Introduction

Introduction

Although the environmental challenges in Rojava caught our attention from the beginning, the development of our community’s ecological work has been a slow process. The starting point was that for internationalists in Rojava it was an important experience to participate in the revolution not only with our minds, but also with our hands. And what could be better than working with the very ground on which this revolution is taking place? Thinking about what we could do for the revolution, we came up with the idea of setting up a tree nursery in the Internationalist Academy.

Questions arose with the construction of our Academy and the plan for the tree nursery, which led to more questions. Where does the water that we need for the Academy, as well as the trees, come from? What happens to our waste-water? What do we do with our garbage, and what does society do with it? Which nutrients do we need for our vegetable garden and which are used in the surrounding agriculture? Why is only wheat grown around the Academy today, where forests still stood just a few decades ago? The more we asked, discussed and worked, the clearer we became about the connection between the ecological problem and the economic and political situation. It was this process that led us to ask: what would an ecological society in Rojava look like, and how could it be built?

It seemed appropriate for us to share our preliminary discussions and research results, and this is what we want to do with this book. It is meant not only for those involved with the relevant committees and all the other people who work and research locally, but also for activists, scientists and interested people all over the world. Environmental issues in Rojava have been a subject of little concern, both within local structures and in global solidarity circles. The general public abroad has ignored this issue so far, as the coverage of the war against the Islamic State continues to drown out the political nature of this revolution. With this short book we want to suggest a different emphasis: to report on the urgent challenges for people and nature in Rojava; highlight the ecological work here; and engage in an active dialogue with all those interested and in a position to help.

This also presented us with a challenge when writing this book: how do we combine ideological discussions about the fundamental relationship between people and nature with research on questions of biology and building construction? How do we manage to make these topics accessible and not just for people who are already familiar with them? We hope that this has been achieved by the breadth of the topics addressed, the diversity of the texts, and their division into usable sections.

To begin, we introduce ourselves, the Internationalist Commune of Rojava. In the following chapter we will introduce our discussion of social ecology and our outlook on an ecological society, which is the theoretical basis of our ongoing work. Since we can’t take knowledge of the impact of capitalist modernity on the ecological system for granted, a theoretical introduction to the ecological crisis of capitalist modernity follows. We have tried to take into account the many different aspects of this crisis.

Based on this global perspective of the ecological crisis, in the fifth chapter we will discuss the situation in Rojava, with particular reference to the largest canton in Rojava, Cizîrê. On the one hand, this focus is due to the central importance of Cizîrê for energy, environmental and agricultural policy issues, and on the other hand on the fact that we are working and building our Academy here. It has not been possible, as of this publication date, to travel to the canton of Afrîn, so we were only able to conduct limited research on the situation there Afrîn; Chapter 5 also gives an overview of ecological issues in the context of the policies of the Turkish and Syrian states.

We will formulate in detail our proposals as to what further steps can be taken in the construction of an ecological society. The detailed information, facts and figures we refer to in this chapter are based on studies listed in the bibliography at the end of the book and on detailed discussions with those in charge of the various structures of the democratic self-administration.By this we mean the democratic non-state structures, based on neighborhood councils, which have been built up since the beginning of the revolution in 2011.

Taking into account this information, the analysis of the situation, and the projects undertaken so far, we have determined the objectives of the “Make Rojava Green Again” campaign and the next concrete steps in it. We will present these in detail at the end of the book.

The Internationalist Commune of Rojava
September 2018