Owens that status if granting statuses was my job. Claiming that I Ithereby attack all the groups he mentions, groups who try to find a way to stand in critical solidarity with efforts to build something liberatory from below, are just misguided. I have differences with them. But that was not what my article was about.

And the bit on "Trotskyist slandering" is just funny. I have tsimilar debate shere with Ducth leftists. Trotskysts are not buying idyllic pictures of direct democracy in Rojava. Fine. But those same Trotskyists explicitly defend the need for PYD to ally with imperialism, as a last resort, precisely the point at issue here! In the Netherlands, several Trotskyist groups (unfortunately supported by more libertarian-socialists/communists) have been collecting money for the PYD. They are on Connors side in this debate, not mine.

Connor Owens
Apr 5 2015 23:24

(Part 2)

Quote:
what everyone keeps saying about what's going on in Rojava is that the capitalists left when the war started, meaning the PKK could take over and set up collective ownership, direct democracy

I think you know it's not that simple. The economy of the cantons currently has approximately three sectors. The cooperative sector, made up mostly of self-managed eneterprises and which they aspire to make the dominant sector eventually, the commercial sector made up of small private business still left over from several years under Syrian rule, and what they've called the open sector, which they've allowed to be open to foreign investment (as long as investors abide by certain conditionalities).

Obviously the second and especially the last of these sounds like anathema to communists screeching about the fact that they don't say they want to abolish all private property in their charter. But I would whenever possible try to draw their attention to the fact that there's a war going on in a very underdeveloped region in desperate need of material resources. You work with what you have.

And given that class strugglists are evedently willing to work with capitalists as part of their struggles in the Global North - argle-bargle laundromat in Bulgaria - to attack the Rojavans for making compromises when they themselves support reformist workplace campaigns back home is beyond hypocritical.

mikail firtinaci
Apr 5 2015 23:55

Why Ocalan decided to become a Boockhinist and not, let's say another type of social democrat? The answer lies is in the particular position that the PKK found itself stranded in after Ocalan's capture and PKKs de facto retreat following that.

So it made peace with Turkey possible for PKK on ideological grounds. Ocalan, by declaring that PKK will not pursue independence any more, by rejecting their claim for the right of Kurdish nation to determine its fate, secured his own fate (and also PKKs leadership's fate). That way Ocalan could continue in his position as the leader of the organization while at the same time securing his position in the eyes of the Turkish state as a significant asset.

Even though PKK will not fight with Turkey, it still has to and wants to preserve itself as a state like military apparatus. PKK still wants to have a say in the future of the Kurds. Thanks to Bookchinism PKK resolved the tension between disowning the official claim to nation-statehood and preserving its actual existence as the representative/army of the nation.

-------------------------

About the reactions to Libcom on the web:

Welcome to the real Middle East! This is how polarized, distrustful and cynical the middle eastern political climate is. So let's say in Turkey if you claim that the Turkish state is genocidal and oppressed Kurds as well as other minorities barbarically, you would most likely be denounced by many turks as a Kurdish nationalist and a pro-PKK person. If you criticize PKK from a communist point of view, this time many leftists and Kurds would denounce you as a Turkish nationalist... In Turkey you can be a Kemalist against Islamists and vice versa, you can support PKK or the Turkish Republic, but the one thing that is not accepted and considered as an impossibility is internationalist communism... It is only the working class that is denied of any historical subjectivity. Every sort of "identity" and minority has a reserved place in the grand political alliances games, except -of course- proletariat.