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.

Posted By

rooieravotr
Apr 4 2015 21:25

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Flint
Apr 8 2015 18:33
Black Badger wrote:
Further, how do folks know that these "institutions" (which should already create a little squeamishness) are operating under specifically libertarian principles rather than temporary expedients, or because of directives from whichever Party happens to be in (at least) nominal control of a particular region .

Go and find out. Talk to workers.

Spikymike
Apr 8 2015 18:36

Two brief points;

If Owen's could try not to repeatedly reduce the concept of class struggle that I and some others have tried to explain to the much narrower 'workplace struggle' it would help to avoid some misunderstandings, so when they say of Bookchin's approach it is a ''...broader kind of struggle that can infact include class struggle'' we have been saying that our concept of class struggle can and does include a broader kind of struggle not restriclted to the workplace. Get it!

Agent of the Fi's selected quote from the AF 'Against Nationalism' though correct in spirit is unfortunately poorly phrased in the assertion that 'There are no real nations' etc (something subsequently accepted by one of it's authors) and undermines what is in most other respects an excelent and well argued internationalist case against the proponents of national as opposed to class interests. I would recomend rather that people read both the pamphlet and the useful two longer discussion threads on this site which followed it's publication.

Pennoid
Apr 8 2015 18:39

Historical materialism as formulated by Marx was never a one way causality from technological base to "ideational" superstructure. The notion is simple. In order for people to survive, they have to produce/reproduce. The manner in which that production, distribution and reproduction is arranged is intimately bound up with people's consciousness. Ideas are drawn from direct experience alongside forms of education. Ideas function to the extent that they are practically applicable in some fashion, regarding production/reproduction though not necessarily toward their stated goals. Bourgeois materialism is applied to advance technology, because it is practically useful. It is applied to social theory, with great failure, but continually as it is used to justify policies supportive of the accumulation of capital. (Dawkins, Evolutionary psychology etc.)

Kurrem, I never suggested that people aren't complex or that nationalism does not inspire people. I merely stated that the only revolutionary path, is a path committed to the class. All else is reform, of some sort, whether nationalist, racial, gender, social democratic etc. National interests do not lead to revolution if pursued, just like craft, industrial, or other particular interests.

The problem is that people think production only consists in production of material things (iron, cars) where it is in reality the production/reproduction not only of the relations of production, but the ideas which correspond to/ are necessary for those relations (value! surplus value!).

Pennoid
Apr 8 2015 18:40

Also this thread is all over the place, lawl.

rooieravotr
Apr 8 2015 18:49

That is, indeed, what is happening again and again, Black Badger: stating things as facts and then asking what they mean and how to defend them - whilet heir status as facts is far from being established beyond doubt. Thanks for pointing it out. It blows away some of the fog.

And, beyond that, I think these kind of questions are a trap. I do not think that Libcom contributers should be seen as PYD advisors. I most certainly am not. So the question "what should the PYD do" is besides the point. The question should be: what should WE do. Well, supporting, or ignoring, imperialist entanglements by the PYD is not one of the things we should do. Encoraging them to make rotten choices is not an option, even though making rotten choices under bad circumstances is their right.

On that we should do, a hint. There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

So, no, I have no advise to give the PYD. I would nevertheless rather rob them from the imperialist support they now he get, because supporting imperialism - especially 'my own'i mperialism, is bowing to chauvinism and comes down to supporting the enemy at home

Serge Forward
Apr 8 2015 19:00
rooieravotr wrote:
There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

And that's a proper litmus test there. Is anyone actually calling for more US (and Dutch) bombs? It would make sense if at least some of us were.

radicalgraffiti
Apr 8 2015 19:05
Serge Forward wrote:
rooieravotr wrote:
There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

And that's a proper litmus test there. Is anyone actually calling for more US (and Dutch) bombs? It would make sense if at least some of us were.

Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

rooieravotr
Apr 8 2015 19:31

Radicalgraffiti

Quote:
Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

Radicalgraffiti, can you point out exactly where Graeber did that? I knew that he was over the top on Rojava, but this specific thing is new to me. It saddens me, more than it angers me. Do you have a link?

Black Badger
Apr 8 2015 19:37
Quote:
Go and find out. Talk to workers.

I'm anxiously awaiting you and/or your pals in the PKK/PYD/YPG to pay for my travel expenses, arrange a leave of absence from my job, and organize a sublet for my apartment.

Chilli Sauce
Apr 8 2015 19:44
Owen wrote:
And just to clarify, are you using the term "porletariat" in the classical sense to mean urban industrial manual workers (because that's a very small segment of the population in the Kurdish regions) or in the broader sense to mean all those people who aren't capitalists?

Do you mean, do you use the term as a communist?

While I appreciate your sort-of apology climb-down a page ago, you really should probably familiarize yourself with the general politics of the site. While there's not a collective libcom position as such, you can safely assume any regular posters understands proletarian to be anyone who's compelled to sell their labor to survive.

Although I have to say if you really thought that anyone on this thread could reasonably mean proletarian to only mean burly factory workers, maybe it's not strawmanning on your behalf - just an utter, utter ignorance of basic communism.

Flint
Apr 8 2015 20:00
Black Badger wrote:
Quote:
Go and find out. Talk to workers.

I'm anxiously awaiting you and/or your pals in the PKK/PYD/YPG to pay for my travel expenses, arrange a leave of absence from my job, and organize a sublet for my apartment.

Do you speak Arabic, Turkish or Kurmanji?

Black Badger
Apr 8 2015 20:15
Quote:
Do you speak Arabic, Turkish or Kurmanji?

I guess you and your pals need to provide me with an interpreter too.

Connor Owens
Apr 8 2015 20:16

I'm disappointed as thus far no one has been able to adequately answer any of the questions I asked from a class-strugglist perspective, but merely denied that the questions themselves were even worth answering, thus deflecting from the point.

More significantly, there's a clear refusal to offer any kind of constructive vision. Just more attacks without offers of an alternative. If the class strugglist position really is superior to the democratic communalist approach the Rojavans are taking, then such a class-based alternative should be fairly easy to put forward.

There's not even an attempt here to tease out what could be pushed in a libertarian direction based on the existing circumstances, simply destructive criticism from this more-radical-than-thou pedestal that craftily avoids being criticised due to it basically coming down to saying "Do nothing". Or implicitly, "Wait until they're all organised into anarcho-syndicalist unions and/or platformist groups, have read all three volumes of Marx's Capital, have cut all ties to organisations and causes who don't represent out ideology, then we can talk about building libertarian socialism in the region".

With regard to Black Badger's pseudo-scepticism as to the nature of the directly democratic assemblies and cooperatives, what on earth are you actually saying could be the case? That the PKK/PYD has established all these from the shadows, that they don't provide any potential for popular self-organisation, and that Ocalan and his cronies have only established them as a front for ... what exactly?

All it really seems to come down to is "not class-based, ergo can't be liberatory".

Quote:
I do not think that Libcom contributers should be seen as PYD advisors

I wasn't talking about the PYD. I was talking about any group or groups in the region who could potentially build libertarian socialism. Maybe the PYD. Maybe the Rojavans on the ground. Maybe some other group unconnected to either.

If you have any ideas for what the Kurdish "proletariat" could do in a class strugglist strategy, I'd like to hear it. Again, I'm not being facetious in asking. I genuinely want to know what a class strugglist policy would be in practice, other than vague appeals to class solidarity.

Quote:
On that we should do, a hint. There are Duch F16s throwing bombs on Iraq as part of the anti-IS, US-led, war. I live in the Netherlands. I oppose 'my' rulers sending these F16s. I oppose, on principle, the Dutch ruling class making war anywhere. Were I in the US, I hope I would similarly oppose US bombing of Iraq AND Syria. That would mean opposing exactly the force that the PYD is leaning upon. That is a tragic contradiction, and some of us would maybe claim it is "betrayal of Rojava". But oppose, or at the very least not supporting, the bombers I think we nevertheless should do.

So, no, I have no advise to give the PYD. I would nevertheless rather rob them from the imperialist support they now he get, because supporting imperialism - especially 'my own'i mperialism, is bowing to chauvinism and comes down to supporting the enemy at home

In other words, for reasons of deontological purism, you would take a course of action that would (1) involve far more people dying, and (2) end up leading to the expansion of theocratic fascism throughout the Middle East. All in the name of some ephemeral abstraction called "anti-imperialism".

What exactly does that mean in practice? Because I honestly can't wrap my head around this position.

The best I can make of it is this:

* The G7 nations are imperial powers - yes
* They have certain goals in the Middle East involving controlling resources and influencing geo-politics to their advantage - true
* At the moment, a theocratic fascist force called ISIS is rampaging across the region with aspirations to bring the entire Muslim world under its dictatorship - uh-huh
* The Rojavans and the United States have, at this present time, a single shared interest in not seeing ISIS expand - still with me?
* But for the US to bomb ISIS and protect the Rojava cantons from being overrun and nothing else (no arms shipments, no military alliance, no political deals) makes every resident of Rojava - and every Kurd by extension - the hopeless deluded pawns of "imperialism" and there is therefore no hope for them as this single act of letting the U.S. bomb those trying to kill them makes them America's bitches for all eternity - WHAT?

Flint
Apr 8 2015 20:24
Chilli Sauce wrote:
assume any regular posters understands proletarian to be anyone who's compelled to sell their labor to survive. Although I have to say if you really thought that anyone on this thread could reasonably mean proletarian to only mean burly factory workers, maybe it's not strawmanning on your behalf - just an utter, utter ignorance of basic communism.

Could we really just stop with this "Proles, where they at doe?" Most people in Syria, in Rojava, in Turkey, in KRG, are proles. They might be lumpen proles, but they are still proles. The situation in Rojava is that most of the capital was owned by the Ba'athist state, but the workers there were still proles. Now the Ba'athist state is gone and the enterprises still exist. This is the oil fields, the agricultural fields, concrete factories, etc... futher people were exploited by landlords (and still are in Afrin). Now, supposedly except where war prohibits it Tev-Dem has full employment, and that isn't all that surprising with 70% of their production going to the war (and you see similar high levels of employment and also greater women's participation in the labor force for countries engaged in a war that uses considerable infantry. It was true in the U.S. It was true of Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war).

So the people who work in Rojava are proles. They were proles (though maybe unemployed) before the war, and they are proles now. About the only way they stop being proles is if they make it to communism. And then, I imagine folks will still call them proles.

So, the expropriation of 3/4ths of private property in The Commons is a kind of class struggle, even if it came about as a temporary expediency because the Ba'athist state collapsed and the bourgeois fled. Who didn't flee? The people who were too poor to flee. Just as the re-organization of 1/3rd of enterprises into worker-controlled councils/worker-cooperatives is also class struggle. To the extent Rojava is still a capitalist economy from either petit-bourgeois exploitation (Afrin landlords) or State-Capitalist exploitation (with Tev-Dem as the state with the PYD as the state's party, replacing the Ba'ath)--then they are still proletarians. And I'm not saying that Tev-Dem is a state-capitalist regime, but if it is... the majority of people there are proles (and they are getting paid in rations, not cash).

I am very much interested in hearing more about what life is like for the proletarians in Rojava and to what extent they control their workplaces and to what extent they determine the distribution of their production. “Poor in means but rich in spirit” doesn't quite cut it for me as a communist analysis.

Flint
Apr 8 2015 20:21
Black Badger wrote:
I guess you and your pals need to provide me with an interpreter too.

Yeah, I think I'll go with someone else I trust. Maybe if their report is good enough, you'll also trust their account. But if you like, you can help design a questionnaire.. Though something tells me you might not actually be interested.

Connor Owens
Apr 8 2015 20:23

Chilli Sauce.

I haven't been responding to your comments and won't be doing so again in future. In case you are wondering, this is for a single reason: I can take insults and condemnations and attacks on the positions I hold, but what I cannot take is the excruciating levels of passive-aggressive condescension your responses are replete with.

Chilli Sauce
Apr 8 2015 21:02

Doesn't a post like that slightly undermine your own position of not responding to my posts? Food for thought.

Anyway, what should proles in Rojava do? Make what's happening in Kobane a class issue, not a nationalist one; take over their workplaces where they can; try to build solidarity with non-Kurds, and do their damndest to spread the struggle - after all, it's only wider revolutionary, socialist, and internationalist movement that has the power to consolidate whatever good things are happening on the ground and beat back the Turkish state, ISIS, and US imperialism in the region.

Hypothetically, if it was me on the ground, I'd be focusing on building up links with workers in Turkey and trying to turn the struggle against ISIS in Kobane into a wider class struggle against the Turkish state (and, indeed, against any nascent Kurdish state).

What they shouldn't be doing is aligning with and supporting organisations whose focus on nationalism ("libertarian", social-democratic or otherwise) will inevitably come into conflict with the with whatever class power they build up on ground.

Also, Flint, I'm not totally sure why you quoted me in your last post. Of course proles exist in Rojava. Outside of Owen who seems to want to tar most of the regular libcom posters as having some weird cultural definition of class, we take the proletarian nature of most of Rojava's residents as a given.

ocelot
Apr 8 2015 21:46
Black Badger wrote:
Quote:
Do you speak Arabic, Turkish or Kurmanji?

I guess you and your pals need to provide me with an interpreter too.

Or, if you go to Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Suruc and points south of there, you will find Kurdish (and Turkish and other) anarchists who speak English as well as Kurmanji, Turkish and Arabic and can answer your questions. Worked for me.

Connor Owens
Apr 8 2015 21:56

I sincerely wish it weren't you Chilli Sauce who has been the sole person to actually answer my questions instead of deflecting them, but alas, your comment merits a response (despite my professed reluctance to do so).

If all the people of Rojava except the capitalist class are "proles" to you, then okay. Though I question why they can't just be people instead of reducing their identity to an old Marxian economic category. But if they are all members of the proletariat, then why is their construction of directly-democratic assemblies and worker cooperatives - with the expressed aspiration to eventually run the entirely economy democratically and cooperatively - not a proletarian act? Because they don't use the terminology of orthodox Marxism?

If it's the fact that they come out of a movement with historical links to nationalism? You probably won't take their own word for it, but they have categorically denied that their goal is to establish a separate Kurdish nation-state. Every single piece of their literature since the mid 2000s and every single spokesperson from the PKK and PYD has expressed opposition to the very idea of the nation-state, claiming that it is an obstacle to Kurdish liberation. The motto that they repeatedly espouse is "We can't get rid of capitalism without getting rid of the state and we can't get rid of the state without getting rid of patriarchy".

Quote:
Make what's happening in Kobane a class issue, not a nationalist on

It's not a nationalist issue.
It may be organised around the idea of Kurdish nationhood (which is not the same thing) but only because their nationhood has been denied to them for decades across four countries. And why does being one prevent it being the other? Why this class reductionist policy that anything other than organising on an exclusively workerist basis is pointless?

Due to being denied their collective social identity as the Kurdish people for so long, nationhood and their shared culture is a stronger unifying factor than class is or ever can be, but that does not prevent it from also being made about class. It's not a case of either/or but of both/and.

The same is true of other forms of domination that are not directly tied to economics - being female, being queer, being non-white, being indigenous. Organising struggles around each of these shared social identities suffering domination does not negate class organising. The only real question is how to integrate these trans-class struggles with economic class struggles.

The notion that all these will automatically be sorted out "after the revolution" once the economic problem is solved is both insulting and privilege-blind.

Quote:
take over their workplaces where they can

They have. You really must not be paying very much attention to what's been going on.

Quote:
try to build solidarity with non-Kurds

They are. The cantons and militias have been practising radical inclusion of Arabs, Christians, Armenians, Yazidis, and all other ethnic groups and have spoken of how the Rojava experiment can be a model for the whole middle east.

Quote:
Hypothetically, if it was me on the ground, I'd be focusing on building up links with workers in Turkey and trying to turn the struggle against ISIS in Kobane into a wider class struggle against the Turkish state

Before being pulverised when Turkey invade the region due to perceiving this as a clear act of aggression, yes. And how is this class struggle supposed to achieve libertarian socialism? A general strike in which the entire economy is shut down until the business class agree to sign over the means of production to the workers? Never gonna happen. You can't get that many people organised at once purely on the workplace level. An armed insurrection perhaps? Well, as well as being probably suicidal this isn't even really class-related, as most of those performing the insurrection would be doing so as geographical units, not as workplaces.

I'm still at a loss as to why you all keep referring to people as "workers". Is this honestly how you perceive yourself as your own primary identity? - your function within the capitalist system? I can't fucking stand doing most of what's defined as "work" (formal wage-labour) under capitalism and try to avoid it whenever possible. I'm currently unemployed and so are most of those in my age group (20s). I do not, and never have - and most likely never will - think of my central defining feature being a "worker". I'm a person, not a cog in the capitalist machine. And I think this is the best reason why organising worldwide as an economic class is doomed to failure - most people don't see themselves as being defined by something they hate doing.

The workplace is where they become passified. Other sites of struggle - like the community - is where they can exert collective force and feel freed from the capitalist process.

Black Badger
Apr 8 2015 22:02
Quote:
With regard to Black Badger's pseudo-scepticism...

I can assure you that my skepticism is quite genuine.

Flint
Apr 8 2015 22:49
Chilli Sauce wrote:
what should proles in Rojava do? Make what's happening in Kobane a class issue, not a nationalist one; take over their workplaces where they can; try to build solidarity with non-Kurds, and do their damndest to spread the struggle - after all, it's only wider revolutionary, socialist, and internationalist movement

That sounds a lot like:

Salvador Zana, a volunteer with YPG in Rojava wrote:
"The Rojava project is now at a crucial stage. If it stays isolated the military and economic necessities along with the ideological pressure of the hegemonial capitalist paradigma will force it to develop into some kind of liberal socialist state at best. To be successful the liberation of society needs to expand into the bordering parts of Kurdistan and, even more importantly, the societies of the wider Middle East. The model of autonomous communities administrating themselves and interacting in decentralized confederations can only thrive if it expands. The Rojava revolution promises the liberation of society, ecological development and the freedom of women as its basic mechanisms. It is vital for its success that all three points are wholeheartedly put into practice."

Tev-Dem, Project for a Democratic Syria wrote:
All the constituent peoples in the Syrian community— Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, and Turkmen, as well as Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis—cross boundaries: that is, the lands where they live do not begin or end at the state borders. This diversity will foster correct and healthy relations with neighboring countries, and it will also form a fertile ground for the construction of democratic confederal relationships that will spread in the Middle East, one that inherently rejects ethnic and religious nationalism as well as the nation-state... The transition from an authoritarian, nationalist, and chauvinistic structure to a decentralized democratic system in which everyone shares in self-management

People's Economic Plan as mentioned in Small Key wrote:
"Worker administration is the third leg of the stool of the economic plan. Workers are to control the means of production in their workplace through worker councils that are responsible to the local councils."

Abdurrahman Hemo wrote:
"We need some kind of common economy, and factories should be communally owned. But we won’t create a state economy, or a centralized economy. It should be locally organized"

Dara Kurdaxi wrote:
" It shouldn’t be a capitalist system, one without respect for the environment; nor should it be a system which continues class contradictions and in the end only serves capital. It should be a participatory model, based on natural resources and a strong infrastructure...the oil industry is under the control of the councils and managed by the workers’ committee... A people’s economy should thus be based on redistribution and oriented towards needs, rather than on being oriented exclusively towards accumulation and the theft of surplus value and surplus product. Local economic structures don’t only harm society, they harm nature. One of the main reasons for social decline is the effect of the local financial economy. The artificial creation of needs which ventures forth to find new markets, and the boundless desire for ever more gigantic profits makes the gap between rich and poor ever wider, and expands the camp of those who are living on poverty line, those who die of hunger. Such an economic policy is no longer acceptable to humanity. The greatest task of a socialist politics lies therefore with the implementation of an alternative economic policy, one based not on profit but on the fairer redistribution of wealth."

I think there is a real question about how this socialist aspiration to communal owned worker controlled factories can co-exist with any kind of private property, private market and foreign investment; particularly when they have already banned interest-bearing financial loans. When that contradiction becomes confrontation, which side does Tev-Dem come down on. But clearly, there are folks who think like us that think the expropriation of capital the collectivization of work should increase.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
I'd be focusing on building up links with workers in Turkey and trying to turn the struggle against ISIS in Kobane into a wider class struggle against the Turkish state

The movement in Turkey maybe more popular than it was in Rojava before the civil war; but Turkey is not a failed state like Syria. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard people say I should read Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan, by TATORT Kurdistan . Certainly, whats happening in Rojava has been inspirational there.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
and, indeed, against any nascent Kurdish state

If you meant the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government rather than a dig at Tev-Dem for being a state, I'd agree. While I think the KCK is more deeply embedded and popular in Turkey; its not like they ignored Iraq. With Mosul controlled by Daesh, southern Iraq coming to be dominated by Shia militias linked to Iran, and the KRG's (and KDP's) economic and political issues... Iraq is nearly a failed state. The KRG as independent nation-state itself is nearly still born. The PUK is collapsing as a party, and I think the KDP is far weaker than many people believe.

The YPG/YPJ is already expanded to Sinjar, and the familiar structures of the Rojava revolution have been implemented there in the Tev-Da council, the YBS militia and its sister organization the YPJ-Sinjar; as well as it sounds like the majority of Sinjar refugees being in YPG/YPJ defended camps with the YPJ pushing their feminism. After Sinjar is liberated or after the Sinjar refugee camps have more stabilized to become more economically productive--there might not be much to see on the workers control front. This didn't come out of nowhere. The PKK had been planning for this situation for more than a decade:

Quote:
"Yazidi self-governance and self-defense demands go back to 2004-2005, when non-KDP Kurdish movements had approved of giving priority to the Kurdish identity of the Yazidis. In three meetings held in Mosul, the consensus was that unless the Yazidis organize their own governance and self-defense, massacres would repeat. This led to the formation of the Yazidi Democratic Movement (TEVDA) in 2005 to follow up on the demands, and the PKK had considerable influence on this process. The Yazidis wanted US weapons assistance. The newspapers Ki Tigris and Saniye Spi were established with US funding. The KDP intelligence service that perceived these activities as threats sent warning messages to the Yazidi delegates and even detained some them.

Today, the KDP strongly condemns the self-governance decision and is holding the PKK responsible for the developments. Sociologist Azad Baris, leader of the Yazidi Cultural Foundation and a delegate to the meetings, told Al-Monitor, “The PKK was involved but did not lead the way as it did in 2004-2005. Among the participants were known Yazidi names from the Kurdish Patriotic Union, Yazidi Communist Party, Progressive Yazidi Party, European Yazidi Federation and Yazidi Cultural Foundation. Their aim is to give Sinjar autonomous status and build administrative bodies with the help of Kurdish actors. Nobody even mentioned a canton or an independent entity. Yazidis know they are at the point of no return. Anyone who stands against this current cannot be our friend, no matter what his name, race and ideology may be. After this point, we will never accept domination by anyone. The KDP [Barzani] has to understand that old ways will not work any longer. Nobody wants the KDP. If one day our refugees return and elections are held, the PKK will gain more than 70% of the vote.”

An official of the HPG force at Mount Sinjar told Al-Monitor about the problems with the KDP. "Kurdistan military officials don’t want a second armed force to emerge under PKK control. They told us, ‘If we don’t lead the liberation operation and if you don’t behave as guests, we won’t enter into a joint operation with you.' In fact, dialogue between the groups fighting is excellent but politicians are preventing joint action.”

(source)

Gorran seems to be setup with the purpose of electorally dethroning the KDP and PUK. Gorran and PKK have signaled mutual support. Just as the PUK Peshmerga have signaled their support for the PYD/YPG/YPJ. The Hekmatists have also signaled their support for the YPG (during the defense of Kobane). How much influence the Hekmatists have among the proletariat in KRG is a good question, but Iraqi Kurdistan has had worker council uprisings in the past; a legacy the Hekmatists would claim.

Watch closely what happens this summer after the Turkish parliamentary elections in June 2015 when Barzani is supposed to face an election in August 2015. Much could still happen, but the KDP has taken many blows to its popularity. There may be a real opportunity for the politics of Tev-Dem to spread into the KRG, Nineveh, etc...

Chilli Sauce wrote:
we take the proletarian nature of most of Rojava's residents as a given.

Great. Then the question becomes, how democratic is Tev-Dem? Is the proletarian majority in Tev-Dem wielding the local decision-making? How democratic is the worker-control in the workers councils in the 1/3rd of enterprises that have been collectivized? Of the remaining 2/3rds of enterprises that haven't been collectivized, are those enterprises still proles (small family farms? "earning their living from one cow").

Flint
Apr 8 2015 22:17
ocelot wrote:
Or, if you go to Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Suruc and points south of there, you will find Kurdish (and Turkish and other) anarchists who speak English as well as Kurmanji, Turkish and Arabic and can answer your questions. Worked for me.

Folks must talk to workers at the point of production.

Flint
Apr 8 2015 22:35

More on the KDP's attempts to suppress the HPS militia (Ezidi in Sinjar) and the dispute between KDP and the PUK over it.

Massoud Barzani: No independent Ezidi unit, no Ezidi flag will be accepted

Barzani could use exactly the same argument against Tev-Da, YBS and YPJ-Sinjar.

plasmatelly
Apr 8 2015 22:38

Flint wrote -
Folks must talk to workers at the point of production.
Dunno.. maybe in a IWW wet dream - but not mine.

radicalgraffiti
Apr 8 2015 23:59
rooieravotr wrote:
Radicalgraffiti

Quote:
Graber was telling people to sign a petition for the USAF to bomb ISIS

Radicalgraffiti, can you point out exactly where Graeber did that? I knew that he was over the top on Rojava, but this specific thing is new to me. It saddens me, more than it angers me. Do you have a link?

Ok it was actually a petition for the US to supply the YPG with weapons
https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/521103418614894593

i do remember him going on about how the US could help by bombing ISIS at around the same time too

Serge Forward
Apr 8 2015 23:26
Quote:
I'm a person, not a cog in the capitalist machine

Nah, you're a cog, and being on the dole makes you no less a cog. You're place is as an unemployed worker, part of the so called 'reserve army'. Then when you get a job, you'll continue to be a cog in your workplace, and when you retire, you'll be a superannuated cog. This state of affairs will only cease either when you're dead or when there's proletarian revolution. Hopefully I'm wrong but the latter doesn't look to be on the cards... but cheer up, it might happen grin

rooieravotr
Apr 8 2015 23:45

Connor Owens, in his comment of April 8, 21.16 :

Quote:
“Quote:

Quote:
I do not think that Libcom contributers should be seen as PYD advisors

I wasn't talking about the PYD.”

O yes, you were, only not exclusively so. In your comment of 6 April, 8.46 hour you asked:

Quote:
And significantly, you still failed to provide any kind of sensible response as to what the Kurds (leadership and grassroots) should have done.”

As you probably know, the PYD forms the core of the leadership. You were talking about the PYD, and I refuse to answer and to be pushed into that hypothetical advisory role.

He continues:

Quote:
In other words, for reasons of deontological purism, you would take a course of action that would (1) involve far more people dying, and (2) end up leading to the expansion of theocratic fascism throughout the Middle East. All in the name of some ephemeral abstraction called "anti-imperialism

Far more people dying? As if US bombs just kill IS members. As if the US will neatly stop bombing after IS is chased from Rojava, just because it suits our sensibilities. Of course, you can always withdraw support later on, if you don t like it anymore. But then, damage will already have been done, the beast has been fed, and thereby encouraged.

He goes on:

Quote:
What exactly does that mean in practice? Because I honestly can't wrap my head around this position.

It means what ity says: opposing a war, opposing bombing attacks, under whatever excuse they are done, refusing support for one 's “own” rulers.
By the way, the same argument Connors here uses– we must not oppose US attack, otherwise many more people will die – had been used over and over again. It was the argument aginst antiwar resisters around 2003: “do you want to see Saddam Hussein continue on a rampage? “ It was the arghument around Kosovo “So you want Milosevic co9ntinue killing Albanians in a re-enactemnt of the Holocaust? “(yes, that comparison was used all over again, and not just by Tony Blair). Every imperialist war had its excuse, its threatened Kurds or Albanians, its “poor little Belgium”. There is method in this madness. And always, the sense of this argument is granted, only THIS case is different, more urgent than all the others. Thank you, but we have been here before.

Connors sums up:

Quote:
The best I can make of it is this:
The G7 nations are imperial powers - yes
* They have certain goals in the Middle East involving controlling resources and influencing geo-politics to their advantage – true
* At the moment, a theocratic fascist force called ISIS is rampaging across the region with aspirations to bring the entire Muslim world under its dictatorship -uh-huh
* The Rojavans and the United States have, at this present time, a single shared interest in not seeing ISIS expand – still with me?
* But for the US to bomb ISIS and protect the Rojava cantons from being overrun and nothing else (no arms shipments, no military alliance, no political deals) makes every resident of Rojava - and every Kurd by extension - the hopeless deluded pawns of "imperialism" and there is therefore no hope for them as this single act of letting the U.S. bomb those trying to kill them makes them America's bitches for all eternity – WHAT?

Nobody said anything remotely like the last point. The ones whom I said were being used as pawns are not “ every resident of Rojava - and every Kurd by extension” but the PYD. I repeatedly made that distinction. I may be right or I may be wrong about this estimate, but there is no justification for a misrepresentation like this.

Then, your formula “no military alliance” is disingenuous. One, I showed with quotes that the PYD considers itself now to be part of the coalition against IS, which is a military alliance. Two, you yourself state in your comment of April 6, 8.46 hour, already quoted:

Quote:
And significantly, you still failed to provide any kind of sensible response as to what the Kurds (leadership and grassroots) should have done to avoid getting killed by ISIS other than agreeing to a strategic alliance against them with the U.S.

Strategic alliance. Your words here, not mine. That sounds like a military alliance to me, and not just a tactical one either.

Besides, there are already a few “theocratic fascist”regimes in the area, safely on the side of the US bombers (and by implication the PYD, but NOT “every Kurd”). One such force is bombing the hell out of Jemen. Milk factory here, refugee camp there, hundreds of dead, 100.000 refugees, all in about three weeks time. That “theocratic fascist force”is called Saudi Arabia, those other beheading forces, and part of the anti-IS-coalition. The US is supporting the whole bloody “theocratic fascist” business.

More generally: it is NOT the case that we have, in this war, on the one hand, theocratic fascists and on the other hand liberal democracies, temporarily allied with a left wing force. We have “theocratic fascist forces” at both sides of the frontlines, both in the form of IS, and in the form of prominent US allies. This is not as “war against theocratic fascism”, but only against one of its wings. Communists, of the anarchist or the marxist variety or whatever, should not want to have anything to do with it but the most relentless opposition.

Pennoid
Apr 9 2015 02:31

Not classed based, not revolutionary against capitalism. It can liberate the bourgeoisie, it can liberate the land and labor from feudal bondage.

I guess it's a hard pill to swallow but, sometimes there isn't a very revolutionary thing you can do. Sometimes you are fighting for your life. I can't knock someone for that, but we should call a spade a spade.

The rest is movementism. I want the class to be organized enough to fight against atrocities like this, or mitigate them. But wishing it to be so from a million miles away is about as effective as imaging that it is actually happening.

Connor Owens
Apr 9 2015 06:38
Quote:
As you probably know, the PYD forms the core of the leadership. You were talking about the PYD

You skilfully ignored the latter part of the comment I see. I said the PYD or the grassroots[i]. And in the comment you were responding to, I said the PYD, the PKK, or some other group not connected to either. So you're deliberately twisting my words to create a contradiction where there is none.

The rest of your comment is just basically saying the same thing over and over, which could basically be summed up as "But imperialism! USA! Therefore imperialism! What will the result be? I refuse to explain! But imperialism! More people are killed? They won't be! Because imperialism! Imperialism is always automatically worse than fascism! Individual contexts are irrelevant! Imperialism!" Ergo, advocate nothing from a more-radical-than-thou pedestal.

Also, you once again deflected answering any of the three questions I asked on comments page 4, probably because they challenge the basis of your beliefs (Marxian class struggle or pointless).

I'll repeat the most important one again: there are organs of direct democracy and a cooperative economy that have been built in the region involving hundreds of thousand of people and a societal transformation to consciously alter things along democratic, egalitarian, secular, and feminist lines

My question is, [i]are all of these of no relevance at all to building libertarian socialism because they're connected to an organisation you don't like? And/or because they don't fit with your class struggle narrative of how revolutions are "supposed" to happen

Connor Owens
Apr 9 2015 09:52
Quote:
Not classed based, not revolutionary against capitalism. It can liberate the bourgeoisie, it can liberate the land and labor from feudal bondage

The bourgeoisie have "liberated" themselves from the region by mostly fleeing. And a good portion of their old enterprises are now in communal ownership by the municipal communes - being reorganised as self-managed cooperatives run by their workers. There is currently a small sector of small private business but they are explicitly subordinate to the democratic assemblies, who are setting policy for what gets produced and how. And as David Graeber noted, every single person he talked to expressly said they were an anti-capitalist and an anti-statist, and that they were actually trying to downplay just how against capitalism they are internationally to avoid alienating potential allies.

How exactly is this not "class based" enough for you? Because they don't use the terminology of orthodox Marxism? Why is this not something with socialist potential?

It increasingly looks like all the class-strugglists are refusing to accept that this can ever be something worth supporting because it flies in the face of all their elaborate theories about how revolutions are "supposed" to happen.

It revolves around the concept of national liberation from an alien state and a strong desire for their unique cultural identity to be represented, when revolutions are supposed to be internationalist.
It involves Murray Bookchin's concept of the revolutionary subject being a broad class and trans-class democratic social movement, when revolutions are supposed to be exclusively class based.
It uses the language of Social Ecology, when revolutions are supposed to use the language of Marxism.
It is focused primarily on building directly-democratic assemblies, when revolutions are supposed to be focused primarily on workplace organising.
It is trying to achieve women's equality and liberation in the here and now, when revolutions are supposed to wait until there are no economic classes before tackling the issue of women (or LGBT+ people, or ethnic minorities).
It accepted help from an imperial country in bombing the mutual enemy who were about to massacre them, when revolutions are supposed to be 100% pure and involve no compromises with their integrity.

None of what's happening in Rojava fits the Marxist script of how things are supposed to go down. It's like a film director who sees his actors doing some fantastic improv (albeit in need of refining) and says "This can't be good acting. They're totally deviating from the script. I've got nothing I can work with here."

There's a quote from the later writings of Errico Malatesta which I find quite relevant to these events:

Quote:
“we cannot make the revolution exclusively “ours” because we are a small minority, because we lack the consent of the mass of the people and because, even if we were able, we would not wish to contradict our own ends and impose our will by force.
To escape from the vicious circle we must therefore content ourselves with a revolution that is as much “ours” as possible, favouring and taking part, both morally and materially, in every movement directed towards justice and liberty”.

What's going on in Rojava is clearly one such movement - unless Black Badger is right and the direct democracy and cooperatives are all some gigantic ruse to fool a tiny few western anarchists into supporting them for some reason - but what anarchists are doing is thinking it need to be exclusively "our" movement, perfectly in line with all our principles, and that nothing less has any potential.

And yet somehow reformist workplace organising in the Global North is worth supporting because it fits with the class reductionist script while a directly-democratic, anti-capitalist movement is not because it doesn't.