Negri, Harvey, Graeber, Wallerstein, Holloway, the cult of Abdullah Ocalan and the Rojava Revolution

Abdullah Ocalan

In April 2015, a conference was held in Hamburg ‘to introduce the thoughts of the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to the international community.’ Silvia Federici was supposed to send a ‘message of greeting’ – just as Toni Negri and Immanuel Wallerstein had at a similar previous conference. Federici then dropped out. However David Harvey, David Graeber and John Holloway did attend and all three spoke on a stage with a large portrait of Ocalan in the background.

During the event, held on Ocalan’s birthday, Harvey claimed that Ocalan ‘is waging a struggle for the freedom of all women.’ While Graeber said: ‘He has written the sociology of freedom. … I have some questions and criticisms in the technical dimension, but I agree and appreciate his views.’

This all raises several questions, such as who exactly is Ocalan and is his political project really as radical as these well-known intellectuals seem to believe?

OCALAN ON VIOLENCE, REVOLUTION AND DEMOCRACY

Abdullah Ocalan is the ideological leader of the Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK, whose offshoot, the PYD, is the main political force in the Kurdish areas of Syria known as Rojava. Many PYD activists in Rojava have what one eye-witness calls ‘total faith’ in Ocalan and consider him to be, to a certain extent, ‘sacred’. Indeed, the leader of the PYD, Salih Muslim, has openly admitted that: ‘We apply [Ocalan’s] philosophy and ideology to Syria.’

This semi-religious attitude to Ocalan goes back to the 1980s and 1990s, well before his imprisonment in Turkey. PKK fighters from these earlier decades say things like: ‘The PKK is in a certain sense identical with its founder, Abdullah Ocalan’ or ‘[Ocalan] doesn’t so much represent the party, as he is the party.’

When ISIS began threatening Rojava in 2014, the PKK/PYD introduced compulsory military conscription. All PKK/PYD fighters are still ‘trained in political thought’ and, consequently, they still say things like: ‘our ideas are based on the philosophy of Abdullah Ocalan’ or ‘these are the ideas of Abdullah Ocalan, this is our ideology’. This deeply Stalinist way of thinking would be a problem even if Ocalan’s ideas were genuinely revolutionary but, like most Stalinists, he has little enthusiasm for social revolution.

To his credit, Ocalan does acknowledge not only the appalling brutality of the Turkish military but also the brutality of the PKK during its war of national liberation against Turkey. For example, he admits that there was ‘unfeeling violence … escalating to the point where we killed the best of our own comrades’ and that ‘young fighters were summarily executed in the mountains.’ He even says that ‘the whole party is guilty; nobody can deny his responsibility.’

But Ocalan’s admissions now just make it easier to believe long-standing claims that he authorised the execution of many hundreds of people including civilians and dissident PKK members. To give just one example, an ex-PKK leader has said that ‘there were between 50 and 60 executions just after the 1986 PKK congress. In the end, there was no more room to bury them.’ Ocalan’s admissions are also seriously marred by his repeated attempts to shift the blame for any atrocities away from himself and onto what he describes as ‘gangs within our organisation’.

This blame-shifting raises even more questions when one reads Ocalan’s claim that ‘young women fighters … [were] forced into the most primitive patriarchal relationships.’ This is a statement that begs to be compared with that of another PKK leader who claimed that it was Ocalan himself who ‘forced dozens of our female comrades to immoral relations’ and that he went so far as to ‘order the murder’ of women who refused to have ‘relations’ with him. *

Ocalan had his accuser killed so we may never know if there was any truth to these allegations. We may also never know how genuine Ocalan’s regrets are concerning wars of national liberation. This is especially the case if we consider his assertions that these wars ‘were valid at the time’, that the war against Turkey ‘could have been won’ and that when ‘nationalism [was] flourishing, it was almost treason not to agree with the principles of national liberation.’ But we do know that the failure of the PKK’s war – combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union – led Ocalan to reject not only any continuation of the war but also any sort of violent revolution.

In his Prison Writings he warns that ‘socialist society must not attempt to overcome old structures of state and society by means of violence and force.’ He goes on to say that: ‘It would be a gross contradiction of the nature of the new ideology if force were to be accepted as a means of overthrowing the state – even the most brutal one.’ He also claims that ‘revolutions and violence… cannot abolish [social phenomena]’ (vol.1 p224) and that ‘revolutionary overthrow … does not create sustainable change. In the long run, freedom and justice can only be accomplished within a democratic-confederate dynamic process.’

These statements are more than just understandable criticisms of violence, they seem to be rejections of any need for social revolution once a Western-style democratic system has been instituted.

Ocalan does claim that such a system will eventually be superseded by ‘a more adaptable administration which will allow even more freedom’. But he also claims that ‘the Western democratic system contains everything needed for solving social problems.’ He even says that, eventually, ‘the right and the left … will come together in the system of democratic civilisation.’
.

OCALAN ON MARXISM, ANARCHISM, FEMINISM AND CAPITALISM

Like so many other neo-Stalinists, from Gorbachev to the Eurocommunists, Ocalan combines his enthusiasm for Western-style democracy with a dismissal of Marxism.

He also rejects anarchism, saying: ‘Anarchism is a capitalist tendency. It is an extreme form of individualism which rejects the state itself.’ He is quite clear that he ‘does not reject nor deny the state’. Instead, he advocates ‘a lean state as a political institution, which only observes functions in the fields of internal and external security and in the provision of social security.' **

Few liberals would have too much disagreement with this approach to the state or, indeed, with Ocalan’s approach to feminism. Just like any liberal, he is also quite clear that women’s liberation ‘should have priority over the liberation of … labour.’

Ocalan does make bold, if somewhat hypocritical, statements about male domination in contemporary society such as: ‘To kill the dominant man is the fundamental principle of socialism.’ And women’s participation in the Rojava revolution is a striking example of how women will be central to any social change in the 21st Century. But a genuine women’s revolution would surely require a proletarian women’s movement outside the control of either middle-class activists or the PKK/PYD.

Such a revolution would also require the transcendence of the family. According to one Rojavan human rights worker: 'Society here is very masculine and very feudal, … there still needs to be a change in the classic family structure if we are ever going to see [women's role] expand.' Yet, despite his criticisms of the family, Ocalan still insists that the family 'is not a social institution that should be overthrown’. Indeed, he even argues that a reformed family is both the ‘most important element’ and ‘the most robust assurance of democratic civilisation.’

As regards capitalism, Ocalan does argue for a ‘progressive transition from a production based on profit to a production based on sharing.’ But he appears to believe that capitalists ‘never number more than one or two percent of society’ and he even claims that the class war ‘has come to an end’. He also proposes that the new social order 'will allow for individual and collective property’ and that labour will be 'remunerated according to its contribution to the entire product.’

In the programme for the Hamburg conference, John Holloway claims that the Kurdish movement in Rojava is one of ‘the most outstanding examples’ of anti-capitalism. But these statements by Ocalan instead show a movement whose ideological leader has a very limited understanding of capitalism and no real desire to end the misery of private property and wage labour. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that one of the economics ministers in Rojava has openly stated that he wants any cooperatives to compete with private capital. While, the head of Internal Security even said that Rojava is ‘a new market, and everyone can play a role, including the Americans.’

Ocalan’s solution to every social problem really does seem to be, not anti-capitalist revolution, but democracy. Democracy is certainly preferable to dictatorship. But it makes little sense to say that democracy, even a radical form of direct democracy, is itself a ‘corrective for extreme class divisions’.

It is, of course, just such extreme class divisions and inequalities, exacerbated by capitalism’s chronic crises and wars, that have led to today’s situation in which so many people have turned to the seemingly revolutionary alternative of ISIS. But from Egypt to Turkey to Iraq, democracy has done little to empower proletarians to push for the radical sharing of wealth that is so urgently needed to end all class divisions and so end the appeal of ISIS.

The PKK say they want to transform the Middle East ‘without the utopian perspective of a world revolution’. But it is surely only the prospect of an anti-capitalist world revolution that could ever inspire people both to overthrow ISIS and to spread the Rojava revolution across the Middle East.

Such a world revolution would require a political movement that was far more internationalist than the PKK/PYD could ever be, burdened as it is by its deep attachment to Kurdish identity. The PKK/PYD is also burdened by its initial decision to be relatively neutral in the Syrian civil war and by its later decision to ally with the US. No matter how understandable these decisions were, they have discredited the Rojava revolution across the Arab world and made it even more difficult for it to become a starting point for international revolution.

Any talk of international revolution may seem utopian. But the Arab Spring and Occupy movements showed that potentially revolutionary movements are now able to emerge and spread internationally like never before. And a global revolution is still a more realistic prospect than any hope that an alliance with Western imperialism will somehow lead to the Rojava revolution spreading across the Middle East.

After the victory at Kobane, the PKK/PYD leader, Salih Muslim, visited government officials in London and spoke passionately in favour of an even stronger alliance with the West. He said:

‘We insist on establishing good relations with the US. … We had a martyr who was English. He died in the same trenches as us. … Our martyrs are the most glorious treasure we have. We see them as the crowns, they are crowns and they are light that show our way to peace and freedom. … We want to establish stronger relations with the English, Australians, Germans and Americans. That relation will be nourished by our martyrs’ sacrifice. … Rojava is taking the lead in giving an example of democracy in all of Syria. And our people are proud of that. And you know it is true when you see a British man next to you in the same trench and he becomes a martyr. … [Our] resistance is becoming an example to the world.’

Despite obvious differences, this overblown rhetoric sounds very much like that of politicians a century ago who extolled ‘English, Australians, Germans and Americans’ to sacrifice themselves for ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ in the trenches of the 1914-18 war.

The revolutionaries of the last century made two great errors: one was to support the descent into the imperialist bloodbath of 1914, the other was to support Stalinism. Developing a 21st Century revolutionary politics that avoids any repetition of these disasters will not be easy. Radical intellectuals like Negri, Graeber and Holloway have made important theoretical contributions that can aid this development. But their apparent support for the PKK suggests serious limitations in their political outlook.

Fortunately, younger Kurdish activists are increasingly questioning the authoritarianism of the PKK. If radical intellectuals have any constructive role it is to encourage such attitudes and to avoid giving any credibility to the totalitarian cult around Ocalan.

Capitalism’s present crisis will, sooner or later, compel people to question the entire system more deeply than they are presently doing in Rojava – or, indeed, in other countries where various types of neo-Stalinist have taken power such as South Africa, Venezuela and Greece. Until then, we surely need to keep trying to find ways to support grassroots’ struggles without giving any support to neo-Stalinist politicians – or to imperialism and its endless wars.

Anti War

All sources can be found by clicking on the † next to the quote or see the version at libcom.org

* Some critics of Ocalan have claimed that his response to such abuse accusations was to say: ‘These girls mentioned. I don’t know, I have relations with thousands of them. … [They] say ‘‘this was attempted to be done to me here’’ or ‘‘this was done to me there’’! These shameless women. … I try to turn every girl into a lover. … If you find me dangerous, don’t get close!’ However, unlike the other Ocalan quotes in this article, I have been unable to find a verifiable version of this quote. I have also been unable to find a second source to confirm claims that the Rojavan authorities 'prohibit the display of flags and photos of political figures' other than those of Ocalan and other PKK symbols.

** The revolutionary hopes engendered by the Arab Spring coincided with a fall in support for Islamist terrorism. Once those hopes were dashed, such terrorism revived and, inevitably, the Rojavan police have now set up an elite anti-terrorist unit just like those of any other capitalist state. (See their Hollywood-style video here.) This development is in some contrast to Graeber’s hopes that the Rojavan police were on the way to, one day, abolishing themselves.

‘Democratic’ assemblies, street scenes, militia fighters and colleges in Rojava - all overshadowed by the leader of one party, the PKK’s Abdullah Ocalan.

Posted By

Anti War
May 2 2015 18:10

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  • The PKK is in a certain sense identical with its founder, Abdullah Ocalan."

    Selahattin Çelik, former PKK commander

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Comments

Chilli Sauce
May 4 2015 14:17

Good article - and a good contribution to the debate within the anarchist movement about Rojava.

Soapy
May 4 2015 15:09

agreed very good read

Anti War
May 15 2015 17:53

Here are some images from the website of the major women's organisation in Rojava, Yekitiya Star.

This organisation is 'the leading factor in the construction of a new system today. It opened 15 training centers and two academies for women and formed social committees in many areas. ... Yekitiya Star regards Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan as the builder and leader of freedom.'

And here are pictures of YPJ fighters declaring oaths:

Whatever is happening in Rojava, this is not my vision of a genuinely libertarian/feminist/socialist revolution.

David Graeber has said: 'Let me make my position clear. When someone in a wealthy country insists on equating (a) the imaginary revolution they like to fantasize about someday creating, and (b) actual revolutionary struggle in the Global South, then condemns (b) for not living up to (a) and refuses solidarity on that basis, they are turning their situation of privilege into a pretense of moral superiority, which is a classic form of racist imperialism. This is true whether or not they are personally racists.'

But does that mean that if you refused solidarity to Mao's China or Pol Pot's Cambodia in the 1970s, that you were being racist and imperialist?

Of course, it is only natural to sympathise with people in Rojava, threatened as they are by the horrors of the ISIS - just as it is natural to sympathise with people in Damascus or Baghdad faced with ISIS there.

But this is, surely, no reason to support the PKK - any more than it is a reason to support Assad or the Iraqi government.

Flint
May 15 2015 18:28

Does "Anti War" do anything except criticize Rojava?

Red Marriott
May 15 2015 21:09

S/he's the necessary counter-weight to posters like you.wink Looking at your respective recent track records you've posted on a lot more Rojava threads than Anti War.

Flint
May 15 2015 21:32

Yeah, that's fine Red Marriott.

I, however, have a personal history, organizational ties and am interested in other things (like the recent protests in my home of Baltimore).

I'm actually critical of some things about TEV-DEM, YPG, PYD, PKK, etc... some criticisms that Anti War shares.

Anti War seems likely an exclusively anti-Rojava project. The Anti War account was set up 19 weeks 4 days. But its obviously someone who know communist politics. So, this is specifically an anti-Rojava/anti-PYD project, right? By someone who wants to mask their identity and doesn't want their critique tied to a particular organization. And their project seems to be pretty exclusively anti-PYD and not pro particularly anything except a rhetorical communism.

Its fine if someone wants to always remain anonymous. But I do have to wonder about a political project that is exclusively anti-Rojava, and always anti-Rojava.

Whats the agenda?

Also, a lot of the arguments done by Anti War are in poor faith. Lots of straw men. David Graeber would support Pol Pot, etc... ridiculous.

Infrared.
May 15 2015 23:14

Deleted. I have no horse in this race.

Red Marriott
May 15 2015 23:49

Lighten up, Flint; even if all you said was true, so what? You're displaying the over-sensitivity to critical views typical of pro-Rojavans. Eg, kurremkarmerruk is at least as much an 'anonymous exclusively pro-Rojavan project' here. But I don't here you complaining about that or questioning 'their agenda'.
Most people are 'anonymous' here for various good reasons but we don't start reading conspiracies into that. Eg, I don't know anything about you or kurrem that makes you less anonymous to me than Anti War.

Quote:
Also, a lot of the arguments done by Anti War are in poor faith. Lots of straw men. David Graeber would support Pol Pot, etc... ridiculous.

Well lots of 'people in wealthy countries' did find that Maoism, Pol Pot etc did fail to live up to 'the image of the revolution they wanted to create' and said so at the time. And got flak from leftists for what imo was often very valid criticism. I've experienced much the same in recent years from pro-maoists; http://libcom.org/library/myths-realities-nepalese-maoists-their-strike-...
But I don't think Anti War is saying Graeber would support Mao or Pol Pot, just that by what he sees as the same logic one could equally condemn those who did critique Mao & co. There is a common implication made that the critics set impossibly high standards to measure against. So once again it comes down to evaluation of content of a struggle; after all, if you argue it's absurd to say Graeber would support Pol Pot then presumably that's cos the content of that struggle didn't measure up to his definition of the kind of revolution he wanted to create. If that's the case then it shouldn't be so hard to accept that Rojava doesn't measure up to what some see as a revolution they can support. However right or wrong that may be - to claim, as Graeber does, that such a view is "a classic form of racist imperialism" is a real "ridiculous strawman".

Flint
May 16 2015 00:22

I'd really like to know what other projects Anti War has been involved with, what they see as efforts worthy of support, what their ideological foundations are, what they would regard as positive activity in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

Anti War is a specific political project, not just a random poster. I think it's fine to ask those sort of questions of a such a project, particularly given its style of presenting information tends to be wholly one sided with little consideration to the sources of the material and quite a lot of distortion and selective quotation. Pretty much everything they post is some kind of smear job designed to push particular buttons here.

I'd appreciate it if Red Marriott would stop trying to dismiss me as if my politics were somehow a matter of emotional excess or hyper-sensitivity. That kind of patronizing dialogue will do little to change my opinion or activity.

Flint
May 16 2015 00:20

delete

Flint
May 16 2015 00:21

Delete

Flint
May 16 2015 00:21

delete

Flint
May 16 2015 00:34

In defense of kurremkarmerruk, he's been a member of this site for more than 7 years, posted for more than 3 years, and comments on a number of topics. Comrades I know and respect have met him.

Anti War might very well be the sock puppet of a regular poster here. I don't know. But they could engage the questions I raise about their activity, aspirations and alternative ideas. They don't seem much interested in dialogue though. Just find whatever anti-Rojava stuff they can find and post it. Or find any Rojava news, write their own quite partisan critique of it... and just post the critique. A lot of the writing is terrible just from a writing perspective.

I get that lots of folks here are more skeptical of Rojava than myself. I even respect some of those positions. But the way Anti War engages the topic strikes me as intellectually dishonest in addition to overtly hostile.

Atleast folks know where the ex-ICC folks are coming from.

Red Marriott
May 16 2015 08:55
Quote:
I'd appreciate it if Red Marriott would stop trying to dismiss me as if my politics were somehow a matter of emotional excess or hyper-sensitivity. That kind of patronizing dialogue will do little to change my opinion or activity.

I've said in the past you were "an honourable exception" to the dismissive attitude, strawmanning, over-sensitivty etc of other pro-Rojavan posters. But on this thread I'm not just being "dismissive", I find your attitude as I described it. I also undismissively dealt with specific points of what you said (some of which you haven't responded to, which is fine). But many pro-Rojavans are just as dismissive; Graeber quickly flouncing out when anyone dares to disagree, others just repeating the same stock responses in a parody of 'dialogue' etc.

But trying to hold people to account by bringing out your 'movement record', service medals etc and wanting to know theirs I find a dubious method. At worst Anti war is someone who doesn't respond to critics; that doesn't mean they have to 'prove themselves' in that kind of way. You're free to post disagreement with what and how they post. It sounds like you're slipping into trying to discredit the poster rather than what they're saying; which is a tactic other pro-Rojavans like kurre have tried to use in the absence of a more credible response. Demanding a political CV from critics? That's a little odd.

Quote:
Or find any Rojava news, write their own quite partisan critique of it

Come on, your presentation of news items you find is just as "partisan" in its own way. I don't feel the need to know or demand your credentials to respond.

Flint
May 16 2015 14:22

When AFED, the ICC, Graeber, WSM, etc... publish opinions, they stand on bodies of work, experiences, track records. They have reputations. It puts weight on their words which can help someone evaluate them.

If you don't see that as an important thing, then you and I have different ways of evaluating complex situations.

Black Badger
May 16 2015 16:58

Ah, the power of prestige (aka cultural capital); the ad hominem praise. The value-form reinforced and extended through the supposedly neutral descriptors "bodies of work, experiences, track records," and, especially, "reputations," and "weight." The accuracy or insight of a critique is not magnified by prestige (the logical fallacy of appeal to authority), nor is it diminished by anonymity. Fail.

Flint
May 16 2015 18:10

When someone I know and generally agree with goes somewhere and tells me what they see, I put more weight on it than someone who pulled a twenty year old quotation.

MT
May 16 2015 22:34

Flint, why don't you just ignore Anti War if s/he pises you off by posting things that the regular reader might not read/see otherwise? Are those photos photoshoped or what is the problem? Can this thread concentrate on Rojava more than individual posters?

kurekmurek
May 16 2015 23:04

MT you are definitely right. However I doubt if the fault lies in Flint.

For example I go try to find these pictures in the supposed official website of YPJ http://www.yekitiya-star.com/ku/ I could not. Then I searched for the last of them online. I found only turkish leftist sites with tgis picture plus a blog and libcom.

So I think the pictures might authentic but they might not be as contemporary or at least are not representative state of kurdish organisations as they claim to be (they are like picking the few that support your position)

Also my little experiment kind of proved Flint that this Anti-war is actually another poster and most propably a turkish one I suppose (or maybe kurdish but he seems not to know kurdish but who knows)

So I am on phone but can not make proper research. But please everyone do their own

Black Badger
May 17 2015 04:59
Quote:
When someone I know and generally agree with goes somewhere and tells me what they see, I put more weight on it than someone who pulled a twenty year old quotation.

Nice feint, but this is an entirely different point than the one you tried to make before. There's no cultural capital or body of work here.

Anti War
May 19 2015 12:29

The Yekitiya Star pictures can be found on the front page of the Arabicversion of their website here. See also here and here.

Another picture can be found here. Even more pages of articles on Ocalan can also be found on this Kurdish version of the website here.

Today, there are four pictures of Ocalan on the front page of the Yekitiya Star website.

Here are some covers of Yekitiya Star's recent, 2015, journals:


All other references in the article can be found by clicking on the after the quote.

Much of the above article comes from Ocalan's Prison Writings, Vol.2 and his Liberating Life pamphlet. These were published in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

kurekmurek
May 19 2015 14:51

Well there is of course pictures of Ocalan in their website nobody disputes that.

However when I open their website today I can only see one Ocalan picture that is in the column of writers so I assume they publish one of his writings (as this is very common in Kurdish media to publish a writing of his relevant to issue) Well except that there are some people making a traditional dance, in the background there is a portrait of Ocalan but so what? Does this mean they are pushed by guns and knives to hang it there?

I guess journal in Kurdish is "KOVAR" if you try "find in page" you can reach to 5 issues of their magazine. And yes 2 has Ocalan in the frame 3 has not. Though I am lost what does this tells us. Well I remember this CNT poster from Spanish Revolution with Durutti:

So are CNT was a totally corrupt organisation? If the CNT were to win would Durutti will be a some sort of "king"? grin And nobody could have any respect to Durutti except a dictatorial one? Were even Spanish Anarchists were blind to power as Kurds? Were there reasons to publish such posters? or should we be automatically against CNT as they could have published such hero-worshiping poster?

But I can not read Kurdish or Arabic so I am lost about what these journals or writings about. anyways. You seem to be satisfied just showing of some pictures apparently so have it your way I guess.

kurekmurek
May 19 2015 14:58

And also please someone explain to me things like this in the article:

Quote:
Fortunately, younger Kurdish activists are increasingly questioning the authoritarianism of the PKK.

There is no reference to this sentence. May I ask: according to whom or according to what measure? Well unfortunately but their fight in Rojava become a huge boost for Kurdish movement,
1) Many tribes in Turkey nowadays join the Kurdish movement (and we mean like tribes with 20.000 or so members) http://www.radikal.com.tr/politika/hdp_asiretleri_nasil_ikna_etti-135402...
2) As Barzani and his peshmergas failed to protect their land, movements in opposition to him gaining power in Iraq. (including the ones sympathetic to pkk)
3) Yezidis for example avoided pkk historically due to their different religious beliefs and opposition to war. but however nowadays they are forming their own militias and self-organize in style of YPG. There are other ethnic or religious communities nowadays active with and within YPG in Syria.
If you combine these with the boost in number who went to fight for Kobane. Actually Kurdish movement seems to be experiencing another golden age and currently recovering from the defeat that happened in the early 2000s

But unfortunately you are just here to make anti-propaganda anti-war. I hope you do not deceive too much people. People can be "internationalist left/communist" I have no objection to that, but I strongly emphasize that bad and misguided judgement represented as facts or analysis is always resuls in bad and ineffective politics no matter what they are called.

kurekmurek
May 19 2015 15:11

Also by the way f*ck photoshop (or paint).
Look at how nice Durutti's huge head looks. Well it is kind of hard to miss it actually as he nearly covers half of the damn poster grin It is I guess painted by hand by a talented artisit. Giving him a really inspiring posture. His hat's shade over her eyes. And look at his big dark cheeks that you can nearly see his muscular body and fitness. His eyes looking towards far away lands (possibly CNT planes and clouds also grin ) From this poster you get the idea that he must be a human-giant or something.
And look at the pictures of Ocalan, he looks like someone just cut his head from a photo and pasted it over a sunflower. Ridiculous, he looks like my grandfather seriously grin Life is a bummer grin

ocelot
May 19 2015 19:01

What is staggering is that after nearly 6 months of debate, the "antis" have learned absolutely nothing.

Never mind the myriad details (a point by point refutation of all the errors and wilful distortions in the above would be substantially longer than the article), the structure of the argument itself is simply unacceptable from the perspective of left-wing class politics.

The structure of the piece is effectively the same as those right-wing German historians who try to explain the Third Reich in terms of Hitler only having one ball. For the German right it is a convenient historical alibi for Germans, of all classes, to pretend that from 1933-1945 the entireity of the Gerrman public lost all agency and simply moved as passive puppets of the will of "the master of the Third Reich".

Of course the intent behind the article is different here. But the problems of ditching any materialist analysis, of the assumption that millions of Kurds are simply passive vessels for the ideas of their "ideological leader" (the term is symptomatic of the sectarian idealism) in a way that the author would never accept as characterising the relation of Catholics to their "ideological leader", the pope, or Germans as passive victims of "Hitlerism", are structurally the same. In the name of defending class politics, the author presents an argument that divests Kurdish society of actually-existing social and class dynamics. That anybody should see this "analysis" as anything other than the inverted right-wing "history of great men" that it is, is frankly astonishing.

Other commentators have raised the allegation that behind this "One Big Kurd" (to paraphrase Ice-T's characterisation of Bush Sr and other US racist's amalgamation of African-Americans as "One Big N*****r") thinking is an unconscious racism. While this is clearly present, I don't think it is the primary cause. I suspect the problem lies precisely with the micro-sect mentality that perceives ideology, and ideological-correctness (even a crypto moral-correctness) as the alpha and omega of political movements. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it, in real political movements, the relation is not ideological-correction -> effective action, but real practical problems -> empiricist fumbling for effective response -> retrospective ideological justification.

Once again, the practices of the KCK and other organisationally-linked cadre that constitute the day to day activity of the Democratic Autonomy turn, are not to be found being invented in the writings of an imprisoned ideologist, but in the social insertion practices of the cadre. Neither Qandil or Imrali is the ultimate source of these practices. That the prisoner in Imrali has sided with the cadre, to guarantee his continued relevance in the light of the operational command of the men of the Executive in Qandil (Karayilan, Bayik, Erdal), and that in turn that cadre, particularly the KJK, exalt his authority, is the assertion of autonomy by the latter, relative to the military command. What matters is the content of the activity itself.

ocelot
May 19 2015 19:08

Also the title "Negri, Harvey, Graeber, Wallerstein, Holloway..." is like that lame thing that early webpages used to do of putting common search terms into their html headers. There is absolutely nothing here about any of these people's actual positions in relation to this debate. The link given (incidentally I highly encourage people to follow those links, as in most cases the sources say something entirely different from that alleged in this text) in relation to Negri, for e.g, has his name appearing on a conference in Germany. That's it.

Black Badger
May 19 2015 20:45
Quote:
If the CNT were to win would Durutti will be a some sort of "king"? grin And nobody could have any respect to Durutti except a dictatorial one?

Two fails in one! (Three, if you count the very bad attempt at irony.)
First, it's spelled Durruti -- you should probably look at the graphic.
Second, he was dead by this time. And Durruti was not the chairman of the central committee of the Anarchist Workers' Party of Spain.

Spikymike
May 20 2015 19:08

It's true that Anti War hasn't justfied the connection ''Negri, Harvey, Graeber, Wallerstein, Holloway'' in terms of any substantive underlying theoretical approach of these radical academics but despite some important differences between them (and ignoring Wallerstein whom I'm not familiar with) the others do display some similarities that can be seen in a particular version of 'autonomous marxism' and 'anarchist populism' that has lost any reference to a modern internationalist class politics in favour of some amalgam of other cross class social movements that would incline them to overemphasising the revolutionary anti-capitalist significance of the current PKK influenced Kurdish movement as previously the moderrn day Zapatismo.

Pennoid
May 21 2015 02:45

Ocelot, it's telling that you don't really qualify "antis'. I don't think the broad group of people on here that are skeptical about the general "movement" purported to be associated with the PKK and other connected orgs are anti-kurdish, racist, etc. and it's far more intellectually dishonest to suggest that, then anything I can see in this article.

Based on the above post, it may follow that those people who claim "the ideology of Ocalan" as their guiding principles, would merit a critique that is rooted in criticizing the ideology of Ocalan, which this detailed article appears at first glance to do. "Materialism" would enter into this if one was attempting to tie this particular set of thinking to a very specific set of relations, that were in some way new to us. But they aren't. Capitalism is old hat. So the author appears to be pointing out:
1) the direct contradictions in Ocalan's thought
2) The places where the "thought" takes for granted categories of bourgeois society

Which seems like a reasonable tact to me, unless of course you're criticizing our dear leader.

kurekmurek
May 21 2015 10:28

Nobody is criticizing Anti-war because he/she is critical of Ocalan or PKK. I (and possibly others) are critical of Anti-war as he tries to paint a movement just a puppet in the hands of Ocalan who is just a stupid dictator of some sort. He/she actively tries to reduce the whole significance of kurdish movement to just Ocalan. He disregards any political or justice related question. This is a wrong presentation and politics. Nobody objects to a throughout critique or a historical analysis like for example this. I think this is a tragedy that the inspirations of some people in this forums can be misguided that they end up siding/believing/supporting dishonest anti-propaganda in the name of anarchism/communism etc...